When To Use An Air Pump In The Aquarium? (7 Situations)

Image of bubbles created by an air pump in an aquarium

An air pump should be used in an aquarium when extra gas exchange is needed at the water’s surface for oxygenating it. The air pump increases the surface agitation, which removes the carbon dioxide from the water and takes in oxygen. It should also be used when other tank equipment is to be supported.

Let’s now understand in detail when and why you should use an air pump.

7 Situations When You Should Use An Air Pump In The Aquarium

An air pump may not be an essential piece of equipment for an aquarium, but it has numerous benefits.

For example, an air pump facilitates gas exchange, improves water circulation, and supports other devices and decorations.

Given below are some of the important situations when you should use an aquarium air pump:

  1. Surface agitation and gas exchange is needed in the aquarium. An aquarium air pump creates surface agitation to promote gas exchange. The air pump creates bubbles that rise to the surface and burst. This breaks the surface tension on the water surface.
  2. An increase in water oxygen level is required. An air pump quickly increases the oxygen level of the tank water. The rising air bubbles move the water to the surface, where carbon dioxide is released from the water and oxygen is taken in from the air.
  3. Water movement is needed inside the aquarium. A good quality aquarium air pump will help you create currents that keep the tank’s inhabitants healthy. These currents move through the water column, maintaining an adequate oxygen concentration and providing nutrients to all parts of the aquarium.
  4. Decorations are to be placed in the tank. An air pump supports decorations like shipwreck ornaments, car wreck ornaments, treasure chests, castle ornaments, arch bridge models, and many more to release the bubbles required for maintaining the oxygen levels. Using different ornaments and decorations improves your aquarium’s looks and gives the inhabitants a place to play and rest.
  5. Sponge filters are to be used in the aquarium. Sponge filters are reliable, cheap, and easy to clean. An air pump pushes air through its tubes inside the sponge filter for bubbles to rise from inside the sponge. This sucks the water through it, trapping the debris from the water. Sponge filters also assist in the development of beneficial bacteria.
  6. A quarantine tank is required to take care of fish. A quarantine tank is also a called hospital tank. These types of tanks are designed to keep fish with infections or illnesses. An air pump helps maintain a high temperature in these tanks to fight the infections. At the same time, it also helps the fish to recover by increasing the oxygen supply.
  7. Protein skimmers are to be used in the aquarium. An air pump supports a counter-current protein skimmer. It’s used for removing proteins and other organic materials from the water before they form nitrogen compounds and other toxins. Removing these wastes helps prevent algae build-up and reduce phosphates from the water.

Where To Put The Air Pump In An Aquarium?

The air pump should be placed outside the aquarium. Keeping the air pump on top of the aquarium or at a lower position than the aquarium top is fine.

If the air pump is at the top of the aquarium, water will not move back once the power is turned off or there’s a power outage.

However, if the air pump is positioned at a level lower than the top of the aquarium, you need to use a check valve to prevent the backward travel of water.

The air pump will work efficiently in both positions and generate bubbles to create the surface agitation required for the gas exchange to take place.

What Accessories Should You Use With An Air Pump?

Air pumps are widely used in aquariums to create bubbles and support other devices.

However, an air pump needs some accessories to facilitate the gas exchange required in an aquarium.

Given below are some of the accessories that you can use with an air pump:

  1. Air tubes: Air tubes help the air pump connect with various equipment like air stones, bubblers, decorations, and filters. It’s usually bundled with the air pump. The best way to use it is to cut it a little longer than you require. You can easily trim it later to adjust the length.
  2. Check Valve: A check valve prevents the backflow of water while allowing the flow of air. You should use it with every air pump. The check valve prevents backward travel of water during power outages or if the air pump is turned off. Back siphoning water damages the air pump and other equipment. It also leads to electrical hazards.
  3. Gang Valve: A gang valve is used to split the air between different accessories or even between aquariums. It helps control the airflow for multiple lines. Gang valves are mounted on the stand or an aquarium. They come with multiple ports that are used with different accessories to enhance the aquarium’s look.
  4. Pipe Valve: Pipe valves are also known as T-valves. They are connectors that allow the tubes to connect with other types of equipment. If there is a crack or break in the tubes, you can cut the damaged portion and connect both halves using a pipe valve.
  5. Power Cord: Power cord connects the air pump to the wall socket. A power cord consists of a cable with a plug on one end, and the other end is connected to the air pump for supplying energy. Ensure that the power cable is long enough to reach the power outlet.
  6. Other Equipment: Aeration stones and decorations are other accessories used with air pumps. These accessories release bubbles with the help of an air pump for the required gas exchange to take place and make your aquarium attractive.
  7. Kit with replacement parts: Many air pumps come with their repair kit and replacement parts such as air filters, diaphragm, plugs, plastic slip washers, rubber bush, screws, and valve flappers. Most provide a special wrench that can be used for replacing the damaged part. It helps perform periodic maintenance of the air pump and adds to its longevity.

By selecting the right air pump and accessories, you can improve the overall health of your aquarium and make it an exciting place for its inhabitants.

So let’s now understand how to install an aquarium air pump.

How To Install An Aquarium Air Pump?

An air pump is primarily used to increase the oxygen concentration of the water.

So you should buy an air pump and other accessories that facilitate sufficient airflow inside the aquarium.

This will create the surface agitation required for the gas exchange to take place.

Installing an aquarium air pump is easy. All you need to do is follow the basic instructions carefully to install the air pump.

Given below are the steps to install an aquarium air pump:

  1. Keep the air pump outside the aquarium, either on top of the aquarium or any other place that’s higher than the aquarium. The position of the air pump will matter, as you need to ensure there is no backward travel of water.
  2. The air tube length should be sufficient to connect the air pump with the aquarium device. As a best practice, cut the tube a little longer than you need. You can always trim it later to adjust its length.
  3. Connect one end of the tube to the aquarium device you want to put inside the aquarium and connect the other end to the air pump. Then, place the device inside the aquarium.
  4. The next step is to ensure there is no back siphoning of water in case of a power outage or when the air pump is turned off. If the air pump is located on top of the aquarium or at a place higher than the aquarium, there’s no need to do anything. However, if the air pump is at a level that’s below the top of your aquarium, you need to use a check valve. It will help prevent the backward travel of water. Cut the tube to attach a check valve. Ensure that the flapper of the check valve is facing the air pump. If you install the flapper backward, it will prevent the flow of air to the other side.
  5. Finally, create a drip loop using the air pump’s power cord. The drip loop is crucial in the aquarium pump setup. The water can leak out of the aquarium, get into the electrical connections, and result in an electrical fire. By creating a good loop, you prevent the water leak from getting into the power outlet.

Once you have completed all of the above steps, it’s time to add water to the aquarium.

Then, put the plug into the socket and turn on the air pump to create bubbles in the aquarium water.


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