Post by rainbowfish on Feb 6, 2019 18:02:34 GMT -6
Who can forget the one and only song from immortal Don Ho.?
Tiny bubbles, makes me ill,
Total destruction, in my gills,
Tiny bubbles, makes me sick all over,
With a feeling that I’m leaving
Your little stinking fish tank behind.
Ok, yeah he’s probably turning over in his grave on that one. (If you want to hum along and get this ear worm see
It was a bad song to begin with but the tiny bubbles we can add to our fish tanks in the winter can be deadly.
A recent discussion on the MASI Facebook discussions page talked about some of the problems an aquarist can have when the weather gets cold and our water supply gets down right chilly. You see cold water holds more gas than warm water. So the water in your pipes once it hits the warm house is going to lose some of those gases. And the water heated up in your hot water tank is now going to be under a bit of pressure and will release that gas even quicker. Turn on your hot water and let it get good and hot and then fill a tall clear glass. You’ll notice that the water is almost grey from all of the cloudy tiny micro bubbles that are bursting out of the water. If you let this set for a few more minutes you’ll see bigger bubbles all over the sides of the glass. The problem is that if you go and pour that water directly into your warm tank that dissolved gas may not come out of solution until AFTER it passes through the gills of your fish and into their bloodstream. Yes it’s like the divers bends so it can be I would imagine very painful for the fish. The gas once inside the fish can pop up in between the fin rays, eyes and elsewhere.
For years I really didn’t worry about “Gas Bubble Disease” as I would age my water in barrels usually for several hours with a hang on back type filter churning and splashing the water into the barrel. This turns out to be a great way, to remove that excess gas. I really didn’t give it any thought though. But several years ago when I was in Detroit giving a talk in the winter time I was reminded by the great Jim Langhammer that you do have to be careful, that “gas bubble disease” or whatever you want to call it is real. He would routinely age his water for a day before using it. Remember in Michigan the water comes out of the cold tap almost in icicle form anyway in wintertime. A recent check of our cold water supply yielded a temperature of 46 degrees F (8C) so way colder than the average 80 degree aquarium. I switched to just having a pond pump circulate the water in my barrels so now it does take an hour or two to help remove those bubbles. If you put water into your aquarium and still see a lot of bubbles forming on the glass you should probably wait a while longer to ensure that it degasses further. You can also add an airstone which helps turn over the water and allows the excess gasses to escape.
The photo shows a good example of this where one container has hot water that was degassed with an airstone in it for 10 minutes and the other fresh out of the tap. The hot water out of the tap produced lots of bubbles on the sides of the container where there were almost none on the aerated, bubbled hot water.
You really can’t solve this problem by just using cold water and pouring that into your aquarium. That cold water has just as much air in it as the hot water. It’s just that the hot water can’t hold on to it once it’s not under pressure. Adding really cold water to your tropical fish tank isn’t the smartest thing to do anyway. If you mix in hot water with your cold tap water both sources of water will be spitting out their gasses quite quickly. Now I know that there are more than a few people that are going to claim that they’ve done this for years when the water was really cold and nothing happened to their fish. Sometimes it’s not as extreme as to cause immediate deaths but it does cause a lot of stress in the fish. As several of the articles below point out fish often end up coming down with other diseases because of this stress. Bottom line, in cold weather, put it in a container, aerate it, degas before using. Do this and you can keep your fish from singing the “tiny bubble song”!
Answers from the Toledo Zoo www.advancedaquarist.com/2014/8/fish
Captions for picture 1 – Two curmudgeons with over 100 years of science AND fishkeeping experience between them. Just a reminder that Jim Langhammer (on left) was one of the founding fathers of the ALA (American Livebearer Association) and that their convention is coming up May 24th-26th 2019. For further information see
Picture #2 – on left hot water right out of the tap. On the right hot water that had an air stone vigorously bubbled thru it for 10 minutes.