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The Types and Benefits of Aeration Systems for Ponds

written by
Jennifer Biancalana

Why Should You Have a Pond Aeration System?

An aeration system – which can include pond fountains, aerators, diffusers and more – is an easy, natural way to supply man-made and natural ponds with dissolved oxygen. Dissolved oxygen (DO) is a measure of how much oxygen is dissolved in the water – the amount of oxygen available to living aquatic organisms. The amount of dissolved oxygen in a stream or lake directly correlates with the water quality.

Aquatic animals, such as fish and aquatic invertebrates, require DO to breathe and function. In the case of low or fluctuating DO levels (which can occur alongside algae blooms, plant and algae die-offs or during the winter months), aquatic life can die in large quantities in an event known as a ‘Fish Kill’.

In addition to preserving the health of aquatic life,  introducing dissolved oxygen via aeration has many benefits.

A fountain and aeration system for a pond







What Are the Benefits of a Pond Aerator?

If you’re asking yourself if your pond needs an aerator or what aeration does for a pond, rest assured that there is a plethora of benefits, including:

  • Reduce organic sediment or muck
  • Break down nutrients causing harmful plant growth and algae blooms
  • Support aerobic digestion and oxidation
  • Improve fish habitat
  • Reduce midge and mosquito breeding
  • Contribute to the visual aesthetic lake or pond
  • Help increase property values
  • Mitigate odors
  • Support community satisfaction with the waterbody

A clear pond with lily pads, courtesy of a pond aeration system







What is a Pond Aeration System – and How Does a Bottom Diffuser Make It All Work?

An aeration system is a series of equipment components designed to introduce dissolved oxygen into a waterbody for its quality and health. There are two main types of aerators – diffused and surface.

A small bubbler disrupting the pond's surface

A surface aerator propels water into the air where it then falls back into the water. This creates a circulation of oxygenated water as well as surface disruption – which has the additional benefit of deterring pest breeding and weed growth.

In contrast, with a diffused aeration system, you may see small bubbles on the water’s surface; however, most of the aeration is happening beneath the surface. Submerged pads connected to shore-mounted air compressors disperse fine bubbles to aerate the entire water column from the waterbody bottom up to the surface. Additionally, there are several key components that operate from the shoreline to make the system work including:

  • Compressor
  • Diffuser stations
  • Air tubing

How to Determine the Type and Size Aeration System for Your Pond

Each of these parts will need to be properly fitted for several attributes of your pond – its size, depth and shape. It’s important to make sure that the system only infuses enough DO to sustain life rather than overwhelm it, and that the aeration equipment can reach the entire water column if needed.

  • Depth: Floating fountains only work well for shallower ponds, about six feet deep or less. Deeper ponds require bottom diffuser systems that will be powerful enough and placed to reach the entire water column.
  • Shape: Whether a pond is uniform or irregular in shape can affect the type, number and placement of fountain and aeration equipment. Otherwise, they may not be able to reach all areas of the lake.
  • Size: The larger the pond, the more powerful – the more horsepower – the equipment will need. This will also apply to the spray height, which should be no more than half the width of the pond. That way you will not remove too much of the pond’s water.

You will also use these characteristics to choose your type of aeration system, examples of which we’ll outline below.

The 4 Kinds of Pond Fountains and Aeration Systems – and Their Pros and Cons

There are several kinds of fountains and aeration methods that suit specific needs – such as targeting the bottom portion of the water column versus the upper portion – and operate under certain circumstances. We’ll explore these below, as well as a few new emerging technologies in the aeration sphere.

An example of a floating fountain in a pond

1. Floating Fountains

Floating fountains work by propelling water into the air to create a surface display. When it lands back on the surface, it creates turbulence that transfers oxygen into the water. Especially prominent in residential communities, floating fountains offer both aeration optimization and aesthetic appeal. They can also come in different water designs with LED lights and more.  Not all fountains “aerate” a pond so it’s important to work with an authorized installer to design the best system for your waterbody.

  • Pros:
    • Efficient for small ponds in uniform shapes or at depths less than six feet
    • Aesthetic appeal
  • Cons:
    • May need additional units for irregular-shaped ponds
    • Not as effective in deep ponds – only reach the upper portion of the water column
    • Requires electricity or solar power
    • Requires routine winter maintenance (Midwest states)

A bottom diffuser aeration for pond

2. Bottom Diffused Aerators:

These systems are fully submerged and work by pumping air from an on-shore compressor via a hose that lies along the water bottom. This means that they can supply DO to the entire waterbody column as long as the system is strong enough.

  • Pros:
    • A strong enough system will aerate the entire water column
    • Works well for irregular-shaped ponds
  • Cons:
    • Requires electricity or solar power
    • When working with a shallow waterbody, more diffuser stations required to create ample oxygen transfer

A solar powered fountain in a pond

3. Solar-Powered Aeration:

For hard-to-reach lakes surrounded by homes and stormwater management facilities, a solar-powered system can help avoid the costs of digging and setting up power services and ongoing electrical needs.

  • Pros:
    • Doesn’t rely heavily, or in some cases at all, on electrical power
    • Convenient for rural, hard to reach areas
    • Battery backup technology allows systems to run on cloudy days
  • Cons:
    • May have difficulty running through nights after cloudy days
    • Must be placed away from shadowing trees or other obstructions
    • Battery backup only has so much storage. If more than 1-2 days of overcast skies and system may no longer run

A pond aeration system powered by a windmill

4. Windmill-Powered Aeration:

For locations with limited access to power, space and lots of windy days, windmill pond aerators provide an ideal option.

  • Pros:
    • Requires little to no other energy source
    • Work for both shallow and deep ponds
    • Work throughout the water column
  • Cons:
    • May not work without a backup when there isn’t wind
    • Wind tends to diminish at night
    • May not work as well for intense aeration needs

Ready to Get Started on Fountain and Aeration?

Between the varied types of fountain and aeration systems – as well as the depth of factors that must be considered when choosing and designing an aeration plan – it can be hard to DIY aeration for a pond or small lake.

Luckily, Clarke’s team of experts brings years of expertise to designing and implementing fountain and aeration solutions for a variety of communities and waterbodies. To learn more, contact our team here, or check out other articles such as: