Airstones Good or Bad?? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 58 (permalink) Old 03-01-2005, 03:21 PM Thread Starter
 
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Airstones Good or Bad??

I'm looking to light-to-moderately plant a 90 Gal soon to be Cichlid tank. I am going to keep the light ~2WPG. No CO2 unit.
I will be using plants that thrive in the level of lighting I will have.
My question is:
Keeping the return spray bar from the canister filter below water level, is there any benefit to my plants by adding an airstone for a bubble stream to break the surface of the water?
Thanks.
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post #2 of 58 (permalink) Old 03-01-2005, 03:35 PM
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no! an airstone will drive away any CO2 you might have in your water, leaving you with almost no CO2 at all. I would strongly reccomend CO2, if only DIY...
You will have massive algae problems without it.

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post #3 of 58 (permalink) Old 03-01-2005, 04:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thanks
no! an airstone will drive away any CO2 you might have in your water, leaving you with almost no CO2 at all. I would strongly reccomend CO2, if only DIY...
You will have massive algae problems without it.
Not really. It will maintain in-tank CO2 (and O2) levels that basically match that of the atmosphere.

I have always used the wooden Coralife air stones that produce ultra fine bubbles. I stopped for about 4 months because I didn't see any apparent benefit. During that no-stone period, my algae problems began, and my plant growth seemed sluggish. After resuming airstone use, I saw an improvement in plant growth and health, and the algae growth has been arrested -- because the extra oxygen the airstone adds to the tank is lethal to algae (and fish pathogens).

Also, a stream of small to tiny bubbles rising behind a large piece of driftwood or other object being bent, by a powerhead current, to conform to the shape of that object, is a very attractive, natural looking sight.

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post #4 of 58 (permalink) Old 03-01-2005, 04:17 PM
 
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Yeah, there's lots of natural bubble walls in amazon lakes and rivers

Personally I see no reason to run an airstone in a planted tank, UNLESS you are injecting CO2 with a very low Kh, and you run the airstone at night to prevent CO2 from building up too much.

CO2 isn't 100% necessary at 2wpg, but it will definitely have a positive effect on the plants, and will push back algae growth.
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post #5 of 58 (permalink) Old 03-01-2005, 04:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thanks
no! an airstone will drive away any CO2 you might have in your water, leaving you with almost no CO2 at all. I would strongly reccomend CO2, if only DIY...
You will have massive algae problems without it.
Completely totally 100% wrong.

If you have a covered tank, you need to maintain a dissolved oxygen level greater than 5 ppm at all times.


Quote:
Adequate dissolved oxygen is necessary for good water quality. Oxygen is a necessary element to all forms of life. Natural stream purification processes require adequate oxygen levels in order to provide for aerobic life forms. As dissolved oxygen levels in water drop below 5.0 mg/l, aquatic life is put under stress. The lower the concentration, the greater the stress. Oxygen levels that remain below 1-2 mg/l for a few hours can result in large fish kills.
I have a DO meter and I have found that running fully stocked tanks covered (even with HOB filters) results in DO levels below 5.0. In some cases even below 2.0.

I run a 42 gallon covered hex tank with two airstones pumped by a Tetratec Deep Water DW96-2 air pump, probably one of the most powerful consumer grade air pumps there is. I inject CO2 at three bubbles per second. My CO2 levels are 15-20 ppm, and my DO level is 7.5. I also have no algae problems.



From another thread:


Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinC
1. Fish load: If you have a reasonable stocking level, the fish will not over-consume the O2.
It totally depends on the fish. A tank with a few small minnows is different than a tank with a few ancistrus.



Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinC
2. Water movement: If there is adequate movement (not necessarily turbulence), water will capture dissolved oxygen from the air at the surface, and near-saturation of dissolved O2 will be achieved as it is mixed into the tank.
In order for this to happen, the tank cannot be covered. Most people keep their tanks covered. I have found that even with an opening on the back for the HOB filter, it isn't enough in a covered tank. If the tank is not covered and there is surface turbulance, the same principles of dissolved CO2 dissipation apply as they do for airstones.



Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinC
3. Temperature: At higher temperatures, less O2 can dissolve. If you are running at discus-keeping temps with a high stocking level, this may be an issue. Otherwise, the saturation level is above 10ppm.
Wrong. It is much harder to dissolve and retain oxygen in tanks heated in the lower to mid 70's as it is in a coldwater tank with no heater and temperatures in the upper 50's / lower 60's. A covered tank heated at 72F will very likely have a DO reading below 5 mg/L if not running airstones.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo
This should be observed WAY more practically since not EVERY aquarium is like yours. You may have lower the 5 mg/L O2 without running an airstone, but certainly others do not.
If their tanks are covered, I'm betting they do. They can't be sure unless they measure.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo
Almost everyday my plants pearl and I don't use airstones. Pearling means the water has reached 100% saturation of O2. Adding an airstone in my case would do nothing but remove CO2 from the water.
O2 saturation is dependent on temperature and salinity. Just because you see some bubbles on your plant leaves does not indicate with 100% certainty that your DO is at maximum saturation. You can't be sure unless you measure using a meter or test kit. If your tank is uncovered its certainly possible.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolo
O2 certainly is imporant, something I believe that doesn't recieve enough attention. O2 is for everyone, but not airstones.
If their tanks are covered and they have fish in them, I would say they are. Just my opinion.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Laith
I have never had a problem with low O2 and have very rarely lost any fish except to perhaps old age. With correct CO2 (more than 20mg/l) & fert levels the plants will *saturate* the water with O2.
How do you know you don't have low O2 unless you measure it with a test kit or meter?



Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueRam
If you are worried about O2 levels, run the air stone on the reverse schedule as the lights.
If you have low O2 levels and a covered tank, running airstones only at night isn't enough.



Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueRam
The reason I do not like bubbles is that it reminds me of a UGF system meant for filtration and current.
I agree the UGF's aren't the best, but I think it's silly not to use an airstone simply because it connotes something else.



Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueRam
Once you plug in the CO2, the plants will give you more bubbles that you could ever want.
The point of airstones is not to produce bubbles, but to create surface turbulance, "turn" the water, and establish a cushion of air above the surface of a covered tank.
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post #6 of 58 (permalink) Old 03-01-2005, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malkore
Yeah, there's lots of natural bubble walls in amazon lakes and rivers
Yes, in fact there are. Fast moving rivers and rapids produce DO in water more effectively than an air pump and bubble wall ever could. Many amazon species come from river rapids where the temperature regularly gets over 100F and the water temperature comes close to matching it. It is only the natural water movement and surface agitation that keeps the DO up in these areas.



Quote:
Originally Posted by malkore
Personally I see no reason to run an airstone in a planted tank, UNLESS you are injecting CO2 with a very low Kh, and you run the airstone at night to prevent CO2 from building up too much.
If you run a covered tank with a full fish load, running an air stone at night isn't enough.
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post #7 of 58 (permalink) Old 03-01-2005, 04:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malkore
Yeah, there's lots of natural bubble walls in amazon lakes and rivers
Small airstones do not produce bubble walls.

Underwater out-gassings are a common enough occurence, and I personally like the effect. And I know from experience that my plants do better with the stone than without.

(BTW: You forgot to mention there are not a lot of crypts, Wisteria, annubias, etc. in Amazon lakes and rivers either.)

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post #8 of 58 (permalink) Old 03-01-2005, 04:35 PM
 
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earth's atmosphere contains .033% CO2

that's about 350 PPM of C02 in regular air.

does that mean that a tank with ample airstones, or other sufficient aeration, will have 350 ppm of CO2?
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post #9 of 58 (permalink) Old 03-01-2005, 05:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Green
that's about 350 PPM of C02 in regular air.

does that mean that a tank with ample airstones, or other sufficient aeration, will have 350 ppm of CO2?
No. My remark about levels matching that of the atmosphere was misleading because I meant it more in proportion to the atmospheric level of each gas, and the water's ability to absorb them.

At 70-80 degrees, dissolved oxygen in water would be in the range of 9ppm. I am not sure what the range is for CO2 in an aerated tank. I just know it is less than CO2 injected tanks, and more than what you would have in a non-CO2 injected tank with no airstone.

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post #10 of 58 (permalink) Old 03-01-2005, 05:54 PM
 
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If you're running CO2, aerating the water with an airstone will mean that you will use a lot more CO2 to keep the CO2 concentration where you want it.

If you're not running CO2, the only issue in my mind is an esthetic one. Aside from a situation where your tank is jam packed with fish, I've never heard of air bubbles being beneficial. If your tank is jam packed with fish, then you've got more problems than esthetics anyway!

Some people love bubbles. Others hate them (and the noise), me included. Whenever I see air bubbles from an airstone in a tank I start looking for the plastic diver or the opening pearl chest, expecting them to be there as well.

But hey, if you enjoy it, great! Enjoy!

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post #11 of 58 (permalink) Old 03-01-2005, 06:20 PM Thread Starter
 
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WOW! Ask and ye shall receive info

So, trying to soak in all this info..... Airstones, if any benefit, is probably one of my lesser worries?

Secondly, I probably won't overstock the tank as it is unfair to the Cichlids.

Also, does it matter if I have eggcrate on top of my tank? Should I go back to using the glass covers that came with it?

And just to clarify....keeping at ~2WPG and no CO2 unit, the proper lighting should be fine given the proper kelvin and plant selection??

Thanks to all of you, you guys definitelty have some great info for us newbies to the planted tank.
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post #12 of 58 (permalink) Old 03-01-2005, 06:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laith
If you're running CO2, aerating the water with an airstone will mean that you will use a lot more CO2 to keep the CO2 concentration where you want it.
I can't argue you will use more, but if the tank is covered, I would argue agaist a "lot" more. It costs me $15 to fill my 20 lb tank, and I run it at 3 bubbles per second, at 6 bubbles per second it would still last well over a year. One important issue is to make sure the water return is at the top opposite end of the intake, which should be at or near the tank bottom.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Laith
I've never heard of air bubbles being beneficial
Now you have. I invite you to purchase a DO test kit or DO meter and take readings in a covered tank with fish, with and without airstone/s running.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Laith
If your tank is jam packed with fish, then you've got more problems than esthetics anyway!
I am not talking about an overstocked tank in my comments, I am talking about a fully stocked tank.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Laith
Some people love bubbles. Others hate them (and the noise), me included. Whenever I see air bubbles from an airstone in a tank I start looking for the plastic diver or the opening pearl chest, expecting them to be there as well.
That isn't the point of an airstone, the point is to increase dissolved oxygen for the tank inhabitants.



Quote:
Originally Posted by EricSilver
At 70-80 degrees, dissolved oxygen in water would be in the range of 9ppm.
8 ppm actually, and that's if there's 0 salt.
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post #13 of 58 (permalink) Old 03-01-2005, 06:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr J
I'm looking to light-to-moderately plant a 90 Gal soon to be Cichlid tank. I am going to keep the light ~2WPG. No CO2 unit.
I will be using plants that thrive in the level of lighting I will have.
My question is:
Keeping the return spray bar from the canister filter below water level, is there any benefit to my plants by adding an airstone for a bubble stream to break the surface of the water?
Thanks.
Dr J:

Which cichlids in particular do you wish to keep? There are some that might not be able to be kept with plants at all.

Moved to Tucson.
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post #14 of 58 (permalink) Old 03-01-2005, 06:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueRam
Dr J:

Which cichlids in particular do you wish to keep? There are some that might not be able to be kept with plants at all.
Most cichlids aquascape the substrate themselves, and tear out the plants when doing it. I've seen people keep them with anacharis and hornwort however.
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post #15 of 58 (permalink) Old 03-01-2005, 06:36 PM Thread Starter
 
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More than likely malawi's

I understand that plant selection with them is limited too. I know there are posts which have said there are some the fish don't like to eat, whether because of taste or whatever. I'm not 100% sure on whether it will be Malawi's or some other type. The more info I gather, the better to help me make my decision. Thanks and keep it coming.
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