Diffusing oxygen is used for numerous tasks in indoor and hydroponic gardening including de-chlorinating water and providing ample oxygen in hydroponic systems. It's the process of pumping atmospheric air through a diffusing stone or tube to create tiny bubbles which infuse the water with more oxygen. In a deep water culture system this process is essential to allow the roots to stay fully submerged in the nutrient solution while having access to the oxygen normally found in a well aerated soil. In nature this process occurs through waves and falling water, but with modern tools you have the ability to increase the oxygenation performance by selecting the right product for your needs.
What are the differences between air stones and diffusers?
Air stones have long been the standard for air diffusion in water. They are commonly used in aquariums to provide oxygen for fish and other animals and are easy to find at most pet supply and hardware stores. They are made with a porous rock containing many small holes and come in many shapes and sizes. One of the negative aspects of air stones are their small size which results in a concentration of bubbles in one location rather than an even distribution of bubbles. This concentration of bubbles can cause irregular and asymmetrical root growth in deep water culture systems leading to lower growth rates and plant health issues. They are also very prone to clogging and developing a film build up which can seriously affect the performance.
Air diffusers on the other hand are made from flexible tubes with an even distribution of holes across their large surface area. Since they are much larger than most air stones and can be bent into unique shapes they do a much better job of evenly distributing the bubbles inside a water reservoir or in a hydroponic growth module. They are also able to create smaller bubbles as the material is more like rubber than stones allowing more control in the manufacturing process. Air diffusers also put less load on air pumps than air stones helping them last longer.
For use in gardening, air diffusers are a better choice than the less efficient air stones and are what we recommend.
We carry a wide range of air diffusers on hydrobuilder.com and are happy to answer any questions you have have about how to properly oxygenate your water supply at 888-815-9763. Current Culture, the leading manufacturer of deep water culture hydroponic systems recommends changing out your air diffusers every one to two grows for the best performance. Their brand of air diffusers called Aqua Pore are what we recommend for most growers.
Check out our video below to see air diffusers in action!
Take a look at some examples of air diffusers to get a better idea of the range of shapes and sizes:
Learn more about how water temperature and dissolved oxygen work together in hydroponic systems here.