Are Air Bubbles Good for Fish Tank?

Are Air Bubbles Good for Fish Tank?

Bubbles and foam in your fish tank are a call for concern, especially for novice aquarists who don’t have much fishing-keeping experience.

The good news is that most bubbles cause in a fish tank are harmless to fish, particularly in the short term. The only kind that needs closer attention is persistent forming bubbles resulting from ammonia or an excess protein film layer.

If the bubbles in your fish tank are caused by your air-driven filter, nests created by anabantids, or air stones that pop in for a short time, then your fish are safe. Bubbles that form around your fish tank every time you do a water change are also harmless and usually clear out eventually.

So, are air bubbles good for fish tank? Let’s find out!

yellow fish swimming underwater

What are the Common Causes of Bubbles and Foam in a Fish Tank?

1. Protein and Soap Dirt

If the bubbles in your fish tank are foamy or have a strange smell, they are most likely a result of protein film.

These bubbles appear when protein-dense waste coats tiny air pockets in your tank and prevents them from popping. They will often accumulate at the water surface, and it’s an indication your fish tank requires proper cleaning.

Protein foam is more common in a saltwater aquarium, though it can also appear in a freshwater fish tank.

Bubbles caused by oils or soap will foam almost the same way, and you can easily become confused. So, anytime you notice forming in your aquarium, consider the worst and take the necessary measure as soon as possible.

2. Water Change

Bubbles in your fish tank after a water change are also plenty common. They usually form due to agitation in your tank when you fill it with water. The bubbles are caused by tiny air pockets inside the water that may cling to the glass or float at the surface.

These types of bubbles are harmless to your fish and will pop in due time. If they don’t dissipate, it means the bubbles result from dirt elements in your water.

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clear glass fish tank with blue fish

3. Bubble Nest Foam

Bubble nesting fish may also be the cause of bubbles in your fish tank. Male Labyrinth fish species, including Betta fish, Paradise fish, and Gouramis, create bubble nests for their eggs to develop in. These fish live in shallow, muddy puddles with stagnant or slow-moving dirty water and low oxygen.

Since these waters are poor breading places and cannot support eggs and fry, bubble nests are the fish’ only way to reproduce, given the conditions. Bubble nests are often found under plants or debris in the fish’s natural environment. But in the aquarium, Betta seems to prefer creating them in a corner location near the surface.

4. Pearling

If you have live plants in your aquarium, you may frequently notice tiny bubbles forming on your plant (usually referred to as pearling). Pearling is part of the photosynthesis process where plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, showing that your plants are thriving.

If your tank water already has so much oxygen that it can’t hold anymore, tiny bubbles will start to form on the plant’s leaves or at the water’s surface.

Keep in mind that algae utilize photosynthesis, so they can also create these tiny bubbles. However, it’s healthy for your aquarium ecosystem.

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How to Get Rid of Bubbles in Your Fish Tank

There are various ways to get rid of unwanted bubbles from your aquarium. The easiest way is to switch from an air-powered filter to an electrical system since most of these bubbles are caused by these devices.

An electrical filter will run quietly and without causing bubbles in your aquarium. And if you have wavemakers or bubblers in your aquarium, it helps shut them down when you don’t want bubbles in your fish tank. Keep in mind that these will only work if there is enough oxygen in your tank water.

Some bubbles will result from water that has been soiled by leftover food, fish waste, fish medication, or cleaners, forming a greasy dirt scum on the water. The easiest way you can solve this problem is by changing the water in your freshwater tank or replacing your filter cartridge.

You can also use a protein skimmer, but this device only works in saltwater aquariums. 

A protein skimmer works by targeting oil films causing bubbles in your aquarium, just like a typical filter aims at specific contaminants.

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FAQs- Are Air Bubbles Good for Fish Tank

Should I Leave Bubbles in My Fish Tank?

Unless they result from dirty water, such as protein films, most bubbles are not bad in a fish tank and will not cause any harm or kill your fish. Even if they are from dirt, these bubbles are not explicitly harmful.

What is more likely to cause harm is the dirt causing the bubbles. Air pumps, bubblers, and power filter bubbles are also not unsafe. In fact, they are beneficial since they will aerate your fish tank.

Why Does My Fish Tank Have Bubbles on the Glass?

Bubbles in your aquarium mainly result from agitation in your tank when filling it with water.

These bubbles are often found on the aquarium’s glass, which can be irritating since they block the view of your fish tank. The good news is that these bubbles are harmless, and they should disappear with time.

Why is My Goldfish Fish Blowing Bubbles?

Goldfish usually blow bubbles due to respiratory distress, subsidiary to high ammonia, chlorine, and nitrates levels.

However, they may also cause bubbles as they empty their swim bladder. That allows them to sink to the bottom if aggressive tankmates frequent the water surface.

Bubbles will naturally form in a marine environment, so they are not all really bad. Even in a healthy natural river or lake, there can be bubbles that form in particular areas.

In a fish tank, it’s very common to see bubbles forming near the filtration unit or corners of the aquarium. Bear in mind that some fish tanks have air stones installed that create bubbles on purpose.

If bubbles in your fish tank are dissipating, there is no warrant for immediate attention. Most bubbles are harmless, and they don’t signify trouble.

Read: Fish without mercury list


Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services [FDACS]: Aquarium Water Quality: Dissolved Oxygen

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