Air Stones: The Secret Weapon Every Aquarium Needs
Having enough oxygen in your aquarium is one of those things people often take for granted, but it’s so vital to your fish’s health. How can you make sure your fish is getting enough air? Most fish will show signs of oxygen deprivation, such as a tendency to rest at the bottom of their tanks, a lack appetite, or rapidly moving gills. In a worst-case scenario, your fish may start gasping for air at the surface of the water, which means it’s definitely time to take action!
A large water change is the first thing to do. This will infuse your tank with fresh oxygen. If the fish start to swell, it is time to identify the reason for the lack of oxygen. The most common causes are high water temperatures and too many fish in a tank, certain medication or chemical treatments, and inadequate water surface agitation.
How do I Get More Oxygen in My Fish Tank?
A water test kit, or digital meter, can be used to measure the dissolved oxygen. Ideally, the oxygen content in a freshwater fish tank should be around 7 to 8 ppm (or mg/L). We ran several experiments with a dissolved oxygen monitor to determine the best setup for increasing oxygen levels in aquariums. Here’s what we found:
The experiment results for increasing dissolved oxygen in different aquarium setups
Note: Both circulation pumps and powerheads were tested. However, the exact results of these tests were not recorded. The powerhead of venturi type did not perform as well than the powerhead pointed towards top of tank, which created surface agitation. Also tested was a circulation pump, which did not significantly improve oxygen content.
Based on our experiments, we definitely see that increasing gas exchange at the water surface has a positive impact on oxygen content. Gas exchange in aquariums refers to the process where carbon dioxide, a waste product of your fish, is released into the air and new oxygen is dissolved into water. Given this information, here are three proven ways to increase oxygenation in your aquarium:
– Buy tanks with a large surface area. When using only a sponge filter in the 40-gallon tank versus 55-gallon tank, the 40-gallon tank had much higher oxygen content. The reason is because the 40-gallon breeder tank has a greater amount of surface area compared to the 55-gallon tank. Therefore, a long, shallow aquarium is preferred over a tall, narrow one.
Keep floating plants from covering the water surface. The 55-gallon tank with a sponge filter had significantly lower oxygen levels than the experiment without floating plants. In general, live aquarium plants can be very useful in producing additional oxygen for your fish. But floating plants should not take over the entire tank. It can reduce gas exchange.
Too Many Floating Plants can drastically reduce the oxygen level in your fish tank.
Improve surface agitation using filtration and airstones. This is where carbon dioxide is exchanged for more oxygen in the air. This can be achieved by adding at minimum one air source to each aquarium. You can achieve good surface agitation using other methods like a hang-on-back filter, but it comes at the cost of having very loud splashing sounds from the falling water.
How to Add Air to Your Aquarium
It is easy to add an air source to your fish tanks. All you need is an electric pump to push water into the tank, some airline tubing to allow the air to travel through the tube, and a check valve that prevents water from getting into the tubing.
How to attach an air pump in an aquarium
The three components are outside the aquarium. Only the last piece of airline tubing on the left-hand side enters water. There are many attachments that can be connected to the aquarium’s airline tubing.
An water stone is small, weighted bubbler that makes very small bubbles in the drinking water. This simple accessory helps to gradually diffuse air into the tank and minimizes the amount of bubbling noise you’ll hear.
– A sponge filter uses air to provide mechanical and biological filtration. Water is pulled in through sponge walls as the bubbles rise from the sponge’s bottom to the top. This helps remove unwanted particles and clear up excess water. Beneficial bacteria likes to live in sponges, which helps to transform waste compounds into safer byproducts. A moving-bed filter provides the ideal environment for biological filtration. As the air flows through the chamber, oxygenated water is constantly churned. This greatly increases the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Add more air to your aquarium with an air stone, sponge filter or moving bed filter.
All these methods of adding air to your fish tank promote excellent surface agitation and oxygenation of water, providing an ideal, stress-free environment for your fish to live in.