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What is the real difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic bacteria? – Pond & Lake Q & A

What is the real difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic bacteria?

What is the real difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic bacteria? Bill – Mount Orab, OH

Know Their Role

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that you have bacteria in your pond? You probably think that your pond is dirty, or it may cause disease or get you sick. The truth is while some bacteria are associated with negative effects, bacteria are present in any functioning ecosystem diligently working behind the scenes to maintain a healthy and balanced environment. If you properly maintain your pond you will create an environment that promotes the presence of beneficial bacteria.

There are two different types of bacteria to focus on; aerobic and anaerobic. Your anaerobic bacteria are those that exist in areas of your pond that lack oxygen. These bacteria work slowly to digest organic debris and release a smelly gas as a byproduct. Aerobic bacteria thrive in oxygen rich environments and digest debris at an accelerated rate in comparison to their anaerobic counterparts that results in the expulsion of an odorless gas. In a self contained pond with little to no aeration you would expect to find aerobic bacteria near the surface where there is a higher level of dissolved oxygen and a lot more anaerobic bacteria at the bottom of the pond where there is a very low amount, if any, oxygen. Due to the fact that these anaerobic bacteria are slow to digest debris, any leaves, plants, and fish waste that gather at the bottom faster than they can be decomposed, hence the accumulation of muck.

To help break down organic debris at a rapid rate and keep your pond clean and healthy you will want to ensure that your pond is populated with aerobic bacteria throughout. To do this you want to circulate the contents you your pond while infusing oxygen into the water column. If your pond is 6 feet or shallower this can be accomplished with a Fountain. Ponds deeper than 6 feet will see better results with a Bottom Plate Aeration System. With these units in place you now have an oxygen rich playground just waiting to be filled with beneficial (aerobic) bacteria. PondClear™ and MuckAway™ are perfect types of bacteria products you can implement into your pond. PondClear™ is in a water soluble packet that will release at the surface of the pond and travel throughout to find and digest any organic debris before they have a chance to settle to the bottom. MuckAway™ is a pellet that will sink directly to the bottom of the pond to help speed up the decomposition of any debris that have accumulated over time. The fact that you can directly place MuckAway™ pellets in specific areas that need a little extra attention makes them the perfect solution for treating sections of lake front property and beach areas.

Aerating your pond provides the perfect environment for “good” bacteria and will keep the “bad” bacteria at bay. Cleaning out or preventing mass amounts of organic debris from your pond will help keep your bacteria ahead of schedule and keep the pond cleaner for your recreational use. If you take care of your bacteria they will take care of your pond… and you.

Pond Talk: What do you do to encourage the “good” bacteria growth in your pond?


9 Responses

  1. […] will improve your water clarity and reduce muck accumulation and weed growth. Click over to our Bacteria Blog to learn more about these microscopic […]

  2. what is the best bacteria to purchase if you have fish? Just the word bacteria makes me think of bad stuff and I don’t want bad stuff in with my fish!! I’ve used a home made bacteria that is sold at the store, but at $9.00 a bottle (and I need to use 3) a week its just getting too expensive to buy. Help!!

    • Hi Sandy,

      Any aerobic bacteria that is designed for use in ponds will be fish safe. For larger earth bottom ponds use Pond Clear or if you have a water garden use Nature’s Defense. Same fish safe bacteria in both but dosage rates and instructions are geared towards your particular pond type.

  3. I was tole that the areation shluld not be placed all the way to the bottom and not to break up the thermocine or the trout will die more often when the water gets warm??

    • Hi Sean,

      The situation does change when it comes to raising trout. In this case you may want to leave your aeration suspended from the top of the pond in order to leave the bottom cooler for the trout. Fountain aeration for a few hours a day may be more beneficial in your situation.

  4. How do you know when you have too many fish in your pond? My pond is only 18″ deep(per city ordinance) & about 3500 gallons. It has a fountain & a waterfall with a 3500gpm pump & UV lamp. Most of the fish are Koi and I estimate about 65 with a mix of carp. They keep having frys so it is getting crowded especially since the Koi are 12″ plus. How would I know if they are in “stress”?

    • Hi Mary,

      Population is dependant on fish size and filtration capacity however we recommend only one 10-12″ fish per 200 gallons of water. For a 3500 gallon pond that is around 17-20 fish. Your fish will let you know if they are stressed. Jumping or flashing are signs of parasite issues and bruises or fin/tail rot are signs of a bacterial infection. If the water is clear and they seem happy that you are probably doing alright but if they are sluggish or gasping at the surface you may have oxygen or nutrient overload issues.

  5. Can you check the PH of a 1/4 acre pond with a pool kit. If so, and the PH is to high (in the red) what can you do to lower it or do you do nothing. Is it safe to swim in?

    • Hi Jean,

      pH issues are difficult to control in a large pond. You can test the water but in a water body that size even if you do something to adjust it, it will return to the same measurement. Large bodies usually fluctuate very little and maintain pretty good pH. If you pH measures between 6.5 and 8.5 there is nothing to worry about.

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