How Long Should You Run An Air Pump In A Fish Tank?

If you are reading this, you already know and understand how vital a fish air pump is. Yes, I know the loud noise of these tankers can surely throw off your sleep, and you must also be wondering about the power bill!

So, now a question for you; do you really need to keep your air pump running all day, or is it acceptable to turn it off at night?

Well, the answer is a YES and a NO!  This is because it entirely depends on several factors. For instance, if the air pump is entirely separate from your fish tank filter, then you might think about turning it off. But if the entire aquarium air pump’s functioning ability depends on the aquarium filter, then things might be a bit challenging.

There are undoubtedly a few factors that you also need to consider. So, keep reading till the end to know for how long you should actually run an air pump in a fish tank!

Is it a Good Idea to Keep the Air Pumps Turned Off?

Okay, I know the noise of these pumps can indeed be a headache, and you are also worried about your electricity bills. Well, before I tell you whether you turn it off or not, know this first. The air pump supplies dissolved oxygen for your adorable fishes to breathe.

So, now will it be wise to turn off those air pumps at all? Actually, this question’s answer depends on whether your aquarium pump is separated or integrated with the filter.

Aquarium Pump Disconnected from The Filter

If you have such an air pump that is entirely separated from your fish tank filter, then you can surely keep it turned off for a few hours. This is only applicable if your filter is running and cleaning the appropriate water quantity every hour.

For at least once, the entire filtration processes and regulates itself, that is, both filtering and expelling the water back into the fish tank. Thus creating air circulation, air bubbles, and oxygenation.

Therefore, if you turn it off at night, it really won’t be a problem as the filters will be enough to supply enough dissolved oxygen. But do keep in mind that the filters need to stay on no matter what, as this keeps nitrate levels and ammonia at a minimum level.

So, if you have a large aquarium with a few fish, then you can keep the air pump turned off for 7 to 8 hours. And this shouldn’t be a problem as long as there’s enough oxygen for those few fishes in these larger tanks.

Air Pump Connected with The Filter

Now, here the concept is entirely different. In this case, your air pump ultimately depends on the filters of the fish tank. So, whether your tank has enough dissolved oxygen or not, that’s not the issue here. If the filter and air pump of your fish tank are connected, and they run by using the same source or cable, then you simply can’t turn off the air pump at all.

The fishes you have in your tank become very delicate and fragile, especially when there are nitrates or harmful ammonia in the tank. So, you simply can’t afford to turn off the pumps at night for 8 hours.

In reality, you simply should never turn off the fish tank’s filtering units as they are the lifesavers of your aquarium inhabitants. Therefore, it’s not the oxygen levels we are talking about; it’s the aquarium filter!

Air Pump in a Fish Tank

Factors You Need to Know Before Switching Off the Fish Pump

Before you turn off your fish pump at night, there are a few factors that you need to keep in mind.

The Size and Amount of Fish in Your Tank

The first thing that you need to know is the amount of fish present in your fish tank and their sizes compared to the amount and volume of water in your aquarium. So, the more fish you keep in the tank, the more gills will be sucking the oxygen from the water. Similarly, the larger the size of the fishes, the more volume of oxygen will be consumed.

Therefore, if you have a large tank with fewer inhabitants, you can turn off the air pump at night. But if there are too many fishes in a small tank, it surely won’t be a great idea to turn off the air pump.

The Amount and Size of the Plants

This is the next primary thing you need to keep in mind. You need to know the proportion of plants you need to keep for your fish. Yes, it is true enough that during the day, plants produce oxygen by using carbon dioxide, providing fresh oxygen to the fragile creatures in your tank.

But the opposite thing happens at night. As there’s no sunlight present, these plants take in oxygen from the water and release carbon dioxide. This excess carbon dioxide can be a nightmare for those fishes in your tanks.

In contrast, if you have larger plants in the aquarium, they’ll use up more oxygen during the night. So, you simply can’t turn off the air pump at night.

Water Agitation and Filtration

You already know how vital filtration is for your inhabitants, but it even depends on the type of filter you are using.

Suppose you have a strong filtering unit that forces a considerable amount of oxygen into the tank and brings clean water back into the tank. Then you can think about turning your air pump off at night. But this is only and only possible if your air pump and filter are separated.

Water Temperature Matters

The cooler the temperature, the more oxygen the water can hold compared to warm water. Therefore, if you have cold water in your tank with a few inhabitants, there will surely be enough dissolved oxygen for the fish. So, you can shut the air pump at night hours.

But if it’s warm water, then don’t even think about keeping your air pump turned down as the oxygen level will drop in your fish tank, and it can be fatal for the lives in that tank!

Final Words

There you go; that’s all you need to know about how long you should run an air pump in your fish tank. So, it entirely depends on the few factors I have mentioned above, and if you see all those criteria matches, you can keep your air pump off for several hours at night. 

But if you think that it might prove to be a disaster for your inhabitants, then it’s better to stay safe rather than being sorry. And you can keep the air pump going.

Just remember, your fishes also have the right to breathe!

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