Hydroponic farming is a great way to grow plants. But, a lot of new hydroponic farmers tend to forget about the importance of air when they’re creating the perfect environment for their plants.
And using an air pump to manufacture oxygen is the most common method in any water system like Hydroponics, Aquaponics, and Aquariums as well.
Hence, it is very important to make sure that you purchase the best hydroponic air pump. That's not an easy job considering lots of buying factors, and a number of products on the market.
So in this post, I'll go in depth to help you understand why you need an air pump, the criteria and when choosing one. And finally, I'll review the top air pumps for hydroponics on the market.
Why do you need an air pump in Hydroponics?
Truth be told, not every hydroponic system needs an air pump. You must understand how plants work to know if you want to provide extra air to the plants or not.
Just like humans, plants need oxygen to survive. When using Hydroponics, you use water to grow the plants. So what if the plant roots are fully submerged in the water with no oxygen. They will quickly be drowned and death is expected. That's when you need to provide them with oxygen. Of them, using a hydroponic air pump is the easiest method. Not only does an air pump help create more dissolved oxygen in the water for plants but it also helps prevent algae and disease growth in the reservoir.
Understand this and you will know why for some systems like the Deep Water Culture (DWC), where plants roots are in the water all the time, you must provide some aeration methods, like using a hydroponic air pump.
How to Choose the Best Hydroponic Air Pump
With so many online stores and even physical ones, you’ll find that you have a lot of options when it comes to hydroponic air pumps. Here are some things to consider before you purchase yours.
The size you need
There is a common rule of thumb that you need minimum 1 watt per gallon of water. There are some technical explanations about how to calculate the accurate size, but let's make it easy and follow the rule above.
You also should know that the more air, the better for plants. Basically more bubbles give more growth to plant roots.
Since more air doesn’t give any harm, and you may upgrade your reservoir later, it’s better that you stick to a little bigger-size air pump. Otherwise, you may end up having to buy an extra air pump later when the grow area becomes larger.
But that doesn’t mean you get the biggest air pump. You don't need to spend extra money on the wasted bubbles.
The amount of noise it makes
Since it is a pump, it only makes sense that it will make noise. However, there are some devices that are much noisier than others. If you don’t mind the loud noises while you work in the garden, this may not be a concern for you. Otherwise, check the features of the device to see if it operates quietly. Your ears will thank you for that.
Is it a good value for your money?
No matter what item you purchase, getting good value for your money should be one of your primary aims. In this case, check for additional features. Also, ensure that you check the materials for durability. Check for reviews from other users as well.
How many nozzles does it have?
Some pumps have more nozzles than others. If you have a large indoor garden, you grow more than one reservoir or you’re planning to expand yours soon, having many nozzles on your hydroponics air pump can prove to be a very valuable feature. It is even more helpful if you’re growing several types of plants at once. Sure, you can split the airline tubing that you use, and this would be a much more convenient option.
Top 4 Hydroponic Air Pumps
Weight: 4.1 pounds
Size:7 X 5 X 6 inches
Flow rate: high output - 320mph/ 24,800cc per min
Performance: powerful. Provide a reliable and steady stream of air
Outlets: 4 (1/4 inch in size)
Reliability: Popular among hydroponic users
Warranty: 1 Year
Performance: Quiet, yet powerful enough
Design: compact, lightweight
Flow rate: 240 GPH, 15 LPM
Power usage: 6W
Size: 4.1 x 6 x 9.4 inches
Other outlet options: 1, 2, 8
Warranty: 1 Year
Best Commercial Air Pumps for Hydroponics
Performance: Powerful but a bit noisy
Weight: 2.45 pounds
Size: 7.2 x 3.8 x 4.5 inches
Flow rate: 793 GPH (3000 LPH)
Warranty: 1 Year
Weight: 11.5 pounds
Size: 8.5 X 9.2 X 11 inches
Performance: Powerful & Quiet
Air Flow rate: Delivers 2900 cubic inch of air per minute
Inclusion: Air diffuser
Lubrication: Not required
Warranty: 1 Year
Accessories That Go with the Air Pumps
Even though choosing the best air pump is important, it will never work on its own. That's why you need to purchase separate airlines, and airstones to install on your air pump.
For airlines, we recommend choosing something that is non-toxic, food-grade and durable. And your airline should be long enough so that it can be flexible to move away in a distant area in case you don't like the noise from the air pump.
If you like the dark color and are afraid of algae growth in your system, go for the Sleek Airline Tubing in Black
There is an alternative transparent color that makes your system looks cleaner - Python Airline Tubing for Aquarium, 25-Feet
When choosing an airstone, you should choose the one that gives the smallest bubbles as possible. This gives more surface area contact to plant roots. We recommend using the Uxcell Air Stones.
Some FAQs about using Air Pumps for Hydroponics
Should I run the pump 24/7?
You can turn it off occasionally. But it's recommended that you run it all the time, especially if your plant roots are totally under the water. 24/7 is good as it does help plants avoid stress, retain pump life, and discourage pathogen and algae growth.
How can I reduce the disturbing noise?
Admit that every air pump will have noise. So if you cannot place it outside of your living areas, you have no other choices but to tolerate it. This also makes you place the noise as the most important criteria when choosing the products.
Some people found that wrapping your air pump around a towel, or sponge does bring down the noise. However, it may affect your device’ life duration. But since air pump is not expensive, you can replace them after some time.
This guy also comes with a solution by dismantling the device and filling all spaces with silicone, hot-melt glue to get it running more silently.
Have you been searching for a great hydroponic air pump for your indoor garden? I hope all these products chosen have helped you get the hassle off your mind.
For top recommendation, the General Hydroponics Dual Diaphragm Air Pump is our choice.
When it comes to the best-valued hydroponic air pumps for DWC, beginners and small systems, we’d have to give it to the Active Aqua.
For commercial air pumps, the Eco Plus commercial lines will never let you down.