How Long Do Aquarium Air Pumps Last? (Answered In Detail)

Image of an aquarium with a working air pump

Air pumps facilitate the gas exchange for your aquarium by expelling carbon dioxide and taking in oxygen. So, if you use them continuously to oxygenate the water, how long will aquarium air pumps last?

Aquarium air pumps can last from a few months to a few years, depending on several factors. The most common factors on which the lifespan of air pumps depends are how often they are used, the presence of a filter in the aquarium, quality of the tank water, room temperature, and maintenance cycle.

Also, if your aquarium pump runs for too long without being turned off, it will wear out faster. However, some pumps can last much longer than others.

How Long Do Saltwater Aquarium Air Pumps Last?

On average, saltwater aquarium air pumps last longer than freshwater aquarium air pumps. This is simply because saltwater aquariums don’t rely on air pumps to create the gas exchange needed for oxygenating the water.

Air pumps are only needed in a saltwater aquarium if they are to be used to run some equipment.

For example, air pumps support a counter-current protein skimmer, which removes proteins and other organics before they turn into nitrogen compounds or other toxins.

On the other hand, freshwater aquariums need air pumps, also known as bubblers, to create bubbles for circulating the water inside the tank. This helps remove carbon dioxide and add oxygen to the water.

Since air pumps are less utilized in a saltwater aquarium, they can easily last longer than freshwater aquarium air pumps.

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Why Do Aquarium Air Pumps Stop Working?

The most common reason why aquarium air pumps stop working is that they get clogged with debris from water plants or other materials in the tank.

The clogging causes the flow rate through the air pump to decrease until it stops working altogether.

To prevent this problem, make sure that all plant material is removed before starting the air pump again.

Another reason for air pumps to stop working is the cracks that form in the bends of the air pump tubing due to overuse. When the tubes bend too far, they become kinked and don’t function correctly.

To avoid this problem, check the tubes regularly for any signs of damage, such as cracks or breaks. You should also replace the damaged parts immediately so that the air pump doesn’t fail.

What Should You Do When Your Air Pump Stops Working?

Like other fixtures, air pumps also face wear and tear. If you notice that your fish tank air pump has stopped working, don’t panic. There are several things you can try before calling a professional.

Given below are certain checks that you can carry out to understand the problem:

  1. Check if there’s a water leak from the base of the air pump.
  2. Make sure all connections are tight.
  3. Try turning the power switch back on to see if the air pump starts working.
  4. Turn the pump upside down and see if anything falls out.

If there are no visible signs of damage, do a close inspection to understand what’s required to fix the issue.

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How To Fix An Aquarium Air Pump?

To begin with, check whether the power supply cord is plugged into the wall socket correctly and there is no connection problem.

Given below are some common aquarium air pump problems and how to fix them:

  1. Loud noise: A worn diaphragm will result in a noisy air pump. The soft rubber of the diaphragm will wear out over time due to continuous usage. In such cases, replacing the old diaphragm would solve the issue.
  2. No bubbles: You can adjust the position of the air pump by placing it higher. Check if the change in position helps create bubbles. You can adjust the position to get the desired result.
  3. Damaged rubber bladder: You can check for a tear or opening in the rubber bladder by gently squeezing it with your fingers. A torn bladder should leak water when squeezed. Replace the damaged part immediately.
  4. Cracks/breaks in the tubing: While installing an air pump, make sure you don’t bend the tubing too much, resulting in cracks or folds. The tubing needs to be as straight as possible because too many bends or folds can stop the airflow, create cracks, and fail to create bubbles.
  5. Clogged filter: If the filter operated by the air pump is clogged, it can prevent the air pump from creating bubbles. The main component is the sponge that is sitting inside the filter. Remove and clean the filter by following the below steps.
  6. Unplug the filter: Switch off the power supply and remove the filter from the tank for cleaning. It will be challenging to fix the filter within the tank.
  7. Take out some water: Remove some tank water in a cup or bowl to clean the sponge inside the filter. Avoid using tap, distilled, or bottled water as these can affect the aquarium fish negatively.
  8. Clean the sponge: Use the tank water for cleaning the sponge. If the sponge is too dirty, you may have to replace it.
  9. Scrub the tubes and casing: Use a cleaning brush to rub the remaining parts of the filter. Use tank water to ensure the tank inhabitants don’t face any problems arising from the change in water quality.
  10. Put back the filter: Finally, fix the sponge back in the filter and put it back into the water tank.

If your air pump is still not functional, it’s time to either call for professional help or replace it with a new air pump.

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