DIY Homemade Fishing Oxygen Systems

WEBPAGE UPDATED                                         Wednesday  January 1, 2020

Homemade fishing oxygen systems for livewells and bait tanks are often made with commercial high pressure oxygen regulators and click style pediatric aluminum medical oxygen regulators, air tubing and other components that probably are not cleaned or certified for Pure Oxygen Service.

Aluminum Fishing Oxygen Regulator Failure, Galvanic Corrosion

These are commercial, adjustable fish oxygen regulators:

Southern Aquaculture Supply, Inc.

Aquamerik commercial adjustable oxygen regulators

Homemade Oxygen System
Homemade Oxygen System

This homemade fishing oxygen system entrains pure oxygen into a Rule, Inc. electric water pump through a venturi devices on the inlet side of this Rule water pump to make “millions of micro-fine pure oxygen bubbles.”     *IMPORTANT – See Rule, Inc. opinion

Air tubing and aquarium tubing that is not cleaned or certified for pure oxygen service contains residual petroleum. Oil, petroleum, pure 100% oxygen @ 50 PSI service pressure is a potential fire hazard. Air tubing is cheap/inexpensive and often run  through wiring chases’ adjacent to live electrical wires (a serious fire hazard).

Oxygen equipment is often stored in a boat compartment with batteries, live electricity and oil products. Some homemade oxygen system builds are not concerned about oxygen enrichment (24% oxygen environments) with electric water pumps, in boat bilges or live electricity inside any oxygen enriched livewells gas spaces. Lubricating oxygen equipment with oil and WD-40 to prevent corrosion is also a common fire hazard.

Some fishermen and salesmen consider high pressure oxygen cylinders strapped on a thin plastic ice chest lid with a couple screws and straps as Safe and Secured. – SAFETY HAZARD and FIRE HAZARD

Some fishermen that build and use homemade fishing oxygen systems are neither concerned nor aware of “Rules of the Oxygen Road” nor any general safety requirements when using pure oxygen, securing high pressure oxygen equipment, oxygen enriched gas spaces (24% O2 concentration or greater) , transporting oxygen and using oxygen equipment on boats, highways or storing oxygen at home.

Many fishing oxygen systems are assembled with combinations of illegal prescription click style pediatric medical oxygen regulators and other inexpensive  commercial “off the shelf” components that are often unsafe to use with pure oxygen service and not cleaned  or certified for use with pure oxygen service. Oxygen gas and high pressure oxygen equipment is normally used by personnel trained and knowledgeable regarding oxygen gas safety and oxygen equipment safety.

Doctors, nurses, RN, LPN, Nurse aides, dentist, auto mechanics, auto body shops, welders, plumbers, SCUBA divers, air pilots, mountain climbers, football and basket ball players on the sidelines, DVM, vet techs, firemen, EMT’s…. THEY ALL KNOW and PRACTICE OXYGEN SAFETY RULES EVERY DAY WHEN THEY USE PURE COMPRESSED OXYGEN.

Oxygen is not air, fishing oxygen systems are not livewell aeration systems or water pumps.



Entraining pure oxygen into livewell pumps and bilge pumps through a venturi device – FIRE HAZARD.

Oxygen equipment not CLEANED and “CERTIFIED OIL FREE” for pure oxygen service is  A SERIOUS FIRE SAFETY ISSUE.

AIR TUBING: Purchased at hardware stores and aquarium shape in not cleaned or certified for pure oxygen service @ 50 PSI (3.4 ATM) – FIRE HAZARD.

AIR STONES: Air stones and bubblers are not chemically cleaned or Certified for Pure Oxygen Service – FIRE HAZARD.

Air stones, air  tubing and aeration diffusers are inexpensive, make air bubbles and plastic tubing is easy to obtain at all big box stores. Air components are often used with homemade oxygen systems because they are cheap, inexpensive and may be purchased at any hardware store, bait shop, tackle store or aquarium stores. Oxygen system components that are not chemically cleaned for pure oxygen service should never be used with pure oxygen, especially @ 50 PSI service pressures – FIRE HAZARD.

Air stones and air  bubblers are cheap,  prices range from $1 to $5 at aquarium shops.  Plastic air tubing costs about $0.10 per foot at hardware stores and aquarium shops. Oxygen tubing cost more.

DISADVANTAGES: Plastic air tubing and air bubblers that are NOT CERTIFIED OIL FREE  should never be used with any pure oxygen service or oxygen equipment. Plastic air tubing is great for air, air pumps, air compressors and bait tank aerators and aquariums – FIRE HAZARD used with pure oxygen.

Air is not oxygen enriched, contains less than 21% oxygen and does not present any special fire hazard like pure 100% oxygen. Livewell oxygen system that can easily enrich livewell environments to 24% oxygen concentration and greater, generate or deliver pure oxygen – always know and follow the “Rules of the Oxygen Road” using livewell oxygen system that delivers 100% pure oxygen and capable of creating an oxygen rich environment – FIRE SAFETY.


Advantages: They are cheap and inexpensive. Click style medical oxygen regulators with 870 CGA (Post Valve) connections will not connect to a commercial welding oxygen tank valves with 540 CGA connection.

Oxygen cylinder valves with 870 CGA yoke (Post Valve) connections tighten with a tee handle, no tools needed to connect regulator to cylinder valve, Tools are necessary to turn the cylinder valve on and off. Cost $25 to $40.

Pin Index Safety System ensures that oxygen regulators with 870 CGA connections attach only to 870 CGA oxygen cylinder valves.

Disadvantages: Galvanic Corrosion, metal damage, regulator failure, controlling the dose of oxygen are a few major problems. Adjustable click style medical oxygen regulators are constructed with many different combinations of metal alloys. All these alloys assembled together promote and enhance severe Galvanic Corrosion when use around marine environments and livewell chemicals containing electrolytes, salt. Electrolysis and metal deterioration pose serious safety issues for high pressure medical regulators.

Electrolysis is unavoidable and it occurs rapidly.

Medical regulators have no zinc anodes’ slaves. After adjusting a dose of oxygen, the delivered volume can vary plus or minus 100%. They’re not built for precision or for fishermen and are difficult to adjust correctly.

Because of this engineering gas delivery rate error, some regulators brands may fail to deliver enough oxygen to keep bait alive when tweaked and many will waste oxygen increasing the cost of operation.

When the dose of oxygen dialed in on a single stage medical oxygen regulator for any fixed flow oxygen regulator or oxygen generator is too low, the oxygen systems are no better on a summer day than bait tanks with spray bars, air pumps, air stones or flow through systems or possibly worse.

Small plastic washers fit between the 870 CGA regulator yoke connection and the cylinder valve. These plastic washers are necessary for operation and prevent gas leaks at the valve connection. Contaminating these washers with oil is dangerous – FIRE HAZARD.

Two-stage medical regulators are built for precision. These regulators are high quality and control the dose, reducing oxygen waste and extra refill costs and time, Cost $275 – $380.

EXPECT SERIOUS ELECTROLYSIS – METAL PITTING: Expect to replace aluminum medical regulators that have been damaged by electrolysis and prone to malfunction and failure. Electrolysis is a serious safety issue with high pressure oxygen equipment.

Electrolysis, metal fatigue  and oxidation are severe with oxygen regulators made with aluminum alloy. Expect an unnecessary safety risk – electrolysis is a major fire hazard and safety issue with high pressure oxygen regulators when used in environments they were not made for (fishing environments).



Serious Electrolysis Damage
Serious Electrolysis Damage


The issue is safety, your insurance liability and legal risk caused by inappropriate use of click style pediatric medical oxygen regulators in case of accident.

Know and understand what defines a click style medical oxygen regulators before you buy and use it and an accident happens and you must explain to your insurance agent what happened and what you have done.

ENGINEERING AND DESIGN: Because of engineering and design construction, welding oxygen regulators and medical equipment often deliver either excessive amounts of oxygen ensuring gas waste and more trips to the oxygen supplier for more refills @ $15 to $20 per refill. Or, minimal oxygen delivery, not enough oxygen for all the bait or fish in the livewell.



Advantages: Commercial welding oxygen regulators are solid brass, minimizing the negative effects of electrolysis, maximizing fire safety.  Some are adjustable, and some have fixed flow pressure valves. The delivery dose is calibrated in psi, cfm, cfh, etc. Price range $35-$200.

Solid brass adjustable regulators score high for fire safety and durability. Brass requires temperatures in excess of 10,000 F. to burn. Medical oxygen regulators made with aluminum alloy burn at much lower temperatures. Commercial regulators are not FDA regulated medical devices and doctor’s prescriptions are not required for purchase or sale. There are many choices and many brands of commercial regulators available.

Disadvantages: Expect excessive oxygen waste, additional refills, more cost and more trips to the oxygen supplier for more gas. The correct dose of oxygen is impossible to control, resulting in wasted oxygen or worse yet, an insufficient dose of oxygen and livewell suffocation like aeration systems. Regulator/tank connections are CGA 540 nut-stem and wrenches are usually necessary to connect and disconnect the regulator nut from the oxygen cylinder valve.

Most homemade systems utilize inexpensive hardware or aquarium air tubing that has not been cleaned for pure oxygen service – FIRE HAZARD.

Oxygen Edge™ precision dose adjustable regulators are commercial oxygen regulators, not repackaged medical oxygen regulators.


Advantages: Doctor’s prescriptions are not required for purchase or rentals. Steel welding cylinders fitted with brass CGA 540 cylinder valves come in many sizes. Steel cylinders are heavier than aluminum cylinders, durable and usually painted green. Price range $50-$130… rentals $5 / month.

Welding shops usually exchange large welding oxygen cylinders  instead of refilling them on the spot. Larger cylinders hold more oxygen and operate longer between refills and require hydrostatic testing and stamping every 10 years. The oxygen supplier who exchanges cylinders with you maintains these cylinders.

Disadvantages: You must take the empty cylinder to your oxygen supplier for refills and a refill charge of $15 to $20 per tank is common. Exposure to water spray causes green paint to liquefy and run affecting your boat and steel cylinders can rust, staining your boats’ finish. Brass tank valves tarnish.


Medical high-pressure compressed oxygen equipment is not engineered or built to be used by fishermen on boats in saltwater or freshwater fishing environments. Doctor’s prescriptions are required for purchases.

The Federal Food and Drug Administration and State Department’s of Health regulate and enforce prescription medical device labeling requirements, packaging and prescription sales. Most family doctors are empathetic, but many will charge you an office visit to write the prescription for medical oxygen equipment or medical oxygen used for transporting live bait or tournament gamefish.

                                             – CAUTION –


Numerous brands of older click style medical regulators have all been recalled by manufactures because of fire hazards and safety reasons. They have fire and explosion history.

Most dealers and manufactures will replace or retrofit these older defective aluminum regulators with a brass sleeve at little or no charge. If you have one of these regulators, consider taking it back for a free exchange at no charge. They are very inexpensive, $35 to $45, and plentiful. Unwary fishermen may be using these dangerous medical regulators today. Many homemade bait tank oxygen systems assembled before and after 2000 utilize these oxygen regulators.



Medical oxygen cylinders have a fixed label attached: “OXYGEN USP”

Advantages: Aluminum lightweight high-pressure oxygen and steel cylinders have a chrome-nickel plated brass 870 CGA valve. A wrench is necessary to turn the cylinder square valve stem on and off. Medical oxygen cylinder valves are called “Post Valves”. Price range $120 to $160.

Disadvantages: Welding shops won’t refill medical cylinders with welding oxygen because of the  870 CGA medical valve and “OXYGEN USP” label on the cylinders. DME Supply stores won’t refill tanks with medical oxygen without a doctor’s prescription. Aluminum cylinders require hydrostatic testing and stamping every 5 years.

The Oxygen Edge™ is the top-of-the-line COMMERCIAL LIVEWELL OXYGEN INJECTION SYSTEM The Oxygen Edge™ system components are designed and manufactured specifically for use in saltwater and freshwater environments to transport live bait and live tournament fish.

Oxygen Edge™ components ensure minimal safe oxygen levels in livewell water and supercharge live bait fish. All OE regulator components are solid brass and nickel plated inside and outside, comparable to a SCUBA regulator. OE regulators are designed and made specifically for enduring harsh saltwater environmental conditions. Special considerations address equipment safety, durability, oxygen efficiency, flexibility and appearance. Nickel plating has a dull tarnished appearance, looks like an old tarnished buffalo nickel. If an oxygen regulator looks shinny like chrome plating, it is chrome plated. Medical oxygen regulators bodies are often chrome plated or colored aluminum. It is easy to tell the difference.

OE oxygen cylinders may be refilled at home in 5 minutes at your convenience with the refilling adaptor included with all premier OE models. Refills cost $0.14 to $0.75 per cylinder. Cylinders operate continuously 47-189 hours.

The Oxygen Edge™ brand is “Top of the Line”

Advantages: The OE is an aquatic life support oxygen injection system engineered with safety, efficiency, high quality materials resistant to electrolysis, corrosion and abuse. The OE is a turn-on-and-forget, fail-safe system. Hallmarks of OE systems are dependability, durability, easy operation and a great appearance. OE systems are specifically designed, engineered and manufactured for fishermen, used in marine and freshwater livewells offshore and inshore. The OE is not repackaged, relabeled medical oxygen equipment.

All OE system components are chemically cleaned and Certified for Pure Oxygen Service – FIRE SAFETY.

Refilling your OE cylinders at home with welding oxygen is convenient, quick and inexpensive. The refilling process takes five minutes or less and costs $0.14 to $0.75 per refill depending upon portable cylinder size. Refilling instructions included.

The OE precision adjustable dose solid brass-nickel plated regulators minimize gas waste and dose adjustment eliminating guesswork. Just dial in the pounds of bait or fish on the regulator and forget it. The correct supercharging dose of oxygen is always delivered without oxygen waste.

OE regulators are back-pressure compensated. This design feature ensures precision dose accuracy that is dispensed through the diffuser regardless of back pressure and height of water column.

OE systems cost as much as a good rod, reel and terminal tackle or a pair of designer sunshades.

Disadvantages: Supercharging can make live bait too aggressive (bait eats gamefish). Outlaws can keep tournament fish alive and healthy for a week before a tournament.

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