What’s the No. 1 misconception about pond aeration? The idea that it’s seasonal. With all that’s been written and talked about over the last eight to 10 years about the benefits of subsurface diffused aeration, I find it strange that as recently as two weeks ago I found myself having to defend it. One pond business owner thought that summer aeration would “burn” his customer’s pond, and another was under the impression that aeration was just a “winter thing.”
Man, have they been missing out all these years! Diffused aeration works and certainly does no harm, but it also sells — and very well at that. I still get ample pushback from dealers and contractors that aeration is a tough sell. I understand that, but from my experience, those who do the best job of selling pond aeration truly understand how it can benefit a pond through spring, summer, fall and winter.
“A Winter Thing”
Let’s get one thing straight: Winter is a great time to aerate ponds. Try as we may to clean debris from our ponds before the winter freeze, we never seem to get it all. So, when it does freeze over, and organic debris continues to decompose in our ponds, gases like hydrogen sulfide, methane and carbon dioxide are released into the water column. With no subsurface aeration, these gases can become trapped by the ice and begin to replace clean oxygen. If enough oxygen is displaced, your fish will suffer, possibly resulting in a winter fish kill. Running a diffused aeration system in the winter infuses fresh oxygen into ponds while maintaining an open hole in surface, forming ice to release decomposition gases.
While we recommend running the aeration system in the winter months, if there’s a chance someone will be venturing onto the ice for skating, fishing or just for fun, we recommend turning off the system or providing fencing and signage around the openings, where the ice may be thin and dangerous.
Winter is waning. Birds are chirping. Snow and ice are melting. So, naturally, now it’s time to pack up the aeration system until next winter, right?
Of course not! The increased oxygen and circulation provided by spring aeration will help evenly warm the water column and equalize oxygen levels from the top to the bottom, encouraging earlier colonization of beneficial aerobic bacteria. Thus begins the yearly competition between algae and bacteria for the nutrients in the water column. These bacteria are responsible for preventing ammonia and nutrient accumulation, as well as preventing and removing muck buildup. The inevitability of early-spring green water is diminished with the use of a properly sized aeration system. Most importantly, well aerated ponds in the spring are better poised to take on the warm water temperatures of summer and all the problems that come with it.
The sun’s beating down. Temperatures are rising, so your fish just may be jumping out of the pond to get a little extra oxygen. Warm water doesn’t carry as much soluble oxygen as cold water — 32-degree water holds 75 percent more soluble oxygen than 77-degree water, for example — so aeration augmentation is paramount in the summer months.
It’s a fact that algaecides play a big role in many pond owners’ clear-water regimens, and unfortunately overdosing the pond with an algaecide is common, leading to dangerously low dissolved oxygen levels and resulting in stressed or dead fish.
Don’t Fall Back
You’ve probably already figured out that I’m going to suggest that we keep on aerating into the fall, even though cooler water temperatures and less overall sunlight may help slow excess algae growth. But, with falling leaves, dormant pond weeds and other organic debris being introduced to our ponds in the fall, our ponds need more help than ever breaking down waste and reducing pond muck. The boost in beneficial bacteria counts and exposure created by constant aeration help rapidly reduce accumulated debris in a pond. The less organic debris left in a pond leading into the winter months, the better.
So with the possible exception of winter safety issues, there’s absolutely no reason to stop aerating a pond throughout the entire year. It’s both economical and superior in efficiency. Running aeration in a water garden or koi pond all season long makes a biological filter operate at peak efficiency, possibly reducing the need to clean it so often. Adding an aeration system to a natural pond that already has a floating fountain makes sense, too. Not once in all the years I’ve been educating people on aeration have I heard anyone say they wished they hadn’t bought an aeration system for their pond.
Have confidence in your knowledge and share your passion. Selling aeration will become easy.