How to Get More Oxygen in a Fish Tank

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Aeration systems are a simple and attractive way to increase an aquarium's levels of oxygen.
Aeration systems are a simple and attractive way to increase an aquarium's levels of oxygen. (Image: Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Aquariums require high enough levels of dissolved oxygen (DO) for healthy fish; DO levels are determined by water temperature, salinity and atmospheric pressure. You can control water temperature and salinity, and with the addition of an aeration system, you can increase a tank's DO. Aquatic plants also increase DO, but the simplest way is to add an aeration system and monitor a tank's salinity. Avoiding overstocking your aquarium with fish and overfeeding your fish are other important steps to increasing DO.

Things You'll Need

  • Air stone
  • Aquarium hose
  • Aquarium air pump
  • Salinity meter

Attach the air stone to the aquarium hose, and then attach the aquarium hose to the air pump. You can attach a series of air stones on a single pump with a splitter and attach valves to change the pressure on each hose. Longer air hoses are great for longer tanks.

Bury the air stone in the substrate of the aquarium, and run the hose through the top of the aquarium. You can build attractive seascapes using circular air stones.

Turn on the pump; air bubbles should flow out of the substrate. If there's no activity, check the hose for kinks. Smaller bubbles that take longer to float to the surface are better for a tank's oxygen levels.

Install the salinity meter in the aquarium according to the manufacturer's directions. If you're running a freshwater tank and the salinity is higher than normal, do a water change. If it's a salt water tank, verify that the salinity is appropriate for your fish. Higher salinity levels decrease a tank's levels of dissolved oxygen.

Tips & Warnings

  • You should run your aquarium at the appropriate temperature for your fish; an aeration system alone can increase the oxygen levels of your tank.

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