Please visit our Sponsors
FAQs about Bubble Trouble and Aquarium Systems: Biological Causes

Related Articles: Plumbing Marine Systems, Plumbing Return Manifolds, Refugiums

Related FAQs: Bubble Troubles 1, Bubble Troubles 2, Bubble Troubles 3, Bubble Troubles 4, Bubble Troubles 5, Bubble Concerns, & FAQs on Causes/Fixes: Diagnosing Sources, Intake/Overflow Issues, Plumbing Issues, Pump/ing Issues, Discharge Issues, & Solved Cases, & Marine Plumbing 1, Marine Plumbing 2, Marine Plumbing 3Marine Plumbing 4, Marine Plumbing 5, Marine Plumbing 6, Plumbing 7, Plumbing 8, Plumbing 9, Plumbing 10, Plumbing 11, Plumbing 12, Plumbing 13, Plumbing 14, Plumbing 15, Plumbing 16, Plumbing 17, Plumbing 18, Holes & Drilling, Durso Standpipes, Overflow Boxes, Plumbing Noise, Make Up Water Systems, Pumps, Plumbing, Circulation, Sumps, RefugiumsMarine Circulation 2, Gear Selection for Circulation, Pump Problems Fish-Only Marine Set-ups, Fish-Only Marine Systems 2, FOWLR/Fish and Invertebrate Systems, Reef Systems, Coldwater Systems, Small Systems, Large SystemsWater Changes Surge Devices


Air bubbles, SW...  - 1/24/08 Hi WWM Crew, <Paul> Thank You for this site. It has saved me many times and put my mind at ease during times of panic. (Which have mostly been unnecessary). I hope to make this a short and quick email. <Pleasure, made all the more easier by well crafted and accurate emails such as yours so Thank you. Now lets see'¦> My problem is air bubbles. I have searched the site regarding air bubbles but haven't found quite what I am looking for. I have a 55g (1.5 years old) with a 29g sump and a 29g refugium (currently disconnected). To make it short the whole set up wasn't working. I was pumping out of the display into the uphill sump and refugium. I was having worries about overflow and the return getting plugged etc. <Shouldn't be a worry and should be simple to implement with a little planning and 'fail-safing' > In the end I had to dismantle the sump and fuge (I know it was a mistake but I had no choice) and go back to the way the tank was originally set up - Hang on. Aqua C Remora Pro and a canister filter for activated carbon. The problem was that I had a massive outbreak of hair algae and Valonia before the dismantling. I have been fighting it for months with water changes, etc. I use RO/DI water and the TDS meter shows 0. I removed half (30lbs) of the LR and scrubbed it and I then put it in the sump and refugium because I had the room. I got rid of the algae problem for a while but when I dismantled the fuge and sump I returned all of the LR back to the display. No Valonia but the hair algae is back in full force. Here is my question. I now have air bubbles all over the glass and the LR when I come home from work. Not micro bubbles but big bubbles. I blow the glass with a turkey baster as well as the LR to get rid of detritus but the bubbles keep coming back. Is this a photosynthetic reaction to the hair algae? Is it because I removed the LR, which sat under no lighting for weeks? Did I kill part of the LR and this is some cycling reoccurring? I have leathers and zoo's and a small hammer coral with 5 fish. They all seem fine. I detect no nitrites or nitrates when testing. I haven't tested for phosphates but that seems to be the obvious answer for the hair algae. I want to make sure these bubbles will eventually go away. I am ready with water changes if necessary. I have a tub full in case of emergency water changes. Thanks for all of your help. <Water changes are always helpful and if done slowly and methodically then should go a long way to addressing the problem. The bubbles are probably a combination of oxygen given off as you say, from photosynthesis occurring in the algae cells. Also the previously high levels of nutrients that fuelled your algae outbreak are probably locked up in the rock and now it is leaching back into the water and as it is being de-nitrified back into N2 (nitrogen gas) it is appearing from the rocks as bubbles. I would continue to monitor and this should stop once levels in the water and rock have reached equilibrium. Water changes, PO4 remover and careful diligence are the best things you can do right now. Hope this helps> Paul <Olly>

Micro bubbles from my protein skimmer... Chemical Algicide use...   6/30/07 Good evening, all. <Yawnnnn! AM here now> I have a 100 gallon, fish only tank with about 50 pounds of live rock. <Okay> I turned off my protein skimmer on Thursday afternoon to treat a red slime algae problem in my tank. I used ChemiClean. <... not advised...> I've just turned my protein skimmer back on after being unplugged for 36 hours and it is producing an exorbitant amount of micro-bubbles that are getting pushed up into the tank. <Good... you need to remove as much of the products, by-products of using this "Algicide" as quickly as possible> I've unplugged the skimmer to stop the micro-bubble flow for now, but I have no idea why the skimmer is causing them, or what else I can do to prevent it. Any suggestions? Trapped in bubbles, Scott <The Boyd product Scott... not a good idea... I'd do a few largish water changes... one a day over the next few days... leave the skimmer going, place some Polyfilter, Activated Carbon... and hope your system doesn't crash... Please read here: http://www.wetwebmedia.com/maralgcidefaqs.htm and the linked files above. Bob Fenner>

Bubble/Cyano Issues - 08/22/06 Greetings from Grayslake, IL <<Back at you from Columbia, SC>> I've read a lot (I won't say all) of the FAQs regarding bubbles but I am still running across an issue. <<Ok>> Here is my set up: - 29 gallon reef tank up and running for about 8 months now - CPR Bak Pak - Magnum 350 Canister Filter - 2x96 Watt 10k PC (On for 7 hours) - 2 actinic bulbs PC (On for 10 hours) - 40(+-) lb live rock - 2-inch live sand - RO/DI 4-stage system Here is my problem.  I still get bursts of air bubbles from the canister filter. <<Hmm, air intrusion from somewhere...builds up to the point where the bubble is large enough to "escape" to the outflow/impeller chamber of the filter pump...thus the "bursts" of bubbles>> I have broken down the system and have replaced the o-rings and have added metal clamps on the all of the hoses to try to tighten it all down.  Can't really find any leaks in the system. <<Have you tried "sealing" all the joints one-at-a-time with Vaseline? <Mmm, would not use a Petroleum-based material... too likely to act as a solvent... soften the tubing in the long/er run. Perhaps a Silicone-based lube. RMF>   Have you checked to see if bubbles are being generated/pulled in to the filter through the intake from the intake water chamber (sump?)?>> In addition to the bursts of air bubbles, when the lights are on I get a small amount of bubbles constantly. <<Check the placement of the filter intake/the possibility of bubbles in the surrounding water being pulled in to the filter>> Suggestions?  Replace it? <<Might be worth a try>> What would you guys/gals recommend for a replacement? <<I've always had good luck with the Fluval line of canister filters...and if you have the bucks, Eheim is a good choice>> I am also getting some muck on the top of the sand when the lights are on but it is gone when the lights are off? <<Cyanobacteria...possibly>> Some of my live rock has turned red on the tips, don't think that it is coralline algae.  Some form of algae was wondering if I need to be concerned here or not. <<Hard to say...likely not.  But do have a look through our FAQs/articles re "Cyanobacteria" and "blue-green algae">> Thank you for your time. <<A pleasure to assist>> Like everybody else...Love the site!  Very very informative. <<Always good to hear...thank you>> Sincerely, Richard Hunt <<Regards, Eric Russell>>

Re: Bubble/Cyano Issues   8/22/06 Thanks for the reply. <<Welcome>> I am not running a sump, just the CPR Bak-Pak and the Magnum Filter.  Regarding the Vaseline...how is that done?  Do I pull out the connections and add it to the connection or to the hose? <<No need to pull apart the connections...just smear some around the "above water" connections to seal them temporarily.  Do this one at a time watching each for a bit to see if the bubbles stop>> The intake is behind a piece of live rock, so I don't really have any air coming from there I don't believe. <<The steady stream of air bubbles while the lights are on could be nitrogen bubbles from your rock/substrate being sucked in to the filter intake>> Again, Thank you Richard Hunt <<Regards, Eric Russell>> Re: Bubble/Cyano Issues - 08/22/06 Now that's interesting.  I do have tiny bubbles all over the red stuff on the rocks that I spoke about in my original post.  Could that be what is getting into the filter? <<Ah, most assuredly Cyanobacteria then...and yes, the filter intake could be pulling-in these bubbles>> If so...how do I get rid of the bubbles from the live rock? <<Increased water movement often helps when battling this blue-green algae.  Do have a read here and among the links in blue for much more information:  http://www.wetwebmedia.com/bluegralgae.htm >> Thanks, Richard <<Quite welcome, EricR>>

Air bubbles, mis-stocked small mar. system   2/1/06 I am a newbie and just recently started my own reef tank.  My friend gave me his tank after he lost just about everything in it after a week long power loss from a hurricane.  It is a 29 gallon tank.  The sand and 1 hermit crab are the only hold overs from his set up.  I got about 20 lbs of new live rock, a new canister filter and a protein skimmer.  I got new salt water from my local Big Al's Aquariums and had the new filter go to cycle.  Took about 6 weeks.  After that I added about 40 zebra hermits and 5 turbo snails to help clean the tank.  A few weeks after that, I added 2 clownfish and 2 cleaner shrimp.  Now, last week I added 2 blue tangs. <The latter species can't "fit" here> Everything is going well except that the water surface is covered with very small air bubbles. What could be the cause of this and is it bad for my fish? <Surfactants, oils... possibly from an aerosol source outside the system... foods... Can be real trouble... needs to be wicked off, removed by dipping...> I want to start adding some polyps/mushrooms/corals but obviously I want to make sure there is nothing wrong. <Already is mis-stocked...> Ph is 8.1, Ammonia is 0, Nitrite is 0, Nitrate is 5ppm, calcium is 400, Phosphate is 0.  For lighting my friend gave me power compacts.  Any help would be appreciated. Asher <... I'd hold off on any changes period here... become familiar with the search tool, indices on WWM... perhaps a complete marine aquarium book reading... Bob Fenner>

Re: Colt Coral and new question re bubbles    1/17/06 Thank you for your prompt response to my question. <Prev. corr.?>   My colt coral  opened back up today and seems to be okay (he is not back to normal size  yet).  I also moved the cabbage to give him a little more current. <Good>    When I woke up this morning he had a clear slime releasing from his middle but  as the day went on he opened up and seemed okay. I am now having another problem  and after researching most of the day on the Internet I have not made a  conclusion. I am having a problem with tiny bubbles in my tank.  I have a  30 gallon tank with what was about 3 inches of live sand all the way  around.  Now I have hardly any sand under my live rock and mounds in the  front thanks to my 2 engineer gobies. I have noticed some bubbles covering the  corners of my tank and some of the rock.  I thought it was my protein  skimmer at first because I can not seem to get it tweaked.  However,  I  turned the skimmer off yesterday and the bubbles are still appearing  even after I fan the water to release them.  I added 5 Nassarius and 3  Cerith snails about a week ago could they be causing a release? <Mmm... might re related... but not for sure> I have had  this tank set up for about five or six years now and did move it to my  new home over a year ago with no problems.  I read some articles today  on old tank syndrome what are your thought on that? <Does occur>   I also did a  water change a week and a half ago and again today about 25%.  Also  the new light with the two 96 watts dual bulbs was added a week ago.   Thank you for your help ahead of time. Tiaa   <More likely an effect of the new lighting... boosted photosynthesis in these areas... gas accumulation... I would re-direct your circulation toward the corners and not worry at this point. Bob Fenner>

Bubbles Galore  12/21/05 Greetings from UK and many thanks for a superb and informational web site. <Thanks for the kind words.> Recently I had a "boil up" in my hexagonal acrylic 55 gal reef tank. The heater just kept on heating overnight and the temperature must have gone into the 40's before I got to the tank the next morning.  As you can guess almost everything perished. Things are back to normal and the few surviving crabs and snails seem OK together with one clown fish. However, there is now a constant stream of bubbles coming from the live substrate and this has been going on for 2 weeks. I was used to seeing bubbles from the live sand and rocks previously but this is way over the top to the extent that I have to keep cleaning them off the tank sides in order to see anything.
<I'm guessing the extreme temperatures caused a gas buildup in the substrate possibly from critters that were fried.  I'd get a gravel vacuum and vacuum the substrate while doing your water changes. I think this will take care of your problem.  James (Salty Dog)> Any ideas please.

Yucky Surface Scum! 8/24/05 I have a 55 gallon reef tank; and do weekly water changes of 10%.  But after a few days a film covers the top of the water trapping in air bubbles and the things.  What is this film that keeps appearing and how do I get rid of it? Thanks, S. Montgomery <Well, it's hard to be 100% sure, but the surface film is probably some sort of collection of organics, which tend to accumulate at the water/air interface. This is one of the best reasons to employ an overflow that pulls water from the surface down into the sump and into a protein skimmer (drawing "raw" water from the surface helps increase protein skimmer efficiency). You can employ some sort of surface skimming (depending upon the type of filtration system that you employ), as well as aeration or a water return that disturbs the surface, to help displace this material into the water column for easier removal. Hope this points you in the right direction. Good luck! Regards, Scott F.>

Become a Sponsor Features:
Daily FAQs FW Daily FAQs SW Pix of the Day FW Pix of the Day New On WWM
Helpful Links Hobbyist Forum Calendars Admin Index Cover Images
Featured Sponsors: