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Why You Have Bubbles On Your Live Rock!

With the popularity of keeping live rock as the main feature of a reef tank increasing in popularity, the number of questions that we see from the fish keeping community about keeping live rock is constantly increasing.

One question that we are seeing people ask more and more due to it sometimes being puzzling is about having bubbles on live rock as in some situations, these bubbles can appear to come out of no where.

The most common cause of bubbles on live rock is due to the photosynthesis process of algae on the live rock producing bubbles and then those bubbles subsequently being trapped by the algae.

Another common cause of air bubbles on live rock is directly after a substrate change as the trapped air in the new substrate works its way free and ends up trapped on the live rock.

For the most part, having bubbles on your live rock shouldn’t cause any problems with your setup but it can be unsightly and draw the eye away from the other organisms that you have growing on your live rock.

This is why so many people want to know what is causing the bubbles in their tank as well as how they are able to prevent them from occurring.

Thankfully, it is usually very easy to prevent the bubbles from forming on your live rock and we will be going over the various techniques and methods that you are able to use in our article below.

What Causes Bubbles On Your Live Rock?

The most common cause of having bubbles on your live rock is a hair algae bloom in your tank.

Not only does the hair algae produce a large amount of gas but its hair strands can then catch the bubbles and lock them in place on your live rock without them being able to escape and make their way to the surface.

Brown hair algae tends to produce the most gas and have the most obvious bubbles but all types of hair algae can cause this effect.

If you change the substrate in your tank on a regular basis then you may be able to accidentally cause the bubble effect on your live rock by trapping air pockets in your substrate that will work their way out over the coming days and end up cought by your live rock.

This type of bubble does tend to be temporary though and it should stop after a week at most as the air pockets in your substrate free themselves.

In some very rare situations after adding a new rock base for your live rock, you may get air bubbles due to the rock reacting with your water and cause gas to be produced as the byproduct.

This does tend to be very rare though but if you suspect this as the cause of the bubbles on your live rock then the new base rock should be removed as it is highly likely to cause problems with your water parameters due to the chemical reactions but this really is very rare and it is usually not even worth considering in most cases.

How Do You Stop Bubbles From Forming On Your Live Rock?

As the majority of bubbles on live rock are due to algae, doing your best to remove the algae bloom from your tank is definitely the best thing to do to prevent bubbles from forming on your live rock.

You can take specific action against the type of algae bloom in your tank or just add generic algae eaters to your tank to try and have the algae eater remove the algae from your tank for you.

We already have a bunch of articles online going over how you are able to remove certain types of algae, particularly hair algae from your tank that may be worth reading if you know what algae is growing in your tank.

Here are our articles on removing brown hair algae, white hair algae, red hair algae, purple algae, and orange algae that offer a more in-depth look at the specific removal methods for specific types of algae.

If you want to try the algae eater path then we would recommend that you look into something that is suitable for your specific tank setup.

Due to most people who keep live rock keeping anemones and corals in their tank, you have to make sure that your algae eater of choice is reef safe. Coral banded shrimp and peppermint shrimp are usually the best options but they are not suitable algae eaters for ever tank setup.

Are Bubbles On Your Live Rock A Sign Of A Serious Problem In Your Aqaurium?

In most situations, bubbles on your live rock is just a sign of an algae bloom or a large amount of algae in your tank rather than a serious problem.

In very rare situations, your live rock may have reactions to your water that can produce bubbles and this can sometimes result in a serious problem but this is extremely rare and is not a common cause of bubbles in your tank.

If you do have a water test kit then you can quickly and easily check the water parameters of your tank to check if there are any spikes in your aquarium’s water parameters after seeing the bubbles start.

This can give you a quick and easy indication as to if the bubbles are simply due to algae or due to a reaction of your live rock with your water and help to put your mind at ease.

For the most part though, a quick visual inspection of your tank should be able to give you an idea if you are having problems with algae as it is generally obvious and you will usually be able to see the algae blooming.

If your live rock is getting covered with hair algae then you should easily be able to see it too and once the hair algae starts to catch the gas to form bubbles, it is even easier to notice the algae hair strands.


That brings our article going over having bubbles on live rock to an end. We have gone over the more common causes of people having bubbles on their live rock and we hope that we have been able to help you identify the potential cause of the bubbles in your own tank. Although the bubbles can catch the eye and be a little unsightly in some situations, for the most part, it really is not a problem and some people simply choose to add some algae eaters to their tank to eat the algae to reduce the amount of bubbles released.