Just as oxygen serves as the most important element to life on Earth, oxygen also serves as the most essential component to the health of a body of water. Pond aeration is the simple, yet effective, process of increasing oxygen levels in a pond and can not only greatly enhance the aesthetic beauty of a pond, but can also improve the natural systems taking place beneath the water’s surface. Aeration creates destratification of the water column, as lakes and ponds typically consist of stratified layers separated mainly by different temperature and oxygen levels. Natural resource and environmental managers are often challenged by problems caused by lake and pond stratification. The main purpose of aeration is to increase and stabilize the amount of dissolved oxygen in the entire water column and this has a widespread effect on many different aspects of pond and lake health.
Aeration systems are generally considered beneficial for warm water fish as they require adequate dissolved oxygen levels and struggle to survive in an oxygen-deprived habitat. Dissolved oxygen is higher in colder water and the process of aeration will distribute cooler oxygen rich water to areas of warmer water and lower dissolved oxygen, thus breaking down the stratification present in the water column. Aeration allows fish to inhabit the entire lake as opposed to only a certain stratified layer, and also improves conditions for organisms that fish prey on.
Water quality is also greatly improved through the use of aeration. Under oxygen deprived or anoxic conditions, lake-bottom sediments release various gases and metals that can cause water quality problems. Proper aeration will allow for many of the factors contributing to poor water quality to be released at the oxygen-water interface. Aeration cannot only enhance water quality by stabilizing pH, reducing alkalinity, and removing carbon dioxide, but can also greatly decrease the cost of pond treatments.
Aeration can also reduce the amount of pond algae through a variety of processes. Through aeration, algae spores can be mixed towards deeper lake and pond areas, reducing the amount of time it is exposed to valuable sunlight and availability to grow. Higher dissolved oxygen levels can also lead to a shift from harmful blue-green algae to less-noxious green algae.
Another important benefit of aeration is the reduction of Phosphorus (P) concentrations in ponds. Phosphorus is needed to support algae blooms, and once phosphorus enters a pond’s ecosystem it is very difficult to remove. Aeration accomplishes this by using an oxidation reaction which causes the phosphorus to bind with naturally occurring iron. Once bound to the iron, this new form of phosphorus precipitates into the sediments where it remains unavailable for plant and algae growth as long as sufficient levels of dissolved oxygen are maintained.
Overall, aeration will provide many different benefits to a pond’s eco-system. Besides enhancing pond fish habitats, improving water quality, reducing algae, and removing phosphorus, aeration can also break down unwanted bacteria, help with mosquito problems, and remove foul odors from a pond — all by circulating the water and adding dissolved oxygen. Pond aeration is available through a variety of different means, whether through surface aerators like floating fountains, or through bottom fed aerators using compressors and diffusers. Now with an understanding of the benefits of aeration, it is time to decide what type(s) and size(s) of aeration are needed for your specific waterbody. Contact a lake and pond management professional to discuss what is best for your pond.