Oxygen in Live Bait Tank Water


Oxygen in water is known as dissolved oxygen or DO.

Basics Of Bait Tank Aeration   Water Aeration in Live Bait Tanks 

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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 primary source of oxygen in tanks is the atmosphere. Oxygen diffuses into the water from the air.

There are three main sources of oxygen in the natural aquatic environment:

  • Direct diffusion from the atmosphere
  • Wind and wave action
  • Photosynthesis, Photosynthesis by aquatic plants and phytoplankton is the most important.

A concentration of five parts per million (ppm) (= 5/1,000,000) or higher is recommended for optimum fish health.
Most species of fish are distressed when DO falls to 2-4 ppm.
Mortality usually occurs at concentrations less than 2 ppm.

The number of fish that die during an oxygen depletion event is determined by how low the DO gets and how long it stays down.
Usually larger fish are affected by low DO before smaller fish are.

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. 
Warm water is less capable of holding oxygen in solution than cool water. For example, water that is 90� F can only hold 7.4 ppm DO at saturation, whereas water that is 45 F can hold 11.9 ppm DO at saturation.

Warm water puts the fish in double jeopardy because at high water temperatures their metabolic rates increase, hence their physiologic demand for oxygen increases.

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 for an example which is a warm water fish can survive in water with as little as 3 ppm of oxygen, while largemouth bass require 5 to 8 ppm.

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