Updated August 16, 2018 by Jeff Newburgh

The 10 Best Aquarium Air Pumps

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Whether you enjoy marine or freshwater piscine life in your home or garden, keep your fishy friends healthy and well-oxygenated no matter their environment with one of these handy aquarium air pumps. Made for supporting anything from small tanks to koi ponds, they are constructed from durable, impact-resistant materials with energy-efficient motors and multiple outlets that ensure proper airflow. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best aquarium air pump on Amazon.

10. Hydrofarm Active Aqua

9. Uniclife UL40

8. EcoPlus Eco Air 8

7. Marine Metal A-2

6. Deep Blue Professional Hurricane

5. Mylivell 1.8W

4. Danner Supreme Oxy-Flo

3. Tetra Whisper AP300

2. Vivosun ACO-009

1. Alita AL-80

What An Air Pump Really Does In A Fish Tank

When the bubbles break at the surface, excess carbon dioxide is released and more oxygen has a chance to take its place when it comes into contact with the water molecules.

An air pump is a device attached to the outside of an aquarium that moves air through your tank water in some manner. Most often, they can be seen with an air stone attached to the end of their tube, which diffuses the air as it is released in the water. Standard aquarium air pumps use an electromagnet to quickly vibrate a rubber diaphragm, which creates the air flow.

Many people believe that an air pump is directly increasing the amount of oxygen in the water, but this is actually untrue. Air pumps do increase the amount of oxygen in tank water, but in an indirect manner. The bubbles, released from an air stone, do not integrate with the tank's water. Instead, they increase the surface area of the water as they agitate the surface. When the bubbles break at the surface, excess carbon dioxide is released and more oxygen has a chance to take its place when it comes into contact with the water molecules. The greater the surface area of water, the more oxygen it will absorb.

Circulation is another benefit of using an air pump in an aquarium. As the air is released into the bottom of the tank, it pushes deeper water to the surface, which in turn allows the highly oxygenated surface water to move towards the bottom.

While an air pump can be beneficial to keeping a healthy aquatic environment, they are not actually essential. It is completely possible to maintain healthy fish without ever using an air pump, but it can be more difficult. One of the biggest benefits of an aquarium air pump can be realized when a filter pump breaks. In a fish tank without an air pump, the filter pump is the sole machine responsible for circulating and helping to aerate the water. If the filter pump breaks for any reason, the water will quickly stagnate and may have trouble absorbing enough oxygen for fish to breathe.

Basic Aquarium Maintenance

The amount of maintenance one must perform on their fish tank is directly proportional to three things: the number of fish, how much food is given, and how often one does partial water changes. Overcrowding a fish tank results in water that quickly becomes unsuitable for maintaining healthy fish. Overfeeding can cause the water to be become contaminated, as the fish will not be able to consume all of it. Instead, the food will turn into organic waste and settle into the gravel. This creates overly nutrient-rich water which is the number one cause of algae blooms. Performing partial water changes on a regular basis helps keep the water cleaner and allows one to lower contaminate levels.

Depending on the amount of fish, the amount of food given, and the size of the tank, basic aquarium maintenance can either be done once a week or once every two weeks.

Depending on the amount of fish, the amount of food given, and the size of the tank, basic aquarium maintenance can either be done once a week or once every two weeks. Larger tanks with fewer fish can go longer between maintenance cleanings than smaller, highly-crowded tanks. Basic aquarium maintenance should include cleaning the inside of the glass with a scrubber, cleaning the outside of the glass, a partial water change, and vacuuming.

When performing a partial water change, usually removing and replacing between 10% and 20% of the water is sufficient. City tap water contains high levels of chlorine, which can be harmful to fish. It is best to either use distilled water or fill a large bucket with tap water and let it sit for at least 24 hours to allow the chlorine to dissipate. If your tap water undergoes chloramination instead of chlorination, then a water conditioner must be used as chloramine doesn't evaporate as quickly as chlorine.

Vacuuming can easily take place at the same time as the partial water change. Use a hydro-vacuum to agitate the gravel as the water is sucked out. This will release any particulate that has settled into it. Continuously lift the hydro-vacuum and stick it back into different areas of gravel. This will ensure your tank receives a thorough cleaning.

Two Common Fishkeeping Myths Busted

There are a number of common fishkeeping myths that persist, despite having no factual evidence. The most common of all must be that fish only grow to the size of their tank. In actuality, for fish to remain healthy and live a normal life, they must be provided sufficient space to grow. Some fish may experience stunted growth when not provided with adequate living conditions, but this is not healthy for the fish. It can be thought of in much the same way as foot-binding in the Chinese culture. While it resulted in smaller feet, it was neither a natural occurrence nor healthy for the women.

Adding salt water to a fresh water fish tank is another common myth that still persists. This most likely stems from saltwater's properties as a natural antiseptic and antibiotic, but adding it to a freshwater fish tank will most assuredly do more harm than good. The best way to keep fish healthy is by recreating their natural environment as closely as possible. For freshwater fish, this means creating a freshwater environment with a low amount of unnatural contaminants and a pH level close to the fish's native waters.

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Jeff Newburgh
Last updated on August 16, 2018 by Jeff Newburgh

Jeff is a dedicated writer and communications professional from San Francisco with a bachelor of arts in anthropology from UC Berkeley. He began his career in computer consulting and later branched out into customer service. Jeff focuses on making complex topics easy to understand. With over 10 years' experience in research, his relentless curiosity fuels a love of writing and learning how things work, and has helped to build expertise in categories such as heavy-duty power tools and computer equipment. Jeff's passion for animals affords him a strong understanding of pet products, including dog houses, beds, and grain-free foods. When he's not writing, he prefers spending time with his family and three dogs, while kicking back and relaxing with a nice glass of red wine.


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