Best Aerator for Livewell, Cooler, or Minnow Bucket

Updated 3/12/21 for the addition of a NEW EDITOR’S CHOICE!  See Below…

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This has been an interesting season for me to say the least.  I’ve spent more time in search of bait on my own than the rest of my life combined.  I got sick of trying to find creek chubs for my fishing tournaments so I started learning how to fish for them on my own.   It’s fun and good exercise, and quite frankly, catching fish on your own bait is rewarding. 

With that being said, I spent A LOT of time around portable aerators for my coolers and minnow buckets.  And I’ve used every brand mentioned in this article.  And only ONE made it through the season without breaking down. 

Luckily, I didn’t lose a lot of bait during this painstaking process.  Specifically, I was trying to keep creek chubs alive.  It’s not easy, and most of my livewells were aerators for a cooler or minnow bucket.  I now have a permanent setup, with a commercial aerator, but that’s a whole different article right there…

Creek Chub Air Pump
If you want to find out how important portable fish aerators are, try keeping creek chubs alive for a month in a cooler.

So with that being said, I will talk about, in my opinion, the best aerator for a livewell or minnow bucket on the market right now.

Best Portable Fish Aerator (2021) – EDITOR’S CHOICE

HISMEE Rechargeable Fish Aerator with 2-Ports

This is my new favorite portable fish aerator as I update this article.  Why?  Well for a couple of reasons…

  1. It boasts a 12-hour continuous battery life
  2. It has an intermittent setting that makes it last up to 24 hours.
  3. It’s rechargeable.
  4. It has 2 ports, with 2 long tubes and stones.

Now the funny thing is, is that the brand at Amazon is called HISMEE.  But when I got the package, it’s labeled under another brand.  Either way, this is a solid aerator, and they claim it can power up to 400 gallons.  Crazy.  So this is why I’m giving this portable fish aerator the EDITOR’S CHOICE for 2021 (whatever it’s called)…


Best Portable Aerator (2020)

rechargeable portable fish aerator

KEDSUM Portable Aerator with Rechargeable Battery

I’m so lucky to have come across this portable aerator for my cooler.  When I’m on the road in search of bait, I like to have a big cooler with 2 pumps going.  Normally, portable fish aerators have only one hose, but not the Kedsum.  It has 2 ports, with 2 hoses and large stones so I only have to use one.  Nice.  

It’s also run on a rechargeable battery, which is VERY hard to find in the aerator world.  When fully charged, it runs for almost 8 hours.  This means it’s great for being on the road for the day, but you’ll want to plug it in when running the aerator at night.  I went through A LOT of D batteries this summer and that will come to an end.

It’s also one of the quietest aerators on the market.  To be honest, the sound doesn’t bother me either way since I keep it in my garage but for many, this matters.

I did get this unit towards the end of the season, so it hasn’t had a full season, yet.  But so far it’s running as long or longer than any of the other aerators I’ve purchased.

I honestly feel that this is the best portable aerator on the market right now, especially for my needs.  It’s a little spendy, but it’s worth it if you don’t want to risk killing your bait when an aerator fails.


Best Electric Aerator Pump for Fish Tanks

fish tank aerator

Tetra Whisper Fish Tank Aerator

As stated earlier, I run a permanent setup for my creek chubs now.  I use a 55-gallon aquarium tank with the Tetra Whisper aerator.  It has 2 ports and it puts out some SERIOUS bubbles.

This aerator can run tanks up to 100 gallons in size, so it’s got the power to produce plenty of oxygen for my fish tank.  

It’s also extremely quiet for the power.  I have this mounted about 6 inches above and to the side of my fish tank, with the 2 hoses running down the sides of the tank.


Other Portable Fish Aerators I Used

Since I’m being honest, I will name all the brands below that I used and failed.  I can’t say I can explain every reason for each unit breaking down, they simply stopped working.

Now to also be fair, I’m hard on equipment when I go creek chubbing.  The minnow bucket aerators bounce around on the 5-gallon bucket and at times, even drop.  Stuff happens, especially when you’re trudging through tall weeds to get to the creek.

So here are the other models I used…

bubble box fishing portable aerator

Bubble Box Air Pump

These are some of the most commonly found portable fish aerators you’ll find anywhere.  They’re sold in most bait shops, online, and even Walmart carries them.  So we’re talking common here.

They’re very inexpensive which makes them attractive.  But quite honestly, they don’t last long.  I burnt 3 of them out this summer.  I only re-purchased because I was in a pinch.  If you open the compartment, you’ll see how simple the design is. 

It does run on 2 D batteries for around 3 full days, which is kind of nice.  I merely keep these as backup units now and only use them when I need an extra or one other goes down.

Like a lot of things in this world, you get what you pay for and the same goes for battery-operated aerators.



Frabill Battery Air Pump

Frabill Aqua-Life Portable Aerator

I’ve had great luck with Frabill products as a whole, but I didn’t have great luck with the Aqua-Life unit.

It only lasted about a month, if that, and I will be returning it.  It’s another inexpensive aerator that I picked up in a pinch that just didn’t last.

It also runs on 2 D batteries, which is fairly standard for your common portable aerator.

Frabill also has an Aqua-Life kit that comes with a 12-volt charger and a larger stone.  It appears this is more of a larger-powered unit, and it comes with a large stone output.  This is pretty spendy at my sporting good stores locally, so I never did test out this version.  

Also, the downside is you’ll have to purchase a wall charger for this unit as well ( as it’s for a 12v adaptor ).



Engel Bubbler

Engel Aerators

I did an extensive review of Engel Coolers recently, but here’s the gist of it.  I like the cooler, but not the bubbler (aerator).  I will explain why.

First off, the Engel aerator has 2 speeds.  The middle is off, or you can switch to either side to turn it on at different speeds.  The problem is the button is very touchy.   So much so that occasionally it turns itself off.  This has happened in waves in the boat as well as bumps in the back of my truck.  This has cost me bait.

Second, it stopped working.  I did get a couple of months out of mine as a backup but it still bit the dust.  Can’t say exactly why, it just stopped working.

I’ve only found replaceable units online, as I don’t see replacements locally.


Oxygen Bubbler Recap

So there you have it, my recap of the best aerator for fishing on the market today.  It was an expensive season replacing aerators so I’m looking forward to using the most reliable unit I’ve found next year.

Like I stated in my guide to catching creek chubs, catching your own bait is highly addictive and rewarding.  There’s just something about catching big fish on quality bait that you catch yourself.

I’m also looking into having our own aerator built for our personal needs.  After searching YouTube, I found some good ideas for making one with a large lithium, rechargeable battery.  I will post up an article/video as soon as that’s complete.  Keep an eye and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos on the subject.

Happy Baiting!

Portable Bucket Aerator

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