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I occasionally have power outages during the snowfall. Will it cause a problem for my aeration system? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I occasionally have power outages during the snowfall. Will it cause a problem for my aeration system?

Q: I occasionally have power outages during the snowfall. Will it cause a problem for my aeration system?

Pete – Traverse City, MI

A: Power outages during heavy snowfall or ice storms aren’t uncommon – and when they happen, your aeration system will need some attention. Here’s what we recommend to prevent problems from occurring:

  1. Relieve Air Pressure: Built-up air pressure in the air compressor could potentially stop the aerator from turning back on when the power is restored, so it’s important to get rid of that pressure via the release valve.
  2. Check for Moisture, Condensation: If the power is out for an extended period of time, keep an eye on the cabinet for moisture and condensation. It could indicate reduced air flow, and all that wetness could freeze if temperatures are low enough.
  3. Clear Off Snow: To allow for proper air flow and to minimize moisture from melting snow around the unit, shovel or dust accumulating snow from around the cabinet.
  4. Melt Ice Blockages: Long power outages could cause your diffuser’s air lines to freeze. To melt them and open the air flow back up, pour 1 cup of isopropyl alcohol through each line (or the line you believe is blocked or frozen).

As for your fish, they should be just fine if your aerator shuts down for a few hours. Cold water holds more oxygen than warm water, so they’ll have plenty of oxygen during short-term interruptions.

Pond Talk: How do you protect your aeration system from frigid temperatures?

Oxygenate Your Pond All Winter - Airmax(r) Aeration Systems

8 Responses

  1. I wrote before about something eating our fish in our ponds. We also decided to fill in our ponds, we are getting older, already fell in once, and it is just to much work and now heartbreak. We do not want to start over with our fish. I know this is not a good place to start,, but it could be. Do any of you have any thoughts on how to start filling it in? We have 2 ponds,, Total about 2500 gal. alot of rocks, and it was here when we moved here 4 years ago. Anything would help. Love Bevi

    • Hi Beverly – I’m sorry to hear you’ve decided to fill the pond in but can understand your situation. You would need to contact a local nursery/gravel yard or excavation company for fill dirt. I’m not sure how it works where you are now but up in Michigan a lot of times people put signs out in their yard for “Clean Fill Dirt Wanted” and then as ditches or other areas are dug and people are looking to remove dirt they donate to another location. Here’s another thought. Since you already have a pump, waterfall, liner and rocks you maybe would want to talk to a landscaper and have the pond turned into a pondless water feature. This way there is much less maintenance, no fish and the water is contained in a basin under rocks so there is no open water to fall into and you can still enjoy a waterfall in your yard. Here is a link for our website that has an image of a pondless water feature so you can get a feel for how it would look. Pondless Waterfall

      • Kathie, we are down here in Monroe, Mi. we moved down here a few years ago from Det. after he retired. And thanks for all the info. I swear, we thought we had all the holes taken care of, and yesterday I went out, and you know, we have had that cold snap, and all the pond is frozen over,,, except for the one hole that the aerator is keeping open. Well, yesterday I went out and was looking things over,, and there at the back side of the pond, where the chicken wire is, was my poor Susie, I am not going to describe how she was, but it is something I am not going to forget for along time. She was the biggest fish in there. I did measure her, before laying her to rest, ( not much to, since ground is frozen), and she is 18 inches long and 7 inches wide. Now the thing is. the whole pond is frozen, except for the little hole,, and she was not there the day before,, so what ever this thing is, it went in that hole, swam and got her, pulled her from that little hole,( there is no place else open. Then it took here to the back of the pond,, so I looked there, and there is a small opening by the chicken wire,, BUT, it has to go under the wire, over the plastic lattice we have there, and under the wire again to get in, and it is small… So he took Susie there, but she was to big to get out. So I got her up, she was frozen to the pond,, but I got her. So, I don’t know if any will be in there,,, at all, But what the heck is this??? I see prints in the snow,, but they are small,, This made it alot easier to fill it in. I feel so bad. She was our first koi, and we got her in 2011. Poop.

      • Sounds like you have a pretty determined critter, hopefully the rest will make it! Let us know if we can help with anything else.

  2. Yes, your fish will be safe, but not because the cold water holds more oxygen. Although oxygen saturation is higher for cold water, the effect isn’t huge: there is less than a 25% increase in your pond’s oxygen capacity over as water cools from 50F to 32F. Your fish’s demand for oxygen will drop by a factor of about 2 over that same interval. So yes, there is less to worry about when water is cold, but decreased metabolism is much more important than the increase in oxygen content.

    Of course, all this is beside the point. How long will our fish survive if O2 isn’t replenished? I had no idea, so I did some reading. Experts can correct the following, but here’s what I found from the published literature:

    Ideally we’d keep the O2 at 5 ppm or higher, but evidently carp can live down to 1ppm (1.43 mg/l). At 32F a 1000 gallon pond has 14.6 (mg/l) x 3785 (l) = 55265mg of O2. If we want to keep O2 at 1ppm, there is 49857 mg O2 available. At 32F a 500g carp consumes about 45 mg O2 per hour. So if you had say, 5kg of carp in that 1000 gal pond, you’d be good for 9.2 days. At 5C (41F) there is 13% less oxygen available and it is withdrawn 41% faster: you’d be safe for 5.6 days. Obviously, this ignores all other O2 consumption (microbe respiration, etc.). I didn’t look into that.

    • Thank you for sharing your extra research Jim. That is a good point to note is that without the decreased metabolism the amount of time the pond would sustain the fish would change.

  3. I keep the H2O in my pond moving with a pump and heater to keep a hole open in the ice. I also treat the H2O with microb-lift monthly during the winter. This has worked well for several years but I’m wondering if the pond should also be treated with cold water beneficial bacteria through the hole in the ice as well. If so how often would you recommend?

    Jeff-upstate NY

    • Hi Jeff – Even cold weather bacteria has its limits. If the water temperature is above 40 degrees F than you can continue bacteria treatments. Once it is below that point, which is most likely the case if it has been frozen, than you can stop with treatments until water temperature begin to rise again.

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