Notes for those looking for air pumps

Sanderguy777
Member
I have been seeing a bunch of questions lately about air pumps, and as an equipment hoarder.... uh, I mean, collector, ... I have had several of them over the years, and wanted to start a list for people who are new, or are tired of their loud, old, broken, dirty, not new, weak, gutless, and "noob" air pumps.

I will start off by asking what you want from the pump, then go into which one you will want.


So, what do you WANT out of the pump? Are you running a 5g betta tank, or starting a rack system of several tanks, and need at least 1 airline per tank? Think about if there is a possibility that the setup will change, maybe you go from a 5g, to a 29g, or a 60g, to a 60g, with a 10g under it (like I did).
Will you be using one airstone per tank, or several, or maybe a bubble wand and a cannon or the diver from Finding Nemo (you KNOW you want one ). Or you just want one that is quiet and that you can not hear across a room.

OK, so now you know what you want from the pump.

Here is a list that I am going to put down of quiet, reliable pumps I have used. Note that when I say they are quiet, I mean to MY ears, and used in my house, under certain conditions. There isn't a silent arlir pump made. If there is, it isn't on the aquarium market, and it costs a whole ton of money (like laboratory research equipment prices).

My personal favorite pump is the Tetra Whisper. There are reviews that complain about it being loud, and I'm here to tell you those people either got bad pumps, or they have they have the ears of a flying fox bat. Tetra pumps are not silent, you WILL hear them in a silent room, but probably not if you have an air stone hooked up and running, or your filter going. I have had at least 4 of them (one 10, two 60s, and a 100), and none ever died, I either gave them away, or still have them. (The 10 is a little louder than I remember the 60s being, but that is common, since the smaller units are frequently less robust, and cheaper quality.)

Top fin: probably the LEAST rated of my pumps. I have had either the 150, or 300 model, and it was louder than the tetra, and even though it was rated at higher air volume and pressure, I didn't notice ANY difference between the large top fin, and the smaller tetra (size is actually about the same, but the gallon rating the manufacturer assigned is what I'm talking about.)

Hygger: (I forget the model number, but the smaller one, with 2 outlets, not the $45 dollar one). This unit is quiet, at least as quiet as the Tetra, and the one I have, had been running since March 2020 without an issue (and that is AFTER the stupid mistake I made of not adding a one way valve to the air line, and water leaking OUT THROUGH THE PUMP!)

Alita al-6a my biggest pump so far. While this thing can easily run 5 or 6 air stones without issue, and at full blast (I have only tried 5, but it is probably able to run more...), it is STILL the same noise level as the Tetras. And mine was used, so it probably needs some cleaning, if not a full service kit, which is one big advantage to larger, commercial pumps like it.

So, now you know my opinion on the best pumps I have used. I want to leave you with a couple IMPORTANT tips.
1. Always use one way valves, water can't siphon upwards like many people on forums claim (unless there is other water or something pulling it down), but it CAN travel upwards in an airline due to capillary action. Believe me, the $2 spend is much better than trying to stop up a gallon of water off a hardwood floor, and possibly replacing a pump, dead fish, or a house that burns down! Make sure you install it in the correct orientation (blow into both ends if it isn't labeled).

2. All the pumps I have used are diaphragm pumps, but there are also linear piston pumps, that are quieter, pump MASSIVE amounts of air, and cost more than my Alita by 2 or 3 times. They are best used in fish rooms for central air supply systems as they provide way too much air for a "normal" aka underhoused and under funded fish keeper like myself to afford or justify.

3. If you do like me and use a giant pump on 1 or 2 tanks (I have the Alita on a 60g with 3 air stones and a 10g with a sponge filter), then use a bleed valve. Look up how to make one, but basically it lets excess air out of the system so the pump doesn't overheat or die prematurely from back pressure or stress.

4. Finally, manufacturer's rating numbers. Long story short, they mean little to nothing. A 10g rated tetra can pump air into a 60g tank without issue, while a 150g or 300g rated top fin seemed to stress over getting more than the Tetra into my 55g tank.
If you are unsure of the size you need, do ahead and get the size up from your tank size in case you ever upgrade tanks, IF you are just using one air stone per outlet. If you get into 2 or more regular air stones per outlet, then look at something at least 1.5x your tank size (or the collective volume of the tanks you use it on).

5. Bubblewalls look pretty on the package, and fail to impress anything but your wallet after they get home. If you want to try them, know that in my personal experience (using both the regular stone type Walmart sold, and the flexible type Petco or Petsmart had) only the first bit worked, or this part, but not that part. And that was using the 60 or 100 Tetra and the supposedly great top fin.
If you want that effect, while I haven't tried it, I suspect that you could get it with a large pump like the Alita.

Let me know if I missed anything, and if I you have any other tips that you find helpful or pumps that are good in the comments below.
 
StinkyLoaf
Member
Very informative

The noise of air pumps has never bothered me. I use to run two on my cichlid tank but my parents threw them away because the noise was bothering them. How do they think I feel? I have to sleep next to a tank running an air pump every night but I’m fine!
 
FreshwaterCole
Member
Sanderguy777 said:
I have been seeing a bunch of questions lately about air pumps, and as an equipment hoarder.... uh, I mean, collector, ... I have had several of them over the years, and wanted to start a list for people who are new, or are tired of their loud, old, broken, dirty, not new, weak, gutless, and "noob" air pumps.

I will start off by asking what you want from the pump, then go into which one you will want.


So, what do you WANT out of the pump? Are you running a 5g betta tank, or starting a rack system of several tanks, and need at least 1 airline per tank? Think about if there is a possibility that the setup will change, maybe you go from a 5g, to a 29g, or a 60g, to a 60g, with a 10g under it (like I did).
Will you be using one airstone per tank, or several, or maybe a bubble wand and a cannon or the diver from Finding Nemo (you KNOW you want one ). Or you just want one that is quiet and that you can not hear across a room.

OK, so now you know what you want from the pump.

Here is a list that I am going to put down of quiet, reliable pumps I have used. Note that when I say they are quiet, I mean to MY ears, and used in my house, under certain conditions. There isn't a silent arlir pump made. If there is, it isn't on the aquarium market, and it costs a whole ton of money (like laboratory research equipment prices).

My personal favorite pump is the Tetra Whisper. There are reviews that complain about it being loud, and I'm here to tell you those people either got bad pumps, or they have they have the ears of a flying fox bat. Tetra pumps are not silent, you WILL hear them in a silent room, but probably not if you have an air stone hooked up and running, or your filter going. I have had at least 4 of them (one 10, two 60s, and a 100), and none ever died, I either gave them away, or still have them. (The 10 is a little louder than I remember the 60s being, but that is common, since the smaller units are frequently less robust, and cheaper quality.)

Top fin: probably the LEAST rated of my pumps. I have had either the 150, or 300 model, and it was louder than the tetra, and even though it was rated at higher air volume and pressure, I didn't notice ANY difference between the large top fin, and the smaller tetra (size is actually about the same, but the gallon rating the manufacturer assigned is what I'm talking about.)

Hygger: (I forget the model number, but the smaller one, with 2 outlets, not the $45 dollar one). This unit is quiet, at least as quiet as the Tetra, and the one I have, had been running since March 2020 without an issue (and that is AFTER the stupid mistake I made of not adding a one way valve to the air line, and water leaking OUT THROUGH THE PUMP!)

Alita al-6a my biggest pump so far. While this thing can easily run 5 or 6 air stones without issue, and at full blast (I have only tried 5, but it is probably able to run more...), it is STILL the same noise level as the Tetras. And mine was used, so it probably needs some cleaning, if not a full service kit, which is one big advantage to larger, commercial pumps like it.

So, now you know my opinion on the best pumps I have used. I want to leave you with a couple IMPORTANT tips.
1. Always use one way valves, water can't siphon upwards like many people on forums claim (unless there is other water or something pulling it down), but it CAN travel upwards in an airline due to capillary action. Believe me, the $2 spend is much better than trying to stop up a gallon of water off a hardwood floor, and possibly replacing a pump, dead fish, or a house that burns down! Make sure you install it in the correct orientation (blow into both ends if it isn't labeled).

2. All the pumps I have used are diaphragm pumps, but there are also linear piston pumps, that are quieter, pump MASSIVE amounts of air, and cost more than my Alita by 2 or 3 times. They are best used in fish rooms for central air supply systems as they provide way too much air for a "normal" aka underhoused and under funded fish keeper like myself to afford or justify.

3. If you do like me and use a giant pump on 1 or 2 tanks (I have the Alita on a 60g with 3 air stones and a 10g with a sponge filter), then use a bleed valve. Look up how to make one, but basically it lets excess air out of the system so the pump doesn't overheat or die prematurely from back pressure or stress.

4. Finally, manufacturer's rating numbers. Long story short, they mean little to nothing. A 10g rated tetra can pump air into a 60g tank without issue, while a 150g or 300g rated top fin seemed to stress over getting more than the Tetra into my 55g tank.
If you are unsure of the size you need, do ahead and get the size up from your tank size in case you ever upgrade tanks, IF you are just using one air stone per outlet. If you get into 2 or more regular air stones per outlet, then look at something at least 1.5x your tank size (or the collective volume of the tanks you use it on).

5. Bubblewalls look pretty on the package, and fail to impress anything but your wallet after they get home. If you want to try them, know that in my personal experience (using both the regular stone type Walmart sold, and the flexible type Petco or Petsmart had) only the first bit worked, or this part, but not that part. And that was using the 60 or 100 Tetra and the supposedly great top fin.
If you want that effect, while I haven't tried it, I suspect that you could get it with a large pump like the Alita.

Let me know if I missed anything, and if I you have any other tips that you find helpful or pumps that are good in the comments below.
Awesome! Thanks!

P.S. - When I can't hear my pump (running 2 10's, 40gb, 55g off one) I am concerned lol. But have noticed how quiet the Tetra's are.
Currently running those 4 tanks....10g×2,40gb,55g..off the Hitop ultra quiet aquarium aurpump. It is not completely quiet, but surprisingly with running 4 tanks its very low noise.


Thanks again!
 
Mike999
Member
I've used air pumps when hatching brine shrimp in a bucket.
Or, attached to a sponge filter for a 10g filtration / quarantine tank etc.

They definitely still have a use to this day, especially in breeder tanks.
Neat topic for sure - yes, I've had good luck with Tetra as well.
 
  • Thread Starter
Sanderguy777
Member
FreshwaterCole said:
Awesome! Thanks!

P.S. - When I can't hear my pump (running 2 10's, 40gb, 55g off one) I am concerned lol. But have noticed how quiet the Tetra's are.
Currently running those 4 tanks....10g×2,40gb,55g..off the Hitop ultra quiet aquarium aurpump. It is not completely quiet, but surprisingly with running 4 tanks its very low noise.


Thanks again!
Yeah, on my 60g and 10g setup, the pump was audible over the bubbles popping but most likely because I had a lid on the tank.
Now, with the 5g DIY filter on the 60g, I dont hear the pump over the little waterfall sound the water makes as it falls down the outlet pipe. (And, I have been sleeping beside the whole setup for like 11 months now, so I'm used to it lol).

Mike999 said:
I've used air pumps when hatching brine shrimp in a bucket.
Or, attached to a sponge filter for a 10g filtration / quarantine tank etc.

They definitely still have a use to this day, especially in breeder tanks.
Neat topic for sure - yes, I've had good luck with Tetra as well.
Yeah, I run at least one sponge filter on all my tanks so if one dies or I get another tank, I can kick start its cycle or not have to worry about the fish as much.
CrustyDusty said:
Very informative

The noise of air pumps has never bothered me. I use to run two on my cichlid tank but my parents threw them away because the noise was bothering them. How do they think I feel? I have to sleep next to a tank running an air pump every night but I’m fine!
my 60g and 10g setup only in my room and the loudest part about it now it's the waterfall from the 5G canister filter I built. Happily, my parents' bedroom wall blackout the noise and they dont even hear it.
 
Alejandro
Member
I've only ever had one pump it's a Hiblow that runs many tanks in multiple rooms. We have it in location where noise doesn't matter and pipe it to all the rooms.

I think it was about $800 and I got it in the late 1990s I've had two diaphragm replacements one about every 10 years and I keep a spare set on hand.

If you want a massive pump for large numbers of tanks I've been very happy with this one.

On the other hand I got a tetra whisper for Alejandro's fish room a few months ago because I needed a little air one day and was too lazy to run a line 20metres from the Hiblow- big mistake it shorted and burnt out after two weeks and took out a safety switch that turned of a pump to two tanks - Alejandro lost all his baby flounder and two seahorses. Now I have a line from the hiblow!!

We were saved from worse because power to.the fish room comes from 4 different RCDs and this only cut one which luckily ran flow to.only two tanks.

So it seems we can have different experiences of the same pumps
 
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