10 Best Aquarium Air Pumps | March 2017

If you've been coming home to fishy fellas floating on the top of the water, it may be time to invest in one of these aquarium air pumps. They will keep all your aquatic friends well oxygenated, and can handle everything from small tanks to ponds with capacities as large as 15,000 gallons. Skip to the best aquarium air pump on Amazon.
10 Best Aquarium Air Pumps | March 2017

Overall Rank: 7
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 9
Best Inexpensive
The Penn-Plax AirPod has a battery backup, so your aquatic environment will stay oxygenated for as long as 150 hours after a loss of power. It's a great choice for expensive saltwater aquariums.
The Marine Metal Air Bubbles II produces 99.5% saturation of dissolved oxygen. It is a complete ready to use system that includes everything you need, all you have to do is plug it in and you are good to go.
The Hydrofarm AAPA15L has a multi-level muffler, making it extremely quiet, so it shouldn't affect your sleep if kept in your bedroom. It keeps a steady air flow output, and its pressure can be adjusted freely.
The Fluval Q1 Air Pump is the go-to choice for many homes with midsize aquariums. Fluval pumps are easy to operate and, above all, reliable, so you never have to worry about coming home and finding a tank full of dead fish.
  • noise suppressing baffle chamber
  • advanced swing arm and diaphragm design
  • bubbles are a bit loud
Brand Fluval
Model A852
Weight 2.1 pounds
The Elemental O2 is a commercial quality pump just like you'd find them using at your local pet store, but without the hefty price tag. It uses a powerful electromagnetic motor to push 571 gallons per hour.
  • includes a six-outlet air divider
  • makes a wide swath of bubbles
  • housing looks very industrial
Brand Elemental
Model pending
Weight pending
The EcoPlus 728350 cycles through as many as 380 gallons of water per hour, so you know your fish (or anemones or crustaceans) are getting plenty of air. It does an exceptional job considering its small size and low price point.
  • also suitable for hydroponic growing
  • durable cylinders and pistons
  • hard to get tubes on the nipple
Brand EcoPlus
Model 728355
Weight 3.4 pounds
The Mr. Aqua Non Stop will keep your aquarium's air flowing steadily, but operates so quietly that you'll hardly ever hear it as it does its job. It makes a great backup during power outages because of its internal battery.
  • rubber feet reduce vibrations
  • has a water resistant shell
  • only suitable for small, shallow tanks
Brand Mr. Aqua
Model MA-049
Weight 5.5 pounds
The Danner Aqua Supreme AP-8 has four separate outlets, so you can supply multiple tanks at once. It also has an energy efficient motor to help you cut back on electricity costs, plus it can be operated as deep as 4.5 feet.
  • housing is solid and well built
  • designed and made in america
  • accepts standard airline tubing
Brand Supreme (Danner Inc)
Model 250132
Weight 2.4 pounds
The Tetra Whisper AP150 Air Pump is suitable for deep water aquariums holding up to 150 gallons of water. It is very well reviewed by owners because of its long lasting durability and high output.
  • also provides water movement
  • whisper quiet operation
  • for tanks with a lot of back pressure
Brand Tetra
Model 26075
Weight 1.2 pounds
The Alita Air Pump 60 LPM is suitable for massive fish tanks or even ponds holding between 6,000 and 15,000 gallons of water with a surface area of up to 1,000 square feet. It is ultra quiet when running and won't disturb anyone.
  • available in smaller sizes too
  • zero lubrication requirements
  • 3 year manufacturers warranty
Model AL-60
Weight 14.7 pounds

What An Air Pump Really Does In A Fish Tank

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 in 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 proportionately 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. Larger tanks with less 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 you 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 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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Last updated: 03/26/2017 | Authorship Information