“Preparation is key” applies to most things in life but especially when it comes to ponds. When spring comes along, reopening your pond can be a lot of work if you did not prepare during fall and winter. Having mucky water and bloated fish belly up is not an ideal picture for relaxing by the pond. An easy way to prep without having to do a ton of work is aerating your pond in the fall and winter.
In the fall aeration provides a stabilizing effect on the pond as far as temperatures are concerned and it will continue to aid in oxygenation and water flow as the weather cools. Autumn loads up the pond with organic debris more than any other season. Although the signs of leftover organic material do not usually appear until spring and summer, the pond is already attempting to digest all of these nutrients. Pond aeration will produce a healthy amount of oxygen and circulation that will boost this process, and give your pond a huge advantage for the following season. Aeration also prevents winterkill of fish by increasing dissolved oxygen and keeping oxygen levels more consistent throughout the pond. The water circulation generated by the aerator forms a hole in frozen winter ice, allowing for gas exchange and keeping water open and available for visiting wildlife.
Why does an aerator help with freezing water? An aerator works under the idea that moving water resists freezing. However, when using an aerator, you must remember it is capable of hyper-cooling your water, if used when air temperatures are below freezing. Hyper-cooling is when cold water mixes with the warmer water changing the overall temperature to be cooler. This is dangerous for all aquatic life. Keeping the aerator indoors or in an insulated chamber outside of the pond will allow warmer air to be pumped into the pond and prevent hyper-cooling. Storing the pump indoors with just the airline and airstones being used outdoors is your best bet to eliminate any risk. Keeping the pump in the insulated chamber or indoors will also help to avoid condensation from forming in the airline and later freezing, which can shut down the aeration device altogether. Also avoid putting airstones at the bottom of the pond to prevent colder and warmer water layers from mixing and hyper-cooling.
Other suggestions are moving your diffuser plates to shallower water. Move the plates from the deepest areas of your pond to shallower areas to give your hibernating fish a warmer place to hunker down when the water temperatures get especially frigid. When the plates are by the surface, they will help to keep an open hole in the ice. Make sure to clean filters and inspect your compressor as they may need to be replaced. Checking the aerator regularly throughout the winter is important. Snow that has collected around the unit, particularly any that’s blocking the air discharge vent, should be removed as it can cause the system to break or not work properly. If you lost power during a storm, check your GFCI as you may have to reset it. Keep alcohol on hand to defrost airlines frozen from condensation. Use one-cup isopropyl alcohol in the airline running out to each plate. Turn on the compressor to push the alcohol through the line and free any ice blockage.
So make your life easy and aerate your pond this fall and winter.