Where to Place Air Stone in Aquarium, Why it’s Crucial?

You may wonder how fish breathe under oceans, rivers, and ponds because they need oxygen for survival just like we do!

Actually, fishes under those places can breathe because of a natural process called “surface agitation” which ensures “gas exchange”; taking oxygen in and reducing carbon dioxide out of the water.

But in the aquarium, where there is no flow of water (surface agitation), we need to ensure surface agitation by using devices like air stones.

An air stone is a type of air bubbler that uses an “air pump” connected with an “airline tube” to generate bubbles inside an aquarium. So, it becomes highly important to place them in the right place in your aquarium.

However, if you don’t know where to place air stone in aquarium, here we will clarify it.

Where to Place Air Stone In Aquarium?

In most cases, you will need to place your air stone at the center bottom of the aquarium to ensure equal surface agitation and proper gas exchange. But the position requirements may vary based on different sizes of the tank and the amount of oxygen you need.

Where to Place Air Stone in Aquarium, Why it’s Crucial

Like, If you have a small aquarium, with a capacity of less than or around 15 gallons of water, placing one air stone at the center bottom would be fine.

But if you have a big-size aquarium, with over 15/20 or even more than 50 gallons of capacity, and you want to have more fish inside, then you may need to place two air stones at the two bottom corners of the tank or a big air stone at the center bottom.

Also, placing an air stone depends on how much oxygen it requires. If you use natural plants, they will also consume a little amount of oxygen at night or when the light above it goes off.

So, if you use natural plants, you will have to place your air stone at the bottom and near those plants so that they can function properly while tree respiration.

While Placing Your Air Stone, What Other Factors Should You Consider?

Here are some facts that you should know before you place your air stone:

A crucial fact that comes here is the size of the air stone, if you get one big size air stone at one corner at the bottom of your aquarium, it will ensure the required surface agitation for your tank.

However, you will have to make sure that you are not attempting too much surface agitation because too much movement on the water can disturb the fish inside.

For that, you can use an airline control valve to only allow a healthy level of oxygen that your aquarium needs.

And you can check your aquarium’s oxygen level regularly and maintain a healthy rate of surface agitation with an average oxygen rate that your aquarium fish need.

According to Aboutfishtank, on average, fish require between 200 to 500 milligrams of oxygen in an hour per kilogram of body weight.

On the other hand, FishLab says there are some facts that help us to predict-

  • Water Temperature: If your aquarium’s water temperature goes up, your fish inside will feel suffocated. So, you will need to check the water temperature and if you see the temperature is high then you should increase the surface agitation.
  • Salinity: Simply explained, salinity refers to how much salt has been dissolved in the water. And more salinity means more oxygen your fish will need. You can easily check your water’s salinity with a refractometer.

So, after checking all the parameters of your aquarium, you can simply predict an average consumption of oxygen and get one or two air stones and place them center bottom or the bottom corner of your aquarium to ensure proper surface agitation.

What if I Do Not Place an Air Stone in The Right Place?

Placing the air stone in the right place in your aquarium is crucial for a few reasons, and if you do not place your air stone in the right place, the following thing may happen:

1. There Will Be Less “Surface Agitation” Than Required

We often neglect the importance of Surface agitation whereas proper agitation of the water surface is highly important in an aquarium to ensure a healthy level of gas exchange.

There Will Be Less “Surface Agitation” Than Required If I do not Place An Air Stone in the Right Place

And placing the air stone in the right place comes next to it. Because it plays the role of ensuring surface agitation,

That’s why even if the overall size of your aquarium remains the same, as you move the surface water through an air stone, the surface layer of water gets in touch with the air which is continually changing.

This ensures gas exchange, which accelerates the rate of oxygen (O2) continuously dissolves in water, and carbon dioxide (CO2) goes out of the aquarium.

So, if you do not place your air stone in the right place then it will not be able to agitate the full surface of your aquarium water, which will not promote a healthy amount of gas exchange.

That’s why you will have to calculate and then find out how much oxygen your aquarium needs and then set up the air stone accordingly.

2. A layer of Oil Slick Will‌ Form on the Water Surface

You may know that if there is no flow or movement happens in the water, a kind of oily layer forms on the surface which can increase the temperature of the water.

In other words, if you do not place the airstone in the right place, it doesn’t ensure the proper amount of surface agitation, and if the surface agitation doesn’t occur, a slick layer of oil will form on the surface, increasing water temperature.

A layer of Oil Slick Will‌ Form on the Water Surface If I do not Place An Air Stone in the Right Place

And if the temperature goes up inside your aquarium, it will not become habitable for your fish inside.

So, to not promote the layer of oil on the surface, you should ensure healthy surface agitation and placing an air stone in the right place can make it happen.

3. Consequently, Your Fish May Die

Placing your air stone in the right place is also important for reducing or maintaining a stable balance of carbon dioxide in the aquarium.

Because, if the surface of the water does not being agitated by an air stone, it will not be able to promote gas exchange and decrease the amount of carbon dioxide in an aquarium.

That is why, if you do not place your air stone correctly, the amount of carbon dioxide in your aquarium will increase to a deficiency of gas exchange, causing your fish to be unable to breathe properly, resulting in their death.

Well, these are the reason that makes it highly important to place an air stone in the right place of an aquarium so that it can ensure proper surface agitation and exchange of gas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have more questions about the placement of air stones in your aquarium? Go through the following FAQ section and get answers to most of your queries.

Which Air Stone Size Should I Need to Use In My Aquarium?

The ideal size of an air stone for your aquarium will only depend on how much air bubbles the surface needs to ensure proper gas exchange. Though we don’t have much data on that, the bigger the size of your aquarium, the bigger the air stone will require.

Can I Place An Air Stone Near The Water Surface?

Yes, you can place your air stone near the water surface or only when your fish are small and may get bothered by excessive surface agitation. But if this is not the case, you should always place your air stone at the center bottom or at the bottom corner.

How Can I Identify If The Oxygen In My Fish Tank Is Too High?

Too many bubbles fleeing the surface is a symptom of increasing dissolved oxygen levels in an aquarium. Fish may also exhibit irregular swim activity, mouth wide open breathing, overeating, or drowsiness. It can be harmful to the fish’s well-being if left unchecked for too long.

Final Words

Yes, for such a locked place like an aquarium, ensuring surface agitation by an air stone is important for the fish inside, and placing it correctly becomes also important.

In this discussion, I tried to clarify where to place an air stone in an aquarium so that you can ensure a habitable place for your fish inside.

However, you should place your air stone at the center bottom or at the corner bottom area of your aquarium, but it will highly depend on your aquarium’s size and the amount of fish you have.

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