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If I run my aeration all winter, do I need to do anything special? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: If I run my aeration all winter, do I need to do anything special?

Q: If I run my aeration all winter, do I need to do anything special?

Jay – Gretna, NE

A: Running your aeration system through the winter is an excellent idea. Aeration helps to break down leaves and debris that make their way into your pond or lake, making cleaning and maintenance easier come spring. The water movement creates a hole in the ice, which allows for gas exchange and keeps water open and available for visiting wildlife. Aeration also circulates the water column, infusing it with oxygen for your fish and plants.

We highly recommend running aeration all year long—except if you plan on doing winter activities on your pond, like figure skating, ice fishing or playing ice hockey. The constant friction created by the water movement weakens the ice that forms, and that could be downright dangerous.

So if you plan to run your aeration system through the winter, here are three winter tasks to add to your to-do list:

  1. Move your plates into shallower water. Following your aerator manual’s recommendations, move the plates from the deepest areas of your pond to shallower areas. This will give your hibernating fish a warmer place to hunker down when the water temperatures get especially chilly. When the plates are closer to the surface, they will also help to keep a hole open in the ice.
  2. Check the aerator regularly throughout the winter. After a heavy snow or a storm, head out to the pond and inspect your aeration unit. Remove accumulated snow around it, particularly any that’s blocking the air discharge vent. If you lost power during a storm, check your GFCI; you may have to reset it.
  3. Be smart and safe. When your aerator is on during the winter, the ice that forms can be thin and uneven, so make sure you keep safety equipment out by your pond. A Life Ring or life vest, rope, blankets and a first aid kit are critical items to have on hand that can save someone’s life.

If you have more questions about running your aerator during the wintertime or need help with your system, contact one of our Pond Guys or Gals or post a comment on our blog page.

Pond Talk: What kinds of differences do you notice in your pond in the spring as a result of running your aeration system in the winter?

Be Prepared for Any Winter Scenario - Taylor Made 20 Inch Life Rings

10 Responses

  1. I run my aerator around my dock and boat hoist 2 hours per night throughout the winter, do I need to run it in the dead of Winter or should I leave it off and then run it when Spring comes to protect the dock and hoist from ice movement. I’m wondering if the 2 hours per night every night is gonna put my electric bill out of sight??

    • Hi Terry – Electrical cost will depend on the aeration system you are running but running for only 2 hours shouldn’t add too much cost an an electric bill. The more frequently the system is run the better it is at keeping ice from being an issue and also better protection for the system itself.

  2. I appreciate all the advice on aeration. We have about a 3/4 acre earth pond with bass, bluegills, perch, turtles, etc. and with nine large 30″ plus beautiful koi of various varieties who have thrived in the pond over the past several years. The pond varies in depth from about 3′ on the edges to about 10′ in other sections. The pond has two small creeks which feed water into the pond so even in winter there is some in flow of water unless very cold. We put in two bubble aerators a year ago (with compressor on the bank installed in an insulated case) and I have been running the compressor about 15 hours a day through the summer and now into winter. Water quality is spectacular with aerators and your products!!

    My concern now is that we have cold nights and I am running the aerator with about 4-6 hours off at night. We have a timer so I vary this. What I am noticing as we are reaching about 18-20 degrees at night and 38+ during the day is the majority of the pond surface is NOT iced. Mostly the edges of the pond (in about two feet) and a small bay and channel (where the Koi seem to congregate) are iced over. I’m afraid now that I could super cool since most of the pond does not have ice. Should I run the aerator all winter and just not let the pond ice over other than the edges and not turn it off at night? This is obviously a large enough aerator (with two separate bubblers placed about 70′ apart) to keep the pond from freezing. The pond is about 250′ long and about 125′ wide. The man who has helped us with design and installed aerators suggested that we just turn off the aerator for the winter. The truth is: All the fish have done well over the past several years under not only the ice but the snow, but I hate to take a chance on NOT providing enough oxygen when we have the aerator installed. We live in the Catskills of NY so winter can be heavy snow with some periods of below zero days. THANK YOU for any advice that you can give about over-aerating or super-cooling might be able to offer. I am happy to run the aerator but it is obviously powerful enough to keep the pond from freezing, along with two small creeks that feed it unless these completely freeze (which occurs in very cold weather).


    • Hi Ruth- I’m happy to hear the aeration has improved your water quality, that’s great! First let’s talk about the fish. Since the aeration system has been in place you have a more uniform temperature throughout the pond already and do not have pockets with extreme temperature differences. Fish do however like to head for the deeper areas of the pond for winter so it would be best if you are able to move the plates to the shallower areas for the winter. If you are not able to do that at this time then you may want to adjust the valves and turn down the plate that is in the deeper portion of the pond and increase the flow to a plate in a more shallow area. There is another concern I would like to address. Many homeowners do turn their system off for the winter due to safety because it does not allow the water body to freeze solid however if you are sure that no one will be accessing the pond for skating or other recreation and want to leave it on for the fish then I would suggest to run the system 24/7. Aeration compressors produce a lot of heat and while much of the heat is removed by the cooling fan there is the potential to create condensation when the compressor is shut off which could cause issues such as ice forming in the airline and within the compressor. If this does happen you run the risk of damage to the compressor upon restart or excess back pressure when the system is not able to push air to the diffusers. Hopefully this has given you enough information to determine which direction you want to go but please let us know if you have further questions.

      • Many thanks for your quick reply, Kathie. Your advice is helpful. My one concern is that running the aerator 24/7 means there is almost no ice forming on the pond, except on the edges and in one channel. I’ve read that an ice cover is important for the fish. Is this not as important with this larger 3/4 acre pond. I has very worried last night when the outside temperature was at 13 degrees F. I’m afraid of over cooling the water. I will check to see if we can turn down the flow so more ice forms if that is a good idea. Again, many thanks. I’ve used your products for years to keep the pond in good shape. It is wonderful to know that I can occasionally ask for advice, too. Best, Ruth

      • I can understand your concern, moving the plate from the deeper portion of the pond or turning it down should allow more ice formation over that end of the pond since there will be less water movement. With your pond being deeper the fish should be able to stay in the deeper portion while allowing the bubblers to keep a hole in the ice in the shallow area. This will continue to allow oxygen into the water and gas from decaying material to get out from under the ice. You may always experience less ice formation than other ponds due to the streams feeding moving water into the pond.

      • Hi Kathie,

        Thank you so much for your help. I promise NOT to ask more after this message. I cannot move the diffusers to higher elevation from the bottom. I don’t know how to do that myself and since we had the aerator installed professionally and our pond man recommends turning off the aerator, he isn’t keen on planning alternatives with us.

        All current weighted lines he installed are buried about about a foot in soil and under grass between the compressor and the pond and now the ground is frozen, so I think we need to leave those as they are.

        For this winter I wonder if one option would be to buy two diffusers that are weighted and new weighted line and disconnect the lines and install a new set at a higher elevation. That way, we would have a winter set at higher elevation and then just reconnect the old ones in Spring. Does this sounds like a good alternative? Do you have these parts that can be bought separately?

        If replacing lines and diffusers for winter use isn’t an option, I wonder if we are better off to shut the aerator down, use it part-time, or run it all the time as it is? Since the pond is the better part of an acre, the bottom isn’t at any consistent elevation and it is possible the current aerators are not bubbling all sections in the depths but I don’t know for sure.. Since we don’t know accurately, would it be better to take a chance and run continuously, run each day only a few hours so not to exhaust the fish, or shut it down and hope the water coming in from the small streams and going over spillway will keep enough oxygen and release enough carbon monoxide? Fish have survived for several years without winter aeration, but now I worry with the nine 30+” koi in the mix.

        THANK YOU….

      • Hi Ruth,

        If moving the plates are not an option extra airline and diffuser parts are available if you want to go that route. You may need to call our customer service 866-766-3435 in order to match up airline and diffusers as I’m not sure if you have an Airmax aeration system or another similar system. The easier and quicker options would be to adjust the airflow valves and reduce the airflow to one of the diffuser plates leaving one end of the pond less disturbed or to turn the system off completely for the winter. I would not advise to run the system part-time just in case of ice formation or condensation which may be able to build up while the system is off and may cause problems with restarting the system. If you do shut the system off we recommend to disconnect the airline from the compressor and cap it and bring the compressor indoors for the winter. When you do start the system up again in the spring you will want to run the system for only a couple hours the first day and then double each day until you are up to running it consistently again, just in case any of the pond layers do stratify over the winter. You’ve been doing your part to clean up the pond all season so I’m sure whichever method you choose for the winter your fish are already in a healthier environment.

  3. Need info on an “Solar typ aeration system.”—–Thanks

    • Hi Frank – What kind of information are you looking for: how to run the system? purchasing a solar aeration system? You can check out the solar aeration systems we have available to purchase here. Our Pond Techs are also available to answer any questions you may have at 866-766-3435.

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