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I went through several central air pump setups before finding one that I think is perfect for any fish room with 10+ tanks.

The Perfect Central Air Pump for Fish Rooms With 10+ Aquariums

Jehmco LPH26 Linear Piston Air Pump
Jehmco LPH26 Linear Piston Air Pump

The majority of my aquariums run on sponge filters. A central air driven sponge filter system becomes a necessity when you start keeping double digit numbers of aquariums. Sponge filters require less maintenance than other forms of filtration, and a linear piston central air pump uses less electricity than running a hang on back filter on 10+ tanks. I went through several air pump setups before finding one that I think is perfect for any fish room with 10+ tanks.

Fry Tanks with Air-Driven Matten Filters
Fry Tanks with Air-Driven Matten Filters

The air pump driving my central air system is a Jehmco LPH26, the smallest in Jehmco.com's line of linear piston central air pumps.

(I do not make any commission from Jehmco for recommending their products - I genuinely believe they are the best source for your central air system. Their website isn't very good by modern standards, but you can call and speak to a real human person right away.)

Linear piston air pumps are pricey - they start at almost $200 - but they're one of the best investments you can make in your fish room. Compare the cost of a central air pump and several sponge filters to buying the same number of hang on back filters. For 10 aquariums around 20 gallons each you would spend well over $300 on Aquaclear filters. The more aquariums you have, the more efficient a central air system becomes.

Super Quiet Air Pump

Before I got the LPH26, I bought a cheaper ($70) generic brand diaphragm air pump. It put out enough air for my needs, but it ran very loud and very hot. Over time it got louder and the output was less consistent. After about 6 months the noise coming from this cheap pump got so loud it was unbearable to stand near it. I never wanted to hang out in my fish room because of the constant noise.

My Jehmco LPH26 runs SILENT. Even standing with your head a couple feet away from it, you can barely tell its running. The sound of the bubbles hitting the surface in the aquariums is actually louder than the pump itself. My fish room is so much quieter, which makes it so much more enjoyable to spend time in there.

Sponge Filter
Sponge Filter

Planning a Central Fish Room Air System

I highly recommend calling Jehmco and talking to them about what you need to setup your air system. I went with one of their pre-assembled air manifolds so that I wouldn't have to spend any time drilling PVC and leak-testing valves. They sent me a pre-cut length of braided tubing with all of the fittings included to connect the pump to the manifold. I didn't have to make any trips to the hardware store to get this system installed.

Air Manifold
Air Manifold With Bleed Valve and Silencer

I used a label maker to label each output valve on my manifold. This isn't a necessary step but it makes adjusting the flow to each aquarium much easier.

Right now I'm using 11 out of 12 outputs on the manifold. The LPH26 is rated for around 20 outputs, depending on water depth, how you set your valves, etc. A bleed valve with a silencer lets me bleed off the extra air output to avoid burning up the pump. This leaves extra capacity to potentially add another rack of tanks to the same air system at a later date.

If you need your air outlets spaced further apart, you can simply run a PVC loop around the perimeter of the room. You can then drill holes in the PVC and press in an air valve wherever you need one.

In addition to a central air pump and manifold, you'll probably want to have a few other supplies in bulk. Obviously this project will require a good size roll of airline tubing. And it doesn't hurt to have some air valves mounted closer to the output of each line for fine adjustments. It might make sense to buy a bulk pack of air stones and/or sponge filters as well.

Placement for a Central Fish Room Air Pump

The air pump and manifold should be mounted above the water level of your aquariums. I've seen some people build a small shelf up in a corner for their linear piston pump. I was able to place mine in a space above the ceiling of an adjoining room's storage area. The manifold is mounted to the floor joist above my middle rack of tanks.

With the whole air system mounted above the highest water level, there is no need for airline check valves. Even if the pump dies or power goes out, water can't siphon higher than the level of the aquariums.

Manifold Mounted Above Aquariums
Manifold Mounted Above Aquariums

If you are planning a fish room build or already run 10 or more aquariums, the investment in a Jehmco linear piston central air pump is well worth the cost.

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Many people know of pothos as a hardy houseplant, but its also popular among fishkeepers for use in sumps, overflows, hang on back filters, refugiums, and aquariums. Adding a pothos plant to your aquarium is a good way to reduce nitrates and give it a more natural look.

Fish waste (ammonia) is transformed into nitrates by the bacteria in your filter. Nitrates are harmful to fish and need to be removed from the aquarium, typically through water changes. In nature, plants perform this function by absorbing nitrates. While a single pothos plant will not absorb enough waste for you to skip any water changes, it will help to reduce these excess nutrients.

Pothos Growing up PVC
Pothos vine Growing up PVC

How to add Pothos to Your Aquarium

You can find pothos (in the US) for sale at most local garden centers, any store that carries houseplants, or on Amazon. Once you've purchased a plant, you can either add the whole plant to your aquarium - after removing it from the soil - or take cuttings from it. One healthy mother plant can produce dozens of cuttings. I have been taking cuttings from the plant shown below for several years. The vines eventually grow back after being cut.

Pothos Plant
Pothos Plant

Pothos is also known as devil's ivy because it is so difficult to kill. The stem can be cut and inserted directly into water. After a few days, white roots will sprout from the stem and grow down into the water. This works even in a glass of tap water, but pothos plants grow much quicker in an aquarium where they have access to lots of nutrients.

Pothos does not require much light to grow, so you don't need to have a light shining directly on it unless you have it under a cabinet or in some other very dark location. The leaves will turn to face any nearby light sources as the plant gets established.

Pothos growing behind matten filter
Pothos growing behind matten filter

I secured the plant pictured above using a suction cup with a clip for airline tubing. This is a good way to hold the vine in place inside your aquarium. You can also insert a stem into a hang on back filter, an overflow or breeder box, or build your own DIY container to hold pothos plants.

Pothos roots in overflow box
Pothos roots in overflow box
Pothos roots in overflow box
Pothos roots in overflow box

More Info on Pothos in Aquariums

There are lots of examples on YouTube of how people are using Pothos in their aquariums. I recommend starting with the one below from Aquarium Co-op.

Odin Aquatics isn't affiliated with any YouTube channels

Seachem Purigen is a synthetic absorbent that captures organic waste in the water column. It can absorb and trap nitrogenous organic wastes that would otherwise release ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. Tannins from driftwood and other natural decor in the aquarium are also captured. Eventually, Purigen will turn dark brown to black, as shown in the photos below. But you don't have to discard it and buy more at this point, because Purigen can be regenerated and reused!

Used Purigen Bags
Used Purigen Bags

The Purigen packet on the left in the above photo was used for just a few weeks in an aquarium with some large pieces of driftwood. The brown color is due to it absorbing tannins from the wood in the water. The packet on the right was used in a different aquarium for several months.

Recharging Seachem Purigen

Basic directions for re-charging Purigen are available on Seachem's website. A screenshot of their instructions is included below:

Seachem Purigen Regeneration Instructions
Seachem Purigen Regeneration Instructions

Bleaching Purigen

I recharged two 100 ml bags of purigen using a solution of 2 cups Clorox bleach and 2 cups water in a plastic container. The bleach burns off organic material that has been captured by the Purigen. You can see the brown and green coloration was completely removed from these two bags after 24 hours.

Bleached Purigen Bags
Bleached Purigen Bags

Dechlorinating Purigen

After soaking for 24 hours in the bleach solution, I mix a solution of 2 cups tap water and 1 TSP of Seachem Safe. Safe is the same thing as Prime, but it comes in a dry powder form and 250 grams treats up to 60,000 gallons. Compare that to a 500ml bottle of Prime, which treats only 5,000 gallons. Per Seachem's instructions, you can use any equivalent dechlorinator, just be sure to use a large enough dose to remove all chlorine.

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This is the first time the packets shown have been regenerated. After multiple uses, Purigen will begin to show staining or discoloration. I don't recommend re-using it more than 3 or 4 times.

Buy Seachem Purigen on Amazon