Field trials to determine the efficacy of aerators to mitigate hypoxia in inland waterways

Darren S. Baldwin, Craig A. Boys, Ann-Marie Rohlfs, Iain Ellis, Joe Pera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Following a series of fish deaths in the lower Darling River in the austral summer of 2018-19, several field trials were undertaken over two summers to determine the efficacy of various aerators to mitigate the effects of hypoxia to prevent fish deaths. The aerators evaluated included: low-powered, solar bubble-plume diffusers; high-flow, single-port Venturi systems; pontoon-mounted multi-port Venturi systems; and an ultra-fine bubble generator. The effectiveness of bubble diffusers appears related to their power, the number of units used and their running time. Pontoon-mounted multi-port Venturi aerators and high-flow, single-port Venturi aerators were much more successful in maintaining oxygen levels and may have prevented fish deaths in the Darling River in early 2019. However, the Venturi aerators were expensive to run, consuming hundreds to thousands of litres of diesel fuel per week. Trial of an ultra-fine oxygen bubble pump showed promise because it supersaturated the water with dissolved oxygen while not elevating total gas pressure to levels that would cause gas-bubble trauma in fish. Although aerators may play a role in emergency responses to hypoxic fish deaths, they have limitations regarding their area of influence (at best thousands of square metres) and their cost to deploy and operate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-222
Number of pages12
JournalMarine and Freshwater Research
Issue number2
Early online date13 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


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