In this study, for the first time, the influence of the design of conventional membrane diffusers on the volumetric mass transfer coefficient (kLa) and bubble size in tap water (TW) and saline water (SW) was investigated (up to 15 g/L NaCl). By using a new analytical approach, kLa and the bubble size along the ascent of the bubble swarm were measured simultaneously and in real time. The results show that in TW, after collision bubbles merge into larger bubbles by coalescence. In SW, coalescence is inhibited by salt. Due to the smaller bubble size, kLa increases to more than double compared to TW. The results show that in SW, membrane diffusers with dense slit patterns and smaller slit lengths are to be recommended in order to enable improved utilization of oxygen in saline water.