Why use spray bars and/or air stones?
I have never used either spray bars or air stones. Other than from a visual context, why does one use them in the fresh water tank, esp. a large one like my 55g? I have asked this question here rather than under equipment because I suspect the answer is going to have something to do with the tank ecology.
That said, then what types are best and what about placement?
Thank you. Your advice and comments are very helpful. I really like this forum over the others I have reviewed.
Air stones help to aerate water in cases where there are no plants. This removes excess CO2 and replenishes depleted O2 bringing the water back to it's particular equilibrium with regards to the respective gases.
The spray bar can be mounted in a variety of ways, under the water, at the surface or above the water depending on what you are trying to accomplish. Below the water (mine is currently mounted vertically in the middle rear of the tank to provide full circulation of the water without aeration). At the surface provides surface agitation which would serve a similar purpose as the airstone. The bar also serves to spread out the water output to reduce the speed of the water as many smaller holes can be better than one large output for this purpose.
That's a short answer anyway.
Spray bars also remove excess waste in corners or crevices inside of an aquarium. They also provide your fish with a more natural setting if they live in rivers and gives them exercise to prevent obesity.
maybe schools should add spray bars in swimming pools for the same reason??
When you get into canister talk there are really two ways that I know of in which you hook up your out put. The one you bring up, the Spray Bar allows you to distribute the water current along the bar creating a gentler and adjustable flow. Many people like them because you can often easily mod these things with even more holes depending upon what you need.
If you ever hook up a Wedge to a canister that pushes your water out across this triangle like thing you will see a clear different in flow. It's more narrow, and the current can be much stronger. In some situations with some fish and some tanks, this just isn't acceptable. Hence the option for many models to use a spray bar instead.
As for airstones it's a matter of set up. If you don't run live plants in your tank the airstone is great for ensuring a steady supply of oxygen. Airstones are also useful during heat treatments, or during medication treatments because both restrict the amount of oxygen in the tank that is available for the fish.
I have found a slightly lesser known ability for airstones. When placed in an appropriate area your disc type airstones work well to eliminate a dead spot by forcing water to move in areas where you currents simply don't want to reach. It can be a cheaper alternative to a power head, if not a little less effective. Down the road I may replace the air stone + air machine with a power head due to it being more effective.
I believe it's all about what happens at the surface. Airstones, as mention, do help with current and movement in dead spots. Which is great...The small bubbles, while under water, however do little to provide oxygen. They, at that point, just look neat and of course move water.... But all gasses, co2, oxygen, etc rise to the surface of water in tanks...the rupture of the bubbles at the surface produces surface agitation that helps with the expulsion of co2 which can be harmful to fish in great amounts ( but also promotes plant growth )... Additionally, those of us with hooded tanks, benefit from the additional movement and release of stagnant air between the glass top and water's surface. For this reason, the more surface agitation, the more oxygen becomes present as it is circulated under water by its pull and eventually drawn up top prompting the increase of release of other gasses such as co2... So for aeration, a powerhead and/or spray bar positioned correctly is superior - but if in a planted tank the on going rapid release of co2 (which was recently pointed out to me here at TFK) may negate it being supplemented in traditional co2 setups.... So as far as surface agitation, you just got to play with it, till it meets the needs of all the living organisms in ur tank....some fish do like more stagnant environments like swamps thus benefitting from airstones solely...other enjoy faster currents commonly assoc with streams and rivers...thus power heads.....
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