Aquaponics: Using Air Stones

lettuce growing in an aquaponic system

Beginner and expert users aquaponic systems alike should enhance their set up using air stones. Adding air stones will allow the system's water to be broken into smaller parts, bringing oxygen and nutrients along the current of your delicate water environment. This can be a very important addition to "living gardens," backyard ponds, fish tanks and even the indoor growing of fruits, vegetables and flowers.

Aquaponic System

Aquaponics is a craft of balancing an environment with both plant and animal interaction. Providing this balanced system with oxygenated water through the use of air stones will make for a healthier and more productive environment. A good example of this would be a plant floating in a fishbowl.

The fish breathes in oxygen which is increased through the use of air stones, and breathes out carbon dioxide. The plant takes in the carbon dioxide and turns it into oxygen. The fish waste is then broken up on a microscopic level by the air bubbles and the plant turns that into nutrients for itself, causing it to grow at an incredible rate.

Aquaponic Air Stones

There are different types of stones available. The main differences are the density and sizes of the stones. This will determine how much area in the water it will be pushing air through, and how big or small the bubbles are. The smaller the bubbles coming from your air stones, the healthier it is for the oxygen content of your water.

lettuce growing in an aquaponic system

What You Need

On larger tanks you will want at least two air stones, which can run off the same air pump. This will allow more water to be filtered and oxygenated. On a smaller system, one stone is sufficient to adequately churn the water. The bubbles are going to create water movement as well.

You will want clear plastic tubing and an air pump to blow air through your air stones once they are anchored into your system. Figure out the footage from the bottom of your tank to a place you can connect to electrical power. You will want that length of hose to reach from the tank to your air pump, which will be the powerhouse of this setup.

Simply hook the hose to the air stones and anchor the stones into your tank system. On actual fish tanks you can buy anchors to do this for you, or you can simply pin them under rocks in the tank, which can make for amazing visual effects. The last step is connecting the air line to the pump and turning it on.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Eventually your air stones will wear down in size, as they break into tiny pieces while oxygenating the water. They're intended to break down to help the pH and mineral levels of the water over a period of time. When you replace them, take the time to clean the hoses, removing any build-up. Your plants and your fish will love you for it.