Basics Of Bait Tank Aeration

To understand what is really needed for proper aeration, think about your own oxygen needs If you were in a large airtight room you would be able to breathe for several hours before using up all the oxygen. If you were in an airtight closet, the oxygen would be used up a lot quicker. If you put a bag over your head the oxygen in our lungs would be used very quickly. Without adding oxygen you would suffocate. In any case you could breath indefinitely, if you had a source of outside air or oxygen.
Aerators are that outside source of oxygen for contained water.
Aerators increase the area of contact between air and water increasing  Dissolve Oxygen in the Water.

Same principle with fish:
If we put a fish in a sealed gallon jar it would not survive for long before using up all the oxygen. If we enclosed the same fish in a 50 gal tank  the oxygen would be used up slower. Without additional oxygen in either case the fish would eventually die. It would not matter about the size of the tank. If an aerator can provide enough oxygen in the water for the fish to breathe, it doesn't matter how much water surrounds the fish.

Size And Amount Of Air Bubbles

Whenever air bubbles are in contact with water, through natural or artificial means, a transfer of oxygen from the air bubbles to the water takes place until the water becomes saturated. Watch the air bubbles produced by your aerator. If they large and quickly rise to the surface they provide little aeration or oxygen transfer.

The smaller the air bubble produced the better the oxygen transfer. Smaller bubbles provide more surface area for oxygen absorption and float to the surface slower. You can obtain 10 times the oxygen absorption efficiency simply by reducing bubble size from 1/8" bubbles to 3/10".  Air bubbles as they float up through water have the ability to put oxygen into the water and also absorb CO2. When bubbles pop to the surface CO2 is released into the atmosphere. The smaller the bubble, the longer it remains in contact with the water to exchange oxygen and absorb CO2. The process of oxygen moving from an area with a high oxygen concentration to an area with a low oxygen concentration is known as diffusion and there are two basic types of Diffused Aeration Systems.

Water Temperatures

The warmer the water, the less oxygen it will hold.
Fish will deplete the oxygen quicker as the water warms up.

Oxygen Saturation Graph

The proper dissolved oxygen content must be present for fish to survive it is more important than water temperature. Use a thermometer to keep track of water temperature. Never change water temperatures over ten degrees when exchanging shad into different tanks, 5 degrees is preferred

Oxygen in Water

Oxygen in water is known as dissolved oxygen or DO. Oxygen is constantly entering and leaving water, but there is a certain amount of oxygen in water at all times.  This is because water has a natural attraction to oxygen.  When oxygen comes in contact with the surface of water, the oxygen enters the water, becoming dissolved oxygen.

The amount of attraction between oxygen and water depends on the amount of oxygen already in the water.  If there is very little oxygen in water, then the water is very attractive to oxygen.
But when water has a high concentration of DO, then the water is saturated, meaning that the water contains as much oxygen as it can hold.

Fish take in oxygen from the water through their gills.  Fish with large gills compared to their body size are have a large surface area to mass ratio,  these fish can take up enough oxygen to survive even in water with a low oxygen content. 

A fish's metabolism also helps determine the amount of oxygen which a fish needs to survive.  Fish with a high metabolism are fast moving but also require a great deal of oxygen to survive.  Fish with a slow metabolism are more sluggish and require less oxygen.

Carp and trout are examples of the two extremes of fish oxygen requirements.  Trout have a small gill area and a high metabolism, so they like moving, cooler waters where the oxygen levels are high.  Carp, in contrast, have a small gill area and a slower metabolism, so they can withstand low levels of oxygen and live in small lakes and ponds.  

Water's attractiveness to oxygen also depends on the concentration of oxygen in the air coming in contact with the water. The higher the concentration of oxygen in the air, the greater the attraction of the oxygen to the water.  

You can think of an oxygen molecule as a person who likes to live far away from other people. If this person is looking for a place to live, they will move into the area with the lowest population.  Oxygen molecules do the same thing. If the air is crowded with oxygen but the water is not, the oxygen will move into the water.  If the water is crowded with oxygen but the air is not, then the oxygen will move into the air. The greater the difference between the oxygen concentration in the air and the dissolved oxygen concentration in the water, the faster the oxygen will move into the water.
So if there is very little oxygen in the water, oxygen will dissolve into the water very quickly.

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