cylinder specification tables).

Steel cylinders are typically very negative and will remain negative even when the air inside has been consumed.  In contrast, aluminium cylinders are less negatively buoyant.  They are typically negatively buoyant at the beginning of the dive, due to the weight of the gas they contain.  As gas is consumed, they can become positively buoyant.

In most instances, a typical AL80 cylinder (aluminium cylinder commonly used by dive centres for rental) requires 2kg of weight to off-set cylinder buoyancy at the end of the dive, when reserve air capacities are reached (50bar/500psi).


Depending on a person’s level of diving experience, there is a set of basic assessments that will enable a developing diver to evaluate their proficiency in scuba buoyancy control.  As you gain experience and complete more scuba dives, assess yourself against the following criteria to identify where you can improve your scuba buoyancy control.

A.        Novice Diver

•   Perform a controlled descent to depth, stopping and hovering within 3m/10ft of the bottom

•  Hover for one minute in a horizontal position whilst remaining within 1.5m/5ft of the starting depth

•  During dives, stop at will and hover horizontally at a constant depth, without adding/subtracting air to/from the BCD and without sculling or fining.

B.        Intermediate Diver

•  Demonstrate controlled descent to depth, stopping within 5’(1.5m) of the bottom.

•  Demonstrate buoyancy control and propulsion during the dive, without the use of hands.

•  Hover for 2 minutes in a slightly head down position whilst remaining within 2’ (60cm) of the start depth

•  While floating horizontally, perform an air-sharing drill without changing depth more than 5’ (1.5m)

C.        Advanced  / Technical Diver (wearing full equipment and stage bottles)

•  Demonstrate controlled descent to depth, stopping within 30cm/1ft from the bottom

•  Perform all buoyancy control or propulsion without the use of the hands.

•  Hover for 2 minutes in a slightly head down position whilst remaining within 15cm/6” of the bottom

•  Hover in mid-water for 2 mins in a slightly head down position, remaining within 30cm/1’ of the start depth

•  Whilst hovering horizontally perform a full air-sharing drill without changing depth more than 60cm/2ft


Next article: ‘Assessing Your Weight Requirements’

Previous Articles:

Scuba Buoyancy Masterclass 1of9 – Buoyancy Control for Scuba Divers

Scuba Buoyancy Masterclass 2of9 – The Need for Buoyancy Control

About the Author

andy davis technical diving philippines

Andy Davis is a RAID, PADI TecRec, ANDI, BSAC and SSI qualified independent technical diving instructor who specializes in teaching advanced sidemount, trimix and wreck exploration diving courses across South East Asia.  Currently residing in ‘wreck diving heaven’ at Subic Bay, Philippines, he has amassed more than 9000 open circuit and CCR dives over 27 years of diving across the globe.

Andy has published many magazine articles on technical diving, has written course materials for dive training agency syllabus, tests and reviews diving gear for major manufacturers and consults with the Philippines Underwater Archaeology Society.

He is currently writing a series of books to be published on advanced diving topics.  Prior to becoming a professional technical diving educator in 2006, Andy was a commissioned officer in the Royal Air Force and has served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Belize and Cyprus.

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