Yes, I have used an air driven hang on tank exterior filter.

In the days that unit was in service it was powered by an air pump that supplied air to the riser tube which created a solid lift column of water driven by the air trying to displace past it. The units air supply needed an accurate air valve which could be calibrated to make the lifting of the water efficient.

You would use layers of filter floss and layers of chunk coal or carbon to filter the water and remove solids and use the coal to absorb odors and some chemicals.

To start the unit you would fill it full of water with a cup and turn on the air.

The secret to using this unit was in how you serviced it. If you tossed all of the filter floss and carbon you killed the biological that was in it. The trick was to wash lightly in tank water in a container 50% of the floss and reuse it.

It would then reseed the bio and life would be great.

With the new tech stuff such as better carbon, zeolites and purse type bags for media which can be layered in efficiently you can actually get excellent performance from a little unit such as this. These are very low maintenance, inexpensive, the bags and media can be designed to be inexpensive and they are cheap to operate.

I'd like to have about 75 of those.