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I shut my aerator off for the winter, will I have to introduce it slowly again in the spring? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I shut my aerator off for the winter, will I have to introduce it slowly again in the spring?

I shut my aerator off for the winter, will I have to introduce it slowly again in the spring?

George – Albany, NY

As pond owners we buy aeration systems for our water bodies with the intentions of creating a cleaner and healthier environment for both ourselves and our fish. While aeration systems are great at eliminating water stratification and promoting the ideal environment for a healthy pond, the key to proper use is proper installation.

The surface of your pond reacts to the ambient air temperature and warmth from the sun considerably faster than deeper regions. As we head into spring the temperature will begin to rise as the sun shines down on your pond. The top layer of water in your pond will begin to warm up quickly while the bottom of your pond stays dark and cold. Furthermore, the surface of your pond is exposed to oxygen which is naturally wicked into the water column but remains only in the upper layers. This formation of warmer and cooler layers of water is known as stratification. Stratification can become a potential hazard as the two different layers of water will sometimes flip or “turnover” and mix together causing a sudden change in water temperature and dissolved oxygen levels which, depending on its severity, can make it difficult for your fish to adapt to the quickly changing environment.

Airmax® Aeration Systems are designed to infuse oxygen into your water column from the bottom of the pond while continuously circulating the water. This constant action aids to prevent water stratification for occurring. However, when aeration is introduced suddenly and continuous to your pond you are, in essence, creating a man-made turnover by forcing all of the water at the bottom of your pond to the surface.

When installing an aeration system in your pond, or upon reintroduction of your system after winter removal, you will want to run your system in small increments that grow in duration over the course of a week. Think of this process as the same way you acclimate new fish to your pond. You wouldn’t just grab a new fish by the tail and toss them in your pond, you float their holding container in your pond and slowly mix some of the water together to give them time to adjust to the variations in each environment. By running your aeration system for only an hour the first day you install it and doubling the run time each day after, your aeration system will be running continuously by the end of the week while keeping your fish safe from pond turnovers.

Pond Talk: Have you ever experienced turnover in your pond? Share your stories with potential aeration newcomers and pond veterans alike.

Keep your pond healthy all year long!

11 Responses

  1. If the aeration system was off for a few days from storm can I just turn on or do I have to do over a week period

    • Hi John – If the system was off for only a few days you should be fine to just turn the system back on. If the system is off for several months at a time I would recommend doing a slower start up, especially if the seasons have changed during that time.

  2. My aeration system runs 24/7 and recently my pump quit working and I am waiting for money to fix it. How long can the pond go without aeration before something drastic happens to it? It has been without aeration for a week now and I anticipate another 3 weeks before I am able to get it back up and running.

    • Hello Bill S,
      It really depends on the size of the pond, the number of fish, how much decaying debris are in the water and the outside temperature. Larger, cleaner ponds can hold out longer without aeration than smaller ponds filled with debris. Waiting a few months to get your aeration system back up-and-running should not present an issue. If you go out to your pond however, and notice that your fish are near the surface of the pond that may be an indicator that the lower regions of your pond are low on oxygen. Since the surface of the pond absorbs a small amount of air they will be crowding the top of the pond for some fresh air.

  3. Aeration intorduces oxygen to areas of the pond with normally low levels of O2. Stopping areation will reduce the O2 levels in these areas. Does stopping the process pose a risk to the fish that have migrated to places in the pond they would not have been before areation?

    • Hi Vince,

      If the stopping of aeration is for a short period of time (winter months) much of the pond will remain high in oxygen content. If aeration is discontinued completely eventually these areas will once again reduce in oxygen. Fish however will natually migrate back to areas where oxygen content still remains favorable.

  4. We continued both aeration and filtration for the winter instead of a heat coil. We only took the UV clarifier out of the system. For the last two years it has worked well. Last winter was the coldest and snowiest we’ve ever had and the fish were happy and healthy. This year wasn’t as bad but the fish are still just as happy and healthy.




    • Hi Michael,

      It is actually more beneficial to run the system throughout the winter as long as the pond is not being used. This allows for constant release of gas from decomposing material from the pond in exchange for fresh oxygen.

  6. We have 7 koi in our 2000 gallon pond and have been running the waterfall all winter. Also, we relocated our curator to the shallow part of the pond by the skimmer box and it has been running all winter as well. To our surprise, when the weather warmed up for a few days, the fish started moving around and they actually got bigger over the winter. How can this be?

    • Hi Al,

      Even though fish are less active in the winter their bodies are still growing. They will feed off algae and other materials in the pond eventhough it may not be as agressive as feeding time in the summer!

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