Pond Boss
Posted By: TrapperUtah Aeration for Fall and Winter - 10/21/20 04:41 AM
Quick question about when and how long I should run the aerator in the fall and winter. I read on here during the summer to only run it at night so my water didn't get too warm. That was helpful. Now that it's gotten cooler, I figure I should change it up. I assume I'll have to run it 24/7 to keep the pond from completely freezing during winter. I read on someone else's post that during the fall, they are only running the aerator during the day and not at night. Can someone explain best practices for running an aerator at different times of year?

For context, I live in Northern Utah, so it will freeze here soon. My pond is about 40' x 85' and is about 5.5' deep in the center. Also, I've had the diffuser right in the center, but I think we want to move it closer to the edge to just keep a hole in the ice during the winter. We have some very small HBG and LMB in the pond we planted 2 or 3 months ago.
Posted By: 4CornersPuddle Re: Aeration for Fall and Winter - 10/21/20 05:37 PM
Here are some ideas.
Many folks cease aeration when water temp drops in the fall. 50s is a ballpark figure. Then they resume as, or after ice is forming.
At this point, it is advisable to have the aerator in shallower water, both to allow a 39 degree warmer water refuge to develop at the deepest part of the pond, and to have some open water right at the shoreline. This second point is one of safety. A wild animal, pet, or human that falls into the open water can then make it to shore without climbing on to the ice surface.
I spent many years in northern Utah during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Logan, SLC, Kamas. Where are you?
Posted By: wbuffetjr Re: Aeration for Fall and Winter - 10/21/20 06:25 PM
It a pond that size you might have water movement throughout the entire body of water no matter where you put the diffuser. There's a guy in Minnesota that runs his aeration right through the entire winter and his LMB do very well. Maybe it's because they are used to those conditions?? I don't know - I am not an expert. But I have been told on here many times that the science of winter aeration is far from complete. Please post what you end up doing and then post some updates and results as well. Not many folks with frozen over ponds posting this kind of info.
Posted By: TrapperUtah Re: Aeration for Fall and Winter - 10/22/20 05:01 AM
Thanks! This is great info to consider!

4CornersPuddle, I live in Box Elder County just North of Brigham City. I graduated from USU in Logan in 2006.

So I just moved the aerator closer to the edge about 2-3 feet deep. I may want to move it closer to the edge though to be sure the open water meets the shoreline. I just checked the temperature and it's not down to 50 yet. I'm thinking I may just shut the aerator off until ice starts forming. It's good to know that the diffuser may still mix things up. I've been nervous about low dissolved O2 because I dont fully understand it.

The pond was just dug in April, so the first Winter will be interesting. I'll keep you posted.

Let me know if anyone else has ideas or suggestions.
Posted By: Theo Gallus Re: Aeration for Fall and Winter - 10/22/20 11:51 AM
Oxygen levels in iced-over water should remain sufficient for fish IF the ice is clear to allow sunlight through for aquatic plants/algae. There's minimal plant O2 production in cold water, but also minimal O2 consumption by fish. It balances.

If the ice is cloudy or snow covered, opening a hole through the ice (or removing at least 10% of the snow cover, which has never appealed to me personally) is warranted.
Posted By: esshup Re: Aeration for Fall and Winter - 10/24/20 04:49 AM
I'm aggravated by all the suggestions to only aerate during the night to keep the water temps down. I have yet to see temp data and O2 data to support that suggestion. Without solid data to support that I wouldn't. Without the data that is the same as someone saying here, take this prescription medicine for what ails ya, without a doctor saying so. I will change my way of thinking if hard data is provided, but all the people that are on the forum saying to do it cannot furnish data.

Aeration systems that are designed for ponds are typically designed to give a certain number of turns of water (water that is brought up from the depths to the pond surface to absorb O2 from the atmosphere) when run for 24 hours per day. If only running part time, then the number of turns isn't achieved and more damage could be done than good by not keeping the O2 levels up in the pond. ONLY if the system is designed from the get go to only run part time of the 24 hour day should it be run like that, and that would mean a system that is designed for a pond that has twice the water volume.

The reason that I am aggravated by it is that about 10 years ago I tried running it part time to keep the water temperature down (I had trout in the pond) due to the people on here suggesting that without providing data and I wanted to keep the pond water cooler so they'd live longer into the summer. What I found out was that they actually lived longer if I didn't aerate at all, because the water actually warmed up faster and they croaked. I only ran the system when the night time temps were below 70°F. On the flip side of the coin, I was able to keep trout alive longer if I ran the system 24/7 and ran a surface agitator 24/7 too. That raised the O2 levels in the pond high enough so that the trout would stay alive in water temps that were 79-80 degrees.
Posted By: jpsdad Re: Aeration for Fall and Winter - 10/24/20 08:43 PM
Originally Posted by esshup
The reason that I am aggravated by it is that about 10 years ago I tried running it part time to keep the water temperature down (I had trout in the pond) due to the people on here suggesting that without providing data and I wanted to keep the pond water cooler so they'd live longer into the summer. What I found out was that they actually lived longer if I didn't aerate at all, because the water actually warmed up faster and they croaked. I only ran the system when the night time temps were below 70°F. On the flip side of the coin, I was able to keep trout alive longer if I ran the system 24/7 and ran a surface agitator 24/7 too. That raised the O2 levels in the pond high enough so that the trout would stay alive in water temps that were 79-80 degrees.

This has my curiosity piqued. Is it fair to say that trout live longer without aeration unless one operates a surface agitator? Though you didn't try this, I wonder what the results would be if you ran the surface agitator only.
Posted By: esshup Re: Aeration for Fall and Winter - 10/25/20 12:19 AM
Originally Posted by jpsdad
Originally Posted by esshup
The reason that I am aggravated by it is that about 10 years ago I tried running it part time to keep the water temperature down (I had trout in the pond) due to the people on here suggesting that without providing data and I wanted to keep the pond water cooler so they'd live longer into the summer. What I found out was that they actually lived longer if I didn't aerate at all, because the water actually warmed up faster and they croaked. I only ran the system when the night time temps were below 70°F. On the flip side of the coin, I was able to keep trout alive longer if I ran the system 24/7 and ran a surface agitator 24/7 too. That raised the O2 levels in the pond high enough so that the trout would stay alive in water temps that were 79-80 degrees.

This has my curiosity piqued. Is it fair to say that trout live longer without aeration unless one operates a surface agitator? Though you didn't try this, I wonder what the results would be if you ran the surface agitator only.

I believe the trout live longer into the summer because they have a cooler undisturbed lower layer of water to get to, although after a while the cooler water becomes oxygen depleted. THEN the trout are seen nosing into the 54°F oxygenated well water that I was pumping into the pond.

I DID figure out how to get trout to live all summer long in a deep pond, it required surface agitation and specific placements of the subsurface air stations. (it took 3 years of trial and error) and THAT pond has the aeration systems running 24/7...........
Posted By: jpsdad Re: Aeration for Fall and Winter - 10/25/20 01:44 AM
Quote
I DID figure out how to get trout to live all summer long in a deep pond, it required surface agitation and specific placements of the subsurface air stations. (it took 3 years of trial and error) and THAT pond has the aeration systems running 24/7...........

That's a notable achievement. Most of the oxygen came from surface agitation, so what are your thoughts on role of aeration? The pond was deep enough that there was cool water mixing effect and then the surface agitation oxygenated it?
Posted By: esshup Re: Aeration for Fall and Winter - 10/25/20 04:08 PM
The aeration was the key in keeping the trout alive, the pond depth was key in keeping some water cool enough for them. Without the aeration the O2 levels in the deeper water would not be high enough to support the trout, or any other fish for that matter if you measured the O2 levels at the bottom. I have a YSI ODO with a 10 meter probe.

In a pond that was 10' deep max, trout stayed alive in 79°F-80°F water due to the bottom aeration and the surface agitator pushing the O2 levels to saturation or higher. Unfortunately the water temp climbed even higher and they didn't make it. (@ 80°F the O2 was still 7.7 mg/l)
Posted By: TrapperUtah Re: Aeration for Fall and Winter - 12/26/20 09:19 PM
Update to my last post. I've run the aerator 24/7 and its kept the ice off of the one end mostly. The ice is thick in the middle (5-6 inches) so I ventured out and drilled a hole. Lowered an underwater camera and the fish look good down there. Tried fishing for them, but they had no interest in the bait, just swimming slowly by. It's only about 5 feet or so at the bottom. Glad to see them alive and well though.

So now my wife and daughter have Ice skates for Christmas and enjoyed skating in a tiny circle on Christmas Day. It's got me thinking maybe I shut the aerator off and let the whole thing freeze solid for them to have a better ice rink. Do you all think the fish would be fine at 5 feet and no aeration?

Thanks!

Attached File
Posted By: Bill Cody Re: Aeration for Fall and Winter - 12/27/20 02:06 AM
What kind of fish do you have and how big is the pond (size)? OK above I see the pond is small 40x85 = 0.07ac. Fish are HBG and LMB both fingerling sizes.
Fish species will be an important factor here. Trout require more dissolved oxygen(DO) compared to BG and LMB who need the midrange amounts of DO. Lowest DO is tolerated by yellow perch(YP) and northern pike(NP).

Two weather things will determine the condition of fish under solid ice in Utah. 1. The depth of the snow cover. 2. The length of time the snow deeper than 2" lays on the ice. Your maximum water depth of 5 ft does not allow a large storage volume/amount of dissolved oxygen in the limited or shallow depth of the pond. The deeper the pond and more water volume it has the more DO is present to last a longer period of time in the dark conditions under ice and blanket of snow. One good thing you can do to prolong the DO under complete snow cover is remove around 10% to 20% of the snow from the pond. The more snow that is removed the more DO that is created by the microalgae. This snow removal allows sunlight penetration and the microalgae makes DO to keep the fish healthy. NOTE -- cloudy muddy water reduces light penetration and thus the amount of DO production by the microalgae. Clear water will allow sunlight easily into 8ft - 10 depth of winter water. If the girls want more skating area then ask them to help remove some of the snow if you turn off the aerator. For complete snow cover and 5ft water depth, complete loss of DO which occurs from the bottom up, the adequate DO near the upper 2 ft ""should"" often last 3 weeks, although this depends on the amount of dead organic materials on the bottom. More organics cause faster depletion of DO without ice penetrating sunlight.

The other item that I have discovered with this that has an influence here. You have been running the aerator while the 6" of ice has developed. This has chilled the pond water lower than the normal winter water temp of 39F with ice cover and no aeration. Your pond water should now be around 33F to 35F compared to the 'normal' 39F. Your fish could easily be in 33F-34F water, thus they are 5F to 6 F colder. Everything in this colder water including all the decomposing bacteria will be consuming measurably less DO because it is ALL colder. Also the fish at these lower temperatures will tolerate lower DO before they die due to lower metabolism. Metabolism requires DO. Also small young fish tolerate lower DO than large fish. Old big fish require the most/highest DO. Also it is a new pond with very little organics accumulation - DO will last a lot longer due to low decay volume. So with these four items your DO should last longer before dangerous fish killing concentrations occur; up to 4 weeks, "maybe'' 5 weeks, ""maybe"" 6-7 weeks with complete snow cover. Before then and when the girls have had enough ice skating, you could restart the aerator and open an ice free hole to allow sunlight back into the pond or just keep removing snow for ice skating.

Good luck with this. Please return and up date us on the developments.
Posted By: TrapperUtah Re: Aeration for Fall and Winter - 12/28/20 07:25 PM
Thanks Bill! Yes, Ice skating is getting very popular around here, my other 2 kids found some very old skates (pretty sure they were my dad's or grandparents skates). So I've turned off the aerator yesterday. What used to be my open water appears to have frozen about 1 inch or 2 of clear ice, and I'm sure it will build quickly. I'll probably spray some water on it once or twice a day to help it thicken up quicker. Hopefully it stays cold enough to have safe ice on the whole pond by the weekend.

I figure January will be ice skating season and I'll plan on opening a hole in the ice and start Aeration again in Early February. I'll post an update then.

Is there anything I should do to monitor the fish health in the meantime. I can always drill a hole with my Ice Auger and get a visual with my underwater camera. I'm not really sure what to look for other than to see if they are still alive down there.

Thanks again!
Posted By: Bill Cody Re: Aeration for Fall and Winter - 12/28/20 10:05 PM
My old fashioned way to check the overall condition of fish during winter was to ice fish for them with bait near the bottom. If you can get some bites they are okay. My current method is to use my DO meter. If your water is reasonably clear you can use the underwater camera which would be the best way to check on newly stocked fingerling fish with no adults present. If your water is fairly clear you might try chumming them with some dry oat meal. Or another way is to lower a small weight to the bottom and bounce it around. This often attracts some small fish to the sediment cloud activity. If you are keeping snow off the ice for all winter ice skating then you shouldn't have any problem with fish kill.
Posted By: Journeyman Re: Aeration for Fall and Winter - 01/04/21 09:33 PM
Originally Posted by wbuffetjr
It a pond that size you might have water movement throughout the entire body of water no matter where you put the diffuser. There's a guy in Minnesota that runs his aeration right through the entire winter and his LMB do very well. Maybe it's because they are used to those conditions?? I don't know - I am not an expert. But I have been told on here many times that the science of winter aeration is far from complete. Please post what you end up doing and then post some updates and results as well. Not many folks with frozen over ponds posting this kind of info.


I can chime in on winter-aeration for you, from Wisconsin.
Some history from previous owner, without aeration, revealed that during the spring thaw, sometimes it appeared that "all the fish died" in 1.2 acre pond.

On my 4th winter now, all with aeration, spring thaw walk arounds show a just couple small BG total lost each year. Guessing those somehow got caught in the ice shallows.

First year, 2 diffusers 24-7 in the deepest parts (11 feet). The open water on the far end of pond got attention of some Otters. Added BG, YP and young LMB in spring.

Second year, 2 diffusers 24-7, shutdown Otter favorite far end diffuser and ran two nearer to house in 7 feet.

Third year, same as second year.

Each year, probably some "supercooling" happened, we get some stretches well below zero, but all the fish were quite healthy in spring. By the 3rd year had to heavily cull LMB population as it was exploding and BG were getting scarce. The stocked YP are getting big, not sure they have multiplied though.
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