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My pond isn’t frozen yet, but I can’t see my fish. Are they okay? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

My pond isn’t frozen yet, but I can’t see my fish. Are they okay?

My pond isn’t frozen yet, but I can’t see my fish. Are they okay?
Stephanie – Harpursville, NY

Fish are survivors. And when the water starts getting cold, they head for deeper waters, where the chilling effects of winter air are less pronounced. Provided there’s adequate aeration, your fish will likely linger at the bottom throughout the colder months. As a result, they’ll be much less visible – but the odds are extremely good they’re doing just fine.

In order to ensure there’s sufficient oxygen for the winter, some people opt to keep their aeration systems active all year ‘round. At the very least, though, it’s important to maintain a vent hole when – or if – your pond ices over. The vent hole allows harmful decomposition gases to escape, allowing fish to winter safely. And because their metabolism slows during the winter months, a properly vented pond will likely have sufficient oxygen to ensure the survival of your fish until springtime.

Fish, it turns out, are extremely resilient. After wintering in the lower reaches of your pond, your fish will gradually return to the upper levels once water temperatures start to rise. In general, it’s probably a good sign when fish become less visible. If they’re struggling, it’s far more likely you’d see them at the edges of your pond. So while you might miss them, your invisible fish are probably doing just fine.

Pond Talk: Have you noticed less fish movement in your pond recently?

During the summer, I run my aeration system all the time. Can I just run it part-time during the winter so the pond will freeze for skating? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

During the summer, I run my aeration system all the time. Can I just run it part-time during the winter so the pond will freeze for skating?During the summer, I run my aeration system all the time. Can I just run it part-time during the winter so the pond will freeze for skating?

Klaus – Columbia, MO

If you’re the least inclined to use your pond for ice skating during the winter months, there’s only one way to go – and it doesn’t involve aeration.

Lots of pond owners choose to keep their aerators up and running during the winter months. It’s a logical choice – particularly when the pond is inhabited year ‘round by fish – because the aerator prevents the pond from freezing fully, allowing potentially gases produced by organic matter decomposition to escape. But for people who put a premium on ice skating, any aeration is a no-no.

Why? Because aerators keep water moving. And when water is moving, ice has a tough time forming. When it does form on an aerated pond, the ice is extremely porous, and nowhere near as strong as the solid ice that forms on still water. As a result, an aerated pond is never safe for skating – even if the aeration is sporadic. That’s the primary reason we recommend the ready availability of our Taylor Made 20” Life Rings to provide an added measure of safety for anyone who ventures onto the weakened ice.

So, if you choose to skate, it’s wise to shut down your aeration system completely. You can leave your airline and plate in the pond, but the cabinet and compressor should be stored indoors to prevent condensation and rusting.

If you love to skate, skate safely. And enjoy your pond with confidence all year long.

Pond Talk: Do you use your pond for skating in the winter?

Taylor Made 20 Inch Life Rings

When should I remove the fountain from my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?
Fran – Lapeer, MI

While we’re not particularly anxious for winter to arrive it is in our best interest to start preparing for the cold that will inevitably come. Since you are working not only outdoors but in the water as well you may want to get a jump start on removing your fountain from your pond before you start feeling the full effects of winter.

Convenience aside, you can leave your fountain in the pond until ice starts to form. Surface forming ice may damage the float or other parts of your fountain and can potentially prevent water passing through the spray nozzle from returning back into the pond. This ice barrier can cause the fountain to run dry destroying your fountain’s motor.

Removing your fountain and preparing it for storage is a fairly simple process. Most fountains have a quick disconnect at the motor that lets you separate the fountain from the main power cord. Make sure you turn off the power to the fountain and pull your fountain ashore. Wash down the fountain and float assembly to remove any algae or debris that may have accumulated over the season, a pressure washer makes short work of even the dirtiest fountains. Inspect electrical cables for signs of wear or damage and, if your fountain has lights, check for burnt out or damaged bulbs and lenses.

Since the fountain is out of the pond and won’t be used for a few months, now is the perfect time to send it to a licensed repair facility for any routine maintenance it my require such as oil changes or seal replacements. Once your fountain is cleaned and inspected store it in an upright position in a climate controlled location like a heated pole barn or garage. Since there are many different types of fountains, it is very important that you read through your user’s manual for special instructions and maintenance plans to keep your fountain running at its very best.

If you are feeling adventurous and want to run your fountain throughout the winter you can minimize the risk of damaging your equipment by selecting a more suitable spray nozzle and regularly monitoring the environment. Choose a spray nozzle that throws heavier streams of water instead of a misty pattern. Water moving at a higher volume in a dense pattern is less likely to freeze than water sprayed in a finer pattern. Periodically check the fountain to make sure the spray nozzle is unobstructed and that the water can return back into the pond. If you are going to run your fountain in temperatures below freezing you will have to run it continuously or the water in the fountain head will freeze when switched off. Keep in mind that parts damaged by winter operation may not be covered under your manufacturer’s warranty.

If your fountain is your primary source of aeration you have a few alternatives to get you through the winter. Try to keep a hole open through the surface ice in your pond. This will allow toxic gasses formed by decomposing organic debris to exit the pond and let fresh air in. Since cold water holds oxygen easier and your fish are less active in cold water you may not need additional aeration. If you are concerned however, you can install a bottom diffused aeration system which can be run year round even when ice forms on the pond.

Pond Talk: Do you run your fountain in the winter? Send us some pictures of your fountain in action.

Kasco 1/2 HP Surface Aerators

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

What type of aeration is best for you? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

What type of aeration is best for you?

What type of aeration is best for you?
Britney – St. Louis, MO

When you call a pond home, it’s the little touches – like sufficient oxygen – that make life worth living. In fact, you might say they make life possible in the first place. No wonder we hear from so many fish singing the praises of our Airmax® Aeration System .

Okay. We don’t actually hear from fish. But we do hear from customers. And they’re unequivocal in their appreciation of our versatile range of aeration systems, which leads to the critical question: how do you decide on the proper type of aeration for your pond?

Choosing the proper aeration system depends on a number of factors. First and foremost is the matter of pond volume. In order to ensure proper aeration, it’s important to choose an aeration system capable of circulating and oxygenating all of the water in your pond. With a system that’s too small, you’ll run the risk of both oxygen depletion and toxic gas buildup, resulting in the increased likelihood of fish kills, algae blooms and thickening pond muck.

Pond volume is determined a couple of key factors: pond depth and pond area. A third factor – pond shape – also plays into proper filtration. To address the issue of pond depth, we offer both deep water and shallow water aeration systems.

For deep water ponds, Airmax® Pond Series™ Aeration models PS10 through PS40 provide economical aeration designed to eliminate stratification, increase dissolved oxygen levels, decrease toxic gases, and prevent fish kills. By cycling water, these systems also help to fight algae blooms, while reducing bottom muck.

For shallow ponds, our Airmax® Shallow Water Series™ Aeration models SW20 and SW40 provide effective, efficient aeration, using energy efficient dual diaphragm pumps to eliminate fish kills, reduce muck accumulation and inhibit weed growth.

The final consideration – pond shape – also plays an important role in ensuring proper aeration. For simple, contiguous shapes like circles and ovals, a properly-sized aeration system will fully circulate all water without the risk of stagnation. In circumstances where multiple ponds are interconnected, full circulation may require additional pumps. When in doubt, we strongly encourage you to give us a call. We’ll help you to make the right aeration decision – for you and your pond.

Pond Talk: Have you been looking for aeration for your pond?

Airmax® Shallow Water Series™ Aeration Systems

I’ve always been curious to know just what really lives down in my pond. – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

I've always been curious to know just what really lives down in my pond.

I’ve always been curious to know just what really lives down in my pond. Holly – Girdler, KY

The Company You Keep

Your pond is a beautiful and enjoyable addition to your back yard and just as it is full of water, it is also full of mysteries. Since we have at one time or another used our ponds for swimming, fishing, or maybe irrigation we can only wonder, “What really lives beneath the surface of my pond?”

While you won’t find any man-eating sharks or lost cities like Atlantis at the bottom of the pond, there is a surprisingly diverse selection of living creatures cozying up in your water. In your average back yard farm pond you can expect to find large creatures such as fish, frogs and turtles, snakes and muskrats. In regards to the smaller inhabitants in your pond you have tadpoles, a variety of insects, and don’t forget your microscopic bacteria in both aerobic and anaerobic flavors. Your pond also plays host to aquatic plants like Cattails, Algae, and submersed weeds like American Pondweed, Hydrilla, and Naiad. It is only natural that since your pond is choc-full of life, it will draw additional wildlife to its shores like birds and deer. The physical location of your pond will directly influence what kinds of creatures you will find frequenting the water as certain animal species are located in select regions in the US.

Now that you are certain you are not alone in your pond, rest assured that the majority of what is living in your pond actually helps create a balanced ecosystem at best and is a minor inconvenience to people at worst. Having a healthy and balanced fish population will help keep your pond clear of insects and leeches. Creating an ideal environment for beneficial aerobic bacteria like those in PondClear™ and MuckAway™ to thrive will improve your water clarity and reduce muck accumulation and weed growth. Click over to our Bacteria Blog to learn more about these microscopic maids.

With all of these animals in your pond who is responsible for room assignments? If you are not aerating your pond, then your pond is most likely broken up into layers or thermoclines. You may have experienced this when swimming in your pond. Your chest is nice and warm but the water your feet occupy is cold. Many customers confuse this stratification with their pond being spring fed. Oxygen and light can only travel so far beneath the surface of the pond without assistance. This means that the top layer of your pond is typically a warm, oxygen rich environment which is prime real estate for the ponds inhabitants. The lower layers of the pond are darker, cooler and have considerably less oxygen. Gasses released by decomposing plants and fish waste (thanks to anaerobic bacteria) are trapped in this bottom layer creating a toxic environment that is not a very ideal living space. Installing an Aeration System, you can infuse oxygen and circulate the entire water column allowing your fish and their roommates to utilize the entire pond. Aerating the pond will also cut down on those smelly toxic gases and encourage a cleaner healthier pond which makes it more enjoyable for not only the wildlife but for you as well.

POND TALK: What types of creatures have you found in your pond?

Get clear water naturally!

Ensuring Sufficient Pond Aeration – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of a Pond with an Airmax Aeration System.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: How do I ensure my lake or pond gets sufficient aeration? – Jack of Maine

A: Take a deep breath. Living things, whether they’re above water or below, require oxygen to thrive. If your pond or lake houses fish, then the aquatic environment needs to be rich with oxygen, and the best way to do that is by aerating the water. Pond aeration is simply diffusing life-giving oxygen into water evenly throughout the water column using surface aerators or bottom-mounted diffusers.

To determine whether your pond or lake requires aeration, take your pond’s temperature. Measure the temperature of the water 1 foot below the pond’s surface, and do the same at the bottom of the pond. If the results differ more than 3 degrees Fahrenheit, then your pond is not sufficiently aerated and it may need a little help. For a simpler test, JUMP IN! If you’re warm above the waste and freezing at your toes, it’s a good sign your pond is not being circulated or aerated enough. Here are the most common ways to churn up the water:

Bottom Bubblers: Bottom-mounted air diffusers, like the Airmax® Aeration System, are ideal for ponds and lakes deeper than 6 feet. They aerate ponds from bottom up, pushing air into the water via air stones or diffusers. These systems generally feature a shore-side cabinet that houses an air compressor, which is connected to diffusers at the bottom of the pond. The air is forced through the diffusers, which create medium-size bubbles that expand as they surface, releasing oxygen into the water and circulating the water column. These bottom bubblers are by far the most efficient at circulation and aeration.

Surface Aerators: Surface aerators, like fountains, provide pond aeration from the surface down. They agitate the surface of the pond, pulling water up from below and releasing into the air, where the droplets explode into a decorative spray pattern. The surface area on each droplet of water is saturated with oxygen, which it delivers back into the pond. Fountains pull water from about 6 feet down. For ponds and lakes 6 feet deep or less, a fountain can act as both a pond aerator and a decorative feature. Depending on your pond’s size, you may need more than one fountain to properly aerate. When ponds are deeper than 6 feet, fountains become more for decoration and you need to think about a bottom bubbler.

Alternative Aeration – Wind Power: If power isn’t available near your lake or pond, you can go with a wind aeration system to keep the air flowing. Windmills are primarily designed for decoration and they  come with one air stones to aerate up to 1 acre. You’ll need constant  wind blowing at least 3 to 5 miles per hour for continuous aeration, but they are a great backup system to an electric air compressor or in a remote location. Windmills are available in 12-foot, 16-foot and 20-foot towers. Remember: Windmills do not provide continuous aeration and should not be used as a direct substitute for electrical powered continuous aeration systems.

Alternative Aeration – Solar Power: Solar powered aeration systems are another great alternative to aerating your pond without having to pay for electricity. Solar aeration systems are great for both remote
installation and environmental conscience applications. They are for aquatic environments ranging in size from small decorative water gardens up to ponds or lake up to 5 acres. These fully automatic systems are designed to run up to 20 hours per day under standard operating conditions. The battery backup system allows them to run like normal under less than optimal conditions. One of the biggest downfalls of solar powered aeration systems are their high price tag.

POND TALK: What do you do to aerate your pond?

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