A lot of items are needed when building an aquarium.
There’s the thermometer, which helps you monitor the water temperature and ensure that it’s within the ideal range for your fish. Here is our review about best thermometer for aquarium.
Then there’s the filter, which is needed as it removes the excess food, fish wastes, and other harmful particles from the water. (Click here to read our aquarium filter reviews.)
Unlike a thermometer or a filter, however, an air pump is not considered as a basic necessity for an aquarium.
It could be necessary, but that depends on you and your fish tank.
What Do Air Pumps Do?
In general, air pumps can bring air from outside the aquarium to inside the aquarium through an outlet.
The outlet can be in form of decoration. For example, you can arrange a coral or a plant that has bubbles coming out of its center. If you enjoy having miniature structures in your tank such as a house or a ship, you can turn their chimneys into your air pump’s outlet as well.
Another option would be to use an air stone that you can hide behind plants or corals.
You can also illuminate the bubbles produced by your air pump using a colorful light source to provide more aesthetic appeal.
Aside from using the air pump to form bubbles for aesthetic design, however, you can also use it to provide more oxygen to your water. The more your water moves, the more contact it has with air, so more oxygen will then get into the water.
Providing oxygen to your tank is also the job of the filter outlet, which is why the air pump is not considered as a necessity. However, it doesn’t really hurt to have an additional back up, in case your filter breaks.
The addition of an air pump is not harmful to your fish. So if you like having an additional source of oxygen or just the nice effect of the bubbles, you can definitely get one.
There are also some types of filters that require the use of an air pump. An example would be an undergravel filter or a corner filter. However, for some of these types of filter, a water pump can also be used.
If you use protein skimmers, an air pump would be necessary as well, especially if the skimmers use air stones to produce the foam that removes organic waste from your tank.
Accessories For An Air Pump
While most air pumps come with instructions on how to install the device and its accessories, knowing the purpose of them can be extremely helpful and may give you that extra preparation you need.
There are only a few accessories that you can use with an air pump.
1. Airline Tubes
These are the tubes that you will use to connect your air pump from outside the aquarium to the ornaments or air stones inside the water.
2. Connectors or T-Valves
These items allow you to customize the air flow through multiple airline tubes. It is especially necessary if you want to connect the air pump to multiple ornaments or air stones.
3. Check or Return Valve
A check valve or return valve is a must for every type of air pump. It’s a device that allows air to pass in only one direction and prevents air or water from going backwards into the pump outlets. This can be useful whenever there are power outages or when the pump loses its power source, whether it’s the electricity or battery.
4. Gang Valve
These are used when you need more airlines than the amount supplied by the pump. It is also useful when you want to connect the air pump to various ornaments or air stones. When using gang valves, you can adjust the air flow individually to achieve your desired bubble effect from each air stone or ornament.
Before getting an air pump, be aware of what accessories you might need. This mostly depends on what you intend to use the air pump for.
Some of the most powerful air pumps are capable of pumping air to more than one tanks. If you’d like to do this as well, then the amount of accessories needed to accommodate multiple tanks would have to be well thought of.
You can check if the air pump comes with these accessories before purchasing. If not, or if the amount of accessories is not enough for what you need, you can buy them separately. Most of them are inexpensive and are fairly easy to find.
Some accessories are also offered to be bought together with the air pump as a bundle, so you can opt for those if you want to save more money.
How To Choose The Right Air Pump
This depends on what you intend to use the air pump for.
Some air pumps are suited for different sizes of tanks, but the sizes are only relevant if you intend to use the air pump to operate an undergravel filter.
If you’re using the air pump for decorative purposes, then the more ornaments you run using the air pump, the larger it has to be. Similarly, if you’re only running a few ornaments, then a smaller air pump would do the trick.
You should also consider air resistance. If you are using decorations in your tank that resist the air coming from the pump, then you might need a larger air pump. Note that larger air stones may also provide higher resistance compared to small air stones.
Additionally, if your tank is more than 20 inches high , you might need to get an air pump that is meant for deep water so that air can still be pushed far below the water surface.
What Are Your Options?
To help you decide on which air pump to buy, we’ve listed up some of the top-rated air pumps below, along with our reviews for each product.
What’s Our Pick?
While the Deep Blue Professional’s rechargeable backup battery is an amazing feature, we think the Tetra Whisper’s support availability and wide range is awesome too!
Ultimately, the winner would have to be the Tetra Whisper Air Pump.
One of the things you have to consider when getting an air pump, especially when you’re using undergravel or corner filters, is the capacity of the pump. The Tetra Whisper Air Pump has multiple options that can accommodate from 10 gallons up to 300 gallons.