Fountains vs. Submersed Aeration vs. Nanobubbles: What’s the Difference?

Lakes and ponds have many different functions: they collect sediment and flowing water during rainstorms, they operate as fishing spots for angling enthusiasts and they serve as beautiful ecosystems for communities to enjoy year-round. While no two waterbodies are the same, one thing all balanced freshwater ecosystems have in common is an abundance of dissolved oxygen (DO). The exchange of dissolved oxygen occurs naturally at the water’s surface, but poor circulation or nuisance algae and aquatic weed coverage can prevent DO from reaching areas that need it most, which can cause imbalances that result in poor water quality, bad odors, bottom muck, midge and mosquito infestations, massive fish kills, and toxic cyanobacteria blooms.

Luckily, there are many sustainable solutions available to correct imbalanced DO conditions—each with their own unique benefits and limitations:


Floating and architectural fountains are one option for helping increase circulation and dissolved oxygen in lakes and ponds. Fountains provide essential water column mixing in shallow waterbodies. As fountain water falls from the air in pleasing patterns, it bursts across the surface, accelerating the release of submersed gases, helping to reverse nutrient pollution, and introducing beneficial DO into the top layer of water. When the fountain is turned off, however, these benefits can subside.

Lake and pond fountains can be completely customized to fit the functional and aesthetic needs of your property. For example, traditional lighting or colored lenses can be added to increase the dramatic effect of your fountain and make it a focal point at night. Depending on the unique characteristics of your waterbody, your freshwater management professional may also recommend a specifically-sized fountain, which could range from 0.5hp to 60hp. Proper fountain sizing is extremely important, which is why SOLitude offers a wide range of options through our industry partners.

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Submersed Aeration

Another way to increase dissolved oxygen in large lakes and ponds is through submersed aeration. In contrast to fountains, submersed aeration systems utilize an on-shore compressor to pump air through subsurface tubes and diffusers that oxygenate and circulate the water from bottom to top. As bubbles rise from the depths to the surface, they increase DO throughout the waterbody and disrupt undesirable stratification. Like floating fountains, submersed aeration systems help convert nutrients to more diluted forms that cannot sustain nuisance aquatic weed and algae growth, though they may not directly target these infestations. For the best results, these systems should be placed in deeper depths as they do not properly circulate shallow water.

The benefits of submersed aeration

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Windmill & Solar-Powered Aeration

Sometimes it’s not feasible to install an aeration system in an isolated lake or pond with no economical way to provide a power source. Windmill or solar-powered systems are excellent eco-friendly alternatives in these situations. While these systems still utilize an on-shore compressor that pumps air to the depths of the waterbody, the source of power is naturally-occurring wind or sunlight. A back-up battery will help ensure the aeration systems continue working when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun is down. Keep in mind, though, that windmill and solar-powered aerators still require professional maintenance on a regular basis.

Solar-powered aeration system

Nanobubble Technology

New dissolved oxygen technologies, like nanobubbles, are helping to maximize the benefits of both fountains and submersed aeration. Similar to “traditional” submersed systems, nanobubbles are produced by compact on-shore generators, but they are about 1 million times smaller than ordinary bubbles and have a strong negative surface charge. As a result, they provide long-lasting oxygenation within the water column—and even the sediments—for up to 2-3 months without popping. Because nanobubbles do not rise to the surface, they do not offer the vertical mixing benefits provided by fountains and standard diffusers.

Nanobubble technology is not only effective at reducing odors, breaking down bottom muck and restoring water quality, some manufacturers have registered their equipment as a pesticidal device with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), meaning it can be used to naturally eradicate nuisance algae and even eliminate cyanobacteria toxins.

Before and after nanobubble aeration

Unlike traditional aeration systems, you don’t have to own a nanobubble unit to reap the benefits. Through our annual management plan, nanobubbles can be introduced into your waterbody via recurring treatments when the aquatic ecosystem needs it. This approach helps ensure your waterbody receives the custom, balanced care it requires without the need to purchase or permanently install a nanobubble system on your property.

Each of these lake and pond solutions works differently and they accomplish very different things. Using them in a variety of ways or pairing them based on your given situation may help better target your unique water quality problems. No matter how you use your waterbody, it’s worth leveraging these natural management tools to increased dissolved oxygen levels and support the health and beauty of your freshwater resource.

Contact Us to Build Your Lake Management Plan

Call us at 888-480-5253 or complete the form below to connect with an aquatic management expert.

SOLitude Lake Management is a nationwide environmental firm committed to providing sustainable solutions that improve water quality, enhance beauty and preserve natural resources.

SOLitude’s team of aquatic scientists specializes in the development and execution of customized lake, stormwater pond, wetland and fisheries management programs. Services include water quality testing and restoration, algae and aquatic weed control, installation and maintenance of fountains and aeration systems, shoreline erosion control, muck and sediment removal and invasive species management. SOLitude partners with homeowners associations, golf courses, private landowners, businesses and municipalities. SOLitude Lake Management is part of Rentokil, a leading business services company, operating across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

For more information, visit SOLitude Lake Management at, and connect on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter.

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