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How Would I Know If My Pond Has Sufficient Aeration? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Comparing No Aeration, Under Aerating & Sufficient Aeration

Q: How would I know if my pond has sufficient aeration? What would happen if my pond was “under” aerated?
- Joe of Michigan

A: The best way to test to see if your pond is sufficiently aerated is by taking the temperature of the water one foot below the pond’s surface as well as the bottom. If there is a difference of more than 3 degrees Fahrenheit, then the pond is not sufficiently aerated and you may need to add additional diffusers or relocate the diffuser that you have.

Next, to answer the, “What would happen if my pond was “under” aerated?” question, lets compare a pond with no aeration, a pond that is under aerated and a pond with sufficient aeration.

A Pond with No Aeration: With no aeration present, the water is stratified (aka has a thermocline). Meaning that the water at the top is warmer and full of oxygen while on the bottom the water is cooler, nutrient rich and contains no oxygen. This causes the fish to habitat towards the surface of the pond. As the seasons change from the hot summer to cold winter, the pond goes through a process known as “turnover”. This is when the cooler water at the bottom of the pond, mixes with the warmer water at the pond’s surface. Since the rising cooler water contains no oxygen, the chances of a fish kill are imminent.

A Pond that is Under Aerated: When a pond is under aerated, the thermocline is not eliminated, only dropped further down towards the pond’s bottom. This can cause constant problems. As the bottom bubbler aerates, the bottom, nutrient rich water is lifted to the pond’s surface. These nutrients are now constantly available for algae to grow. More importantly, the water that is being lifted by the bubbler also contains no oxygen, thus increasing the possibility of creating turnover and killing the fish.

A Pond with Sufficient Aeration: You may ask, “Since the nutrients are still being brought to the surface, won’t an algae bloom and turnover still happen even if a pond is properly aerated?”

When an Aeration System is initially installed, it should be started at a slow pace to prevent creating turnover (See blog “When & How to Start Your Aeration System” for more information). As for algae, initially, when the nutrients are pushed towards the surface, algae will have the chance to bloom. As time progresses, however, the thermocline will be eliminated, the nutrients will be flushed out and the fish may now habitat the whole body of water.

Will a Fountain Aerate My Pond? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of a Fountain

Q: Will a fountain aerate my pond? - Several Customers

A: When it comes to fountains, I always tell customers that they are more for decoration than they are for aeration, but there are exceptions. Since fountains rest on the water’s surface, they tend to only pull water from 6′ of depth or less. Thus, if the pond is no more than 6′ deep at the deepest point, a fountain becomes an option for aeration. If the pond’s depth is greater than 6′ of depth than a bottom bubbler aerator would be our recommendation. The best aeration concept would be the use both. By placing a bottom bubbler underneath a fountain, you create the ideal conditional for total pond aeration.

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 MuckAway™ 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 Ecosystem 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 PondClear™ Bacteria, EcoBoost™ Bacteria Enhancer, and Natures Blue™ dye.

Do I Need an Aerator During the Warmer Months? – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of a water garden with a koi aeration system

Q: Does my water garden need an aerator during the warmer months of the year? -Several Customers

A: That depends on a two things: Fish Load & Depth.

Fish Load: The greater the fish load, the higher the oxygen demand. A water garden aeration system is highly recommeded for high fish loads.

Depth: If your water garden is deeper than 24″, it is important that the water towards the bottom is also being circulated. In a skimmer/waterfall filtration system, the water will circulate across the surface of the water and leave the water towards the bottom stagnant. Adding an aeration system will prevent any stagnation by lifting the bottom water towards the surface. See our selection of Water Garden Aeration Products.

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