Most ponds may be artificial in origin, but they are still complex ecosystems requiring attention and care to stay healthy and beautiful. Of the many tasks that you can take on in order to improve the quality of your pond, aeration is one of the most straightforward options, as well as the most rewarding.
What is Pond Aeration?
Aeration is the process of adding oxygen to a body of water through whatever means. Aside from growing aquatic plants, which naturally release oxygen into the water around them, the most common form of pond aeration is the simple fountain.
As the water emerges from the fountain into the air it separates into droplets. This increases the amount of surface area exposed to the air, allowing more oxygen to enter into each drop. When these droplets fall back to the main body of water, they bring their load of oxygen with them, increasing the overall oxygen level of the pond itself.
Aeration Improves Water Quality
In ponds with stagnant water with insufficient oxygen, the quality of the water suffers. Although we don’t consider pond water to be particularly noxious, it can contain dissolved gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrogen sulfide. Aeration helps to release these gases in the same way that it captures oxygen: increased surface area means more space to exchange gases with open air.
In ponds near turf or agricultural land that has been fertilized, pond scum is one of the obvious results. This type of algae forms on the bottom and sides of your pond and then floats to the top blocking sunlight to other plants. It also wreaks havoc on the pond ecosystem and just generally looks unappetizing. Nobody wants to fish in a pond that looks like a solid wall of algae.
When algae take over, some people go straight to chemical treatments to tackle the problem. This does take care of the issue … for a while. But algae are stubborn and after treatment wears off, the pond scum issue inevitably returns.
Pond aeration is a more sustainable solution to the problem. It doesn’t only serve to increase oxygenation levels, it also ensures that water (and accompanying algae) circulates through all levels of your pond, from the deepest to the shallowest and back again. This means that no algae get an undisturbed front row seat on the surface, the sunniest spot around. Deeper aquatic plants thrive as a result, which also increases oxygen levels further.
Aeration Keeps Your Fish Happy
We know that oxygen is necessary for people and animals to survive. But it’s easy to forget that this need for oxygen isn’t limited to those of us with lungs. Fish also need enough oxygen in order to live long, healthy lives.
In the summertime, fish metabolism speeds up, increasing their need for oxygen. At the same time, warmer water holds less dissolved oxygen than cold water. Partially making up for this is plant life which naturally produces some oxygen and aeration which occurs naturally when rain falls on the pond’s surface. Still, most fish die due to low oxygen levels during summer.
In contrast, during wintertime leaf litter and other decaying material sinks to the bottom of the pond and rots, releasing carbon dioxide and other gases.
Plant metabolism slows to a crawl with reduced sunlight and colder temperatures. If the pond ices over, even the ambient exchange of gases at the surface of the pond stops.
While fish in winter need less oxygen, this can still lead to fish kills, with large numbers of fish dying all at once from lack of oxygen levels. You then end up with more decaying material in the pond, which contributes to the problem even further.
Pond aeration ensures that at least a part of your pond is kept open and free of ice and that adequate gas exchange can take place throughout the year.
You’re no longer beholden to the whims of the weather, hoping that your fish will have enough oxygen to keep them alive through another season. Whether you keep your pond stocked with bass for dinner or koi for looks, an aeration system will help you keep them healthy throughout the year.
Pond Aeration Can Be Beautiful
It’s rare that the healthy and responsible choice is also one of the most pleasant. While french fries will never be a health food, aeration systems are often one of the most enjoyable features of your pond, and there are options to suit any landscape. Fountains come in a wide variety of styles and sizes, from formal domes to tall geysers.
There are aeration systems that mimic natural waterfalls, and others with intricate layers of overlapping fountains. And there are subtle aerators that create inconspicuous bubbles from underneath the surface of your pond, for those that prefer a pond that looks still and undisturbed.
An aerated pond has clearer water than a stagnant pond with low oxygen levels. It also smells better, controlling the anaerobic bacteria that cause some ponds to give off a rotten egg smell, while promoting the growth of healthy bacteria that cause no smell at all.
In addition, aeration reduces mosquitoes around your pond, always a welcome side-effect. It does this in two ways: by disturbing the surface of the pond enough that mosquitoes are unable to lay their eggs, and by promoting the health of fish, frogs, and other wildlife who feed on the mosquitoes themselves.
Add to all this the calming sound of water in motion, and pond aeration creates an environment that people want to spend time around. It doesn’t matter where your pond is located. Whether it is in front of your business, out on a golf course, or in your backyard everyone wants to have space where they can enjoy themselves. Aeration can take an ordinary pond and turn it into an oasis.
A Healthy Pond Is Just One Part of a Healthy Landscape
Of course, a beautiful, oxygenated pond in a dying field is no more helpful than a gorgeous plot of grass surrounding a smelly, fish-killing pond.
To create the environment you’re dreaming of, it’s important to think of everything as a whole. How you irrigate or fertilize your land will impact how you care for your pond. How you manage your pond will impact how you deal with your trees. Where you’ve planted trees will impact the lay of your land. That’s why it helps to have experts by your side.
If you have questions about pond aeration, we’ve got answers. Get in touch to find out how Kenney Machinery can help.