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Do Goldfish Need an Air Pump to Breathe?

If you are a new owner of a goldfish, there are a lot of things you need to deal with. Do goldfish need an air pump? What is it exactly? There are some things that …

four big goldfish in an aquarium

If you are a new owner of a goldfish, there are a lot of things you need to deal with. Do goldfish need an air pump? What is it exactly? There are some things that you should learn before you decide to get a goldfish since cleaning the fish tank, for example, can take a significant amount of time.

However, that time is going to be well spent since by using your time to properly take care of your goldfish, you will improve its quality of life and allow it to live longer.

What to Know About Air Pumps

If you are wondering: “Do goldfish need an air pump?” That depends on:

  • How long do you want your goldfish to survive?
  • How big is your fish tank and how tall is it?
  • What is the average temperature of the water?
  • How many creatures live in your fish tank?

Air pump in your tank

So what is an air pump? Even though this mechanism might seem simple, it is a very important addition to your fish tank. They can come in the form of decorations, like bubbling chests you might’ve seen before, or you can just strap them on the aquarium wall. Nevertheless, there are several types: wavemakers, powerheads, and submergible air pumps.

beautiful goldfish

Each of them has its pros and cons, and picking one for your tank should be an important step. You cannot just install a random pump in your aquarium since it affects the whole ecosystem of the place. The size and temperature of the tank should be taken into account when picking the right air pump.

What is the purpose of having a pump?

First of all, the air pump doesn’t produce oxygen but helps to saturate the water with it. The air bubbles that are generated by the air pump go through water, and the oxygen gets absorbed by the water. This is important for proper air circulation, allowing the oxygen from the air outside to become diffused in the water of your fish tank.

You don’t need to worry about too much CO2 staying in your tank, as this chemical can cause some breathing problems for your fish. With an air pump, it will slowly go away with the flow of water getting replaced by oxygen. In addition, the temperature of the aquarium will be regulated, so you don’t need to worry about your fish getting too hot.

Do all fish need oxygen?

All fish breathe air and need constant circulation in their tank. An air pump provides a lot of surface oxygen to the aquarium and helps your fish stay energetic. Goldfish don’t exactly require it for staying healthy, but it could help them a lot to feel healthy. Nevertheless, there are tropical fish that cannot survive without a constant stream of oxygen through the aquarium.

fish swim in the aquarium

Do goldfish like bubbles? Yes, they like to play with them, and it makes them happier. These species are curious by nature, so they would gladly explore new items in their tank. An air pump can provide such bubbles to play with, keeping your fish interested in their environment.

Important to note

In some cases, it might be obligatory to install an air pump into your aquarium. It’s normal if you don’t know much about keeping a pet fish in your house, but you need to learn as much as you can about them before you decide to bring one home.

For example, if you see that the water in the water tank is too still, you need to find out what’s causing it. For example, your filter might not be working properly, or its power is not enough to keep the circulation going for the whole tank. An air pump will help regulate the water flow in the tank.

In tall fish tanks, the surface area can be pretty small, and that can cause issues. The greatest concentration of oxygen is kept in the higher layers of the water, and if there is not much space for your fish to get air, they might suffer from breathing problems. To avoid this, you need to get a big enough air pump for your aquarium that will help the goldfish get its normal intake of oxygen.

Moreover, due to the high temperature in the tank, oxygen levels might decrease. The air gets evaporated quicker, resulting in a lack of free air in the aquarium. You need to carefully monitor the temperature in your tank, as it might affect the goldfish. When it’s too hot, they will become slow, and their gills can extend further to get more oxygen. In this case, an air pump can help a lot, along with decreasing the temperature of the aquarium. Cool water will hold enough air for your fish to feel fine.

four big goldfish in an aquarium

How Do Goldfish Breathe

Do goldfish breathe air? Yes, of course, as any other highly organized organism. They have specialized organs – gills, that help them extract oxygen from water. Even though they have a different mechanism of breathing from us, they still require a normal amount of air in their tank.

If you don’t want to invest in a pump, there are air stones for goldfish that can get them entertained. In addition, they look pretty natural in the tank, letting the environment be creative and fun. Your goldfish can require an air pump to breathe if there are a lot of other creatures in the tank. An interesting alternative to a pump in your aquarium plants. They produce oxygen and absorb excess amounts of CO2 in the aquarium.

Algae is a common decoration in the tank, and they don’t need much attention. Of course, you might need to clean up the aquarium more often, as plants leave a thin layer of micro-particles on the walls. Nevertheless, it is an eco-friendly way to brighten up the tank and help your fish breathe fresh oxygen. If you don’t want any algae, you can also buy some moss.

Aquarium Plump FAQ

It is always important to know the basic information about taking care of your fish. Even though it might seem complicated sometimes, you can easily find answers to most of your questions.

How to tell if your fish is struggling to breathe?

Usually, the fish becomes less energetic, barely moving around the tank. Its gills get visible, extending outside the body. In addition, the fish will stay on a surface level, where there is more oxygen.

Can goldfish live in a bowl without an air pump?

Yes, they can. Goldfish don’t need much attention, but the pump can still be a good addition to the tank. It will keep your fish healthy and energetic, and you won’t have to worry about their oxygen level.

Why is my goldfish gulping air at the surface?

There might be different reasons. The most common ones are the high amount of ammonia in the water and low dissolved oxygen. To resolve this issue, you need to get a new filter or an air pump that will allow the water to move around.

Does an aquarium need an air pump?

Usually, yes. There are species of fish that don’t require much attention, but such a device will save you a lot of trouble, allowing you to be sure that your pets are taken care of. It helps the tank have normal oxygen levels and promotes constant water flow.

Our Top 5 Choices Best Air Pump for Goldfish Tank

Equip Your Fish Tank Properly

Goldfish might seem an easy pet to keep, but they still require your attention. An air pump is a mechanism that will regulate the water circulation in your tank and will keep the oxygen level in a normal state. Being a fish owner can be hard when you don’t look up important information beforehand, but there is always advice you can find online.
Do you have an air pump in your tank? How do you keep your goldfish healthy? Please, share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


  • The control of breathing in goldfish (Carassius auratus) experiencing thermally induced gill remodelling (by Velislava Tzaneva, S.f. Perry – Source: PubMed): https://www.researchgate.net/publication/47449892_The_control_of_breathing_in_goldfish_Carassius_auratus_experiencing_thermally_induced_gill_remodelling
  • Dissolved oxygen requirements in aquatic animal respiration (by Claude E. Boyd, Ph.D.): https://www.globalseafood.org/advocate/dissolved-oxygen-requirements-in-aquatic-animal-respiration/#:~:text=Average%20oxygen%20consumption%20rates%20for,mg%2FL%20in%2024%20hours.

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