An air pump in your aquarium has many uses. Air pumps can be used for filtration, oxygenation, and decoration. Although not required to run an aquarium, we recommend the use of air pumps for powering certain inexpensive filters.
Although air pumps are installed outside the aquarium, they should be as close to the aquarium as possible for best performance. Other equipment you'll need for optimal performance includes
airline tubing, an
air control valve, and a
check valve if the air pump is sitting below water level. The check valve may prevent water from siphoning back up the air tube which may cause flooding.
Air pumps can be used to run internal box filters, sponge filters, and ozonizers. Add on airstones to run undergravel filters and protein skimmers. An air control valve (an on/off multi-outlet valve) will be needed if more than one airline is required.
Oxygenation and decoration
Airstones and bubble walls can add a decorative feature to your aquarium. If placed close to or in the gravel, they can help remove unwanted gasses from the aquarium. Surface movement caused by the moving bubbles also provides the aquarium with more oxygen.
What size is right?
Most air pumps include charts rated by number of air devices, aquarium depth, and/or aquarium size. Although aquarium size ratings are meant specifically for use with undergravel filters, these pumps may also be used to power other aquarium accessories.
What pressure is needed?
Internal box filters and sponge filters only require low pressure pumps if the pump is close to the aquarium. High-pressure pumps are needed for
fine bubble walls, or running an aquarium 24" or more deep.
Some helpful hints to keep your air pumps running efficiently as well as to extend their lives include using as short an airline as possible, using a gang valve that has at least one unused outlet for venting, and cleaning or replacing airstones.