Air pumps

Here’s how you can get sufficient oxygen into your aquarium

Your aquarium water absorbs oxygen through the water surface. The more movement on the water surface the larger it becomes and the more oxygen your water can absorb. The aquatic plants also help, at least during the day, to increase the oxygen content of your water. But with lots of aquatic plants the situation can reverse at night because plants consume oxygen also at night. That, of course, is also the case with algae!

Air pumps will help you to increase the oxygen level in the water quickly and easily. This partly happens due to rising air bubbles but more so through water being moved at the surface.

When medications are being used the use of Air pumps is often recommended when medications are being used, as the oxygen demands of the fish increase during this time.

How does an air pump work?

How does an air pump work?

Air pumps are constructed so that membranes with a downstream valve build up air pressure through their back and forth movements. The air then reaches an air stone or an air-driven filter in your aquarium through an air hose. To prevent a water backflow it is useful to integrate a check valve ( JBL ProSilent Safe ). The mounting direction is important here. It is indicated by a small arrow.

What air pumps are available for you?

Air pumps are available in various sizes and some have one or two air outlets which can be adjusted. If you want to connect an air pump with several air stones or other air-driven features, you’ll need an air distributor ( JBL ProSilent Control ). You also can connect several air distributors with each other, but the pump performance needs to be high enough.

How is an air pump cared for and maintained?

Every air pump, not only those from JBL, contain diaphragms to generate the air pressure. These membranes are wearing parts and eventually wear out because the rubber becomes cracked or brittle. But membranes can be replaced very easily! To do this, open the pump after pulling out the plug and pull out the diaphragm. Fiddle in the new membrane and done.

JBL air pumps contain an air filter which filters dirt out of the intake air! This also needs to be replaced after a visual inspection. You will be surprised how much dirt collects in such a filter, even if there is NO smoking in the room! For the JBL ProSilent air pumps, the mini air filters are even available as spare parts for around one euro. However, you can also manage with pressed filter wadding. For smokers (no joke!) a small activated carbon cartridge in the air path is recommended. Cigarette smoke can cause serious problems in the aquarium!

Which bubble stone is the right one?

There are an incredible number of different bubble stones that are driven by air pumps, releasing air bubbles into the aquarium. Mostly they are used to increase the oxygen content in the aquarium water. The more they move the water surface, the greater the oxygen enrichment in the water. There is no such thing as too much oxygen! However, a strongly moving water surface also loses a lot of the main plant nutrient CO2 to the air. Therefore, a compromise of a slightly moving water surface instead of a very agitated or absolutely smooth water surface is ideal.

In marine water, wooden air diffusers (usually made of lime wood like JBL Aeras Marin ) or ceramic airstones are the right choice, as they produce extremely fine bubbles that are needed in protein skimmers. In freshwater aquariums, it is more a matter of taste which type of airstone you choose. They can be round like JBL ProSilent Aeras Micro S2 or cylindrical like JBL ProSilent Aeras Micro S3 . If very strong aeration is desired, oblong airstones such as JBL ProSilent Aeras Micro or X JBL Aeras Micro are a good choice.

All airstones have a limited lifespan. In the course of their bubbling life, they become more and more clogged and at some point they only bubble huge bubbles or no longer bubble at all. They need to be replaced then at the latest.

Please always place bubble stones at the bottom or even inside the substrate so that the path of the air bubbles to the water surface is as long as possible.

Aquatic plants and air pumps

If you want to supply your aquatic plants with carbon dioxide from a CO2 fertiliser system you should forego the air pump or just use it during the night. Plants also consume oxygen at night. That’s why oxygen deficiency can occur at night, when there are lots of plants in the aquarium. During the day your plants produce a lot of oxygen and your air pump would again expel quite a lot of CO2 through the movement on the water surface –a similar effect to shaking a bottle of cola, where CO2 also gets expelled.

If you are unsure whether the oxygen content in your aquarium is ideal, you can easily test it with the JBL PROAQUATEST O2 Oxygen . The lowest oxygen content always occurs in the morning. If the O2 content is OK in the morning (i.e. above 6 mg/l), it will not drop into critical ranges during the rest of the day and night.

Normally, the slight water surface movement of the filter outflow is enough to supply your aquarium with sufficient oxygen. However, there are situations in which additional aeration can be very useful:

  • At high temperatures: the warmer the aquarium water, the less oxygen it can bind! If your water temperature moves towards 30 °C in summer, for example, you should consider cooling (JBL PROTEMP COOLER) and aeration! If the water surface in the aquarium should NOT or CANNOT be moved, it is essential to check the O2 content of the water. When using anti-algae agents and medications, vigorous aeration is often required in the instructions for use. If the aquarium is heavily planted, aeration should be carried out AT NIGHT, as plants consume oxygen in the dark.

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