Equipment Quietest and Best Aquarium Air Pumps – Buying Guide and Reviews

Quietest and Best Aquarium Air Pumps – Buying Guide and Reviews

In this guide we take a look at some of the most popular, quietest, and best aquarium air pumps, as well as dive into what you should look for to suit your tank, and how to place and use one correctly.

We’ve created this buying guide to steer you toward buying only the best aquarium air pump because they are one of the more expensive and important items you’ll buy for your aquarium, so you want to get it right.

But choosing the right one is often a difficult decision, especially for people new to the world of fish keeping.

Now, before you even start shopping you need to know a few things: how do aquarium air pumps actually work? When do you need a specialized deep water pump? What are you actually going to use it for? What’s the pumps purpose in your specific tank set up?

Not all models are created equal, can have different power ratings, different purposes, some suitable for powering filters, some for air stones and ornaments, can have 1, 2 even 4 outputs – The options are many.

But not only that, they can also be pretty noisy. So believe me, you also want to seek out the quietest aquarium air pump you can find. More on that later…

So keep reading to find out exactly what the right pump can do—and which one is right for you.

The Top Models Chosen for Our Best Aquarium Air Pump Reviews

Please note: The above links take you to current prices, customer reviews and further information on Amazon.

Best Aquarium Air Pumps

Below we list and discuss our top recommendations, and we’re sure you’ll find the right one for you.


Active Aqua 6-Watt 15-LPM Air Pump with 4 Outlets

♔ Top Pick

This aquarium air pump is available with 1 to 8 outlets, making it suitable to drive either many devices in a single aquarium, or multiple aquariums at once.

The larger the model you buy, the more outlets it’s has, as well as each outlet being more powerful.

The 4 different air pumps are rated at:

  • 1 outlet model: 50-GPH flow rate, or 3.2 liters per minute
  • 2 outlet model: 125-GPH flow rate, or 7.8 liters per minute
  • 4 outlet model: 240-GPH flow rate, or 15 liters per minute
  • 8 outlet model: 400-GPH flow rate, or 25 liters per minute

So there’s a model to suit almost all requirements.

Every model features a multi-level muffler which reduces noise to a modest 45 decibels maximum, which can be reduced further if you follow our advice for placement above. This pump is extremely quiet, it will not be keeping you awake at night.

A dial on top of the housing lets you easily adjust the air pressure, although you should be warned that the highest setting increases the sound produced. We would suggest buying a higher spec model than you perhaps need, and not running at 100% to keep the sound down.

This is one of the best aquarium air pumps you can get if you have multiple aquariums or devices you wish to run. It is quite powerful but it should not be used for outdoor ponds as the housing is not water resistant.


  • Four outputs allow you to power several different accessories in multiple aquariums
  • It’s nice and quiet
  • Specialized rubber pieces ensure steady output and pressure
  • It doesn’t use much power


  • It’s big, making it less than ideal for people with limited space.
  • It doesn’t come with T stops or any of the other standard accessories.

Check Price on Amazon


Tetra Whisper Air Pump

♔ Runner Up

The Tetra Whisper air pumps are available in 5 different models, covering tank sizes from 10 to 100 gallons.

Due to many unique features in it’s design, it’s one of the very quietest air pumps on the market.

It has an arched shape that is designed to flatten the frequencies generated, and prevent reflections of sound off the surface it’s placed on.

Together with rubber feet that partially isolate the unit and dramatically reduce vibrations, this truly is one of the quietest units you will find on the market.


  • This really is one of the quietest air pumps around
  • It is small enough to work in any space
  • The dome shape and color are quite attractive


  • There is no hose / other attachments included

Check Price on Amazon


Tetra Whisper Air Pump for Deep Water Applications

♔ Best Value

Tetra is one of the leading brands manufacturing aquarium products today, so it’s little wonder this is their second product on our list.

The Tetra whisper for deep water is their most powerful air pump and includes two models in the range – One suited to 150-gallon tanks, and one for 300-gallon tanks.

Each model is able to handle the back pressure produced at such depths of 8 feet, to still function correctly.

This incredible pressure does also mean they are highly suited to multiple stones, ornaments or filters, and suffer much less than other models with stones or valves becoming clogged over time. It just powers through.


  • Incredible strength, can be used in huge tanks, and deep water.
  • Lifetime limited warranty
  • Quiet in relation to it’s output


  • No way to adjust air flow (turn it up or down), it needs an external regulator

Check Price on Amazon


VicTsing Ultra Silent Dual Output Air Pump


The ‘VicTsing ultra silent’ is a lightweight, portable air pump which has two outputs so you can power multiple air stones or devices at the same time.

It’s also one of the few aquarium air pumps which actually comes with its own air line tubes and even its own air stones.

The tubes are 100CM and 110CM long so they can be used in multiple aquariums that aren’t directly beside each other.

The VicTsing aquarium air pump is ideal for shallow fish tanks with 30 gallons and deep tanks with 10-15 gallons. It’s very quiet and therefore excellent for an aquarium setup in the bedroom.


  • It’s one of the few models that comes with its own hose
  • The double-headed pump which allows you to hook it up to multiple tanks
  • It is compact and attractive, suitable for pretty much any living space
  • The motor is very quiet
  • It’s very affordable, cheaper than many of the other models mentioned in this article


  • The hose it comes with tends to kink and isn’t particularly flexible.
  • It can only effectively circulate up to 30 gallons of water depending on the height of your tank

Check Price on Amazon


Fluval Q1 and Q2 Air Pumps


The Fluval Q range has two models, the Q1 and Q2.

The Q1 is good for all aquariums up to a limit of 80 gallons, while the Q2 is good for a fish tank from 50 to 160 gallons.

They are small yet powerful pumps with a single output and with adjustable flow control, built to last and backed by a 2 year warranty.

Manufactured to run extremely quietly with a double wall design, they have also engineered a ‘noise suppressing baffle chamber’ that Fluval claims makes this their quietest pump to date.

They are not submersible, so must be positioned outside of the tank, and there’s no fixture for hanging, so it must be placed on a flat surface, for which there are 6 pegs / feet that reduce vibrations and hence sound created during operation.

They are not submersible, so must be positioned outside of the tank, and there’s no fixture for hanging, so it must be placed on a flat surface, for which there are 6 pegs / feet that reduce vibrations and hence sound created during operation.


  • Well designed, to be small yet powerful.
  • Quiet operation despite it’s power
  • Great price compared to some others on our list


  • Single output only, so need to purchase split valves to drive multiple air stones or devices
  • Could have a provision for hanging for those that prefer this to laying it flat

Check Price on Amazon


EcoPlus Single Outlet 1 to 18W Commercial Air Pump


Do you have a large tank or a fish pond which needs some air circulation?

The EcoPlus 728450 are powerful but affordable aquarium air pumps, boasting 793 to 3566 gallons per hour rating!

It features a single powerful outlet to which you can attach different chrome accessories to provide up to 16 outlets (a 6 way is seen in the image above) so you can operate multiple devices or use it to circulate oxygen in multiple tanks.

The EcoPlus 728450 is however quite loud, so most people don’t like it for indoor use, but it is an excellent air pump for someone with several aquariums kept out of the bedroom or a pond in their backyard.


  • It is incredibly compact and lightweight
  • There are multiple outputs for connecting to different devices or tanks
  • It is powerful enough for large tanks or ponds


  • It can overheat if you have it constantly running in a hot environment, so it must be kept out of the sun / extremely hot environments
  • It is fairly loud for indoor use, making it better for ponds than it is for large tanks

Check Price on Amazon


EcoPlus 3W 2 Outlet Air Pump


The EcoPlus 728360 is another compact but powerful aquarium air pump, designed for medium-sized tanks.

Its two outputs come with built-in valves so you can easily control the air pressure.

The housing is highly water resistant and doesn’t heat up as quickly as the housing of the other Eco model in our list, making this an excellent choice for small ponds.

The 126GPH flow rate model is ideal for medium-to-large tanks and small ponds while the largest version, 380GPH, will keep most of even the largest ponds oxygenated.

If you’re looking for something that’s powerful, portable, and attractive, the EcoPlus 728360 is an excellent choice.


  • It has an attractive exterior which will look great in almost any home
  • Both outputs have their own valves
  • It’s great value for the price, being powerful enough for all medium and most large tanks


  • It is kinda loud unless kept on the ‘low’ setting.

Check Price on Amazon

What is an Aquarium Air Pump?

A grey aquarium air pump sitting on a white surface

As the name would suggest, an air pump is…wait for it…a piece of equipment that pumps air. I know, my knowledge is legendary.


Aquarium air pumps are a sometimes vital piece of equipment used in an aquarium to pump air where it’s needed, sometimes to drive filters, to power ornaments, to create streams or curtains of bubbles that help oxygenate the water, and to create currents within a tank.

Not all tanks need them, so they are often optional. However, they do create a beautiful effect, and there are a few benefits to having them, as we’ll discuss further on in this guide.

How Do Aquarium Air Pumps Work?

Top view of an aquarium air pump with the case removed to see how it works

Most run on standard power, which means you have to plug them into a wall socket, but some offer a dual option allowing you to run them on battery power.

Almost all models use an electromagnet to rapidly move a rubber diaphragm back and forth, pumping air through an outlet ready for use.

All models with an outlet to which you attach pipes or tubing, which the air is pumped through to the air stone, filter or ornament where you require it.

What are the Benefits of Aquarium Air Pumps?

They are most often used to help prevent water stagnation by helping to cycle water throughout a tank, avoiding ‘dead spots’ of still water.

As air bubbles rise, they ‘drag’ water up with them. This rising water pulls in surrounding water to replace it, and hence creates water circulation, redistributing the water in a tank.

The currents created are also of benefit to your fish, enriching their environment compared to a still, motionless tank.

Aquarium air pumps are also necessary for ‘bubble up filter’ operation.

The same process described above of rising bubbles pulling the water up with it as it goes is also taken advantage of in some filters, where air is bubbled up through filter media and the water taken with it is cleaned. You will know if you have this filter or not, and if so then an air pump is essential.

There are also many aquarium decorations which require air from a pump to move or pass through them to create the desired effect.

‘Air stones’, which either bubble or give off a fine mist of air, are the most common aquarium decorations, but there’s also spinning wheels, opening and closing valves, rising and falling objects and so on.

Protein skimmers in a saltwater aquarium also require an air pump to operate.

Air pumps help with aeration, of the release of carbon-dioxide and oxygenating the water.

As the air bubbles break at the water surface, CO2 is released and at the same time oxygen absorbed into the water. Many people believe the bubbles themselves add oxygen, but it’s not the case, it’s the breaking of the waters surface.

This release of CO2 and addition of dissolved oxygen is great for all your tanks inhabitants: Your fish, beneficial bacteria and more.

Finally, bubbles just plain look nice!

A nice rising curtain of column of bubbles from an air stone is a nice to look at, and improves the overall aesthetics of your tank, not to mention the fact some fish learn to enjoy playing in the bubbles which is great to watch.

What to Consider When Choosing an Air Pump

Only once you’ve figured out what you want to use your air pump for you can figure out which of these best aquarium pumps are the right one for you by considering the following factors:

Size of the Tank

Most models will have a tank size rating, so you should make sure to check this before making your purchase.

Perhaps more importantly, if your tank is taller than 20 inches or so, you will need a special ‘deep water aquarium air pump’, of which Tetra manufactures a great one and we will discuss further below.


Generally listed as Volume Per Hour, this is how much airflow your aquarium air pump can move, especially useful to know if used with a filter or protein skimmer in saltwater aquariums.

Any aquarium decoration which requires air should tell you how powerful the pump needs to be for the device to work.

If you can’t find anything specific on the box or in the product description call customer service to get the correct number.

Number of Outputs

Close up of four aquarium air pump outputs

Generally speaking, air pumps come with 1, 2 or 4 outputs, so you will want to match this to the number of air stones, ornaments and potentially filters you are hoping to drive.

Aquarium Headspace

If using an air pump in a filter, this is the height the water needs to be pumped against gravity. How much you need is dependent largely on the type of filters you use, and a pump can be too weak or too powerful.

In a bubble up filter, you want a pump that is able to shift enough water up through it to be filtered, so it needs to be quite powerful. But if using an under gravel filter, if it is too strong, it could blow away your substrate as it works. So there’s a sweet spot.

The manufacturer of your filter will tell you what strength you need, so pay attention to them, they know best.

How is it Powered?

There are only tow options here: Battery powered and mains powered.

Unless you live in an area with frequent power cuts and you want a battery operated backup in case mains does drop out, I cannot see any reason to buy a battery operated one. Stick with mains if you can.

Noise Level

They can be very noisy. As discussed above, they work by vibrating a rubber diaphragm back and forth very fast, which causes vibration and potentially lots of noise. And it’s the sort of incessant, non-stop noise that really grabs your attention and drives you mad. So…

Please, make sure when you pick a model that it’s described as ‘quiet’ or ‘silent’. You really do want the quietest aquarium air pump you can find, because a loud one is horrible, I’ve been there.

Regardless of the model you choose, it will always create some sound, but there are measures you can take to silence it, and we will give you the details further below.

Where to Place your Aquarium Air Pump

A brightly lit aquarium at night in a living room

Where you put the air pump has a massive impact on how effectively it functions, how long it lasts and how much noise it creates.

It Should Always Be Above the Water Level

Many people put theirs in the cabinet underneath their tank, but this is actually one of the worst places you can put it!

Below the water level, it can make the pump have to work harder, the extra pressure can make it run louder and there’s a risk of water running down the inside or outside of the tubing, into the pump, causing electrical failure and potentially even electric shock.

You Should NOT Place the Pump on Top of Your Tank.

Unfortunately, you also can’t place it on top of the tank—this will cause vibrations which stress your fish out, potentially even leading to a stress-induced death. There is also the risk of it falling into the tank. So what do you do?

One of the most common solutions is to build a shelf directly behind the aquarium and slightly above it, then place the air pump there. You can also hang it from a well-secured hook just above the water level, but this requires a lot more work.

Make Sure it Doesn’t Touch the Tank Walls

This will vibrate the whole aquarium and hurt your fish. Any shelf or hook you place it on instead, should also be kept away from the walls and roof of the tank.

Make Sure it’s on a Solid, NOT Hollow Surface

If you place your pump on a hollow container, the vibrations will resonate, be amplified, and the noise will distract and drive you crazy.

Place a Sponge or Cloth Under it!

Placing the pump on a soft sponge or cloth, rather than directly on a shelf, will significantly reduce the noise. This is particularly important if you’ve got a powerful model that drives several things.

Types of Air Pumps

There are a few different ways to categorize air pumps depending on their purpose:

  • Tank Size – Most aquarium air pumps are rated for a specific tank size but this only really matters if you’re planning to use it to power a filter. You’ll also generally want a more powerful model if you’re going to be powering large air stones or multiple accessories.
  • Purpose – Some air pumps are designed specifically for deep water. You will need one of this type to properly circulate the water in a deep tank more than 18-20 inches tall.


Usually, when you buy an air pump all you get is the machine itself, so you’ll need to get some accessories before you can set it up:

  • Air Line Tubing – Airline tubing is used to connect the pump to the device it is actually powering. You want to look for something that’s strong but flexible and that won’t kink. Penn Plax Flexible Air Line Tubing is a good option.
  • T-Fittings – T-Fittings are connectors which you can use to connect output ports. This is recommended if you have a dual output model but you only want to power one device. Using only one output on a dual output model will usually provide an imbalanced air flow.
  • Air Pump Control Valves – These valves let you control how much air is being pumped at any given time. You may not actually need these depending on the purpose of your pump but they are quite useful.
  • Air Stone Diffusers – Air stone diffusers create very small bubbles which are useful for filtration. The Jardin Aquarium Fish Tank Ponds Ceramic Air Stone Diffusers are high quality and can be used with any tank.
  • Air Ornaments – There are many different types of ornaments/decorations which are powered by air ornaments. Common air ornaments include miniature treasure drivers, air bubble volcanoes, and sunken windmills.


The most important factors to consider when choosing an aquarium air pump is what you’re actually going to use it for, how deep your tank is and how many devices you want to set up.

If you’ve read through this list and you’re still not sure what the best aquarium air pump is for your needs then scan the reviews on Amazon and other sites.

Find good reviews from people with tank setups similar to yours and you’re sure to have found a winner.

Jeremy is the founder and chief editor of this site. A fish keeping hobbyist and enthusiast for over 23 years now, he started Happy Fish Care to share his knowledge with others, to help them enjoy their fish keeping while helping them ensure their fish lead happy and healthy lives.

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