Best Hydroponic Air Pumps For Any Size System


Getting enough dissolved oxygen into your deep water culture DWC or Aquaponics reservoir takes a reliable hydroponic air pump properly sized to your system. A well agitated and oxygenated nutrient solution will absorb much better into the plant roots and its no secret that fish need oxygen too. 

Other types of hydroponic setups can also benefit from the addition of an air pump if the the nutrient solution remains stagnant for too long or if there isn’t enough oxygen getting to the roots of your plants.

There are several factors to consider when selecting the right air pump for your hydroponic growing setup and the products below have been carefully selected to suit systems of different sizes and complexities.

Photo 68056004 / Air © Anat Sukeewong | Dreamstime.com

Choosing A Hydroponic Air Pump

When choosing an air pump for your hydroponic or aquaponic system there are a few main criteria to focus on.

Air pump output Rating

Rated in GPM, L/min or cc/min, the output rating of the pump describes the amount of air that the pump can provide over a set amount of time. A larger hydroponic reservoir or adding more DWC buckets to your system will require a higher rated pump.

Most home or hobbyists growers can get by with a 320 to 602 GPM air pump to supply 8 – 12 air stones in DWC buckets or large reservoir. Choosing a pump with a higher rating will increase its life and make future expansion easier.

GPHL/mincc/minNumber of bubblers
3202020 1884-8
6023837 9808-12

Air Pump Noise Level

Growing plants is generally a peaceful experience so having a loud or noisy hydroponic air pump is unacceptable. The best quality air pumps will have a noise level 45db or lower.

Number of Air Outlets

If you have more than one reservoir to supply with your air pump, you’ll need to select a pump with multiple outlets. Its also common to use a manifold on the pump outlet to add more bubblers . Manufacturers produce pumps with 1, 2 and 4 outlet connections.

Best Overall Value Pump – General Hydroponics HGC728040

This dual diaphragm air pump is my first pick because its quiet and gives me complete control of the outlet flow. There is a separate control valve on each of the 4 outlets which connect to a standard 1/4″ air line. The 320GPH flow bubbles my 6 DWC buckets with room for expansion.

This is one of the quietest air pumps I’ve used and it only consume 8 watts of power making it pretty efficient unit. Being able to replace the diaphragm if it gets damaged is a nice feature giving it longevity instead of being another disposable part for the landfill.

General Hydroponics HGC728040 Dual Diaphragm Air Pump 320 GPH 4 Outlet
  • General Hydroponics Dual Diaphragm air pump is the only air pump in the world that is...
  • This high output pump (320 mph/24, 800 cc/minute capacities) has four adjustable 1/4" outputs
  • In addition, growers who use our Dual Diaphragm air pump can count on it to reliably oxygenate...

Best Economy Air Pump For 4 Bucket DWC – Pawfly MC3000

Its surprising how good this little unit works for the price tag. This low power 7w air pump has 4 individually controlled stainless steel outlets and provides enough power to operate a 4 bucket DWC system (254 GPH, 16L/min).

This compact little pump operates very quietly because of the shock-proof rubber feet and internal muffler. The rubber diaphragm also helps reduce the noise level, especially on low power mode, and doesn’t sacrifice its reliability either.

Pawfly 7 W 254 GPH Commercial Air Pump 4 Outlets Manifold Quiet Oxygen...
  • Lots of Air: Deliver 254 gallon per hour air for fish breath or root growth with 7-watt low...
  • Super Silent: Extremely quiet operation with multi-level internal muffler. Shockproof rubber...
  • Running 24/7: High/Low switch to choose from. Low air flow with minimal noise, allow you to run...

Best flow to Noise Ratio – Pondforce 475

The PONDFORCE 475GPH air pump has a few interesting features that give it a one up on its competition. For a pump of this size it is surprisingly quiet. The combination of a fully molded outer housing and vibration reducing rubber feet keep it operating below 45db.

The included 4 port manifold provides flow control at each outlet and there is a controller integrated into the power cord to control the overall flow output of the pump. You’ll be able to supply up to 8 air stones with this impressive 20 watt air pump.

PONDFORSE Air Pump for Aquariums and Hydroponic Systems with Air Flow...
  • PONDFORSE Powerful Air Pump: PONDFORSE air pump works 20 watts needed, producing 30L air per...
  • Adjustable Airflow: The airflow of the pump is designed to be adjustable. According to your...
  • Voice Reduction Design: Multiple designs contribute to absorbing the sound. Sealed outer...

Accessories in your Hydroponic air pump system

Once you’ve chosen the pump that fits your system and budget you’ll need some other parts to complete the setup.

Air line tubing

Most pump systems are designed to connect to 1/4″ air line that makes a tight connection over the barbed fitting of the manifold. I recommend using professional grade black silicone tubing versus the cheaper clear nylon alternative. The flexible air line is durable and easy to work with and won’t harden and crack over time.

Sale
Deep Jungle Black Flexible Airline Tubing for Aquariums, Terrariums, and...
  • This professional silicone airline tubing is Black, flexible, reliable, and durable! Made for...
  • Great for use with Blue Spotted Air Stone Discs & air stones, and a variety of air driven...
  • Easily hide and blend into your hydroponics system, aquarium, terrarium

Check Valve

Installing an inline check valve on each air line will prevent your nutrient solution from back siphoning into the line and damaging your pump. This should only be necessary if the location of your pump is below the waterline of your reservoir but they are good to have as a cheap form of insurance.

The valves operate best installed in a vertical position and they have 1/4″ fittings on each end for a simple and clean installation.

Pawfly 10 PCS Aquarium Air Pump Check Valves Red Clear Plastic One Way...
  • Please DO NOT use them with CO2 system. The one way check valves are for common aquarium air...
  • Protect you air pump by preventing aquarium water from back siphoning during a power outage.
  • Made of durable clear plastic. Net weight: 4g

Air Stone or Bubbler

Air stones come in different sizes and shapes, some are long cylinders while other are flat discs or pucks. More surface area on the stone will allow more oxygen to bubble out but will also draw more airflow from your pump. setups will usually have multiple small air stones or fewer large ones.

hygger Aquarium Air Stone Kit, Fish Tank Bubbler, Nano Furnace Flue Round...
  • 🐠【Ultra-high dissolved oxygen】 this upgraded Hygger air stone releases the bubbles more...
  • 🐠【Produces small & dense bubbles quietly】 push out amounts of smaller and denser smooth...
  • 🐠【Weighs enough to sink】 15.2oz/430g, easily sits on the bottom without suction cup. The...

Manifold

If your pump doesn’t come with a manifold or have multiple ports built into it you’ll need to buy a manifold that will feed air to the different bubblers in your system. It is much better to have all the air lines fed directly from a manifold to balance the pressure in the system and limit the number of connections and potential leaks.

Many manifolds have manual control valves built into them which lets the air flow be controlled at each port individually. Having extra control over outlets makes maintenance and pressure balance problems a non issue. The manifold and airline can be secured with specially designed suction cup feet.

Pawfly 5-Way Aquarium Air Flow Control Lever Valve Distributor Splitter...
  • Manually control the flow of vital O2 or switch an air pump "on or off".
  • Made of Chromium Copper material, air will never leak out. Valve Diameter: 3/16" / 5 mm.
  • Non-Return Check Valves protect you air pump by preventing aquarium water from back siphoning...

Conclusion

The best air pumps for a hydroponic setup have plenty of power but aren’t too noisy for your grow room to be enjoyable to work in. Having control of individual outlets makes it easier to balance the air pressure in the system and increase or decrease the flow when needed.

Size your pump for the number of airstones and bubblers you’ll be using in the setup. Leaving room for future expansion is always recommended.

Recent Posts