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Air pumps used to be an essential item for aquariums. Although they are used less often these days, a good air pump is still a great aquarium accessory to have. Everything from bubble curtains and moving decorations to sponge filters and UGFs requires an air pump to work properly.
Here, the best air pumps on the market for freshwater aquariums.
The Tetra Whisper is possibly the quietest air pump on the market. The pump employs several features to reduce noise, including a dome shape that flattens sound waves, a suspended motor, rubber feet to diffuse sound, and internal sound-baffling compartments.
It is available in five sizes: 10, 20, 40, 60, and 100 which accommodates tanks up to 100 gallons. The 10- through 40-gallon sizes have one outlet, while the 60- and 100-gallon models have two outlets. For tanks larger than 100 gallons, deep water, or multiple device applications, consider moving to the Whisper AP series.
Tetra Whisper AP 150
Tetra replaced the former Tetratec Deep Water Air Pump product line with the Whisper AP series. Their design makes them useful for deep tanks, applications with long air stones, or setups with multiple airstones. Both models in the AP series are rated to pump air to eight feet deep. The AP 150 is intended for tanks up to 150 gallons and has a single outlet, while the AP 300 is for tanks up to 300 gallons and has two outlets.
The Hagen Fluval Q1 and Q2 air pumps are designed with a noise-baffling chamber in addition to other features to make them the quietest models to offer.
The Q1 has two outlets and is intended for aquariums of up to 80 gallons in size, while the Q2 has one outlet and is designed for larger tanks of up to 160 gallons. Although they are quiet, they do not perform well for deep-water or multiple-stone applications. For those situations, consider a Luft air pump.
JW Fusion air pumps are a low-cost reasonably quiet line of air pumps. They are available in six models as follows:
- Fusion 200: up to 20 gallons and two devices, has one outlet
- Fusion 300: up to 30 gallons and three devices, has one outlet
- Fusion 400: up to 40 gallons and four devices, has one outlet
- Fusion 500: up to 60 gallons and seven devices, has two outlets
- Fusion 200: up to 75 gallons and nine devices, has two outlets
- Fusion 200: up to 110 gallons and twelve devices, has two outlets
Hydrofarm Active Aqua
Hydrofarm produces an inexpensive line of powerful air pumps that all feature adjustable flow rates. They also include models with multiple ports ranging up to as many as eight outlets. They are available in four models as follows:
- 50 GPH: one outlet
- 125 GPH: two outlets
- 240 GPH: four outlets
- 400 GPH: eight outlets
EcoPlus offers a well-made product line that is quite durable. Made from higher-end materials, the manufacturing cost is reflected in a higher sales price. All models have an adjustable flow rate. They also offer a heavier duty line that is geared for hydroponics and commercial aquarium setups. That line is also suitable for pond applications. The full EcoPlus product line is as follows:
- EcoPlus AIR-1 Plus Single Outlet Air Pump
- EcoPlus AIR-2 Dual Outlet Air Pump
- EcoPlus AIR-4 Four Outlet Air Pump
- EcoPlus AIR-8 Eight Outlet Air Pump
- EcoPlus Commercial 1 Hydroponic/Aquarium Air Pump
- EcoPlus Commercial 3 Hydroponic/Aquarium Air Pump
- EcoPlus Commercial Air 5–80 Watts Single Outlet
- EcoPlus Commercial 7 Hydroponic/Aquarium Air Pump
What to Look for in an Aquarium Air Pump
Many air pumps can be rather loud, which can be bothersome when you want some peace and quiet. If you're worried about noise, try finding a model that has features in place to reduce its noise level. Also, consider your maintenance routine. Sometimes when airstones and other accessories at the end of an air pump are dirty and clogged with debris, the air pump will run harder and create more noise.
Air pumps should help circulate oxygen and remove unwanted gas in your aquarium water. If your air pump is too small, it won't do its task properly. Always double-check that the air pump you're buying is compatible with the size of your tank and other accessories you may have, like an air stone or a sponge filter.
Air pumps are usually powered by being plugged in but many come with a battery-powered option. This is something to consider looking for so you can keep your air pump running if there's a power outage.