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What Can I Do To Keep My Pond Clear? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of a Pond.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: What can I do to keep my pond clear? – Kara of Florida

A: When I ask my service customers what their top three goals are for their pond, clear water is almost always at the top of the list. Clear water is aesthetically pleasing and is a sign that your pond is healthy and balanced. Across the board, your first step towards clean and clear water is to aerate.

Airmax Aeration keeps the water in motion, allowing it to stay oxygenated while venting toxic gasses and clearing the water. Beyond aeration, there are a few easy steps to follow to clear up that water:

Start by finding the source of the problem. Dip a clear glass of water out of your pond and begin the diagnosis. Match what you see to the following problem/solution.

  • Pea Soup Colored Water: This is typically caused by a heavy bloom of planktonic algae. When treating for planktonic algae you must be very careful. Treating too big of an area at any one time could cause oxygen levels to deplete to a point where your fish could die. We highly recommend to have an aeration system running when treating for this type of algae. To help with this issue in the future, you must limit the nutrients that are entering the pond. Do this by limiting organics such as grass clippings, twigs, leaves, branches, etc. from entering the pond. Be careful of fertilizing around your pond as this too will cause algae blooms. Using Nutri-Defense will help bind any nutrients currently in the pond and begin using PondClear or MuckAway natural bacteria to help break down any organics that have already gotten into the pond. These bacteria work by eating any suspended nutrients and bottom muck in the pond to help keep your pond clean and clear.
  • Milky Gray or Chocolate Milk Colored Water: Most often this problem is caused by heavy runoff laden with silt and sediment. Aeration will typically take care of this problem within a week or two. If the problem persists, the soil in the water is probably clay. In this situation, apply a double dose of Nutri-Defense to try and help flocculate the suspended particulates.
  • Stained Brown/Black Like Tea or Coffee Colored Water: This color water is usually a result of heavy leaf litter on the pond’s bottom. When leaves sit for long periods of time, they can release tannins into the water column causing brown/black colored water. Use a Lake Rake to rake out the bulk of the material, and follow up with MuckAway to help accelerate the decomposion of the remaining leaves. As always, we recommend to aerate.

The recurring theme that we see here is that aeration is key when trying to solve pond problems. In nearly every case, your pond will greatly benefit from the use of Airmax
Aeration
. Aeration Systems will help create an environment for aerobic bacteria (like bacteria found in PondClear or MuckAway) to thrive. This aerobic bacteria will decompose organics at accelerated speeds and will help reduce the sediment at the pond’s bottom.

Can a Fountain Provide My Pond Sufficient Aeration? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of a "V" Patterned Fountain.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: I would really like to have a fountain in my pond and I know I need aeration. Will a fountain aerate my pond? – Nathan of Florida

A: Having a fountain in your pond is a great way to add tranquility to your home. To sit out on the deck and see a beautiful fountain

display as well as hear that relaxing sound of water. What more could you ask for? Many people are drawn to a fountain’s show-stopping appeal, but will they aerate a pond as well? The answer to this really depends on a couple factors: the pond’s depth and the type of fountain pattern the fountain is using.

Pond’s Depth: Fountains can be great aerators when the pond is less than 6′ of depth. The reason for this is because the best way to aerate is to circulate the whole body of water at the same time. A fountain will only draw water from the top of the water column, which is water that already contains oxygen from the air to water oxygen transfer. The pond’s bottom will remain untouched if it is deeper than 6′. If your pond is less than 6′ deep, then all you have to worry about is the spray pattern.

Fountain Spray Pattern: The spray pattern of a fountain makes a huge difference in how much aeration is produced. Usually the more decorative the spray pattern, the less likely it is to aerate your pond properly. This is because more energy is spent on creating the decorative pattern than there is moving the water. The best spray pattern to use for a fountain is a “V” patterned fountain like the picture above

If your pond is deeper than 6′ of depth, than the best method of aeration would be an Airmax Aeration System. The Airmax Aeration System diffuser will pump air down to the bottom of the pond, and the resulting column of rising bubbles lifts and aerates the water. By starting from the bottom, up, this will ensure that the whole body of water is properly circulated as well as aerated.

Why Did My Fish Die Over the Winter? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Illustration of No Aeration Versus with Airmax Aeration

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: I lost all of my fish after the winter. We love to catch fish in the pond and now we have to start over! What happened? And is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening again? – Alfred of Michigan

A: My first thought when I read this question was, “They don’t have an aeration system”. And after speaking with him, come to find out, he didn’t. This is usually always the case during a winter fish kill. Everything seems to be going just fine when all of a sudden one morning you wake up to discover a wave of fish floating on your pond’s surface. This is not a pretty sight, nor is it any fun to clean up. So what causes fish kill and what can you do to prevent it?

What Causes Fish Kill?
During the warmer months of the year a pond with no aeration will contain oxygen towards the surface of the pond. This is because there is an oxygen transfer from air to water at the pond’s surface. The bottom of the pond, however, will contain very little or no oxygen; Certainly not enough to support fish life. Also, the toxins associated with fish waste and other organic biodegradation tend to sink and stay at those lower depths of the pond, polluting the already oxygen-starved water. This unfortunately, condenses your fishes’ habitat area and forces them to live towards the surface of the pond.

There is also a difference in temperature from the bottom of the pond to the surface. The bottom of the pond will be colder than the pond’s surface. The reason for this is because the sun will heat up the surface of the water and since cold water is denser than warmer water, the cold water will fall to the bottom. This difference in temperatures can be quite dramatic at times. Have you ever jumped into a pond and felt the brisk cold water towards your feet? This is the thermocline border. This dramatic change in temperature can cause your fish to stress as they travel from a warm temperature to a cold temperature and back to warm. This stress can lower their immune systems.

During the colder months of the year, the oxygen as well as the thermocline will actually flip. All of a sudden the colder water containing no oxygen will mix with the warmer water with oxygen. As this mixing occurs, the fish are left with few places to go for oxygen and they will eventually suffocate.

Another issue during the winter are toxic gasses. As bottom organics (grass clippings, leaves, trees, twigs, fish waste, etc.) decay, they will create toxic gasses. When ice covers the pond’s surface, these toxic gasses are trapped underneath the ice and will cause a fish kill.

Preventing Fish Kills
Using an Airmax Aeration System is the single most important way to help prevent winter fish kills. The reasons are simple: With an Airmax Aeration System, a compressor sits on shore and pumps air down to a diffuser on the pond’s bottom. This air forces the cold water containing no oxygen to the pond’s surface. This water, because it is denser, will fall back to the pond’s bottom. This cycle will repeat and create a convection or current within the water column. This will fill the whole water body with oxygen as well as maintain the same temperature level throughout the pond (see illustration on left).

Also, during the winter months, when ice has covered the surface of the pond. An Airmax Aeration System will keep a small hole open in the ice to allow those toxic gases to escape.

The Bottom Line: Having aeration will help reduce the chances of fish kill. Also, remember that this is one of many benefits of having an aeration system (Refer to this blog post for the other benefits of aeration).

Installing a Pond Aeration System Away From Your Pond – Pond & Lake Q & A

Illustration of a Pond Aeration System Installed When the Power is Away from the Pond

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: I know I need an aeration system, but I don’t have power next to my pond. Is a windmill or solar aeration system my only option?
- Jacob of Georgia

A: The short answer is no. There is a common misunderstanding that our (electric) Airmax Aeration Systems require power at the pond or lake’s edge. In reality, however, the Airmax Aeration System can be installed several thousand feet from the edge of a pond or lake. Your Airmax power unit or cabinet may be placed at the nearest or most convenient power source such as your home, barn or other out building. All that is needed with this type of installation is a shallow trench 6-12 inches deep to place the Airmax Direct Burial Airline in. The Direct Burial Airline will then transfer the air to the pond or lake’s edge where it can be connected to Airmax EasySet Self-Weighted Airline and continue on to the diffuser.

Illustration of a Pond Aeration System Installed When the Power is Near the Pond

Alternative aeration systems such as windmills and solar seem like a natural fit for installations where power is not easily accessible, although it is important to understand that you may not receive the same benefits from these types of aeration devices. Windmills only work when there is steady wind (5 mph or more) and solar systems have to run on an on/off cycle. Under optimal light conditions a solar aeration system can run continuously for 15-20 hours before shutting down to allow the batteries to charge. Another disadvantage of alternative aeration devices is their cost. This is especially true of the solar models. With the purchase price being so high the energy consumption of an Airmax Aeration System being so low it is nearly impossible to recuperate any cost savings due to electrical consumption. A typical Airmax Aeration System designed to aerate up to one surface acre will cost less than $18 per month, running 24 hours per day.

To receive the benefits of aeration, your system should run 24 hours per day! The goal of aeration is circulation and the introduction of oxygen to the bottom of your pond or lake. A properly sized aeration system will use the bubbles created by the diffuser to force the cooler water from the bottom of your pond to the surface. The water at the surface is warmer and less dense or lighter. The cooler or heavier water will be pushed up by the diffuser then forced outward where it will naturally sink due to its heavier density. Aeration devices that are under powered, have poorly designed delivery devices (diffusers) or not operated continuously generally will not provide the true benefits of aeration. Do your research and spend your money wisely!

Aeration Benefits:

  • Clean & Clear Water Column
  • Elimination of Thermal Stratification
  • Reduced Sediment
  • Stronger and More Productive
    Fish Population
  • Elimination of Fish Kills and
    Turnover

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.

What Type of Aeration System Do I Need? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: I know I need aeration in my pond, but I’m not sure what type of aerator is right for me? - Several Customers

A: We all know why ponds need some type of aeration system (If your not sure why ponds need aeration, read the article Aeration in the Summer Heat), but there are many types of aerators on the market from Bottom Bubblers to Fountains to Windmills. The type of aerator needed for a pond depends on a few factors.

Picture of the Airmax Aeration System

Airmax Bottom Bubblers: An overwhelming majority of ponds fit into the category of Bottom Bubbler aeration. This system comes with a cabinet that sits on the shore. The cabinet houses an energy efficient air compressor. This compressor is then connected to a 4-stone diffuser plate(s) that sits on the bottom of the pond. This 4-stone diffuser creates medium sized bubbles that not only allow for adequate aeration, but also circulation. Many pond owners assume that since power is not located by the shore of their pond, that a Bottom Bubbler will not work. Just to clarify, a Bottom Bubbler can be placed up to 1,000 feet from the pond using direct burial airline. To select which sized Airmax Bottom Bubbler aeration system will work for you, click here to read about it in our online catalog.

Picture of a Decorative Fountain at nightFountains: Fountains are a great aesthetic piece for any farm pond. Fountains rest on the surface of the pond, pull water from below and push it into the air to make a decorative spray pattern. Because of the way they are

designed, they will only pull water from about 6 feet down. When a pond is deeper than 6 feet it’s best to go with both a Fountain as well as a Bottom Bubbler to have adequate aeration. When the pond has a

depth of 6 feet or less then a fountain will act as both an aerator as well as a decorative piece. Please note: Depending on your pond’s size, you may need more than one Fountain to properly aerate.

Picture of a Windmill-Powered Aeration System

Windmill: Windmills are primarily designed for decoration. If a pond is located where no power is available, then a windmill is really the only option to allow for some aeration. It is important to keep in mind that windmills only come with one stone and do not cover a large area. Also, they need constant wind

to have constant aeration. Windmills are available in 12′, 16′ and 20′ towers. Windmills do not provide continuous aeration and should not be used as a direct substitute for electrical powered continuous aeration systems.

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