Tanks & Accessories
10 Best Aquarium Air Pumps of 2020
An aquarium air pump is not really a necessary accessory for your aquarium, especially if you have a strong filter. However, it does help a lot with air circulation so as to oxygenate the water for the fish.
The pump is particularly useful if you reside in an area with a relatively high room temperature because warm water holds less air (oxygen).
In such a case, you need to buy the best aquarium air pump. This article reviews 10 of the best ones in the market in order to help you choose the most suitable one for your tank.
10 Best Aquarium Air Pumps – Review
1. Tetra Whisper AP300 (Best Overall)
2. Tetra 77848 (Best Budget)
3. Hydrofarm AAPA15L (Best for Aquaponic Tanks)
4. Marine Metal B15 (DC-Powered)
5. Hygger Air Pump (Quietest)
6. Fluval Q2 (Double-Walled)
7. Penn Plax SAB11 (Dual-Powered)
8. EcoPlus 728457 (Powerful)
9. Chialstar YDQB4104 (Compact)
10. VicTsing Air Pump (2-Channel Output)
1. Tetra Whisper AP300
2. Tetra 77848
3. Hydrofarm AAPA15L
(Best for Aquaponic Tanks)
4. Marine Metal B15
5. Hygger Air Pump
6. Fluval Q2
7. Penn Plax SAB11
8. EcoPlus 728457
9. Chialstar YDQB4104
10. VicTsing Air Pump
1. Tetra Whisper AP300 – Best Overall Aquarium Air Pump
Tetra's AP300 stands out because it is meant for deepwater applications. It pumps air through protein skimmers, long decorator air stones or multiple air stones at a depth of up to 8 feet for big aquariums of to 300 gallons in volume.
This makes it one of the best aquarium pumps because it can be used in a wide variety of aquariums. Additionally, the unit can run up to 10 accessories in 24 inch deep tanks with a capacity of 90 – 180 gallons.
Though expensive, this AP300 has 2 outlets and this makes it capable of running at least 2 air stones at once for faster aeration. 2 outlets also mean that you can pump air through 2 different tanks at the same time.
The AP300 is the most powerful in the Whisper line of Tetra’s aquarium air pumps but you can get the less powerful and less expensive 150-gallon option if the 300 is too strong for your tank.
Regardless of the size, these Whisper pumps operate quietly just as the name suggests, leading to little or no interruption of your daytime or nighttime peace.
2. Tetra 77848 – Best Budget Aquarium Air Pump
Starting off the list is this affordable Tetra 77848, which has a unique, patented dome shape with thick walls and sound dampening chambers inside that make it operate silently.
Additionally, the dome design means that the pump is suspended under it, effectively doing away with lots of vibrations. A wide footprint and rubber feet help distribute and absorb these vibrations for more quietness.
On the inside, powerful diaphragms provide the required airflow for deep waters of up to 8 feet. This makes the Whisper air pump compatible with almost all kinds of aquariums.
These diaphragms are also powerful enough to pump air through long decorator stones, multiple stones or even protein skimmers in marine aquariums.
3. Hydrofarm AAPA15L – Best Air Pump for Aquaponic Tanks
Hydrofarm’s Active air pump is actually designed for a hydroponics system, which means that it would work well if you have set up an aquaponics setup for your fish.
The unit has a multi-level muffler that lowers the noise produced during the pumping action, ensuring that it does not cause any nighttime disturbances.
Operationally, synthetic-rubber-built diaphragms provide a consistent flow of air and they can be adjusted using a pressure dial so as to control the rate of airflow.
This makes the product flexible enough to be used on different sizes of aquariums because the higher the airflow, the more the oxygenation. Other features include an energy efficient 6-watt design and a flow rate of 240 GPH.
However, the pump has a long and wide housing that occupies a lot of space, but this enables it to hold all the internal mechanisms really well.
4. Marine Metal B15 – DC-Powered Aquarium Air Pump
The Marine Metal B15 is the top-rated aquarium air pump in this review because not only can it be used to provide oxygen in aquariums, but it can also be used to oxygenate live wells in fishing boats so as to keep the fish healthy before the boat docks.
This is possible because the unit requires a 12 Volt DC source to power it. On a fishing boat, you just have to hook it onto the boat’s battery and that’s it.
However, in your house, you would need a way of converting AC from the mains into DC before powering it.
On the bright side, this pump comes with everything that you need to get started. This includes copper battery clips and a long 6’18” power cord, 10 feet of tubing, 2 large weighted glass-bead air stones, 2 anti-siphon valves, a T adaptor, and a mounting clip.
Operationally, the unit has 2 bellows, which provide 2 outlets of air flow at a rate of 5.6 STL/min, which translates to about 336 STL/hour.
With this airflow being channeled through the included air stones, this unit is assured to give a 99.5% saturation of dissolved oxygen into the water, which is very good for the fish.
5. Hygger Air Pump – Quietest Aquarium Air Pump
Hygger’s aquarium air pump is designed using a very innovative technology that requires no ordinary bearings. Instead, it has magnetic bearings that operate through magnetic levitation, making the unit one of the quietest aquarium air pumps in the market.
Magnetic levitation means that the moving rotor makes no physical contact with the stator and thus, apart from being silent, this system is very powerful and durable because there is no friction. Mechanical wear and tear is a foreign term to it.
This design gives it a very fast flow rate of 250 GPH from both outlets, and the capacity to oxygenate 30 – 600-gallon fish tanks.
The quiet operation of this motor is further silenced by a stainless steel inner case that provides an insulation layer above the motor.
Additionally, the motor is fixed to the outer case using 4 rubber columns, which dampen the vibrations, while the 4 outer rubber feet absorb the remaining vibrations when you place it on a flat surface.
An important thing to note, however, is that the unit is not waterproof and thus, you may want to get longer air tubing so as not to place it near a water source. Splashing water might ruin its circuitry.
6. Fluval Q2 – Double-Walled Aquarium Air Pump
At first glance, this Fluval aquarium air pump looks like a closed book, with grey pages and a black cover.
This outward appearance is actually part of a thick double wall, which dampens some of the noise produced by the running motor. The pump also has a noise-suppressing baffle chamber, which complements the thick double wall to make the pump a bit silent.
On the inside, this unit has an advanced swing-arm and diaphragm design that operates consistently to produce a steady airflow over a single outlet.
If you would like to power multiple air stones, you can attach this outlet to a gang valve so as to distribute the air across multiple channels.
Alternatively, you could buy the Fluval Q1, which has 2 outlets, but its flow rate is not adjustable unlike in this Q2.
The Q1 is also less powerful and is ideal for 45 – 80 gal fish tanks, as compared to this Q2’s 50 – 160 gal fish tank compatibility.
7. Penn Plax SAB11 – Dual-Powered Aquarium Air Pump
If your fish rely heavily on the aeration provided by aquarium air pumps, a power outage may be extremely dangerous and life threatening for them.
Well, with the Penn Plax Silent B11, this should not worry you. The unit is dual powered, with the main line being the mains AC power, which then switches to battery power in case the mains go off.
The switching is done automatically, as the pump continuously monitors the AC power so as to detect when it goes out then connects the battery backup supply.
This setup makes the pump suitable for transporting fish because batteries can last up to 3 days on continuous use. Again, it is very small in size, which makes the task of carrying it along very easy during the trip.
For the accessories, this unit comes with an airline tubing for its single output and a deluxe air stone so as to begin using it straight out of the box
8. EcoPlus 728457 – Powerful Aquarium Air Pump
Though expensive, EcoPlus' commercial air pump is very expensive, it is the most powerful aquarium air pump in this review because it has a flow rate of 1300 GPH.
Although all this air is directed outwards through a single channel, the pump comes with a chrome manifold that distributes the air through 8 outlets, with each outlet having an airflow adjustment valve.
This makes it possible to power multiple air stones or even to air multiple fish tanks simultaneously using the same or different air pressure.
Internally, the unit functions by pressurizing air through a durable, motor-operated piston and cylinder mechanism. This makes it a bit noisy but it is also what gives it its high flow rate.
If 1300 GPH is too powerful for your aquarium, this pump is available in multiple smaller sizes. However, there is a more powerful 3566 GPH pump that is ideal for very large tanks.
9. Chialstar YDQB4104 – Compact Aquarium Air Pump
If you thought that the VicTsing pump was small, then you haven’t come across Chialstar’s unit, which is by far the smallest aquarium air pump in this review.
The unit measures only 2.05 inches in diameter with a thickness of 0.94 inch. In such a tiny space, conventional motor systems cannot fit and thus, this pump is driven by a thin piezoelectric ceramic plate.
Combined with its small size, this plate is only capable of managing about 4.8 GPH, which is very slow. However, it operates very silently, producing only 33dB of noise. It is also very energy efficient, with a rating of only 1 Watt.
An air tube and an air stone are included in the package, making the pump usable straight out of the box.
10. VicTsing Air Pump – 2-Channel Aquarium Air Pump
VicTsing’s aquarium pump is quite small in size but it has the power to handle a 45-gallon aquarium that has a depth of up to 1.9 feet. It does so through 2 channels, which makes it possible to power 2 air stones on one or two separate tanks
The pump is also very quiet because it produces about 35dB, which is like half of what microwaves produce. This is made possible by a multi-level muffler, which dampens most of the noise produced during the pumping action.
In terms of accessories, this product comes with 2 silicon tubes and 2 air stones for each channel.
On the downside, the flow rate is not adjustable across its channels and the unit itself is not waterproof. However, it is very affordable and thus, its features are worth the money.
How to Buy the Best Aquarium Air Pump
1. Type of Air Pump
Aquarium air pumps can be categorized in a number of ways, these include:
Deep or Shallow water application: Generally, most aquarium pumps are built for standard use purposes on shallow aquariums.
If you have a large, deep aquarium, you need a deepwater rated pump such as Tetra Whisper's AP300. One which is not deepwater rated might not produce enough pressure to push air through these depths.
However, how deep is deep? Aquarium water is considered to be deep if it exceeds 1.7 feet. Therefore, a unit that can push air to 2 feet and below is a deep water air pump.
It is always important to measure the depth of your aquarium beforehand so that you can buy the most suitable pump for it.
Power source: The source of power for an aquarium air pump can also be used to categorize between different types of these pumps.
Most plug-in pumps provide a consistent flow of air because the power supply is constant. However, a power outage will render them useless.
Some units such as Marine Metal's B15 are battery powered, only using DC energy. Battery power is more reliable but you might need frequent charging and the performance of the pump will decrease as the battery discharges,
The best option is to get a combination of both. Some air pumps like Penn Plax's SAB11 can use the mains power, then switch automatically to battery power if the mains goes off. Such a system is very reliable.
Size of the pump itself: Pumps can be categorized by their sizes. This is important because a bigger pump like EcoPlus' 728457 can run multiple accessories quite easily.
Therefore, if you have many things that you want to run inside your aquarium, check the size before you buy.
2. Tank Size
The aquarium size is also a big factor to consider before buying an air pump. Of course, the bigger the tank, the bigger the air pump that is required.
However, it is important to check the rating of the pump itself. For instance, if you have a 40-gallon tank, a pump that is rated for up to 50 gallons such as Fluval's Q2 will do.
The power of a pump factor is closely associated with the “size of pump” type explained above.
What you need to check is the unit’s flow rate, which is usually given in gallons per hour. A pump with a more powerful motor should have a fast flow rate
Therefore, if you have a bigger tank, you will need a pump with a fast flow rate such as EcoPlus' 728457, which delivers air at a rate of 1300 GPH.
Outlets or channels are the ports through which the pump blows out the air. The more the number, the higher the number of accessories that you can power with a single pump.
Additionally, 2 or more outlets make it possible to aerate two different tanks simultaneously. As such, if you have multiple aquariums, you can buy an air pump with multiple outputs like VicTsing's Air Pump.
However, this is not recommended because if the pump breaks down, all your fish will be affected. The best solution is to get a pump for each tank, and multiple small pumps for bigger tanks as opposed to a single big one.
5. Noise Level
As much as an efficiently running air pump can be good for your fish, it can be very annoying if it is noisy. Remember that an aquarium is kept indoors and so are all its accessories.
This means that the air pump will also be indoors and thus, if it is noisy, woe unto you. That said, a silent pump like Hygger's Air Pump is always the best one to buy.
If you cannot find a suitable size, say a big enough pump for your tank that is silent enough, it is better to buy multiple, small, quiet ones as opposed to a big noisy pump.
How to Install an Aquarium Air Pump
There are many different ways of setting up your aquarium air pump. This usually depends on the type of pump but generally, these steps should be followed.
1. Consider a solid surface
The pumping action of the unit causes a lot of vibrations. Even though most pumps have vibration dampeners such as rubberized legs, some of the vibrations will be felt on the outside.
If you place the pump on a hollow object, the hollowness will most likely cause some sort of resonance, which ends up amplifying this vibration and may cause the pump to fall off.
However, a solid surface will hold its ground and let the pump operate uninterrupted.
2. Place it at the center
Once you get a solid surface, avoid placing the pump at the edges because the vibrations might cause it to fall off.
Also, avoid placing it at the top of the tank because it would be a big loss if the unit fell inside the water, got destroyed and electrocuted the fish at the same time.
3. Attach the tubing
Attach the tubing as well as the air stones and start the pump. Confirm that everything works and you are good to go.
As much as aquarium air pumps can be left out on fish tank setups, they have their own set of benefits, key among them being to maintain enough oxygen in the water for the fish.
With that in mind, Tetra Whisper's AP300 stands out as the best aquarium air pump due to its deepwater capabilities and strength to handle large tanks of up to 300 gallons in size. It is also very quiet and gives you 2 channels.
However, if you are on a tight budget, Tetra's 77848 is also an excellent option, especially considering it also has deepwater capabilities.
- 10 Best Aquarium Air Pumps – Review
- 1. Tetra Whisper AP300 – Best Overall Aquarium Air Pump
- 2. Tetra 77848 – Best Budget Aquarium Air Pump
- 3. Hydrofarm AAPA15L – Best Air Pump for Aquaponic Tanks
- 4. Marine Metal B15 – DC-Powered Aquarium Air Pump
- 5. Hygger Air Pump – Quietest Aquarium Air Pump
- 6. Fluval Q2 – Double-Walled Aquarium Air Pump
- 7. Penn Plax SAB11 – Dual-Powered Aquarium Air Pump
- 8. EcoPlus 728457 – Powerful Aquarium Air Pump
- 9. Chialstar YDQB4104 – Compact Aquarium Air Pump
- 10. VicTsing Air Pump – 2-Channel Aquarium Air Pump
- How to Buy the Best Aquarium Air Pump
- How to Install an Aquarium Air Pump