Fish Aquarium Pumps

air pumpFish aquarium pumps consist of two types; air pumps and water circulation pumps. Air pumps come in sizes from small enough to fit in a child’s hand to large enough to run entire store systems. The majority of aquarium air pumps are rated to a certain size tank. They utilize air line tubing and air stones in order to create lift inside of a tube attached to a undergravel filter. Though they can do the job for smaller tanks, they aren’t as efficient as a circulatory pump like a powerhead. Powerheads use a magnetically driven impeller to move water much more forcefully and efficiently. Other water circulation pumps include canister filters that use similar impeller systems and larger external pumps for wet dry systems that move large volumes of water. All manufacturers have flow rate charts to help determine which pump(s) would be best for your aquarium.

Air pumps need regular maintenance, which includes replacement of diaphragms, and small filter discs that stop dust and debris from being drawn through the pump and ultimately into the tank. Airline tubing needs to be checked and replaced if damaged or when it becomes brittle. Air stones should be stocked as part of your aquarium supplies because, depending on the material they are made of, they will need to be replaced accordingly as necessary. One way check valves should be spliced into the airline tubing between the pump and the air stone or gang valve in order to prevent the back siphon of water from the aquarium to the pump in case of power outage.

Powerhead type circulatory pumps are generally used as a replacement for air stones because they are more reliable and efficient. Many powerheads are also used to create current within the tank. They can be placed at different levels to cause flow patterns that are suitable to coral growth in reef aquariums and plant growth in freshwater tanks. Many hobbyists will also plug powerheads and circulatory pumps into controllers that will alternate power to pumps in order to create a wave or tidal pattern.

Canister filters use impellers to circulate the water through a closed system which consists of any number of layers of filter media to clean the tank water. Capacities and capabilities of these types of filters range from 10 gallon tanks to 300 gallon tanks. Large circulatory pumps, not unlike ones used for spas or pools, are used for very large systems. But similar smaller ones are used for wet dry filters on tanks from eighty gallons to five hundred gallons or even larger. The air pumpkey is to turn over the water in the tank four or five times per hour. In other words, a hundred gallon tank should have pump capable of moving between four hundred and five hundred gallons per hour. All of the pumps have different flow rates at various head pressures so it should be easy to match up what is needed for the system you are keeping.

Though some people really like the look created by bubbles in the tank, bubbles can cause problems in either freshwater or saltwater tanks. As air bubbles brake the surface, the salt creepburst of the bubble kicks up small amounts calcium in freshwater and salt in salt tanks. Calcium deposits leave marks at the water level and crusty deposits on lids and equipment, while salt residue from bursting bubbles causes “salt creep”.  As “salt creep” builds upon itself, it can become its own wick siphon. If not wiped down often, it can cause damage to stands, canopies and electrical items. Air bubbles do NOT put air into the water. It’s the motion at the surface where oxygen exchange takes place. Circulation pumps that are returned at or just below the surface of an aquarium in such away that the flow creates motion at the surface will have as much or more oxygen exchange take place without the resulting calcium or salt damage. Hopefully, this article has provided some insight as to which fish aquarium pumps might be right for your tank.

Summary
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Fish Aquarium Pumps
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Aquarium pumps are usually overlooked as to the importance they play in the health of an aquarium. Choosing the right one for your situation is critical.



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