How to Use Airline Accessories in Your Aquarium
Easy to use aquarium air pumps – simply connect the pump via some airline tubing to the air-driven device (like sponge filters) and plug it into the outlet. What accessories do you need for your airline? Continue reading for five essential parts that can make your air pump more efficient.
1. Check Valve
A check valve, even if you only have one item on the list, is a must-have. It contains a flapper or stopper that allows air to flow in one direction (into the tank) and stops water from flowing in the other direction (out of the tank). This small but vital accessory stops water from draining out of your aquarium’s tank if your air pump is not working properly or is shut down. Leakage from the airline tubing can cause damage to your air pumps and flood your floor. This can result in an electrical fire if there are power strips or appliances that have been sitting in the water.
Check valves are necessary for every aquarium device that uses airline tubing, whether it’s a sponge filter, aquarium ornament, brine shrimp hatchery, or carbon dioxide (CO2) injection system. A check valve is only required if the CO2 tank or air pump is higher than the aquarium’s rim. Simply cut the airline tubing that runs between the device & air pump, and then connect the check valve between them. The check valve’s flapper, which is a colored or horizontal bar that looks like a bar, should be facing the pump. You can’t turn the air pump on if the check valve is installed backwards.
Connect the check valle between the air pump/air-driven device so the horizontal or color bar faces the pump.
The best practice is to place the check valve outside the aquarium (not in the water), close to the top of the fish tank. This position stops the water at the rim rather than near the air pump where the water pressure in the airline tubing could cause a leak. Also, make sure the airline tubing is cut straight and cleanly, free of any tears. Finally, check the airline tubing to make sure it hasn’t dried and hardened over time, which could cause the connection to loosen and drip during a power outage.
2. Air Valve
The air valve looks similar to a “check valve”, but it controls the flow of air from your aquarium to the pump. An adjustable knob is available on some air pumps to allow you to adjust the air pressure. If your pump does not have this feature and the bubbles seem too strong, then this tool will be perfect for you.
Install an air valve by cutting the airline tube between the air pump, and the air-driven device. Next, connect the cut ends of airline tubing to each air valve end. It doesn’t matter which direction. To decrease flow, tighten the knob and then loosen it to increase flow. A small amount of air can still escape through the valve even if the knob is fully tightened. This prevents excessive back pressure building up that could damage your air pump.
An Air Vault regulates how much air is pumped from an air pump into an air-driven aquarium.
As with the check valve, we recommend that you add the air valve near the rim of your fish tank for easy access. To ensure that the air valve remains tightly connected, you should make clear cuts in the tube.
3. T Splitter
The name tee airline divider comes from the T-shaped shape of its T shape, which splits one stream into two. This functionality is useful if you only have one air pump but wish to run a second air stone or aquarium decoration in the fish tank. Another use case would be diverting air off your main aquarium to a second tank or a quarantine tub. Each pack comes with five T airline connectors, so you could theoretically chain multiple splitters together to create additional air streams.
The T splitter divides the air flow coming from the green air pump, and then the air valve controls how much air reaches the sponge filter.
When splitting the air stream, we recommend that you use air valves. This will allow you to control how much air goes each line. As usual, ensure that you use airline tubing with clean-cut ends and periodically inspect the connections to make sure they haven’t weakened over time.
4. Gang Valve
A gang valve, which is more efficient at splitting an air stream into multiple paths, is a better accessory. The model we offer features four outlets and up to two inlets. Two inlets let you add one or more air pumps to your system and then split it four ways. Alternativly, you can connect daisy chain two-gang valves together and have eight ways to split your water.
A Gang Valve is a great way of splitting air between multiple aquariums and air-driven devices.
Keep in mind that every split of air results in a weaker output, which means less air passing through each outlet. The more outlets you have, the more adjustments need to be made on each air stream. You don’t need any additional air valves, as each outlet has its very own adjustable switch to control how much air is going to each device.
5. Air Stone
An airstone is a tiny, weighted bubbler which produces small bubbles in the water. This accessory can be used to slowly diffuse air into the tank and improve oxygenation. It also reduces the noise of bubbling. The air stone can be used by itself, or combined with a sponge filters to improve the efficiency. The constant stream of small bubbles created by the air stone, rather than large intermittent bubbles, creates constant lift in the sponge filter. This is similar to an escalator that runs continuously (in contrast to an elevator that stops and starts all the time).
This diagram illustrates where an airstone goes in a sponge filtre to optimize its performance. To install an air stone inside a sponge filter, read our sponge filter installation guide.
Running an air-driven device like an aquarium filter, air stone, or bubbler is one of the easiest ways to increase surface agitation and oxygenation in your fish tank. For more details on how to set up a fish tank air pump (and make it quieter), read our full installation guide here.