Can Air Stones Stress, Bother or Kill Fish?

Many tank owners are aware; they do need to make sure there is oxygen in the water of their aquarium. In the process of putting together their tank, they may purchase a good water filter, which helps to aerate the water as it cleans.

However, they may wish to add an air stone to increase the amount of dissolved oxygen. In instances like this, they may wonder.

Can air stones, stress, bother or kill fish? Once you add an air stone to your aquarium, they most likely will never kill your fish. It is nearly impossible to have too much oxygen from a regular air stone. Stress and bother can be something your fish experience, yet it does depend on the types of fish and the size of the tank.

We will look at all you need to know about adding air stones to your aquarium, and if they can stress your fish, and if you need an air stone at all.

What is Gas Bubble Disease?

It will be a rare case for regular aquarium owners for their fish to suffer from this. Gas Bubble Disease is when there is higher than usual gas levels in the fish’s blood. For this to occur, the aquarium water has to be super-saturated with gas.

Many tank owners may hear of this disease, but it doesn’t occur from using air stones. Nitrogen is the primary culprit and then followed by carbon dioxide. Once it happens, you can see gas bubbles begin to form around the eyes, fins and gills of your fish.

If there is any extensive tissue damage, then it could result in the death of your fish. Common causes for this are from rapid swings in temperature. Fish are cold-blooded, and as a result, their body temperature depends on their surroundings.

If there is a sharp rise in water temperature, like when an aquarium is heating up, these gases can be released and trapped in the water, and thus finding their way into your fish.

Does My Tank Need an Aquarium Bubbler?

Air stones are the same as air bubblers. They perform the same duties, but have a different design, and can deliver various sizes of bubbles.

As a rule, the smaller the bubbles the better it is for your tank. You also find it is these bubble sizes, which may cause the issues, you are thinking. In a simple form, your air bubbler can be your filter. If the water flows and breaks the surface, it will be adding oxygen into the water.

An air stone sits under the water, and with the use of an air pump, it will feed air through the porous materials to create these bubbles.

Many tanks use these as a means of stimulating the water, this then aerates the entire tank rather than having dead zones where there is little dissolved oxygen. You could find this happening if your filter is toward one end of the tank and the other end of the aquarium is stationary.

If you have this scenario, you can begin to see algae growth, and adding an air stone can be just the thing to help keep this at bay.

Can Oxygen Levels Bother My Fish?

When you find fish are bothered and become stressed from using an air stone. There are a couple of things, which lead to this.

If your air stone or bubbler is creating large bubbles, it can be disturbing the water too much. Depending on the types and size of the fish you have, this is where you can face a stress problem. Smaller fish may find it exhausting to swim against stronger currents.

In addition to this, you can find this issue if you have an air stone inside a smaller tank. If there is nowhere for your fish to escape from a stream of bubbles, they will be continually struggling and getting nowhere.

If you are at the stage of pondering over adding an air stone, it can be hard to know if your fish lack oxygen. This again will be tank size in relation to your filter.

Fish that gather at the surface are in most cases trying to breathe, and depending on the flow of water from your filter; they will try to gather in that area because the water contains sufficient oxygen.

It is the lack of oxygen, which is more cause for concern, or more importantly, the circulation your air stone is creating. Bettas prefer calmer waters, while other fish relish this increased movement.

How Much Oxygen Do Fish Require?

There is no easy answer to how much oxygen needs to be in the water for fish. Many aquarium owners can do without air stones altogether. By adding plants, and a good water filter that breaks surface tension can be sufficient.

The fish type also needs consideration. We can see that small fish may stress or bother about too much water disruption. On the other end, you have Goldfish who are efficient at extracting oxygen from the water through their tissues.

In general, larger fish need more oxygen than smaller fish, as do faster swimmers. Fry need more oxygen than their parents do, and all fish require more oxygen once they have eaten.

Another thing not to forget is that warmer water holds less oxygen than water that is cooler. You may have fish in a tank that has colder water, and do stress over the flow of bubbles, yet if they were in warmer water, then they may not stress to the same degree.

Are Air Stones Necessary?

Instead of worrying if, you can harm your fish with an air stone. You can think if you need an air stone at all. Like anything, there is a place for everything, your aquarium may have enough dissolved oxygen, and an air stone serves little purpose.

You will find that hang-on-back filters are one kind that can eliminate the need for an air stone. As the water flows from the filter, it is increasing the water’s surface, and each drop is dragging oxygen into the water.

If you have a large tank, and you are worried about oxygen levels on the far end, you can add a second filter rather than air stones. In the end, it is as much personal choice as it is a requirement whether to have an air stone or not.

In most cases, an air stone won’t upset or kill your fish, and in an equal amount, they won’t suffer without one.

They do serve their purpose, and all you have to do is make sure you place them in the right areas. They will stir the water and add oxygen to the furthest parts of your aquarium from your filter. Besides, they can be the ideal thing to keep your fish alive should your filter stop working .

Related Questions

Why Would I Need an Air stone? Fish need oxygen to breathe, and the levels do need to be adequate. If your tank is overstocked, then levels will drop and fish can drown through a lack of oxygen.

When should I use an air stone? Use air stones when you filter can’t cope with aerating the water to sufficient levels. On occasion, tank owners use them purely for decoration.

Why is my air stone only producing one stream? You can find new air stones blocked with dust and debris. A new one needs soaking thoroughly before use. In many cases, this is enough to free the dirt.

Author Profile

Adam Edwards
Hi, my name is Adam and I'm an aquarium enthusiast! I didn't discover the joys of being an 'aquarium fanatic' (as some of my friends call me!) until I was in my 20's. When I first started out I found it difficult to find all the information I needed so I started this website to compile all the useful information I can think of. Enjoy!