How do aquarium water pumps work?


It blows air out so why does air go in? I am very confused.

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I think you are confused.

Aquaria use two different ‘pump’ things. The first is a water pump that sucks in water, usually through a big straw-looking thing with a screen at the bottom (to prevent fish from getting sucked in). The water goes up into a chamber where it’s run through a filter and then poured back into the aquarium with a waterfall type spout. That *might* be it depending on the aquarium and the fish inside.

But fish need oxygen. So what you might be talking about it are those little pumps that connect to a tiny tube with a stone at the end that make tons of tiny bubbles. Those aren’t filters, they are air pumps that exist to get as much oxygen from the air to dissolve into the water as possible, so the fish can breathe.

So, two different things.

Aquarium water pumps usually don’t just pump water, they also use the pumping action to filter and clean it in the process. This includes scrubbing various substances that the plants and animals in the aquarium produce (usually detritus, which is a fancy way of saying excrements and dead plant parts; these would normally be recycled by species specializing in consuming these very things, but your aquarium needn’t have these), but it also includes regulation of the water’s oxygen level. The fish in the water need a certain amount of oxygen to be able to breathe. If there is too little oxygen in it, the fish eventually die from hypoxia. Now, normally, the oxygen would be deposited into the water by plants, but not every aquarium supports enough plantlife to keep the fish alive, and so the pump will also increase the oxygen content of the water to compensate.

An airlift pump fills a tube with bubbles. The bubbles make the water lighter than the water outside the tube that doesn’t have bubbles so the pressure pushes the water up the tube. (it’s way more complicated and very not ELI5 if you’re an engineer and need an exact flow.)

They are very good for short lifts and not bothered by crud in the water either abrasives or live.

they do NOT add enough oxygen to matter with the tiny bubbles. They do stir the water so the large area of water at the surface gets more oxygen deprived water for exchange.