Fish tank bubblers are often debated. Some fish owners believe they’re a necessity for any fish tank and any type of fish. Other fish owners think they’re only needed in certain situations; otherwise, they’re a waste of money.
Are fish tank bubblers necessary? No. But are they worth it? Yes, if you have a freshwater tank.
If you’re new to fish and aquariums, you might be asking yourself what a fish tank bubbler does. And it’s a legitimate question.
See, oxygen is a must for fish to survive. There needs to be enough oxygen in their tank so they don’t get sick or die. Getting enough oxygen in a tank can be difficult.
This is where a fish tank bubbler comes into the picture. Bubblers are pieces of equipment that create bubbles in a fish tank. They connect to air pumps through an airline tube.
Those bubbles hit the surface of the tank and pop. The pop creates oxygen in the water.
There are several types of fish tank bubblers too, but we’ll get into that later on this article.
So, we’re going to learn about fish tank bubblers today. We’ll discuss the benefits, the types of bubblers available, and we’ll also share our favorite bubblers.
Signs of a Fish with Lack of Oxygen
The lack of oxygen for a fish can be fatal. A lot of people don’t realize that despite fish living in water, they need an ample amount of oxygen.
If you’re wondering if a fish tank bubbler is a must, you need to watch your fish. Here are some major signs that point to a fish that’s not getting enough oxygen.
Keep in mind, some of these symptoms are also symptoms of other conditions and diseases.
1. Your fish sits at the bottom of the tank most of the day. Some hang out at the surface all day long.
2. They’re less active and don’t swim as often as they usually do.
3. Other fish will stick next to the filter output in the tank. This is where most of the oxygen is entering at the moment.
4. Your fish isn’t eating well. They might not be coming to the surface at all to eat.
5. Rapidly moving gills are another sign that your fish needs more oxygen. The fish is attempting to get oxygen by quickly flapping their gills.
6. One of the scariest signs is when you find your fish at the top of their tank. They’ll be gasping for air. You’ll know right away. This means there’s not much time left for your fish unless you introduce more oxygen into the tank.
7. When your fish are dying for no reason. They’re getting adequate food and their tank is clean. They aren’t showing signs of any disease.
You can measure the oxygen in a fish tank. There are digital meters or water test kits.
You might find yourself with an oxygen emergency and you don’t have enough time to buy a bubbler. But don’t worry, you don’t have to watch your favorite fish die.
Change the tank water. This introduces new and fresh oxygen in the tank.
You’ll need to figure out why there’s not enough oxygen. And you’ll need to either make some changes or buy some type of bubbler.
What Causes Lack of Oxygen in a Tank
You don’t want to spend money on a fish tank bubbler unless it’s necessary. But you’ve now discovered your fish has all the signs of a lack of oxygen.
The next step is to find out what’s causing a lack of oxygen. You can fix some situations without a bubbler.
Several reasons can cause little oxygen in a fish tank.
- Floating plants are covering the surface of the tank. When there are too many plants, there’s no way for oxygen to get in. You need to clean out most (if not all) of the floating plants out of the tank. Plants are great but floating plants aren’t necessary.
- There’s too many fish in one tank. You’ll need a separate tank to move some of them. But be careful because moving is stressful for some fish. Stress leads to illness. On that same note, the tank might not be big enough to handle the amount of fish you have, sucking up all the oxygen.
- The temperature of the tank water is too high. Your fish thermometer should read the temperature. Either you need to invest in a new thermometer or check your water temperature more. The fastest way to bring down the temperature is to change the water out with clean, cool water.
- Your water filter has a clog. The water filter has the job of moving oxygen from the top of the fish tank to the bottom of the tank. So, a clogged water filter isn’t going to move as much oxygen.
- The chemical cleaner you use is taking up oxygen. Believe it or not but quite a few tank cleaners take up large amounts of oxygen when used. It’s important to read a label front to back before using a cleaner.
- If there’s a lack of water surface agitation, you need to buy some type of fish tank bubbler. At the surface of a fish tank, water and oxygen meet. As they meet, they go through a natural exchange of gases. This allows the carbon dioxide to escape and oxygen to break through the surface. This is water surface agitation. When there’s a lack of agitation, not enough oxygen is coming in and not enough carbon dioxide is leaving the tank.
Advantages of Fish Tank Bubblers
Besides the obvious mesmerizing look, there are advantages to using bubblers.
First, it rids your tank of bad bacteria. When too much waste builds up in a tank, bacteria form. They feast on the waste from the fish.
This seems like a good thing but they take up more oxygen than you would expect.
Bubblers help keep the tank clean, preventing the fish from getting sick without taking up oxygen.
The constant stream of air filters all that bad bacteria from the fish waste.
Of course, you still need to clean your fish tank on a regular basis because a bubbler isn’t going to do all the work for you.
It improves and increases the water movement in your fish tank. There’s always a steady stream running through to create the bubbles.
The most important advantage is how it aerates the water in your fish tank. It increases the oxygen introduced to the tank.
Disadvantages of Fish Tank Bubblers
There are a few disadvantages to using fish tank bubblers in your fish tank. They’re few and far between but it’s important to know everything before you make a decision.
Bubblers can cause salt to creep in saltwater tanks. Saltwater creep happens at the top of a fish tank.
When the bubbles pop at the surface of a tank, they can splash. And after water splashes out of a tank, it evaporates. But it leaves salt behind. The salt starts to build up.
Airline tubing pinches. When this happens, you should try to fix it. If you’re not able to, you have to replace it.
They don’t work as well as using water pumps. And you have to replace them more often.
Types of Fish Tank Bubblers
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all bubbler. You have many choices when it comes to fish tank bubblers.
But there are a few constants. The constants being what every type of fish bubbler can hook up to.
An air pump sits on the outside of the tank. Connected to the air pump is airline tubing with a check valve.
The air pump pushes air through the airline tubing. The check valve stops water from flowing through the tubing. The tubing leads into the tank and connects to the bubbler.
The main types of fish tank bubblers include:
- Air stones (also known as aquarium bubblers) are weighted bubblers. They’re small and come in different shapes. These stones come in limewood or other porous materials. They work by creating tiny bubbles that diffuse oxygen into the tank. Some even include LED lights for a nice glow. There are also decorative air stones. They come in various shapes like animals or volcanoes.
- Bubble wands work a lot like air stones and they’re made of porous material as well. You use a suction cup to keep the wand inside the tank. It creates a wall of bubbles that float to the top of the tank.
- Flexible bubble walls sit in the bank of the fish tank. You can bend or twist the bubbler tube into any shape for any design you want. You can get creative. They’re made from a rubber-like material. Bubble walls have small holes all around them that releases the bubbles. They also increase water circulation and create less pressure than other bubblers.
- Sponge filters, as their name implies, are made from sponges. They provide both mechanical and biological filtration for a fish tank. The air pump pushes air through the airline tubing. This air moves through the hole in the filter. The sponge produces bubbles and they rise to the surface of the tank. These bubbles diffuse oxygen. At the same time the bubbles are rising, the sponge sucks in water. This removes fish waste and even some bad bacteria from the water.
Our Favorite Fish Tank Bubblers
- Uniclife’s volcano is made from a hand-painted resin. It’s non-toxic so it’s safe for your fish and the tank.
- It’s durable and can take a beating. It isn’t going to rust away in your tank. This air stone is going to last a while before you have to replace it.
- This air stone creates a cool volcano eruption effect when it releases bubbles. The design of the volcano is pretty cool.
- It uses a red LED light to light up your tank. Included with the LED light are an 8-foot power cord plus 3 suction cups.
- The LED light is a waterproof design so there’s no electric leakage.
- It’s made for fish tanks up to 60 gallons. There are bigger sizes for bigger tanks as well.
- You also get UL-listed power adapter and 5-foot airline tubing, but an air pump and check valve aren’t included.
- Tetra is a dependable brand.
- Tetra uses its patented dome shape. There is a suspended motor and sound-dampening chambers. This makes it one of the quietest tank air pumps out there.
- It has rubber shock mounts to cut down on vibration, which also cuts down on the vibration sounds, making it even quieter.
- There are 2 air outlets on selected pumps.
- You can download the My Aquarium app. It’ll send you reminders for when to perform maintenance on your tank. You can also use it for inventory or reminders to feed your fish.
- Airline tubing and check valve aren’t included.
- It’s made for fish tanks up to 10 gallons. There are larger sizes.
- The dimensions of the air pump are 3.9 x 2.8 x 5.5 inches.
Fish tank bubblers are a fantastic asset for most freshwater tanks. They increase oxygen for the fish and improve water circulation. The benefits of a bubbler outweigh the cost or negative effects that could come from one.