Air pumps are one of the most recognizable piece of equipment for aquariums but you’ll agree with us when we say that shopping for one can be quite confusing.
This confusion has compelled us to test out the most popular air pumps available out there.
In today’s post, we’ll help you figure out what kind of air pump will be able to fulfill your needs and what are some things you should avoid when getting one.
After months of rigorous testing, these three are the ones that stood out as the best air pumps available in the market.
Now, let’s get into the reviews for the top 10 best air pumps.
Best Air Pump - Top 10 Reviews
1. Best All-Around Air Pump - Marine Metal 110 Air Dual A-2 Review
This air pump was so easy to set up, we thought we’d missed something.
It comes with silicone air tubing that you can easily attach to the main module which is then attached to the air stones that are provided with it. These air stones are weighted and made of glass and they produce wonderful small bubbles in a large frequency which aerate the fish tank extremely well.
All the fish in our tank, especially our energetic Bettas were delighted with this new addition to their tank. They swam around the bubbles and seemed quite excited at the sight of this new toy.
Features of Marine Metal 110 Air Dual A-2 – Best Air Pump
- Comes with silicone-tubing
- Two glass-bead air stones included
- Rubber base mount
- Weight: 1 pound
- Air stones it comes with produce a high quantity of small bubbles
- Easy to set up
- Extremely silent
- 1-year warranty
- Slightly flimsy near the tube openings
If you’re looking for an all-around super effective air pump with air stones at a reasonable price, you’ve just found it. Not only is this air pump powerful, it’s also silent.
2. Best Portable Air Pump - Tetra Whisper Air Pump Review
This air pump is probably the smallest one we have here on this list. It’s compact design helps it fit into any small nook or cranny you might have underneath your aquarium. You can hide it easily and if you don’t wish to hide it, that’s fine too as it’s designed quite stylishly and isn’t an eye-sore.
Note that you shouldn’t mistake its small size for weak performance though. In fact, this is a pump that is a lot stronger than most air pumps on this list. It is able to power several ornaments at once without losing its effectiveness. Not only that, it can do this in deep water fish tanks.
Features of Tetra Whisper Air Pump
- Works in tanks up to 8 feet deep
- Comes in seven different sizes ranging from 10 gallons up to 300 gallons
- Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Sleek, compact design
- Single air outlet
- High output even when connected to several ornaments
- Extremely cheap
- Super quiet
- Low power consumption
- Lifetime guarantee
- You may need to buy additional tubing for it
If you have trouble with managing and placing your aquarium equipment in a small space, this is the product for you. Its small footprint coupled with its powerful performance make it a great choice for minimalist fish-keepers.
3. Best Air Pump for Deep-Water Tanks - Eheim Air Pump 400 Review
This air pump is what can be categorized as a “deep tank air pump”. If you have a fish tank that’s deeper than 18-20 inches, you’ll want to invest in an air pump that’s specifically built to work in tanks that are deeper than that depth.
The Eheim Air Pump 400 is one such air pump. It’s extremely powerful motor helps it blow aerated bubbles through your aquarium with ease that go all the way up to the surface of your water where it is able to contract oxygen.
Features of Eheim Air Pump 400
- Weight: 1.9 pounds
- Electricity-powered. Operates at 120 volts.
- Two air outlets
- Comes with silicone tubing
- Comes with rubber suction cups
- Extremely quiet
- Suitable for aquariums up to 120 gallons
- Highly durable
- Each outlet can be separately controlled
- 3-year warranty
- Slightly expensive
If you’re looking for a powerful air pump for your deep water fish tank, you’ve just found it. This air pump is powerful enough to operate several ornaments at once at a deep level with ease.
4. Best Small Air Pump - Elemental O2 Commercial Air Pump Review
The Elemental O2 Commercial Air Pump is made from an aluminum alloy which makes it resistant to wear-and-tear even when it’s constantly in use. The piston and cylinder have a special coating to prevent rust and deterioration.
It operates at 120 volts and is also compatible with 3/16 inch air tubing. This made it very versatile in terms of what ornaments and decorations we could hook it up to.
It has a powerful electromagnetic motor that has been blowing bubbles in our fish tank constantly for months now since we started testing it.
Features of Elemental O2 Commercial Air Pump
- Body made of aluminum
- Weight: 3.7 pounds
- Operating capacity: 571 gallons per hour
- Works at 120 volts
- Works with 3/16 inch tubing (sold separately)
- Highly durable
- Small in size
- Six-outlet air divider
- 1-year warranty
- Looks very industrial and unappealing
If you don’t want a small air pump that doesn’t call attention to itself but is also highly effective, you should go for this product. Its powerful electromagnetic motor won’t disappoint you.
5. Best Low-Energy Air Pump - Hydrofarm Active Aqua Air Pump Review
This air pump highly impressed us by how it utilized power. We noticed a significant dip in our electricity bill ever since we started testing this product out.
It’s extremely silent and comes with a built-in muffler. It also has rubber legs which make sure that it does not make any noise due to vibrations when it’s turned on.
Unlike most of its competitors, this air pump features an option to control and adjust the air flow rate which is a great bonus if you want to control the mood and excitement level of the fish inside your aquarium.
Features of Hydrofarm Active Aqua Air Pump
- Built-in multi-level muffler
- Operating capacity: 240 gallons per hour
- Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Rubber legs to prevent noise
- Simple, elegant design
- Low energy consumption
- Multiple air outlets
- Adjustable air flow rate
- 1-year warranty
- Extremely silent
- Not water-proof
If you’re worried about all your aquarium equipment racking up a high electricity bill, this product is ideal for you. It will add great value to your aquarium while keeping running costs low.
6. Best Commercial Air Pump - Danner Aqua-Supreme 59942 Aqua Supreme AP-8 Aquarium Air Pump Review
This nifty product was extremely easy to set up. All we had to do was connect the tubing and turn it on. It has an adjustable air flow rate that can be controlled by a dial on top of it but we found that it was perfectly set from the beginning and its settings barely required any modification.
It has four different air outlets that can be used to power all kinds of ornaments and decorations within your aquarium.
Its motor is extremely quiet and works very efficiently to produce air bubbles without using too much power.
Features of Danner Aqua-Supreme 59942 Aqua Supreme AP-8 Aquarium Air Pump
- Weight: 1 pound
- Accepts standard airline tubing
- Energy-efficient internal motor
- Works at 142 gallons per hour
- Suitable for saltwater and freshwater aquariums
- Easy to use
- Four separate air outlets
- Adjustable air flow
- Very silent
- Slightly heavy and bulky
If you want a hassle-free air pump that also offers a degree of customization, this product is ideal for you. The motor is silent and the dial on top of it can be used to adjust air flow.
7. Best Budget Air Pump - Fluval Q1 Air Pump Review
This air pump is small and compactly designed in order to give you the smallest footprint possible. Despite its small size, the air pump is surprisingly very powerful and can easily support fish tanks up to 160 gallons in size.
Its advanced swing-arm and diaphragm design helps it aerate your fish tank not only in an effective way but also in a very consistent and stable way. The currents this air pump creates are very one-note so your fish aren’t treated to anything unexpected. They are able to get used to its flow and this makes them relaxed and less stressed.
Features of Fluval Q1 Air Pump
- Adjustable air flow
- Effective in aquariums up to 160 gallons
- Weight: 2.1 pounds
- Designed specifically for quieter performance
- Low power consumption motor
- Doesn’t take up too much space
- 2-year warranty
- No options when it comes to different sizes
If you don’t have too much money to spend but still want your fish tank to be nicely aerated, this is the product for you. It’s clever design makes it great for quiet operation on a budget.
8. Best Battery-Powered Air Pump - Penn Plax Silent Air B11 Battery Operated Aquarium Air Pump Review
This is a product we were excited to try since it’s unique from most of the other air pumps that we tried and tested by virtue of the fact that it’s powered by batteries rather than electricity.
It has an internal battery pump and can be used as a backup to your main air pump when the power goes out or just as the primary air pump. Despite being powered by batteries, it’s still a very powerful piece of equipment and is able to aerate fish tanks with the same effectiveness than any electricity-powered air pump does.
Features of Penn Plax Silent Air B11 Battery Operated Aquarium Air Pump
- Requires 2D batteries (not included)
- Comes with air tubing for use
- Comes with one deluxe air stone
- Auto-on feature
- Works in aquariums up to 29 gallons
- Great for transporting fish
- Suitable for freshwater and marine environments
- Batteries need to be purchased separately
If you have regular problems with power outages or just don’t want to rely on electricity to aerate your fish tank, this product was made for you. Its auto-on feature ensures it turns on whenever there’s a power outage to make sure your aquarium stays oxygenated.
9. Best Air Pump with Air Stones - VicTsing Air Pump Ultra Silent High Out Energy Efficient Aquarium Air Pump Review
The VicTsing Air Pump has a pump with two separate vents.
What this means is that this air pump can aerate two separate fish tanks at the same time. If you have two smaller fish tanks, this could work perfectly with them since it also comes with two premium quality air stones that you could use.
It’s built-in muffler helps it dampen the noise it creates and it operates very quietly despite the heavy lifting that it’s doing.
Features of VicTsing Air Pump Ultra Silent High Out Energy Efficient Aquarium Air Pump
- Multi-level muffler
- Comes with two air stones
- Air tubing included
- Rated Voltage: 220 volts
- Weight: 12.6 ounces
- Extremely silent
- Low energy consumption
- Small and portable
- Can provide oxygen to two fish tanks at the same time
- Not as powerful as it claims to be
If you don’t want ugly tubing sticking out of your aquarium substrate and want beautiful air stones to blow the air bubbles out instead, you might want to get this product. Its dual-vent design really makes it stand out from the rest.
10. Best Air Pump for Versatile Aquarium Sizes - Hygger Aquarium Air Pump Review
The Hygger Aquarium Air Pump is specifically designed to aerate aquariums regardless of what type of inhabitants it harbors. What we mean by that is that this aquarium works perfectly in both freshwater and marine environments. It can operate effectively in aquariums as large as 600 gallons.
The dark-colored external body harbors another container inside it which eventually contains the internal motor. This contributes to the muffling of the sound when the air pump is operational which makes it extremely quiet. You’ll be very pleasantly surprised by how quiet this air pump is. We were barely able to make out any sound coming from it even when it was placed in our smallest room.
Features of Hygger Aquarium Air Pump
- Operational voltage: 100-120 volts
- Two air outlets
- Suitable for aquariums ranging from 30 to 600 gallons
- Air flow rate: 250 gallons per hour
- Sound-insulated internal cover
- Low energy consumption
- Creates a high volume of bubbles in small fish tanks
- 1-year warranty
- Internal motor very durable
- External body seems flimsy
If you’re not sure about what air pump to get for your aquarium’s size, this is a product you can trust. Its great design helps it operate quietly even when it’s aerating extremely large aquariums.
Do I really need an aquarium air pump?
Though air pumps are not considered to be 100% necessary to have in your aquarium, they can really elevate the environment inside your fish tank in a number of ways if you do decide to get one. We can say this with complete confidence that if you do your research and get a good air pump, you definitely won’t regret it and will consider the purchase to be worth it.
Some of the benefits of having an aquarium air pump are:
Rise in Oxygen Levels
An aquarium air pump can play a crucial role in oxygenating your tank water. A lot of people believe that this is due to the air bubbles that the pump creates but this is a misconception. It’s actually due to the activity the aquarium air pump creates at the top surface of the body of water.
Since there is water movement on the top surface of the water body, it comes into more contact with the air which allows the oxygen in the air to enter the tank water with ease.
Encourages Water Circulation
Water movement is crucial when it comes to maintaining a healthy aquarium. We already discussed how it helps oxygenate the water but movement in your water also helps:
- Maintain a consistent temperature
- Stimulate gaseous exchange between fish and aquarium plants
- Encourage biological filtration
- Create small currents for your fish to swim in
What should I look for when buying an air pump for my aquarium?
There are a number of factors that you should think about which will help you determine what aquarium air pump is most suitable for you. These key factors are:
This is, by far, the most important and most obvious factor.
If you have a larger tank, you’ll need an air pump that is stronger or you might want to invest in more than one so they are able to circulate the water inside your fish tank effectively.
Most brands have tank size ratings on their air pumps in order to give you an estimate of what air pump would be most appropriate for the tank size you have.
Amount of Ornaments and Decorations
You need to take into account all the ornaments and decorations that will need to be powered by the air pump before you actually go and buy one.
The more ornaments depending on the air pump, the stronger of an air pump you will need. So, we recommend that you decide and buy your ornaments and decorations first and then invest in an air pump accordingly.
Special Need for Deeper Tank
Most air pumps are not built to accommodate fish tanks deeper than 18-20 inches. If you have a tank that’s deeper than this, you’ll have to invest in special deep-water air pumps which hold the capability to push air bubbles all the way to the top of the water surface from that depth.
What are the different types of aquarium air pumps?
There are a few different ways to categorize aquarium air pumps. Some of these categories are:
Under-Gravel Air Pumps
These air pumps are placed underneath the substrate in your aquarium and are used to circulate water by blowing air bubbles up through the gravel.
Deepwater Air Pumps
Most regular air pumps aren’t very effective in tanks that are deeper than 18-20 inches. For tanks that are deeper than this depth, special air pumps known as deepwater air pumps are used.
Where should I place my air pump in my fish tank?
Wherever you put it, it has to be a solid surface that is securely locked and not flimsy at all. This is because air pumps are a powerful piece of equipment that vibrate when they are turned on so you need to make sure that it doesn’t eventually fall off whatever surface it’s put on. Be sure to put it in the middle of the surface so it doesn’t fall off the edge and never put it on top of your fish tank or any shelf that’s hanging off of the fish tank.
Why is my air pump not making any bubbles?
This is usually because of blockage in the tubing of your aquarium air pump with debris, dirt or other small solids. Just turn your air pump off, take it out and remove any excess dirt and debris that may have built up inside the tubing. Your air pump should start functioning effectively after this.
How do I set up my aquarium air pump?
Setting up an air pump is actually quite simple as compared to filters, heaters and other aquarium equipment. The set up is usually very intuitive and they come with clear instruction manuals. For most air pumps, you just need to follow these steps:
- Connect the provided tubing to your air pump.
- Install the valves provided with the aquarium air pump into all the decorations and ornaments that you want to power with your air pump.
- Connect these valves to your air pump and double-check to make sure all the tubing and valves are securely connected. Also check that your air pump is mounted securely and won’t fall off from its place due to vibrations.
- Plug your air pump into the nearest power supply and turn it on.
Frequently Asked Questions
My air pump makes too much noise. How can I make it quieter?
Some cheap quality air pumps tend to make a lot of noise when they are operational, which can be a great nuisance. If you have your aquarium in your bedroom, this can be a source of great irritation.
The first and most common way to fix this is to place your air pump onto a soft surface that will absorb the sound of the vibrations. Some examples that work well are a cheap mousepad, a towel, foam, rubber matting or a sponge.
Another way to get rid of the sound is by suspending the air pump into the air. While this can work quite well, it will require some handiwork on your part in order to hang the air pump securely.
In any case, you won’t be able to stop the noise completely as an air pump consists of many moving parts that are constantly vibrating. We think the best way to avoid noise problems is to invest in a good quality air pump that has noise-diminishing capabilities.
Can I get oxygen into my aquarium without using an air pump?
Yes. One way to do this is by planting live aquarium plants inside your aquarium. This is a great way to oxygenate the water inside your fish tank and provide your fish with the oxygen they need. However, there are some drawbacks to having live aquarium plants when compared with an aquarium air pump.
Plants are living beings that require nutrition and maintenance just like the fish you have in your aquarium. If you don’t have time to take care of the plants in your aquarium, we recommend you invest in an air pump. Also, live aquarium plants take up a lot of space inside your aquarium depending on the type of plant you get. This may cause your fish to become stressed due to the limited space in the fish tank.
Is it necessary to have an air stone at the end of the air pump’s tube?
No. An Air stone is not a necessary piece of equipment but we do recommend getting one if you can.
The bare end of the tubing of an air pump looks ugly inside an air pump and you can use the air stone to hide this and make it aesthetically pleasing.
There is also a myth surrounding air stones that air coming out of the air stone will mix into the water. This is not true at all. In fact, the air bubbles coming out of the airstone at this stage actually imitate air at the top surface of the water in that it helps oxygen exchange between the water and the air. Hence, it’s a great way to encourage oxygenation inside your fish tank.
Should I turn my air pump off at night or let it run?
Yes. You don’t need to keep your air pump on 24/7 as this could become pricey in terms of electricity costs.
Be sure that you have a good quality filter installed in your aquarium that helps the oxygenation and water circulation process inside your aquarium while your air pump is switched off.
What’s the difference between an air pump and a fish tank filter?
An air pump only creates bubbles and movement inside the water that help encourage oxygenation and promote water circulation.
A fish tank filter consists of membranes that clean out the water and remove any waste and bacteria in it.
How can I tell if my air pump is strong enough?
Monitoring oxygen levels inside your fish tank is a great way to tell if your air pump is strong enough and is doing its job effectively.
If your fish seem happy and healthy and are swimming around with ease. These are all indications towards a balanced and well-aerated aquarium. If your fish develop any sort of stress-related diseases or start being aggressive towards their fellow tank members, this might be pointing towards low oxygen levels in your tank and could mean that your air pump is not effective enough.
Air pumps are a great way to not only add some dynamic movement to your fish tank but to also help aerate it and encourage high oxygen levels and clean tank water through biological filtration.
After experimenting with all kinds of air pumps, we have to crown the Marine Metal 110 Air Dual A-2 as our winner. It’s quiet, lightweight, safe, easy to setup and does its job very effectively.
This brings us to the conclusion of our post for the best air pumps.
Let us know what air pump you’re using to aerate your aquarium.