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Aeration 101: How to aerate a pond, and the benefits of doing so

air bubbles from pond diffuser breaking the surface

In this post we’ll cover whether or not you need a pond aerator, the benefits of adding aeration to your pond and how to install an aerator in your pond.

Do I need a pond aerator?

First things first, do all ponds need an aerator? While all ponds do not require an aerator, we think you’ll agree that the benefits (outlined in this post) are truly worth it. Do keep in mind that some aeration occurs naturally through any moving water such as fountains, waterfalls and even your pond pumps. However, aerators are added to a pond for the sole purpose of increasing oxygen in the water—to ensure enough aeration is occurring.

Benefits of pond aeration

We’re going to cover 4 major benefits of adding a pond aerator to your setup.

1. Aeration improves dissolved oxygen levels

An aerator increases the dissolved oxygen levels in a pond. Why does this matter?

The organics on the bottom of a pond (plant matter, fish waste, uneaten fish food) break down by beneficial bacteria or sludge removers. This breakdown is going to occur one of two ways: either with oxygen (aerobically) or without oxygen (anaerobically). If oxygen levels are thriving the breakdown can occur aerobically and will work much faster. Oxygen improves how the bacteria function and how fast the muck and sludge breakdown. During this process most of the available dissolved oxygen lessens and may not replenish in a timely manner. Once oxygen is run-down, the decomposition process converts to anaerobic - and without oxygen, fish and other pond inhabitants may begin to die. Aeration helps ensure there's enough dissolved oxygen it the pond to go around and keeps sludge breakdown happening aerobically!

Bottom organics also feed algae blooms, so by using aeration and excelling the breakdown of the debris you’ll also reduce the chance for algae blooms in the pond.

Dissolved oxygen is not only important for these reasons, but it’s also imperative if you have fish. Keeping an ample supply of oxygen in the water will ensure they can breathe easy.

Overall, increased levels of dissolved oxygen will improve the general quality and clarity of a pond.

2. Aeration helps limit the mosquito population in a pond

Mosquitos love stagnant areas of ponds because they need stationary water to lay their eggs. If you have areas of your water feature that are stagnant, an aerator can help limit the mosquito population. Simply place diffusers in areas that need movement and prevent those pesky insects from multiplying and taking up residence in and around your pond.

3. Aeration evens out pond temperature

In the spring and summer an aerator can help balance the temperature in your pond. By default, deeper water will be cooler than surface water because of less direct exposure to sunlight. When placed on the bottom of the pond a diffuser will push bottom water up to the top of the pond and circulate the water. This will result in a more even, consistent pond temperature throughout.

Important note: If you decide to use your aerator in the winter months AND you have fish you’ll need to reverse your diffuser strategy. In the winter the water temperature towards the bottom of the pond actually stays warmer which provides a place for fish to overwinter. We don’t want to disturb this bottom zone of warmer water with aeration, so pull your diffusers from the bottom and place them near the surface area of the pond.

4. Aeration can be used to keep an opening in surface ice during winter

So why would you want to use aeration in the winter? Aeration can be used as a means to maintain an opening in the surface ice. With diffusers near the surface of the pond, they can help keep an opening in any ice that may form. The opening prevents toxic gasses from building up in the pond by ensuring they always have a place to escape.

How to aerate a pond

Aerating a pond is simple. You’ll mainly just need to purchase an aerator, tubing, and diffuser(s). Complete aeration systems, that include everything, are also available.

The pump itself is external, so set it up outside of your pond in a covered, protected location. They’re weather proof for the most part, but under extreme weather you’ll want to keep the pump covered so it will last longer. Just make sure the cover has proper ventilation. The pump has to have access to air so it can pull air in and push it out. You’ll also want to make sure the pump is elevated—safe from pooling water during heavy rains.

Install the tubing which will run from your pump to a diffuser or multiple diffusers. If you have multiple diffusers, use a valved manifold. Generally, you want to place your diffusers at the bottom of the pond to push bottom water up with air (except in the winter as noted above).

With linear diaphragm pumps make sure that the tubing has a gradual downhill to level fall to each diffuser and keep the line as short as possible. Doing so will limit the amount of back pressure on the rubber diaphragm, prolonging life.

Once you have the aerator installed, turn it on and reap the benefits of added aeration. Keep your aerator running 24/7 for best results.

How much aeration does a pond need?

Most air pumps are rated for handling up to so many gallons and at specific depths. We’ve had some people ask if you can over aerate a pond—for the most part this is not a concern. You of course don’t want to buy a pump rated for 10,000 gallons if you only have a 500 gallon pond, but in general you can’t over aerate the water. You’ll just end up with a bubbling water feature that would over agitate fish if you majorly over sized.

A couple of things to keep in mind: if you have a lot of lilies you may want to go with a lower amount of aeration as they don’t like a lot of moving water. Also, if you already have a waterfall or fountain keep in mind that these features are adding some aeration, so you may not have to go as big with your aerator.

Aeration is worth the effort!

There are a lot of benefits to adding diffused aeration to a pond—generally speaking it will lead to better water quality and clarity. They’re certainly worth the addition. And with how easy they are to install, you can get one up and running in no time and cash in on the benefits. If you need help picking out an aerator for your pond reach out to us. Our pond techs can help you select the best option for your setup.

Atlantic Mini Single Aeration Kit w/ Tubing & Stone

Article Posted: 04/18/2023 07:59:52 PM

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