How Long Should You Leave the Bubbles On in a Fish Tank?

Though not every fish tank has an air pump, these nifty gadgets have numerous benefits. They increase the oxygenation of your tank and create aesthetically pleasing bubbles in the water. However, there are several questions that come along with this tool, and one of them is for how long you can leave the bubbles on.”

You can leave the bubbles in your fish tank 24/7 – you don’t have to turn them off unless you prefer. The bubbles won’t disturb your fish. Similarly, you don’t need to turn off the bubbles from an air stone. They can function without interruption as long as you like.”

In this article, I’ll help you understand how your air pump and air stone work and explain whether you need to turn them off. I’ll also explore whether an air pump is necessary for your tank and if your fish can survive without one.

How Air Pumps and Air Stones Work

Both air pumps and air stones do essentially the same basic job – they increase the oxygen levels in your tank water.”

With an air pump, air is injected into your tank, moving and agitating the surface water. This movement is essential for your tank – and, therefore, your fish and plants – to receive oxygen. Oxygen cannot enter your tank without surface agitation, and CO2 cannot escape it, essentially suffocating your plants and fish over time.

Generally, your tank filter can perform this task perfectly well. However, your air pump is an additional tool that helps you achieve the same end. The pump increases the amount of surface agitation, which, in turn, boosts the amount of water introduced to the water in your tank.

Air stones work in tandem with an air pump. You will need a pump to operate your air stone, though the opposite isn’t true.

Using the air pumped into the tank by the air pump, an air stone will produce small oxygen bubbles. These small bubbles make it easier for the water in your tank to absorb oxygen, from where it is transferred to your fish and plants. Furthermore, the movement of the bubbles helps circulate the water in your tank, improving the tank’s filtration.”

Air movement through water not only helps to oxygenate your tank, it also creates air bubbles – and these are the bubbles you see when your air pump (and air stone) is turned on.

Turning Off Your Air Pump/Air Stone

Given that the bubbles created by an air pump/air stone are, well, air, it’s easy to see why you don’t have to turn the bubbles off unless you want to.”

Some reasons why people may decide to turn off the bubbles in their tank include:

  • The air pump is making too much noise.
  • The air pump and/or air stone has suddenly stopped working.
  • You’re worried about the electricity consumption of your air pump.
  • Your fish have gotten trapped in the air pump.

Ultimately, the choice is up to you. That said, your fish will get used to the bubbles in their tank, and unless they get stuck frequently in the pump, we recommend that you leave your air pump – and the resultant bubbles – on without interruption.

You may need to replace your air stone frequently, as they can become clogged and stop producing as many bubbles as they did when new. You can either buy a new stone to replace a clogged one or take a couple of days to rejuvenate your stone before reusing it.

Is an Air Pump Necessary for Your Tank?

Given that an air pump can provide essential oxygen for your tank, you probably think it’s a must-have for any aquarium. However, you’ll quickly realize that many tanks function just fine with an air pump and/or stone.”

This is because an air pump is not the only way to oxygenate your tank water. Depending on what type of filtration system your tank uses, you may not need to invest in an air pump at all.”

Essentially, if you have an external filtration system (such as a canister or power filter), your tank will get all the oxygen it needs through the action of this system. In such a case, an air pump is a tool that provides additional oxygenation but is not crucial to your tank.”

However, I do recommend having an air pump in your tank as much as possible. Not only does the pump provide additional oxygenation, it also serves as a good backup system in emergencies. As an added bonus, the bubbles created by the pump are a fun addition to your tank!

Final Thoughts

If you have an air pump or an air stone that produces bubbles in your tank, you do not need to turn it off to stop the bubbles. These bubbles do not harm your fish or plants and can continue indefinitely.”


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