Do Aquariums Need Air Pumps? (Answered!)

Aquariums are one of the most maintained things to keep the fish in a healthy condition. Aquarium setup is not easy, especially for maintaining an oxygen level in the aquarium. For maintaining an oxygen level, do aquariums need air pumps?

Aquariums do not need an air pump until there is good water movement in the tank and the oxygen with the water movement can be present in the aquarium at a sufficient level.

But If you need to be safe side with the oxygen level in the tank with good water flow and also want a good decorative tank, you can add an air pump to the aquarium.

Is An Air Pump Necessary For Aquariums?

The answer is no. Most of the time, an air pump is not necessary for aquariums. While maintaining a good amount of oxygen in your aquarium’s water is crucial, many aquariums can achieve that level without the addition of a second air pump. Everything relies on the specifics of how your aquarium is set up.

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By stirring up the water’s surface, an air pump aids in the oxygenation of a fish tank. If your tank has a sufficient filter, this should cause enough of a commotion to eliminate the need for an air pump.

Although there are some circumstances in which an air pump makes sense, the main benefit of having one in your tank is aesthetic.

Can Aquarium Fish Survive Without An Air Pump?

Aquarium fish can easily survive without an air pump and fish breath in oxygen just like humans do. Therefore keeping their tank well-oxygenated is essential for their life.

The surface provides more oxygen than the water in a fish tank absorbs. So, using an air pump in a fish tank is beneficial for a contaminated surface.

Some individuals enjoy the way bubbles look in their aquarium. Otherwise, if you have the correct filter for the fish tank, this will usually produce enough agitation to the surface to effectively oxygenate the water, so there is no need for an air pump.

You may aerate your fish tank manually by just taking a small amount of the aquarium water and pouring it back in from a short distance.

The waterfall effect stirs up the water’s surface and functions similarly to an external water filter. Aeration takes place when bubbles appear where the water stream strikes the surface of your tank water.

How Does The Air Pump Work In An Aquarium?

Air pumps push air into your aquarium. The water is stirred, and bubbles form when air is pumped into it, which raises the oxygen levels in your tank.

Since fish breathe by passing oxygen through their gills, so maintaining oxygen levels in the water in your aquarium is crucial. Otherwise, your fish will suffer from receiving the oxygen they need to survive.

Lake, ocean, and river surfaces are constantly in motion in the wild, and the huge surface area ensures that oxygen is constantly being exchanged with the water. We need to facilitate this exchange in a home aquarium setting.

Use of Air Pumps In Aquariums

An air pump is used to provide additional aeration and circulation and stimulate gas exchange at the water surface. The detailed uses of air pumps are given below.


An aquarium air pump’s job is to increase the water’s oxygen content. The pump draws atmospheric air through airline tubing, moves it over an air stone, and then releases it as bubbles into the aquarium’s water.

The air stone and air pump are connected by tubes, which produce different bubbling effects. It increases water agitation to work.

You can regulate how much air enters the water. Additionally, each air pump can be managed separately.

Surface Agitation & Gas Exchange

Without surface agitation, oxygen that is sitting on the water’s surface cannot enter the water, and any extra carbon dioxide can not exit the water.

Placing an air pump is a technique to make sure there is enough surface agitation. The carbon dioxide will be forced to the top by the continuous bubble flow, which will stir the gas exchange process.

There is not enough oxygen in your aquarium if you ever notice your fish gasping at the surface while swimming at the top. This issue can be quickly resolved with an air pump.


Filtration is a major application for air pumps, with sponge filters serving as one of the most prevalent examples.

These filters work by applying air pressure to a submerged sponge, which pulls in the water while filtering any impurities that are introduced to it.

Shrimp or the famed neon tetra are examples of more sensitive species that frequently require the usage of sponge filters because they can easily become trapped in conventional filters.


If you have ever passed by an aquarium and thought, “Wow, that looks amazing.” There is a decent possibility that the aquarium had a decorative air pump introducing bubbles into the tank.

Sometimes the bubbles will appear on their own, but to give your aquarium more style and design, you can add a variety of accessories that use an air pump to provide style and a theme, such as treasure chests, volcanoes, and even artificial coral.

These items are not only fascinating and entertaining to look at, but your fish will also like the bubbles.

Pros & Cons of Using Air Pumps in Aquarium

Aesthetic appearanceNoisy
Helpful in oxygenationStressful for aquatic animals
Enjoyable for fish__


Aesthetic Appearance

This is a personal preference, but if your filter is sufficient, the main justification for using an air pump is that the majority of people like the way the bubbles in the tank look, which gives an aesthetic look.

Helpful In Oxygenation

Air pumps help in oxygenation in fish tanks. Fish are happier in water that contains more oxygen.

An air pump could be the solution if you ever notice your fish struggling for breath while swimming at the top of the tank.

Enjoyable For Fish

Fish like to play in the bubbles an air pump produces. Bear in mind that some fish dislike them and that they can stress them out.

However, it is crucial to check that the air pump is not too powerful for your fish, as smaller fish risk being carried up in the current from an air pump that is too powerful.


With pros, there are some cons of using an air pump in the fish tank too, which are described here.

Stressful For Fish

Even though some fish enjoy playing in bubbles, they can be stressful for others. This may be especially true for fish like betta, which likes still water.

Though, it truly depends on the type of fish, as some bettas have been observed to like playing with bubbles.


Air pumps are mostly nosier. Some air pumps are louder and all air pumps will create some noise which is very annoying sometimes.

Do Small Fish Tanks Need Air Pumps?

No small fish tank does not need air pumps. Strong moving water is not a thing for a small fish tank. Fish will become irritated if your air pump disturbs the water too much.

Moreover, small fish can go to the surface to take oxygen. Such as betta fish, and they can breathe effectively without using an air pump in their tank.

A particular labyrinth organ that serves as a lung allows bettas to breathe oxygen from the air if there is not enough oxygen in their tank.

Do Ten Gallons Fish Tanks Need Air Pumps?

Yes, ten gallons fish tanks do need air pumps for water circulation, aeration, filtration, and agitation

On the other hand, it depends on the size and type of fish you have in your tank. You should consider these two things when choosing the aquarium air pump.

The depth of your tank is the first consideration, followed by the size and type of fish in the tank. Air pumps are more likely required for larger aquariums than smaller ones.

The likelihood of a chemical imbalance in the water increases with the number of fish in a tank. Lowered oxygen levels may result from this imbalance, necessitating the usage of an air pump.

The general recommendation is that a 10-gallon tank requires an air pump with an output of 0.33 liters per minute.

Nevertheless, a planted 10-gallon tank will only need an air pump with a 0.413-liter-per-minute output.

Does The Fish Tank Need An Air Pump All Time?

A fish tank does not need an air pump all the time as it is not necessary for maintaining a productive and healthy aquarium, an air pump can be helpful in specific situations.

Since the air pump is not a necessary piece of equipment, frequently turning it on will not harm the health of your aquarium.

Make sure to operate your fish tank’s air pump for the appropriate period each day if you use one. It can harm your fish if you run it for too long, and it will not effectively maintain the oxygen level in your tank if you run it for too little time.

You should use your air pump for 6 to 8 hours per day. However, it is strongly advised to let the pump constantly run if you keep plants in your aquarium to promote photosynthesis.

Without the extra oxygen and surface agitation, plants may suffer and fish in the tank too.

How Long Can Fish Tanks Run Without Air Pumps?

In steady water, fish may survive without an air pump for two days. On the other hand, with the correct filter in your tank, it can be extended as the correct kind of filter generates a lot of surface water movement.

Air pumps are not necessary for your fish tank, but they are a terrific method to guarantee optimum water flow and aeration.

If you do not have an air pump, make sure your tank has adequate surface agitation and water flow.

Moreover, you do not need an air pump in your aquarium if there is enough oxygen in the tank. Installing an air pump within your tank is a smart idea if your tank does not contain enough oxygen.

Do I Need An Air Pump For My Fish Tank If I Have A Filter?

Most of the time you do not need an air pump. It would be best if you had an air pump in your fish tank. Many fish tanks can keep the water’s oxygen level at a suitable level without the use of an air pump.

Often times water filters achieve this by dropping the filtered water back into the tank, which disturbs the water’s surface and allows air to enter the liquid.

The quantity of surface agitation in your aquarium is right to keep it well aerated if your filter returns water to the tank and you can see the movement.

By moving water about the tank, filters also help with aeration by allowing the water from the bottom of the tank to cycle up to the surface. This maintains consistent oxygen levels throughout the tank.


The air pump is used to maintain a good water flow and aeration, but many individuals have asked about, do aquariums need air pumps and what would be the condition of aquariums without an air pump.

However, you can use air pumps in the large aquarium to ensure good water movement and aeration, but those house aquariums usually do not need air pumps.

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