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The Art of Goldfish
B. G. Rand

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B. G. Rand

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10 Steps to Easy
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B. G. Rand

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Golden Goldfish Rules
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B. G. Rand

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STEP 6: Oxygenating Water

Oxygenating Water


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  • How is goldfish tank water oxygenated?

The higher the oxygen levels in your tank or pond water, the healthier the fish. Goldfish and beneficial bacteria alike thrive in heavily oxygenated water. Bad bacteria cannot tolerate these conditions. 

There are a few ways to oxygenate water; creating waves or action at the surface; diffusion from the air or atmosphere and photosynthesis; oxygen produced from light on plants. Plants assist in the production of oxygen in the presence of light, and also absorb carbon dioxide, but when the lights go off; the plants cease to produce oxygen and release the carbon dioxide they've absorbed, but no matter how oxygen enters the water, there must be space in the body of water before oxygen can enter

Is your goldfish getting enough action?

There are a few things that can and will take up this valuable space, pushing oxygen out. First and foremost on the list is carbon dioxide, a harmless gas created from the waste being produced. Another gas that fills the body of water is supersaturated gases which are created from water pressure found in tap water

Oxygenating water

There are two types of prominent gases found in a goldfish tank or pond. Carbon dioxide; created from waste and supersaturated gases (concentrated amounts of oxygen) found in tap water. These gases take up space in the water; keeping oxygen from entering. Green water algae is free floating and takes up valuable space in the water, but you will not see this type of algae in water that is moving. Water action forces algae on to substrate, clearing the body of water. A bacteria bloom or cloud also takes up space in water, and is most commonly seen in water that is has little or no action

Because we know oxygen is absorbed from the surface, aquariums are more at risk for decreased oxygen levels than ponds because the surface is small compared to the body of water

Carbon dioxide (and other types of gases in trace amount) is created from waste which goldfish produce in great amounts. Since waste sits on the bottom, this is also where you'll find Co2

  • Can bubble wands be used for aerating water?

It is a myth that bubble wands oxygenate the water; they create little surface action, making little contribution. This piece of equipment releases air bubbles into the water that shoot to the surface and pop, releasing the oxygen back into the air. Imagine the surface of your tank as a wall; a bubble wand, two, even three wands is very much like knocking a hole or two in the wall, but the entire wall must come down in order for the goldfish to breathe. Goldfish absorb oxygen from the water and should discouraged from taking in air. This may cause the fish to blow bubbles through its gills or mouth which may reduce oxygen intake, and eventually suffocate the fish. This may also disrupt the gas exchange from the intestinal tract to the swim bladder organ; creating digestive and swimming disorders

  • How much surface action is needed?

Here's an example of proper surface action
provided by Shadow

  Although surface action is all important, if
  the water is deep, it's just as important to pull
  tank or pond water from the bottom to the
  top so the gases commonly found in tank or
  pond water can be expelled, freeing the body
  of water. Carbon dioxide is created from
  waste which goldfish produce in great
  amounts. Since waste sits on the bottom, this
  is also where you'll find Co2


The greater the action, the freer the body of water. Only a real pond pump can provide the action necessary for clearing a body of water, whether in a pond or aquarium. Pond pumps pull water from the bottom, and then shoot it to the surface in a jet stream. As the water hits the air above the surface, the gases are expelled

Goldfish that have been deprived of oxygen exhibit the following symptoms; gasping at surface, gasping and over working gills and mouth; redness around the gills; pop eye; bulging eye

You might notice that some of these are the same symptoms associated with a pH crash, and that is because when these levels are low there is little oxygen in the water. Carbonate (KH) minerals give water the ability to support oxygen. Raising KH also raises pH being a measurement of oxygen and carbonate minerals combined, but tread lightly, too high of KH levels can burn fish. Test KH first and raise to the high end of the comfort zone for optimum results; 120 ppm. If pH is still low, oxygen levels are low, this means the water motion needs improving

Use Oop Boost to increase oxygen levels
Use pH Boost to increase KH and oxygen levels combined, making for a healthy pH

pH is a combined reading of carbonate mineral (KH) and oxygen levels

The position of your goldfish in your tank or pond will tell you how good your oxygen levels are. If you see your fish resting or grazing comfortably closer to the bottom; oxygen levels are comfortable too. If you see your fish hanging out at the halfway mark most of the time, this indicates that the bottom of the tank has little oxygen. The closer your fish hang towards the surface, the less oxygen in your tank or pond water

Oxygenating water

You can oxygenate your fish house water manually by pushing a pitcher deep to the bottom; fill and pour back in; refill and repeat. This action eliminates Co2

Oxygenated water encourages consistent pH levels, encourages friendly bacteria colonies, and discourages unfriendly bacteria. Surface action is the key to excellent goldfish health
pH; Potential of Hydrogen

To eliminate supersaturated gases found in tap water; increase surface action; work the fresh water over before adding to the tank by pouring it over and over again. Agitate the water as much as possible before adding to fish tank. Hold your container high over the fresh water bucket; forcing it to hit hard Bubble Disease

The deeper the water, the greater the action needed to clear the water from gases. Shallow water that has a larger surface area is easier to oxygenate than deep water with little surface area

Cloudy Water

All the surface action in the world will not oxygenate your water if your goldfish tank is enclosed with a solid top or lid; carbon dioxide will be expelled from the water, and then become trapped between the surface and the lid before being absorbed back into the water. Remove any solid cover from your goldfish tank, exposing the surface to fresh air. Leave your tank open or replace with a screen. In other words, flip your lid

Oxygenating water

When the top of an aquarium is open, the water table is normally lowered to reduce the risk of injury to the goldfish, but if the surface is agitated and rolling, reducing the water table is a must. This gap may provide a perfect spot for carbon dioxide (a heavy gas) to rest, blocking the surface from fresh air, so keeping the room filled with fresh air. Creating some air movement assures these gases are pulled or pushed away from the water, so oxygen can be absorbed from the air into the water. Open a window, install a ceiling fan or a fan of any type of fan will do. Some goldfish keepers clip tiny computer fans to the top of their tanks

Goldfish use less oxygen in colder water temperatures. During warmer summer months, make sure your tank or pond water is heavily oxygenated. The key to good goldfish health is colder and heavily oxygenated water

Step 7: Filters and Pumps


Author: Brenda Rand

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