WEBPAGE UPDATED                                  Monday  January 6, 2020

The Oxygen Edge™, a livewell oxygen injection system that ensures continuous safe livewell oxygenation all day in the hottest summer temperatures.  Pure 100% oxygen guarantees the best summer tournament bass care possible in bass boat livewells all day.

When avoiding that “dead fish penality,” you can providing the best tournament bass care possible on your bass boat all day and if bass conservation is importance to you, you need a livewell oxygen injection system to provide the BEST BASS CARE POSSIBLE.

Just like the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, Freshwater Fisheries ShareLunker Program in Athens, Texas transports 13 lb. trophy bass hundreds of miles across Texas. They never uses mechanical aerators to insure safe dependable oxygenation in their haul tank, they always use 100% pure oxygen administered with oxygen-injection technology.

Tournament fishermen who choose their summer tournament fish care wisely and responsibly have a far greater likelihood of success and winning, while those fishermen who choose foolishly and irresponsibly have a far greater likelihood of the “dead fish punishment” and tournament failure.  Tournament success and failure usually exhibits by winning or losing, directly affecting pride, personal and family income.

A SCIENCE FACT: Every summer, tournament fishermen worry about the “dead fish punishment rule” often caused by low dissolved oxygen (livewell hypoxia), a unique summer time problem. They also worry about battery drain, water pump and aerator failure, Hypoxia/suffocation (the all day transport in their bass boat livewell)  which is most serious fish stressor and the number 1 cause of acute and delayed summer bass tournament mortality. RE: Sustained livewell suffocation (low oxygen) in bass boat livewells 6-8 hours in summer tournaments.  VisitOxygenation of Livewells to Improve Survival of Tournament-Caught Bass by Fishery Biologist Randy Myers and Jason Driscoll TPWP, Inland Fisheries Division, San Antonio, TX Publication 6/2011

A TOURNAMENT FISHING FACT: In a summer tournament 1 bass dies in your livewell albeit your boat livewells were certified a “FUNCTIONAL LIVEWELL” by a tournament official; that “dead fish punishment” is expensive,  heart breaking when money, prizes and fame is lost because your livewell was really not functional and 1 fish died before the weigh-in… you often become an instant loser when/if 1 fish dies in your boat livewell!

This defines a “functional livewell”



American Fisheries Society Interactive Black Bass Management Workshop held February 10, 2006 in San Antonio, Texas

The purpose of this AFS workshop, “Anglers and Biologist Working Together To Make Fishing Better For You.”

In open forum, a panel of prominent state fishery experts representing Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and North Carolina all were asked two questions regarding what they and their State Fish Hatchery Directors considered a safe oxygenation range for live black bass transports. Their post release survival rates are excellent. So what do they do that is so different than tournament bass fishermen and tournament directors when they transport live black bass in order to ensure a safe, healthy transport environment for live captive bass and maximum post release survival?

What’s really so different about how the experts transport live bass vs. how tournament bass fishermen and tournament directors transport live captive bass?

The difference is vast: the State Fishery experts provide the best bass transport care possible, administering pure oxygen continuously during the entire time live bass are being transported.

Bass tournament fishermen and tournament directors that are not willing to provide the best bass care possible only provide mechanical aeration (air) for the catch which is less than the best bass care possible as defined by these State Fishery experts.

The Panel of State Fishery Experts Queried:

Phil Durocher, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Director Inland Fisheries

Fred Harris, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Tim Morrison, Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries

Mark Oliver, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Q. What type aeration system do you use when you transport live black bass to ensure safe dissolved oxygen saturations in transport tank water and prevent hypoxia?

A: We DO NOT EVER use any mechanical aeration devices or air to ensure safe oxygenation during live bass transports anytime. We use only pure oxygen, (LOX) liquid oxygen or compressed oxygen for all live fish transports exclusively.

Q. When your hatchery staff is transporting mature live bass with pure oxygen, what do you consider safe oxygen saturation range and what are your oxygen requirements for all your live bass transports?

A: We require a minimum dissolved oxygen DO saturation of 100% to 15 ppm DO supersaturation to be maintained continuously while the bass are in captivity being transported through final release.

All these fishery experts require the continuous administration of pure oxygen for all live bass transports to prevent hypoxia and deadly cascading effects anaerobic metabolism. Conscientious live bass transporters are very concerned about post release survival and secondary disease caused by prolonged hypoxic transports because unlike the average tournament bass fisherman, their job and paycheck depends on their success. Their bass don’t die in the transport tank and thrive after final release.

These State Fishery experts do provide the best bass transport care possible and back it up with their live transport procedures, oxygenation standards and daily live haul protocol.




Bait Care & Tournament Survival

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Without enough oxygen, life ends. Just ask the minnows panting in your bait bucket or those belly-up bass in bass boat livewells in the summer and floating in the marina and lake after a summer tournament. Our own need for oxygen is extremely stressful if we go without oxygen for even a minute. Since fish extract oxygen from water, though, it’s hard for us to appreciate how much oxygen they need.

In Fisherman Graph


Gene Gilliland, a fishery biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, has conducted studies of bass tournament mortality for over a decade. He’s worked with angler groups to determine causes of mortality and to teach methods to increase survival of released fish.

“I checked oxygen levels of tournament boats as they returned to the dock,” Gilliland says. “Many livewells had less than 4 parts per million dissolved oxygen. Though most bass were alive, high stress levels caused excessive delayed mortality in the days after the competition. I then questioned anglers on their use of salt, livewell additives, ice, and the operation of their aeration systems.

“Most anglers mistakenly believed that running their aerators on the automatic timer was sufficient for as many bass as they could catch,” he says. “They often told me that they didn’t know how much air bass needed. Obviously, livewell design, size, and efficiency varies. Human variables and weather conditions, particularly water temperature, affect water quality and fish mortality. If the lake is over 75 degrees, it’s impossible to keep the dissolved oxygen level in your livewell much over 5 or 6 ppm, even with no fish in it.”

When you consider that levels below 5 ppm are stressful and that walleyes require nearly three times as much oxygen as bass, it becomes evident why fish are so hard to keep alive with standard equipment. Part of the problem with aeration is that air is only 21 percent oxygen. Fish need oxygen, not the extra nitrogen and trace gases that make up our atmosphere. The answer is injecting pure oxygen into livewells or bait tanks.

David Kinser of Anahuac, Texas, has developed oxygenation systems for tournament boats, boat bait wells, and dockside bait tanks. His systems supercharge water with oxygen, boosting dissolved oxygen over 20 ppm, even in water over 80 degrees. These systems are popular with freshwater and saltwater anglers.

Kingfish and striper tournament boats are increasingly equipped with oxygenation systems. Not only don’t baitfish die, but they’re unusually more active on the hook and they draw more strikes. Short-term oxygen supersaturation hasn’t been shown to harm fish, as some observers had feared. Instead, it seems to suppress the stress response that occurs in captive fish.

Gene Gilliland and other researchers have tested the system in bass tournament conditions in Oklahoma and have found it capable of reducing mortality in summer to below 10 percent; continuous aeration resulted in mortality over 20 percent; and the use of ice and salt resulted in 18 percent mortality. Gilliland says, “Adding oxygen to the livewell is the best option for keeping bass healthy in summer.”

                                                  THE SYSTEM

Oxygenation systems involve a cylinder of medical or welding-grade oxygen and flow regulators to maintain adequate oxygen levels. Tubing and finely porous airstones or micro-pore tubing provide flow into the livewell or bait tank. The cost of an oxygen system ranges from about $350 for a boat unit to $600 or more for a larger bait tank unit.

Once installed, cost of running pure oxygen is just a couple cents per hour, as the small onboard tank will provide supersaturated oxygen for several days and can be refilled from a larger tank at home, or at a welding shop, fire station, or hospital. Kinser also has built systems that release pure oxygen into lakes during summer stratification, attracting large schools of baitfish and predators to the oxygen-saturated water.

Pure oxygen demands caution. While it doesn’t burn, oxygen does intensify fire. As a result, onboard tanks should be mounted securely and away from sources of fuel or vapors such as the bilge. Gilliland mounted his tank in the small compartment under the driver’s seat, running the tube rearward into the livewell of his Champion boat.

For more information about Kinser’s oxygenation system, contact David Kinser, Oxygenation Systems of Texas, PO Box 383, Anahuac, TX77514, 409/267-6458,



We thank the author for permission to reprint.


When pure oxygen is not provided during live transports, intentionally withheld in bass boat livewells all day by anglers and or tournament directors in summer weigh-in holding tanks and live release boat livewells, be assured the quality of live bass care they are willing to provide is certainly LESS THAN THE BEST BASS CARE POSSIBLE.

That’s easy to recognize when you know what to look for. Look for the compressed oxygen tanks.  It’s very easy to see which anglers and which tournament directors are not willing to provide the best tournament bass care possible, they will be using air with  mechanical aerators and water pumps in their bass boat livewells, release boat livewells and weigh-in holding tanks in summer bass tournaments.

Gilliand's Ultimate Fish Care System
Gilliand’s Ultimate Fish Care System

(Systems providing pure oxygen advance tournament fish care technology to State-of-the-Art)  A turn-on-and-forget livewell oxygenation system that works exceptionally well in the summer.  Gilliland’s Ultimate Fish Care System

"Fish Friendly" Weigh-In Setup
“Fish Friendly” Weigh-In Setup

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation fishery biologist and B.A.S.S. Federation angler, Gene Gilliland has researched tournament-related delayed mortality for several years (B.A.S.S. Times, Feb. 1993 and July 1998 & Bassmaster Magazine, July/August 2000).  Gilliland found that good weigh-in technique was not enough, especially in hot weather.   “All that first-aid at weigh-in won’t help fish that have been mistreated in the boat all day,” he says.

He noted that most tournament anglers assume their boat’s live well system will do an adequate job of keeping their catch alive.   “Maybe so in the spring, but it takes a great deal more than that to keep fish healthy during summer tournaments.  Better management of live well water quality is essential,” says Gilliland.  “With a little extra effort, anglers can reduce delayed mortality to less than 25%.”

Unfortunately, that extra effort is the snag.  Why?  To most tournament anglers who have weighed-in, loaded their boats and gone home, delayed mortality is out-of-sight, out-of-mind.  Gilliland observed, “They don’t see dead fish, don’t realize there is a problem, so they don’t see the need to do anything differently.”  

Gilliland knew the best livewell oxygen injection system would be one that was truly “set-it-and-forget-it”, one that always ensured DO saturations 100% or greater in any summer tournament boat livewells regardless of the number and total weight of bass in the livewell (high stocking density).



Gene Gilliland contacted Oxygenation Systems of Texas, makers of The Oxygen Edge™, and offered to give it an unbiased scientific evaluation under extreme summer conditions, when acute and delayed tournament bass mortality is most severe.

This was the research and preparation for a new tournament bass care booklet to be published by B.A.S.S./ESPN in the 21st century entitled… “KEEPING BASS ALIVE.”

Oxygenation vs Aeration Test Results
Oxygenation vs Aeration Test Results

The tests were conducted at a lake in Southern Oklahoma during the blistering summer of 1998.  Air temperatures ranged from 78 degrees each morning to as much as 108 degrees in the afternoon.  Tournament conditions were simulated using Gilliland’s personal bass boat, with The Oxygen Edge™ system aboard. Kinser provided oxygen safety instructions and oxygen system operational instructions for Gilliland. Bass were caught and placed in the boat’s live well for each 8-hour trial period with either continuous flow-through aeration or pure oxygen injected into livewell water. After each trial, the fish were kept for six days for serial observations in special holding nets designed for tournament mortality research.

THE EPA STANDARD ENVIRONMENTAL DO CONSIDERED “SAFE” IS  5 PPM: 5 PPM DO is the EPA standard environmental water DO  standard considered by the EPA to be minimally safe dissolved oxygen levels for non-stressed fish living undisturbed in their normal steady state environments, with no unnatural captivity stress or live transport conditions present. In 1998 biologists consider oxygen levels below 3 parts per million (ppm) as lethal in the steady state environment

STATE AND FEDERAL FISH HATCHERIES TRANSPORT LIVE FISH “MINIMAL SAFE” IS 100% DO SATURATION or GREATER: But, hooking, fighting, landing and handling tournament caught bass on a hot summer day, captivity and transport in a small overstocked bass boat livewell with unsafe low livewell DO saturations all day causes profound fish stress which neither normal or steady state for the captive fish being transported.

Live fish transport water quality DO standards are very different than the steady state EPA environmental DO water quality standards for lake /river  environments.

Considering that tournament-caught fish caught in hot summer tournaments are highly stressed and severely hypoxic after hooking, landing, handling and holding in small boat live wells 7-8 hours, the sustained physiological oxygen debt explains the high summer livewell kills and excessive delayed mortality. High tournament mortality problems are normal and should be expected every summer.

Chronic sustained low oxygen livewell stress negatively affects the immune system resulting in excessive tournament delayed mortality. Bacterial and viral micro organisms are prolific in summer livewell water, infections waiting for opportune times of additional fish stressors. Oxygen levels in the [control] boat live well during the aeration-only trials ranged from 7 ppm down to a near-lethal 4 ppm.

Flow Through Aeration Does Not Provide Enough Oxygen
Flow Through Aeration Does Not Provide Enough Oxygen

Gilliland stressed, “minimum [livewell] oxygen levels are what is really important, rather than average or peak levels.  A high value and a low value may average out to something in between, but if it [hypoxia] persisted long enough, that low oxygen level may have killed the fish!”  

Compressed Oxygen Absolutely Prevents Tournament Fish Suffocation in All Bass Boat Live Wells Every Summer
Compressed Oxygen Absolutely Prevents Tournament Fish Suffocation in All Bass Boat Live Wells Every Summer

During The Oxygen Edge™ trials, the oxygen levels peaked at over 22 ppm >100% DO Saturation, with minimums of no less than 8 ppm, 100% DO Saturation even when oxygen-poor lake water < 80% DO Saturation was added to flush waste ammonia and carbon dioxide from the live wells containing limits of bass.

The results of the livewell oxygenation experiments were very encouraging.  As was the case in Gilliland’s previous research, mortality of bass that were held in live wells using aeration-only was around 22% kill.  Recirculating and aerating ice-cooled water and adding salt reduced the mortality to 18% kill.

Delayed mortality of bass held in the oxygenated live well was 93% survival and only 7% kill.  Gilliland emphasized that mortality values would vary slightly from test to test, location to location.

 Average Delayed Mortality of Bass Following Eight Summer Tournaments: Live Well Aeration, Ice, Salt & Recirculation vs. Simply Adding Compressed Oxygen Only into Live Well Water.
Average Delayed Mortality of Bass Following Eight Summer Tournaments: Live Well Aeration, Ice, Salt & Recirculation vs. Simply Adding Compressed Oxygen Only into Live Well Water.

The point is that adding oxygen significantly improved survival and significantly reduced the mortality rate of bass compared to other recommended methods.  Twenty percent more healthy bass were returned to the lake when oxygen was bubbled into the live well.”  

Adding pure oxygen with a system like The Oxygen Edge™, cooling the water slightly, adding non-iodized salt and live well conditioners like Catch-and-Release™ are currently the state-of-the-art.  That’s the best an angler can do.   Using this system, anglers can reduce the mortality associated with summer tournaments to the levels typically seen in springtime events (on average, less than 10%).  Gilliland feels that such levels are probably not harming bass populations and a significant reduction in the summer would go a long way towards eliminating the negative image that tournament-related fish kills give bass tournaments.

“However,” Gilliland notes, “oxygenation systems are the BEST option tournament anglers have for keeping their catch healthy in the summer.”   “For only a few hundred dollars, how can any tournament angler justify not using something that will conserve our bass fishing resources for the future and reduce the negative perceptions that others have of the sport?

For more information on live well operation and weigh-in procedures contact Gilliland at the Oklahoma Fishery Research Lab, 500 E. Constellation, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-7288  

We thank Gene Gilliland for permission to reprint.

Gene Gilliland is currently B.A.S.S. Conservation Director effective January 1, 2014.

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