best air stone for aquarium

Best Air Stone for Aquarium Options (Buyer’s Guide)

Using an air stone for your aquarium has many benefits. Air stones can help oxygenate your aquarium and improve water circulation. Both of these benefits make your aquarium a healthier place to be for your fish and plants. Not to mention, bubbles are fun. Finding the best air stone for aquarium options is an important part of tank ownership.

In this guide, we’ll explore everything about aquarium airstones, including their purpose, how to find the best airstone for aquarium options, and what to look for when making a purchase. We’ll also work through reviews for the best aquarium air stones on the market today.

Recommended Best Air Stone for Aquarium Options:

What is the best aquarium air stone? 

We love the hygger Aquarium Air Stone as our pick for the best air stone for aquarium option. This option releases small, dense, uniform bubbles, which improves the rate of oxygen dissolving in your tank water. It is also weighted so it sits on the bottom of your tank easily, with no need for a suction cup. Your fish also won’t be able to push it around.  It is also a durable option compared to most air stones and last two to three years if properly cleaned. It does require larger tubing than standard airline tubing so be prepared for that.

hygger Aquarium Air Stone, Fish Tank Bubbler, Round Stone Disk, Small Bubbles
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    What is the purpose of an aquarium air stone? 

    Air stones don’t make bubbles for fun. Aquarium air stones, also known as bubble stones and fish tank aerators, increase the water circulation and amount of oxygen (O2) in your tank. More oxygen means healthier aquarium plants, fish, and invertebrates. By keeping oxygen more readily available in your tank, your aquatic creatures are also less likely to be stressed. Less stress means less chance of illness.

    One other thing to consider – without proper water circulation, oxygen might be super concentrated in one area of the tank, and depleted in another area of the tank. This is known as a dead zone. Dead zones can cause your fish and plants a lot of stress and trigger algae outbreaks. Making sure there is sufficient oxygen that is well circulated is the best way to avoid dead zones.

    How do aquarium air stones work?

    Air stones generate tiny bubbles when attached to an electrical air pump. As the bubbles float to the surface, the oxygen inside them diffuses into the water, where it becomes a useable form by your aquatic plants and animals.

    Because of their movement, the bubbles also create mild currents that help circulate your water, reducing the likelihood of oxygen-free dead zones.

    The benefits of using an airstone in your aquarium

    Are airstones required for your aquarium? The short answer is no. But if you add one to your tank, will it be beneficial? Absolutely yes!

    aquarium with air stone bubble wand

    The benefits of using an air stone in your aquarium include:

    • Increased water circulation 
    • Increased oxygen levels in the water
    • Bubbles are fun

    If you choose to install an air stone, we always recommend using an aquarium check valve on your airline tubing between your air stone and air pump. This will prevent a situation where water backflows into your pump. If backflow occurs, it can easily ruin the pump when the pump is unplugged (or the power goes out).

    Types Of Air Stones And Bubble Devices For Aquariums

    There are a wide variety of air stones and diffusers available on the market today. They differ in materials, quality, and the size of the bubbles they produce. Size of bubbles might not sound like an important factor. However, bubble size is related to the ability to diffuse oxygen so it can be critically important in your choice if you’re in search of more oxygenated water. Some air stones are easier to maintain, while others last longer. Let’s explore the different options available!

    Classic Air Stone

    When you think of an aquarium air stone, you’re probably envisioning the classic air stone design. Classic air stone for fish tanks are simple; they’re typically a small piece of porous ceramic or rock with a hole drilled into the center. They have a hollow connector that attaches to the tubing. As air is forced down the tube from the air pump, it is forced out of the natural holes in the stone, producing bubbles. They use brute force to create the bubbles.

    Classic air stones are often small, about an inch in length. They are ideal for sump filters or protein skimmers on saltwater fish tanks. They are also frequently used to support the aquarium’s good bacteria or eliminate known oxygen dead zones.

    Benefits of classic air stones include:

    • Easy to find
    • Easy to use 
    • Inexpensive 
    • Good for nano tanks

    Disadvantages of classic air stones include:

    • They don’t last long 
    • Hard to clean
    • Bubbles unlikely to be uniform in size 

    Flexible Bubble Walls

    Flexible bubble wands are a good choice for large tanks than need a lot of support in oxygenating the water.

    Flexible bubble wands are usually manmade from a porous plastic tube, Because it is manufactured and not a natural substance like a stone classic air sthone, this option can produce a steady stream of evenly sized bubbles.

    Flexible bubblers’ advantages include:

    •  Flexible design allows you to wind the tube around your tank as desired.
    • Plastic tubing lasts longer than natural stone or wood
    • Uniform, tiny bubbles
    • Available in multiple sizes and lengths

    Flexible bubble wands come in a number of quality levels. Budget options are typically just the unprotected tube, while higher-end options are usually more sturdy and easier to clean. You should still expect to need to replace the tube about once a year though.

    Bubble Wands

    Bubble wands are similar to the flexible bubble walls above. The main difference is they’re rigid and can’t bend and snake their way around your aquarium. They’re simple in their construction with a rigid frame, typically plastic, that holds the porous bubble tubing in place. Bubble wands produce a consistent stream of bubbles along the length of the wand. 

    This option is typically less expensive than flexible wands. They’re also pretty easy to hide in your aquarium, making them a popular option. Quality matters though, as a cheap bubble wand may produce variable-sized bubbles, which will make it less efficient at oxygenating your water. The most efficient oxygenation occurs with a consistent stream of microbubbles, as there is more surface area in the bubble for the oxygen to diffuse through into the water.

    You can also hide a bubble wand by burying it under a thin layer of the substrate. This is a great way to hide a bubble wand and get a cool look of bubbling gravel!

    Bubbler Ornaments And Decorations

    Bubbling ornaments and decorations are a potential option if you’re looking for a specific look inside your aquarium. They’re typically also very popular in kid’s aquariums. We’ve seen options ranging from bubbling skulls and pirate chests to more natural options like bubbling flowers and logs.

    Penn Plax Aquarium Decoration With Moving Treasure Chest, Floating Diver and Bubbles
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      Bubbling ornaments are not the most efficient option on the market. They’re designed to be fun and attractive first and functional second. Still, they are better than nothing if you need to get more oxygen or water circulation into your tank. 

      Combination LED And Bubble Devices

      If you’re looking for the most high-tech air stone option, combo LED and bubble devices are your ticket. They create a bubble and light show in your aquarium. Envision a bubbling wand with a few colored or white diodes attached. The diodes emit beautiful colored light, sometimes in patterns, sometimes timed to the speed of your bubbles.

      Combo bubblers are primarily designed for appearance, which means you will likely take a hit on efficiency for oxygenation. They typically don’t create extra-fine bubbles. That being said, they will definitely help with water circulation but don’t count on them too much for oxygen.  

      Combo LED bubblers have the added challenge of the dual plug-ins of power outlet and air pump. Additionally, if one of the lights burns out, plan on replacing the entire bubbler versus replacing an individual light. 

      How To Pick The Best Type Of Air Stone For Your Tank

      As you can tell, there are a lot of different factors to consider for something as simple as an air stone. Your choice really depends on your priorities, budget, and aquarium set-up.

      Efficiency vs Appearance

      The first question you should consider is why you’re looking to add bubbles to your tank? Do you need more oxygen? Do you just want water circulation? Are you after a bubble show? Air stones that produce consistent, tiny bubbles are more efficient at oxygen delivery. You can likely expect to pay for this efficiency.

      Size, Shape And Location

      What does your tank look like? What types of plants and animals do you have?  Some fish, like Bettas, dislike strong currents so you will need to be mindful of your air stone’s placement. Other fish love currents. Moral of the story is – know the preferences of your fish. 

      Also, avoid placing your air stones near the filter intakes or directly under the outflow, as both options will scatter your hard-earned bubbles. 

      Consider The Long Term Expense

      Air stones might be cheap individually but they can get pricey over time.  If you need to oxygenate and circulate your water, you’re looking at a premium air stone. Plan to replace it every 6 months for optimal performance. Classic air stones are the least expensive option and can be cleaned, but this can be a time-consuming process.

      air stones for aquariums laid out in rows

      How Do You Install An Air Stone In Your Tank?

      First of all, air stones need an air pump. You will also need clear plastic tubing to connect the two and force air from your pump through your air stone.  Those are the basic requirements.

      Before putting your air stone or bubble want in your aquarium, put it in a bucket of aquarium water for 24 hours to soak. You want to do this in order to make sure it is completely saturated. If you skip this step, it might not bubble properly so make your life easy and don’t skip this step.

      When you’re ready to use the air stone, attach the tubing to the hollow connector on the stone. Place your air stone on the ground in your aquarium. You want it low in the tank because it gives the bubbles more time before reaching the surface of the water and breaking open, thereby giving them more time to diffuse oxygen.  

      Run the tubing through the water and out the top of the aquarium. Add a check-valve to prevent water from back-flowing, and connect the tubing to the air pump’s connector. Plug-in the air pump. Bubbles should appear quickly thereafter! 

      How to Clean an Aquarium Airstone

      Air stones have tons of small holes that tend to get clogged up with algae and other debris. When they get clogged, they put out less bubbles, making them less efficient at moving and oxygenating the water. 

      You can clean air stones pretty easily, though. To do so, you’ll need a glass, hydrogen peroxide, and a clean toothbrush.

      To clean your air stone, remove the air stone from your tank. Turn off the air pump. 

      Put the air stone in the glass and pour enough hydrogen peroxide in the glass to submerge the air stone. Let it soak for several hours.

      Take the air stone out of the glass and pour out the hydrogen peroxide. Using the clean toothbrush, gently scrub the air stone.

      After giving it a good scrub, rinse the air stone under running water for several minutes before placing it back in your tank. Don’t rush this step because you want to rinse all of the hydrogen peroxide and debris away before reintroducing into your tank. 

      Best Airstone for Aquarium Options

      Our Favorite Air Stone: hygger Aquarium Air Stone, Fish Tank Bubbler, Nano Furnace Flue Round Stone Disk, Small Bubbles

      hygger Aquarium Air Stone, Fish Tank Bubbler, Round Stone Disk, Small Bubbles
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        This weighted bubbling disk from Hygger is very efficient at diffusing oxygen into your water. This is our top choice for tanks over 20-gallons based on its efficiency.  

        This option is 5-inches in diameter so it will be overkill in a small tank. It would also turn your entire tank into bubbles!  

        This bubble disk has many fine holes (to produce fine bubbles) so you will need a strong air pump to push the air through. Another important note is that it doesn’t use standard air tubing, so you’ll have to buy special 8mm tubing.

        Features: 

        • Dome-shaped air stone with a flat bottom
        • Weighted so it will stay in place
        • Produces a lot of bubbles

        Pros: 

        • Full kit includes control valves to protect your air pump
        • Creates a large volume of fine bubbles

        Cons:

        • Needs a powerful pump
        • Not meant for smaller tanks
        • Requires 8 mm tubing versus standard airline tubing

        JZMYXA Air Stones Bubble Stones for Aquarium Fish Tank

        JZMYXA Air Stones Bubble Stones Fit for Aquarium Fish Tank, 0.98 inch, 10 Pieces Check Price on Amazon
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        This option is a classic air stone. Its function is to break up the air that comes out of the airline into smaller, finer bubbles. By doing so, oxygen can diffuse into the water, making your tank environment healthier.

        This particular air stone is a little slimmer than average so it can good for sponge filters or narrow decorations where larger air stones won’t suffice.

        Plan to secure these air stones with suction cups to the side of the tank if don’t want them randomly floating around once the air starts flowing to them.

        Features: 

        • Diffuses air into tiny bubbles
        • Good for small tanks and nano tanks – 5 gallons or under
        • Slim cylinder of ceramic or stone

        Pros:

        • Good for creating small bubbles
        • Great for smaller tanks
        • Affordable

        Cons: 

        • Needs to be secured or it will float to the top
        • Not the most aesthetically pleasing

        Pawfly 1 Inch Air Stones Cylinder 12 PCS Bubble Diffuser Airstones for Aquarium Fish Tank

        Pawfly 1 Inch Air Stones Cylinder 12 PCS Bubble Diffuser Airstones for Aquarium
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          This option is another classic air stone option. They’re not fancy but if you’re looking for increased water circulation and improved water oxygenation, they will definitely get the job done.

          Like the previous option, plan to secure these with suction cups or they will float to the top once you turn on the air pump.

          These are an option in sponge filters in a pinch. 

          Features: 

          • Diffuses air into small bubbles. Bubbles not as fine as other more advanced options
          • Small plastic intake tube plus cylinder of compressed ceramic or stone

          Pros: 

          • Simple installation
          • Widely available
          • Affordable

          Cons: 

          • Will float to the top of the tank if not secured
          • Plain design

          uxcell Black Mineral Bubble Air Stone Diffuser for Aquariums

          uxcell Black Mineral Bubble Air Stone Diffuser for Aquarium
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            These air stone diffusers are typically meant for larger tanks – 40 gallons or above. Uxcell makes several models of weighted air stones, ranging from 3.5 inches up to 8.5 inches so you can customize sizing based on your needs.

            We highly discourage trying to use one of these weighted air stone diffusers in a smaller tank. You could technically try but you’d likely overwhelm your tank with bubbles. 20 gallons is the absolute minimum we recommend. 

            Because this air stone is weighted, you don’t need to think through the logistics of extra suction cups or weight options. 

            This is a highly productive air stone and it will put a significant amount of bubbles.

            Features: 

            • Weighted so air stone easily stays in place
            • Requires high flow air pump
            • Will produce large amount of small bubbles

            Pros: 

            • Lots of small bubbles – good for oxygenation
            • Good for larger tanks
            • Weighted so easy to keep in place

            Cons: 

            • Not meant for smaller tanks
            • Weaker air pumps not strong enough to push air through to produce bubbles

            Pawfly 2.4 Inch Air Stone Bubble Mineral Ball Shaped Airstones Diffuser for Aquarium

            Pawfly 2.4 Inch Air Stone Bubble Mineral Ball Shaped Airstones Diffuser for Aquarium
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              This air stone is different from all of the other reviewed options. It looks like a dome with a flat bottom, not a tiny little stone or a bubble wand. This dome shap with a flat bottom is great because you can place it anywhere along the bottom of the tank. It is also weighted so it removes the hassle of suction cups while trying to keep it in place.

              The intake is centered on the top of the dome so it avoids the kinks that stones with an intake on the side typically get. 

              This option is meant for more powerful air pumps so it is not the ideal choice for small tanks.

              Features: 

              • Dome-shaped air stone with a flat bottom
              • Weighted so it will stay in place
              • Produces a lot of bubbles

              Pros: 

              • Easily placed on the bottom with no suction cups or additional weights needed
              • Creates a large volume of fine bubbles

              Cons:

              • Needs a powerful pump
              • Not meant for smaller tanks

              Aqueon Flex LED Aquarium Bubble Wand, 14-Inch, Blue

              Aqueon Flex LED Aquarium Bubble Wand, 14-Inch, Blue
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                This option is a hybrid diffuser with some extra features. It’s a flexible bubble wand so you can easily wind it around plants and decor to keep it hidden. Or you can put it in a straight line in the back of your tank. It has deep blue LED lights, so it creates a dramatic effect wherever you decide to put it.

                This bubble wand is ideal for tanks 10-gallons and up. If you need a smaller size, there are multiple size options available.

                The Aqueon bubble want isn’t the most efficient at diffusing oxygen. The bubbles it tends to produce are on the larger size. Given that it has lights, this option is more about the display attractiveness than the actual ability to oxygenate your water. Additionally, the LED lights are not replaceable so when one burns out, you will need to replace the entire want. Lastly, there is no on/off switch for the lights so plan on a continuous blue glow whenever this is on.

                Features: 

                • Flexible wand allows for custom lay-outs
                • Blue LED lights create bubble and light show

                Pros: 

                • Fun and beautiful bubble and light show
                • Flexible design allows you to create custom shape that fits your needs

                Cons: 

                • LED lights are not replaceable so when they burn out, requires replacing entire wand
                • Not very durable

                Penn Plax Aquarium Air Stone Aerator Attachment For Air Pump

                Penn Plax Aquarium Air Stone Aerator Attachment For Air Pump
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                  The Penn Plax Air Stone produces a steady flow of bubbles that is helpful for oxygenating your tank. It is 10 inches long so aquarists typically put it towards the back of their tanks. 

                  It easily attaches to standard airline tubing. The blue color blends in well with most aquariums and can be buried under gravel for even more discretion.

                  It’s made of durable, plastic and can be hidden or buried and the blue color also blends in with the surroundings. For larger tanks, multiple air stones can be used in a series. It is suitable for both fresh and salt water tanks.

                  Features: 

                  • 10 inches in length
                  • Blue colored stone
                  • Produces steady flow of bubbles

                  Pros: 

                  • Users report it is easy to position and stays put
                  • Uses standard airline tubing

                  Cons: 

                  • Fairly low bubble output compared to other options
                  • Some users report issues with bubble output after soaking

                  Aquarium Airstone FAQs 

                  How long do aquarium airstones last?

                  Air stones will gradually lose their effectiveness over time as they get clogged with algae and microscopic debris. The smaller the pores, the more likely the air stone will be susceptible to clogging. Airstones begin to lose their effectiveness after about six weeks of use. However, the speed at which they degrade varies based on the mineral content of your water. Because of this, we recommend replacing or at least cleaning your air stone at least every 3-6 months.

                  Can air stones kill fish?

                  Air stones are very unlikely to kill your fish. Their function is adding oxygen to the water and improving water circulation. However, if you have too many bubbles, it creates an unnatural environment for the fish and might create too much current, which can stress your fish. Too many Bubbles with too much force can damage eggs and prevent your fish from properly relaxing so make sure to monitor for signs of stress when changing your aquarium set-up.

                  Where do you put an Air stone in an aquarium?

                  Typically, you want to put an air stone at the bottom of your tank. By putting the air stone at the bottom, you give the bubbles the maximum amount of time in contact with the water, which is how the oxygen inside the bubbles diffuses into the water. Once the bubbles reach the surface of the water and break, the oxygen is released into the air, where it can no longer diffuse into the water with the same efficiency.

                  Can I put Airstone under gravel?

                  Yes, you can put air stones under gravel. Some aquarists like to do this in order to hide their air stones. It also creates a cool effect of bubbling gravel!

                  Can you put air stones under sand?

                  You shouldn’t put an air stone under sand. Air stones buried in sand will clog more easily. Additionally, the air stone will blow sand all over your tank so you can expect everything to be covered in sand if you go this route.

                  Conclusion

                  Using an air stone will help create a fine mist of bubbles for your aquarium, helping with water circulation and increasing oxygen levels. Air stones come in a lot of different options so it is important to know the pros and cons of your choice.

                  Our all-around best air stone for aquarium option is the hygger Aquarium Air Stone. It is durable, produces a fine mist of bubbles, and is weighted for easy installation.

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