Quietest Aquarium Air Pumps 2023: Reviews and Buying Guide
“Live and let live.” This is a code that I live by.
My code extends to non-humans as well. Be it my pet dogs or fishes in the nice big aquarium I have in my living room, I strive to make life a bit better for them each day.
That’s why I’m a vocal advocate of installing air pumps in aquariums.
At A Glance: Our Top Picks for Quietest Aquarium Air Pumps
For those of you who don’t know, aquarium air pumps are devices that create a water current in fish tanks and oxygenate the water by infusing air particles in the process.
This helps fishes by mitigating their oxygen demands. Some aquarium air pumps even run additional devices like under-gravel filters and decorative objects.
But, there’s a problem.
As air pumps run on motors, they can be noisy at times. Add to that the casing which vibrates constantly creating an engine-like sound.
To solve this problem and to keep our fish buddies in a healthy environment, let’s discuss some of the quietest aquarium air pumps with sound masking technology.
It's time to debunk common myths about air pumps and find out what makes the best quietest aquarium air pump out there.
In this article, I’ll be reviewing the top 5 contenders and telling you why I chose them in the first place. Take the maintenance tips at the end as a bonus. Let’s dive in!
Benefits of Owning a Quiet Air Pump for Your Aquarium
If you are looking for a quiet place for your fishes and want to preserve the tranquility of your house, getting a silent aquarium air pump will help.
In your search for the best aquarium air pump, besides this obvious perk, I advise you to get these devices for two more reasons.
Let The Fish Breathe
Firstly, these devices oxygenate the water in your fish tank. Meaning, they push air and oxygen into the tank. It helps the fishes to breathe normally by removing the CO2.
When putting more fish in a confined space, you’d have to worry about oxygen reserves.
With an air pump, new oxygen molecules inhibit the water. So, no worries there.
Let It Flow
Secondly, quiet air pumps help a great deal in creating an artificial water current by moving the water around at a consistent flow rate. This prevents stagnation.
How to Choose The Perfect Air Pump for the Job?
This is easier said than done. For a hobbyist, scouring through hundreds of air pumps with the hopes of finding a perfect one is like swimming in a haystack for a needle (you get the point, don’t you).
Take my advice and buy an air pump that satisfies the following parameters.
Choose a Robust Air Pump
People will say, “These things are cheap by nature.” We can afford to take the damage and buy a new one.”
Yet, secretly, we all want our devices to keep working for us for three to five years. That’s why we need a sturdy air pump by our sides.
The benefit of choosing a robust air pump is that the machine will not vibrate violently when running at full capacity.
For example, air pumps from Hygger have rubber columns and a steel casing that support the core motor.
Thus, it doesn’t get damaged by shocks and vibrations.
Check The Size of Your Fish Tank/Aquarium
The air pump you choose should be able to perfectly aerate the fish tank.
That’s why the best practice is to look at your tank size and then go for a device that circulates air inside the tank to good effect.
The makers usually mention the capacity of each air pump on the packaging.
Take note of the capacity. This is of utmost importance. If the air pump is too small for the tank, it won’t circulate air to key parts of the aquarium and cause problems.
Purchase one too big and you’ll risk unnecessary vibrations, loud sound, and of course; electricity bills.
Are You Running Additional Items Using the Air Pump or Not?
Depending on the answer, the quality and the size of the air pump will change.
For example, people can connect filters with an air pump. I for one am a big fan of decorative objects.
I just connect them with my air pump to alter the look of my aquarium every now and then.
These additional objects require more power consumption.
Obviously, the air pump needs to be bigger than usual to help to accommodate a powerful motor.
But if people pair just the one device or none with the machine, cheaper products with smaller sizes will do. It is also more energy saving.
The Noise Factor
This is the most important aspect when one’s trying to make his/her room as noiseless as possible.
Always make sure to look at the packaging or manual to see what the noise level is. For me, 30 – 35 dB is extremely quiet and just over 40 dB is acceptable.
The best quiet aquarium air pumps have powerful mufflers and baffle chambers at work.
If you want to get the best aquarium air pump out there make sure that the protective casings in these devices are also employed to negate vibrations.
If possible, go for an air pump that utilizes magnetic bearings like Mylivell or Hygger (more on these later). These things minimize friction and noise in the process.
If you still think the sound is too much to bear, you can always choose to take DIY measures that’ll dampen the noise.
Click here for an infographic of the different noise levels in comparison.
What’s The Power Source Of The Air Pump Going To Be?
If you look closely, you’ll notice that these machines receive power from different sources. There are devices that run on AC power from a power outlet.
Cheaper ones rely on batteries. High-end devices are compatible with both the variants.
In my experience, smaller fish tanks can be oxygenated by battery powered devices. Larger ones require one with AC compatibility.
There are machines that run on Piezoelectric System. These devices require low power and save you precious electricity bills via a thin piezoelectric ceramic plate.
You may have to loosen up your wallet a bit if you choose to buy such a quality air pump.
Sorting through hundreds of machines and narrowing down on top 5 quietest air pumps is difficult.
Very difficult. I had to put in a lot of hours into this. Finally, I’ve come up with some of the best in the business.
So, here’s the list for my readers.
Quietest Aquarium Air Pumps 2022
Thus, it can oxygenate 15 liters of water per minute through the four outlets people see.
Active Aqua Air Pump comes in four different sizes. You can choose the ideal size according to the demands of your aquarium.
The variants and not super costly at all. You can get an air pump at a price under $100.
This Active Aqua aquarium air pump is a lifesaver as it requires only 6 watts of electricity to run itself. If you are on a quest to establish an energy efficient home, this air pump from Hydrofarm is the one to get for your fish colony.
Don’t worry about the consistency of the air flow rate. There’s a special rubber diaphragm inside. It pumps air out through the outlets at a constant rate.
Want to regulate the flow rate? You can with this adjustable air flow! Just use the pressure dial on top. It’s easy to operate using just your fingers.
So is this air pump any good? Very.
While testing, I put the Active Aqua air pump in an aquarium of sluggish fishes. The fish tank was covered with three feet of water inside. I could still see bubbles form on the surface.
The speed with which the air was pumping in this air pump impressed me to no end.
I know it’s quiet. But is it silent enough to let people go about their daily business without a hitch?
Yes, this device makes 45 decibels of noise when it’s at its peak. This is well below the level of human conversation’s sound of 60 decibels. Most air pumps will peak at higher levels.
Wondering how an air pump manages that feat? It’s by virtue of several internal mufflers that dampen the noise.
People who are interested in coupling this thing with a filter should use a T-Valve for that. This is a device that is at its best while staying outside of the aquarium.
If the climate of yours is wet or too humid, put a cloth over your air pump to protect it from environmental forces.
This means the machine is able to run on extremely low power output. This little wonder requires 1.8W of power to function properly.
Mylivell air pump has a ceramic plate. A lack of a motor and shaft gives it a compact shape.
Complicated motors and EMIs contribute to shortened service lives of a number of devices. This aquarium air pump is different. It’s lightweight and this thing lasts long.
Wondering just how quiet it is?
Having no motor allows Mylivell to be noiseless to the extreme level. This thing generates noise below 33 decibels.
People will have the services of a superior air stone as a part of this machine. This efficient airstone can work with fish tanks up to 13 gallons of capacity. Basically, it is good for deep tanks.
How’d we know the stone is working? By seeing the spread of bubbles on the top. It’s perfect for fishes and betta shrimps out there.
Working with this pump is very easy. The first step is to connect the air tube with the air stone.
There’s an outlet at the side of Mylivell aquarium air pump. You’ll do well to connect the outlet with one end of the tube. The next thing to do is to attach a sucker at the opposite side of the pump.
I attached this pump on the back wall of my aquarium. But hey, this thing is not water resistant or waterproof. So, let it come into contact with water.
The last thing to do is to connect this with an electric socket for power.
Just a word of caution: Don’t get hyper when it stops working. Patiently check the air tubes for clogging issues and dirt.
Regular maintenance is a thing you can’t ignore with these machines at any cost.
Anybody can get the quietest aquarium air pump for small-sized fish tanks or aquariums.
But what about the big boys?
Which product can ensure a good air circulation inside a huge aquarium?
Well, say hello to Fluval Q1 Air Pump.
This little device is pretty handy when it comes to taking care of big aquariums.
How big? Fluval Q1 is a good way to supply air into 80 gallons of water.
People who have larger aquariums should try Fluval Q2 that grants air flow into 50 – 160 gallons of water.
This little pump is based on a diaphragm-style design. The entire pump moves slowly like a diaphragm of our body while it pumps out air.
This pump is also energy saving. I like the motion as there’s hardly any wasted movement or energy from Fluval Q1.
Another aspect my readers would find interesting is the “Swing Arm” design. This is where the motor gets its power from.
People will immediately notice the double-wall construction as well. It grants your air pump some much-needed longevity.
One other thing the double-wall construction is good for is the noise suppression. The two walls hardly let any noise from the motor escape. This makes up for a quiet aquarium air pump.
Then, you have the baffle chamber. This chamber muffs the sound. One could still hear it from 10 feet away but it’s not as noisy as Whisper 60 or Whisper 100.
One can use standard air tubes with this thing. People will be happy to know that this machine runs at 3.4 psi of pressure.
Also, it’s water resistant. If you want, you can put this inside your aquarium waters.
I like how it creates water currents besides pumping the oxygen in the water. This is one of the benefits I looked for in my machines.
People have the services of two outlets as a part of this device to get the air inside their fishing tanks.
Want to get a High-Output pump that doesn’t disappoint?
If money is not a problem for you guys and you want a quality product, by all means, go with Hygger 10W Air Pump.
Sure, it works with 10W of power and in 100 – 120V voltage, but what you’re getting is a powerful machine that does the job well.
Plus, it has two outlets that help drive more air than a conventional pump. I’m not complaining!
The great thing about hygger is that you get a pump that has magnetic bearings. These things have little to no contact with the moving rotor inside.
The result? Low friction and better service life with the high-speed air circulation we all want.
When I say, “This machine is quiet,” I mean ultra-quiet. The magnetic bearings contribute to reducing vibrations while running the motor. The entire thing is put in a stainless steel casing that reduces noise.
You can depend on the rubber columns (4 in number) the makers used to support the casing of the motor. It further dampens the noise.
Don’t get tired, there’s more!
You have rubber feet at the bottom that are shockproof. Yes, even shaking won’t cause this thing to make huge noises.
In the end, you’ll hear sound at a scale of below 35 decibels. So, yes, hygger has put a quiet aquarium air pump for users to get.
Believe me or not, this thing can pump out 250GPH worth of air or 16 liters per minute. This is what I mean when I say a hygger air pump is a high output machine.
This little beast can pump out air to an aquarium having up to 600 gallons of water.
It’s safe to say that the makers intended this machine to suffice for commercial fish tanks as well.
This is not too good at holding water back. I suggest you guys put it above your tanks. If you decide to keep it at the bottom, make sure to use a check valve on the tubes
It prevents water from getting in when there’s no power.
Also, please soak the air stones into the water for 10 minutes. This will allow the device to efficiently create bubbles when moving water and oxygenating it.
In my experience, it’s best for fish tanks with a water depth of 4 inches.
Any more and you’ll find the performance dwindling from a mark. At its very best this thing can circulate 275 cubic inches of air per minute.
Have a fish tank of guppies and goldfishes? Use this fish tank air pump for oxygenating the air. You won’t regret it.
Believe it or not, this little thing has 2 outlets. If you think 275 cubic feet of air movement is too little, this increases the air flow.
With 2.0 PSI of pressure and some big air stones, Supreme Air Pump is stable when at work. This thing consumes 3.5 watts of electricity.
I must say, this is one of the entry-level pumps this brand has to offer. Yet, this model works like a charm. You’ll find it easy to operate.
All one needs is a T-tube, a few air stones, and a power outlet. One can regulate the air flow rate too! This is thanks to a dial on top, making it an adjustable flow.
Wondering how quiet this machine can be? According to one of my friends, this little device generates noises closer to 31 decibels when measured. This is very quiet according to my standards.
In fact, it’s less than half of the sound our microwave ovens make.
Just a tip: If you want to reduce the noise level further, make sure to put it under the fish tank within a basket.
Seal the opening of the basket with a tight lid. Voila! You have your own makeshift noise suppressor for the device.
What we liked about it is that it works great at all depths, even in a larger aquarium setup.
The price per value doesn't come close considering all the air pumps mentioned here.
But that's not all. This air pump packs quite a punch and produces a lot of power and air volume compared to other standard air pumps.
While many air pumps can be underpowered, Tetra whisper air pumps might even be too much for a smaller fish tank setup.
Although Tetra is not the quietest air pump on this, the dome shaped chambers still dampen the noise level considerably in a medium sized fish tank.
The Eheim Air pump is the quietest small air pump on our list.
Interestingly enough, this little bad boy emitted almost no unwanted noise when plugged in. Is this the best small size aquarium air pump?
A large air pump means mower power and more noise. When it comes to small air pumps this one really stands out.
The box includes multiple air stones and airline tubing. These air stones allow you to adjust the size of the bubbles pushed into the aquarium water.
The downside of this air pump is that it might not be powerful enough for medium sized tanks and beyond. You might want to opt for a larger air pump if you have a big aquarium.
The priority in this air pump model is noise reduction and you will not be disappointed in this regard.
How to Keep These Devices Running for Years?
It’s easy to spend some money on these small machines, put them inside our fish tanks, and forget about them.
We don’t look back at them until they are done and dusted AKA damaged. Then, people buy a new one right away. A good air pump needs constant attention.
However, proper maintenance can save us some extra bucks. Here are my short tips on using such tools for most pumps.
How Does An Air Pump Work?
An air pump is a pump for pushing air into the aquarium. It uses a bicycle pump to pump air into the aquarium using a gas compressor and piston.
All aquarium air pumps use some kind of moving part (piston, vane, impeller, diaphragm) that generates air pressure when moved by air. The best aquarium air pumps should not be loud enough to disturb you or your pet fish.
What may cause confusion in terms of vocabulary are the words "pump" and "compressor." Technically, they work similarly in terms of pushing air. The major difference here lies in different fluid variations used in the machine.
- uses fluids that can be compressed, such as gasses
- generates very high pressure
- runs in intermittent cycles
An Air Pump:
- uses fluids
- generates very low pressure
- runs continuously
How does an air pump actually work?
- A piston/shaft/cylinder draws air into the pump.
- Pressure builds up in the air pump and the air is compressed.
- Once the air reaches the desired pressure it pushes out the compressed air out of the chamber of the air pump.
That's pretty much how an aquarium air pump works. Pretty sweet, right?
Keep in mind: Not all air pumps have been created equal. Here are some examples of different types of air pumps.
In an air compressor, power such as gas is converted into energy. Then, it is pushed into a tank creating pressure.
Usually an air compressor has a hose or tube attached to it. Once the valve is opened the air is released at high pressure.
A bellows air pump is a positive displacement type of an air pump. It is used to push air through a piping system. The construction is a compressible container with a nozzle.
This container is usually a bag that can be inflated. Once the bag is full of air, the sides spread forcing air inside.
When the sides are squeezed together the air is pushed out of the bag.
Bicycle Air Pump
A bicycle air pump uses a cylinder or a piston to create pressure.
A one-way valve is utilized in this mechanism. The construction of a bicycle air pump allows it to be placed vertically in order to inflate a bicycle tire.
These types of air pumps are quite versatile and can be used in many situations. If you can fit it in your device you can always use an extra adapter.
Diaphragm Air Pump
A diaphragm pump is another type of positive displacement pump.
It has a chamber that serves as a spring. Once the spring is compressed the air is released from the diaphragm. To let the air inside the diaphragm be decompressed and fill the chamber with air.
A good example of a diaphragm pump is a foot pump where you need to step on the pump to inflate an object.
Reciprocating Air Pump
In a reciprocating air pump a cylinder with a piston is used to push the air. An inlet and an outlet are used to direct the airflow.
To fill the pump with air the piston is pulled out. The chamber is depressurized. Once the chamber reached its peak pressure state the piston is pushed in and the air is released from the outlet.
Rotary Vane Air Pump
A rotary vane vacuum pump is based on a positive-displacement pumping principle.
This machine features a rotor inside a cylinder. Blades, mounted inside the rotor, move in and out due to centrifugal force following the internal surface of the housing.
Why Would You Choose A Rotary Vane Vacuum Air Pump?
- Sealed - a vane pump uses oil as a seal which creates a perfect vacuum environment
- Lubricated - the oil ensure that all moving parts are properly lubricated which prevent wear and tear
- Reduced heat - oil impacts friction reducing the overall temperature
- Anti-corrosive - oil prolongs the life of all parts by making them resistant to corrosion
- Cleans - the compressor chamber is cleaned by the oil of impurities and protects from damage
How To Make An Aquarium Air Pump Silent
One thing is for sure.
All aquarium air pumps make some noise.
The noise level is largely dependent on the size of your aquarium. If you have a small aquarium the noise level will be unnoticeable.
But the truth is this. No aquarium air pump is truly silent.
We've measured the noise levels of a variety of air pumps and found some inconsistencies.
Even though some air pumps generate more noise in terms of decibels, the type of noise can be drastically different.
It turns out that noise can be highly subjective depending on the environment and the type of the noise itself. This is because the air pumps can produce different kinds of noises.
Some air pumps emit a noise that resembles unpleasant whirring sounds. This rattling sound can be very disturbing to some, especially if your room is already quiet. In some cases even the slightest whirring sound can be unbearable in a relatively quiet room.
Everybody is different. What can work for one person might not be suitable for another.
When trying to choose the best aquarium air pump that will also be relatively quiet you need to consider all noise sources in the room as well as outside.
If you have noises outside your house that are immediately apparent when you enter your room, an air pump that produces a low and steady hum will be unnoticeable.
Since the frequencies of such air pumps are low they will be overpowered by medium and high frequency noises generated elsewhere.
On the other hand, if you can't hear any significant noises in your room and your air pump is rattling like a rattle snake then you might have a problem.
Give it a few minutes in a room with a rattling air pump and your sanity will be gone.
Hence you should focus on the type of the sound your air pump generates in the first place.
Here are some extra tips to make your air pump quieter.
Experiment With Your Air Stone
As we have covered earlier in this article, the size and depth of the fish tank plays a huge role in the overall noise generated by the air pump.
If you purchased an air pump that is too small for you aquarium this might result in the engine working harder to pump air to the bottom of the tank. A deeper tank will produce more noise in this case.
What you can do in this situation is move the air stone a bit closer to the surface. This simple fix has the potential to dramatically decrease the low frequencies coming from the air pump.
Reposition Your Air Pump
One of the key factors that is the cause of unwanted noise is vibrations.
You can easily check this by simply putting your hand against the wall of your aquarium. If you feel a considerable vibration this can be an issue.
Vibrations like this can cause the casing of the pump rattle. Or even the aquarium itself.
Something like a power cord tangled in your air pump can generate additional noise.
Hard surfaces tend to vibrate more. Always check where you install your air pump. Surfaces such as wood, metal, tiles, panels can be potential sources of rattling noises.
This is exactly why in some situations air pumps can be louder than expected.
Some aquarium components such as cabinets can be made from particle boards, plastic boards or laminates. These can cause significant vibrations all over the aquarium.
In this case you can use regular foam or acoustic type foam to dampen the sound. Place it underneath the air pump for best results.
Alternatively, you can also use a piece of rubber to absorb the vibrations.
Seal Empty Outlets
Air pumps with multiple outlets are great because they make it easy to run airline tubing into multiple tanks.
But what if you are not using the extra outlets? These could actually be adding to the noise your air pump makes.
Fortunately, this is an easy fix. Simply cut a short length of tubing and attach it to your unused outlets – your air pump will immediately sound quieter.
How Many Air Stones Can I Use?
Generally, one aquarium requires one air stone.
But what is an air stone? It's simply an aquarium bubbler. Air stones come in different shapes and sizes.
If you want to run more than one air stone you can
- split your airline tubing from the air pump with an airline connector or a gang valve.
This can only work if your air pump is strong enough. Once you connect two air stones with an airline connector or a gang valve. Check the air stream. If it's decent this option can work for you.
The problem with this approach: Air takes the path of least resistance.
And so if one of your tanks is more shallow than the other, air will escape the former first.
The same goes for shortening the travel time by making the airline short. Check for any leaks.
That being said, if your air pump doesn't generate enough airflow you might want to
- use two air pumps.
If you have a dedicated air pump for each air stone, air no longer has a choice where to go.
What Are The Air Stone Types?
Coming in all shapes and sizes, air stones serve one purpose.
Different materials used for making air stones may be more suitable for different types of tanks (for example silica is better for glass as it won't scratch it). Let's look at different types of air stones.
Air stones are available in different shapes and sizes. Although the air stones are all designed for
Silica air stones
Silica stones are the most popular type of air stones. They are best suited for glass aquariums. They come in sizes of 1 inch to 12 inches for large industrial tanks.
Silica air stones are used in labs for toxicity studies. This is due to the fact the they do not contain any metal. They are quite cheap compared to aluminum air stones and thus not that durable. The lifespan of silica air stones is very short and they require less air pressure from the air pump.
Aluminum air stones
Generally speaking, aluminum oxide stones yield the same bubble size as regular silica air stones. They come in many sizes, including very fine pore sizes. The major perk of aluminum air stones is that they are much more durable than the silica variety. They can withstand years of deep cleaning with no issues.
Be vary of using aluminum stones in glass aquariums as they can vibrate and scratch the glass.
Aluminum oxide stones are not recommended for use in glass aquariums because of their rough surface. These can vibrate and scratch the glass, which will lead to the development of cracks over time.
On the Quietest Aquarium Air Pumps
Many would argue that a machine pumping air is something like an add-on to your fish tank. I beg to differ.
To me, it’s a necessity. Air pumping devices create a flow of water and keep our fish buddies from suffocating. The effects are evident in a mid to large-size tank.
These are cheap and effective ways to keep the fishes playful and healthy all the time.
If you ask me which is the quietest aquarium air pump out there, I’d say it’s a tie between Mylivell and Hygger. Fluval Q1 came close but these two products swept me off my feet with the price vs. performance ratio.
Bonus Aquarium Air Pump Accessories
Lastly, let's look at some additional accessories for your new air pump.
Some air pumps come stock with the listed accessories but some do not.
1. Airline Tubing
Considered as the basic necessity for aquarium fanatics, Penn-Plax Standard Airline Tubing serves as a bridge that connects your air pump to your air stone. It is suitable for freshwater and saltwater tanks. It's clear, flexible and, most importantly, safe for your precious fish!
2. Air Check Valve
Every aquarium air pump should be accompanied by an air check valve.
In many cases this small device can benefit your fish tank greatly.
If you suffer a power outage in your area of residence you can be in trouble. When the power goes out the water in the tank can potentially flood the airline tubing resulting in water coming out of your aquarium.
This is something we do not want.
Hence a check valve can actually save your life! This device regulates the air flow in one direction only.
Voila! Your problem is now gone with a simple fix!
3. Air Control Valve
If you noticed that too much air is coming into your aquarium you might want to consider using an air control valve.
This device lets you control the idle air speed. Twist the knob to reduce the amount of air coming into your tank. This will result in a smaller number of bubbles.
4. Airline Connector
If you are using multiple air stones with your air pump you will need multiple paths of airline tubing.
With an airline connector you can split your airline tubing into more than one path. You can choose between straight connectors and L-shaped connectors for corners.
To run a second air stone use the T and Y connectors. You can also combine multiple connectors to create a more powerful output in multi-outlet pumps.
5. Gang Valve
A gang valve lets you manually control the airflow in your aquarium.
Similarly to an airline connector a gang valve allows you to split your airline tubing into multiple paths.
This is a great solution if you have more than an aquarium. With a gang valve you can also pair multiple aquariums with each other.