aquarium air stone

What Are Aquarium Air Stones? Do I Actually Need One?

An air stone is also known as an aquarium bubbler. It is one of the most important pieces of furniture in any aquarium. The basic function of an air stone is to supply dissolved air (oxygen) in the aquarium or fish tanks.

Air stones are usually made up of porous stones or lime wood. These small, inexpensive devices efficiently diffuse air in the water and eliminate the noise. They also prevent large bubbles which are a common sight in most conventional air filtration systems.

Here are our top picks for aquarium air stones:

The water in the tank needs to be circulated, and this is exactly what an air stone does. When an air stone is attached to an air pump outside the tank, it starts to produce tiny bubbles.

Within a few seconds, those tiny bubbles which are filled with oxygen will gradually fill up the tank. The bubbles produced by the air stone do not only fill the tank with oxygen but it also helps circulate the water.

When the bubbles rise towards the surface, the water near the substrate is lifted to the top. As this process keeps on repeating, the water in the tank is efficiently circulated.

Benefits of Air Stones in The Aquarium

You can tell that the water in your tank is not being circulated as it should just by looking at its surface. If you notice that the surface of the water in your fish tank is still or undisturbed, you can be sure that the water is not being circulated enough.

To have a better understanding of the benefits of the air stone, we need first to understand the benefits of water movement in the aquarium. Here are some of the benefits of water movement or circulation.

Helps in Gas Exchange.

Let’s say that the water circulation in an aquarium is just like a soft cool breeze in a small stuffy room. When the water on the tank is circulated well, the dissolved gases are exchanged rapidly. For instance, the water, along with the dissolved gases at the bottom of the tank remains the same when there is no water movement.

Furthermore, fish and other organisms in the tank produce gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrogen. These gases need to be released into the atmosphere.

Moving water carries tiny oxygen bubbles and transports those unwanted gases and transports them to the surface of the water and disposes them into the atmosphere. In addition, water movement mixes different layers of water. This can be very beneficial for the fish.

We know that the water near the bottom of the tank runs low on oxygen overtime as the fish mostly live at the bottom. Oxygen-poor water is carried towards the surface and the water at the top that is rich in oxygen is circulated.

Physical Activity.

In a small environment such as smaller aquariums, fish do not get enough room for active swimming and their movements are somewhat restricted.

However, when there is enough water circulation, they get the required amount of physical activity needed for their growth and to develop their muscles. The water circulation offers a bit of resistance and this can be really beneficial for the fish. 

Better Filtration.

As mentioned earlier, water movement helps in removing gases such as methane, nitrogen, and sulfur into the atmosphere. As more oxygen is pumped into the tank, the biological filtration becomes more effective as the water movement does not allow the toxic wastes to settle at the bottom of the tank.

Without proper water circulation, toxins, metabolic waste, mucus, and other similar organic wastes will accumulate on the corals. As a result, the reef filtration becomes harder, and the water becomes cloudy within a short amount of time.

Now that we have learned all about the water circulation, you might have already realized how important an oxygen stone for a fish tank is. But which one do you get? Here are some of our favorite stones:

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All air stones need an air pump. If you’re looking for value for money and quality, then you can’t go wrong with a Tetra Whisper. They are less than $10, they are durable, they look good in pretty much every tank and they sure do live by their name of “whisper”.

There’s nothing worse than the constant buzz of a loud aquarium accessory. Unless you’re into that kind of stuff.

Do I Need An Air Stone?

If you’re asking yourself this question, be reminded of the soft breeze and stuffy room example we mentioned above. The answer is an absolute yes, it does not matter whether you have a filter in your aquarium or not, attaching an air stone makes the water circulation much better.

Adding an air stone for fish tanks will keep the water cleaner, provide the fish with more oxygen, and it has a lot of health benefits for the aquatic life. Also, an air stone is cheap. It won’t even make a dent in your wallet.

What Are The Types of Air Stones?

Air stones are available in different shapes and sizes. Although the air stones are all designed for the same purpose, some may be better suited for a certain type of tank. In other words, not all air stones will be a perfect fit for all types of tanks. Here are the types of are air stones you can choose from.


This type of air stone is the most common one you’ll find in aquarium stores. These are available in various sizes from 1 inch up to 12 inches. This type of air stone is mostly used in labs for studies. Silica air stones are metal-free and they are less expensive. Their only downside is that they are not very durable.

Aluminum Oxide.

There isn’t a lot of difference between silica stones and aluminum oxide stones in terms of performance. When it comes to durability, aluminum oxide stones are a better option. These stones are capable of withstanding years of use and harsh cleaning. These stones are mostly used in industrial or larger ponds.

Aluminum oxide stones are not recommended for use in glass aquariums because of their rough surface. These can vibrate and scratch the glass, which will lead to the development of cracks over time.

For more information on the types of air pumps, you can visit this page, where you’ll also learn how to clean them.

How to Use Air Stones in a Fish Tank

Aquarium air stones are very easy to set up and use. Follow these 5 easy steps:

  1. Select an Appropriate Air Stone: Choose a size and shape suitable for your tank size.
  2. Attach to Air Pump: Using aquarium-safe tubing, connect the air stone to an air pump. Ensure the pump’s capacity matches your tank’s needs.
  3. Position in Tank: Submerge the air stone, placing it on the bottom of the tank.
  4. Turn On the Pump: Once connected and positioned, turn on the air pump.
  5. Monitor & Adjust: Check bubble flow. If it’s too strong or weak, adjust the air pump setting or use a flow control valve.

How Important is An Air Stone – Are They Absolutely Necessary?

If you’re concerned about the health of your fish, the answer is yes. An air stone will be very beneficial if your aquarium has a filter powered by an air pump. It will make the filter run smoothly, efficiently. And of course, it will enhance the appearance of your aquarium.

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