Fishing Oxygen Systems Rules of the Oxygen Road

WEBPAGE UPDATED               Saturday  August 14, 2021


Special fire safety rules do apply for “Oxygen-enriched” and “Oxygen-rich” areas inside all boat livewells and bait tank gas space environments that contain 23.5% – 100% oxygen. Ambient air contains less than 21% oxygen / 79% Nitrogen gas. These rules also apply should oxygen gas accidently escape into and contaminate a boats bilge, battery box or any other compartment containing live electricity in or on a boat. These special rules do not apply to ambient air environments that ARE NOT OXYGEN-ENRICHED OR OXYGEN-RICH.

FACT: Ambient air (all mechanical aeration livewell equipment), all livewell air vents including the popular V-2T air vents, air pumps, air blowers, air bubblers or water pumps WILL NOT, CAN NOT enrich livewells with oxygen gas. Air contains slightly less than 21% oxygen gas. Period. Additional supplemental oxygen > 21% purity is necessary to create an oxygen-enrichment and oxygen-rich environments in livewells, bait tanks boat bilges, lockers and compartments containing live electricity.

All mechanical aeration devices and livewell pumps that entrain ambient air via venture device or water pumps that have air leaks on the inlet side of the water pump can supersaturate livewell water with Nitrogen can supersaturate the water and fish’s blood with Nitrogen gas causing Pop-Eye and gas embolism. Nitrogen gas supersaturation is a serious condition that can also affect SCUBA divers breathing air at depth… it’s called the Bends.

“OXYGEN-ENRICHMENT” / “OXYGEN-RICH” advertisement sounds impressive to fishermen, but when you see these words used to advertise fishing oxygen systems, oxygen generators, livewell air vents, etc., what do these 2 words really mean?

Air Products  – “The hazards of oxygen and oxygen enriched environments”

Oxygen-Enriched Classification – OXYGEN GAS FIRE SAFETY


“OXYGEN-ENRICHED” and “OXYGEN-RICH” mixtures or atmospheres is defined as any environments containing more than 23.5% oxygen by volume. In oxygen enriched atmospheres, the reactivity of oxygen significantly increases the risk of IGNITION and FIRE.


*** The difference between the O2 concentration in ambient air and an Oxygen-Enriched or Oxygen-Rich environment is only 2.6% oxygen concentration.

Materials that may not burn in normal air may burn vigorously is an oxygen-rich environment. Sparks normally considered as harmless may cause fires. All materials that burn is air may burn with a much hotter flame and propagate at a much greater speed.

The safety Rules of the Oxygen Road apply to ALL/Any fishing oxygen systems that is capable of enriching the livewell and bait tank gas space between the water surface and lid with oxygen gas.

Oxygen-enriched or oxygen-rich boat livewells and bait tank environments present special fire safety issues that do not apply to livewells and bait tanks aerated with  ambient air (mechanical aeration, electrical bilge pumps, livewell and bait tank water pumps. Air contains slightly less than 21% oxygen gas at sea level and at mountain elevations.

Any and all supplemental oxygen devices fishermen use in boat livewells and bait tanks that will cause oxygen enrichment (24% oxygen or greater) requires special Fire Safety precautions and rules. The Oxygen Rules of the Road do not apply to aerated boat livewells and bait tanks that are mechanically aerated with ambient air, air pumps, water pumps, etc.

The Oxygen Rules of the Road apply to all livewell oxygenation products and equipment that advertise “oxygen-rich” or “oxygen-enrichment.”

Knowing, understanding and practicing Oxygen gas safety in all oxygen-enriched livewell and bait tank is important!

Knowing how to identify livewell equipment that will cause oxygen-enrichment is a serious safety matter.

Fishing oxygen systems that will enrich livewell environments with supplemental oxygen are livewell and bait tank “Oxygenators” (Electrolysis and PSA type oxygen generators), all high pressure compressed oxygen systems, low pressure oxygen systems and all supplemental oxygenating devices and chemicals fishermen use to enrich livewells and bait tanks with oxygen gas.

*The product advertisement and product literature ADVISO will state if the product will create an “oxygen-rich” or “oxygen-enriched” livewell environment.




Contact an oxygen expert that knows how to safely install an oxygen system on your boat. An expert can and will teach you how to store, handle and use pure oxygen and oxygen equipment safely.

Oxygen is not air. FACT

Here’s a few “Rules of the Oxygen Road” regarding  oxygen gas and high pressure oxygen cylinders.

Never use, contaminate or lubricate oxygen equipment with petroleum base products, oil, grease, WD-40, etc. EXTREME FIRE HAZARD

Never look into your live well with a burning cigarette in your mouth. EXTREME FIRE HAZARD

Always secure high-pressure oxygen cylinders to the hull of your boat with strong secure straps or brackets. Never leave a high-pressure oxygen cylinder free standing vertically at any time. When the cylinder is not secured, lay it down horizontally. SAFETY HAZARD

Never secure or transport high pressure oxygen cylinders in the boat’s bilge or battery box, to the lid of a plastic ice chest or anywhere that oil or gasoline can contaminate the equipment. Never secure or transport oxygen cylinders anywhere electricity can arch on any metal components of an oxygen system or burn oxygen tubing. FIRE HAZARD

Steel oxygen cylinders require hydrostatic testing every 10 years; aluminum cylinders every 5 years. The last hydrostatic test date is stamped into the tank’s shoulder. The stamp will be the month (a triangle, diamond or star) the year… 03 ∆ 14. CYLINDER SAFETY

Always use a clean rag with freshwater to clean oxygen system components. If you need more than water for cleaning, use ethanol (EVERCLEAR), it’s oil free (rubbing alcohol contains trace amounts of oil). Use ethanol externally on system components only and allow to dry completely after cleaning. Do not use ethanol internally anywhere within the gas circuit. Use equipment only after all ethanol has completely evaporated. Never expose ethanol vapors or ethanol to oxygen (the gas). Methanol should never be used to clean oxygen equipment, methanol is not oil free. OIL CONTAMINATION IS A FIRE HAZARD

Always crack (open the oxygen tank valve slowly to blow out dust and foreign material) in the oxygen cylinder valve before connecting the regulator. After connecting the regulator, open the oxygen cylinder valve slowly. HIGH PRESSURE SAFETY

Always use system components including oxygen supply tubing that has been CLEANED AND CERTIFIED FOR PURE OXYGEN SERVICE. Do not use air tubing purchased at hardware stores or aquarium stores for pure oxygen service. Air tubing contains trace amounts of petroleum product (oil). FIRE HAZARD

Never use cleaning solvents, WD-40, isopropyl alcohol (household rubbing alcohol) or any other cleaning products or any oil base products on oxygen equipment or in oxygen enriched environments. FIRE HAZARD

Never use oil or oil based lubricants on oxygen regulator threads or cylinder valve threads, hose barbs etc. If you must use lubricants, special lubricants compatible with pure oxygen service must be used. FIRE HAZARD

Never place oxygen supply tubes adjacent to live electrical wires or inside a wiring chase, battery compartment or boat bilge area. Oxygen is heaver than air. If tubing is placed in the boat’s bilge and a tubing leak occurs, the highest concentration of oxygen will accumulate in the bottom of the boat’s bilge where oil and fuel accumulate. FIRE HAZARD


FACT: A boat fire extinguisher will not extinguish an oxygen enriched [24% O2 or greater] fire. Turn off the oxygen gas source terminating the oxygen flow or oxygen production with an oxygen generator and then put the fire out with your boat fire extinguisher.

FACT: If any livewell oxygen system does not deliver enough oxygen for enrichment (24% – 100% oxygen) the fire hazard is no greater than the fire hazard in air. Livewell oxygen systems (oxygen injection systems and oxygen generator systems) all claim to deliver high concentrations of oxygen resulting in oxygen enrichment and oxygen rich livewell environments.

These oxygen safety rules and more apply to all livewell oxygen systems and all oxygenated livewells and bait tanks on boats or on land.

Livewell oxygen systems that cannot deliver enough oxygen to produce oxygen enrichment, provide <24% O2 and are no more effective than an aerator pumping air or livewell water pump pumping water through livewells and bait tanks. Actually, they can kill bait or fish (suffocation/hypoxia) in bait tanks and livewells quicker than aerators and water pumps when and if they fail to provide the minimal safe DO Saturation during transports.

A PARADOX: Oxygenator™ and FishO2™ salesmen and boat manufacturers that sell these livewell generators when asked, do not and will not mention or discuss oxygen gas (fire) safety yet their salesmen and promotional literature says their livewell equipment generates 90% and 100% pure oxygen. CAUTION: A HIDDEN FIRE HAZARD



Oxygen – rich environments (24% oxygen or >) accumulates in livewell gas spaces when the livewell lid is closed.

Oxygen – rich environments requires the same precautions and fire safety standards as pure 100% gaseous oxygen environments. Know oxygen fire risk and practice oxygen fire safety in oxygen – rich gas spaces. promotional advertisement

• Creates an oxygen-rich environment to keep fish fresh and lively

“This is the most efficient means of maintaining high-levels of oxygen in a livewell and nothing comes close to the OXYGENATOR’S ability to create an oxygen-rich environment.”

Although fire safety is a non-issue in this advertisement, all oxygen – rich gas spaces demand special respect in any livewell. Oxygen is not Air.


TPWD, Inland Fisheries Division, San Antonio, TX Publication by Fishery Biologist Randy Myers AquaInnovations Oxygenator 2-14-2012

Claims to “generated 100% pure oxygen.”

Fires fueled with oxygen [gas] are very different than fires fueled with air [gas]. It makes no difference if the oxygen fueling the fire comes from a PSA oxygen generator, electrolysis oxygen generator, liquid (LOX) or compressed gas oxygen system. The oxygen source must be terminated before the fire can be extinguished if the oxygen generator is capably of oxygen enrichment (24% – 100% oxygen).

Knowing and understanding the gas, oxygen, and oxygen equipment at home, in your shop and on your boat is absolutely necessary in order to be safe.

Not knowing and not understanding the gas or your livewell oxygen equipment increase fire risk on your boat. Knowing oxygen safety and oxygen rules are the issue.

Practicing the “Rules of the Oxygen Road” are necessary to reduce risk and maximize safety. Think safety and be safe when using oxygen and any kind of livewell oxygen system. Oxygen and oxygen equipment demand utmost respect. Oxygen is not air.


When buying a high pressure oxygen regulator for your live well oxygen system, always confirm with the seller that the regulator you’re buying has passed the Compressed Gas Association (CGA) E-4 Ignition Test and is Certified.

Repackaged, relabeled, rebranded click-style pediatric medical oxygen regulator are sold to fishermen as livewell oxygen system equipment.

Click-style medical oxygen regulators are manufactured for use in medical environments, hospitals, clinics, etc. unlike the hostile environments found in saltwater and freshwater fishing. Medical oxygen regulators are made of many metal alloys to reduce cost. Flow rates are always calibrated in liters per minute of fractions of liters per minute for all pediatric medical regulators.

When you see a click-style oxygen regulator calibrated in liters per minute sold as a fishing regulator… “CAVEAT EMPTOR!”

Medical regulator bodies are made of aluminum alloy (many colors), some are chrome plated. The chrome plating is distinctive, very shiny, like chrome on a car.

Medical regulators are made with many alloys that are especially vulnerable to electrolysis and pitting seen in saltwater fishing environments. Electrolysis can create serious safety issue with high pressure oxygen equipment.

The Oxygen Edge™ regulators are tested and E-4 Certified, safe from ignition or fire caused by adiabatic compression and other extreme operational conditions. OE regulators are back pressure compensated in order to deliver a continuous precision dose of oxygen. OE regulators provide the correct dose of oxygen for live bait and fish loads ranging from several ounces to 225 lbs.

Any click style oxygen regulators that are not E-4 Ignition Test Certification, either failed to pass the test or were never tested at all may be a FIRE HAZARD. If you buy any click style oxygen regulator be sure the seller verifies the regulator he sells you is E-4 Ignition Test Certified. FIRE SAFETY.

Safety on fishing boats is a matter of your peace of mind when fishing oxygen regulators are exposed to extreme saltwater environments. Many brands of oxygen regulators sold to fishermen for livewell oxygen systems have not passed the E-4 Ignition Test and are not Certified. Caution is advised if the regulator is not E-4 Ignition Test Certified.

The Compressed Gas Association (CGA) recommends E-4 Ignition Testing for all manufacturers of click style high-pressure oxygen regulators.

Be informed and always confirm with the seller about E-4 Testing and Certification before you purchase any oxygen regulator.