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Quieting an Air Pump

Air Pumps for Aquarium Use - How Can I Make My Air Pump Quieter?

(The First Tank Guide)

There are no really quiet aquarium air pumps. Aquarium air pumps move air by causing rapid vibrations in a rubber diaphragm. Though this does move air fairly well, the vibration also produces noise. However, there are several things you can do to make your air pump quieter:

Keep Your Air Stones Clean

First, make sure that all of the air stones are clean and not in need of replacement. To do this, pull the air stone out of the water and disconnect the airline. Blow gently through the air stone from the tip that the air line attaches to. If it is difficult to blow through the air stone, then the air stone is clogged and needs to be replaced.

Generally, air stones will need to be replaced at least once a year as they naturally get clogged with algae, bacteria, fish waste, and dust. However, if your home is particularly dusty or smoky, or if your air pump does not have an air filter, you may need to replace the air stones as often as once a month.

If the air stones are dirty, they will put extra pressure back on the air pump and this will make the air pump work harder to move air, therefore causing more noise.

Position the Air Pump Higher than the Surface of the Aquarium Water

Make sure that the air pump is positioned above the level of the surface of the water. This also makes a difference on the back pressure on the pump and thus cuts the noise.

In addition, if your pump stops (in case of a mechanical failure or power outage) water could siphon through the air line if the pump is positioned lower than the surface of the water. This could damage the pump and could also cause property damage was water drains over furniture and structure.

Place the Air Pump on a Solid Surface

If your air pump is on a hollow container, the container will often resonate with the pump, making the pump seem louder. Setting the pump on a thin piece of metal, glass, or pressed board will tend to have the same effect, creating unnecessary, and possibly irritating noise. The worst thing to put your air pump on top of is a speaker for your stereo, as these are designed to amplify sounds.

Placing the air pump on a solid surface or a dense object will dampen these noises and help keep the room quieter and the air pump less irritating.

Also remember not to put the air pump directly on the top of your fish tank, or to put it on a shelf that hangs off the fish tank, as this will transfer these vibrations into the fish tank (in addition to making them louder in the room), and this can be very irritating to your fish.

Put Something Soft Under the Air Pump

Finally, place a folded piece of cloth or a sponge under the air pump to absorb the vibrations and therefor dampen the noise generated by the air pump. An old athletic sock will often work great for this purpose, and is free. Soft sponges can also serve this purpose.

These several steps can greatly reduce the disturbance factor of an air pump, and increase the enjoyment of your fish tank. Remember, regularly check your air pump to make sure it is working properly and has not vibrated itself to the edge of a shelf or ledge where it may fall and damage something.

"Wow, Keith, that was a fountain of knowledge! Thank you so much! It's too bad I didn't get more information at the pet stores I went to."
April 18, 2016
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"You have given me a wealth of information and gone the "extra mile" for my fish tank. [...] The whole process has been fascinating to me and I owe you a dept of gratitude for your patience. You truly are a good resource of information. Plus, I thank you very much for having patience with me."
September 21, 2007
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