What is an air pump, what does it do and do I need it?

An air pump is a device used to move air, possibly under pressure. Typical aquarium air pumps move air by using an electromagnet to rapidly vibrate a rubber diaphragm. By increasing air circulation you create an underwater current which prevents dead spots and some area's becoming stagnant.      
                                                                                                                                    
The improved circulation will move poorly oxygenated water from lower in the tank allowing water with more carbon dioxide and less oxygen to rise to the surface of the tank where it can release its carbon dioxide and take up oxygen.              
                                                                                                                     
They are also used to power equipment such as, under gravel filters, sponge filters or protein skimmers.   
  Uses of an Air Pump:   
  • Some action ornaments are moved by air passing through them, turning valves, spinning wheels and lifting lids.                                                                                                              
  • Some people like to have air stones in the tank which just bubble or give off a fine mist of air.                                                                                                                                   
  • Some filters, such as sponge filters and under gravel filters are (or can be) driven by air and would require an air pump. Some of these can also be driven by powerheads.               
  • Some underwater habitats for semi-aquatic animals, such as Newts, Crabs, Mudskippers and some Frogs or Shrimp also require an air pump to keep fresh air circulating. So that these animals do not crawl out into an un-aerated environment.                                            
  • Air pumps can also be used to create a current in the water, to prevent parts of the tank from becoming stagnant.                                                                                   
  • Air pumps are required for some types of protein skimmers to operate in marine tanks.          
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