Is An Air Pump Necessary For a Fish Tank

Is An Air Pump Necessary For a Fish Tank? Plus Best Buying Options

An aquarium air pump is a special machine designed to use mechanical means to pump/ force air from the surrounding environment or atmosphere into your fish tank.

By pumping air into your fish tank, an aquarium air pump will create movement in the water which is nice and healthy for your fish. The air pumped into your fish tank will also aerate your fish tank water and, therefore, provide oxygen for your fish.

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What are the advantages of having an aquarium pump in your fish tank?

Many beginning aquarists do not believe that it is necessary to have an aquarium pump. However, it is very necessary. Below are some of the reasons for or advantages of having an aquarium pump in your fish tank.

1. It will increase oxygen for your fish 

An aquarium air pump will continuously introduce air (and oxygen) from the atmosphere into your fish tank and release it in the form of bubbles. As the released bubbles travel through your fish tank, they will oxygenate the water and release CO2. This will make your aquarium water very healthy for your fish, live plants, and beneficial bacteria. 

2. It will improve water circulation 

As mentioned above, an aquarium air pump will continuously introduce air into your fish tank and release it in the form of bubbles. As the bubbles travel upwards through your fish tank they will create water motion or movement. This movement created will improve water circulation in your aquarium which is very important.

3. It will make your tank more attractive 

An aquarium air pump will pump air into your aquarium and release it in the form of bubbles as mentioned above. Having tiny bubbles flow upwards through your aquarium will make it look more attractive especially if you have decorated it well with live plants, small rocks, and so forth. 

4. It will make your sponge filter work 

If you have a sponge filter in your fish tank for solid waste removal, you need to buy an air pump to move the water and make the filter work since the filter does not come with a pump of its own like some other filters. 

As you can see from the above advantages, installing an aquarium air pump can be really beneficial.

What are the disadvantages?

There is only one disadvantage to owning an aquarium air pump:

1. It will increase your electricity bill

However, the increase in your electricity bill will be small since most aquarium air pumps run on very low wattage (about 4 watts). 

So there is really no big reason why you should not buy and install an aquarium air pump. 

Top 8 aquarium air pumps

Now that you know why owning an aquarium air pump is very necessary, below are some of the best aquarium air pumps on the market and their pros and cons. Buying and installing any of these pumps will instantly make your fish tank better. 

1. Hydrofarm Active Aqua Commercial Air Pump

This is one of the best-rated aquarium air pumps on Amazon. It comes with 8 outlets for releasing many air bubbles into your fish tank at once. Therefore, it is a machine that will do a very good job of aerating your fish tank and improving oxygen levels in it.

It is a pump that is capable of high pressure and is very silent at the same time thanks to an advanced muffler. 

It consumes very little power and has a very solid construction. 

Its only downside is that it does not come with any tubing (you will have to buy tubing separately).


  • It is a powerful and strong air pump
  • It has a pressure controller and multiple outlets
  • It is energy efficient 
  • It is super quiet 


  • It does not come with any tubing

Despite not coming with any tubing, this is a very decent aquarium air pump.

2. U-picks Mini Aquarium Air Pump Kit for 1-15 Gallon Fish Tank

This is a superb aquarium air pump for small fish tanks. It is perfect for those who are looking for a pump that comes with all the accessories included (tubing and air stones) and is very silent and energy-efficient. This is because this air pump is all these things.

This U-picks air pump is also small and cheap yet relatively powerful at the same time. So it is a very good pump. 

The only thing you may not like about it is that its tubing is not very top quality.


  • It comes with all accessories
  • It is super silent and energy-efficient
  • It is cheap and perfect for small tanks 
  • It is relatively powerful


  • Its air tubing is not very good quality

While this machine’s air tubing is not very top quality, once you install it, it is very unlikely that you will need to touch it. Therefore, it is very unlikely that you will damage it. All in all, this is a great quality pump for small tanks. 

3. Hygger Quiet Mini Air Pump for Aquarium

Like the U-picks aquarium air pump above, this is a powerful, quiet, efficient, and affordable air pump for small tanks. It is made by Hygger – a brand that is renowned for its quality and long-lasting products in the aquarium industry.

It is a mini-pump that works by the means of a piezoelectric ceramic plate. This means it pumps air without using a motor and it is what makes it quiet. 

It is a very compact and stylish pump and the best thing about it is that you can clip it to your fish tank.  

The one thing you may not like about it is that it does not pump a lot of air but this is not a problem if you have a small tank between 1 to 15 gallons.


  • It is an Amazon’s Choice product
  • It is stylish and lightweight 
  • It can be clipped to a tank 
  • It quiet compared to most pumps


  • It does not pump a lot of air

This is a very good quality air pump for small tanks. 

4. Pawfly 254-GPH Commercial Air Pump

To this point, we have only discussed one commercial air pump and two mini-pumps. For those with medium-sized or big tanks, this Pawfly one will impress you. This is because it is a strong and powerful pump capable of delivering up to 16 liters of air a minute. So it can give your fish plenty of oxygen to thrive on. 

The best thing about this pump is that it is quite energy-efficient (runs at 7 watts) despite being powerful. It is also relatively quiet despite being powerful. 

It has two airflow settings and it is very long-lasting.

The one thing you may not like about it is its bulky design. However, this is a small price to pay for a strong, powerful, durable, and energy-efficient pump.


  • It is a strong, powerful, and durable pump
  • It has two air output settings
  • It is relatively silent for a powerful pump


  • It is a bit bulky

This is by all accounts a great aquarium air pump for big tanks. 

5. Fluval Q1 Air Pump

Fluval is a brand renowned for making some fantastic machines for aquariums and this air pump is one of their best machines yet! From afar, it looks like a big book but it is a powerful air pump capable of providing a strong and stable airflow to tanks between fifty to 160 gallons. In other words, it can thoroughly aerate your fish tank and make it healthy for your fish and other living organisms in it that need oxygen. 

The pump has a chamber for noise suppression so it is very quiet. 

The best thing about it is that it comes with a 2-year warranty, which many pumps like it do not come with.

You will only not like this pump if your tank is bigger than 160 gallons. 


  • It is a compact and highly-rated air pump
  • It is powerful and efficient 
  • It has a noise-suppression design 
  • It is relatively cheap compared to similar pumps


  • It does not work for bigger tanks (bigger than 160 gallons)

This is a great and highly-recommended aquarium air pump for tanks between 50 and 160 gallons.

6. Tetra Whisper Air Pump for Deep Water Applications

Experienced aquarists and fishkeepers love this pump. This is because it is brilliant for big tanks up to three hundred gallons and it is powerful enough for deep tanks. So if you have a fish tank that is four, five, six, or even eight feet deep, then this is the pump you should strongly consider. 

It is made by a renowned brand in the aquarium industry and it is very reliable. 

For many people, the best thing about it is that it is powerful yet silent and affordable at the same time.

The only problem with this tank is that after two or three years, it starts to gradually become louder. However, this is kind of expected for air pumps.


  • It is great for deep water fish tanks
  • It produces fantastic bubbles
  • It comes with a lifetime warranty 


  • It gradually becomes louder with age 

Even though it gets louder with age, it is a pump that is worth the money.

7. Uniclife Aquarium Air Pump Dual Outlet with Accessories for Up to 100 Gallon Tank

Despite being small and cheap, this is one of the most popular air pumps available online! It is popular and highly-rated because it is cheap, efficient, ultra-quiet, and can supply air even to 100-gallon tanks. 

Moreover, it is very energy efficient – it runs at 4 watts. 

On top of being a cheap but quality aquarium air pump, this Uniclife machine comes with all the accessories you will need to set it up. So no need to spend extra money on accessories to get it working. 

The only thing you may not like about it is that its air tubes are bulky. Other than that it is a machine you will surely love.


  • It is a 64 GPH and quality Amazon’s Choice air pump
  • It is highly-rated and efficient 
  • It consumes little power
  • It is very cheap and comes with all the accessories


  • Its air tubes are somewhat bulky 

This is a fantastic machine that is highly-rated and affordable.

8. Mylivell Quietest Aquarium Air Pump

This is one of the smallest and perhaps the quietest fish tank air pumps on the market! It can fit in the palm of your hand if you are a man and it is very lightweight. It is very quiet because it uses a very small piezoelectric ceramic plate instead of an actual motor or shaft. 

Despite being a mini pump, it is steady and capable of stable performance. It is the pump you should strongly consider if you have a small tank that is less than 40 gallons. 

It comes with an air stone that releases plenty of bubbles and can be attached to the side of the fish tank.


  • It is a small, lightweight, and highly-rated pump
  • It is capable of steady performance
  • It is silent and perfect for small fish tanks
  • It releases fine bubbles


  • It does not come with a check valve

While this pump does not come with a check valve, it does work with the accessories it comes with and it is a very solid machine.


Aquarium air pumps are important and necessary for fish tanks. They aerate fish tanks, improve water circulation, and improve oxygen levels. They also make fish tanks attractive by releasing bubbles. Whether you have a small or big fish tank, the list of 8 best aquarium air pumps above contains at least one machine that you will find to be very suitable for your fish tank.