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Do I Need Aeration in the Hot Summer Months? – Pond & Lake Q & A


Picture of Three Diffusers in a Bottom Bubbler Aerator

Q: Do I need aeration in the hot summer months?
- Several Customers

A: We are just starting to enter into the hottest days of summer. Are you and your pond prepared to deal with the scorching heat? The need for aeration in your pond during these temperatures is far greater than any other part of the year. Although most pond owners are aware of this fact, few know the true reasons behind the need.

The Need For Aeration
First, let’s start with the actual need for aeration in your pond. Every pond is a “time bomb” just waiting to go off. A pond that has just been excavated is usually nutrient free, making it easy to take care of. This stage in a ponds life is called Stage 1, and may only last one year depending on nutrient inputs. Man-made ponds and lakes tend to gain large amounts of nutrients in a short period of time, often after only a couple years of existence. When a pond enters this period of excess nutrients, it is called Stage 2. Once a pond enters this stage, you will begin to experience large amounts of algae and weed growth. Also during this stage the pond will develop a large buildup of organic debris at the bottom of the pond called “muck”. The “muck” in your pond will slowly decompose and release nutrients into the water column. These excess nutrients will cause more weed and algae growth. Along with the nutrient spike, the water body will also experience a rise in toxic gas levels. Also, when organic material decomposes, it uses oxygen in the water, causing dangerously low oxygen levels in the depths of your pond. Because ponds without aeration normally become thermally stratified, the toxic gasses created on the bottom buildup in the cool water underneath. A change in temperature, a heavy rain, or sometimes even high winds can turn the water over allowing the toxic, oxygen-deprived water at the bottom to mix into the top layer leaving your fish without oxygen and causing a fish kill.

Fountains vs. Bottom Bubblers
Many pond owners will turn to fountain aeration or surface aerators to experience some form of aesthetics for their dollar. While fountains are aesthetically pleasing, they will only draw surface waters. This leaves the bottom of the pond uncirculated and does nothing to eliminate toxic gases underneath. A better alternative is to consider a bottom bubbler. The bottom bubbler will circulate the entire water column, and eliminating the thermocline. This allows the organisms present to utilize the entire pond, not just the upper layer. The best option for a bottom bubbler is the Airmax® Aeration system. In combination with aerobic, “muck” eating bacteria (such as Pond Clear Natural Bacteria), the system can eliminate up to 5 inches of “muck” per year.

How Airmax® Aeration Works
The system consists of a high quality air compressor which is mounted in a cabinet housing unit. The compressor pumps air through a lead free self-weighted air hose and out of the diffuser plate on the pond bottom. The diffuser assembly comes with air stones that inject oxygen into the pond directly and create a column of medium bubbles lift and circulate the entire water body. This keeps the oxygen levels even throughout the pond or lake. Something that is important to keep in mind is how to run the compressor. The aerator is as simple to run as plugging in the cord, and to reduce stress on organisms in the pond you should follow this start-up procedure.

Starting Up Your Airmax® Aeration System
When an aerator is first installed it is important that you don’t begin running it constantly right away. If the aerator rotates the water column too quickly, it can actually cause a fish kill by moving the toxic gases throughout the pond in one fell swoop. The best route to take is to run the aerator for only 30 minutes on its first day, then shutting it off for the remainder of that day. The second day you should run the aeration system for one full hour then turn it off. The third day double to 2 hours, then to 4 hours the next, 8 the next, until you are running your system all day. This process will take 7 days to accomplish. Not only should this process be followed the first time an aerator is installed, it should be followed every time the aerator is turned on after an extended shutdown.

Relax…
Now that we’ve covered the different needs and phases of pond aeration, lose the headache, and relax in the heat knowing you’re on your way to a healthy pond ecosystem.

Additional Information For The Reader
Airmax® Aeration is the 1st step in the 4-Steps To The Perfect Eco-System and is by far the most important. Steps 2, 3 & 4 are conveniently placed in a combined package called a ClearPAC. The ClearPAC is our all-in-one solution to a clear pond including Pond Clear Bacteria, Nutri-Defense pond clearer, and Natures Blue dye.

12 Responses

  1. [...] are not being circulated. You can test areas of the pond by simply reading their temperature. The temperature at 2’ below the surface should be no more than 3-4ºF than it is at 8’ below the surface. Also, [...]

  2. We have an 88 acre man made lake in Southern Florida within a gated community. Can you tell me how many aerators we’d need? The lake loops around the community.

    • Hi Sally,

      That is a large area to aerate, especially if it is long and narrow. We do have some other types of aeration available that may be better for your situation. If you give us a call we can make out the pond and get a better idea of the situation to make an accurate quote.

  3. It took a little while for the post to load but i’m glad i gutted it out.

  4. Waow loved reading your article. I submitted your feed to my blogreader!

  5. My pond is 3 1/2 acres… with an average depth of 8 feet (deepest around 18ft… tapers off to 1 foot). It is used for family/friends fishing/eating. The fish have a great flavor and appear to be healthy.

    I had what I thought to be a large fish kill about 10 years ago (although was told it probably on represented a small percent of the total fish in the pond ). Subsequently, I installed an aerator (3 diffusers) and, since, have not had a fish kill problem.

    I do, however, have questions:

    1. How often do I need to replace/clean the diffusers (they seem to be working fine right now)?

    2. The diffusers are on a timer… operating 2 hours before daylight… is this the correct time of day and correct length of time?

    3. Before using aeration, my pond was fairly clear… subsequently… it has a muddy look (although the water itself, when scooped out, is clear). Is this “muddy appearance” due to the aeration? Should it concern me?

    4. My channel catfish/bluegill population seem to be thriving (use an automatic feeder)… but the number and size of bass seem to be declining. Is this common when concentrating on catfish? Could it be the result of the water becoming less clear? Is there anything I can do to grow large bass while using an aerator and concentrating on catfish?

    5. I increase the aeration time (from 2 to 4 hours) in Spring & Fall (I read, somewhere, about “water turnover”). Is this important… or should I leave it the same?

    6. I live in central Missouri. Do I need to aerate in the Winter (can get very hot)? Summer (can get very cold… in fact, the pond usually freezes over a few times each winter <unless I use the aerators… which leaves three "aeration holes" in the ice)?

    7. There is very little, almost no, pond scum, weeds, etc… in the water (I have a few large grass carp… but do not know wether or not they make much difference ). Is this… the lack of weeds, etc… good or bad? I’ve heard of “fertilizing” or “liming” a pond. Is this something with which I should be concerned?

    8. I have never “tested” the water. Is this absolutely necessary? If so… why? Is it expensive to purchase the testing equipment?

    Thank you so much for your help! Coy

    • Hi Coy – Thanks for reading and for your questions. Sue C. did a great job on answering your questions below:
      1. You can clean your air stones with a mixture of 50% water / 50% Myric Acid when they become clogged – however, they should be replaced every few years.
      2. For operating your diffusers, you should run the system 24/7 – especially in the hot summer months. If your pond freezes over in winter, you’ll want to run your diffusers to be sure a hole stays open in the ice to allow oxygen to get in and gas to escape.
      3. Catfish will stir up the bottom of the pond and this could be a partial cause of the cloudy water. Another possibility is that running your aeration system just a few short hours each day will cause sediment to stir up and make the pond cloudy, but then settle after the system is off. Continuous running of your aeration system will breakdown the debris faster leaving you with a clearer pond.
      4. Catfish eat more, so if they’ve grown accustomed to the time of feeding, they are the first ones there. You could hand feed for a while so that the bass have a chance at some food, too!
      5. Water turnover is a big contributor to fish kills because the pond water separates between warm and cold water. In the Spring and Fall, the water from the bottom of the pond mixes with the water at the surface. The water at the bottom of the pond carries less oxygen, which means the oxygen deficient water is brought up to where your fish live leaving them with less oxygen. Running your aeration system 24/7 will help to eliminate the warm and cold water divisions in your pond and provide oxygen throughout the water body.
      6. Unless you are going to use the pond for recreation in the winter, you should continue to aerate. If you do shut the system off, remember to introduce aeration slowly again in the spring to reduce the risk of turnover.
      7. It is good to have some weeds and algae in a pond as they provide breeding areas and shelter for small fish. There are pond owners that fertilize their pond to increase weed growth, although there are many successful pond owners that do not. You may want to create some habitats in your pond with small structures that won’t decompose like the Porcupine Fish Attractors on our website.
      8. In a large body of water, the water chemistry will remain fairly stable, so regular testing is not necessary unless you see a change in your pond or would like to test for e. coli before swimming. Most water chemistry issues can be resolved by proper pond care and aeration.
      We hope this information finds you well. Let us know how these tips work out for you!

  6. [...] Clean your gutters and provide better drainage in low areas. Aerate your pond. (Read More Info on Aeration) [...]

  7. Hey Richard,
    Thanks for the question! There are a few factors that come into play when sizing an aeration system for your pond. Size, depth and shape. The following will show the effects of one diffuser at different depths.

    One Diffuser Plate will Aerate:
    Up to 1/8 Acre – 3′ – 5′ Deep
    Up to 1/4 Acre – 5′ – 9′ Deep
    Up to 1/2 Acre – 9′ – 12′ Deep
    Up to 1 Acre – 12+’ Deep

    The deeper the diffuser plate is placed the more area it can aerate. The other factor that comes into place is the shape. If the pond is really irregular or 3 times longer than it is wide, then more plates will be needed to properly aerate the pond.

    In your case, you have a 1/2 acre pond. The two factors I don’t know yet are the depth as well as the shape. If you know your pond’s depth, you can use the chart above to determine if one diffuser plate will be sufficient enough. If the depth of your pond turns out to be deeper than 9′, then all we have to worry about it to make sure the pond is not irregularily shaped.

  8. on your bublers how far apart are each bubbler and how many do you need for a half acre pond?

  9. [...] recommend to add an aeration system to help further enhance the performance of the ClearPAC. (Click here to read more about aeration). The ClearPAC comes in two different sizes, the 1/4 Acre ClearPAC and the 1/2 Acre ClearPAC. There [...]

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