How to Use an Aquarium Air Pump (and Make It Quieter)
Air pumps are commonly used with aquarium filters, decorations, and many other air-driven devices, but what exactly do they do and how do you know if your fish tank needs one? This article will explain how to choose the right air pump for your aquarium, when it is best to use one and how to install it.
What is an Air Pump for Fish Tanks?
An air pump is a mechanical device that sits outside of the fish tank and uses electricity (either from a wall outlet or battery power) to pump air into the aquarium. The air flows from the pump to the decoration of the fish tank or device using airline tubing. The air bubbles when it enters the water and floats to the surface.
As well as creating movement in the water, rising bubbles can also help to create surface agitation. Good surface agitation is the key to proper gas exchange in the aquarium, so that excess carbon dioxide (a waste product produced by your fish) is released into the air and new oxygen from the air dissolves into the water for your fish to breathe. If your fish are gasping at the surface, read this article about adding an air pump with a simple air stone to increase oxygen levels in the water.
Does my aquarium need an air pump? Not necessarily. Hang-on-back and canister filter types use an electric motor for water movement and are therefore not compatible with an Air Filter. Air-driven filtration devices, such as sponge or undergravel filters, use air to move water. Therefore, an air pump is required. If you’re still not sure, refer to the instructions to find out if your equipment needs an air pump.
Sponge filters use air pumps to provide bubbles that pull water through the sponge and strain out particles floating in the water.
How is an aquarium air pump used? Aquarium air pumps can be used in conjunction to many fish tank decorations, such as a:
– Air stone or aquarium bubbler – creates smaller, finer bubbles from the air pump for decreased noise, improved filtration (when used with a filter), or decorative appearance – Sponge filter, undergravel filter, or corner box filter – uses the rising bubbles to draw in water through the filter and strain out floating particles – Moving bed filter – uses air to churn the biological filter media and grow beneficial bacteria – Fish tank decoration – uses bubbles to, for example, open and close a treasure box ornament or mimic a little scuba diver – Breeder box – increases flow inside the box to prevent stagnant water and improve oxygenation – Egg tumbler – uses air to direct water flow onto fish or shrimp eggs, gently tumbling them to decrease fungal growth and increase hatch rates
How to Install an Aquarium Pump
An air pump pumps air into an aquarium by sucking it in from the outside. You will need accessories for your air pump to ensure that the air flows in the correct direction and pressure. For most beginners, we recommend getting a roll of airline tubing and check valve to get started. Other items may be required depending on your application.
The airflow from the airpump into the aquarium equipment and ornament is directed through the line tubing.
This black airline tubing allows air to flow from the pump into the sponge filter.
These are the basic instructions for installing an air pump once you have purchased the aquarium device, decoration or air pump.
1. Then place the air pump outside the aquarium. Cut the airline tubing to the right length to allow for the connection to the aquarium device. (Add some extra slack in the airline tubing just in case you need to move the air pump or aquarium apparatus in the future.) 2. Attach one end of the airline tube to the aquarium device. Then, place the device in the fish tank. Connect the other end to the air pump. 3. You can skip this step if your air pump is located higher than the aquarium top. To prevent water from leaking through the airline tubing, the air pump must be higher than the aquarium’s top. Cut the airline tubing somewhere between the sponge filter and the aquarium device, and attach the check valve in between so that the end of the check valve with the flapper (typically looks like a colored or horizontal bar) is facing the air pump. Installing the check valve backwards will cause no airflow when you turn on your air pump. Simply flip the check-valve around.
1. To prevent water from getting into the wall outlet, create a drip loop using the power cable to the air pump. Then plug the pump in. In a matter of seconds, bubbles should start to appear from the aquarium device.
The user manuals usually contain detailed instructions on how to install your aquarium or air pump. Please refer to them for further details.
Can an aquarium air pump be adjusted? If the amount of bubbling in your aquarium is too much or too little, you may want to adjust the air flow. Many air pumps have an adjustable dial that can be used to adjust the flow. An air valve can be attached to your pump to regulate the airflow.
Should my air pump be turned off at night? To ensure that your fish have good water circulation and oxygen, it is a good idea to keep the pump on throughout the day. If you are worried about the noise caused by an air pump at night, see the section below for possible remedies.
How to Make an Aquarium Pump Quieter
The most common type of air pump you’ll find in a pet store is a diaphragm. It uses a diaphragm which vibrates rapidly to draw air from its surroundings. Once it has sucked in the air, it pushes that air into your tank. This vibration unfortunately can become quite noisy over time. These are some ways to make it less annoying:
– Place a small towel, block of foam, or other soft material under the air pump to cushion the vibrations. Place the cushion and the air pump on a flat surface that doesn’t vibrate. Hang the air pump by the power cable if it isn’t too heavy so that it doesn’t touch or vibrate against anything. Your aquarium or other decor may have become clogged due to algae growth or debris. Consider replacing your current air pump with a smaller, quieter model such as the USB nano pump. If you are concerned about the loud bubbling sound, add an air stone to your aquarium device. The bubbles created by an air stone are smaller, and they don’t make as much noise when they hit the surface. You can read our article to learn how to place an air stone inside a sponge filter.
The bubbling noise from a sponge or air-driven filter is significantly reduced and the filter’s efficiency increased by adding an air stone.
What’s the Best Aquarium Air pump?
We’ve tested many air pumps over the years. Our final choice was three that are reliable, quiet, and inexpensive. Each pump is best for different applications. Choose the right one to suit your needs.
Recommended Air Pumps for Small Tanks and Fish Transportation.
USB nano air pump
The USB nano pump is ideal for smaller aquariums, larger tanks that require extra air stones, and outdoor mini ponds, provided they are protected from the elements. Because the air output is slightly lower than your standard air pump, it operates almost silently, uses very little electricity, and provides slower flow for betta fish, shrimp, and baby fish.
You have a lot of options when it comes powering your air pump with the USB power cord. The USB power cord can be connected to a regular wall outlet (adapter provided with the product), a car equipped with a USB outlet/cigarette lighter adapter, and a USB battery for short-term power outages or survival.
Air Pumps for Large or Deep Tanks