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.
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.