How to Use Airline Accessories in Your Aquarium
Aquarium air pumps can be very simple to use. Simply connect the pump to an air-driven device, such as a sponge filter, using some airline tubing. Then plug it in. Then, why are there so many airline accessories and which ones do you actually need? Continue reading to learn five common parts of an airline that can change the way you use your air pump.
1. Verify Valve
Check valves are essential if you have to get just one item from the above list. This valve contains a flapper, or stopper. It allows air to flow in one direction (into your tank) and prevents water from flowing in another direction (outside the tank). This important accessory, which is very inexpensive, prevents water escaping from your aquarium when the pump goes out of power. The water from the tube can leak out and cause damage to your pump. This can result in an electrical fire if there are power strips or appliances that have been sitting in the water.
Every aquarium device that uses airline tube is required to have a check valve. This includes aquarium ornaments, sponge filters, brine shrimp hatchery and carbon dioxide (CO2) injection systems. The only exception to this rule is when the CO2 tank/air pump is located above the aquarium’s edge. To install, cut the airline tube between the device (or CO2 tank) and attach the check valve. The check valve’s flapper (which is a horizontal or colored strip) should be facing towards the air pump. Installing the check valve backwards will cause no air to flow when you turn on your air pump. Simply flip the check-valve around.
Connect the check-valve between the air pump & air-driven device so that the horizontal bar or colored bar faces towards the pump.
The best practice is to place the check valve outside the aquarium (not in the water), close to the top of the fish tank. This position stops the water at the rim rather than near the air pump where the water pressure in the airline tubing could cause a leak. Make sure that the airline tubing has not been twisted or damaged. Make sure the airline tubing isn’t dried out or hardened, as this could cause it to leak during power outages.
2. Air Valve
An air valve sounds similar to a check valve, but instead it is used to control the amount of air flow coming from your air pump into the aquarium. An adjustable knob is available on some air pumps to allow you to increase or decrease air pressure. If your pump does not have this feature and the bubbles seem too strong, then this tool will be perfect for you.
Cut the airline tubing that runs between the air pump & the device to install an air valve. Next, connect the cut ends of airline tubing to each air valve end. It doesn’t matter which direction. To decrease flow, tighten the knob and then loosen it to increase flow. The air valve usually allows a little air to escape even when the knob has been tightened completely. This prevents back pressure buildup and can potentially cause damage to your air pump.
An air valve controls the amount of air flow coming from your air pump into your air-driven aquarium device.
As with the check valve, we recommend that you add the air valve near the rim of your fish tank for easy access. You should also make straight cuts in the airline tubing. Also, check the connections frequently to ensure the valve is still tightly connected.
3. T Splitter
The T shape of the tee splitter splits air into two streams. This functionality is useful if you only have one air pump but wish to run a second air stone or aquarium decoration in the fish tank. You could also use this feature to divert air from your main aquarium into a second tank, or quarantine tub. You can theoretically link multiple splitters together using the five T connectors included in each pack.
The T splitter separates the airflow coming from the green pump. Next, the valve controls the amount of air that reaches the sponge filter.
Air valves are highly recommended for splitting the air stream. This allows you to fine-tune how much air is going to each line. Use airline tubing with straight ends. Also, inspect the connections regularly to ensure they don’t become weaker over time.
4. Gang Valve
A gang valve, which is more efficient at splitting an air stream into multiple paths, is a better accessory. The model we offer features four outlets and up to two inlets. You can add as many or as few air pumps you like and split the air up to four times with the two inlets. Alternatively, you can connect daisy-chain two gang valves together, giving you eight ways to split your air.
Gang valves are a great way of splitting air between multiple aquariums and air-driven devices.
Keep in mind that every split of air results in a weaker output, which means less air passing through each outlet. Each air stream must be adjusted for each outlet. The more outlets you have the better. Luckily, there’s no need to get any air valves because each outlet has its own adjustable switch to regulate how much air goes to each individual device.
5. Air Stone
An air stone is a small, weighted bubbler that produces very small bubbles in the water. This accessory diffuses air into the tank to improve oxygenation and reduce bubbling noise. An air stone can be used alone or in combination with a sponge filtrate to increase the efficiency of the filter. The air stone creates a steady stream of tiny bubbles (instead of large, intermittent bubbles) that produces constant lift in the sponge filter – much like a continuously running escalator (versus an elevator that starts and stops all the time).
This diagram shows where an air stone goes inside a sponge filter to optimize its performance. Our sponge filter installation guide will show you how to install an airstone inside a sponge filter.
Running an air-driven device like an aquarium filter, air stone, or bubbler is one of the easiest ways to increase surface agitation and oxygenation in your fish tank. For more details on how to set up a fish tank air pump (and make it quieter), read our full installation guide here.