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Can Airstone Get Clogged? How to Clean Clogged Airstones?



Can Airstones get Clogged

An aquarium is a delicate ecosystem and needs good maintenance for it to thrive at its best. There are several aspects to look after such as temperature, water flow, pH levels, water hardness, and many more. Among them an important one is aeration. Aeration not only enhances the visual appeal of bubbling streams and shimmering surfaces but also plays a crucial role in maintaining optimal oxygen levels for fish and other inhabitants.  

For aeration usually, an airstone is utilized which is a device that produces bubbles and promotes the movement of water. But adding an airstone is not enough, you also need to maintain it for it can sometimes go under complications. A simple question has been troubling aquarists: Can an airstone get clogged?

Yes, aquarium airstones can get clogged over time. Here are a few key points about clogged aquarium airstones:

  • The small pores in airstones can become blocked with mineral deposits, algae, and other debris. This restricts air flow and reduces oxygenation of the water.
  • Signs of a clogged airstone include smaller or fewer bubbles, increased noise from the air pump, and bubbles only coming from one area of the stone.

In this article, we take you through the facets of airstones and suggest ways to unclog one.  

Why Do Airstones get clogged?  

Why Do Airstones get clogged?  
Image source – Hygger Online

An air stone is typically made of a porous stone or lime wood and is connected to an air pump which when turned on produces bubbles in the aquarium. These bubbles then contribute to the movement of the water column. Now as these air stones are turned on all the time, the effectiveness of it is gradually gone as time passes.  

In some time air stones cannot perform properly because they get clogged over time. Therefore, yes, air stones can get clogged. This occurs because of the minerals present in the water column. The higher the mineral content the higher chances there is that the air stone will get clogged.  

Aquarium airstones get clogged for a few main reasons:

  • Mineral deposits – Most tap water contains dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium. As air bubbles pass through the airstone, these minerals can precipitate out and form deposits that clog the small pores. Hard water with high mineral content leads to more rapid buildup.
  • Algae growth – Algae spores floating in the water can get caught in the small pores of the airstone and grow, restricting air flow. Airstones near the water surface that get more light exposure are more prone to algae growth.
  • Organic debris – Bits of plant matter, fish waste, and uneaten food can get lodged in the pores of the airstone over time. This is more likely in poorly maintained tanks.
  • Old age – Even with regular cleaning, airstones will eventually accumulate mineral and organic buildup that can’t be removed. Older airstones tend to have more clogging issues.
  • Inadequate aeration – Insufficient air flow through the airstone allows more time for buildup to occur inside the pores. Running the air pump at lower settings can contribute to clogging over time.

Regular airstone cleaning and replacement when needed helps prevent severe clogging and maintain proper oxygen levels for aquarium inhabitants. Using a protein skimmer and changing water can also reduce buildup.

How do you unclog an Airstone? 

Once you notice that the air stone is not performing well, there is a possibility that it is clogged. So, the next thing you should do is unclog it. There are several ways by which you can unclog your air stone. Let’s see what they are:  

1. Unclog using bleach  

You can use bleach to unclog the air stone if it is severely clogged.  

  • First, remove the air stone from the aquarium and then rinse it. If there is any kind of debris or mineral deposits, scrub it off and let it dry.  
  • Then boil some fresh water and once it starts boiling add the air stone to it. Keep the air stone in the boiling water for about 8 to 10 minutes and then leave it to dry.  
  • While it is drying you have to make a bleach solution. Make sure the bleach is not concentrated in the water, make it a diluted solution of bleach.  In a clean bucket or container, combine nine parts water with one part bleach (9:1) to get a 10% bleach solution. This makes the solution less concentrated.
  • Add the dried-up air stone to the bleach solution and keep it soaked for about a day. If the clogging was bad then leave it there for one more day.  
  • After removing it from the bleach solution, you need to add it to fresh water. Connect it to an air pump and let it run in the freshwater for five to ten minutes. With this, the bleach from the air stone will be removed.  
  • Then remove it from the solution and let the air stone dry. Once this is done then the air stone will begin to work as brand new and keep your aquarium oxygenated.  

You can buy Bleach directly from or from any local store nearby.

2. Boiling the air stone  

Boiling an aquarium airstone is one method some people use to try to unclog and clean it.

  • If the clogging is mild, then only boiling will do. There is no need for any kind of chemicals such as bleach.  
  • You will have to add the stone to boiling water and let it boil for 5 to 10 minutes.  
  • After boiling the air stone remove it and leave it to dry.  
  • Once it is dry, the air stone is ready for use in your aquarium.  
  • Boiling can help dissolve and loosen some types of buildup and debris that is clogging the pores of the airstone. Mineral deposits, organic materials, and even algae may be removed with boiling.
  • t’s best to detach the airline tubing and only boil the airstone itself. The high heat can damage or melt the tubing.
  • Use clean, dechlorinated water for boiling the airstone. Tap water may further contaminate and clog the stone. Distilled water works best.
  • Not all clogs can be fully removed with boiling. Old, damaged, or very clogged stones may need to be replaced for optimal function.
  • Be sure to let the airstone fully cool and dry before reattaching to the aquarium.

Boiling can extend the usable life of an airstone, but regular cleaning and replacement over time is still needed. Check for improved bubbling after boiling to confirm the airstone was unclogged.

3. Use an air compressor or bicycle air pump to force air through an air stone  

You can also unclog an air stone by forcing air through it. For this, you will need a bicycle air pump or air compressor.  

  • First, you have to get the air pump in a different container with clean water free of chemicals.  
  • Then hook up the air stone to an air compressor or bicycle air pump.  
  • Then just use the pump or compressor to simply force the air through the porous air stone. Keep doing it several times.  

The clogging will be remedied and the air stone will begin to produce bubbles as it was new.  

Do airstones need to be cleaned? 

You must clean your air stones. Like any other equipment of the aquarium, the air stone needs maintenance and regular cleaning for it to keep performing at its best. So must clean your air stones regularly to prevent it from getting clogged. There are several ways that you can follow to clean your air stones.  

Cleaning air stones with vinegar  

You can clean your air stones with vinegar and can even help unclog your air stones.  

  • First off, you need to make a vinegar and water solution.  
  • Then remove your air stone from the aquarium and then soak it in the vinegar solution for about a day.  
  • Soaking it in a vinegar solution only cleans the air stone but can remove clogging as well. It is effective against calcium buildup.  
  • Remove the air stone from the solution and then let it dry. You can also let the air run through the stone for it to dry quickly.  

Cleaning air stones with hydrogen peroxide  

Hydrogen peroxide is also effective in cleaning an air stone.  

  • For this, you will need hydrogen peroxide. Put it in a container and soak the air stone in it.  
  • Let it soak for about 8 hours, and then remove the stone from it.  
  • The next step is to clean the airstone thoroughly. You must rinse it and let all the remaining hydrogen peroxide go away.  

Then leave it to dry or you can run air through it by an air pump for some minutes.  

How often should I change Airstone?   

When it comes to how long you can use an air stone, there is no definite answer. That is if you keep cleaning it and unclogging it regularly. By maintaining an air stone you do not have to often change or replace your air stone.  

But sometimes changing can prove to be beneficial as it is not expensive. As air stones can start becoming less effective in a few weeks, then you should change your air stone every 6 to 8 weeks. 

How to clean algae off air stone?  

If you air stone is infested with algae then cleaning it is the first thing you should do. You can follow any cleaning method such as boiling, bleach, vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.  

But the best one to clean algae off air stones is hydrogen peroxide.  


Regular maintenance and cleaning of airstones are essential to preserving their efficiency and longevity. By employing simple yet effective techniques, such as soaking in bleach, boiling it, socking in vinegar and many more can keep your air stone effective. Regular maintenance is necessary for every aquarium equipment and air stone is one too. Therefore as responsible aquarium owners do not neglect air stones. 

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