Air Pumps

Untitled Document Air Pumps have many purposes in the aquarium. Air Pumps can provide oxygen, water circulation, operate ornaments and power filtration equipment.

Fresh Air For Your Aquarium

An Aquarium Air Pump is one of the most basic, yet versatile, pieces of equipment that you can own for your aquarium. The Basic function of an Aquarium Air Pump is to force air, through mechanical means, from the atmosphere into your aquarium. By forcing air into the water, you create water motion with the rising air bubbles, and also provide oxygen to the water that your aquarium fish and animals need to "breathe". With the use of an Air Stone you can greatly improve the efficiency of air transferred into the aquarium, and also enhance the appearance of your aquarium. There are many types of Air Stones available, with interesting forms and functions. Air pumps can also be used to efficiently operate some types of aquarium filtration equipment.

Applications For Use


Like all animals, fish require oxygen to survive, which they "breathe" from aquarium water. They do this by absorbing dissolved oxygen from the water through their gills. The aquarium can absorb oxygen at the surface of the water, but this may not be enough on its own. Use of an air pump and Air Stone greatly increases CO2 and O2 gas exchange, keeping disolved concentrations of these gasses at safe levels. This occurs from direct transfer of gases from the bubbles produced, as well as from the surface agitation caused by the escaping bubbles. Air Stones come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and materials. From simple sand air stones and discs, to bars and flexible wands that use porous membranes or other synthetic materials.


Many times people add an Air Stone; (powered by the air pump) to their aquarium simply to provide a beautiful flow of tiny bubbles. There are all different shapes and sizes of air stones, as well as ornaments that function with an air pump. (Remember the old opening and closing treasure chest in the Dr.'s office fish tank?) Some Air Stones and ornaments also include LED lighting for dramatic effects.


Undergravel filters, sponge filters, and certain other filters use air pumps to function. The air from an air pump creates water motion with rising air bubbles, that draws water through these simple filtration devices. This method of powering filters also provides aerobic bacteria with the oxygen they need to thrive in your biological filter.

Protein Skimmer:

Some types of protein skimmers use an air stone to produce the bubbles/foam that removes the protein and organic waste from aquarium water. These protein skimmers typically us wooden air stones, that produce very fine small bubbles, which are extremely efficient.

Types Of Air Pumps

General Purpose:

Ideal for general aeration purposes, or running ornaments, sponge filters, or undergravel filters. Examples of general purpose Air Pumps available are the Silent Air by Penn Plax, Whisper by Tetra, and Fusion by JW Pet pumps. Most manufacturers have several sizes available, with larger models available for deeper aquariums, or for running multiple air driven devices. General Purpose pumps use standard aquarium airline tubing.

High Output Air Pumps:

These pumps are designed for the largest aquariums, multiple aquariums, high pressure requirements or ponds with large airstones. High output pumps can be either diaphragm or piston design, and are usually louder and use more power than general purpose pumps.

Battery powered:

These are general air pumps that run on batteries instead of plugging in. They are life-savers during power outages or when transporting fish. Some Battery powered pumps perform dual functions, operating on A/C power under normal conditions, then switch to battery D/C power during outages.

Air Pump Accessories

Airline Tubing:

This is the tubing you would use to connect the air pump (always outside the aquarium) to the air stone or other device inside the tank water. Some is ozone resistant for use on Ozone reactors.

Check Valve

Check valves should be used on every air pump installation. A Check valve is a one way device that is installed inline in the airline tubing, which allows air to pass in one direction, and prevents water (or air) from traveling backwards and entering the pump outlets during power outages or when the pump is not plugged in. Back-siphoning water will damage air pumps and other equipment, and can create an electrical hazard.

Gang Valve:

Gang valves are used when more airlines are needed than are supplied directly from the pump itself. They are available in sets up to five, but can be expanded beyond that if necessary. The flow of air can then be individually adjusted from the gang valve to create the desired effect from each airstone, ornament, etc.


These items allow you to customize the flow of your air through various airline tubes.

Replacement Parts Kit:

Many air pumps feature their very own repair kit with replacement parts such as: diaphragm, air filter, rubber bushings, retainer plugs, valve flappers, and screws. Most include a special wrench to use when repairing. Replacing these parts as part of a preventative maintenance program will allow you air pump to last many, many years.