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? We will show you how to set up an aquarium pump and explain the best times to use it.
What is an Air Pump for Fish Tanks?
An air pump, a mechanical device that pumps air into the aquarium from outside, is an electrical device. Air travels from an air pump to a fish tank decoration or device using airline tube. Bubbles are created when the air enters water. These bubbles float to the surface, and then pop.
The rising bubbles help create movement in the water, as well as surface agitation. Proper gas exchange is achieved by good surface agitation. This allows excess carbon dioxide, which is a waste product from your fish, to be released into the atmosphere and for new oxygen to dissolve into the water. 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 an aquarium require an air pump? Canister and hang-on-back filters, for example, use an electric motor to move the water. They are 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 are still unsure, check the instructions to determine if your decoration or equipment requires an air pump.
Sponge filters make use of air pumps to create bubbles that draw water through the sponge, and then strain out any particles.
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, also known as aquarium bubbler, is a device that creates finer bubbles using an air pump. This can be used for reduced noise, better filtration (when combined with a filter), and decorative appearance.
How to Install an Aquarium Pump
An air pump is responsible for sucking in air from outside of the fish tank and pumping it into a submerged aquarium apparatus. A few accessories are needed to help guide the airflow in the right direction at the right pressure. For most beginners, we recommend getting a roll of airline tubing and check valve to get started. The other items are optional, depending on your specific application.
– Airline tubing – directs the air flow from the air pump into the aquarium equipment or ornament – Check valve – prevents water from leaking out of the fish tank if the air pump turns off or loses power – Air valve – controls the amount of air flow coming from your air pump into the aquarium – T splitter – splits one airline into two channels, allowing a single air pump to run two devices – Gang valve – splits and controls the air flow from a single air pump across four different aquarium devices – Airline holder – uses a suction cup to hold your airline tubing in place, either inside or outside the fish tank – Airline connector – connects two pieces of airline tubing together to reach longer distances
This black airline tubing is essential for directing air flow from the air pump into the sponge filter.
After you have purchased your air pump, accessory, or aquarium decoration, please follow these simple instructions to install it.
1. Place the air pump in its final location outside of the aquarium, and then cut the airline tubing to the proper length so that it is long enough to connect the air pump to the aquarium device inside the aquarium. (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. Then connect the other end of the airline tubing to the air pump. 3. If the air pump is positioned higher than the top of the aquarium, you can skip this step. You will need a check valve if the air pump is lower than at the top of your aquarium. This will prevent water from getting through the airline tube. Cut the airline tubing between the aquarium device (or sponge filter) and attach the check-valve in between. Make sure the flapper end of the check vale with the flapper faces the air pump. You can’t turn the air pump on if the check valve is installed backwards. Instead, flip it around.
1. Make a drip-loop with the power cable from the air pump to prevent water entering the wall outlet. After that, plug in the pump. You should begin to see bubbles from your aquarium device within a few seconds.
You will find detailed instructions for how to install your aquarium device and air pump in the manuals.
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. You can adjust the flow of some air pumps with an adjustable dial. 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. Unfortunately, this vibration can get quite loud over time. These solutions can make it more quiet:
To cushion vibrations, place a towel, foam block, or any other soft material underneath the air pump. – Make sure the air pump (and its cushion) is resting on a solid surface that won’t vibrate and amplify the noise. If your air pump is not too heavy, you can hang it by the power cord so it doesn’t touch or vibrate against any object. Clean any aquarium accessories or decorations attached to your pump. It may be clogged with debris or algae growth. Consider replacing your existing air pump with a smaller and quieter one, such as the USB Nano air pump. – If the bubbling noise is too loud, try adding an air stone to the aquarium device, if possible. The bubbles created by an air stone are smaller, and they don’t make as much noise when they hit the surface. For example, see our article on how to install an air stone in a sponge filter.
Adding an airstone to a sponge filter, or any other air-driven filter, significantly reduces the noise and improves efficiency.
What Is the Best Aquarium Air Pump?
After testing dozens and dozens of air pumps over the years, we have settled on three units that have superior reliability, low noise level, and reasonable cost. 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.
The USB power cord gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to powering the air pump. You can plug it into a regular wall outlet (adapter included with the product), a car with a USB outlet or cigarette lighter adapter, or a USB battery pack for surviving power outages and short drives.
Air Pumps for Large or Deep Tanks