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Do Goldfish Need Air Pumps & Bubblers? (Facts, & FAQ)

Renee Whitmore
Last Updated on
by Renee Whitmore

Goldfish might swim in water, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need air to survive. Still, you might wonder why goldfish need air and what happens when they don’t get it.

In this article, We’ll explore how goldfish breathe and how aquarium owners might improve their tank’s air quality. This way, you extend your goldfish’s lifespan and improve its quality of life.

do goldfish need air
Goldfish in Blue Container

Do Goldfish Need Air?

Yes, Goldfish needs air. Though it’s commonly known that goldfish need water to survive, they’re also dependent on fresh air. That’s because a goldfish’s internal organs rely on oxygen to function properly. Just like humans, goldfish have circulatory systems that help carry oxygen throughout the body.

When deprived of air, a goldfish’s cells quickly die. That’s why goldfish struggle to survive in crowded or tiny tanks. Aquariums with lots of fish have far less available oxygen than roomy tanks with few fish. Additionally, dirtied aquariums may hold less air than clean ones.

To help keep your fish alive and healthy, you’ll need to maintain oxygen levels in your goldfish’s tank. Fortunately, there are quite a few techniques and tools that can help. A bubbler, for example, can add a continuous stream of oxygen to your tank’s water supply.

Do Goldfish Need a Bubbler?

Unless you’re keeping a small goldfish in a medium-sized tank, there’s a good chance you’ll need a bubbler. Small tanks or glass bowl aquariums often have a limited amount of oxygen. Consequently, fish living in these environments may struggle to live healthy, long lives.

A bubbler is a device that pulls air from outside the tank and pushes it into the water. The result is often small bubbles. While these bubbles might seem like a huge deal, they’re rich with life-sustaining oxygen.

When paired with live plants, bubblers can significantly increase a tank’s oxygen levels. It’s vital to consider a tank’s oxygen levels, as all fish need oxygen to survive. Goldfish are no exception.

Do Goldfish Need Oxygen?

Just like many other creatures, goldfish need oxygen to survive. They cannot survive in anaerobic environments. Even though they spend their lives beneath the surface of the water, their bodies depend on regular oxygenation to stay healthy and alert.

But goldfish don’t have a pair of lungs to help them absorb oxygen from the air. Instead, they use a very fishy body part to help them convert liquid water into usable oxygen gas.

Can Goldfish Breathe Outside of Water?

Though it might surprise you, goldfish can breathe outside of water for short periods. In fact, some goldfish prefer swimming to the water’s surface and taking a big gulp of fresh air. Still, this talent is short-lived.

A goldfish can only breathe out of the water while its gills are wet. That’s because goldfish breathe by passing oxygenated water through their gills. Dry gills are a near-death sentence for goldfish.

How Do Goldfish Breathe?

Goldfish might not have lungs, but that doesn’t mean they don’t breathe! Goldfish have two primary ways of absorbing oxygen. The first way is swimming to the water’s surface and taking a big gulp of dry air. You’ll often see this happen when a tank’s water is dirty or low in oxygen.

The standard breathing process for goldfish involves their gills. Just like most other species of fish, goldfish have gills that sit along the sides of their head.

These slit-like body parts filter water through them, absorbing oxygen as it passes across thousands of string-like cilia. These cilia then pass the oxygen on into the body and bloodstream. Oxygen is just as crucial to a fish’s survival as it is to human survival.

Some types of goldfish also rely on oxygenated water to move around. Fish with pronounced swim bladders may require more air to propel themselves up and down in the water. Notably, tanks with poor water quality can be deadly to such fish.

Remember, water quality and air quality are closely linked, especially when you’re talking about aquariums.

How Can You Improve Tank Air Quality?

Aquarium bubbler

If you’re determined to improve your goldfish’s overall health and quality of life, you might want to start with tank air quality. And to enhance your aquarium’s air quality, you’ll need to improve its water quality.

After all, water is partially composed of oxygen. Improving one improves the other when working with aquatic life. If your tank’s water is dirty, filled with algae, or sitting low in the tank, your fish may begin to grow ill and perish. Regular cleaning and maintenance can prevent this.

To ensure that your goldfish are enjoying the highest-quality, cleanest, and most oxygenated water, you’ll want to perform regular cleanings and quality tests. You can use aquarium test strips to determine the overall pH of your tank’s water, but oxygen can be harder to track.

But there are oxygen meters that you can install along the inside of your tank to help you keep a close eye on things. Adding a bubbler, an air pump, and oxygen-producing live plants can also help you keep your tank’s water and air clean.

Before you invest in decorative statues or additional fish, take the time to improve your tank’s oxygen levels and water quality. Doing so is an intelligent way to keep your current fish healthy while preparing your aquarium for new additions.

About Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore
Renee Whitmore is an American college professor and freelance writer from North Carolina. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English and a Master’s Degree in English Education. When she is not driving her teenage son to wrestling practice or learning the ins and outs of Fortnite from her younger son, she is working on her first book to be published soon.
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