A new­comer’s guide...

Month by month, we’ll of­fer new fish-keep­ers an in­sight into what can some­times be con­fus­ing terms and tech­nol­ogy. Fear not! We’re here to help.

Practical Fishkeeping (UK) - - Welcome -

Our new sec­tion for be­gin­ners to the world of fishkeeping.

There was a time when air-pumps were a vi­tal com­po­nent of al­most ev­ery tank and most aquarium shops re­ver­ber­ated to the sounds of hun­dreds of bub­bling air-stones. Nowa­days, they are less com­mon, but still a very use­ful piece of fishkeeping kit.

Most mod­els con­sist of a small plas­tic box that sits be­side your tank to which a soft, trans­par­ent hose (of­ten re­ferred to as an air­line) con­nects. At the op­po­site end of this hose is an air stone. Gen­er­ally, air pumps con­sist of a rub­berised ‘cup’ di­aphragm, which is pumped by a metal arm at­tached to a mag­net.

This means they can be quite noisy, so shop around for a quiet model and even then put it on a soft, sound dead­en­ing sur­face such as a piece of poly­styrene. Air pumps are ex­cel­lent for pow­er­ing small foam fil­ters such as those used in tanks for quar­an­tin­ing new or sick fish, or rais­ing fry as they don’t pro­duce such a vig­or­ous cur­rent as power fil­ters.

Many peo­ple use them to sup­ple­ment oxy­gen lev­els in their tanks. which can be help­ful when the weather is es­pe­cially hot and dis­solved oxy­gen are lev­els low, or sim­ply as an at­trac­tive fea­ture. Large, ‘bub­ble-wall’ air stones are pop­u­lar to cre­ate a shim­mer­ing back­ground in tanks, while those less con­cerned with re-cre­at­ing na­ture may em­ploy them to power bub­bling trea­sure chests, deep sea divers or gi­ant clams!

Use­ful tips for us­ing air pumps

• In­stall a non-re­turn valve (or check valve) to pre­vent wa­ter sy­phon­ing back into the pump with dis­as­trous con­se­quences when it’s switched off. • Be careful when spray­ing chem­i­cals near your tank. Hair­spray, air fresh­ener, fly spray etc. can all be sucked into your tank by the pump with fa­tal re­sults, even if you

have tight fit­ting cov­ers and hood... • Air stones need reg­u­lar clean­ing or re­place­ment as over time they can clog with al­gae and bac­te­rial growth. This makes them less ef­fi­cient and puts pres­sure on the pump di­aphragm.

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