DIY Tom’s Aqua Lifter Replacement…..Maybe

redfishbluefish

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DISCLAIMER - This is a work in progress and may not work. Also, it will be a slow DIY, in part because one item ordered won’t be here until mid December.

I use a Tom’s Aqua Lifter pump as my ATO pump….for years. Back in the day, they were inexpensive and, if needed, a rebuild kit was available to make it new again for a couple bucks. Great little diaphragm pumps that is rated at 3.5 gallons per hour.. Unfortunately Tom’s pumps are no longer available, and if you can find some hoarding retailer selling them, they are around $50 and up. I saw one today for $75.90, and it looks like a knock-off!

Being a backup fanatic, I needed something to replace my Tom’s when it dies. I couldn’t find another company selling a diaphragm pump, so I decided to build one, and I wanted one with a bit more flow (because my controller, a JBJ ATO, has timed out a couple times because of the low flow rate.) The original plan was to use a Gikfun R385 12 V pump that is rated at 1.5 - 1.8 liters per minute, and to convert to gallons per hour to more easily compare to Tom’s, that’s 23.8 - 28.5 gph. Now this is way too much, so the plan is to run this at 6 volts, greatly reducing the flow rate, but hopefully more than a Tom’s.

I sourced the pump and power supply on eBay for around ten and a half bucks.

Gikfun Pump alone $7.19/free shipping
6 volt, 1 Amp power supply with 5.5 x 2.1 mm plug $3.27/free shipping


But before ordering, I found a kit on Amazon (for $15.98) and decided to order this.

Gikfun Pump Kit

Gikfun Pump Kit.png


The reason for the kit was two fold...it came with all the parts, and I was hoping instructions for the pump…...no luck, no instructions.

And, because I wanted to run this at 6 volts, I also ordered the eBay power supply mentioned above.

To house my little pump, I picked up an electrical box from HD. The plan is to cut a hole in the top for the pump to stick out and to make a cover with a small piece of plexiglass

New Work Electrical Box.png


To begin this little DIY, I traced the outline of the top of the pump.

ks68ERmOIZ_xWHD6IrqILwjHtnKrMuU24CTByT3-_91tBLtzwFMm5dPR7TVl6hoUKQd8Fmasz5X06QpSKrlC_mTkWGzLxpn9Rbp1JxtBKciV21Avw_ixsl9b5pa5c8yA9pXkLd4Pxp0lQbIYGv_U0XIGus-jnoZohjf2ZAlX0IKktwkb9VPjVs6zdPU8qc6WlINNL8mas3Fp1nu9f6oeKYvtWlVTmtUNlSpzqiCoAZSsh6h-Ew3xVtYj7x97r0cu4DiPw7oCyXPQxGpE9ITq8aZeaEmNabyvP071-vx2Vsbji6XniXx98yYBPfoTBEgQtlu4rw3Qj8aZTWhMYn30oSnFdHFsAu8rRbgFxDW7nu7OlnU2s7HHaQo2zwfE4YOvfCU9xj4867AusSpDk3xF0djCUl-dJcVb_44t0eL4yDg0NxNrctulfQTM5z60yTgzJGWL38JokRIXEfwh5IkmeuP6mRPyN6p-46n3SPK02L83G4GA_2pgPVcvXl7prLZ9WZlk3rV7CKS66cvPGvmBBNBG1yIVXLsQpPBqBZQnePBMz8FEz1AYKjnRir1BDLq7fm2-QhZdholxHf0SU0mbz1mqE7yLMOwkVBVSKlu-nNbAPJ-cyEPtc7s37Ct6MV26Fv7iyrmmJyE_Bz-xd6p-_unDvENQAV6vSzioJeivOuTY8ft7q8wOel5h15qbXXUvIX8Y8IZXLZKc-eDEKKRAO1qX=w864-h933-no


And transferred this to the box and cut it out. Made it slightly larger to allow for any vibration and movement.

TkF5ks0J0AwALBl5GCznyp6aBGhoWIz-Iy95I8RQ1dhWzGpWA3WoJSyzQlEqmUS-Eg4ObdJXiq7vT7wD0zWnWmWzmYq4sDOY9Ec-IEvM3lUAG6SbPxrC9KAE72gwMr8xMrUHX_sfy0R418TLkwMVsPZuJvoQ6MmLjG6bq3OeN0by_iROMRLsxi3Gt7DQx0T94souqJiikfMjtXX-0fkSEVT8VYt4wRAxNPRe69hOWzlgFkySTNc5L7uAZz9iFXISzsWLWBScqDvTgJU0sM2ziUhFCvSkzZ1MwxlgzQn94VQ3eevgPfFDl3h5foN6WJLfKuQaxXqej56i_7DGYKX6Meg9IVyyUmS-dH5TtlPjJiSaoOKL9UedNJWlZP4xUv5mLE-3NZDlWO7c8knV7DbtZ-4UNfcYCCYXdgM24VJljSs1ScFa4ADDMKFPlf8AEWjFCQRhJ-87AZP7tT3YvlDC2BLgAV91bwZ8mGQG6zFQaMwne22lnn0PsoC1JcnIXv30P0a6n6ikLlkxvVMh397G93y-KWeOClVoWIN1XgQ1Sql1LA8oSP-Epo1Wf6xzXKCRjTJAhTgFhUeqaZkiUnYgrFfxHxe742ThHmOZbpiZ6gkJ5Ek7OLgf-J84Ye8J7uPnV_QXkQDloPtY8qDb9rvSOtb6Ulo5BdkQE38165o9lp0ju_kK_IAJD9bVeKjgGql-bZo9dlv4KyzZrILFzzMINxrn=w1047-h933-no



And this is when I ran into my first DOH!!! I planned on putting the bolt heads on the outside of the box for a clean look, but because of the pump blocking my fat fingers to get to the back bolts, I had to install the bolts with the nuts out. And even at that, those back bolts were tough to find the holes.

N-koqW8xHacJht8aXtmHKypNUiZV3XXbz_JQWOCwV11qc77PCFuYCFvccUahe0SgPN5nhMztKx6Cq4UFCoGV1ImqvqpR38ZMV36kt2hiMFmRs3NbfHRXVW02rw1DfCpAigoLcVnh2TOp4rwxykzXUdjjyRXPFOuB7oKMKllxV716w5nasKfzoMDVtS4C5pX0Rmv_M9Z5VH_VEJovxL_Otkb8eXpU3hIQv7r5_yhKJfr0iMP6fHTUP_qatdBnhlywYakpn4KqN6h9y_aJnweCcT60PixYmhoiW499bPwprjf84YUDUo1T21-JEzwB-pbqcNwFb_1zW8oJz1pEqHZ0oOGhmErpuAqNGOTidV6mQERXMT5MScMjaMBCXA1ZovScNRCDRiV_vtAYoHq5FJbHHwDsLGHeUMoGUkd90FxiSuOBW5fcoEzMm5xc7OydQm6B-EVgTawN0gtqQgAE6eL1QM4PCTyX1DmsCyLXE9-ix-2LnZQgfrJaUCvQmAOLYEgofpRmLgVFaZNzdBEKAEwn5HJmuJWnb1KB5rf4wNj-UComwA4tWiMiKXs_4QxvuZLmhPC216_RGngB2kljPK4zxlC_hH8fAZKMP7gtmsvtB1xVZ8fc3jLATc-N2z5Gc3ctOY_-p8SlhlUBH3EPLSNFQc011XzJALgvmTje3zx_76O4UWduGS-WBCfUyn3ywATgEuQ1wmsv6Xi1NMFLcE3K1vI-=w1108-h933-no



BREAK TIME: I don't like the power supply plug they included in the kit.....it's not mountable. I have the right plugs somewhere and if I can't find them, I'll have to order. Also need to go through my scrape acrylic and make a little cover for this pump.
 

JumboShrimp

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I bought three Korallin Sulphur Biodenitrators and three Tom’s Aqualifters earlier this year when it looked as if both were becoming ‘going-going-gone’ from the world market ( ? So Strange ?) :( So I really appreciate what you are doing. Virtually anything DIY is way over my head... but at least YOU understand what you are talking about. Best wishes!!
 
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redfishbluefish

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Put me on your list of want to buy when you get it done.
For a cover, wouldn't just a flat wall plate work?

Yes, a blank wall plate would work.

Blank Wall Plate.png


But this is a DIY thread and making a cover is part of the fun....not to mention I want a cleaner look. I've done these custom covers before.....here's a project box (electrical box) with acrylic cover for a relay.

1636512286940.png



I bought three Korallin Sulphur Biodenitrators and three Tom’s Aqualifters earlier this year whiken it looked as if both were becoming ‘going-going-gone’ from the world market ( ? So Strange ?) :( So I really appreciate what you are doing. Virtually anything DIY is way over my head... but at least YOU understand what you are talking about. Best wishes!!

Your post caused me to think of another disclaimer. I termed this a replacement for a Tom's Aqua Lifter, but I'm now pretty sure I would not use my version under constant running. I can't find much info on this Gikfun pump, but what I've found thus far, I'd question running this continuously like a Tom's can run. I'm under the impression that with constant running, it gets hot. I know a common use of Tom's is with HOB overflows, where the pump is always running. My application is intermittent where I'd suspect the pump only running for a couple seconds.

The only consideration I'd have in running this continuously is to find the lower voltage at which it will still pump some small volume. And I have no idea what that voltage might be. The lower voltage / lower flow will greatly extend the life of the pump. As it is, I'm guessing on the 6 volts I'm trying.
 
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redfishbluefish

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With a little play time today, I made the cover for the project box and gave it a squirt of paint.

Gikfun Pump in Project Box.jpg


EVOLVING GAME PLAN: I planned on using the plug system for the power supply because I wanted to easily switch voltages to find the one that works best. I know the 12 volts is way too much and think (guess) the 6V is probably too high as well. Just not sure at what voltage the pump won't pump. The female plug supplied is not mountable, and I can't find the mounted plug units I had....and really don't want to order more. So the plan now is to simply use the plug setup as is and leave it in the project box, unmounted. Once I finalize the voltage (flow rate), I'll hard wire the power supply right to the pump. This hard wired approach would now make this little DIY an easy peasy project simply requiring three parts. In retrospect, I should have gone the eBay route and just ordered the pump and power supply.
 

n1ng

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With a little play time today, I made the cover for the project box and gave it a squirt of paint.

Gikfun Pump in Project Box.jpg


EVOLVING GAME PLAN: I planned on using the plug system for the power supply because I wanted to easily switch voltages to find the one that works best. I know the 12 volts is way too much and think (guess) the 6V is probably too high as well. Just not sure at what voltage the pump won't pump. The female plug supplied is not mountable, and I can't find the mounted plug units I had....and really don't want to order more. So the plan now is to simply use the plug setup as is and leave it in the project box, unmounted. Once I finalize the voltage (flow rate), I'll hard wire the power supply right to the pump. This hard wired approach would now make this little DIY an easy peasy project simply requiring three parts. In retrospect, I should have gone the eBay route and just ordered the pump and power supply.
I have the same pump. Super quiet compared to the peristaltic pump it replaced. Initially powered with 12v was too fast for my setup. I ended up using an old 4.5v, works great.

Another option is to add a DC motor speed controller to really tune it in. I didn't see the need.
 
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redfishbluefish

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Well this little DIY project has taken an unexpected change in direction. A local club member has gotten out of the hobby and was a super backup fanatic.....and guess what they had?

Four Aqualifters.jpg


Four brand new Tom's Aqualifters.

I'm not giving up on finishing up this DIY pump. However, the plan is to use it as a vacuum to suck up bubble algae. I have a break out of bubble algae and the plan is to attach this pump to rigid tubing and flick off the bubbles and suck them up and out of the tank.
 
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