What Is The Best Way To Aerate A Pond?

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Written By Mark Washburn

Mark has 20 years of experience as a professional pond management consultant.

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Today we want to answer the question: What is the best way to aerate a pond?

The honest answer is, it depends.  Choosing the best aerator for your pond is based on several factors.  Making the right choice depends on the pond’s surface size and shape. It depends some on the depth range that you’re dealing with in the pond.

Is algae or other plant growth a problem? Are fish important to you and part of the equation?

What about geographic location? Are you in the northern United States, or southern U. S.?  What’s your weather like and temperatures like throughout the year?

Is power available nearby?  If not, you may want to consider alternative energy options, which we’ll talk about a bit later on.

You need to consider other goals, specific goals that the pond owner might have. Maybe it’s just simply water clarity.  Maybe it’s fish growth. Maybe it’s protecting specific types of fish like trout, which we’ll talk about as well in this article.

Ultimately, the benefits of pond aeration are wide-ranging, from supporting fish, to helping maintain excellent water quality…but it’s main value to the pond owner will come down to the specific goals they have concerning their pond.

Before we dig into this a bit more, let’s talk about the common types of aeration that are used today.

You have bottom based diffused aeration systems.

You have surface based aerating fountains.

You also have high oxygen transfer or hot surface aerators, surface based display fountains that create beautiful patterns and can be lighted for aesthetic purposes.

And finally you may also see surface based paddle aerators. Paddle aerators are often reserved for fish farms, shrimp farms, and very specific business uses.  They’re not used commonly by residential customers. And frankly, you won’t find them easily available in the United States and they can be expensive to run.  We won’t cover those here, but you will hear them talked about from time to time in the industry.

The top three noted here are the most common systems used today.

Diffused Aeration System – Bottom Based

Specifically, the diffused aeration systems involve a land based pump, some weighted airline, and then the diffusers, in this photograph you’ll see these circular plates, that is the portion of this system that sits at the bottom of the pond.

This creates very fine bubble patterns coming from the bottom and rising to the surface. They break the surface tension of the water, allowing oxygen to come in at the surface. And then the same action actually circulates this high oxygenated water from the top to the bottom of the pond and all around. It’s very effective at increasing dissolved oxygen levels throughout an entire water body.

Aerating Fountains

We also have the aerating fountains, which as the name implies, it is a true fountain. It sits on the surface, and includes one pattern or one fountain spray pattern type and it is normally an upside down bell curve. It is extremely good at moving water and it is a very good surface aerating tool with some display purposes involved as well.

It’s a nice balance between a fountain and a surface aerator.

Surface Aerator

A surface aerator is not as aesthetically pleasing, but it does move an immense amount of water for the highest oxygen transfer into the pond at the surface. These types of systems are used in wastewater facilities and industrial facilities that are really trying to increase oxygen concentrations in the water.

You’ll also see fish farms use them extensively and they can be utilized by residential customers too, because in some very specific use cases, they may be the best option to go with in ponds that a relatively shallow (8 feet or less) and those that carry very high fish loads.

Display Fountains

Finally, we have the display fountains, which are well known. These provide a variety of attractive spray patterns that you can utilize and many people will put lights on them.  They’re excellent for display and appearance purposes, but they do also add some aeration capability when you put them in the pond.

So a fountain should not be discounted for aerating, they just aren’t going to move as much water as the aerating fountains or surface aerators do.

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So which method you use depends upon your pond surface size and shape, and the depth range that you’re dealing with. Depth is the key factor in deciding whether to aerate from the surface or from the bottom of the pond. For shallower ponds of around eight feet or less, a surface aerator or an aerating fountain could make more sense.

As the ponds get deeper however, say six, seven, eight feet or deeper. These surface based aeration tools do not affect the bottom of the pond. They do not increase oxygen deep and low in the pond. And that is a very important. thing to do, especially if you’re having issues like algae and other unwanted growth. Increasing dissolved oxygen at the very bottom can definitely help with some nutrient issues, and thereby potentially limit some of the growth that you’ll see at the surface.

There’s another variable that you want to consider too, and that is the economy of the operation. A bottom based diffuse system will usually be less expensive or more affordable to run full time compared to a surface based aerator or fountain. That can be a big consideration for many people.

Alternative energy options do exist.

Aerators are available in wind and solar power and what you see on the marketplace for the most part is bottom based aeration. You will find solar powered fountains available, but typically they are not very large and they have some limitations on how much water they’ll move.

Fouling, cleaning, and the general maintenance of these systems will usually be more common or involved with the surface based aerators and fountains.

This is because you’re actually pulling water and material into this mechanism and propelling it upward. You also have very fine spray nozzles to affect those patterns. So, in the end, you’ll usually see more cleaning involved throughout a season. compared to a bottom based aerator, which is usually only cleaned once a year in terms of the diffusers that are in the water.

And maintenance on the pump will run normally yearly or even longer in some cases, depending on what needs to be done. So the maintenance tends to be less with those. In very specific use cases, and what I mean by this is trout ponds, which trout are a very sensitive species to work with. They need both good oxygen levels and very cool to cold water to thrive.

And so with those, we may use a surface based aerator, and it may be preferable over a bottom aerator, no matter how deep the pond is. And this is to keep from mixing the pond water up too much, and thereby warming the pond water up too much in Uh, in the case of the trout, they do better, we’re finding, with surface based aeration primarily.

So fountains and aerating fountains should not be discounted, however, they do provide a very nice visual appeal, and no other aerator can match that. Aerating fountains will move more water and provide better oxygenation than a display fountain. Display fountains, on the other hand, have far more patterns available.

They can be adjusted and adapted to create all kinds of different spray patterns, and they do aerate the water as well. That should not be discounted. They tend to be used with lights for display purposes, whether they’re commercial ponds or even residential and private ponds. They can be used in a variety of places.

Surface based aeration is the best option, sometimes in very shallow ponds, because these devices have the ability to aerate in very shallow conditions. Some will work in just a few feet of water if need be, and no bottom based aerator should really be used probably below four feet. And I think four to six feet is probably the range where I might use a shallow pond aerator from the bottom, but anything less than that, it’s not really worth aerating from the bottom.

So in the end you can see, and this is just a quick summary. of the best aerator to choose for your pond. It really relies on a variety of things, your preferences for one, but also the size and the depth of your pond matters a lot. I think depth is the number one criteria you need to keep in mind. And then the purpose of why you’re wanting to aerate as well.

There’s definitely a lot of advantages to going to bottom based diffused aeration. It is the most popular thing we work with, but fountains definitely can help a variety of issues too and give you the visual appeal you may be looking for. So I hope this basic primer is helpful to you. I would definitely urge you to get in touch with us at American Aeration.

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