Aquarium Air Pump: Best Air Pump for Fish Tanks & More

Setting up a fish tank does not have to be a complicated task, but it is important that key requirements are met. One of these key requirements is aquarium filtration and oxygenation. There are various tank setups, and not all fish tanks achieve this in the same way. However, a good portion of fish tanks utilize aquarium air pumps to filter and oxygenate the water. In fact the vast majority of fish tanks with sponge filters and air stones will require air pumps.

air pump for fish tank
Aquarium Air Pump

Best Aquarium Air Pump

While there’s a lot of different products available, we’ve identified the best aquarium air pump on the market today.

We’ve identified the best aquarium air pump based on the categories below:

We’ll look at each air pump in more details below.

Best All-Around: Tetra Whisper Air Pump

One of the best air pumps you can purchase is the Tetra Whisper Air Pump. According to their official description, the Tetra Whisper Air Pump “provides powerful, dependable airflow,” They claim to be both “efficient and easy to use.” The Tetra Whisper Air Pump also claims that it can serve tanks between 10 gallons and 100.

There are several different types of Tetra Whisper Air Pumps available for purchase. Each one of them is extremely affordable and is stronger than the previous one. The base model, which sells for just under $10, can serve tanks up to 10 gallons in size. Tanks that are between 20 and 40 gallons need the next model that can be purchased for just around $12. If you still need a larger one, there is a Tetra Whisper Air Pump that is powerful enough for tanks that fall between 40 to 60 gallons; it retails for just around $17. The final model of the Tetra Whisper Air Pump can be found for just over $20, but it is powerful enough to work in tanks that are upwards of 100 gallons. If your tank is smaller than 100 gallons, you can easily find a Tetra Whisper Air Pump that will work perfectly for you.

The Whisper Air Pump from Tetra features a patented sound-dampening dome shape. Its unique dome shape is set on four rubber feet that are designed to reduce vibration, which should help keep the sound low. This dome shape keeps that motor suspended inside of sound-dampening chambers. It even features two air outlets that both pump air.

One of the most important features that the Tetra Whisper Air Pumps claims is that it is quiet; it even has Whisper in its name. Unfortunately, based on some consumer reviews, it doesn’t seem that it can always back up those claims. One of the most commonly said things in reviews is that the Tetra Whisper Air Pump is not nearly as quiet as it claims. Another common criticism, or con, is that it does not come with any additional items needed for setup. If you purchase a Tetra Whisper Air Pump, you’ll also need to purchase a check valve, air stones, and airline tubing.

The biggest pro of the Tetra Whisper Air Pump is its price point and availability. This affordable air pump can easily be purchased at aquarium specialty stores, most big-box pet stores, as well as several online retailers such as Amazon. The Whisper Air Pump from Tetra usually sells for around $10, making it extremely affordable and perfect for any tank.

AffordableCan be extremely loud
Cost allows flexibilityRequires additional components.

Best Large Aquarium Air Pump: Tetra Whisper Air Pump AP150

You’ll need an air pump powerful enough to oxygenate your tank, especially if it’s large. If you’re in the market for a powerful air pump, you need to look no further than the Tetra Whisper Air Pump AP150.

The Tetra Whisper Air Pump AP150 is the Tetra brand’s most powerful air pump; it adds to the customization of your tank by creating dramatic bubble effects. Noted to have Deep-water capabilities, the Tetra Whisper Air Pump AP150 is designed for tanks with back pressure. It’s strong enough to pump air 8 feet deep. Tetra claims the Whisper Air Pump AP150 is extremely versatile and can deliver air to all of your powered accessories in a single pump. Reliability is a key factor of the Tetra Whisper Air Pump AP150. With the Tetra Whisper Air Pump AP150, you’ll never have to worry about oxygen in the water, and you’ll never need to buy another pump. If you do have issues, the Tetra Whisper Air Pump AP150 offers a limited lifetime warranty that covers most problems that may arise.

An inconspicuous black box, the Tetra Whisper AP150 weighs in at just around 2 pounds, 1.5 to be exact. The air pump has a length of 3.25 inches, and its width is 7 inches, while the height of the Tetra Whisper Air Pump AP150 is just under 5 inches, 4.75 inches to be precise. Despite its somewhat small form factor, the Tetra Whisper Air Pump AP 150 is extremely powerful and can work in tanks up to 150 gallons in volume.

 The Tetra Whisper Air Pump AP150 has an interesting list of both pros and cons. Pros and cons are an easy way to determine if a product is right for you. One of the most glaring cons of the Tetra Whisper Air Pump AP150 is its sound output. Despite having Whisper in its name, the Tetra Whisper Air Pump AP150 is not quiet at all. Its loudness while running is one of the most commonly discussed things in reviews for the product. However, the loudness of the product can be attributed to one of its biggest strengths: Power. It has enough power to pump air into a tank that is upwards of 150 gallons in volume, and it can even pump air to depths of 8 feet. The power of the Tetra Whisper Air Pump AP150 is important because it pumps so much water and creates so many bubbles that it creates a strong water flow in the tank. A strong current or water flow is crucial for the happiness of hundreds of species of fish. Unfortunately, that strong water flow and powerful air pump can be an issue for some tanks. That is one of the biggest cons of the Tetra Whisper Air Pump AP150; it does not have an adjustable airflow like some other pumps. The most important pro of the Tetra Whisper Air Pump AP150 is that it has a lifetime warranty. Should any issues arise with your product, you only have to reach out to Tetra to have them solved.

Lifetime GuaranteeNo Adjustable Airflow settings.
Powerful. Can support up to 150-gallon tanks.Loud. Much louder than the name implies
Strength produces Water flow.Price can be high for some consumers.

Quietest Aquarium Air Pump for Small Aquariums (up to 10 gallon tanks): Mylivell Aquarium Air Pump

If you’re in the market for a quiet air pump, you’re likely disappointed by the Tetra Whisper Air Pump. But thankfully, there are other, much quieter options available. One of those options is the Mylivell Aquarium Air pump.

Mylivell claims their pump is super silent and driven by different technologies than other air pumps. Their claim is that their pump is driven by a thin, piezoelectric ceramic plate, vastly different from the traditionally seen electromagnetic air pumps. The Mylivell air pump does not contain an EMI, motor, shaft, or other potentially troublesome mechanical parts inside, or so it claims. The absence of these mechanical parts makes the Mylivell Air Pump very compact, quiet, lightweight, and with a long life span.

The Mylivell Air Pump has a very unique design, one that somewhat evokes the visage of a string ray. The top of the pump is curved downwards, looking like the head of a string ray. Then the plug that comes out of the back is reminiscent of the tail of a stingray. The Mylivell Air Pump can be placed anywhere near your tank, thanks to the suction cup on the underside. While we can’t determine if the Mylivell air pump was designed specifically to look like a string ray, we can tell you that its unique design is eye-catching. Not only is it practical, but it’s also a great decorative piece.

As with anything you might purchase, there are pros and cons, and the Mylivell Air Pump is no exception to that. One of the biggest pros of the Mylivell Air Pump is its noted ultra-quiet pumping. Every good review of the Mylivell Air Pump states just how quiet it is. That silent running mode is one of the biggest selling points of the Mylivell Air Pump. Another pro of the Mylivell Air Pump is its small form factor. The width of the Mylivell Air Pump measures just under 5 inches, 4.61 inches, to be precise. Lengthwise, the Mylivell Air Pump is 5.71 inches and 2.01 inches in height.

Despite all the good things that can be said about the Mylivell Air Pump, there are still several cons that have to be noted. According to several sources and reviews, the Mylivell Air Pump is not always quiet. It seems to be an occasional issue that may just be entirely luck based. Another common criticism of the Mylivell Air Pump is that it may have a questionable lifespan. Some user accounts have stated that the Mylivell Air Pump stops functioning after just a few months. The strength of the Mylivell is also drawn into question in some reviews, but the base model of the Mylivell Aquarium Air Pump is only designed to work in tanks that are a max of 13 gallons in volume. The quality of the accessories that come with the Mylivell Air Pump is also questionable.

But even with the pros and cons of the Mylivell Aquarium Air Pump, you should still consider purchasing one. The Mylivell Air Pump is small, quiet, and easy to set up. It is a perfect choice if you have a small tank that needs a quiet air pump. And it would also make an interesting and eye-catching addition to your setup.

Very Quiet.Short Lifespan
Small Form FactorNot Very Powerful. Can’t support tanks over 13 gallons
 Questionable Quality of Accessories

Quietest Aquarium Air Pump for Most Aquariums (10 – 100 gallon tanks): Eheim Air Pump 100

While the Mylivell Aquarium Air Pump is a great choice, it may not be one for you and your tank. If your tank is over 13 gallons in volume, you’ll need a more powerful Air Pump. Enter the Eheim Air Pump 100. Similarly, as quiet as the Mylivell Aquarium Air Pump, the Eheim Air Pump can support tanks much larger than those supported by the Mylivell Aquarium Air Pump.

The Eheim Air Pump is designed for ultra-quiet performance. It is also designed to dampen vibrations using its rubber suction pads. The Eheim Air Pump weighs just around a single pound. As for the size dimensions of the Eheim Air Pump, it is 4 inches in both length and width and 6 inches in height. One of the most important features of the Eheim Air Pump is that it features a knob on the body. That knob lets you control the airflow level. Unlike some other air pumps, the Eheim Air Pump includes everything you need to begin using it. A defuser and airline tubing are included in the package with the Eheim Air Pump.

The Eheim Air Pump sells for just around $30, which makes it a bit more expensive than other Air Pumps we’ve featured. The price point of the Eheim Air Pump might make it a bit more of a questionable purchase for some people. But if you need a quiet air pump for a larger tank, you can’t go wrong with the Eheim Air Pump 100.

When making any purchase, regardless of its price, you should always weigh the pros and cons. Weighing pros and cons is great, and easy to see if the good truly outweighs the bad. Everyone’s needs are different, so you’ll need to make the final decision on your own. But we’re here to help by listing some of the pros and cons of the Eheim Air Pump.

One of the most important pros of the Eheim Air pump is that it is extremely silent. Its quiet running is one of the most frequently talked about features when looking at reviews. Consumers seem to be truly impressed at just how quiet the Eheim Air Pump is. However, that quiet running is not always what you’ll experience. One of the cons of the Eheim Air Pump is that some people have found an issue with the rubber feet on the unit. The rubber feet seemingly come off the unit quite easily. The rubber feet of the Eheim Air Pump absorb vibration, which is a key component of its quiet running. Without the rubber feet, the Eheim Air Pump is not nearly as quiet as it should be. Another con of the Eheim Air Pump is its price point. Upwards of $30 for an air pump might be too expensive for some people. However, the value of its features may just outweigh the cost. Some of those features are another pro. The Eheim Air Pump has a knob on its body that can control the airflow level. One very important pro that some other air pumps do not have is that the Eheim Air Pump comes included with everything you need to get started.

QuietHigh Price Point
Comes with necessary componentsRubber Feet may be loose or quick to come loose
A knob that allows control of Airflow level 

Best Aquarium Air Pump with Battery Backup: Deep Blue Professional Hurricane Category 5 Air Pump

An issue that may arise in your setup is a power outage; a power outage can be very dangerous for the fish in your tank if you use an air pump. If the power goes out, then the air pump stops working. If the air pump stops working, the fish in your tank can be adversely impacted. Because of the potential of a power outage, it is worth considering an Air Pump with a battery backup. If you’re interested in an aquarium air pump with a battery backup, then look no further than the Deep Blue Professional Hurricane Category 5 Air pump.

The Deep Blue Professional Hurricane Category 5 Air Pump features a battery backup that will be activated in the event of any power failure. The batteries inside of the air pump charge while power is restored. Once on battery backup, the Deep Blue Professional Hurricane Category 5 Air Pump can continue to pump air for upwards of 14 hours. However, there is an additional interval mode option. The interval mode option pumps air for one minute and turns it off the next; it repeats that process and can run for 28 hours like that.

The battery backup is the biggest selling point and pro of the Deep Blue Professional Hurricane Category 5 Air Pump. It can save your fish in a pinch if you lose power. The variable output options while on the battery backup is another important feature. There are also adjustable air flow levels when not on battery backup. However, the output of the Deep Blue Professional Hurricane Category 5 Air Pump has been called into question in several consumer reviews. With the question output, a price of $130 is a bit much for the Deep Blue Professional Hurricane Category 5 Air Pump.

Battery BackupHigh Price Point
Interval mode while on Battery BackupQuestionable Output strength
Adjustable Air Flow levels. 

What is an Aquarium Air Pump?

As the name suggests, an air pump literally pumps air into your tank’s water. Traditionally, oxygen will enter the water at a tank’s surface, while carbon dioxide is released because of surface agitation. Surface agitation is crucial for the water. Carbon Dioxide needs surface agitation to leave the water, and oxygen needs it to enter. That is where an air pump comes in; air pumps create agitation by forcing the water to move by creating air bubbles. Air Pumps are extremely important because they ensure that all the species in your tank have enough oxygen to survive.

Aquarium Air Pump
Aquarium Air Pump

Purpose of Aquarium Air Pump

Finding the right amount of oxygen in your tank’s water is very important. If too much oxygen is in your tank, your fish will begin to develop bubbles around their eyes and under their skin. Each fish has different oxygen level requirements, so you’ll need to do your research for each species in your tank. You’ll want a pump that can supply one gallon per hour for every gallon of water in your tank. Most aquarium air pumps have adjustable outputs, so you can set them to whatever level you desire.

How to Tell if you need an Aquarium Air Pump

Not every tank requires an air pump. Some fish can live wonderful and long lives in tanks that don’t have any air pumps. It’s easy to tell if your tank needs an air pump because your fish will tell you. There are many symptoms of a fish not getting enough oxygen, but unfortunately, many of those symptoms are indicative of something else as well. One easy example is if your fish rises to the top of your tank. A fish rising to the surface could mean that the fish isn’t getting enough oxygen or that your tank contains too much ammonia. You should always check your water parameters before making any changes to ensure you don’t make things worse. Some other common symptoms of a lack of oxygen in your tank are fish that rest more than normal, gills that are rapidly moving in an effort to breathe, and fish that frequent the top of the tank looking for oxygen.

Now that you know you might need an air pump for your tank, you’ll likely be asking yourself what kind of air pump you need. There are several different things to consider when purchasing a pump. You need to consider if you just want the best all-around pump for your price point, if you want the quietest pump, the strongest pump, or the cheapest pump. With just a bit of research, you can find the perfect air pump for your tank and its needs.

Fish Laboratory

With decades of collective fishkeeping experience, we are happy to share the fish care tips that we've picked up along the way. Our goal at Fish Laboratory is to keep publishing accurate content to help fishkeepers keep their fish and aquarium healthy.

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