Livewell Bait Tank Aeration or Oxygenation

WEBSITE UPDATED               Sunday  February 20, 2022

AMBIENT AIR IS NOT PURE OXYGEN and PURE OXYGEN IS DEFINATELY NOT AMBIENT AIR contrary to popular fisherman’s beliefs, myths, aerator advertisements and aerator salesman’s talk.

WHAT’S IS THE REAL DIFFERENCE BETWEEN USING MECHANICAL AERATION, AMBIENT AIR, LIVEWELL WATER PUMPS OR A REAL LIFE SUPPORT OXYGEN-INJECTION SYSTEM USED TO OXYGENATE LIVEWELLS AND BAIT TANK WATER WHEN TRANSPORTING LIVE BAIT AND TOURNAMENT GAME FISH?

FACT: YOU HAVE EITHER A “FUNCTIONAL LIVEWELL or A “NON-FUNCTIONAL DEATH WELL” 

FACT: If you never think about, worry or tither about your live bait or tournament fish dying, suffocating in your livewell/bait tank on an all-day live transport in the summer, you probably have a “Functional Livewell” and never overstock that livewell. But if you never worry about your live bait or tournament fish getting sick or dying or you’re looking into your livewell every 15 minutes to see if a tournament fish has died or live bait is sick or dying… YOU PROBABLY HAVE THAT SAME DEADLY WATER QUALITY PROBLEM AGAIN THIS SUMMER.  

FACT: AERATED SUMMER “DEATH WELLS” OFTEN HAVE LOW OXYGEN SATURATION CAUSING SUFFOCATION, HYPOXIA INCREASING MORTALITY/MORBIDITY. OVERCROWD LIVEWELLS AND BAIT TANKS IN THE SUMMER WHEN THE ENVIRONMENTAL WATER IS WARM/HOT AND MORTALITY/MORBIDITY INCREASES EXPONENTIALLY. 

LOW UNSAFE DO SATURATION IS COMMON EVERY SUMMER WHEN FISHERMEN OVERCROWD LIVEWELLS AND RELY ON MECHANICAL AERATION AND LIVEWELL WATER PUMPS TO INSURE MINIMAL SAFE, CONTINUOUS OXYGENATION DURING LIVE TRANSPORTS.

CHRONIC HYPOXIA ALWAYS RESULTS IN SERIOUS SUSTAINED OXYGEN DEPRIVATION AND SUFFOCATION DURING LIVE SUMMER TRANSPORTS. HYPOXIC LIVEWELL SYMPTOMS ARE WELL KNOWN TO SUMMER C&R TOURNAMENT FISHERMEN AND LIVE BAIT FISHERMEN WORLDWIDE. 

LETHARGIC/SLOPPY BAIT, RED-NOSE, DISEASE AND DEATH IS PREDICTABLE AND SHOULD BE EXPECTED EVERY SUMMER IN ALL AERATED, OVERSTOCKED LIVEWELLS AND BAIT TANKS. ONE LIVE BAIT OR 1 TOURNAMENT FISH OVER THE STOCKING DENSITY LINE, EXPECT SUFFOCATION AND HIGH MORTALITY.

FACT: LOW LIVEWELL OXYGENATION (HYPOXIC TRANSPORT WATER QUALITY) IS THE MOST COMMON AND DEADLIEST LIVE TRANSPORT PROBLEM EXPERIENCE EVERY SUMMER USING NON-FUNCTIONAL BOAT LIVEWELLS AND FREE-STANDING BAIT TANKS.

IF YOU EVER WORRY OR TITHER ABOUT KEEPING LIVE BAIT ALIVE AND HEALTHY IN YOU LIVEWELL/BAIT TANK AND DEAD BAIT OR DEAD TOURNAMENT FISH ARE A CONCERN… YOU ARE DEFINATELY UNSURE OF YOU LIVE WEL. YOU HAVE A DEATH WELL AND THAT IS DEFINATELY SOMETHING TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT.

HAVE YOU EVER REALLY WONDERED OR QUESTIONED WHAT THE ACTUAL DIFFERENCE IS BETWEEN A “FUNCTIONAL LIVEWELL” AND A “NON-FUNCTIONAL LIVEWELL?” 

MYTH: THEY SAY IF THE LIVEWELL WATER PUMP HUMS OR THE AERATOR MOTOR HUMS WHEN TURNED ON, THIS MEANS YOUR LIVEWELL IS A “FUNCTIONAL LIVEWELL.” THIS IS ALSO HUMBUG!

THIS IS A “FUNCTIONAL LIVEWELL”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livewell

Functional Livewells/bait tanks ensure continuous safe water quality (specifically continuous safe 100% DO Saturation continuously when your livewell/bait tank is fully stocked with fish).

Non-Function aerated livewells/bait tanks do not, cannot, often fail to ensure minimal safe water quality (minimal safe DO Saturation) for hours of summer live transports when the livewell is overstocked with tournament fish or live bait fish.

Hypoxic transport water quality and summer bait mortality problems fishermen have has not been cryptic for decades. Fishermen can now eliminate suffocation every summer. unmanageable and not fixable. Any tournament fisherman or live baiter can certainly fix/eliminate this summertime mortality/morbidity livewell problem any time they choose to eliminate this water quality problem.  Using the right dose of supplemental oxygen (O2) administered continuously is and has always been THE FIX for this high summer transport. This summertime livewell suffocation problem is not and will never be fixable with more aeration, more water flowing through the livewell, chemicals, H2O2 and all the other snake-oil pseudo fixes promoted by salesmen, the bro-science we read on internet fishing forums written by the board Gurus.

FACT: This >mortality/morbidity is a seasonal issue. It is predictable every summer June-August when environmental water >78 F. The only tool any live baiter or tournament fisherman needs to predict when this summer mortality problem begins, and ends is a $3 pool thermometer.

Ambient air is the limiting factor for live transport water quality.  More live bait, heavy tournament limits always demand more dissolve oxygen in livewell water for the duration of the live transports, not more aeration. Suffocation is imminent without a continuous supply of oxygen of safe volume concentration and saturation. 100% DO Saturation in livewell water containing heavy stocking densities of live bait or tournament game fish is the professional Gold Standard for all live fish transports. *100% DO Saturation in livewells and bait tanks containing no fish or live bait is meaningless.

Fully stocked livewells require 100% DO Saturation – DO supersaturation. This is the profession live fish transport Gold Standard endorsed and used by all Federal, State and private fish hatchery live transports world-wide. It makes no difference if the stocking density is 1 fish, 1 lb. of fish or live bait or 100 fish or 500 lbs. of fish or live bait. 

FACT: Every summer, new humming livewell pumps and humming electrical aerator motors running continuously in a boat livewell does not mean and will never ensure minimal safe, continuous DO Saturation for 8-72 hours.  

Target game fish are always listening to and feeling their environment. That humming livewell pump noise travels great distances through the boat hull and under water.

Your brand new livewell water pump/air pump you bought this summer is running perfectly, humming, pumping water and the aerator pump is singing, making millions of those tiny hot ambient air bubbles in the livewell water while your tournament C&R fish and live bait is suffocating, getting sicker, red nose, lethargic and dying minute by minute in your “Death Well.” All live baiters and tournament fishermen know the summer transport mortality livewell routine intimately.  The tournament officials have your entry fees and of course, an official has heard your livewell pump or aerator running before the blast-off, when the boat is on the trailer at the boat ramp parking lot. The tournament official guesses, assumes your boat’s livewell is function when he heard the electric pumps motors humming and judges your boat livewell has a “Functional Livewell.” You have permission to fish this summer tournament. This ruling is a persistent 50-year joke that began in the early 1970’s. The tournament official that judge’s tournament boat livewells is the REAL JOKER and does not know the difference between a “Livewell” and a “Death-Well.”

Tournament officials testing livewell DO water quality in livewells containing a limit of tournament fish when the boat arrives at the weigh-in is the best way to confirm a functional livewell every summer; but DO testing is absolutely prohibited for very good reasons.

What if @ 4 PM tournament day, an official at the weigh-in site actually tested the boat livewell DO and the test revealed 2-4 PPM DO in the livewell containing a full limit of tournament fish. This live transport DO is deadly water quality for all the fish being transported all day and then, the official would have to disqualify the boat… would the contestant be refunded the tournament fees he paid early that day or no refund?

I doubt any contestants would ever get his tournament fee refunded, but quickly get another invitation to fish next weekend tournament. Testing tournament boat DO in summer tournaments would be a catastrophic PR mess and extremely embarrassing to return contestant’s tournament fees.

This type of tournament disqualification incident must be totally avoided at all costs by tournament officials for many reasons. The #1,2,3rd reason is money, money, money, 4th reason, the infamous old-fashioned C&R Functional Livewell Rule would be totally demystified, completely exposed having absolutely no validity or purpose.  

Keep the DO meter out of the contestants livewells… period, end of story forever and keep promoting the old, “we provide the BEST TOURNAMENT FISH CARE POSSIBLE MYTH ALIVE.” THAT’S MORE HUMBUG FODDER DESIGNED THE MISLEAD ALL THE TOURNAMENT “BUBBAS, THE PUBLIC AND THE POLITICIANS.”

At best, that tournament official only hopes your boat livewell is a “Functional. Of course, tournament boat livewells are never tested with a DO meter in livewells containing water and limits of fish in that livewell. That embarrassment would be too tall. 

Safe, sustained, excellent livewell water quality is what actually makes any livewell or bait tank “functional or non-functional.”  If the livewell contains live bait or tournament fish and the DO is actually tested and the dissolved oxygen test of that  livewell water is found NOT SAFE… be assured that that livewell is “NOT FUNCTIONAL.”

Every summer livewell mortality/morbidity begins right on time as predicted. In July, water temps are 80F and rising…there’s plenty air and water going into your livewell, but your water quality is bad, it is hypoxic.  In the Dog Days of Summer environmental water temperature peaks in the md 90’s F. Plenty of air and water, but your livewell full of bait or tournament fish contains low – no oxygen. Hypoxia is the Reaper that’s suffocating and killing your tournament fish and live bait. Summer is always predictable. Every live bait fisherman and tournament fisherman knows and will tell you the summer livewell problem is low/no oxygen in livewell water. Very few fishermen actually know how to fix this deadly summertime livewell mortality problem.

Fishermen casually use these two words oxygen and air interchangeably. We hear these words and read these words in fishing articles all the time. Fishermen have heard this summer problem results in low/no DO. Fishermen continue to give bait more air, more water flushed through the livewells and always hoping that more air and more water will insure more dissolved oxygen and reduction is summer livewell mortality and serious fisherman’s stress.  More air and more water will never solve the low oxygen problem in summer livewell death wells. Many fishery biologists tell fishermen the same thing, you need more oxygen in your livewell water in the summer; pump more air, use bigger livewell pumps, more water flushing through your livewell, you need ice, livewell chemical and hydrogen peroxide, yada, yada, yada!… and all these recommendations never work well in the summer, transport mortality/morbidity has not been reduced in 40 years.

THE REAL FISHERY SCIENCE IS DEFINATELY NOT RELATED TO POPULAR FISHERMAN “BRO-SCIENCE” DISCUSSED AT A BOAT RAMP OR A HOT INTERNET FISHING FORUM

NEVER CONFUSE USING SUPPLEMENTAL OXYGEN (LIFE SUPPORT) WITH AMBIENT AIR (AM ELECTRIC FAN)

OXYGEN – what is it?    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen

AIR – what is it?    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth’s_atmosphere

Nitrogen – what is it?    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrogen

AMBIENT AIR is a mixture of these 16 different gases:

Constituent Chemical symbol Mole percent
Nitrogen N2 78.084
Oxygen O2 20.947
Argon Ar 0.934
Carbon dioxide CO2 0.0350
Neon Ne 0.001818
Helium He 0.000524
Methane CH4 0.00017
Krypton Kr 0.000114
Hydrogen H2 0.000053
Nitrous oxide N2O 0.000031
Xenon Xe 0.0000087
Ozone* O3 trace to 0.0008
Carbon monoxide CO trace to 0.000025
Sulfur dioxide SO2 trace to 0.00001
Nitrogen dioxide NO2 trace to 0.000002
Ammonia NH3 trace to 0.0000003

The chart makes the SCIENTIFIC FACTS simple to see and easy to understand  and use. Learn why oxygen (supplemental pure 100% oxygen) is superior to Mother Nature’s Air and mechanical aeration if and when sustained safe livewell oxygenation is the primary livewell water quality goal for live baiters and tournament fishermen every summer.  

Electrical aerators and water pumps using an air entrainment venturis and spray bars aerate livewell water with ambient air. Air is often confused and misrepresented and misunderstood as oxygen.

FACT: The primary application of mechanical aeration used during professional live fish transports is to off-gas dissolved CO2 in live haul water, i.e., fish tanks, boat livewells, bait tanks and tuna tubes.

FISH HATCHERY DO STANDARDS FOR LIVE FISH TRANSPORTS: Optimum sustained dissolved oxygen saturation for live fish and live bait transports is 100% – 150% DO Saturation insured continuously for many hours of transport.  The “safe dose” of oxygen is adjusted to total stocking density being transported in livewell, bait tanks or live haul tanks… not to the gallons of transport water in the livewell. More bait/fish (heavier stocking densities) always requires more oxygen (not more air) for safe transport water quality for all the bait and fish being transported.

Many fishing articles, fishermen and some biologists are often unclear and often very misleading when it comes to talking and writing about these different dissolved gases (O2, N2, ambient air). How often have you read in fishing magazines or heard fishermen, a biologist, fishing tournament official, boat salesman aerator or bait pump salesman claim, “more aeration or bigger water pumps will ensure more dissolved oxygen, better livewell oxygenation or something similar. This is more HUMBUG!  SALESMAN’S SALES TALK.

The glaring fact that will not go away is; pumping more water and more aeration does not and will never ensure minimal safe oxygenation in any livewell or bait tank that is overstocked at any time of the year, especially in the summer.

FACT: The reason fish hatcheries always transport live fish with pure compressed oxygen or liquid oxygen (LOX) is to ensure that their transport water quality will never fall below 100% dissolved oxygen saturation, whether they are transporting one fish (like Texas Parks & Wildlife Department [bass] Lunker Program) or hauling 10,000 fish for a one-hour overland trip or a three-day trip hauling live fish from Florida to California.

It’s easy to confuse air with oxygen and nitrogen because these gases are all colorless, odorless and tasteless and they all make clear bubbles in livewell water.

When your bait or fish are dying in your livewell in the summer from low/no oxygen, consider adding supplemental oxygen to your livewell water and flush your livewell water twice daily to control metabolic toxins.

Success transporting live fish every summer is really so simple… provide safe doses of supplemental 100% oxygen continuously based on stocking density, not livewell water volume, maintain minimal safe DO Saturations (>100% DO Saturation) continuously with pure oxygen and change the livewell water a few times daily.

It’s easy to being a successful live bait and tournament fish transporter every summer for the remainder of your fishing life. Just prevent livewell suffocation and change your livewell/bait tank water a few times daily.