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Last Updated 11/9/2010

Do It Yourself Oxygenator
(I am happy to share this with everyone, but would love to get a little credit if you re-produce this document, and would prefer you link to it instead.)

Quick Note:
Hydrogen Peroxide breaks down into Oxygen and Water. If you can control this break down, the potential is to provide Oxygen in it's purest form to your tank with very little expense and great results. The use of this method to save fish during an electrical outage could prove extremely useful in the emergency care of fish as well.

The benifits to extra O2 being introduced into your tank:


The reaction of H2O2 into H2O & O2 causes heat. This heat (in the industrial pages) is said to distribute easily into the water that normal H2O2 is mixed in, but it bears noting since strong solutions of H2O2 break down faster as the heat increases. However, with the weak solution that is available for home use, I have not noticed any heat increase at all.

I accidentally suffocated some fish while trying to reduce surface aggitation to hold in more CO2 for my plants, so after reading a thread at The Planted Tank about a fancy 'Oxydator' that uses a copper 'catalyst' (potentially lethal to invertibrates) and a 'special ceramic' to break down Hydrogen Peroxide, and costs a pretty penny, I got busy and did some research finding this:
Small amounts of other materials that contain catalysts (silver, lead, copper, chromium, mercury, and iron oxide rust) can cause rapid decomposition and an explosive pressure rupture of the containing vessel if it is not properly vented. --- Product Information - Safety and Handling Guidelines

Of course this was talking about industrial grade Hydrogen Peroxide safety, but it gave me several options for a catalyst to break down Hydrogen Peroxide, one of which is already present in the plant and fish hobby.... lead.

And Now....

I have been playing around with the correct ammount of this and that for a while to get a good idea of how much O2 is needed, how much is produced, and how long it will produce, but I have the basics of a good Oxygenator that I would love to share with everyone.

(It is also a lot cheaper than the $70+ for a fancy Oxydator)


Set up:

1. Prepair the bottle... If you are not sure how to make this set up, please read over this link and put the bottle together the same way.
2. Add some glass rocks or marbles if it will go inside the tank to make it sink and keep it from tipping over
3. Fill the bottle 2/3 to 3/4 with common household Hydrogen Peroxide
4. Add a small piece of lead weight
5. Cap the bottle and place inside tank or put the airline/diffusor inside tank and place the bottle where it will not get tipped over

For regular use you can do it as an outside-the-tank system by running a longer air hose from the bottle into the tank, but it would take longer for pressure to build up and pump O2 down the hose, so the in-tank style may be better for emergency aplications.

Be sure to place your bottle in a possition that it will not get knocked over, or it will pump Hydrogen Peroxide directly into your tank. A bubble counter as shown at the end of this of this guide would be a good idea if there is any risk of the bottle being knocked over.

Shown 'In-Tank' Style with Tiny piece of lead:

My Notes:

I have been using a 16oz soda bottle with a 1cm x .5cm piece of thin lead weight (commonly used to hold down plant stems) with a fine bubble undergravel diffusor stuck right under my sponge pre-filter on my power head. The bubbles collect in the sponge and slowly disolve there.

So far it is providing a good amount of O2 to my 55 gallon tank filled with lots of guppies and shrimp, and I no longer have to worry about suffocating my fish despite having almost no surface movement at all. This set up has been going for well over 2 months and is still producing a tiny stream of bubbles.

After time, the lead weight becomes less effective from oxydization. I have found that by adding another small piece of lead after a month or two, more O2 will be produced again.

My tank has been cleaner and my fish, shrimp, and plants have all seemed healthier since I have started using the oxygenator.

If you use the oxygenator in a case like mine (where I am depending on that little bit of extra O2 to keep my fish healthy and happy in an environment with almost no surface movement)... I STRONGLY recomend using two bottles started about a month apart, so that when one bottle is running out of Peroxide to break down, the other is running strong. This will keep a more constant level of introduced oxygen and reduce the risk of ever running completely out.

There are many ways to better diffuse CO2 bubbles into your tank water... these can be used in the same way to diffuse oxygen produced from an Oxygenator.


A few frequently asked questions from forums:

Copyright 2007
Write Up by T. Fells