Aquarium Bubble Wand Not Working

Aquarium Bubble Wand Not Working

If you care for a home aquarium, it’s likely that you’ve introduced a bubble wand to your tank at some point to improve the oxygen in the water. These aesthetically pleasing and purposeful devices can become faulty at times, though, and we’re going to get to the bottom of why. 

Aquarium bubble wands usually fail to work because they are clogged with dirt, substrate, algae, or even bacteria. Or, they might just be too old. Fortunately, you can fix most bubble wands by cleaning, disinfecting, and re-installing them into your aquarium.

If you want to learn the specifics of how to take the above steps and what cleaning products work best, keep reading. In this article, we’re exploring all the possible reasons your bubble wand or stone may have stopped working and ways to unclog them. Stick around to the end to get all the details. 


Aqueon Fish Tank Aquarium Flexible LED Accent Light and Bubble Wand, Multi Color, 14 Inch
Aqueon Fish Tank Aquarium Flexible LED Accent Light and Bubble Wand, Multi Color, 14 Inch
Flexible Wand bends around aquarium décor; Available with multi color or blue LEDs; Ideal decorative accent or night light

Why is my bubble wand not working?

Bubble wands – sometimes “bubble stones” are important in aerating your aquarium and performing oxygenation. Fish, of course, need oxygen in order to complete their respiratory processes (breathe). Even decaying matter in a home aquarium uses up some of the water’s oxygen content. 

But there’s only so much oxygen available in a small tank of water, so you’ll eventually need to supplement it with a bubble device. These devices stop working for a variety of reasons, but it’s usually because they’re clogged up and the air can’t escape.

1. Your Bubble Wand Is Old

One more obvious reason a bubble wand or stone might stop working is that your tank has simply outlived it. Buy a cheap or low-quality bubble wand, and it’s likely to meet its demise sooner than you would like. 

But before you jump to this worst-case scenario and buy a new one, consider some of the other reasons it might not be working. 

2. Bacteria Clog

Another reason the bubble wand isn’t aerating the tank is that it is clogged with bacteria. There are several sources of bacteria in a fish tank – such as the substrate. But most bacteria in a tank is actually good and useful in getting rid of your creatures’ waste so they don’t get poisoned by it. 

A bubble wand can build up with bad bacteria on the inside, though. And this may clog it up to the point where it’s not releasing helpful oxygen into the tank. If this is the case, it likely needs to get cleaned or boiled.

3. Algae Clog

Algae might be another reason for a bubble wand clog. Solid and unmoving surfaces in fish tanks are the perfect environment for algae to grow, especially if they’re exposed to sunlight. This is why bubble wands might get algae buildup on them. 

If this is the case, it likely needs a good cleaning, scrape-down, and boiling to kill the algae off and restore the wand back to working order.

4. Dirt and Debris Clog

Finally, if your bubble wand isn’t broken but isn’t working either, it may be that it’s clogged with dirt, debris, and other particles found in your tank. 

Sometimes, bubble wands even get clogged with the waste (poo) from fish and other creatures if there’s not enough bacteria working to consume it. Again, this is fixable, but you’ll need to remove it and do some deep cleaning first. 

Why are the bubbles in my fish tank not popping?

When you use a bubble stone or wand in your fish tank, chances are you’ll notice a buildup of bubbles from time to time. The bubbles need to have fresh, clean water if they’re going to pop. Otherwise, they’ll just float around in the tank before rising to the water’s surface and sitting there. 

Usually, the water is too dirty for bubbles to pop because too much protein has built up in the tank. When protein coats air bubbles in water, it becomes a barrier that keeps them from breaking. 

If your aquarium doesn’t have a decent or working filtration system, protein may build up like this. It can also happen if you simply haven’t cleaned the tank out in a long time. 

How do you unclog a bubble stone?

Luckily, you can easily unclog a bubble stone by removing it from your aquarium and trying out the following methods:

  • Soak the stone in a high-quality dish soap solution with water and thoroughly rinse
  • Dilute some concentrated bleach with distilled water and soak the stone in this mix to kill off bacteria and remove sludge
  • For heat-proof bubble stones, boil them in clean water and then rinse thoroughly with high-pressure water
  • Scrub the debris out of the stone using a gentle brush, dish soap, and water 

Or, you can make sure you are regularly cleaning your tank by using aquarium cleaning tablets in the tank water to keep the equipment clear of debris.

Do you need an air pump for a bubble wand?

Generally, yes, an air pump device is necessary for a bubble wand to properly aerate an aquarium. 

The air pump is powered by a waterproof electrical cord that extends out of a tank drill hole or other exit and plugs into an outlet. This is what allows the oxygen to move into the bubble wand’s air tube and disperse the air into your tank’s water.

Final Thoughts

Have you found yourself in a situation where your aquarium bubble wand isn’t working and it’s affecting the quality of life in the tank? This may be due to a broken bubble wand, or it could be happening because your wand is clogged with dirt, debris, bacteria, fish waste, or even algae growth. 

To fix this problem and get your bubble wand aerating your tank again, you need to properly remove it, clean it, and re-install it. Consider one of our above cleaning methods, such as boiling, scrubbing, soaking, or washing. You can even get ahead of the clogging issue by regularly using cleaning tablets in your aquarium to manage the build up of dirt and debris.