A complete guide to choosing the best air pumps for aquarium 2018

A Complete Guide To Choosing The Best Air Pumps For Aquarium

A good investment for your aquarium

Aquarium and air pump, they look cool together. However, an air pump does a lot more than just being an ornament. And if you own an aquarium, equipping it with an air pump is a good investment in many ways. However, the diversity in the brand, size, and functionality may make it overwhelming to opt for one that best fits what we need. So if you want to shortlist your choice to the best air pumps that worth the money, this guide will definitely help.

There is a wide range of products available on the market today, and below I have reviewed 5 of the very best options.

**Below, you will find more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices and read customer reviews on Amazon.

Why do you need an air pump?

Facilitate water aeration

The air pump does help a lot in circulating the water. It thus reduces the need for frequent cleaning. This benefit is especially significant considering the fact that there is a trend in installing the big fish tank, and that the cleaning task can be very time-consuming and cumbersome.

Give some airstones

Some people like to have small bubbles or a mist of air flowing inside their aquarium. And an air pump can thus be a great ornament for the fish tank. Also, the tiny bubbles help to move the water through the filter more effectively, again facilitating the cleaning task.

Promote oxygen circulation

The truth is, it is not compulsory to have an air pump inside the fish tank to ensure enough oxygen for the creatures. However, a quality air pump helps with the release of carbon dioxide from water and the oxygen intake from the air for the fishes. And with the addition of oxygen, it prevents the water to become stagnant.

Match with filters

The filter is mandatory for any aquarium setup, and there are some filters that require an air pump to operate. In such cases, having an air pump even becomes a prerequisite for filter installment. Otherwise, the water soon becomes dirty, ruining the habitat of the creatures inside the fish tank.

Work with protein skimmers

Besides filters and airstones, protein skimmers in salted water tanks need air pumps to work properly. In other words, installing air pump contributes to providing a healthy environment for the fishes and the plants in the tank. Also, the air pump can spin wheels, turn valves, lift the object and work with many accessories inside the aquarium.

How does it work?

Commonly, the air pump is attached outside of the fish tank, with the tube stay inside it. When it works we see the tube diffusing the air and create the tiny bubbles through the airstone.

A standard air pump uses an electromagnet to vibrate the rubber diaphragm, which then generates the air flow. It also indirectly increases the amount of oxygen in the tank water. The small bubbles from the airstone do not integrate with the tank water. Instead, they agitate the surface area inside it.

And when the bubbles break at the surface, they release carbon dioxide. Thus, more oxygen can take their place when they come into contact with the water molecules. As the surface area of water becomes bigger, it will absorb more oxygen.

Finally, the air pump promotes water circulation by releasing the air to the bottom of the fish tank. As it pushes deeper water to the surface, this movement allows the highly oxygenated surface to travel towards the bottom.

What to consider when buying an air pump?

Tank size

As a rule of thumb, the bigger the tank is, the stronger the air pump should be. Also, you can install more than one air pump to ensure the even distribution of water and oxygen aeration.

It’s ideal to check the tank size ratings for the air pump to ensure the perfect match. And when choosing an air pump that fits, look at its volume per hour. By ensuring the pump can handle more than enough amount of water, you will avoid any issue when running the accessories.

Also relating to the tank size, investigating its headspace will help to determine what air pump should be in use. Specifically, the head space is the height of water needs to be pumped against the gravity force. Again, the deeper the water needs to travel, the stronger the air pump should be.

Objects and resistance

The more things inside the fish tank need an air pump to operate, the larger and stronger an air pump you should install. Thus, it’s important to take into account all the accessories inside the tank before choosing an appropriate air pump.

Besides considering the quantity of the objects, it’s also crucial to take a look at their quality. The more resistance they push the air through, the larger an air pump you will probably need.

Personal needs

The best air pumps do not need to be the strongest ones. Instead, a good choice of an air pump should be one that fits your own requirement. For example, if you just need an air pump to run an under gravel filter, then the air pump should not be too strong. Otherwise, it will blow the floor gravel.

Also, if the tank does not follow the standard size, then the power of the air pump should fit accordingly. It’s best to consult the reviews to ensure that particular air pump is a good choice. Find those owning the same size tank and look for their consultancy.

Product Reviews – The Best Air Pump

There seems to be no list of best air pumps that come without the presence of this brand. Tetra has long been a common choice for fish tank equipment. So if you want to buy from a brand with long-lasting reputation, then Tetra should be definitely the choice.

Also, the Whisper series is the most popular line of air pumps from Tetra. It comes with different sizes, which can serve for almost all sizes of tank. A Tetra Whisper Air Pump is a cost-effective solution for providing decent circulation of water and oxygen inside the aquarium.

The Whisper air pumps have their own unique shape and sound dampening chambers. They help to reduce the turbulence while creating a smooth stream of air.

With the rubber feet sticking on the glass of the tank, this air pump can generate the flatten sound wave frequencies. As a result, it helps to eliminate the sound producing vibrations.


  • Long-lasting reputation

  • Many different sizes

  • Unique dome shape design to reduce vibrations

  • Cost-effective

  • Good pressure for water circulation


  • Does not come with other accessories like tubing and valves

  • Become a little bit noisier when ages

This air pump is a good efficient air source for larger tanks. It’s more than enough for the smaller ones, and you definitely don’t want it to over oxygenate your one-gallon aquarium.

The UniClife air pump, however, can work well for both freshwater and marine aquarium. It comes with adjustable flow rate with two outlets and such accessories as two airstones, two backflow valves, 2M airline and two connectors.

In comparison with the Tetra, this one, while being a younger air pump, possesses a more powerful pressure for water and oxygen circulation. And with all the byproducts, the UniClife seems to come with everything a tank owner needs.

The hoses are very long, which make it fit with many options of tank size. Users can simply cut the hoses to match their length with the tank’s height. This air pump is also quite easy to set up and install.


  • Suitable for large tanks

  • Long and easily adjustable hoses

  • High-value full package

  • Good vibration and noise elimination system

  • Compact design for easy setup and installment


  • Air sometimes get stuck in one outlet

  • The tubing is not quite durable

This air pump is an ideal equipment to provide auxiliary air when the main air source fails. However, don’t rush to think that it doesn’t help when it’s on its own. The Marina air pump is an electricity-saving solution for air and water circulation in small to medium fish tanks.

Marina air pumps run by a pair of size-D batteries, and the battery life may vary upon the frequency of using. Overall, most reviewers marked this one as a durable air pump with consistent performance.

This air pump is actually more powerful than it looks like it is. The vibrations rarely occur, and the design makes it a lightweight air pump for delicate performance.

For those who needs a portable aerator for fishes in transit, and a reliable backup air source, the Marina is the ideal choice. Commonly, the battery life can last for up to 20 hours, allowing for the durable provision of air and water circulation.


  • Durable battery life

  • Ideal for when transiting the fishes or when the power failure occurs

  • Consistent performance

  • Little vibrations

  • Compact design that doesn’t take up much space of the tank


  • Not common battery type (better if it’s AAs or AAA)

  • The air tubing is not quite durable

Mylivell has long been a reputable brand in manufacturing the ultra-silent air pumps. Unlike any traditional electromagnetic air pump, the Mylivell is equipped with a piezoelectric ceramic plate. Put it simply, with this air pump; there is no motor, no EMI, no shaft, and no troublesome mechanism.

The Mylivell is high-value air pump in many aspects. It offers stable performance and it ideal for the small and medium-sized tank. Also, it is compatible with all kinds of an aquarium, even the high-grade, spout décor, and aquaculture oxygenation.

With the innovative design, the Mylivell comes as a compact yet high-performance equipment for all standard fish tanks. The airstone is also efficient enough to provide enough air for a 20-gallon aquarium. With long service life, the air pump comes as a competitive candidate in the list of best air pumps of all time.

To optimize the performance of this air pump, it’s advisable to use the original accessories, which include an air tube, an airstone, and a sucker. Also, it’s important to have a regular check on the air tube to minimize the air leakage.


  • Super quiet

  • Fashionable and innovative design

  • Easy to setup and install

  • Durable materials

  • Excellent vibration reduction system


  • Not waterproof

  • Not suitable for huge tanks

If you have crowded livewells and you need to keep your catch alive, go for the B15 Marine Power Bubble Air Pump. It’s a high-power and low current aerator air pump that can improve the capacity and the efficiency of the livewells.

The power bubbles generate more than 99.5% saturation of dissolved oxygen, which provides a healthy air source for the tank. Also, the pump is suitable for both freshwater and saltwater use, making it a prevalent choice of the fishermen.

B15 Marine Power Bubble Air Pump can serve enough air for up to 35-gallon tanks. Additionally, it comes with double outlets and weighted airstone to ensure the quality of the dissolved oxygen.

What seems to out stand this air pump from others is its anti-siphon valves. These valves protect the bubbles from water intrusion. And with other accessories like power cord, airline tubing, and copper battery clips, it’s fair to say that B15 Marine Power Bubble is a high-value air pump.


  • High-volume twin bellows

  • Weighted glass bead airstones

  • Ideal for crowded livewells

  • High-value accessories

  • Great saturation production


  • Not quite durable

  • Not suitable for keeping bait overnight

Choosing the Best Air Pump for Your Aquarium

Whether it’s a fancy hydroponic garden or a small aquarium, you will need a reliable way to stabilize the oxygen levels and the water circulation in the tank. And for these purposes, equipping your fish tank with a quality air pump is a worthy investment.

The 5 recommendations on the best air pumps above hopefully help you with your decision making. And if you want my final answer for the one that I like the most, I can confidently answer that it’s the Mylivell Aquarium Air Pump.

With an innovative design that offers supreme silence and powerful oxygen distribution features, this air pump is a high-value package to prioritize. It also fits with all standard tank size, which is versatile enough to be the best choice for air pump equipment.

Any other idea? It’s totally fine if you have a different top favorite choice. Whichever you may choose, it’s still a wise decision.

James G. Craig

James G. Craig is a gardening enthusiast who splits his spare time between growing vegetables, preening his flower gardens, and blogging about his experiences at the Gardener Corner.

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