Forever Blowing Bubbles – the Importance of Aeration
By Cerianwen Ball
Have you ever lay in the bath fully submerged holding your breath, before slowly let out a breath to allow the bubbles to rise. Next time you do watch what it does to the surface of the water above you.
Bubbles or rather air plays an important part in the environment of a fish tank. Unlike us fish are fully submerged in water every day of its life, but they still need air to survive.
Just as we breathe in air through our nostril and mouth, and so do fish. Fish pull in water through their gills extracting the air. Now we all know that there is oxygen in water but if we imagine being in an airtight room with only limited amounts of breathable oxygen, pretty soon the supply will run out and we will soon be unable to breath.
Now imagine that you are breathing in a toxic gas that has been introduced into your air supply, wouldnâ€™t we get quickly sick if we were to breathe in too much?
As a fish breathes in the water through its gills so too must it pass that water along with carbon dioxide back into the environment in which it lives through the excretory tracts. In the natural environment the area is vast with moving currents that naturally cycle the water and dilute those toxic wastes.
The movement of water across the surface absorbs oxygen from the atmosphere; the more turbulent the movement the more oxygen is absorbed. In natural habitat waterfalls, rocks, rainfall etc create a fast movement of water and the fish adapt to these conditions. As an aquarist our job is to recreate that process as effectively as possible. This will also circulate and dilute the toxic waste from fish excretion, rotting food and dead plants providing a safe environment for our fish to live in.
Aeration then is a great factor in providing both a safe environment for our fish and can add drama and more viewing pleasure to the keen aquarist.
Use your imagination.
Make the aeration process fun for the fish and yourself. Remember that part of setting up an aquarium is for your enjoyment as well as for the fish. Make a feature from your aeration system one that will keep your fish healthy and occupied, you entertained and wow any visitors to your home.
There are plenty of aeration tools on the market and most are very cheap, plastic piping comes in various lengths and diameter so that a varied effect can be achieved. Novelty decorations can be bought in the forms of divers, treasure chest with moving parts and other such decorations that add a little of your personality into the aquarium. To have a more natural effect why not choose an odd shaped or interesting stone, hollow log or ceramic vase or plant pot, insert a length of plastic tubing so that the outlet faces in the direction you wish the bubbles to appear and plug the inlet into your pump, a beautiful cascade of bubbles will be a real eye catcher, and the fish enjoy the benefits of the extra oxygen created. A curtain of bubbles from a long length of tubing with tiny holes pierced along the top can add a dramatic special effect and can also create a boundary within the tank between species of fish as some fish do not like to cross through the curtain.
Always ensure you buy the biggest tank you can afford and when using aeration pumps buy for at least the size of tank you have, too little power results in the pump being unable to push the air through the tubing. Always refer to your fish stockist for specific requirements as different fish species tolerate higher water turbulence that others.
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