POND AERATION – WHAT IS IT?
Pond aeration is the process of providing air or oxygen to the body of water within a pond. This can predominantly be achieved by 3 different methods. They are:
A diffused aerator or air bubbler
A high volume surface aerator
A fountain aerator
A diffused aerator (or air bubbler or air pump, as they’re commonly called) consists of an air pump that is attached to a piece of air tubing with an air diffuser or air stone attached at the end. The air pump sits on the shore and pushes air into the pond via the tubing. The air stone or air diffuser breaks down the pressure from the air pump into tiny air bubbles that get dispersed throughout the pond. The smaller the air bubbles are the better, as the water molecules absorb some of the air molecules into it.
It’s important to aerate the entire body of water, from the very bottom of the pond to the surface, as living creatures such as fish, turtles, etc. need this air to survive. Using a diffused pond aeration system also helps to provide air to the deep, stagnant areas within the pond or lake where unhealthy water conditions occur (and where your fish want to go for more consistent water temperatures).
High Volume Surface Aerator or Paddlewheel Aerator
A high volume surface aerator or paddlewheel aerator is a water pump (not an air pump) that floats on top of the water and rapidly churns the water thereby providing a lot of water agitation. Through this agitation, the water near the surface of the pond is aerated. This may be ideal for very shallow ponds around 3 – 4′ deep. It is also ideal to use a surface aerator if you have problems with floating pond weeds such as duckweed or watermeal and want to divert these weeds closer to the shore where they can be scooped up or treated.
A fountain aerator is a floating fountain that consists of a water pump, nozzle and long electrical cord (typically around 50 – 100′ but custom lengths may be available.) The water pump sucks up water from a few inches to a few feet within the pond and shoots the water up through a fountain nozzle. Air molecules then attach themselves to the water droplets and fall back into the pond. This is how the pond gets aerated.
A fountain aerator can be beautiful to look at and some come with optional light kits that can be attached to the floating fountain assembly. This makes the floating fountain aerator have a pretty night time and day time display. A variety of fountain nozzles can be used with a fountain aerator too, which offers different spray patterns.
BENEFITS OF DIFFUSED AERATOR, SURFACE AERATOR AND FOUNTAIN AERATOR
A diffused aerator or air pump is the most ideal aerator for ponds, lakes or tanks. If the correct size of diffused aerator is properly placed, it will provide aeration for the total volume of water within the pond, from the bottom, all the way up to the pond’s surface. They can also be cheaper to operate as it requires less pressure to push air via an air pump or compressor than it does to push water through a water pump. However, a diffused aerator isn’t anything pretty to look at and the air pump or compressor needs to be protected from the rain, snow, dirt blowing into it, etc.. This can easily be achieved by placing a vented fake rock cover over it, a bucket propped up over it or anything else to protect it from the elements.
Another benefit to using a diffused aerator is that the air pump can be plugged into an electrical outlet (available in 110 or 220 volts) in a nearby barn or garage (potentially hundreds of feet away) and the air tubing ran down to the pond’s edge where the air diffusers would be attached. This makes it convenient to utilize the electricity you may already have available in a nearby barn instead of needing electricity installed near the pond’s edge. For many folks, this can be a great distance and not practical. A diffused aerator should ideally be operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for optimal aeration. When used in the winter, a diffused aerator or air bubbler can also help keep an area on the surface of the pond from freezing over solid. This opening in the ice is vital to keeping the fish alive and healthy during the cold winter months.
A fountain aerator can provide the water feature that one may be looking for in their backyard pond or subdivision, but doesn’t provide aeration throughout the entire body of water. A fountain aerator is also more expensive to run as it requires more energy to push water through a water pump than it does air through an air pump. With the addition of optional fountain lights added on, there is also additional cost to operate. A fountain aerator will also have to be removed from the pond during the winter in areas where it gets freezing temperatures.
A floating fountain aerator however, typically does not aerate the entire body of water within a pond. The floating fountain pump can suck up water from a few inches to a few feet within the pond (depending on the kind) which in turn, gets aerated but it doesn’t touch the deeper water within the pond where the water can become stagnant. This is where a diffused aerator beats a fountain aerator in providing total pond aeration.
A surface aerator such as a high volume surface aerator or paddlewheel aerator works at the surface of the pond constantly churning the water which provides ‘some’ pond aeration. They are designed for shallow water areas. If the proper size and quantities of surface aerators are used and properly placed, they ‘can’ provide total pond aeration. They can be the best choice for large ponds and lakes where the water is shallow, less than 6′ deep or where there are floating pond weed problems that you want to divert towards the shoreline.
WHICH AERATOR IS RIGHT FOR YOU?
There are no two ponds or water gardens the same and each has its own needs. There are however, general rules of thumb to follow regarding aeration systems. As noted above, if you’re wanting total pond aeration and your pond or lake is at least 6′ deep, then the best choice of aeration for your pond would be a diffused aeration system. There are manufacturers who design these systems so each diffuser or air bubbler works optimally, allowing the greatest amount of air bubbles throughout your pond based on a specific size of air pump or compressor. These aeration kits make it easy for a customer to choose. Simply look at the size of pond the aeration system is designed for (usually tells you right in the product title or product description) and presto! You’ve gotten the right size of aerator for your pond. Now, your pond has excessive algae growth, a huge amount of fish or something out of the ‘ordinary’, then you may have to go with a larger size of aerator. If in doubt, just ask customer service.
If you’re wanting to look at something pretty, then the best choice would be a fountain aerator but realize that your pond is not getting aerated from the very bottom to the top of the pond. Unhealthy conditions will occur if the pond is not totally aerated. No, it may not happen right away, but after a period of time, these unhealthy conditions can turn into smelly water, dying fish, etc.. Perhaps the best thing may be to have a diffused pond aerator in addition to a fountain aerator if you’re wanting overall, good pond health and a pretty fountain to look at.
HELPFUL TIP WHEN PURCHASING YOUR AERATOR
Take advantage of the designed aeration kits available today instead of trying to ‘piece-meal’ your aeration kit together. Manufacturers have made all the calculations required so the air pump, air diffuser or air bubbler and a given length and diameter of air tubing work optimally together. It can be a whole lot cheaper to buy a pond aerator kit rather than buying each piece separately.
Take advantage of additional information regarding different types of air pumps and pond aerators, what type of aeration system you may need, helpful information on how to get rid of pond algae and other pond maintenance information.
Check out PondSolutions.com for a complete list of thousands of pond supplies including pond aeration systems.
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