Aquarium pumps are some of the oldest pieces of aquarium technology available. Water pumps and air pumps are a must-have for nearly all aquariums, and serve vital functions for keeping your aquarium functioning well. Here’s what you need to know about them.
The water pump helps to move water through the aquarium. Stagnant water can lead to the development of bacteria, which is obviously something you want to avoid. Water pumps are also helpful for the water “current” they generate, which mimics the natural underwater currents in which fish live. Finally, by cycling water out of your aquarium, the water pump lets you run that water through any peripheral equipment you may have—filters, skimmers, etc.
Water pumps are rated by the volume of water they can pump every hour. The size of pump you’ll need depends on the size of your tank. A good rule of thumb is that you want the water volume in your aquarium to run through the pump about 4 times an hour.
The air pump is responsible for bringing oxygen into the tank and oxygenating the water so that your fish can breathe. In their natural habitat, fish have underwater plants that distribute oxygen through the water. In an aquarium, you need to create the same process via different means, hence the air pump. Water pumps will usually provide some aeration, but many aquarium owners prefer to have a dedicated air pump for additional water oxygenation. (Also, the bubbles are fun to look at.)
That’s it for the basics. Each of these devices has many additional features to consider, but the specifics should really be considered in tandem with your aquarium’s unique setup and needs.