Air pump vs Water pump- Which One’s Right For You?

Air pump vs Water pump

The water in the aquariums needs to have a good aeration and filtration system to keep the water moving. This helps create a stable environment for the fish that mimics their natural surroundings. Fishes, otherwise, are unable to survive well in stagnant water. The types of pumps one uses to mimic these natural surrounding vary as per the aquarium one has.

However, the choice of a pump may be difficult for someone who is new to having an aquarium. In case of a tiny fishbowl with one gold fish, you can clean the water every now and then. However, when there are multiple fishes involved, a pump is a good idea for filtration.

Types of Pumps

There are several types of aquarium pumps available in the market. The most common ones are air pumps and water pumps. The air and water pumps are used to aerate the stagnant water, create currents in the water to mimic a lake or an ocean, and allow the water to move through filters, skimmers, etc. The major difference between air pumps and water pumps are as follows:

1. Air pumps

Air pumps are mostly added outside the fish tank and are used to add air into it. These filters add pressurized air into the tank that end up creating the tiny bubbles you see all the time. Air pumps are generally used with inside box and sponge style filters to ease the process of filtration. The compatibility with these filters in the aquarium and the bubbles air -pumps create is the reason many people choose them.

2.Water pumps

The water pump adds in water to the aquarium and can be submersible or in-line in nature. The type of water pump, like the air pump, is chosen on the basis of the filter used in the aquarium.

     a) Submersible water pump: The submersible water pump operate under the water and work with several types of aquarium filters. The job of this water pump is to draw water from the filter and send it back into it through the aquarium. The pumps are highly common as they are extremely easy to install and quiet in nature as they operate underwater.

     b) In-line water pump: The in-let water pump are connected externally and make use of an inlet hose that is connected to it in order to filter the water. However, these devices are quite powerful in nature and draw in gallons of water in an hour. They also add less heat to the water as compared to a submersible pump. They can be set with a pressure flow or can be free flow in nature as well.

How to choose a pump?

There are several methods to choose a pump. The biggest factor that comes into play is the type of aquarium and filtration system you have.  Apart from that, whether the aquarium is saltwater or not, the amount of volume pumped, etc. too determine the kind of pump you must get. Here are the steps that will help you decide if you should use a water or an air pump for you aquarium.

Type of filtration

The filtration system used in the aquarium and the type of pump you end up using go hand in hand. Your filter should be compatible with the kind of pump you’re using to maintain the pressure in the water and to ease the process of filtration as well. Sponge filters work for all kinds of aquariums and are suitable for all filtration except chemical ones.

These filters are commonly used by breeders as the tiny fishes don’t get sucked into its mechanism. These filters are the most versatile ones and can be used with both air and water pumps. However, most other kinds of filters have special needs for their pumps. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to consult the manufacturer of your filter over which pump goes best.

Saltwater or Freshwater

A saltwater pump must be made out of material that is non-corrosive otherwise the water will go bad over time. A freshwater pump won’t be able to work in a saltwater one but a saltwater one will be suitable for a freshwater one as well. For saltwater aquariums, one should be very sure that the pump isn’t inside the water or doesn’t corrode if it is.

Aquarium Headspace

The aquarium headspace decides the power of the pump you should be using to pump water. The headspace is the height until which the water must be pumped in the tank. If the filters are the hanging kind, there is rarely any problem in this area as the force of gravity isn’t too harsh. However, in case of more grounded, canister filters, the force required is a lot high. Thus, one should make use of ​more powerful motor pumps here.

Volume pumped per hour

The volume of water pumped per hour in the tank determines the current in the tank. This current allows the fish to survive better as it balances the temperature and create a more natural environment for the fish. Depending on the type of filter used, the speed of the pump is determined and the amount of water it must produce every hour. The most common amount of water filtration pumped is about 6 gallons of water an hour. Therefore, you must choose a pump that gives more water than this in an hour.

Final Thoughts

The air pump is one of the most essential devices for your aquarium. Without it, filtration would get extremely difficult and the natural currents of the water wouldn’t be maintained well for the fishes’ survival. Remember that the type of pump you choose must be compatible with your filter and should be suitable for the type of water in the aquarium as well. An air pump, however, is the best pump too start with as it can work really well in smaller tanks. You can also try submersible pumps in these cases.

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Mary T. White

Hi everyone, I'm a trained AC service technician who uses several tools in my profession. I created this interactive platform to share experiences and vital information. Feel free to share your views and ask any question.

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