Fishing Oxygen Systems Tips, Livewells, Bait Tanks

WEBPAGE UPDATED                                Saturday    January 5, 2019


 Keep a live bait and fish alive and healthy, manage your livewell water quality. Managing water quality is more important than the shape of your livewell or bait tank

During hot summer months, when you know how to manage your livewell water quality and have the right livewell equipment, keeping live bait and tournament gamefish alive and healthy is easy. Two water quality parameters are necessary.

1. ENSURE MINIMAL SAFE OXYGENATION – Livewell / bait tank water must have a continuous supply of oxygen (not air) of sufficient volume and concentration to maintain 100% DO Saturation continuously for all the bait and fish being transported. More fish or live bait requires more oxygen.

2. LIVEWELL VENTILATION – Livewell water must be ventilated (exchanged) occasionally.  Flush livewell water a couple times daily to eliminate concentrated toxic metabolic waste produced by the fish… dissolved CO2, ammonia, acid pH, nitrites, nitrates and the big chunks – feces, vomit, scales and protein. Take out dead bait and dead fish out of your livewell as soon as possible to eliminate more toxins.

Failure to provide either minimal safe oxygenation or ventilate livewell water of toxins results in dead, dying, sloppy bait – crab bait, chum, dead tournament fish punishment, lost money and prizes.


1. With your left hand and The Oxygen Edge™  you control minimal safe oxygenation; you adjust the dissolved oxygen saturation in your livewell water. You safely oxygenate overcrowded summer livewells.

2. With your right hand and water pump you ventilate the livewell water and control all toxic fish waste.

That’s all there is to being successful transporting live bait and tournament fish every summer.


Look at your livewell water turbidity, water clarity. When bait fish and shrimp excrete toxic metabolic by-products and waste into the livewell water, the first poor water quality symptom you will see is usually a clouding of the water. Toxic bait tank water will cloud before it becomes foamy and smelly. Partial water exchanges are mandatory when you see this symptom.

How should live bait behave in your livewell? Live bait fish, shrimp and tournament fish should behave like gold fish in your home aquarium when water quality is under control. When bait fish are not schooling or exhibit other erratic symptoms, stacking in livewell corners, piping, red-nose, loss of slime coat, you probably have a serious livewell water quality problem.

Live bait and fish behavior tell you when you have a water quality problem.  When they are piping at the surface, do not appear calm, breathing slow, not schooling low in the water column or comfortable in your livewell; expect serious water quality problems and act.

Bait fish school at the bottom of your livewell when water quality is safe. When your livewell water quality is within the safe range bait fish do not develop “red nose” or  stack up in corners gulping for air.

Most serious livewell bait tank water quality problems occur in the summer when the water is hot and the oxygen levels are low and livewells are overstocked with live bait or tournament fish.


Foam in livewell water is a symptom of serious fish stress and poor livewell water quality. In the summer, low oxygen saturation is a common water quality problem in aerated livewells and bait tanks.

With mechanical aeration, surface foam in bait tanks and livewell water reduces the ability of gases to diffuse into the water resulting in decreased dissolved oxygen concentrations in aerated bait tank water.

Any kind of stress causes fish to excrete excessive mucus or protein which is the protective slime layer. Fish mucus or fish slime is protein. Livewell foam in produced when air is bubbled in livewell water containing protein, especially when spray bars aeration systems and bait pumps are used.

Antifoaming agents hide poor bait tank water quality. We do not recommend using antifoaming agents in conjunction with The Oxygen Edge.

After reading this research published June 2011, rethinking the use of livewell water conditioners, additives and chemicals should be considered. “Results show that the use of livewell water additives, such as salt and ice or their combination, does not significantly reduce tournament-related mortality.”

The quickest, deadliest stressor in summer livewells is low or no oxygen (suffocation).

Dissolved oxygen is the single most important factor for keeping live bait and tournament caught  bass alive…


Oxygenation of Livewells to Improve Survival of Tournament-Caught Bass

By Randy Myers and Jason Driscoll

Inland Fisheries Division

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

June 2011

“Dissolved oxygen is the single most important factor for keeping bass alive, and an understanding of factors that affect oxygen levels will better enable anglers to keep their fish alive.”

“Fully functioning livewell systems and proper application of proven livewell management and fish care procedures are absolutely necessary and may keep a heavy fish limit healthy, but oxygen injection offers a surer alternative.”

“Oxygen injection has long been used by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) hatcheries to maintain the health of fish being stocked into reservoirs. Fisheries staff regularly transport or hold fish in ratios equal to or greater than one pound of fish to a gallon of water. However, boat manufactures do not offer oxygen injection system options…”

© Copyright Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. No part of this work may be copied, reproduced, or translated in any form or medium without the prior written consent of Texas Parks Wildlife Department except where specifically noted.

Reprinted with expressed written permission from Randy Myers, TP&WD, District Supervisor , Inland Fisheries Management Region 1, District 1D, 12861 Galm Road # 7, San Antonio, TX 78254, (210) 688 9460,