Do Goldfish Need An Air Pump? | Aquascape Addiction

Do Goldfish Need An Air Pump?

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We answers the common question of whether Goldfish actually need an air pump, it depends on a number of factors. Here is a summary to determine if you need one for your tank or not.

Do Goldfish Need An Air Pump?

When it comes to pet stores and dedicated fish owners, you will often see goldfish tanks with air pumps inside of them. Air pumps do look quite impressive, especially with all of those bubbles, you may not actually have use for one.

So, do goldfish need an air pump? It depends on your tank conditions and set up, if your tank meets the below criteria then you don’t really need to worry about adding an air pump;

  1. Large tank (30 gallons+).
  2. Aquarium plants that produce Oxygen.
  3. A good filtration unit.
  4. Tank isn’t overcrowded.

How To Tell If An Air Pump Is Needed

Ok, so there are some cases where you may need to add an air pump to your aquarium in order to provide your goldfish with enough oxygen, although once again, the need is rare if you have the right set up.

That said, just in case, there are some telltale signs to keep an eye out for, signs which will indicate that you may indeed need an air pump for your goldfish.

Goldfish Gasping For Air

Alright, so the number one way to tell if your goldfish tanks is in need of an air pump is if you catchy your goldfish gasping for air at the surface.

If you ever see your goldfish doing this, it means that it is struggling to get enough oxygen.

This gasping can be due to other issues, such as water temperature or illness, but it is often a sign that the water contains too little oxygen.

Small Tank

If you have an small fish tank, you may want to consider an air pump. Simply put, the less water there is in the tank, the less oxygen there will be.

A single goldfish may get enough oxygen in a super small tank, but this is questionable. If this is the case, getting an air pump might be a good idea.

Speaking of surface area, if your tank is comparatively deep instead of wide, that lack of surface area will also decrease overall oxygenation.

Important: You should not keep Goldfish in small tanks, 30-40 gallons+ is actually the recommending size for them, adding an air pump to a smaller tank should only be a temporary solution until you get a bigger tank (we have covered our top 5 tank picks here).

Surface Movement

A good filtration unit should produce some oxygen bubbles and oxygenate the water through the filtration process.

A good waterfall filter always helps with this. However, if you have a small and weak filter, or just one that doesn’t product much surface movement, you will most likely need an air pump.

Yes, aquarium filters are often enough to oxygenate the water for a goldfish, but not if the filter is weak.


Now, something that most people assume is that all goldfish live in cold water. While it is true that the majority of goldfish do prefer cooler waters, there are a select few which require warmer water.

The point here is that warmer water actually holds much less dissolved oxygen than cool water. Therefore, if you have a warm water goldfish, an air pump is definitely a good investment to make.

Note:If your goal is to simply increase the tank temperature, a good heater will be the best solution.

Do Goldfish Need An Air Pump To Survive?

Strictly speaking, if you have a large tank with lots of water and a decent amount of surface area, you have a few good aquarium plants that produce oxygen, you have a good filtration unit, and not too many fish confined in a small space, the water should contain more than enough dissolved oxygen to support a goldfish, way more than enough.

Now, you might see goldfish tanks complete with air pumps and air stones. Yes, these do help oxygenate the water in the aquarium a little bit, thus allowing fish to breathe easier.

However, strictly speaking, an air pump without the added air stone will not oxygenate the water all that much.

What Is The Best Air Pump For A Goldfish Tank?

If you do need a good air pump for your goldfish tank, here is a summary of our top pick;

Tetra Whisper Air Pump

This is a basic and affordable aquarium air pump that comes in a variety of sizes. It is available in sizes for 10 gallon tanks, for 20 to 40 gallon tanks, for 40 to 60 gallon tanks, and for 60 to 100 gallon tanks.

One thing to note here is that the largest size has dual valves so you can split up the air flow if needed.

The Tetra Whisper Air Pump comes in a cool dome shape, one that doesn’t look too bad, so it won’t mess with the aesthetic appeal of your aquarium too much. Also, the dome shape, as well as the included legs, are more than ideal for placing on any type of substrate.

You could even strap some plants to the top to totally hide it from sight. As the name of the Whisper Air Pump implies, it is very quiet, which is of course beneficial, because nobody wants to listen to a noisy air pump, and that includes your fish.


  • Multiple sizes.
  • Good value.
  • More than enough for a goldfish.
  • Shock absorbing legs for stability.
  • Can be easily kept out of sight.
  • Quiet


  • Not the most durable.
  • Gets dirty fast.

Check the current price at Amazon

How To Improve Oxygenation For Your Goldfish Tank?

Are you wondering how to improve oxygenation in your goldfish tank without having to use an air pump? There are a couple of tips we can provide you with to help you achieve just that.

  • Aquarium plants are great at producing oxygen. If your goldfish tanks needs a higher level of oxygenation, adding some more live plants to the mix will definitely help.

  • Something else that can help improve oxygenation in a tank is if the shape of the tank is right. Remember what we talked about above, that deeper tanks with less surface area have less oxygen in them. Therefore, if you get a wider tank instead of a deep tank, this should help.

  • Another thing that can help improve goldfish tank oxygenation is if you get a waterfall filter. The clean water comes out of these filters like a waterfall, thus forcing oxygen down into the fish tank along with the clean water.

  • If you have a goldfish that loves cool water, you can always decrease the water temperature as low as possible, without putting the goldfish in danger. Remember, cold water holds much more dissolved oxygen than warm water.


Alright, so if you feel the need, you can definitely get your goldfish tank an air pump, but with a decent tank, cool water, and a functioning aquarium filter, you probably won’t need one.

That said, if you are looking for a a good air pump, we recommend the Tetra Whisper personally.