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Aerators, Fountains & Lake Oxygen

The short story is fountains are pretty. Aerators are functional. Fountains are architectural design features. Aerators are biological tools. If you have a floating weed, algae or fish kill problem, an aerator usually helps. Beautiful Ponds installs & maintains both. 



Fountains cost more to buy & operate because they pump heavy water into the air. Fountains can include lights that contribute to the enjoyment of the lake at night. 

Both fountains & aerators push floating algae & other plants to the shore. Aerators are much more effective at this task. 

Aerators run 24 hours every day. Fountains are only used when people can see & enjoy the water display.

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Fountains have a wide variety of patterns & sizes. Higher fountain sprays require more powerful pumps. This increases the purchase price & the operating cost. Beautiful Ponds staff will help you select the fountain with the most attractive pattern & the most reliable service.


Aerators pump air down to the bottom of a pond. The air then bubbles up through the water. Most people don’t even notice the bubbles at the pond surface over the aerator head.

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Aerator bubbles in middle of small lake


Aerator compressors are located in a box near the shore. This box is usually about two feet square. The sound is minimal; you can hear it when standing about 15 feet from the box. Your Beautiful Ponds representative can recommend aerators that will provide years of quiet, efficient & reliable service. 

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Large compressor box powering six aerator heads; a few small shrubs around the box would hide it completely.

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Small compressor box powering three aerator heads, located next to irrigation power supply


Our hot, humid, lightning-prone weather requires high quality equipment. Beautiful Ponds only recommends quality aerators suitable for our climate.



Fountains cost more than aerators because it takes more heavy-duty equipment to spray water into the air than it does to move air to the lake bottom. Contact your Beautiful Ponds representative to find the best product for your lake.        (941) 488-1942 



Lake ecology is a complex topic. If you’re interested in more detailed, technical aspects of aeration, water oxygen & lake ecology read on.



To review; aeration creates water currents. The currents move water from the bottom of the lake to the surface & from the middle to the shore. Here’s how that water movement helps:

  • Cools the surface water & slows algae growth

  • Pushes algae & floating plants from the middle of the lake to the shore

  • Circulating oxygen-poor bottom water to the surface adds more oxygen to the water, especially at the bottom.

  • More oxygen at the bottom favors the growth of invisible, beneficial bacteria instead of unsightly algae

  • Sun-loving algae are swept to the dark bottom, slowing growth & killing some of it


Lake Oxygen

Aerators add a significant amount of oxygen to the water by circulating the water (bottom to surface). It’s not the little bubbles that add oxygen. It’s the transfer of oxygen from the atmosphere to the water. This obviously happens at the lake surface. 


Water oxygen, usually called dissolved oxygen (DO), is measured in parts per million (PPM) & ranges from 0 – 15 PPM. Atmospheric oxygen (the oxygen we breathe) is about 21% or 210,000 PPM. This significant difference causes oxygen to transfer from the atmosphere to water (along the surface). 


Thermal stratification

The next important issue is that water easily stratifies. Hot water (warmed by the sun) stays at the top & the cooler water stays at the bottom. Consequently, water at the bottom of a lake has no way to replenish its oxygen.


The aerator’s current brings the oxygen-poor water from the bottom of the pond to the surface. Now the oxygen poor water (DO = 2 PPM or less) is in contact with the air (Oxygen = 210,000 PPM). It’s easy for oxygen to move from the atmosphere to the water. This circulation adds oxygen to the water 24 hours a day. Aerators help maintain healthy oxygen levels throughout the pond (5 – 12 PPM is good).


Bottom animals

If the oxygen level drops to zero the bottom animals that require oxygen & cannot swim to the surface die. This usually happens around dawn. The main animals here are the decomposers (mollusks, worms, microscopic animals & bacteria). Fish have the option to swim to the surface where the oxygen level is usually higher. 


Billions of tiny bottom creatures clean the water & reduce sediment. Aerator currents keep a diverse community of decomposers alive on the bottom, so the lake stays healthy & clean. Aerators reduce algae by helping oxygen loving bacteria out-compete algae for the nutrients in the lake water.


Aerators are an excellent tool to reduce both algae & the risk of fish-kills. Fountains add the beauty & sound of falling water. Contact Beautiful Ponds to schedule a lake evaluation.

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