# Does Air Pump Size Matter?

jewelleigh
I have several tanks (a 5, 10, 20, and 55). I finally sucked it up and bought a large air pump. I bought an Eheim because reviews said it was the quietest. Well, reviews are wrong! I pretty much chunked it out the window (okay, not "chunked" but I did play around with keeping it on the porch). It's not only noisy but it vibrates. After it drove me crazy, I went back to my smaller air pumps.

What are the difference between sizes of air pumps? If one says for 10 galleon vs one for 120 galleon, what's the difference? I'm assuming that part of it is the force of air with bigger being stronger and the other part if having two lines. But if I want to just run one air line, does it matter? If I have a 10 galleon air pump with a line to an airstone in a 55 galleon? How is that different than the same airstone in a 10 galleon? And then have a second air pump with a different airline and so forth? Will I mess something up?

max h
The difference is Physics, an air pump that's designed for distributing air down to a depth of 12 inches of water may not be sufficient enough to pump air down to 21" of water.From sea level down to 21" of fresh water is almost an increase of 1" water pressure. That may not sound like much, but the average healthy human can over expand their lung from breathing compressed air as shallow as 4' of water. An air pump is just a crud compressor.

jewelleigh
In that case, I know my 10 and 20 galleon have the same depth, so it wouldn't matter for those.

How can I calculate the minimum air pump needed by depth?

max h
In that case, I know my 10 and 20 galleon have the same depth, so it wouldn't matter for those.

How can I calculate the minimum air pump needed by depth?

I never got into that part of the equation. Now tuning dive regulators for deeper depths it's a matter of adjusting the over bottom pressure to be higher then the actual pressure your diving at, if not the regulator will not give you air.

jewelleigh
Wait, what? Dive regulator?

You mean I can just place the air pump higher than the tank?

Scherf
Wait, what? Dive regulator?

You mean I can just place the air pump higher than the tank?

he is using a diving regulator as and analogy... I see you don't dive or have ever dived..... but I digress....

NO, putting the air pump higher than the tank will do nothing for you...

jewelleigh
I've never even taken a dive into a swimming pool. I know, not the same thing but that's how little I know about diving.

Okay, so is there a way to calculated minimum air pump size needed? If it's by depth, then I can't go by the air pump labels. They have a "10 galleon" and a "20 galleon" air pump, but the tanks are the same in terms of height. Can I calculate by pressure and relate that to inches somehow?

Scherf
There probably is a calculation, but I have no clue as to what it is

max h
So an inch of freshwater weighs approx. 0.032 lbs per inch if we times that by the tank depth in this case 21" you would come up with0.756 lbs of water weight. A square inch of air going all the way up to outer space only weighs 14.7 lbs. I haven't used an air pump for a real long time but most of them are operated by a rubber diaphragm, so the amount of air the pump can move would be dependent of the size of the diaphragm and the length of the stroke the motor makes on the armature.

jewelleigh
Interesting.

Since I can't calculate that, new question. If I use an incorrectly sized pump, what is the worst that can happen? It stops working? Worse?

Sydsam
Physics is too complicated...if its loud, wrap a sock around it...worked for me

jewelleigh
Too complicated? Will it explode or something?

I tried a box within a box within a box within a box lined with eggs cartons and wrapped in a blanket. I had to unplug it because I couldn't sleep at night. This one was rated for 120 galleons, which is an overkill for what I need. I was going to use it for all my tanks.

The "10 galleon" and "20 galleon" air pump don't bother me, I haven't tried some of the ones in between...

Sydsam
Too complicated? Will it explode or something?

I tried a box within a box within a box within a box lined with eggs cartons and wrapped in a blanket. I had to unplug it because I couldn't sleep at night. This one was rated for 120 galleons, which is an overkill for what I need. I was going to use it for all my tanks.

The "10 galleon" and "20 galleon" air pump don't bother me, I haven't tried some of the ones in between...
do you even need an air pump? I have 2 and they aren't loud at all, but then again, I don't mind sounds at night...my little air pump can be quite loud which is why I have it in a sock

jewelleigh
I have a few sponge filters that I really like. I suppose I don't have to use one in my 55 galleon, but it seems like a good idea to have as a backup/additional filter.

It's really the vibration feel and sound that keeps me up. I am fairly sure I would have to invest in a sound proof box to remove the sound.

Anyway, I am willing to try some other air pumps. I was just hoping to find an answer of what is the minimum I can use and what happens if I accidentally use something too small.

THRESHER
Wrap it in sponge and rubber bands? That will muffle the sound/vibration. I did that once to a noisy air pump for a 5gal tank. It worked too, didn't hear a thing after I wrapped it up like a sponge mummy.

Carbeo
have a few sponge filters that I really like

I was just hoping to find an answer of what is the minimum I can use and what happens if I accidentally use something too small.
If the air pump is "too small" you won't get the result you want in your sponge filters. The pump needs to not only be strong enough to push air to the bottom of the tank but also fast enough to make so many bubbles to pull water through the filter at the rate you like. If the air pumps are for oxygenation, you may not even need them depending on stocking and filtration. Sorry your big pump was too loud. That would have been a great way to run a gang of sponge filters.

Aquarium Air Pumps rattle a lot if they are oversized and the pressure on the output raised by restricting the airflow. This is because they use a simple diaphragm with a one way valve to produce the air pressure.

What you need to do, since you have this big air pump already, is to split the output from the air pump to the number of air outlets in your tanks (airstone, filters, decorations etc) PLUS ONE.

Each of the outlets on the splitter needs an adjustable valve on it, so that you can regulate the air flow to each outlet in the tanks.....including the "PLUS ONE". The "PLUS ONE" will just feed into the air and will be used to free flow excess air pressure caused by having an oversize air pump (you can call this reserve air pressure if you want to make yourself fell better ).

To regulate the whole system, open all the valves and then reduce the air flow to the individual outlets until you get the desired air flow (bubbles). You may have to repeat the operation 2-3 times to get the right balance. Try to avoid shutting the free flow outlet unless you cannot get enough pressure on the other outlets.

Good luck!

This is a .

Sanderguy777
When I was buying my large pump for my 60 gallon, I was told that a pump that was too small, will burn out. Too large of a pump will not have enough pressure and burn out. I got a large pump for about \$60. It is an alita al6a diaphragm pump. It's the quietest I've ever heard.....or not I guess!
If you plan on getting more tanks, a linear piston pump is normally used by breeders for their large fish rooms.

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