Ponds can serve many different purposes for the communities that surround them. Often they have aesthetic appeal and provide beautiful ecosystems to enjoy all year long. However, left unmanaged, ponds can develop chemical and physical imbalances that can jeopardize the health of the water body as well as the surrounding ecosystem.
“Does my pond need an aerator?” may not be the first question that comes to mind when confronted with a pond choked with algae and aquatic weeds. But, the oxygenation supplied by a submersed pond aerator can make a big difference when used as part of a comprehensive lake and pond management plan.
Oxygenation facilitates the conversion of phosphorus into forms that help improve the growth of the native organism, healthy green phytoplankton, and fish in the pond. This can help reduce the growth of undesirable algae and dangerous cyanobacteria that threatens not only the pond’s health but humans and wildlife that interact with it.
And most importantly, improving the dissolved oxygenation and water circulation helps reduce sediment accumulation at the bottom of the pond – one of the most common signs that your pond is aging. A pond is naturally healthier and the need for dredging can be prolonged or prevented with the introduction of an aerator system. If you are in need of professional fountain & aerator installation in Florida, contact Lake and Wetland Management.
How Do I Know if My Pond Has Enough Oxygen?
Of course, testing is the most accurate method of determining if your pond has enough oxygen. However, there are a few signs that can tell you if your pond’s dissolved oxygen (DO) level is low. Paying attention to these signs can help you quickly stave off potential problems.
Fish gasping at the water’s surface — Fish gasping for air near the surface or near water features means they are probably oxygen-starved.
Bad odors – if the pond is poorly oxygenated, excess fish waste, decaying vegetation, and other organic matter can give off distinctly horrible odors. A strong, malodorous smell can indicate poor water aeration, circulation, or filtration.
Aggressive algae growth – if you see a thick layer of string or filamentous algae indicates excess algal nutrients in the water. Ponds that don’t have adequate aeration or gas exchange have the perfect growing conditions for dangerous algae.
Regular water quality tests – incorporating regular water quality testing into your pond management plan lets you know what is happening in your pond.
Importance of Aeration for Pond Water
Adding aeration to your pond not only helps the fish but also improves the overall health of the pond’s ecosystem. Here are the top five reasons to consider adding aeration to your pond.
1) Reduces Pond Muck
As ponds age, nutrients accumulate on the pond’s bottom and turn into muck. In addition to being unpleasant to see – and feel between your toes – it can also make ponds smell bad. Aeration increases the dissolved oxygen in the water, combatting muck and other decomposing vegetation and debris.
Aerating pond water encourages the growth of beneficial aerobic bacteria that help reduce muck build-up by consuming nutrients. They also prevent future muck accumulation.
2) Improves Water Quality
Nutrients accumulated at the pond bottom becomes muck, but that’s not the only problem with excess nutrients. When suspended in the water column, they can make your pond look murky. Reducing muck and excess nutrients and increasing water circulation and oxygen, the water quality of the pond will improve. In addition, aeration can reduce weeds and algae since there aren’t as many nutrients to feed their growth.
3) Increases Dissolved Oxygen Levels
Dissolved oxygen (DO) refers to the level of free, non-compound oxygen present in water and is a key indicator of water quality. Aeration increases DO needed by fish to survive as well as the beneficial bacteria in the pond. Without oxygen, a pond will go into an anaerobic state, and anaerobic bacteria are less efficient at breaking down organic material.
In addition, when digesting organic material, anaerobic bacteria can produce hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide, making the pond smell like a rotten egg. Beneficial bacteria produce harmless gas when breaking down debris and muck. Pond aeration increases the amount of DO in the water and helps keep the pond a healthy aerobic system.
4) Eliminates the Thermocline
The border between the colder, deeper water of the pond and the warmer surface water is called the thermocline. Aeration circulates and mixes these two layers, moving cooler, oxygen-starved water to the pond’s surface and infuses it with oxygen. The warmer, oxygenated water then moves to the bottom of the pond to fuel the beneficial bacteria. With all this water movement, the temperature of a pond that is adequately aerated is no more than a few degrees difference throughout.
5) Lowers the Risk of Fish Kill
Fish die from time to time as the natural cycle of life, but when many die all at once, it is usually linked to low oxygen in the pond. When a pond’s temperature is too high, there is less DO in the water, causing fish to die off. An aerator can help lower the temperature of the water in the pond.
How to Tell If Your Pond is Properly Aerated
Proper aeration improves a pond’s water quality, breaks down muck and organic debris, and improves the pond’s ecosystem. Aeration circulates the pond’s water column from top to bottom. Tiny bubbles force cool oxygen-deprived water from the pond’s bottom up to the surface of the pond. This also drives oxygen down to the pond’s bottom, letting beneficial bacteria digest muck, lowering nutrients and the amount of DO in the pond.
The before and after of pond aeration is pretty clear. What was once a murky, smelly, and overgrown pond becomes a healthy environment for fish and wildlife.
Generally, in order to aerate a pond properly, the aeration system should move the water in your pond to the surface at least once every 24 hours, twice would be even better. While aeration is a good way to keep ponds healthy, don’t overdo it. The aerator’s compressor should create the amount of air you need to move the amount of water you need moved. A quick guideline is to keep in mind that for every foot of depth the diffuser is placed, you need 0.5 psi to get air to that diffuser. For instance, a diffuser placed in 15 feet of water requires at least 7.5 psi to operate the diffuser properly.