6 Best Air Pumps For Aquariums [2022 review]

Air pumps used to be a big thing some time ago, but they’re not much in use as before. And while that’s the case, they’re not useless. On the contrary, they play good roles in aquariums.

Their benefits are why people use them in the first place, and getting that for your aquarium is good. But what’s the point of buying the wrong air pump and having to bear it afterward? 

Air Pumps
Image Credit: badmanstropicalfish.com

This is why you need to get the best air pumps for aquariums that will serve their purpose and benefit your tank. This article is the perfect guide to help you decide, with six options.

Let’s jump right in!

What is An Air Pump Used For in Aquariums?

Air pumps serve different purposes in aquariums that you probably haven’t thought about. You can use them for the following:

  • Filters

Your aquarium filter could use the air pump boost. For example, if you have an under gravel or sponge filter, you need an air pump to boost its function. 

Air pumps power the filters to help beneficial bacteria thrive in fish tanks. The air pump pushes air through the filter to help it work better.

  • Air stones

Air pumps can also supplement the air stone’s function in the tank. Air stones release bubbles in the tank; air pumps can push oxygen through them to make more bubbles.

  • Protein skimmers

The work of protein skimmers in aquariums is to remove protein and organic water, and they can function better with the help of air pumps. 

  • Bubbler maker ornaments

There are many bubbler ornaments available, apart from the air stones. For example, the crystal ornaments make bubbles in aquariums, and air pumps can be used with them for better functionality.

  • Quarantine tanks

Air pumps are beneficial to quarantine tanks. If you have to keep a sick fish in a separate tank, you would need to raise the temperature, which could cause oxygen loss in the tank. However, air pumps can prevent that by releasing oxygen while raising the temperature.

  • Aeration

Air pumps help with aeration by supplementing oxygen in the aquarium, ensuring your fish and other aquatic life get sufficient oxygen.

Do You Need An Air Pump For Your Aquarium?

Of course, your aquarium can do without air pumps in them. However, you’ll realize that you need them in your aquarium due to their benefits. Asides from their important uses, they also have some benefits you shouldn’t overlook.

  • Boosts oxygen levels in aquariums

The major reason aquarists use air pumps for aquariums is to oxygenate the water. This is beyond the bubbles the air pump releases. It is more about the water surface movement that the bubbles cause.

The move signals that the water is getting enough air which boosts the oxygen level in the water. This means your fish get enough oxygen during summer or increased temperature in the tank.

  • Better water circulation

The water in your tank needs to circulate well, indicating that the aquarium is healthy and safe for your fish. An air pump ensures better water circulation in your tank.

And as the water circulates, it increases oxygen levels, promotes gas exchange, boosts filtration, creates currents for fish, and helps maintain a balanced temperature in the aquarium.

  • Add bubbles

Air pumps add bubbles in fish tanks, which has an aesthetic appeal you probably didn’t think of. These bubbles are pleasing to look at. Your fish can play around, and the bubbles are harmless. 

Types of Aquarium Air Pumps

There are different types of air pumps that you can choose from. The type is to provide you with options to decide which you like best. 

The following are air pump types based on their powering method:

1. Plug-in air pumps

Plug-in air pumps are the most commonly used type. They don’t have any switches and will start working when you plug them into a power source. They’ll run when you plug them in an outlet until you unplug them. They also tend to last a long time.

2. Battery-operated air pumps

Battery-operated air pumps run on batteries. They’re small, portable, and don’t need to be plugged in. Of course, while that’s an advantage, it could also be a disadvantage as the battery can run out. 

Some people buy it as a backup air pump for plug-in ones in case there’s a power outage. This is not to say that their batteries are weak.

Since they’re mobile, you can also use them when transporting fish from one location to another. However, they can be a bit loud.

3. Battery backup air pumps

This air pump type combines plug-in and battery to function. They can be more expensive than the first two. You don’t have to worry about your air pump going off. 

Once there’s a power outage, it switches to the battery backup and keeps running. You should probably go for this air pump type If you can afford it.

How To Choose The Best Air Pump For Aquariums

Choosing the best air pumps for aquariums should be more serious than just trying out any product or type. You need to be intentional in picking the one that will serve you well and for long. 

You can decide by considering the following factors:

  • Tank compatibility

First, you need to check whether the air pump you want to buy is compatible with your aquarium regarding the size. That is, small air pumps match small aquariums, and the same applies to large air pumps. You need to check their capacity.

This is because if they don’t match, the air pump won’t circulate oxygen and eliminate unwanted gas as it should. Ensure you check that the air pump can run other accessories in the tank too.

  • Power

You also need to consider the power options before buying. As mentioned earlier, it can be battery-powered, plugged in, or both. Plug-in air pumps will probably be the best if you have a reliable power source. 

Battery-operated ones are portable and mobile, so that’s one thing you can consider. They could also act as your backup. You could also get the battery backup ones and have no power worries.

  • Noise

Air pump noise can be a turnoff, but most tend to be loud. Of course, you would want to pick the ‘lesser evil.’ You can choose models with features with which you can reduce the noise. Another option is to pick quiet air pumps.

You should also consider your tank’s maintenance. Sometimes, your tank accessories get clogged and make the air pump run harder, making it loud. 

  • Objects and decorations

You should also consider the objects and decorations in your tank. The more of them you have in your tank, the bigger the air pump capacity you would need. The objects’ qualities also matter. 

Their quality determines their resistance level, but if the air pump’s capacity is high, there shouldn’t be any problem.

Best Air Pumps For Aquariums

With tips to help you choose the best air pump for aquariums, it’ll be easier to choose the right one for your tank. But here is a list of the six best air pumps to choose from:

1. Fluval Q air pump

You could never go wrong with the Fluval Q air pump. It is small, compact, simple, and has a beautiful design. While it’s small in size, it is very powerful and efficient for 50 to 160-gallon tanks.

It ensures consistent airflow so that every aquatic life in the aquarium gets enough oxygen. This air pump is durable and reliable. Plus, it’s available in different sizes, so you can pick the one that matches your aquarium best. 

Also, it has a technology with which you can reduce the noise. However, it can be too small for very large tanks.

2. Hydrofarm active aqua air pump

This air pump works with multiple aquariums. It has several outlets, up to 8, and can cycle about 400 gallons of water per hour. It has one size and uses only a little power to circulate oxygen in aquariums.

Even if it powers other accessories in the tank, you can rest assured that your electric bill won’t be much. You can also adjust the pressure it delivers with the knob on it. 

In addition, it has a multi-level muffler that handles its noise. However, this product isn’t waterproof, so you must use it outdoors with caution to prevent damage. 

3. Eheim air pump

The Eheim air pump is also another low-noise air pump for aquariums. You can use it with any aquarium and can cycle 26 gallons per hour. It’s more compatible with 60-gallon tanks or below. 

In addition, it has two air outlets and can only work with two aquariums 6 to 7 feet deep at once. This product is sturdy and small, with an energy requirement of 3.5 W. 

Even with its diaphragm shell, feet, and rubber corners, it doesn’t make much noise. Its vibration is minimal and prevents it from shifting or moving around.

4. Tetra whisper air pump

Tetra whisper air pump is quite popular. It’s quiet and highly functional. Even with its strength, maximum airflow, and water cycling, it doesn’t make much noise. 

It has a dome-shaped suspended motor, and the rubber feet contribute to reducing its vibrations. It’s available in different models, Whisper AP 150 and Whisper AP 300, for different gallon capacities, ranging from 10 to 20 and up to 100-gallon tanks. 

You can use it with tanks as deep as 8 feet, and it’ll still function well. It’s also compatible with protein skimmers and air stones.

5. Hagen Marina 200

This is one of the best battery-operated air pumps you can get for your aquarium. Its power and performance level is top-notch for a battery-operated air pump. 

It is portable and a good backup plan for its plug-in counterpart or any other plug-in air pump product. This product comes with accessories like air stone and an 18-inch airline tubing which are added benefits when setting up. 

Since they’re battery-operated, you would need backup batteries or air pumps for when they power down.

6. Cobalt rescue air pump

The cobalt rescue air pump is the best battery backup air pump for your aquarium. With it, you can never run out of power! 

You can power the air pump with a USB plug, and while it runs, the battery charges and can run up to 12 hours after unplugging it from a power source. Its maximum depth is 60 inches, and the product comes with an airline and air stone.

How To Correctly Set Up Air Pumps For Aquariums

After choosing the best air pump for aquariums, the next tasking thing to do is set up. A wrong move on your end could ruin things and the air pump.

The best thing to do is follow the manufacturer’s manual to the smallest details. Apart from that, you can also follow some tips when setting up.

  • Ensure you set the air pump up on a solid surface. Putting it on a hollow surface has its consequences. For example, it can intensify the noise the air pump makes. 
  • Set up the air pump in the middle of the solid surface. Air pumps tend to vibrate when they work, and placing them at the center of the surface will prevent them from falling off the edges.
  • You shouldn’t set the air pump up on top of the fish tank or any surface hanging off the fish tank. You don’t want the air pump falling into the tank, causing vibrations in the water and ultimately stressing your fish.

How To Reduce The Noise of Your Aquarium Air Pump

It’s no news that air pumps tend to be loud. While some noises are mild, others may just be unbearable for you. Also, small air pumps are not as loud as big ones since they don’t do as much work.

If your air pump is loud, here are some tips to try:

  • Move air pump

The air pump could make loud noises depending on the surface you put it on. When you notice loud noise coming from your air pump and feel vibrations on it, the first thing you should probably do is change the location. 

For example, if it’s on a wooden structure, you can move it to a carpet or tiled surface. The noise may suddenly reduce, and you can tell that the issue was with the surface.

  • Fill unused outlets

Some air pumps have multiple outlets, which lets you connect one to multiple aquariums. They are good options for when you have more than one fish tank. But what happens if only one outlet is in use?

Your aquarium air pump could make noise if other outlets are not in use. If you don’t have an aquarium to attach it to, you can connect tubings to the unused outlets, reducing the noise.

  • Raise the depth

Purchasing the wrong air pump size for your aquarium can cause it to make noise. But there may not be the option of returning, and it can’t lay around useless. There’s a solution.

You can move the air pump closer to the surface. This will reduce the back pressure and, ultimately, the noise.

  • Put soft object under the air pump

You can also reduce the noise by placing a soft object beneath the air pump. The soft object will absorb the noise and save you from listening to loud noise all day. You could use your socks, sponge, or any large soft object.


After reading this article, you would figure that air pumps are necessary accessories for your aquarium to ensure things run smoothly in the tank. But here’s a warning; you should prepare to deal with little noise, but there are solutions you can try.

While the noise can be discouraging, you should consider how much your fish will benefit from this. Good luck choosing the best air pump for aquariums!

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