If you have a water feature on your property, such as a pond or lake, you probably know that water with high oxygen levels is a much healthier environment for you as well as for anything living in or near the water. (If you weren’t aware of that, this blog post will also go over the benefits of highly oxygenated water.) You may ask yourself, however, “How do I go about increasing the oxygen levels in my pond, lake, etc.?”
We’ve done the research and will tell you here.
Benefits of Increased Oxygen Levels
First, it’s important to know why you’re doing something. If you don’t know what the benefits are, you’re less likely to keep up with a certain task, especially if it requires time or money.
Highly oxygenated water inhibits algae growth, and algae are often at the root of many problems that plague small (especially man-made) bodies of water. A proper amount of algae is normal, natural, and even beneficial. However, when it grows to extremes it inhibits particle movement in the water, blocks light from getting to fish and other plants, and consumes more than its fair share of the oxygen and other nutrients that other living things need to survive.
When water levels don’t have enough oxygen, this is harmful to fish. On the flip side, healthy and abundant levels of oxygen create thriving, abundant fish life and a healthy water ecosystem. Low oxygen levels often happen during the warm summer months when algae grow and then die in abundance. If you live in a place where the temperatures rise or stay warm steadily, it will be important for you to find a way to increase oxygen levels, especially if you struggle to keep algae growth under control.
Proper oxygen levels also help with eutrophication. Eutrophication is the process by which phosphorous and nitrogen are deposited in waterways in excessive amounts. This is caused by fields and lawns being treated more and more with fertilizers and then running off into water bodies, as well as natural erosion. Too many of these elements in ponds or lakes create excessive algae growth, which inhibits oxygen levels, which creates an unhealthy environment. Everything is related.
What You Can Do to Increase Oxygen Levels
As you can see, it is important to be aware of the oxygen levels in your pond or lake. So how do you make sure you are doing everything you can?
First and foremost, make sure you have a proper aeration system. If you have a very small pond, a decorative fountain might be enough to move water through the pond and create oxygen with water movement. However, if you have a larger body of water, you’ll want a specific pond aerator that moves more gallons of water per minute, thus increasing oxygen levels even more. (Pond aerators are often beautiful and soothing to the eye and ear, though, too, so don’t worry!)
You can also use a wind-operated aerator. This could be a windmill or a floating system that increases water turbidity, thus increasing oxygen levels. These can be quite a significant investment upfront; however, after they are purchased, they only cost money for maintenance (usually every few years to replace the compressor). One other consideration for a wind-operated system, though, is that it will only work when the wind is blowing. If your pond or lake is in an area surrounded by many trees, it should be built or mounted higher than the top of the tree level.
Solar aeration systems are another great option, especially for places that stay warm year-round. These systems collect energy through solar panels and then convert that energy into electricity, using it to produce air movement. Solar aeration systems typically produce more cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air than wind-operated systems and are great for ponds or lakes that are “off the grid.”
You can also use an “on-grid”, or electric, system. With this choice, you will have an abundance of options, such as diaphragm, rocking piston, and rotary vane compressors. Since they use electricity, these systems will get you the highest CFM rate; however, they can end up being quite expensive in the long run since you’ll be pulling electricity whenever it is in use. On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about relying on the wind or sun for it to do its job.
A bottom diffuser system is another choice. This one sits at the bottom of your pond or lake. Bottom diffusers destratify the pond by disrupting the thermocline and allow aerobic bacteria to do their job of decomposing organic matter more quickly. (When matter decomposes slowly it creates dirty, mucky, unhealthy water which can also breed unhealthy amounts of algae.) These also allow for fish to get highly oxygenated water in the entire water column, not just at the top of the pond.
A last resort if you need to increase oxygen levels right away and you don’t have the time or money to insert an entire system is to simply turn on your hose in the pond! This will add movement, thus increasing oxygen. If you’re worried about chlorine from the hose water, just turn it on the jet spray because “violent” movement disperses chlorine more efficiently.
Your aeration system should run constantly, all day every day. If you can’t or don’t want to do this, for whatever reason, make sure that when it is running, it moves the proper amount of water to benefit your pond or lake to make up for the time it is off. Remember, too, that the lowest levels of oxygen are typically in the early morning hours, so this is a good time to run your system if you need to choose a smaller timeframe.
Aeration is extremely important for ponds or lakes, especially when they are larger in size. Once you see how a properly aerated pond makes for a healthier, more enjoyable environment, you’ll never go back to “not aerating” again.