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What is supercooling? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: What is supercooling??

Q: What is supercooling?

Aloma, Warroad, MN

A: Supercooling is uncommon, but it can occur in lakes and ponds, particularly in the northern states. Here’s what you need to know about it and how to prevent it from happening.

In the winter time water stratifies in pond and lakes without proper aeration when surface temperatures are extremely cold, creating what’s called a thermocline. A thermocline happens as warmer water about 39°F or so – sinks to the bottom, while colder water about 32°F or so – rises to the top. Very little mixing of the layers occurs, particularly in calm weather.

Supercooling could become an issue if you’re running a surface aeration system in shallow ponds with fish. The fish prefer to stay on the bottom of the pond in the warmer pockets of water during the winter. They’re in winter-hibernation mode, and all they want to do is be in a stress-free spot until spring.

As the aerator circulates the warmer water with the cooler water at the surface, the overall temperature could drop. In extreme cases when the temperatures are well below 0°F, the water temperature can actually drop below its freezing point without becoming a solid – a rare process known as supercooling.

If the water gets too cold, your fish have nowhere warm to go. Living without their warm hangout spot could compromise their oxygen supply and immune systems, making them vulnerable to parasites and diseases.

The best way to deliver oxygen to your fish is with a bottom diffused aerator, like an Airmax® Aeration System. You can keep it running without creating an inhospitable environment for your finned friends by simply moving your diffuser plates closer to the surface or turning half of them off.

If you relocate the diffuser plates to a spot that’s about half the depth of your pond or run only 50 percent of them, a pocket of warm water will remain for your fish at the bottom. You’ll continue pumping oxygen into the water and keeping a hole in the ice for gas exchange without having to worry about freezing your fish.

Pond Talk: What steps do you take to prevent over cooling or supercooling your pond?

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For winter, do I need to move my diffusers, or can I just close the valves?| Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: For winter, do I need to move my diffusers, or can I just close the valves?

Q: For winter, do I need to move my diffusers, or can I just close the valves?

Chuck- Tipton, IN

A: Diffusers – and the oxygen they pump into your pond or lake – ensure the health and well being of your fish. Year-round aeration circulates the water column and fills the pond with oxygen. If your pond freezes over during the cold months of the year, an aeration system will can also help maintain a hole in the ice to allow harmful gases to escape.

Move Your Diffusers:

As part of your winter-prep chores, you will need to move the diffuser plates to a shallower spot in your pond or lake. Why? Give your fish a place to safely overwinter in deeper, warmer water. When the plates are closer to the surface, they will also help to keep a hole open in the ice.

Close the Valves:

In addition to relocating your diffuser plates, you can also close about 50 percent of the valves (unless you have the PS10 or LS10 models of Airmax® Aeration Systems, in which case you leave the valve open). You won’t be mixing as much water, but you will be adding enough oxygen to the pond and allowing for gas exchange at the surface.

Stay Safe:

Because you’re aerating your pond over the winter, consider putting up a “Thin Ice” sign near the shoreline. Air pockets form in ice sheets created on aerated ponds, and they make the surface unsound and not safe to walk or skate on. Warn would-be hockey players and figure skaters of the danger before they get into trouble.

While you’re thinking about safety, make sure you have a Life Ring, first aid kit and blanket stowed lakeside in a weatherproof bin just in case someone does fall through the ice.

Pond Talk: How spectacular are the fall colors around your pond or lake right now?

Aerate Your Pond in All Seasons - Airmax (r) Pond Series (t) Aeration Systems

Why should I aerate my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Why should I aerate my pond?

Q: Why should I aerate my pond?

Marty – Crivitz, WI

A: We talk a lot about the importance of aeration in this blog – and for good reason. Aeration with the Airmax® Aeration System, which involves diffusing oxygen into the water below the surface, benefits the quality of your farm pond or lake in myriad ways, including these top five reasons:

  1. Reduces Pond Muck: Aeration cuts the nutrient load, like pond muck and other decomposing debris, in your pond. How? The increased oxygen and water movement provided by aeration helps to encourage the colonization of beneficial aerobic bacteria. These bacteria are responsible for digesting and preventing muck and nutrient accumulation.
  2. Boosts Oxygen Levels: Aeration also increases the amount of oxygen in your lake’s water. Beneath the water surface, the diffuser plates release tiny bubbles of oxygen. They disperse and circulate throughout the water column, providing life-sustaining O2 to beneficial bacteria, fish and submerged plants.
  3. Eliminates Thermocline: Aeration circulates the water and eliminates thermocline, which is a stratified layer of water between the warmer, surface zone and the colder, deep-water zone. Bottom diffuser aeration churns and mixes those temperature layers. The tiny air bubbles force the cooler oxygen-starved water to the pond’s surface where it becomes infused up with O2. The warmer, oxygen-rich water then drops down, fueling the beneficial bacteria.
  4. Improves Water Quality: By reducing the pond muck, increasing oxygen and circulating the water column, your water quality will improve. You’ll see reduced algae growth, clearer water, and happier, healthier fish.
  5. Reduces Winter Fishkill: Aeration also protects your game fish in the winter. As organic debris decomposes in your pond, gases are released into the water column. These gases become trapped when your pond freezes over, which reduces the amount of clean oxygen. If enough oxygen is displaced, your fish will suffocate. Running an aerator pumps fresh O2 in the water while maintaining a hole in the ice for gas exchange.

Pond Talk: What benefits have you seen in your pond or lake after adding an aeration system?

Keep Your Pond Healthy All Year - Airmax(r) Pond Series(tm) Aeration Systems

I heard you can lose fish during the winter. How do I prevent a winter fish kill? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I heard you can lose fish during the winter. How do I prevent a winter fish kill?

Q: I heard you can lose fish during the winter. How do I prevent a winter fish kill?

Jon – Little Suamico, WI

A: Imagine being cooped up all winter long in a room with no ventilation and no fresh air. Pretty claustrophobic, right? Now add the stench of decaying garbage and other waste buildup … it’s likely you wouldn’t last until spring.

It’s a similar situation with your fish.

In colder climates that freeze over the winter, decomposing vegetation and waste beneath the ice layer releases toxic gases that build up, displacing the oxygen that the fish need to survive. When that O2 is replaced with ammonia and other harmful gases, the result can be a winter fish kill.

So how to do you prevent this from happening? Aeration with an Airmax® Aeration System.

Open a Window!

An Airmax® Aeration System sized for your lake or pond moves the water below the frozen surface, which keeps an air hole open in the ice. This ventilation allows the harmful gases to escape while bringing in fresh oxygen for your fish. The aeration also injects oxygen into the water via the bubbles that come out of the diffuser or air stones.

Provide Year-Round Oxygen

For the health of your fish, we recommend you run an aeration system year-round—unless you plan to use the pond for winter activities, like ice skating or hockey, that require a solid and safe sheet of ice. In that case, follow the instructions in your product manual to safely turn off your system.

Create a Warm Zone

If you plan to run your system year-round, move the diffuser plates into shallower water during the winter months. This will allow your fish to hunker down in your pond’s warmer depth for the winter. It will also prevent the rare “super cooling” effect, in which the water temperature dips below freezing and over chills your fish.

Pond Talk: Have you ever experienced a winter fish kill? What changes did you make to prevent it from happening again?

Aerate Your Pond in All Seasons - Airmax® Pond Series™ Aeration

What causes fog to form on the pond during the fall? | Pond & Lake Q&A

What causes fog to form on the pond during the fall?

What causes fog to form on the pond during the fall?

Grayson – Three Rivers, MI

When you make the decision to add a water feature to your backyard, the positives are countless. They’re calming. They’re beautiful. They’re satisfying. They’re challenging. And sometimes, they’re downright educational. Today’s post falls in the latter category. And for the next couple of paragraphs, we’ll discuss your pond’s potential as a weathermaker.

As everyone knows, fog is nothing more than a concentration of water vapor in the air. When fall rolls around, air temperatures cool faster than the water in your pond. When a cold layer of still air settles over your pond – typically during overnight hours – warm water vapor from the pond enters the cool air above it. The cool air then traps the concentrated water vapor in place, and fog forms. As the day wears on, and air temperatures rise, the water vapor evaporates and dispels – clearing the air until night falls, and temperatures follow suit.

Some people, particularly those who wax nostalgic about the Pacific Northwest or Sherlock Holmes-ian London, love the subtle mystery of their pond’s morning fog. But others like things crystal clear. Fortunately, with the installation of a Kasco or Aqua Control Fountain, the fog fighters can have things their way – all year ‘round.

Fountains serve several purposes. They provide vital aeration, enriching pond waters with the oxygen fish and plants need to thrive. They also create air movement above the water, preventing cool air from settling in, and eliminating the potential for fogging. So, whether you’re for fog or against it, you can always have your pond, your way, each and every day of the year.

Pond Talk: Have you noticed fog on your pond yet this year?

Kasco Fountains

I’m going to use my pond for skating over the winter. What do I need to do to store my aeration system? I’m going to use my pond for skating over the winter. What do I need to do to store my aeration system? | Pond & Lake Q&A

I’m going to use my pond for skating over the winter. What do I need to do to store my aeration system?

I’m going to use my pond for skating over the winter. What do I need to do to store my aeration system?
Wayne – Pontiac, MI

One of the great joys of a backyard pond is its four-season versatility. After three seasons of aesthetic satisfaction, there’s nothing better than strapping on a pair of skates and hitting the water when it hardens up for the winter. But before the temperatures drop, your aeration system demands some seasonal attention.

As a rule, it’s okay to keep your aeration system in operation until ice begins to form. When that day arrives, it’s time to shut the aerator off. At that point, you’ll want to put the compressor and its housing in a cool, dry place to avoid exposure to the elements, where dramatic weather changes can cause condensation that may cause damage. To accomplish this step, first disconnect the compressor from the airline. Be sure to cap the exposed end of the airline, leaving the remaining line buried, and diffuser plates in the pond.

When the aeration season is over, it’s a great time to perform regular maintenance. Consider changing your air filter. Choose a high quality replacement, like our Airmax® SilentAir™ Complete Filter Assembly, and install new Airmax® SilentAir™ Replacement Air Filter Elements if your filter is in good enough shape for another season.

If you’ve noticed that your compressor is producing less air than it should, you may want to consider the use of a Maintenance Kit to boost the compressors performance or inspect the diffusers and replace any damaged diffuser membranes. If you’re still using air stones, it’s the perfect time to upgrade to Airmax® Membrane Diffuser Sticks, which are easy to install, and virtually maintenance free.

Happy skating.

Pond Talk: Do you run your aeration system throughout the winter or store it for the season?

Airmax® Aeration Air Filter

My pond looks like an oil slick. Why and how can I get rid of it? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

My pond looks like an oil slick. Why and how can I get rid of it?

My pond looks like an oil slick. Why and how can I get rid of it?
Brandy- Naples, FL

Every year, Mother Nature unleashes a mass of pollen into the air to facilitate the fertilization of seeds in flowering plants. It’s an effective design, but not terribly efficient. Pollen ends up everywhere – just ask anyone who suffers from hay fever – and the surface of your pond is no exception.

Once settled on the surface, the pollen often mixes with algae to form a film that can give your pond that greasy, greenish look. If you’re unsure that the slick is due to pollen, run your finger through it. If the slick breaks up, you know your pond’s wearing an unsightly coat of pollen. And ‘unsightly’ defeats one of the purposes of having a pond to begin with, right?

So, what’s a frustrated pondkeeper to do? If you’re patient, you could wait for a heavy rain to come along and sink the pollen to the bottom. Or, depending on the size of your pond, a touch of artificial rain – think garden hose, here – might provide a temporary fix. However, to both fix the problem and prevent its recurrence, many of our customers have found that the installation of an Airmax® Aeration System is a great solution. Our Airmax® systems – available in models to fit your pond’s dimensions and needs – keep pond water circulating, which prevents the pollen from coalescing into an unsightly slick. Aesthetics aside, an Airmax® System is a great way to keep your pond – and the plants and fish living there – clean and healthy.

For a more elegant solution to the pollen slick problem, you may want to consider a Kasco Fountain, which sprays water up and over the pond’s surface, causing ripples that prevent the formation of pollen slicks completely. Kasco Fountains are offered with single or multiple pattern sprays, adding a dramatic element to your pond-scape.

So, if you find your pond wearing an ugly, pollen coat, let us help you take it off, and replace it with that fresh, shimmering surface it deserves.

Pond Talk: Do you ever notice a white or greenish slick look on your pond?

Pond & Lake Fountains

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