Does Your Aquarium Require an Air Pump

Objectively, fish do need oxygen. Most fish breathe by moving their gills. They feel comfortable when the dissolved oxygen is 5 ppm. However, fish would stop eating completely if the dissolved oxygen is only 1 ppm. Also, low oxygen levels may cause harmful substance accumulation, as well as fish or plant deaths. Hence, it is vital to aerate your fish tanks and keep the ideal dissolved oxygen level. Adding an aquarium filtration, a powerhead, or an air pump are generic ways to aerate your aquarium properly. Specifically in the article today, we will talk about the aquarium air pump. Let’s dive in.

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Air pump for aquarium

An air pump is a mechanical device to circulate water with electricity. It is also famous as a fish tank bubbler. Adding an air pump to your aquarium can oxygenate the water. As an air pump creates bubbles to aerate the fish tank and increases surface agitation. Then, the oxygen level in your fish tank gets improved. On the other hand, an air pump can expel excess carbon dioxide. Because the water flows deeper into your fish tank, then plants can absorb more carbon dioxide. And an air pump also promotes water density. Besides that, applying an air pump can increase the water pressure in the fish tank. Generally, the water pressure in a fish tank is about 1 bar.

However, the pressure increases to 5 or 6 bar after adding an air pump. Moreover, an air pump also plays a role in running equipment, operating a corner filter or protein skimmer for instance.

However, on the contrary, what will happen if you remove the air pump from your fish tank? Exactly, your fish tank would face insufficient water flow and cloudy water, stagnated water cycle, as well as a decreased oxygen rate. Furthermore, low oxygen level results in withering plants, dead fish, stagnated nitrifying bacteria system, and thriving anaerobic bacteria.

Can an air pump work as a filter in an aquarium?

To begin with, what are air pumps and filters? Actually, air pumps and filters are two different items, featuring diverse roles. As for the air pump, it is an aquarium aerator, which uses an airstone to collect and release oxygen. In short, an air pump can aerate your fish tank, oxygenate the water, and expel excess carbon dioxide. Also, you need to place it in a location where bubbles can reach the water’s surface in time.

On the other hand, an aquarium filter is one piece of aquarium equipment to make sufficient surface agitation. And it can remove excess waste and toxic substances, such as ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates. Moreover, if with a spray bar, it can also circulate and aerate the water in a fish tank. In a word, an air pump is mainly to aerate your fish tank. While an aquarium filter can aerate your aquarium, but also remove profitless and harmful substances.

Usually, if there are few fish in your aquarium, maybe you can apply a small air pump only. Because in this case, there is less waste, compared with tanks with more fish. However, in most instances, it is crucial to add an aquarium filter. Seeing that an air pump can not help to remove waste and toxic substances. Without an aquarium filter, waste and toxic substances may accumulate, which would lead to dramatic changes in water parameters and poor water quality quickly. And it would be a threat to tank inhabitants.

In addition, if you do not want to add an aquarium filter, adding some filter media is another great option. It also makes sense in promoting the nitrogen cycle and keeping stable water quality. Besides, it can convert harmful substances into harmless ones. In general, there are three main types of aquarium filter media, mechanical media, biological media, and chemical media. You can choose the suitable filtration accordingly. Nevertheless, filter media blocks are not feasible for saltwater tanks. Because the debris attached to the media will be decomposed into NO3. It is harmless to fish but is harmful to conch, sea urchins, crabs, sea shrimp, and coral. If the concentration is above 20 ppm, these creatures will face death.

Is an air pump required for a planted aquarium?

As we have mentioned above, an aquarium air pump can remove carbon dioxide. Nonetheless, aquatic plants need carbon dioxide to survive. Sometimes, you need to add carbon dioxide manually. Hence, it is not vital to add an air pump to a planted tank. Actually, if there is a great filtration system and an ideal oxygen level, it is no need to add an air pump. Furthermore, although there are fish in your planted tank, it is feasible not to apply an air pump. Because the fish are always in small size.

And the oxygen released from aquatic plants can meet their demands. But do not add too many fish or aquatic plants in your planted tank, otherwise, it would be necessary to add an air pump. Because the aquarium filter’s aeration capacity is limited. And aquatic plants will consume large amounts of oxygen and release carbon dioxide at night. It would be adverse for fish if there is oxygen deficiency. Aside from that, provided that there is a low oxygen level in your planted tank, adding an air pump to your tank is also crucial. Low oxygen levels may be the result of overstocking, stagnant water, high water temperature, and excess waste.

Do temperate fish need an air pump in their tank?

Temperate fish are in the middle of cold water fish and tropical fish. If there is an aquarium filter, an air pump may not be necessary. As the aquarium filter removes waste and harmful substances, then helps to keep good water quality. Meanwhile, water flow also helps to improve oxygen levels. However, without a filter, an air pump would be needed. Furthermore, the accumulation of harmful substances is fatal for fish. Therefore, you should also change the water regularly and timely, or the water quality would get poor quickly. And it is feasible to change the water partially each time, changing 15-30 percent of the water for example.

What is the best air pump for a Koi pond?

Next in this segment, let’s learn about the air pump for a Koi pond. Firstly, you should know the pond size. Generally, the large the pond, the higher the power. Take 600 gallons as an example, a 10W powerful air pump is great. And it provides 16 liters of air per minute. Besides, an excellent air pump should have one or two outlets, which can pump out strong and steady airflow to dissolve sufficient oxygen. Also, quiet is another factor.

People may feel annoyed if noise appears continuously. Nevertheless, the noise will be reduced if the air pump has a baffle chamber with rubber suction cups. In addition to the air pump, there are other aquarium supplies for a Koi fish pond, like a filter, skimmer, and water pump.


Seeing that an air pump is significant for your fish tank, you can not turn off it? No, sometimes you can keep it off at night. For example, there are other aerators or a few fish and creatures in your tank. Aside from that, some fish do not require an air pump, such as gourami, guppies, and catfish. That is all for today. Hope you will enjoy the aquarium journey. If you have any other ideas, welcome to message us in the comment. We are happy to receive your feedback and sharing. Finally, thank you for reading!

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