The Science Of Bubbles.
In most cases, people think bubbles are great for aesthetics and really not much more. In fact, they provide numerous benefits to the fish, bacteria, plants, and water. When you have a bubble stone, it releases thousands or more tiny bubbles about the size of a germ. These microscopic bubbles provide the aquarium with oxygen and carbon, which are the primary gasses in the earth’s atmosphere. While fish live under water, they do still need oxygen. Their gills are designed to take the oxygen in the water; most fish can actually split hydrogen and oxygen molecules that make up water. With increasing the oxygen of the water, you can prolong the fish’s life and keep it healthier.
The carbon dioxide in the tiny bubbles are great for the plants. (In fact, for smaller tanks, a carbon system can be a bit of an overkill, an air pump with bubble stones are ideal). The plants then take that carbon and turn it into oxygen, which, of course, helps the fish even more. Not only are you doing your fish a favor by introducing bubbles, but you are also doing yourself a favor. How many of you enjoy scrubbing the sides of your tank for 2 or more hours, only to have the algae come back? In tanks that have a higher oxygen content, algae is less likely or will never grow in. Algae likes water that is still and full of carbon or other toxic gases.
The big bubbles that you can see are like helicopters, the bacteria that lives in your gravel will very likely get trapped in one of those bubbles and will be shot up just above the water line of the tank before making it’s way back down. Why would this matter? Well, the entire tank is essentially a playground for bacteria. There is bacteria in the gravel, bacteria in the filter, bacteria in the water, bacteria in the air above the water, bacteria in the fish and even plants. Before you get the Lysol, make a note that most of this bacteria is healthy. Keep in mind, clear water has no life. The bacteria in the air above the water create most of the chemical balances in the water. Having bubbles and letting the bacteria in the gravel circulate to the top and back down to the bottom makes it easier for all the bacteria to balance themselves out. Keep in mind the bacteria are living organisms also and require some amount of oxygen or carbon a swell as fish.
My final analysis of Bubbles is that they will provide your tank with extra water circulation, which is always helps clean up the tank. I have also found bubbles to help break down excess food.
So now that you have a scientific analysis of bubbles, what should you consider before getting an air pump? You might want to think of a way to maximize the affects of the bubbles on the tank. The best way is to have two bubble stones. For maximum benefit, you can put one of those bubble stones in front of the filter where the water is pouring in. This will increase the micro-bubbles a little more and you’ll even see many little bubbles floating around the entire tank. Another good way, but not as effective, is to have the bubble stones on opposite ends of the tank. How ever you decide to do it, with bubble, you’ll have a healthy tank from the molecular level up.
Photo credit Kasey