If you look really well at a bubbler you'll see that the bubbles go straight up. They don't add all that much oxygen to the tank while going up. So, the main thing those silly contraptions provide is a visual effect that some people enjoy.
Plants, by the time you see pearling you will have had quite a bit of oxygen that's already gone into the water without you seeing it. Would be a good idea in your case. You're providing almost no cover at all to your fish
If you really want aeration use a spraybar on your filter and hang this an inch over the water surface.
I've not used a bubbler for years. They do help with aeration (increasing surface area of air-water surface) and can significantly improve circulation if you have and dead spots. But I would only use one in emergencies (sick tank, broken filter etc). They're not very nice to look at, and are a pain to weight.
I have a heavily stocked, planted tank. Very little surface movement (not ideal) and no issues with oxygenation. Monitor your fish behaviour and they will tell you if they're breathing ok.
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Adding my two cents - any time one has high oxygen demand, such as with high density planting (remember, plants use oxygen when the lights are off) or a number of large fish or a lot of small fish in a tall tank (less surface area per fish) than anything that increases the 'surface area" (i.e. bubbles going to the top do produce a lot of extra surface area; so besides just breaking the surface tension, a stone/wand do increase oxygen dissolved in the water) will aid the fish. Further, some meds can cause oxygen levels to drop so an air stone or bubble wand would be essential. Finally, some pieces of equipment - like my nitrate filter from hell - will deplete oxygen in the water so again, an air stone/wand is very useful. Also, filter bacteria use up oxygen and waste in a substrate will consume oxygen (all these are limited but still a strain on supply.)
That all said, for the average tank, I think it is not required but will always help and in special circumstances, can be critically important: bottom line: always helpful, never harmful, so a good idea to have unless (like you) it causes issues and you really don't need it.
Due to my large discus, I always keep a wand going even with my in tank algae scrubber (produces very large bubble's so the extra surface area is limited compared to an air stone or wand). My canister's spray bar is too close to the waters upper surface to add much extra oxygen, and UGF's do use oxygen so I use a wand to produce a lot of tiny bubbles (which translate into a large surface area exposed to oxygen.) Finally, I keep the wand under one of my horizontal underwater heater units and it helps to circulate the heated water even faster and more completely.
Last edited by Cermet; 02-10-2013 at 11:41 AM.
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A 75 gal with eight Discus, fake plants, and a lot of wood also with sand substrate. Clean up crew is fifteen Sterba's Corys. Filters: canister w/UV, in-tank algae scrubber that removes phosphates and nitrates! Also, a highly dangerous commercial nitrate removal unit from hell
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What? Oh, hang on. I remember a discussion last year. Some said that in densly planted tanks extra air is a must because otherwise your fish suffocate at night. Was that you?
Originally Posted by Cermet
This is good information, thanks. I will keep an eye on things and if I start to see signs of oxygen depravation, I will just put it back in.