Quiet Aquarium Air Pumps 2018

ViaAqua MillionAir Tetra Whisper JW Fusion Fluval Q Series
Tank Size 5 – 80 Gallons 10 – 100 Gallons 20 -110 Gallons 20 – 160 Gallons
Outlets 80/200: 1
400/600: 2
10/40: 1
60/100: 2
200/400: 1
500/700: 2
2
Noise Level Very Low Low Medium/Very Low* Very Low
Longevity 1 – 3 Years 1 – 4 Years 1 – 3 Years 1 – 3 Years
Price Low Very Low Low-Medium Medium

New aquarists are often shocked by the amount of noise air pumps generate. Even some of the more expensive pumps can still vibrate so loudly that the owner deems them unusable. Luckily these air pumps can all be run fairly quietly.

For the optimal performance I have included some of my best methods for quieting a noisy air pump along with several explanations of how noise is created and how to combat it. Pairing these methods with these models results in a silent air pump that can be run even in the bedroom. As such, each pump has had a turn sitting in my bedroom tank, running non-stop for three weeks. Given the set-up, they have all been ignored with ease.

Set-Up

As these pumps all work the same, the same set up process will apply to each.

Air pumps work best when placed above the tank. This reduces the pressure on the pumps motor, making the pump run more quietly and extends the pumps lifetime. Additionally this will prevent reverse siphons.

Pumps placed below the water line run the risk of starting reverse siphons, draining water from the tank and out of the air pump. This can damage the pump as well as the floor, especially wood floors. You will need to place a air check valve somewhere in the tubing. While this will create a bit of pressure on the pump, increasing its noise, it will eliminate the risk of reverse siphons.

For air pumps with multiple outlets you will need to use all of the outlets. Otherwise the unused outlet will create a huge amount of back pressure on the air pump, making the motor run much louder than needed. This also means both outlets should be run at about the same pressure, or else it will have the same issue.

Be sure you only use as much tubing as needed. Using excessive tubing will also create pressure, making the pump run louder.

Finally, the best way to Silence an air pump is to utilize the two boxes that these pumps will come with. First you will need to drill a hole in the ends of both boxes just large enough for the tubing on one side and the power cord on the other. For the best results drill a hole for the power cord, cut the box to the top, bend it and slide the power cord in place. This will allow you to have a small hole despite the much larger plug head.

Place the air pump inside the smaller box, closing it as much as possible and then place that box inside the larger amazon shipping box. Place the box opening opposite from one another. Seal each box as well as possible. For my bedroom I went as far as placing silicone around the holes I drilled and placed the tubing/cord through.

This method dramatically cuts down on noise by making plenty of turns for the sound without generating a lot of heat like wrapping the pump in a towel would. You can take this one step further and place a sound muffling base inside the box, such as foam pads. Even without this my air pump runs quietly enough to stay in the bedroom, as opposed to my previous 15 feet of tubing leading to the bathroom pump.

ViaAqua MillionAir Air Pump



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Tank Size Outlets Longevity Price
5-80 Gallons 80/200: 1
400/600: 2
1-3 Years Low

The ViaAqua MillionAir air pump is what I consider to be the ultimate in quiet, efficient air pumps. The cost is quiet low, it operates quietly and is easy to make dead silent.

All sizes but the 80 come with a flow control knob. The only downside of the pump is that it lacks the power to supply large tanks with air on its own. Considering my large tanks always have some other form of aeration, this has not proven to be an issue for me, but it is something you should take into account.

Outlets & Adjustments
  • 80: One Outlet
  • 200: One Outlet
  • 400: Two Outlet
  • 600: Two Outlet

The flow control valve does not adjust the flow too much, however it should be enough for any tank besides betta fish tanks. For slow swimming fish such as those you will need to install your own flow control valve. These are really cheap, about one dollar at most stores.

Lifetime & Warranty

The ViaAqua MillionAir air pump tends to last between two and three years. Given the price point this isn’t too bad of a lifetime. Those who take the best care of their pumps will not see much greater lifetimes, as the rubber diaphragm of air pumps is always the thing to go first.

While this pump is covered by a one year warranty, it is not worth using. The company does not cover any damages caused by user error or water damage such as reverse siphons. Additionally the owner must send the pump back to the manufacturer with $10 to cover the return shipping and handling. Overall it is generally easier and cheaper to get a new air pump.

Tetra Whisper Air Pump


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Tank Size Outlets Longevity Price
10-100 Gallons 200-400: 1
500-700: 2
1-3 Years Low

The Tetra Whisper air pump is likely one we are all familiar with, and for good reason. It runs relatively quiet, can last a long time when well cared for. It simply works.

Some of the issues it brings is its compact design heats up and its frequently moves from vibration, finding a much louder home than we originally placed it. Following the double box method however will keep the pump in place from the tension of the tube and power cord.

Outlets & Adjustments
  • 200: One Outlet
  • 400: One Outlet
  • 500: Two Outlet
  • 700: Two Outlet

Unlike the MillionAir, the Tetra Whisper air pump does not come with any method of air control. For this you will need to add your own flow control valve. Given the strength the pump brings, I highly recommend the control valve. The pump is simply much stronger than most aquarists expect.

Remember that using both outlets on the larger models is key, as this will keep the air pump quieter. As this pump is so strong excessive tubing will make the pump much louder.

Note: While all pumps are negatively affected by heat, I find the Tetra Whisper heats up the easiest. Avoid any method that involves covering it, as the heat will weaken the rubber diaphragm, making the air pump break much sooner.

Warranty & Lifetime

Without any form of care the Tetra Whisper should still last over a year, with good care it can extend well over three years.

The Tetra Whisper comes with a two year warranty. The responses on this can be a bit slow, so I advise you to have a spare air pump for when it does inevitably break down. The JW fusion is likely the cheapest and best pump for this idea, and will be discussed next.

JW Fusion Air Pump


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Tank Size Outlets Longevity Price
20-110 Gallons 200-400: 1
500-700: 2
1-3 Years Low-Medium

The JW Fusion is a low cost pump that can range from terribly loud to super quiet. While some think this is a gamble it actually has to do with pump size. Simply put do not choose the two smallest pumps. They are designed much cheaper, even skipping out on the flow control knob.

As for the other models, they run quietly, are cheap and can control the flow of air easily without increasing volume. A great choice for those just getting into the hobby.

Outlets & Adjustments
  • One Outlet
  • 200 Model: 1.58 PSI, 60 LPH
  • 300 Model: 1.93 PSI, 84 LPH
  • 400 Model: 3.03 PSI, 114 LPH
  • Two Outlet
  • 500 Model: 2.97 PSI, 204 LPH
  • 600 Model: 2.97 PSI, 276 LPH
  • 700 Model: 3.21 PSI, 336 LPH

Again the first two models are made to a different standard. The four other sizes provide plenty of power. Keep in mind that the 400 only has a single outlet, meaning its one outlet will be stronger than the 500.

The largest models are typically the ones I choose, as the flow control lets me lower it to what I need and raise it when I want a bit more water movement. Keep in mind, more bubbles= more evaporation.

Warranty & Lifetime

These pumps do not tend to make it past two years even with good care. This is why I recommend it for new aquarists. They run quietly, are quite cheap and bring enough strength so that they can select their next pump with ease.

The JW Fusion is protected by a three year warranty, but only on non rubber components. This is an issue as it will almost exclusively be the rubber diaphragm that breaks in air pumps. Additionally you will need to cover all shipping and handling costs. The pumps are much cheaper than this, making replacement a cheaper alternative in most cases.

Fluval Q Air Pump


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Tank Size PSI Outlets Noise Level Longevity Price
20-160 Gallons Q1: 2.7
Q2: 3.4
2 45 dB at 1m 1-3 Years Medium

The Fluval Q series air pump is above average both in quality and cost. It runs a great deal quieter than the average pump thanks to its multi layer design.

The design is what inspired my box idea, as the pump has two thick walls as well as a noise suppressing baffle chamber. With the box set up we basically double the effectiveness of this.

The pump is a bit large, with the Q2 being 3″H x 7.5″L x 4.25″W and the Q1 measuring 3″H 6″L x 4″W. The cord is a hearty 6 footer, so you can place this pump wherever you like. Remember, above the tank is best.

Outlets & Adjustments

Both the Q1 and Q2 feature dual outlets, however only the Q2 comes with a flow control knob. The knob works really well and does not cause the same increase in volume that an external flow control valve will create, making the Q2 the more quiet model.

Warranty & Lifetime

For an average life time I would have to say 2.5 years, as the rubber diaphragm will always break down eventually. Many users will reach or even pass 4 years, but it is not common enough to be considered the normal.

The Fluval Q series pump is covered by a two year warranty. Unlike the other pumps, Fluval will cover the shipping costs, making the warranty actually usable.

Maintenance

Just as the set-up process is the same, most air pumps will suffer from the same issues. Be sure to check each of these if your pump is running unusually.

  • Pumps that are not secured in place will move around, often finding a more noisy home. Move these back from time to time.
  • The constant vibration will produce a fair amount of heat, expanding the mechanical components, increasing noise and reducing lifetime. Keep the pump in a cool location and avoid covering it.
  • The vibration may also cause screws to become loose. Tighten all screws if you begin to hear a rattling sound. Remember some of these screws may be hidden inside the pumps case.
  • Dust can also create unwanted heat. Keep the pump dust free.
  • All attached air stones, bubble wands, sponge filters and what not can become clogged, increasing pressure dramatically. Clean these off, without using soap and allow them to dry before reusing. To ensure your tank does not have to go without air I recommend having two sets and swapping them out.

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