Why Oxygenated Air in a Fish Tank is Essential

Updated September 2018

Unlike humans fish breathe in water.

Why?  Because water is the easiest way of delivering air to them.

So do goldfish, or fish in general, breathe air?  Yes, but not directly into the lungs as mammals do (except for some tropical fish. They breathe oxygen not air.)

Gills in fish are the same as lungs in humans.

  • Gills contain a network of fine blood vessels (capillaries) that take up the oxygen and diffuse it through the membranes.
  • As water passes over the network of fine blood vessels contained within the extremely fine filaments of the gills, fish absorb the water’s oxygen content.

The Necessity of Air

All living creatures need fresh air to survive and that’s why your aquarium has to be connected to a reliable source of air to ensure the water is oxygenated regularly.

Fish get their supply of oxygen by breathing the water that’s in the aquarium.

We advise you to install an air hose because the fish will suffocate without oxygen. If no one stays in your home during the day, consider connecting the air hose to a pump so that the fish get their fresh supply of air from the pump.

air pump setup for aquarium
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Some types of fish such as the goldfish are able to jump above the water line. Normally they do this to get air. If they’re jumping like this it means they’re in a desperate situation.

Use Stones to Create Bubbles

An aquarium air stone setup can be used to reduce the impact of air bubbles because there are some types of fish that can’t withstand vigorous bubbling.

An aquarium air pump setup is useful in this situation because it lets you control the amount of air that’s supplied into the aquarium.

The amount of air needed is determined by the number of fish in your aquarium. If there’s not enough air in a highly populated fish tank, the fish will be irritated. This is similar to how we feel when inside congested rooms. It’s very uncomfortable, wouldn’t you agree?

aquarium air stone setup
air stone for your fish tank

A well oxygenated tank helps keep insects away

A lack of fresh air creates an environment for insects to prey on fish in your aquarium. However, insects (when it comes to aquariums) can only breed in stagnant water.


If you have a functioning air hose and air pump, it causes the water to move up and down. This movement creates oxygenation, as a result insects have no way to breed.

Aquariums are an important part of interior décor and create a welcoming, lively and colorful environment.


Watching fish move and the bubbles dancing around is quite amazing.

Ornaments are also available that can be installed in your fish tank that only move when there are water bubbles.


Air hoses, air stones, pumps and bubblers are important accessories for your fish tank to provide that much needed oxygen. It’s just a matter of choosing which is right for you based on the size of your tank and number of fish.


air bubbles in fish tank
air bubbler for fish tank


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