Do Neon Tetras Need A Bubbler? (With A Few Alternatives)

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Setting up a neon tetra tank could be a challenging task, especially if you are just starting with this hobby.

The first question most people ask is, “What do these fish actually need, with bubblers (also known as air stones) in particular?”

In this article, I will walk you through whether this device is actually necessary and how to pick the right one. I will also share my personal recommendation.

Do Neon Tetras Need A Bubbler?

Bubblers offer plenty of benefits to neon tetras, mainly:

  • Oxygenation: Bubblers improve the oxygen level in the tank by causing water movement at the surface, allowing more oxygen to dissolve into the water.
  • Water movement: The constant movement of water helps to ensure even distribution of heat and dissolved substances like oxygen and CO2, which can otherwise stagnate and form dead zones in the tank.
  • Gas exchange: Bubblers facilitate the exchange of gases at the water surface, which is crucial for removing harmful gases such as carbon dioxide from the water.
  • Prevents surface film: Bubblers can help prevent the buildup of protein film on the surface of the water, which can inhibit gas exchange.
  • Beneficial for beneficial bacteria: Bubblers can increase the survival and growth of beneficial bacteria in the aquarium by providing them with necessary oxygen.
  • Reduces stress: Bubblers can mimic the flow of a natural habitat, making neon tetras feel more at home and reducing stress.

Also, beyond the health benefits for the fish, the bubbles produced by a bubbler can be visually pleasing and create an appealing effect in the tank.

Therefore, while neon tetras can survive without bubblers, I would highly suggest adding one to your tank.

Also Read: Neon Tetra Tank Setup

Also Read: Do Neon Tetras Need An Air Pump?

How To Choose The Right Bubbler For Your Neon Tetras

Before looking online for a random bubbler, there are a few factors I encourage you to consider:

1. Size of Aquarium

The size of your aquarium is a significant factor when choosing a bubbler.

A small bubbler might not provide enough aeration for a larger tank, while a too powerful one could create excessive water movement that’s not ideal for neon tetras.

You may need a larger or multiple bubblers for bigger tanks to ensure the oxygen is distributed evenly.

2. Adjustable Airflow

A bubbler with an adjustable airflow feature allows you to control the rate of bubbles produced.

Neon tetras prefer calm waters, and too much turbulence could stress them.

Therefore, being able to adjust the airflow to a slower rate will provide the necessary aeration without disturbing your fish too much.

3. Noise Level

Bubblers will inevitably produce some noise due to the air pump. However, models vary in their noise levels.

Excessive noise could stress your fish and may also be a disturbance for you, especially if the aquarium is in a quiet room.

Therefore, you should consider the noise level of the bubbler before purchasing.

4. Durability and Quality

A high-quality and durable bubbler is a worthy investment.

Cheaper, low-quality models might initially seem like a good deal but may break down quickly or not function as well.

Well-known and reputable brands usually offer reliable and efficient bubblers that can last for years with proper maintenance.

5. Energy Efficiency

Bubblers run continuously, so their energy usage can add up over time.

Models that are energy-efficient will consume less power, resulting in noticeable reductions in your long-term electricity costs.

Considering these, my personal recommendation is the Hygger Aquarium Air Stone (link to Amazon).

What Can Replace Bubblers?

Although bubblers effectively oxygenate aquarium water, they are not the only method available for aerating your tank:

1. Manual Aeration

  • Involves stirring or shaking the water manually to allow air to mix in.
  • Not the most efficient or practical long-term solution, but can be a temporary fix in emergency situations.

2. HOB Filter

  • These filters hang on the back of the aquarium and create water movement as they filter the water.
  • They cause surface agitation, which promotes gas exchange and oxygenation.
  • Typically more efficient than manual aeration and are easy to maintain.
  • Some filters come with a spray bar, while others do not.

4. Live Plants

  • Live plants naturally produce oxygen through photosynthesis.
  • They can help to improve the oxygen levels in the aquarium, especially during the day.
  • They also provide other benefits, such as absorbing nitrates and providing hiding spots for fish.
  • However, note that plants also consume oxygen at night, which may require additional aeration methods to compensate.

Also Read: Do Neon Tetras Need A Filter?


Getting an airstone for your neon tetras is pretty important, as this is one of the most effective ways to oxygenate your tank.

That is especially important for neon tetras because they are schooling fish that live in groups of at least six and demand a lot of oxygen.