Are Bubblers Bad For Planted Tanks?

KimAnnKitz

Active Member
I've read that bubblers can be determental to plant growth and am curious to know if that is true.

I've had a 16 gallon tank setup since March 4. Some plants went into the tank immediately and a few others were added about a week later. The plants include Anubias Nana petite, Crypt WendtiI Bronze, a dwarf Amazon sword, Ludwigia red Rubin, dwarf jungle Val, hornwort (just added 2 days ago). The bubbler has been running since tank setup... The plants that are new and we're bought for this tank have had very little growth. From what I understand bubblers can cause Co2 to be "pushed" from the tank hindering plant growth -- or something like that. I've searched the forums and can't find any info on this.

I use liquid ferts once a week, plus root tabs. I actually lost the first Ludwigia in the tank to melt and the dwarf jungle Val died back but was sending out new growth. It's maybe 1 1\2" tall but not getting any taller. The sword has sent out 2 shoots but has only 1 small new leaf. Very little growth (root and leaf) on the Ludwigia. I have been very successful with all these plants in the past. Same ferts, root tabs and substrate. Could it be the bubbler or something else?
 

JamieXPXP

Well Known
Bubblers aren't harmful as long as it isn't too strong
 

SFGiantsGuy

Well Known
I use a bubbler, but only turn it on at night since I have injected CO2. Although if you do have an air pump that's "tailored" to a specified tank size, you can always get a valve control/device which lessens the air flow--thus, no matter what air pump "size" you have corresponding to your tank, the valve will allow you to manually adjust your overall air flow for your bubbler. Bubblers are always good: O2 flow, surface agitation, fun for the fish to swim into heh And I don't care if a bubbler were to dampen my CO2 diffusion lol
 

JamieXPXP

Well Known
I do like them as well very useful if your filter doesn't create enough agitation. I always have a hard time finding something to anchor the airstone so it doesn't go all over the place
 

SFGiantsGuy

Well Known
I have a couple of aquarium lids with bubblers. What I do is, to kill 2 birds with one stone and do the following: (if you have a lid though) Place your airline tubing under the lid. 1. This will in turn, constrict the air flow therefore making it much gentler if it's too powerful. And 2. You can trap the alrline and stone from starting to ascend/float upwards. Too easy. : )

#2 sometimes works. But usually in smaller tanks. So if not, then use a metallic plant anchor. Those work just as well.
 
OP
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KimAnnKitz

Active Member
Thanks everyone. I have mine placed on the side of the tank. I can't remember the name of it right now, but it's a neat little unit. Small, round and suctions to the tank. It didn't come with a flow adjustor and I never bothered to add one because it's not overly strong. It does have a check valve. I've also heard they can promote algae growth.
 

EbiAqua

Fishlore VIP
Airstones create water circulation which is beneficial to plants in that it helps distribute nutrients and CO2 throughout the water column. Even in my Walstad I have an airstone just so it isn't a stagnant bowl of water.
 

bitseriously

Well Known
KimAnnKitz in your OP above you used a "from what I've heard". I think what you've heard comes from the aquascaping community, where high rates of CO2 (along with high light and fert dosing) is the norm. In those setups, too much circulation, whether from filter, powerhead, or airstones, reduces CO2 in the water. That's bad for them, because a) they just put effort into getting the CO2 into the water in the first place, and b) lower CO2 = less plant growth. Also, given that light availability should always be the limiting factor for plant growth, they want to avoid CO2 being the limiting factor, as that will lead to relatively poor plant performance and algae issues.
Think of two tanks, one with CO2 and the other "au naturel" (no CO2). Or "eau naturel", LOL.
In the CO2-supplemented tank, the concentration of CO2 exceeds what's in the atmosphere (not sure if that's actually true, but it is higher than non-CO2 tanks, by a long shot). So overmixing the water causes some of the dissolved CO2 in the water to come out of solution and return to the air.
But in a tank without supplemental CO2, the amount of dissolved CO2 in the water is lower than in the atmosphere, because the plants have used it up. So mixing is good, because it increases the dissolved CO2.
Clear as mud, right?
 

DoubleDutch

Fishlore Legend
KimAnnKitz in your OP above you used a "from what I've heard". I think what you've heard comes from the aquascaping community, where high rates of CO2 (along with high light and fert dosing) is the norm. In those setups, too much circulation, whether from filter, powerhead, or airstones, reduces CO2 in the water. That's bad for them, because a) they just put effort into getting the CO2 into the water in the first place, and b) lower CO2 = less plant growth. Also, given that light availability should always be the limiting factor for plant growth, they want to avoid CO2 being the limiting factor, as that will lead to relatively poor plant performance and algae issues.
Think of two tanks, one with CO2 and the other "au naturel" (no CO2). Or "eau naturel", LOL.
In the CO2-supplemented tank, the concentration of CO2 exceeds what's in the atmosphere (not sure if that's actually true, but it is higher than non-CO2 tanks, by a long shot). So overmixing the water causes some of the dissolved CO2 in the water to come out of solution and return to the air.
But in a tank without supplemental CO2, the amount of dissolved CO2 in the water is lower than in the atmosphere, because the plants have used it up. So mixing is good, because it increases the dissolved CO2.
Clear as mud, right?
I think there is something different to it.
Plants produce CO2 at night, which normally is used again during the day.
A bubbler running at night will take care of a better gasexchange which is wanted during the day but less during the night.
So a bubbler during night will lower CO2 which can have a result during the day.
 

bitseriously

Well Known
I think there is something different to it.
Plants produce CO2 at night, which normally is used again during the day.
A bubbler running at night will take care of a better gasexchange which is wanted during the day but less during the night.
So a bubbler during night will lower CO2 which can have a result during the day.
Cool, that also makes sense. Thanks!!
 

-Mak-

Fishlore VIP
bitseriously is right about circulation reducing CO2. Circulation and surface agitation causes the gases in the water to come to equilibrium with the atmosphere. Now the atmosphere has about 400 ppm CO2, and water at equilibrium at atmospheric pressure has maybe 3-5 ppm CO2. The concentration of O2 is maybe 6-8 ppm. Exact numbers don’t matter, all that matters is agitation will push the CO2 back to equilibrium.
 
OP
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KimAnnKitz

Active Member
bitseriously is right about circulation reducing CO2. Circulation and surface agitation causes the gases in the water to come to equilibrium with the atmosphere. Now the atmosphere has about 400 ppm CO2, and water at equilibrium at atmospheric pressure has maybe 3-5 ppm CO2. The concentration of O2 is maybe 6-8 ppm. Exact numbers don’t matter, all that matters is agitation will push the CO2 back to equilibrium.

LoL...I am slightly confused now!

I plugged my bubbler back in today. My real concern was the bubbler promoting algae growth. I had terrible bba in my last 16 gallon tank. So bad in fact that I was considering breaking it down and starting over. The tank had a bad leak so it was decided for me. I do read some aquascaping stuff and watch uTube videos on the subject, so that is probably where I got that info...
 

-Mak-

Fishlore VIP
LoL...I am slightly confused now!

I plugged my bubbler back in today. My real concern was the bubbler promoting algae growth. I had terrible bba in my last 16 gallon tank. So bad in fact that I was considering breaking it down and starting over. The tank had a bad leak so it was decided for me. I do read some aquascaping stuff and watch uTube videos on the subject, so that is probably where I got that info...
Well the bubbler will push CO2 out of the water, decreasing plant growth and CO2 stability, which is a cause of BBA and algae
 

Brannor

Active Member
Ok... so in a planted tank with no CO2 injection... do you have the airstone on all day? Only at night? Only in the day? Which is better for the plants and worse for the algae?

-G
 
OP
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KimAnnKitz

Active Member
Well the bubbler will push CO2 out of the water, decreasing plant growth and CO2 stability, which is a cause of BBA and algae

This is what I have read and what I wanted to know short and sweet. I guess I unplug the bubbler again. I am having slow plant growth and the beginning of black beard algae.
 

DoubleDutch

Fishlore Legend
If you run a bubbler only do so during the day (or if CO2 injection is used and continues during the night)
 

Thunder_o_b

Fishlore Legend
This is interesting. I run bubblers 24/7 in all our aquarium and my plants grow very well.

Actually the crypts grow too well.
 

DoubleDutch

Fishlore Legend
Crypts will grow in motoroil hahaha.
This is interesting. I run bubblers 24/7 in all our aquarium and my plants grow very well.

Actually the crypts grow too well.

Using excel ?
This is interesting. I run bubblers 24/7 in all our aquarium and my plants grow very well.

Actually the crypts grow too well.
 

goldface

Fishlore VIP
I think we artificially inject more CO2 into aquariums than what’s actual possible or realistic in nature. I don’t know, just a thought.
 

DoubleDutch

Fishlore Legend
That's the thought about it !
I think we artificially inject more CO2 than what’s possible in nature. I don’t know, just a thought.
 

-Mak-

Fishlore VIP
We definitely do. OP, if you’re not injecting CO2 the bubbler will make little difference, because likely the CO2 in the water is already at normal levels. The only low tech tanks that have slightly higher CO2 levels are walstad tanks, which get it from decomposing soil.
 
OP
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KimAnnKitz

Active Member
We definitely do. OP, if you’re not injecting CO2 the bubbler will make little difference, because likely the CO2 in the water is already at normal levels. The only low tech tanks that have slightly higher CO2 levels are walstad tanks, which get it from decomposing soil.

I'm not injecting CO2... I try to remember to use Excel every day or at least every other day, but I mostly forget. My main concern is bba. I ran this light on another 16 gallon tank and the bba and other algae got totally out of control. I don't want anything in the tank that may contribute to bba. I set up the tank on March 4 and am already seeing bba. My profile pic is a pretty bad pic of this tank...
 

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