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How Does Livewell Work & How to Use It to Your Advantage?

The livewell can be a lifesaver for hardcore fishermen. And there are two very good reasons for this:

First of all, you can keep your bait alive as long as possible. It’s a particularly useful feature when you’re on a long fishing run. And the second reason is an added advantage of the first reason, which is fishing completions.

Fishing competitions can be exciting if you’re one of those hardcore fans of having a good time and competing at the same time. And that’s only possible if you have a livewell at your disposal.

So, it’s pretty clear that you need to know how does a livewell work. There’s no denying that it’s an integral part of one’s fishing life.

How does a livewell pump work?

We will be having a proper discussion on that later on. Not only that, but we will also try and clear up some misconceptions in the FAQ department.

We hope you’re excited about the coming sections. We sure are to be able to present them to you!

How does a livewell work in a boat: A 101 course on the basics

Before we start on the basic working principles, it is essential for you to know about the use cases for a livewell and how it’s important for a well-maintained boat.

Keeping the bait and fish alive

A livewell is like a cooler with aerated water. And fish like aerated water.

And that is the very first and important function of a livewell. It takes water from the adjacent spaces and fills the livewell. Due to the aerated water in the chamber, the fish and bait don’t die out and stay fresh for longer periods of time.

Another thing we hinted about a few moments back is the fishing wars or competitions. And if you want to excel at those, then the very first thing you need to understand is how does a livewell system work in a bass boat.

The working principle is pretty much the same for all cases, so you don’t need to worry that much. But beware of sudden issues like mouse interpretation etc to keep your livewell safe. 

How does a livewell system work: The parts that make it happen

Livewell aerator

Before answering the question of how does a livewell aerator work, first, we need to know the proper necessities for aeration. There are three basic criteria here:

1.   The water temperature

2.   The size of the air bubbles

3.   And the speed and rate of water flow

And these three things tie into the main principle of the aerator, the job of which is to combine air into the livewell water.

The aerator circulates air into the livewell as the bait and fish need to be alive during long fishing runs. It’s something you may have seen in a domestic aquarium setup, where a little man wearing diving gear lets out bubbles.

That’s just an aerator letting air into the tank so that the fish can stay alive!

There are two considerations you need to make here. One is an oxygen system, where oxygen is injected into the water. This system is capable of keeping a large amount of fish and bait alive for longer periods.

But, the problem with such a system is that it needs to release the carbon-dioxide. Otherwise, there will be a potential build-up of CO2 into the livewell that can be harmful.

In that case, you should make a system where the livewell has some contact with the outside air. This will allow the excess oxygen to leave the system.

Livewell Pump

The livewell pump is the main force behind the workings of a livewell system. It is the thing that keeps the circulation of water from the livewell to an outward system. In short, it circulates water throughout the system to keep the bait alive.

There are some considerations you need to take into account before you replace your old system for a new livewell pump.

  • Remember, the higher the GPH or Gallon-per-hour capacity, the more water the pump can transfer throughout the system.

A standard pump with a rating of 400 to 500 GPH can transfer water from the livewell in around 10 to 20 minutes.

  • A dual system that can both circulate and provide aeration can be a good choice. But there’s a tiny but important issue.

If the pump fails somehow, you lose the aeration as well, which is very bad for the bait and fish in the livewell tank.   

  • You will find that pricier pumps have support for both saltwater and freshwater. It means the saltwater will cause no harm to the system whatsoever.

The final decision of choosing the option will be yours.

  • Ease of mounting is another important factor to take into consideration here. If it’s not easy to mount and dismantle, then the value will decline automatically.

You’d also want to keep an eye out on the noise levels as well. If it can beat the sound of the waves, then you may not want to go for that particular option.

How does a recirculating livewell work: A simple diy approach?

Let’s spend some time and come up with a diy livewell that works. It will save you a big chunk of money while enhancing your craftsman capabilities as well.

Things you’ll need

1.   A set of pliers

2.   A mix of different sized screws

3.   A roll of metal strap

4.   One regular size cooler (you can go with whatever large option you have available)

5.   An aerator kit (it’s available in your local hardware store)

The steps

  • First of all, find the ideal mounting position that will help you mount and dismount the whole thing easily.

A simple rule here is to mount the aerator outside and someplace with easy access to the cooler and the livewell. Both of them need to be accessible.

  • Use the metal straps to make the mounting bracket for the aerator.
  • We will try to attach the aerator to the cooler. Take the bracket you just made, use quarter-size screws to attach it. Don’t drill too far into the cooler.
  • Now comes the airline. Check the diameter of the lines and select the drill bits accordingly. This will ensure a leak proof system.
  • A good idea is to use metal wires to stick the aerator lines in place. It’s to ensure they will not fall off easily.

If you can follow these steps, you will have a functional livewell by the end of a couple of well-spent hours.


Q: What is the ideal location for my livewell?
Ans.: You’d want to avoid corners at all costs. Corner-side livewell is more is unstable.

Q: What color should be the interior of my livewell?
Ans.: Don’t go crazy with it. A little bluish tint with white has a more calming effect, which is perfect.

Q: Why is the water bubble size necessary?
Ans.: When it comes to the aerator, the water bubble size is a determiner of the air being mixed with the water.

Q: Why would I need strainers?
Ans.: Without strainers in the drains, you are very likely to lose your bait.

Final Thoughts

We believe we’ve overstayed our welcome.

But the information we shared isn’t blundering either. If you go through them, you will know how does a livewell work and how to keep it running properly.

And that’s all we have to say. We’ll leave the rest to you.

Good luck!