Reviews of Air Pumps for Fish Tanks and Aquariums
Even though they live underwater, fish really like breathing oxygen too! Except in rare cases, a fish tank or aquarium with an air pump working away will ensure your fish have plenty of oxygenated water to pass through their gills.
Unfortunately, not all aquarium air pumps are made equal. Some are too expensive, some are too loud.
Finding the best aquarium air pump system for your fish means reading reviews, doing your homework and finding a pump that’s just right for you.
Aquarium air pump systems are intended to push lots of ambient air through the water of your fish tank, bowl or aquarium. In the wild, air, wave action and plant life ensure that water has a good amount of breathable oxygen for fish to survive.
In the still water of a bowl or fish tank, a quiet air pump simulates this natural occurrence.
This article is a review of aquarium air pumps and will offer a close look at some of my favorite pump systems out there. We’ll talk about the cost and ideal usage, so you can pick out a type of pump that’s ideal for your tank size and fish.
We’ll also touch on correct setup and placement in your fish tank.
So let’s get started…
Important Considerations When Buying a Fish Tank Air Pump
Aquarium bubblers need to be well cared for. However, if you’re new to aquariums, please read through this section carefully for advice that could save you time and money.
1. If you’re using a quiet aquarium air pump system and it utilizes cabling (as most do), you should definitely invest in a check valve. A check valve fits in between the cabling, acting as a connector. More importantly, it prevents water from flowing the other direction. In a power outage, this valve will prevent your air pump from getting ruined by water running up the hose. Don’t confuse this with a gang valve.
2. Another type of valve you can use in your fish tank silent air pump system is the gang valve. This splits the air pathways up, allowing you to have multiple air hoses running to different areas of the tank, or even to multiple tanks. They do not always act as check valves, so you should probably purchase both.
3. While a quiet air pump for your fish bowl works pretty well on its own, if you have a larger tank I recommend placing multiple bubbler outputs in there in different areas of the tank. This lets oxygen circulate more fully. A great option for this is a fish pump bubble wand, which you can bury under the substrate. It’s basically a long straw with many holes, allowing the bubbles to come up in a line.
4. Air Stones are a good idea too. They allow the air to come out in finer bubbles, letting it mix in the water much more efficiently. The finer bubbles also look a lot better, decoratively speaking. Air stone are inexpensive and work well with most silent fish tank air pump systems.
Tetra Series Whisper Air Pump
A quieter aquarium air pump for mid-to-large sized tanks, available in many sizes.
The Tetra Series Whisper quiet air pump for fish tanks is a good option if you have a mid-to-large sized tank and require a pump powerful enough to oxygenate the water properly, all while not being too loud.
It actually has two outlets, and you can make use of just one or both (although you should block the second one if you only use a single one).
It sits very securely on a flat surface, and it’s an attractive pump that doesn’t take up too much counter space. This is another aquarium air pump that reviews really well, and it’s a best-seller, so it’s worth considering.
I should also note that Tetra produces a whole range of cheap fish tank air pumps in this casing style, so you can find smaller versions if you like.
Hydrofarm AAPA15L Active Aqua Quiet Aquarium Air Pump
A high-quality fish tank air pump with 4 outlets in total.
Don’t feel like setting up a gang valve system? This is an aquarium air pump setup that has 4 outlets, allowing you to run up to 4 air hoses to different parts of your tank at once.
It’s only 3 pounds, and it can aerate up to 240 gallons per hour, meaning it’s extremely potent for its small size.
This Hydrofarm is also one of the quietest aquarium air pumps around, with a maximum volume of just 45 decibels. (and that’s if it’s going full steam).
The adjustable valve lets you regulate air pressure and bubbling with exact precision.
This is one of my absolute favorites.
JW Pet Company Fusion 500 Aquarium Air Pump
A quiet aquarium air pump for sale
The JW Pet Company Fusion 500 is a really quiet fish tank air pump for sale that utilizes an ‘air plenum’ of pressurized air to prevent excess noise. It is a very powerful fish bowl air pump for its size, and it has an adjustable knob to let you regulate the exact flow of air into the water.
It’s an attractive item too, and it sits flush and very secure on a flat surface.
This quiet fish aquarium air pump system can handle up to 7 hoses linked up in-line, or up to 7 decorative bubbler areas at once, so it’s suitable for reasonably large tanks too (though you might not get amazing air pressure if you overdo it.
It reviews really well and has a high customer satisfaction rating, despite the low price tag.
Silent Air® X Series Aquarium Air Pump
A powerful yet super quiet fish tank air pump with incredible durability
This is another excellent aquarium air pump that runs quieter than most of the pumps on this list.
It’s also extremely durable, and should last you for many years with no maintenance glitches whatsoever.
It’s recommended for a tank up to 80 gallons, but it could possibly handle larger systems than that.
It comes with a dual outlet, so it can handle multiple applications or bubblers under the water at once.
It’s one of the few aquarium air pumps to come with a 5 year warranty, and it can be run continuously for long periods of time with no worries.
It’s best if you place it so that you can take advantage of both aquarium pump line outlets at once.
Marina Air Pump by Hagen
Very small, very cheap, very quiet fish tank air pump
The Marina Air Pump is an extremely small, surprisingly cheap and wonderfully quiet aquarium air pump meant for a smaller fish tank.
The range of this particular one is from 10 gallons to 25, but there are a few smaller capacity versions of this pump that can handle even smaller water requirements.
It sits firmly on a surface, produces little in terms of vibration, and is almost silent, as aquarium air pumps go.
It only has a single air valve outlet, so this should be used with a single, small to medium sized fish bowl or tank system.
This is another aquarium tank bubbler that shouldn’t be overloaded. It just won’t have the power to run too many air stones or hose lines at once.
That being said, it’s perfect for a small sized tank with only a few occupants.
Aquarium Air Pump Installation and Setup:
How to place a fish tank air pump for maximum effect
When you decide on your air pump for your aquarium, it’s a good idea to know how to set it up properly.
First off, your pump will likely be powered either by batteries, or by a standard electrical plug (12 volt). I recommend the latter, since batteries are more costly and wasteful. However, they do reduce electrical cables.
Most aquarium air pumps operate with rubber or plastic based tubing.
This tubing is translucent and can be placed almost anywhere.
You can set up the tubing wherever you want in the tank, but make sure there are no kinks in the cable.
I recommend running it along corners and underneath your substrate (gravel or sand) to keep it out of sight.
This cabling can also be plugged into air stones, bubble wands, decorative elements and statues, or they can be used in conjunction with skimmers and sponge filters.
If you can find a hood-mounted aquarium air pump that reviews well, I suggest picking it up. They are a lot lower profile and they take up less counter space.
There is nothing more annoying than knocking your air pump off a ledge and having to set it all back up again.
Other Related Items:
Aquarium Air Pump Accessories
If you’re buying an air pump for your fish tank, you’ll need to consider getting a few other essential items. We’ve already talked about the importance of check valves, so I’ll include an example here.
There are other things worth considering that will keep your fishies happy and healthy, including air stones and air wands. Take a look!
Decorative Air Stones and Diffusers
Here are some attractive decorative air stones and diffusers for your silent aquarium air pump system.
They’ll produce the bubbles and oxygenate the tank while looking great.