Q&A: What’s The Best Air Pump For A 5 Gallon Tank?

The following is a question that was submitted by one of our TFCG community members.

“Hello, I just purchased a 5 gallon tank, what’s the best air pump for a 5 gallon tank?

Selecting an air pump is pretty simple.

When picking out an air pump try to select a pump that is rated slightly higher than the size of your tank.

For a 5 gallon tank an air pump rated for 10 gallons would be perfect. The Tetra Whisper is a great filter you could use.

Tetra Whisper Easy to Use Air Pump for Aquariums (Non-UL)
  • For use in 10-Gallon aquariums
  • Whisper air pumps provide reliable service at an economical cost
  • Efficient and easy to use

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Getting a larger air pump gives you some options:

  • You can use two-way valves if you want to split the tubes and have multiple air stones.
  • You can use larger stones, sponge filters or pneumatic decor.

Tetra Whisper 20-40 Gallon Aquarium Air Pump Unboxing & Sound Test

Keep in mind the depth of your tank is the most important factor when selecting an air pump.

As an example: the deeper it is to the bottom of the tank, the harder the pump will need to work to push the air down to the stone.

If you plan on having a taller tank you may need a pump with a higher rating due to the increase in depth.

Also, the more you split your tubing, the less air will reach each stone.

If you’re like most, you likely have a typical 5-gallon tank and plan on running only one air stone and/or Sponge Filter.

If that is the case, my personal favorite is the Tetra Whisper Air Pump series.

They are quiet and in my opinion one of the best air pumps for a 5-gallon tank.

However, they are not as silent as the name would suggest, but they are quieter than most other air pumps.

Tip: If you find that you still hear vibrations or noises from your pump, try placing a hand cloth underneath the pump, this will help dampen the noise/vibrations.

Further Reading: If you want to compare a few other aquarium pumps check out our full detailed reviews to help you find the Best Aquarium Pumps. Also be sure to check out Does My Fish Tank Need A Bubbler.

Does a 5 gallon tank need an air pump?

A 5 gallon tank doesn’t actually need an air pump if you have a filter or source that is causing enough water agitation to allow oxygenation to take place.
That said, a 5 gallon tank should use an air pump that is rated for 10 gallons and should have an air flow of about 0.5 L/min. 
Jack Dempsey
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