Everyone knows the centuries old french lullaby. The one that tells the story of the King’s son who shot at the black duck and killed the white one... The same unfortunate unfolding alas too often affects industrial designers and marketing strategists. Forced to tweak engineering solutions that adjust to business requirements. The end result is quite often; a marvel for a publicity stunt or a sales pitch. Unfortunately, the final product is precisely and just that ... a sales pitch.
I had to shop for air pumps recently to renew my inventory. I learned that resellers were no longer servicing air pumps with replacement latex clappers. You can no longer get 10 cent latex valves. With a radiant smile, the seller told me that I now had to replace an entire module; at 1,000 times the original cost of tiny valves in question. Understand: you just can’t open the air pump housing to clean or replace the latex regulators anymore. However, I must still fetch the screwdriver, unscrew the casing and remove the vibrating mechanism: to install the MODULE ... It takes exactly the same time !!! And all in all: air pumps have not been improved in any way.
So what's their problem with air pumps?
The seller retorts that they are excessively noisy and that, nowadays, MODERN aquarists use MODERN Power Heads ... Talk about a funny face... Well, it seems I really don’t have a choice ?
I'm sorry to inform you but air pumps are not noisy. In fact they are the quietest tools available to aquarists. So….. your grandmother had one with her goldfish bowl in the sixties… and you kept a nightmarish memory of them as the worst screech that flayed your eardrums in your entire life ? Well ... I must believe that no one had informed your poor ancestor; that air pumps become noisy (I agree) when airstones are clogged or when the diaphragm is torn (usually due to a clogged diffuser).
I still operate a few (Universal) air pumps designed and manufactured in 1962: because I always managed to get replacement valves (ten cents); ‘till today. They are remarkably silent with their original diaphragms still intact.
Today, POWER HEADS feature venturis; specifically designed to produce powerful æration says the anxious seller. Very well ! Except that I have bought several models over the decades and those venturis all produced a very annoying howl… So I had to modify all my POWER HEADS to quiet them down ... Why do designers never buy the product of their work….
The electric air pump was invented in the late nineteenth century and since that time; the problem has always been with air diffusers and not the air pumps. Try just for fun, to find an effective and efficient air diffuser; the mission is difficult. Why point the air pump when the real culprit is the airstone.
Fortunately, I found some interesting diffusers over the years and they are not the disposable so-called airstones. Some may be immersed in demineralizing baths to remove the limestone. More recently, I found plastic models which can be rinsed and brushed quickly. Reusable Diffusers are the ideal solution. Instead of replacing and throwing – air stones – away every three weeks. It takes the same time and you don’t have to take your car to find them…
ALAS! There is still a catch ... I don’t understand why the designers have incorporated lead inside these difusers (surely for sales pitches) ... So I have to remove these sealed metal weights every time I buy additional ones. Don’t forget that lead poisoning is especially serious …
After killing the air pump, MODERN designers have decided to slaughter the diffuser also
what a disaster !
P / S: Air pumps manufactured in the fifties and sixties were really ECOLOGICAL: half a century before their time ... Air pumps manufactured today offer the same performance and the same power consumption (no difference). Their ancestor at least offered the advantage of maintenance at minimal cost.
(you know:….. me… and modernism ...)