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Pond Aeration, a Basic Explanation

We are frequently asked what can be done to improve a pond or small lake. After listening to clients describe their pond and their objectives, more times than not, my first suggestion is to aerate the pond to improve circulation and oxygenation.

Most pond and lake owners have a very specific vision of what they want, whether it’s a thriving fishery, or a clear swimming hole, or a wild and woodsy nature attractor. One of the key elements to any healthy pond is adequately oxygenated water. A few ponds are already naturally aerated, but most others may need a little help.

What is Aeration and What are the Benefits?

Aeration is simply a method of mixing air into your water, or sometimes more accurately mixing your water to expose it to the air. Either way of thinking about it, the goal is to circulate the water and get more oxygen dissolved into it.

Why is this important?

All organisms use oxygen to survive, including fish. Oxygen in still water gets used up. Aeration circulates the water and replenishes that supply before your fish go belly up! Aeration keeps oxygen levels steady, reducing the chance of both summer and winter fish kills.

Aeration circulates the water in your pond or lake, oxygenating the water at all depths. This allows the entire water column to support fish life, eliminating the danger of a sudden inversion which can cause a fish kill. The reason that an inversion is so dangerous is that the conditions of an unaerated pond or lake very greatly depending on depth, especially in the summer. Warm surface water may be well oxygenated and support fish, but colder, deeper water may be oxygen depleted and deadly.  If sudden mixing occurs during a storm, the “averaging” of the oxygen level will leave the entire pond unable to support fish. The result is a catastrophic fish kill.

Circulation makes it more difficult for some aquatic pests to get a foothold. Many types of algae, and insects like mosquitos need stagnant water. Adequate circulation can dramatically reduce these problems in your pond.

Folks who have issues with foul smelling water find big improvements with aeration. Often, the root of the problem is algae or other plant matter decaying on the pond bottom with no oxygen (called anaerobic decomposition). This type of decay gives off foul smelling gases like methane and hydrogen sulfide. Aeration is one way to help solve this issue. By oxygenating the water thoroughly, it allows beneficial bacteria (aerobic bacteria) to carry out the break down of organic materials. This eliminates the production of methane and other problematic gasses and speeds up the elimination of organics and muck.

Muck, the thick sludge that settles at the bottom of your pond, composed of nutrients and decaying matter can be a problem in any pond. Aeration increases the amount of dissolved oxygen in your pond, allowing beneficial aerobic bacteria to thrive and consume those nutrients, reducing the accumulation of muck.  Aeration also agitates the water, combating further buildup, and helps to keep the water clear.

Aeration is also important in the winter. When a pond freezes over, the fish and biological processes happening in the pond can slowly deplete the oxygen supply.  Aeration can keep a portion of your pond from freezing over, increasing the chance of survival for your fish. By keeping open water, your pond is able to take up oxygen and release harmful gasses that would be otherwise trapped under the ice, causing a toxic buildup. By simply keeping a portion of the water’s surface open and circulating the pond, you allow the gasses to escape and for more oxygen to enter the water.

What Options are Available for Aeration?

The two main types of aeration are Diffused Aeration and Surface Aeration. Diffused aeration can be accomplished with Windmills, Solar Powered Compressors and A/C Electric Compressors. Surface Aeration can be accomplished with Fountains and High Efficiency Surface Aerators and Circulators. There are benefits to each type, so check out this post (and others) to learn more, or give us a call toll free at (877) 389-2514 for more information about which one system right for your pond.