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Why Some Fish in Aquariums Enjoy Bubbles

Why Fish Like Bubbles in Aquariums San Diego, CA

The ornamental value of aquariums goes beyond the highly aesthetic anatomy of fish. To make a fish tank the focal point of a living space, you also need plants, lighting, rocks, decorations, and an aeration system to produce oxygen and move the water column. Air pumps are standard saltwater and freshwater aquarium supplies. They promote oxygenation of the water, but not necessarily through bubbles. The oxygenation process is actually created by the motion caused by air moving through the water, and this also explains why waterfalls are well-suited for koi ponds. As long as the water column is agitated, physical oxygenation will take place. If you’ve ever wondered why some fish species enjoy bubbles, here’s why.

Why Some Fish Enjoy Bubbles

Although bubbling occurs in natural aquatic ecosystems, it’s definitely not as active as in fish tanks. In an aquarium stocked with species native to streams, a wand-like aeration stone is ideal because it reminds fish of their wild habitats. Cloud minnows come to mind in this regard. As for other species, some enjoy the bubbling action to a certain extent because they consider it to be interesting or an opportunity to play.

Aquarium Species Known to Like Bubbles

Similar to reef tanks, river aquariums are part of a special segment within the aquarium hobby. Recreating a river habitat requires a large tank and a powerful aeration system that can really move the water column near the surface, thus creating a lot of bubbles. The recommended species for this kind of tank would include Corydoras, rainbow sharks, sword tails, larger mollies, and small loaches. Angels often swim right into the stream of bubbles and become slightly disoriented. The same can be said about some bottom dwellers that allow the bubbles to take them to the surface from time to time. Some fish keepers have noticed male guppies and isolated Siamese fighting fish approach air stones. In saltwater tanks, puffer fish love to play with bubbles, and this makes sense because they’re considered to be very smart.

Some Fish Like Bubbles More Than Others

In the 2003 Pixar film Finding Nemo, the clownfish protagonist is obsessed with bubbles, but this isn’t actually a common trait among this species. The only common denominator marine biologists have discovered to explain this behavior is related to intelligence, which explains why puffers and Oscars are more playful around bubbles. Schooling fish aren’t afraid of bubbles, but they avoid them if they think it may disrupt their coordinated swimming.

Chasing Bubbles as a Warning Sign

When fish frantically chase after bubbles and constantly swim close to the surface, this is no longer playful behavior but a sign something could be wrong with the water chemistry. Such behaviors suggest low oxygen levels caused by excessive carbon dioxide in the water, and this could be a sign of an overstocked tank or ammonia levels on the rise. A partial water change should alleviate this situation, but you should also make sure the air pump is adequate for the tank. At the same time, try to keep stock levels at no more than one inch of fish per gallon of water.

In addition to having an air pump, there are several other supplies you’ll need to ensure you’re properly maintaining your aquarium. Whether you need an aquarium dosing pump, a protein skimmer, beneficial bacteria, or any other essential fish tank supply, you’re sure to find it at Aquatic Warehouse. Stop by our store in Kearny Mesa, order what you need from our website and have it shipped to you, or give us a call with any questions you might have at 858-467-9297.


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    San Diego, CA 92123
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