Building a Cheapo-Aero cloning tub

The cheapo-Aero cloner is a very simple device to build.

It will perform just as well as expensive aero cloners costing hundreds of dollars. It operates on the same principle as every other aero cloner on the market, which is that the stems of the cuttings are suspended in an air space being misted by a fine spray of tiny flying water droplets.

Some aero cloner variations…

Some aero cloners work by way of the water being sprayed thru fine mist sprayheads by a water pump, others like the Rainforest cloner work by a spinning rotor which flings small water specs at the stems. There are even cloners on the market which use ultrasonic humidifier fog being pumped thru a chamber holding the stems.

The cheapo-aero works on the “bubbling bucket” principle, where tiny water droplets are created by the action of the air bubbles bursting at the water surface, sending a mist of water flying thru the open air space above the waterline where the stems are located.

I named it “Cheapo-Aero” because it is a cheap and simple alternative to the more complicated water pumped thru sprayers type aero cloner tubs. Ok, lets do it…

The materials list:

(clockwise from top left)

  • One - good quality dual outlet airpump. I recommend the whisper 20/60 or the pulsar four. both are @ $20.00
  • One - cheap pull up tripper type timer about @ $5.00, please dont try aero cloning without the timer, it is critical imho for fast rooting.
  • A short length of 1/2" rubber fuel line or vynil tubing.
  • Fishtank airline or (preferred) some soft flexible black vynil drip line for the air bubblers.
  • One - Rubbermaid roughneck 1 gallon tub with lid @ $1.00
  • Two - aquaculture "bubble curtain" 10" bubble wands. @ $3.50 each
  • Assembly tools: drill bit(s), sharp box cutter knife, drip line punch and coupler fittings (optional).
  • One - tube of Goop brand plumbers adhesive @ $4.00
  • One - Spray can of Plasti-Dip brand "Spray-On" black rubber coating @ $6.00
  • One - 7-1/2 watt fishbowl heater. Walmart @ $6.00
AF has great luck using the cheap heater. However, please note that the small heater has no thermostatic control, depending on your room temperature, it may need to be connected to a timer and monitored to be certain that you dont overheat the water. So, if you can find a fully submersible thermostatic controlled heater that will fit in the tub without getting in the way of the air bubbles, I highly recommend doing so. There are several on the market which will mount along the bottom of the tub, parallel to the bubble curtains, use 25 watts or smaller size. You can also use use a thermostat controlled heating mat or place the entire cloner tub in a larger tray of water with an aquarium heater if you have a submirsible unit which is too large to fit in your tub.

The bubble curtains…

The Aqua Tech brand “bubble curtain” or equivalent are the only bubble device I’d recommend for bubble cloning. They are the least restrictive to pump air thru, and because of their hollow tubular design they produce a very uniform bubble coverage thruout the entire length of the wand.

Cut the bubble curtains to fit the length of the tub.

Remove the end cap and cut the wand to length using a sharp box cutter or razor blade knife. Replace endcaps.

One wand or two ?

The cheapo works great with one wand or two. For this project lets use two wands. Note picture also shows the location of the little heater installed. Use a dab of goop on the heaters suction cup to hold it in place between the wands.

Glue in the wand holding clips

The suction cups provided with the bubble curtains are prone to failure, when the cups stop sticking the air wand floats to the surface and the bubbling action stops working, causing failed clones.

Pull the clips out of the suction cups and glue them in place using the Goop plumbers adhesive to the bottom of the tub. You should rough up the gluing surface by scratching it with a knife or coarse sandpaper for a better grip.

Allow the glue to dry for at least two days to be sure its fully cured.

The waterline

The rubbermaid one gallon tub has a ridge molded in about 2-1/2" from the top. This will be the waterline.

For a nice sanitary assembly, punch two dripline couplers thru about a 1/4" above the ridge for the airlines to exit the tub.

Spray on the plasti dip black rubber coating…

The tub needs to be coated to prevent light from penetrating the tub and slowing down the rooting process. Normal spray paint does not stick and is too light transparent. The plasti dip sticks to the rubbermaid very well and with two or three coats fairly thick and very light proof. Spray and dry in a very well ventilated area.

You can get away with a few layers of duct tape, or a layer of “anti-corrosion pipe wrapping tape”. But, the Plasti-Dip I’ve found to be the best solution for light proofing and neatness.

Drill the lid for the clone support tubes

underside of lid to show hole pattern used

For small clones, the 1/4" o.d. x .170 i.d. flexible drip line works fine for support tubes, but rooted clones can be tricky to remove from small the lid holes. Note tape tabs to keep the smaller supports from falling thru the lid, and numbering to identify the clones.

Optional larger support tube holes (recommended).

Using the 1/2" tubing for support tubes makes it much easier to remove the rooted clones from the lid. Number the holes to identify the clones later on. With either size holes, the *support tubes are cut to a maximum length of 1/2" and split down one side to be able to remove the rooted clones.

*It is important to have the support tubes cut short (@ 1/2" max). The original plans had longer tubes which caused problems on some cuttings.

You’re all done building your Cheapo-Aero cloner

Happy cloning,

Other helpful aero cloning faqs…

Prepairing new cuttings for aero cloning (missing link)

19 Dec 2001 by green man

Aero Cloning System

This is an inexpensive do it yourself aero cloner that is very effective. It can be made in an hours time with as little as $15 in parts. This is probably the least complicated of all the various aerocloning systems I’ve seen. It has been tested and refined through feedback from users.

The problem most aero systems have is that they require high pressure pumps, hoses, fittings and misters. The misters tend to clog and need purified water to have any level of reliability. The systems are expensive and prone to leaks. I’ve seen a system for growing plants using low pressure pumps and that might be better for veg and flower growth. This uses the spray from bursting bubbles to promote rooting in cuttings.

Materials needed:
Aquarium style air pump
Air stones
A plastic container of at least 2 gallons
The airpump can be the cheap kind sold at Kmart or Walmart for aquariums. A single outlet pump will work but a dual outlet gives you flexibility in case you want to expand later. The container should be a low flat plastic tub or box with a lid. It only needs to be about 6" deep but a deeper container will work and as little as 4" deep may be acceptable. A shallow container will need to be refilled more often. Select the airstones so that they are the right length to cover the length or width of the box. Leave an inch on the ends at least so you will have room to attach the tubing without crimping it. A typical airstone will make enough bubbles to cover a strip about 4" wide the length of the airstone. Placing them about 3" or 4" apart should work fine. A narrow box may need only one airstone. Your airstones might have to be soaked in water for an hour before first use. Read the directions.

If you have more airstones than outlets on your airpump you will need a “T” or multi connection. I wouldn’t run more than 2 airstones per outlet to be sure you have enough bubbling action. Some airstones can be connected to one another with tubing. The top of the container must have holes cut in it to allow the stems to enter. The holes should be at least 1/2" in diameter. You will need holes also for the air hose(s) to enter. You can make the holes about two inches apart and that should leave enough room for the clones themselves. After you have the airstones arranged and hooked up to your pump, add water and turn it on. You should see vigorous bubbling that covers the entire area the clones will be in. Hold your hand a couple inches over the surface of the water. You should feel a mist from the bubbles bursting as they reach the surface. Your aerocloner is ready for use.

The cuttings you use to make clones should be at least about 3" in length and have a growing tip. The small branches at the base of a plant are perfect for that. Some people keep a mother plant in veg just to take clones from. Trim the large leaves from the cutting and have about 2" of bare stem at the bottom with no side branches or leaves. You can trim the rest of the leaves by cutting about half the leaf away leaving the stem and part of the leaf. The tiny leaves don’t need to be trimmed. You can use masking tape to hold the plant in place or some other system that gently holds the cutting. Shabang at overgrow in his system recommends using 1/2" diameter plastic tubing to cover the stem going into the box. Make sure you have at least an inch of stem projecting into the box and keep the water level so that it’s about an inch below the stem. You don’t want the cutting to touch the water. The spray from the bubbles provides enough water and they get oxygen from the air. Put 1/4 tsp of 3% hydrogen peroxide per gallon in the water to prevent stem rot. Renew it about every week.

The cuttings should show bumps on the stems in 3 or 4 days. In 5 to 7 days typically they have roots and are ready to put into your growing medium. You need roots at least 1/4" long to ensure survival and 1/2" may be better. Don’t give the clones a lot of light for the first few days after they are in the growing medium. After they start to show growth you can give them higher levels of light. They only need low light levels while rooting and until they show new growth.

This system is just for starting clones. It hasn’t been tested for growing out the plants but there is no reason it couldn’t be used in that way. All that would be needed is to let the roots grow into the solution and provide nutrients. The difference between that and regular DWC would be that the plants would be held in the air and the roots would go through the air before entering the water. Plain water is fine for rooting clones but for growth you need fertilizer. Do some reading at or for more information.


green man


What do you set the timer to? Half hour intervals?

I’d start with 45 minutes off / 15 on. Then tune it little bit so that clones don’t wilt (but allowing dry cycles to be as long as possible).

Thanks, got mine pretty much put together!

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Great, share some photos after :slight_smile: …good luck

I’ve been using one of these (almost identical) for over 10 years. Figured I’d add this since I’m digging up old stuff to revive and it’s kinda relevant. I have fewer holes in mine that I can fit the bottom of a styro-foam cup in. I cut the bottom off the cup(s) and use a drill bit to bore a hole large enough to get a stem into to support the cuttings. When rooted, break the styro-foam apart to remove from the stem and plant.

How can I test my aero cloner to see if it is working properly?

Testing for adequate water mist coverage…

To test a newly built unit to see if the bubbling is going to do the trick…
Simply dry off the tubs lid and place it on the tub, turn on the air pump and let it run for about five minutes. After around five minutes have a look at the inside of the lid. It should look like the above pictured lid. Not quite soaking wet yet, but obviously getting hit by the water droplets. Now put the lid back on and run it for another five minutes, it should be completely covered with those tiny water specks or totally wetted. If its not "completely covered"all the way across the surface, then your pump is probably too weak.


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