Do Neon Tetra Fish Need An Air Pump

air pump in neon tetra tank

If you have been wondering about aquarium condition for neon tetras and if you have doubts about keeping an air pump in your tetra tank, then here are the facts that will help you make your choice easily.

Neon Tetras do not care if the aquarium has an air pump or not as long as plants fulfill oxygen demands. However, this device helps in the aeration and agitation in the Neon Tetra tank.

If the idea of getting an air pump for your Neon Tetra Tank is swirling in your head, then you are in the right place to know about the connection between Air pumps and your Neon Tetras.

Neon Tetras: An Overview

Neon Tetras are small fish with very few demands to survive in captivity. Even the oxygen demand of Neon Tetras is very less. Thus, a neon tetra does not require extra oxygen or equipment that helps in oxygen production.

You can learn more about Neon Tetra from our Complete Care Guide For Beginners.

Neon Tetras prefer the tank with many aquatic plants, and these plants help in oxygen production in the aquarium.

Here are the 10 best aquarium plants for your tetra tank. A planted aquarium is always a better and affordable option. It will not only fill your aquarium with oxygen, but it will also enhance the beauty of the aquarium!

How Does Oxygen Exchange Work in Water?

As a human being, you will already know how oxygen exchange works in your body. But if you are looking for the oxygen exchange in tank water, then the result may surprise you.

The exchange between oxygen and carbon dioxide occurs at the water’s surface, only when the surface agitation breaks the surface tension.

The water in the tank absorbs the oxygen and releases the carbon dioxide into the air. This process is possible when equipment like a filter, air pump, etc. provide movement at the water’s surface.

As the carbon dioxide level increases in the water, it can be toxic for the living beings in the tank. That is why the release of CO2 and production of oxygen is necessary.

So, What Is An Air Pump?

Now, let us focus on the main topic that we are discussing. So, what exactly is an air pump?

Simply put, an air pump is a device that introduces air and circulates oxygen in an aquarium.

This device not only aerates the water in the tank but also cause surface agitation. Additionally, the oxygenation did by these help in preventing the pH crash at night.

The stable water conditions are essential for your tetra to be happy and healthy. Learn about Water Parameters for Tetra Fish: Stable Water Condition here.

Is It Necessary To Have An Air Pump In The Neon Tetra Tank?

The answer is No, in the case of the Neon Tetras tank, as the plants and aquarium filter present in the tank overtakes the work of an air pump.

You already know that Neon tetras demand very low oxygen. The plants that use carbon dioxide and release oxygen fulfills the oxygen demand of the Neon tetras in an aquarium.

And the basic work of a filter is to transport water for filtration, which results in enough movement of water. As a result of the movement, the aquarium achieves surface agitation for the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen.

Do Neon Tetras Need Filter To Survive? Check it out!

Although a helping hand to your plants can never go wrong, air pumps will undoubtedly help you to reach an adequate concentration of oxygen and surface agitation.

These air pumps are, however, importantly recommended for the tank, which is heavily stocked with neon tetras. Due to the large population, Plants cannot handle the high demand resulting in the quick depletion of oxygen levels.

If you are thinking of stocking many neon tetras in one tank, get the basic idea of How  Many Neon Tetras Per Gallon Of Water (Different Gallon Tanks?)

And, of course, the bubbles created by the air pumps enhance the appearance of your already attractive tetra tank. The aesthetics of having bubbles always attract some aquarists.

Do Neon Tetras Die Without Air Pump?

Based on the facts, It is not a compulsion to install an air pump in the tank as Neon tetras do fine without it.

As mentioned above, the filter handles the oxygenation and the surface agitation quite well without any help. That is why you should either install a filter or an air pump in your aquarium.

How Does Air Pump Work In The Neon Tetra Tank?

The way air pump works is simpler than you think. When you supply power to the device, it starts the airflow inside the tank as bubbles.

All that this device does is create bubbles, which help to increase surface agitation. As the inflating device creates bubbles, the circulation in the tank improves.

And that circulation helps in transporting oxygenated water to the bottom of the tank.

How Many Hours a Day Should You Run The Air Pump?

A neon tetra tank might look aesthetic with those little bubbles made by the air pump. But the aeration for 4 hours a day is adequate to handle the surface tension of the aquarium.

However, the hours of aeration can differ according to the size of the tank.

What Size of Aquarium Air Pump Do You Need?

The ideal size of the air pump for an aquarium is completely dependent on the tank size. To put it simply, if you have a smaller aquarium, you will need a smaller pump.

For instance, a small air pump can subsequently make a difference in a ten-inches deep aquarium. But that same device can hardly change the dynamic of the 30-inches deep tank.

While we are talking about selecting an ideal air pump, we cannot leave out the basic thumb rule; the basic thumb rule here is to select an air pump with an output of at least 0.033 liters of air/ minute/ gallon of water.

But here we are discussing the well-planted Neon Tetra aquarium, so based on that fact, an air pump with an output of 0.264 liters/ minute will be considered right.

Which Air Pump is Suitable for Neon Tetra Tank?

As it is clear that Neon Tetras do not need an air pump in their tank, you can still choose to have one. And, if you are considering an air pump, you should always keep in mind how peaceful Neon Tetras are.

Neon Tetra Behavior: Are They Aggressive/Fighting or Playing? Find out here.

The diaphragm, an ideal pump for a small tank, is your go-to pump for the Neon Tetras as well.

A quiet yet powerful air pump, which can undoubtedly help in oxygenation, is a perfect pick for the Tetra tank.

Neon tetras are kept in a well-planted aquarium leaving a job of minimizing surface agitation for the air pump. So, you can easily select the air pump with lower output for your Neon Tetras Tank without a doubt.

Tetra Whisper Easy to Use AP150 Air Pump for Aquariums is the best in my viewpoint for your neon tetra tank!

How Can You Maintain An Aquarium In The Absence Of The Air Pump?

If you are not using an air pump, then it is best to make sure that the oxygen demand is met.

These are the basic things to look at:

Tank size

It is always a better idea to give Neon tetras enough space to float and swim in. A tetra tank is best when it is wide and shallow, not tall and deep. Know better about the Best Tank Size For Keeping Neon Tetra.


If you want to bet against the filter in terms of replacement, you will definitely lose because the aeration and the oxygenation provided by the filter through circulation is always a winner.

I will suggest you use Tetra Decorative ReptoFilter, Terrarium Filtration for the neon tetra tank.


Powerheads are the addition to the filter which are placed on either side of the aquarium. It connects an air hose and powered by electric-pump actions siphoning the water up and down the tank.

Hygger Submersible Aquarium Powerhead 2000GPH Fish Tank Wavemaker Circulation Pump is perfect for Freshwater Saltwater Tank. It is a 360 Degree Rotatable Head Pump of 16W.

Spray Bar Aerator

Spray water aerator attaches to the filter outlet and sprays water across the water surface. This horizontally placed aerator promotes surface agitation and aeration as well as removes dead spots.

Is Airstone Necessary For A Neon Tetra Tank?

An Airstone, also widely known as bubblers, is a piece of aquarium furniture. An airline tubing connects these stones to the air pump.

This accessory of an air pump help to create a plentiful flow of tiny bubbles and not inadequate larger bubbles. Thus created small bubbles work magically in increasing the water flow through the filter.

But focusing on the question asked, the answer will be a no because the tank works fine without an Air Pump, and hence its accessory will only be an ornament.

How Can We Reduce The Noise Made By Air Pumps?

The most complaint feature of these air pumps is the noise it produces. The most annoyingly loud sound is the sound with over 45 dB. Every listener found it irritating. We can reduce the noise by taking a few basic steps.

Sound Blocking Chambers

The simpler way to lower the turbulence and sound-producing vibrations is to depend upon the device itself. A dome-shaped pre-installed silence chamber in these devices produces a smooth, quiet stream of air.

What makes it soundproof is the materials it consists of; a suspended motor made up of rubber feet with a wide footprint eliminates the noise-producing vibrations.

Depth of Airstone

Airstone might look like a small addition to the Air Pump, but it can play a huge role in noise management. All you have to do is raise the depth of your chosen airstone, and it works like magic in reducing irritating sound.

Unused Outlets

Empty, unused outlets are the main reason for unbearable noise produces. You have to do the simple task of filling these unused outlets, and you can get an aquarium with minimal noise.


Sometimes distance plays a vital role in clearing out the chaos between two things. All you have to do is, take your pump and move it farther away from the power cord. And, you can place the foam mat underneath the air pump to insulate the noise.

Can We Use Live Plants To Produce Oxygen In A Neon Tetra Tank?

We are convinced that Neon Tetras thrive in a heavily planted aquarium.

So, in the context of Neon Tetra Tank, the answer is yes for using live plants to produce enough oxygen.

As if oxygen production was not enough, Live plants also absorb the toxic material making the Neon Tetra tank hospitable. Additionally, these plants also provide enough hiding spots for frightened Neon Tetras.

But nowhere on the earth you will get something with all merits and zero demerits. The same goes for the heavily planted Neon Tetra Tank; the increment of live plants in an aquarium leaves fewer nutrients for Algae, limiting the algal growth in the tank.

Do Tetra Fish Eat Algae? – Should You Add Algae To Their Diet? Check it out here!

And floating live plants grow faster, covering the overall surface, consequently blocking the light to enter the tank, making the interior darker than usual.


In conclusion, an air pump supplies oxygen to the tank for the fish to respire. But, in most of the cases, Neon Tetras do not care about the presence or absence of this device.

If you have a pre-installed well-functioning filter, then your Tetra Tank will have enough circulation and surface agitation. And the live plants in the aquarium handle the oxygen demand and toxicity absorption.

Related articles:

  1. What Do Neon Tetras Need In Their Tank?
  2. How to Prevent Neon Tetra Curved/Crooked Spine or Neon Tetra Disease
  3. Can The Neon Tetra Survive In a Fishbowl?
  4. Can The Neon Tetra Eat Goldfish Flakes?
  5. What Is The Minimum Water Temperature For Neon Tetras

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