How to Set Up an Aquarium Air Pump

Updated November 21, 2016

The familiar bubbles running up the sides of a fish tank or through a decorative ornament inside a fish tank offer more than simple aesthetic pleasure for an aquarium enthusiast. Aquarium air pumps allow oxygen to enter the water of the tank. Air pumps work behind the scenes to deliver a steady stream of bubbles to promote increased activity for the fish in the tank. Air pumps also function to move water through the tank to prevent build-ups of algae as well as turnover of the water to help keep the tank as clean as possible.

Remove the pump from the box and plug it into an electrical socket. Make sure you feel it vibrating as well as humming. The pump should emit a steady stream of air from the valve on the back of the pump. Also check the manufacturer's recommendations for setting up an aquarium air pump.

Unplug the pump and position it near your fish tank on a flat surface. Plug the pump back in to give it a test run to check for noise and vibration. Air pumps can be noisy if placed against an object that can be rattled with the constant movement of the pump. Unplug the pump after testing it.

Attach the clear tubing to the valve on the back of the pump. Thread the tubing up the back of the tank, preferably out of sight.

Insert the tubing into the tank. Attach the clear tubing to a bubbler, bubble wall or ornament. It's best to use plants, rocks and gravel to hide as much tubing as possible to enhance the overall look of your tank. You can also purchase clips to secure the tubing to the tank rim and suction cups to secure the tubing to the inside walls of the tank.

Turn on the pump and watch for bubbles. Remember that the air needs to travel quite a distance from the air pump to the end of the tube.

Adjust the air pressure on the aquarium air pump if your model has an adjustment valve.

Things You'll Need

  • Clear plastic tubing
  • Scissors


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