Best Air Pump for Aquarium: Top Recommendations, Types & Accessories

An aquarium air pump is a device that helps increase the flow of oxygen and water into an aquarium. When purchasing an air pump for your tank, read the owner’s manual to familiarize you with all the features and how to use it.

There are many types of air pumps on the market for aquariums. However, deciding which is best for your setup can be challenging. For example, the best air pump for aquariums will depend on the size of your tank and the wattage and voltage required. Some pumps have a built-in filter, so you don’t have to purchase one separately. When refilling your tanks, it is essential to use an air pump with enough power to flow water quickly and evenly through the filter.

Top 3 Best Aquarium Air Pumps

There are a variety of air pumps to choose from, so it is crucial to find one that is compatible with your aquarium and filter. Some of the best options include plug-in air pumps, battery-operated air pumps, and airstones/bubblers.

All-Around Air Pump for All Aquarium Types

The Tetra Whisper comes with a mighty electronic motor that you can regulate to provide the perfect flow rate for your aquarium. It also features a timer so you can set it to operate automatically.

Battery-Operated Air Pump

The AquaClear Atlantis offers an air pump’s features, including a timer and two output ports. It is also lightweight and easy to store. In addition, it comes with a built-in bubble-maker and air filter, so you can start refilling your tanks immediately.

Best Battery Backup Air Pump

The Eheim Compacton 1000 is a battery-operated air pump that offers high power and extended runtime. It has an automatic shutoff feature to protect the pump in case of power outages. In addition, several outlets are available for connection to other equipment, such as pumps and refugium.

Is an Aquarium Air Pump Required?

If your aquarium is set up correctly, you will not need an air pump. However, if your aquarium isn’t functioning correctly or the flow of oxygen and water into it is weak, a pump may help fix the issue. Some factors that can affect how well aquarium functions include the size of the tank, the type and quality of filter used, and how often the filters are replaced.

In addition, if you are adding new fish or plants to your tank, they may need time to adjust to the increased oxygen and water flow. If your aquarium is not functioning correctly and an air pump isn’t helping, it might be a good idea to replace the filter.

Types of Aquarium Air Pumps

There are many types of air pumps on the market, including electric and mechanical. Electric pumps are usually more powerful but can be less reliable. Mechanical pumps work well but may require more effort to operate; they tend to be quieter.

Plug-In Air Pumps

Plug-in air pumps come in various wattages and can be used with or without a filter. They are usually more potent than standard air pumps, making them better suited for larger aquariums. Moreover, they often come with a built-in filter, making it unnecessary to purchase one separately.

Battery-Operated Air Pumps

Battery-operated air pumps are a good option for smaller tanks or aquariums that don’t require a lot of power. They are usually easy to operate and come with various accessories, such as timers and water level gauges. In addition, most battery-operated pumps come with a charger, making it easy to keep them topped off.

Battery Backup Air Pumps

If you want peace of mind, consider investing in a battery backup air pump. These pumps operate on batteries and can be connected to an outlet to function still if the power goes out. However, they are usually more expensive than other types of air pumps and may not be as robust.

What Air Pump Size Do You Need?

The size of the air pump you need depends on the size of your aquarium and the type of filter you are using. Usually, an electric air pump will be more potent than a mechanical one, but both options are available in various wattages.


Airstones and bubblers are small, tabletop air pumps that don’t require a filter. Instead, they come in various colors and can be used to aerate water in fresh and saltwater tanks.

In addition, airstones can be used to create a “bubble” effect in your tank, which is sometimes desired for fish tanks.

Sponge Filter

A sponge filter is an air pump that uses sponges to absorb water and remove pollutants. Sponge filters work well in small tanks but may not be powerful enough for larger aquariums.

Necessary Aquarium Air Pump Accessories

In addition to an aquarium air pump, you will need airstones/bubblers, a power cord, and an Aquarium gravel vacuum.

Airline Tubing

Airline tubing is a type of tubing that is used to aerate water in tanks and aquaria. It comes in different sizes, diameters, and thicknesses to fit almost any tank.

Air Check Valve

An air check valve is a type of valve used to prevent the backflow of air into an aquarium. It stops the flow of air when the pressure in the tank exceeds atmospheric pressure.

Air Control Valve

An air control valve is a type of valve that allows you to set the air flow rate and direction on an aquarium air pump. It comes in different styles, with or without auxiliaries, and can be mounted on the controller unit or the airstone itself.

Airline Connector

An airline connector is a type of connector that helps you connect airline tubing to an air pump. It has a female and male end, so it can be attached to the airline tubing without removing the limitations first.

Gang Valve

A gang valve is a type of valve that allows you to flow air and water simultaneously through an aquarium. It has handles on each side and can be attached to the top or bottom of an aquarium.