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Recreating the airflow of a natural ecosystem is essential if you want your indoor garden to flourish—and that’s exactly what the best air pumps for hydroponics can do. By aerating your hydroponic solution and providing oxygen to your roots, these devices give your plants the boost they need to grow big and strong.
Deciding which air pump is right for your system can be tricky. So we’ve rounded up the best options on the market. From small models perfect for desktop gardens to heavy-duty pumps that can handle large commercial operations, there’s an air pump for every indoor grower.
Our top picks
The best air pumps don’t need high-dollar price tags or tons of bells and whistles. In fact, the best designs are often the simplest. Our top choices below can get the job done without breaking the bank—or disturbing your peace and quiet.
1. BEST OVERALL: General Hydroponics Dual Diaphragm Air Pump
As the only air pump on the market specifically designed for hydroponic systems, this high-output pump is a no-brainer.
- Output: This pump can produce 20 liters per minute.
- Outlets: This pump has four outlets.
- Dimensions: This pump is 7.1 inches by 5.2 inches by 6.1 inches.
Most air pumps available today can be used for a variety of purposes, like aerating fish tanks or powering air tools. But the General Hydroponics Dual Diaphragm Air Pump is different—it’s specifically designed to aerate and circulate hydroponic solutions.
This high-output pump is one of the most powerful on the market, with a maximum output of 320 MPH and 20 liters per minute. It has a durable build with four outlets that can withstand years of use, and it’s relatively quiet for an air pump. Reviewers love the low noise and say that this air pump is “whisper quiet.”
The only downside is that the price is a bit higher than other models, and it’s a little on the large side. But if you’re looking for an air pump that will last, this is the best option.
- Designed specifically for hydroponics systems
- Produces very little noise
- Reviewers claim it’s long-lasting
- Has a higher price tag
- Is on the larger size
2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Hydrofarm Active Aqua 6W
You don’t need to shell out tons of dough to get a quality air pump—and this low-cost option from Hydrofarm is proof of that.
- Output: This pump can produce 15 liters per minute.
- Outlets: This pump has four outlets.
- Dimensions: This pump is 6 inches by 4.1 inches by 9.4 inches.
Small, but mighty, the Hydrofarm Active Aqua 6W can aerate hydroponic solutions and provide oxygen to roots with ease, delivering around 15 liters per minute. It’s one of the most affordable air pumps on the market, but it doesn’t skimp on quality. This four-outlet device is designed with a multi-level muffler to deaden noise and a pressure dial that allows you to adjust the airflow.
While reviewers are big fans of the output for the price, some do warn that this pump isn’t as quiet as advertised. One customer described the noise as “mid-level, meaning it has some hum to it.” But if you don’t mind a little background noise, this powerful little pump is a great option for indoor growers on a budget.
- Has an affordable price tag
- Delivers a high output
- Great size for small gardens
- Has a higher noise level
- May not be as long-lasting
3. BEST QUIET: AquaMiracle Linear Air Pump
If you’re looking for a little more tranquility, this multi-muffler pump is the closest thing you’ll get to total silence.
- Output: This pump can produce 40 liters per minute.
- Outlets: This pump has eight outlets.
- Dimensions: This pump is 6.34 inches by 7.87 inches by 6.89 inches.
While the AquaMiracle Linear Air Pump is technically designed for fish tanks and other marine environments, its copper coil motor works wonders for giving your plants the oxygen they need to thrive. This eight-outlet pump is the perfect size for larger operations that don’t want to sacrifice peace and quiet. Because it’s designed with multiple layers of denoising material like rubber, this pump will operate at a volume as low as 42 decibels, according to some reviewers.
But quiet doesn’t translate to low power. This air pump pushes out a whopping 40 liters per minute, making it one of the most powerful pumps on the market. The only downside is that all of this power comes at a price, and this pump is one of the more expensive models available.
- Has the lowest noise level
- Enough power for large operations
- Is on the expensive side
- Not ideal for small gardens
4. BEST SMALL: Hydrofarm Active Aqua 3W
If your indoor garden is hurting for space, this ultra-compact air pump from Hydrofarm will help you maximize every inch.
- Output: This pump can produce 7.8 liters per minute.
- Outlets: This pump has two outlets.
- Dimensions: This pump is 5.2 inches by 3.3 inches by 7.9 inches.
Not everyone wants to operate a full-scale harvest. Some of us are just trying to grow some fresh herbs on the windowsill and don’t need a bulky air pump taking up valuable counter space. That’s where Hydrofarm Active Aqua 3W comes in. This itsy-bitsy two-outlet air pump is small and lightweight, making it easy to tuck away out of sight.
But don’t let the size fool you—this little device can still push out around 7.8 liters per minute. Reviewers say it’s the perfect pump for small hydroponic systems and is super easy to use. The only drawback is that even though it supposedly has the same multi-level muffler design as other Hydrofarm models, this pump isn’t reportedly as quiet as others.
- Small and compact size
- Has an affordable price tag
- Ideal for small gardens
- Not as quiet as others
- Not ideal for larger gardens
5. BEST MULTI-OUTLET: EcoPlus Eco Air7 Commercial Air Pump
With a whopping 12 adjustable outlets, there’s no need to splurge for multiple pumps with this high-output device from EcoPlus.
- Output: This pump can produce 225 liters per minute.
- Outlets: This pump has 12 adjustable outlets.
- Dimensions: This pump is 8.3 inches by 12.7 inches by 8.1 inches.
Those with the responsibility of running a commercial-sized grow operation know how frustrating it can be to find an efficient setup. When you’re trying to keep multiple plants healthy and oxygenated, you need an air pump that can handle the workload. The EcoPlus Eco Air7 Commercial Air Pump was designed with large gardens in mind.
This pump has 12 adjustable outlets, so you can customize the airflow to best suit your needs. It also has an impressive output of 225 liters per minute, making it one of the most powerful options on the market. While reviewers are all about that high output, there are some complaints regarding noise. It’s not the quietest pump on the market, the tradeoff is worth it if you’re looking for an air pump that can handle a lot of plants.
- Has a high output level
- Great for large operations
- Adjustable flow valves
- On the noisier side
- Is more expensive than others
- Not great for small gardens
After scouring the internet and pouring through reviews, it’s clear that the General Hydroponics Dual Diaphragm Air Pump and the AquaMiracle Linear Air Pump are the best of the best. Both pumps have plenty of outlets and deliver a high output without making too much noise.
|BEST OVERALL: General Hydroponics Dual Diaphragm Air Pump
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|BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Hydrofarm Active Aqua 6W
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|BEST QUIET: AquaMiracle Linear Air Pump
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|BEST SMALL: Hydrofarm Active Aqua 3W
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|BEST MULTI-OUTLET: EcoPlus Eco Air7 Commercial Air Pump
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How we chose the best hydroponic air pump
Efficiency is the name of the game, and we know how crucial it is to find tools that won’t disturb your zen space. But power is also important—you want a pump that can deliver enough oxygen to keep your plants healthy and thriving. With that in mind, power and noise levels were the driving forces behind our selection process.
We also wanted models with plenty of outlets, so they could work with gardens of all sizes. And we know that indoor gardening can be a pricey hobby, so we wanted pumps that offered value without skimping on quality.
Who this hydroponics air pump is for
There’s only one hydroponics system that requires an air pump—and that’s deep-water culture systems or DWC. Because DWC submerges the roots of plants in a solution of water and nutrients, an air pump is needed to oxygenate the roots.
However, air pumps are an incredible, low-cost, and no-brainer way to oxygenate any hydroponics system. The science is simple: the more oxygen in your nutrient solution, the better your plants will grow—it’s that easy.
What to know before you buy an air pump for hydroponics
Hydroponics requires the right tools to recreate the ideal growing environment—and air pumps are one piece of the puzzle you just can’t miss. They provide the vital function of aerating the water and ensuring that the roots of your plants get the oxygen they need to stay healthy. So when shopping, you need a solid understanding of this equipment and what to look for when choosing a high-quality model.
Types of hydro air pumps
Luckily, there’s not a lot of variety when it comes to hydroponic air pumps. These little machines are pretty cut and dry in terms of their operation. When it comes to keeping your gorgeous greenery alive and well, you’re looking at two main types of air pumps: manual and automatic.
As the name suggests, manual air pumps require you to do the work. These are typically battery-operated or plug-in options that are turned on and off as needed. Because of the sheer amount of hassle these kinds of pumps can create, they’re not often used in hydroponic systems.
Ease is the name of the game when it comes to automatic air pumps. These bad boys are designed to do all the hard work for you. That’s thanks to a few key features, the most important being an auto-shutoff function that turns the pump on and off as needed. This is vital in maintaining dissolved oxygen levels in your water, as too much oxygen can actually stunt your plant’s growth.
Many air pumps come with the standard single nozzle that will do the job just fine—especially if you’re working with a relatively small hydroponics system. But if you’ve got a large-scale operation or a wide variety of plants with differing oxygen needs, an air pump with multiple nozzles may be the way to go.
Having multiple nozzles isn’t necessary, but it does allow you to direct oxygen to different parts of your system as needed. You can always split the airline tube, but it’s not always the most elegant solution. Multiple nozzles make things a whole lot easier.
No one wants a noisy machine running 24/7, so it’s important to find an air pump that won’t keep you up at night. Everyone has a different idea of what they define as “noisy,” but under 45 decibels is usually considered pretty quiet. If you’re looking for an air pump that won’t disturb your sleep, find something in this range.
Now, if your hydroponics system is tucked away in a basement or garage, loud sounds may not be as big of a concern. But if you’re running your system in a small space, it’s something to think about.
The size of your hydroponics system will play a big role in the size of the air pump you need. While some gardening gurus want you to do fancy calculations to find your precise sizing, air is (thankfully) more forgiving than other vital nutrients. A good rule of thumb is that you should aim for at least one watt per gallon of water.
Of course, if you’ve got a larger system or plants that are particularly oxygen-hungry, you may need to bump up that number. But in general, one watt per gallon is a good place to start.
The advantages of owning a hydroponics air pump
Just like how your plants’ leaves need to be exposed to the air to photosynthesize, their roots need access to oxygen too. Without enough air bubbles circulating through your water, your plants will start to suffocate and die. A hydroponics air pump is designed to do one thing: keep your water oxygenated so your plants can thrive.
In addition to keeping your flora alive and well, air pumps also prevent water from becoming stagnant. Still, unmoving water creates a breeding ground for bacteria, which can quickly contaminate your entire system. By circulating the water, air pumps prevent this from happening.
Here are a few key benefits of owning a hydroponics air pump:
- Air pumps oxygenate the water to keep plants healthy.
- Air pumps prevent water from becoming stagnant and bacteria-ridden.
- Air pumps allow plants to absorb more nutrients, which results in faster (and larger) growth.
Tips for using a hydroponic air pump
Some hydroponic tools require vigorous manual studying or a lot of trial and error before you get them down pat. But air pumps? They’re pretty straightforward. All you have to do is hook it up to your system and turn it on.
There are a few models that come with dials that allow you to control the airflow output, but for the most part, you can set it and forget it. That said, there are some things you can do to get the most out of your air pump and keep your plants healthy and happy:
- Keep your air pump running 24 hours a day to avoid having to turn it on and off, which is not only inconvenient but stresses out your plants.
- Get more air tubing than you think you need so you can have more flexibility regarding where you set your air pump up.
- Add at least one medium-to-large size air stone to the center of your reservoir to create plenty of bubbles that will be evenly distributed throughout the entire system.
Air pumps are an essential piece of equipment in any hydroponics system that has the roots of your plants submerged in water. While they’re relatively easy to use, some folks may have questions about how they work or what to look for when purchasing one. We’ve answered some of the most common questions below.
Do I need an air pump for hydroponics?
The only hydroponic systems that require an air pump are deep-water culture systems. However, aerating your plants’ roots has incredible benefits no matter what system you use.
How big of an air pump do I need for hydroponics?
As a general rule, you should aim for one watt of power per gallon of water.
How long should air pump run in hydroponics?
You should keep your air pump running 24 hours a day to avoid stressing out your plants.
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