By Terry Owens, Environmental Scientist
Over the last couple of months SOLitude Lake Management has seen an ongoing trend: requests to reduce the amount of time pond fountains are running in an effort to lower electricity costs and save money. While economically this makes a lot of sense ecologically it may be setting your pond up for future problems. During the summer months ensuring that your pond has proper aeration is critical to effective pond management. Increases in seasonal temperatures cause stratification of the pond. Stratification is the layering of water in a pond due to temperature differences. Imagine warm shallow water floating on top of colder deeper water. This causes multiple problems. First, the upper warmer layer of water does not hold oxygen very well creating a habitat unsuitable for aquatic life. Secondly during periods of prolonged stratification the deeper water’s oxygen is consumed by the organisms living there. The upper layer acts as a cap not allowing oxygen to be replaced. Over time oxygen levels can become dangerously low and could eventually lead to a fish kill, or suffocation of the species living in the waters.
It is these associated problems that make it so important to leave your fountain or pond aeration system running during the summer months. Both systems provide a dual benefit providing both oxygen to the water and breaking those stratified layers. Constant movement of the water by the fountain or aerator keeps the water temperature more uniform not allowing those stratified layers to form. Warmer temperatures result in water loosing its ability to hold oxygen. Increased oxygenation through increased aeration is critical to maintaining healthy levels of oxygen in your pond. It is for these reasons that we do not recommend decreasing the amount of time you run your fountain or aerator.
Ideally, your fountain should run constantly to ensure that it is offering the maximum benefit to your pond. However, if you are truly concerned about the amount of time your fountain is running, there are a few more effective ways of cutting energy without negatively affecting your pond. First, turn off the lights if your fountain has them. Lights offer an aesthetically pleasing aspect to your fountain but offer no benefit to the pond from an ecological standpoint. Simply turning off the lights or reducing the amount of time they are on can lower energy costs without impacting the pond’s health. Setting your fountain’s timer to power off intermittently during the day can also help with energy costs. We advise that these “off” periods last no longer than ten minutes per hour. Spacing out your shut off times for the fountain can lower run time without having as drastic of an effecting on the pond. Most fountain owners are tempted to turn their fountain off at night; however, turning your fountain off for consistently long periods of time each day may be just enough for stratification to occur causing further pond damage.
These are just a few tips that we can offer to help you save some money without sacrificing the overall health of your waterbody and pond water quality. Always contact your pond manager if you have any questions about the on-going care of your pond and fountain aeration system.
Since 1998, SOLitude Lake Management has been committed to providing full service lake and pond management services that improve water quality, preserve natural resources, and reduce our environmental footprint. Services are available throughout the Eastern United States. Fisheries management consulting and aquatic products are available nationwide. Learn more about SOLitude Lake Management and purchase products at www.solitudelakemanagement.com.
Contact the experts at 888-480-LAKE (5253) for all of your lake, pond and fisheries management needs.