Terrible Advice Tuesdays: Coral/Fish Death By Air Bubble


Terrible Advice Tuesdays: Air bubbles can annoy and kill coral as well as stress out your fish.

The rest of the story: If you set up an air stone directly underneath a coral and left it there, that could annoy a coral and maybe kill it in the long run. That’s an extreme example though and why you would ever do such a thing is beyond me.

Will some random air bubbles floating around your tank annoy or kill your corals and fish? I highly, highly doubt it. I would have put them in my fish disease and quarantine guide if they were a real threat to your fish. Keep in mind some corals and fish live in the rip zone where there are crashing waves and lots of air bubbles. Some corals are even fully exposed to air during low tide.

The exception here is sponges as sponges can be killed by air bubbles getting trapped in their bodies. However, if you continually had enough air bubbles in your tank to kill a sponge, you’d likely fix the problem long before the sponge died due to the horrible look of a tank full of bubbles.

From an aesthetic standpoint, yes bubbles are annoying. From a fish or coral death standpoint, not something to lose sleep over.

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Comments for this article (6)

  • KevinJ says:

    Finally! Every once in a while I will move my powerheads up to the surface so that they suck air in. I have found that it helps to float the detritus so that it can be removed by the overflow. Detritus tends to sink add some agitation and some air, and it floats up and is taken to the filtersocks to be removed. Seems to work better if you have good bottom flow. Since I don’t use sugar sand (courser stuff for me) it doesn’t get blown around.
    Kevin J

  • MarineSniper says:

    Love those pearls of wisdom! I have a large hippo tang that loves to play with bubbles. She’ll get air at the surface, take it to the bottom of the tank, release it and then chase the bubble. One of the highlights of my experience in this hobby, watching it

  • Rick says:

    what about clams? isn’t air dangerous to them as well? (as suggested by the acclimation guide that came with my clams)

  • Lisa says:

    You also need to be careful of air bubbles when keeping seahorses. The males are prone to pouch emboli, Which can be fatal if not caught and treated. Once they do this they are prone to it happening again and again. One of my males has to have his pouch decompressed fairly often now. 🙁

  • Billy B says:

    New to salt water, wondering how many fish at I have in my tall 65gal. Tank. At one time also have 10 soft corals in tank.

  • Steve G says:

    Hi Rick. I have clams in my tank. My sump return has a small number of small bubbles and occasionally let’s of a head of steam (of bubbles). These blow past the clam and has not hurt it. I believe the small bubbles either pass through the siphon, or they get forced out when the clam “sneezes” (periodic forceful exhalation).

    I believe the concern of air with clams that you are thinking about is if the clam is transferred and is allowed out of water for more than a second or two. In this case water can drain from the clam and pull air in behind it. This results in a large air void in the clam. Some might leave once the clam opens (if it does at all). I believe Mark addressed this in the recent Monday Live Q&A on clams. He said to tip the clam back and forth (slowly) beneath the water until the air is out.

    Alternatively, if you really love your clams and your tank is big enough, you could climb in there, put the clam across your shoulder like a baby and pat it on the back until it burps! (Just kidding).

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