Is an Air Pump Necessary in Your Aquarium (Fish Tank)

By Eddie Waithaka @aquariawise

Is an Air Pump Necessary in Your Aquarium (Fish Tank)

Air is necessary for any living organism regardless of its ecosystem, and it’s your prerogative as a fish keeper to ensure your fish tank has enough oxygen for your finny friends.

One way to do this is by adding an air pump to your fish tank.

However, this is not feasible in a small bowl or a heavily planted fish tank. Most air pumps also create strong water movement and air bubbles inside the tank, something not all fish enjoy.

As such, it’s not uncommon to get owners who maintain their aquarium without airstones, bubblers, and what have you.

Which brings us to our question, are air pumps necessary in a tropical aquarium?

An air pump in a fish tank (aquarium) is not essential, though it’s necessary for some instances. As long as your tank maintains enough water movement and surface agitation, your aquarium will do without air stones or bubblers.

But if there is no adequate oxygen dissolving in your aquarium water, then you’ll a form of supplemental-oxygen-system, such as an air pump to keep your fish alive.

Can Fish Live Without an Air Pump

Fish need oxygen to thrive in a home aquarium, and considering most breathe through their gills while inside the water, adequate aeration is necessary.

So, yes, you may need an air pump in a fish tank with a limited supply of oxygen, but in a setup that has plenty of plants and a powerful filter, airstones are not too necessary.

If you have a HOB or Canister filter that breaks the tension of the water at the top of your tank, there is no need for an air pump unless your aquarium is overstocked.

It also depends on the kind of fish you have in your fish tank.

Hardy fish with labyrinth organs such as betta and gouramis will do better in a fish tank without a pump compared to bottom-dwelling plecos, loaches, and catfish that rarely swim to the surface of the tank.

An easy way to know if your fish are getting enough oxygen and need an air pump is to observe their behavior.

A fish that’s suffocating will gasp for air, its gills will move up and down rapidly, and most will swim to the water surface where there is more aeration.

Now, the most reasonable way to remedy this is adding an air pump in your fish tank, though increasing your aquarium filter flow is a fast and easy way to improve aeration and surface agitation before you set up your airstones.

Aquarium plants are another solution, though this is more a long term solution than a quick fix.

Are Air Bubbles Good for Aquarium Fish

There are many different types of tropical fish species kept in a home aquarium. Some fancy water movement, but others prefer a calm setting in respect to their wild ecosystem.

Some tropical fish love bubbles and water movement so much that they congregate around the water-mover and even swim into the horizontal stream.

I’ve noted over time that fish native to lakes, slow-flowing rivers, and mashy swamps most times prefer being in a calm fish tank with little to no water movements and bubbles, while species native to rapid rivers love some bubbler and air stone action.

But overall, your fish won’t be harmed by bubbles alone, and even finnies that don’t fancy airstones will gradually get used to the movement in the fish tank.

Just make sure your bubble stream is not too powerful because it may blow smaller fish away and stress them.

That said, please note some bubbles form in fish tanks but not as a result of bubblers or airstone.

For instance, most gourami species, including betta, build nests to lay eggs in.

These kinds of bubbles are not harmful to tropical fish and are usually at a top corner of the fish tank away from other finnies.

Bubble nests look like a mass of floating orbs on the surface of the water and can attach to plants in your aquarium as well.

Other barely harmful bubbles are those that coat your aquarium surfaces when you refill your tank with water. They usually go away within a few days to a week with little to no effect on your finnies.

What is The Best Air Pump for Your Fish Tank

Fish tank air pumps are a lot like other aquarium accessories. The one you get will depend on the tank you have and your brand preference.

When thinking of adding an air pump into your fish tank, perhaps the only thing I would recommend you consider is the size. You will want a setup that is value for money.

Not too big but not too small for your fish tank.

In a not too complicated fish tank that is anywhere from 0 to 100 gallons, this tetra whisper or Unicliffe aquarium pump will get the job done. Both brands come with size speciication providing a sizable unit for bigger tanks.

What Size Air Pump is Fit for Your Fish Tank

As I stated above, almost all brands of aquarium air pumps come in different sizes with direction labels since not all fish tanks are the same.

Now, if your fish tank is heavily planted and not overstocked, plus you keep your water as pristine as possible, using the size of air pump recommended for your tank by the manufacturers is perhaps best.

However, in a less than perfectly maintained or slightly overstocked fish tank, an air pump twice the manufacturer’s recommended size is advisable to keep your fish safe.

For instance, I use this tetra whisper recommended for a 40-gallon in my 20-gallon because my plants have only just begun shooting up and I have juvenile plecos my tank that I plan to move soon.

You could also let how much you have in your fish tank guide you. For instance, you will note a fish tank with this HOB filter (with a waterfall effect) will have more dissolved oxygen than a tank with a sponge filter.

This means an air pump might not be too crucial unless the tank is overstocked.

One last thing, no matter how well you think your fish tank is aerated, if your fish are gasping at the top of the tank near the surface, one of the many remedies you really need to consider is adding an air pump system to aerate your water.

Checking your water quality (ammonia and nitrite levels), changing the water, and cleaning the substrate and decorations will also help.

Even so, you may know some aquarium equipment such as heaters and bubbles from a wavemaker could attract fish as well, so ensure this is not what is going down before making any changes in your aquarium.

I’ve been in love with this tetra whisper air pump since I got into the hobby since it works so seamlessly, though this Uniclife air pump has also serve you pretty well.

Thats all for this post.

Have fun keeping finnies🐠🐟.

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