Do Glofish Need An Air Pump? {Can They Live Without It?}

Are you trying to make sure your glofish get enough oxygen with an air pump? Do glofish need an air pump?

Are they going to suffocate without an air pump in the tank?

In this article, we’ll discuss if glofish need an air pump or if they can live without it.

Do Glofish Need An Air Pump?

No. If your filter agitates the surface of the water, then an air pump is not needed for your glofish.

Certain filters, larger tanks or glofish that were recently treated with medication would be assisted with the increased oxygen that an air pump could provide.

Do I Need An Air Pump For My Glofish in A 10 Gallon Tank?

A smaller tank up to 20 gallons doesn’t require an air pump for your glofish. Make sure you have a filter that is breaking the surface of the tank and agitating the water from above. This is essential to circulating the water and oxygen inside it.

Your glofish could survive for a couple of days in water that is completely still without a filter or air pump, but you may notice signs of stress. The filter is the most important, but once you get a tank larger than 20 gallons, the air pump becomes a stronger recommendation, but not an essential necessity unless you are noticing stress.

How Do I Know If My Glofish Need An Air Pump?

Your glofish will start to feel stress and they will show you some symptoms to make you get up and grab an air pump to help them breathe better. Look for the following signs:

  • Faster gill movement
  • Swimming to the surface for air
  • Lethargic or inactive
  • Less interested in their surroundings
  • Pale or dull on color

The air pump acts as a bubbler to mimic the currents in the ocean. Glofish are genetically modified to capture a fluorescent color, but if you want their skin to remain vibrant, make sure they aren’t showing the signs of stress above.

What Are The Benefits Of An Air Pump For Glofish?

Your glofish will enjoy the bubbles in the tank created by an air pump. They will swim near or through it. The following reasons provide benefit to your tank’s ecosystem that contain your beautiful glofish:

  • Consistent water agitation
  • Constant current flow
  • Increased oxygen
  • Prevent dead zones with algae buildup
  • Healthier and more active glofish

Make sure the air pump provides aeration to the entire tank. Some air pumps are too small for larger tanks. The packaging should indicate the minimum and maximum tank requirements for each air pump that you may purchase for your glofish tank.

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Will An Air Pump Help My Sick Glofish?

It’s unfortunate that your glofish are showing signs of illness. If you have already resorted to treating them or the tank with medications, keep in mind that these treatments may end up removing oxygen from the water.

Sometimes the recommendation is to increase the water temperature to kill off any parasites like Ich in the tank. When the water temperature rises, the warmer water will hold less oxygen. You glofish will benefit with the addition of an air pump to regulate the oxygen exchange during this difficult time.

Which Filter Works Best With An Air Pump?

Some filters do not agitate the surface of the water. The two filters below may need an air pump:

  • Under gravel filter
  • Canister filter

All filters that hang in the back will agitate the water’s surface to increase aeration and oxygen circulation. An under gravel filter will not do this and an air pump with or without air stones will help combat this issue. A canister filter can be adjusted so the output is aimed upward to pump oxygen towards the surface.

An air pump for your glofish is not required with most filters doing their job to aerate the smaller sized tanks they reside in. If your glofish aren’t gasping for air or you don’t see their gills moving rapidly, you should be safe and not too concerned.

Do Glofish Need Air Stones?

No. Glofish won’t need air stones in a tank where the filter is agitating the water’s surface. Air stones alone won’t work without an air pump. They are usually sold together.

The bubbles move the water from the bottom of the aquarium to the surface. This helps with the gas exchange. Otherwise, you will notice your glofish exhausted from breathing in too many nitrates.

Air stones are:

  • decorative
  • a fun addition to a tank
  • able to provide extra bubbles to promote more activity
  • porous and made from plastic, ceramic or wood

A heavier air stone is better as they are more stable. Some are sold with suction cups to help keep them in place.  


It isn’t going to be a necessity to run out and buy an air pump for your glofish tank. Keep in mind:

  1. The filter itself should be doing most of the work to make sure there is enough clean water and oxygen in the tank.
  2. If ammonia levels are low, then the water is clean enough with oxygen at sufficient levels for your glofish to survive.

The air pump makes it easier and fun for a fish keeper and glofish alike. It’s less stress to worry about aeration and oxygen exchange when it’s running 24/7 in your tank. Glofish are peaceful and playful. They will enjoy the bubbles from the air pump.

  • If your filter is under the gravel, the air pump will be necessary.
  • Most filters do not require an additional air pump.

If your glofish are swimming happily without breathing rapidly or gasping for air, then you can refrain from buying an air pump. Most air pumps are cheap and your glofish should enjoy it.

We hope you make the decision that you think is best for your tank, your budget and most of all, for your glofish to thrive. 

Brian Arial

Brian Arial has kept fish for leisure and worked with fish stores for most of his life. He enjoys writing and caring for aquariums and ponds.