If you’re setting up a goldfish tank, you’re likely wondering if they’re going to need a bubbler. How much oxygen do goldfish need? Is it necessary, or can they be happy with just a filter?
So, do goldfish need a bubbler?
Generally, goldfish will be okay without a bubbler. But, there are certain scenarios in which a bubbler may be necessary. In general they’ll be happier if you provide one. Goldfish take up a lot of space and produce a lot of waste, so any little bit of oxygen helps.
It may seem unnecessary to add oxygen to your aquarium. Fish do live in water, after all. Why would they need oxygen?
What Is A Bubbler?
A bubbler is exactly what it sounds like — a device that adds bubbles to the water. By creating bubbles, the bubbler is adding oxygen to the water column.
Usually, you will need an air pump to go along with the bubbler. The air pump is the device that creates and pushes out air, while the bubbler dispenses it. The air pump connects to the bubbler by a tube through which the air flows.
How a bubbler works can be a bit deceiving. The bubbles are not the thing providing oxygen to the tank. Rather, it is the gas exchange that occurs because of the bubbler.
The bubbles are usually generated near the bottom of the tank. They will travel to the surface where they’ll pop. When the air bubbles pop, the water exchanges carbon dioxide for more oxygen.
When Is A Bubbler Necessary?
Many times, you won’t need a bubbler for your goldfish tank. Your filter will do a good enough job of oxygenating the water. Sometimes, goldfish may even become irritated by a bubbler.
So, how do we determine whether we should add a bubbler to our tank?
How Much Oxygen Do Goldfish Need?
It’s important that your goldfish gets the proper amount of oxygen. Like us, oxygen plays a critical role in their functions. Oxygen helps with digestion, reproduction, and respiration.
If you’re worried that your goldfish isn’t getting enough oxygen, you should err on the side of caution. Adding extra air is never going to hurt your goldfish.
It’s unclear exactly how much oxygen a goldfish require. To be happy, most fish need about 5-6ppm of oxygen in the water. Anything less than 3ppm is when the fish begins to suffer.
If you don’t know how much oxygen is in the tank, you can buy a device that will read your aquarium’s oxygen levels.
Whether your tank needs a bubbler depends on the size of your tank and the water parameters.
For a healthy goldfish tank, your water parameters should look like this:
- Ammonia: 0ppm
- Nitrites: 0ppm
- Nitrates: <40ppm
- pH: 6.0-8.0
Your ammonia and nitrites should NEVER rise above “0ppm”. If they do, they can make your fish very sick, and the oxygen levels dwindle.
Colder water contains more oxygen. So, the colder the tank water temperature, the less likely you are to need a bubbler.
This doesn’t mean that you should keep your water very cold, though. Goldfish can survive in very cold water, but they thrive in temperatures between 65-72° F (18°- 22° C). This temperature will provide plenty of oxygen and keep a healthy immune system.
Avoid keeping the temperatures above 72° F (22° C). Not only will your oxygen levels be lower, but your fish’s immune system will suffer.
How Many Goldfish Are In The Tank?
Ideally, you will have at least 30 gallons for your goldfish, a bigger tank would be even better. Adding extra goldfish? You’ll need an extra 10 gallons for each extra goldfish.
If your tank is too small, or if it’s overcrowded, there won’t be enough oxygen. Goldfish produce an enormous amount of waste as it is. The more goldfish living in a too-small tank, the more ammonia will be in the water. More ammonia equals less oxygen.
Ideally, to remedy this situation, you’ll upgrade your tank. But, if this isn’t possible, you’ll need to install a bubbler.
Some filters produce low flow. Your goldfish are going to prefer a lower flow of water because they’re poor swimmers. But, it also means that the aquarium might not be getting enough oxygen.
The filter should create enough flow to cause movement across the surface of the water. If you look at the surface of your tank’s water and it’s almost stagnant, then you should add a bubbler.
Too Many Bubbles?
Although a bubbler may be necessary, be careful not to overdo it. Goldfish are slow and awkward swimmers because of their large bodies and long, flowy fins.
Having a bubbler with too high of a flow can make it difficult or impossible for your goldfish to swim.
This shouldn’t be too much of a problem though since you can turn the flow of the bubbler down.
How long can goldfish survive without air pumps?
A goldfish could survive up to 48 hours without enough oxygen. But, they will suffer permanent long-term damage. Just a few hours with low oxygen causes suffering. Your fish’s respiratory, digestive, and brain functions will begin to break down.
Still, if your tank gets enough oxygen without air pumps, then you may never need one.
How do I know if my fish have enough oxygen?
The easiest way to tell if your goldfish has enough oxygen is to know if it’s living in a healthy environment. If it’s not, it’s likely not getting enough oxygen.
There are also testing kits that you can buy that will tell you the oxygen levels in your tank.
Besides that, you can keep an eye on your goldfish and watch their behavior.
Goldfish who are lacking oxygen will rapidly flare their gills, struggling to breathe.
Goldfish are active little fish. If you notice that your fish is acting lethargic, they could be lacking oxygen.
Yet, this could also be a sign of disease, infection, or parasites as well.
Gasping For Air
When lacking oxygen, fish will frequently come to the surface, gasping for air. This is a very serious sign of oxygen deficiency, so you should act to add oxygen to their tank immediately.
How do I increase oxygen in my fish tank?
Is using a bubbler the only option? Some people don’t like using a bubbler. Or, you may feel that it’s not providing enough oxygen and is just stressing out your goldfish. Not to worry, there are other ways you can raise the oxygen levels.
Plants are one of the best things for adding oxygen to your water. They absorb CO2 from the water which allows oxygen to enter the water.
Change The Filter
If you feel that your filter is not producing enough flow, you can choose a filter that will stir up the water more.
You can also buy a HOB filter which is specifically designed to oxygenate the water. The water falls from a greater height than most filters, helping to aerate the water.
If you have a canister filter, another option is to use a spray bar. A spray bar will help to distribute the water throughout the surface of the tank.
Do A Large Water Change
Freshwater has more oxygen than dirty tank water. You can perform a 50% water change to add some oxygen to your tank. This, of course, is a temporary fix.
Keep The Gravel Clean
Dirty gravel makes the ammonia in the aquarium spike. Higher ammonia equals less oxygen in the tank. Simply use a gravel filter to clean the gravel while doing a water change.
Cut Back On Feeding
If you’re feeding your goldfish more than they can eat, the leftover food will decompose in the water. Decomposing food will wind up in the gravel and break down into ammonia.
Upgrade Your Tank
If your tank is too small, there won’t be enough oxygen in your tank. Remember that you need at least 30 gallons for a single adult goldfish. You should add an extra 10 gallons for each extra goldfish in the tank.
Bubbler And Air Pump Conclusion
Whether you need a bubbler depends on your tank. Many times, your tank will be fine as it is. Larger tanks with a large filter are usually okay without a bubbler. But, if your tank is small, dirty, or has low flow, you should add a bubbler.
The bottom line is this — watch for changes in your goldfish that may indicate they need more oxygen. Then, take steps to fix it.