Bait Tank Aerator

I was having a little trouble explaining to my buddy, Cory from up Kingfisher-way how to make one of these Aerators so this one's for you Cory hahaha. Another friend of mine posted a similar version of this on the forum but looked a little difficult to control the air and looked like it'd restrict water flow a little as well so I was a little restless tonight and decided to go out to the shed and tinker around a little and I took my camera with me.

Here's an old Rule 360gph pump I purchased some years ago from Wal-Mart that I'm going to use as an Aerator.

In the center of the bottom housing I drilled a 1/4" hole and then inserted a 1/4" air hose into that hole from the bottom.

Push the hose through about 1/4" so that when the pump is placed back into the bottom housing it is flush with the bottom of the pump. Be sure not to push it through too far because you don't want it to be touching the impeller. You'll want it close to the impeller though and just flush with the bottom of the pump is perfect. You can use the nuts on either side as a guide. you'll want the hose ending to be about as high as those two lock nuts visible in the photo below.

I then used a hose thingamajig to hold the hose in place using one of the housing screws that's already in the bottom of the base. They'll have those at the hardware store that you purchase your air hose from most likely. If the hardware store is well-stocked they may even have a few more gadgets there that'll allow you to customize this set-up even better like a little valve to control the air flow or something but that's not really necessary as you will most likely want to allow it to aerate the water as much as possible for the best results.

I then put the pump back in the housing and lowered it about 2" into this 48 quart ice chest and you can see how well it's pumping the oxygen into the water.

when I lowered it to the bottom of the ice chest it clouded the water up so badly that you can't hardly see any of the clear water.

I added 2 cups of salt to this 12 gallons of water so that you could see how well the pump aerates the water. If you're going to use this type of aerator for bluegill, you won't need the salt and the water won't cloud up near like it's going on this photo. It's harder to see the air in the water without the salt in other words, but if you're using this type aeration in fresh water without the salt it still aerates the water really well but you won't see the bubbles as well. The way to tell if it's aerating properly is to hold your finger over the end of the air hose and make sure it's sucking a lot of air through the hose. You do have to use the salt to keep shad though. Any other baitfish you can just use fresh water or tap water that's been de-chlorinated. Stuff like bluegill, bullheads, carp, goldfish, suckers, or basically any fresh water fish doesn't really require the use of a lot of salt in the water but it doesn't hurt to add a little. maybe 1 cup per 30 gallon of water is about right for any other baitfish besides shad. The little bit of salt you put in there will make them survive a lot longer as it'll keep the stress level down somewhat and soften the water a little so that the water oxygenates a lot better. This is important in the hotter months of the year.

Here you can see the clouded-up water in the ice chest and some of the larger bubbles bursting on top but this is totally saturating the water in this 12 gallon tank and if you use this type of aerator in a 30 gallon barrel you can keep 100 shad alive and frisky all day, even during the heat of the summer. No filtration is necessary. All you need is 1 to 1.3 cups of salt per 10 gallons of water and they'll do fine. If you're going to use the shad as live bait then cut back that salt amount to about 1 cup per 20 gallons of water and see if they develop red-nose. Keep a close watch on them the first time out and you can add a little salt if they start to get red-nose and that'll stop it. For cut bait go ahead and use  1.3 cups/10gallons. The reason you want to cut back on the salt for live bait fishing is because the shad will have a seizure (Tony Hughes' info) when putting them back into fresh water if you've got the water too rich in salt. At 1.3 cups/10gallon is about half the salinity as the ocean or brackish level. Water is different from place to place and you need to adjust the amount of salt to match your water source for keeping bait in. If you use tap water you'll have to use Pond Starter (Wal-Mart) or Sure-Life Better-Bait (Academy? BETTER- BAIT or go to to see where to purchase.) water treatment to take out the chloramines and heavy metals in the water. Below this last bait tank photo is a picture of the type of salt I use.

You can also make a thru-hull type aerator like this one by making one like this one on my home bait tank aerator. Just follow the same instructions for making it as you would on that page for the pond pump except by using a thru-hull pump. In some applications it'd be best to have the aerator motor on the outside of the tank but be sure to have the air hose plumbed in on the inside of the tank. If you drill the hole through the suction side of the pump on the outside of the tank where it goes through the tank then you'll have some leakage problems, most likely.

The brand of salt I use is available at Lowe's or Atwood's for just under $5/40LB bag.

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