Outdoors Water Sports How Long Does the Air in a Scuba Tank Last? How Many Minutes Can a Scuba Diver Stay Underwater With a Single Tank of Air? By Natalie Gibb Natalie Gibb Natalie Gibb owns a dive shop in Mexico and is a PADI-certified open water scuba instructor and TDI-certified full cave diving instructor. TripSavvy's editorial guidelines Updated on 05/24/19 Share Pin Email Getty Images How long does a scuba tank last? Although the question is simple, the answer is complicated. Let's examine different scenarios. An Average Diver, at an Average Depth, With an Average Tank Based on personal experience, an average open-water certified diver using a standard aluminum 80-cubic-foot tank on a 40-foot dive will be able to stay down for about 45 to 60 minutes before surfacing with a safe reserve of air still in the tank. Three Factors That Determine How Long a Diver's Air Will Last 1. Tank VolumeOne of the most common tanks in recreational diving is the aluminum 80, which holds 80 cubic feet of air compressed to 3000 pounds per-square-inch (PSI). However, scuba tanks are available in different materials and sizes for a variety of applications. Divers who engage in very deep or long dives may prefer tanks with a greater internal volume. Petite divers who use very little air may choose to use smaller tanks for comfort. All other factors being equal, a tank that holds a higher volume of air will last longer underwater. 2. DepthAs a scuba diver descends, the pressure around him increases. This increase in pressure does not affect the air inside the diver's scuba tank because it is already compressed to a very high pressure and the scuba tank is a rigid container. However, the water pressure does compress the air that exits the tank and flows through the scuba diver's regulator hoses and second stages. For example, the quantity of air that fills 1 cubic foot of space at the surface will only fill ½ cubic foot of space at a depth of 33 feet due to the compression of water. Similiarly, a diver will consume twice the volume of air at 33 feet as he uses at the surface. In other words, the deeper a diver goes, the more quickly he will use up the air in his tank. 3. Air Consumption RateA diver's air consumption rate will determine how long the air in his tank will last compared to the average diver. A diver with large lung volume (tall or large people) will require more air than a petite or short person with a smaller lung volume, and will usually have a higher air consumption rate. A variety of factors affects an individual's air consumption rate, including stress, experience level, buoyancy control and the amount of exertion required for the dive. Relaxed, slow and deep breathing is usually the best way for a diver to reduce his air consumption rate. Air Supply Is Not Always the Limiting Factor In many cases, a diver must end his dive before reaching the limit of his air supply. Examples include reaching the no-decompression limit for a dive (in which case a diver may consider using enriched air nitrox) or ascending with a buddy who has reached the limits of his air supply. Dive plans and dive sites vary. Just because a diver has air left in his tank doesn't mean he should (or will even want to) stay underwater until it runs low. Conclusion In the end, several factors determine how long the air in a tank will last for a particular individual and a particular dive. This is the reason that the question is so difficult to answer. Predicting how long a tank will last underwater requires an understanding of the physics of water pressure, tank volumes and air consumption rates. Was this page helpful? Thanks for letting us know! Share Pin Email Tell us why! Submit Calculating Air Consumption Rates for Scuba Diving Confused About the Different Types of Diving? Let Us Break it Down What Scuba Divers Need to Know About Depth and Pressure Maximum Operating Depth Is Important for Scuba Diving Here's Everything You Need to Know About Night Scuba Diving How Does Boyle's Law Apply to Scuba Diving? 10 Essential Safety Tips All Scuba Divers Should Know What Is a No-Decompression Limit (NDL) in Scuba Diving? What Are the Most Common Scuba Diving Hand Signals? Plan the Ultimate Scuba Diving Trip With This Guide A Complete Gear and Equipment List for Scuba Diving The 5 Best Scuba Diving Certification Programs of 2021 Mastering Basic Scuba Diving Skills The Best Places to Scuba Dive in French Polynesia How to Get Certified to Scuba Dive How Will Your Buoyancy Differ in Fresh vs Salt Water?