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O.K., a question for the guys that say to only aerate at night to keep the water temps low.

At what water temp would you want to do this, and at what water temp is this not required? i.e. if pond water temps are 80°F, is it necessary to do this or is this only required when surface temps are pushing 90°F? 85°F? 75°F?

I have yet to see anyone on here post their water temps in ponds that they only aerate at night vs. 24/7. And those numbers would have to be correlated with ambient temps and amount of sunlight. 90°F ambient temp with full sun is hotter to the pond than 90°F and heavy cloud cover is it not?

To me, without numbers to put to the puzzle, then we are only guessing about the water temps and O2 levels. We shouldn't be guessing................

Last edited by esshup; 08/22/22 07:18 AM.

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I agree that this would be excellent experimental data to obtain. However, that is a very difficult experiment to run in the real world.

Even two similar ponds on the same property would probably have different circulation patterns so the temperature profile for the pond with bottom aeration might be affected by other factors relative to the pond with aeration 6' off bottom.

Also, I would think that "time of year" should be a significant factor. The peak average air temperature for most of the U.S. comes at roughly the last week of July to the first week of August. If your pond is already within a few degrees of the "danger zone" for your fish by the middle of June, then I would switch to aerating only at night because that pond has six more weeks of projected warming.

I guess the best experiment would be if someone had two side-by-side "roller pan" forage ponds. Maybe they could run the experiment for the forum.

I do like your question and thinking. Maybe the forum experts should give the advice that if you do experience a summer heat fish kill, then you should immediately run out and measure the temperature profile of the water column in your pond. That would then give people an idea when they are approaching the danger zone in the future for their particular pond and fish population.

Likewise, if you see a large rain event in the forecast, go to the pond and get a temperature profile. Then if you suffer a cold rain induced pond-turnover fish kill, you might know the temperature profile for when your pond is most susceptible to that problem.

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esshup, that's a good point. Also a point I personally take into account.
If we have to aerate, it's best at night-in the hot time of year- for the simple fact lower water temp holds more O2 than higher temp water.
75-80-85-90 has nothing to do with it if you don't know what your BOD is.. but if your water temp is over 85 and your night temps are only 80, you still better be aerating at night if nothing but for the simple fact BOD is highest at night.

Scott, this is not a guess to me.. because there is only a minimum we are trying to stay above. When I hit 80-81 I'm turning it at night.
Now, as days get shorter-even though highs for the day may still be 104, it's for a much shorter period and the nights at 55-60 are much longer and I'm sure your pond temps are dropping just like mine. I'm 71 degs on the surface today but when I dropped below 75 I quit aerating at night and moved to 2am to noon. In 2 weeks I'll be 8 am to 7pm to keep temps up-not O2-to extend every minute of growing I can.
If we say at 80 you need to start aerating at night we might get jumped on when someone has a fish kill because they had a monster load of fish, a massive bloom, feed 4lbs per acre a day and a cold rain come in and a couple of cloudy days but water temp was only 78 so there was no aeration at the time it was needed most but Billybob's pond had no fish kill because he had clear water and low biomass.
How do we set the standard to gauge this? We have many moving targets with countless variables.
Nothing but respect for ya Scott, you know that. This is in the spirit of conversation.
EDIT: I quoted a comment and it didn't allow attachment...weird..

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OK, question... If we aerate 24/7 and roll the daytime heated water into the depths, what happens to the available dissolved O2?? it drops when it would have been best to not bother even 3-4 deg lower water temp that holds more dissolved O2, saturation will be higher also.
Wow... I can't attach anything tonight.. something's wrong.

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Snipe, I agree to a point. Years ago it was said to only aerate at night when you have trout in the pond because they will live longer. Only aerate at night when the air temps are below 70°F. The cooler night time temps will put more O2 into the water for the trout. Nobody could furnish temp or O2 data though, they were just saying what someone else said without data. It took 3 years of testing in my pond to prove to me that it was a fallacy. I bought a temp controlled on/off switch, and had the aeration system only turn on when temps were below 70°F. The trout died quicker than if there was no aeration at all which allowed the thermocline set up and keep water cold down at the bottom of the pond. Turning on the system at night mixed the warm upper water with the cooler bottom water and the volume of O2 in the pond wasn't enough to oxygenate the cooler water to a high enough level and the trout croaked.

Without any aeration at all, there was not enough O2 to keep the trout alive below the thermocline, but there was enough O2 in the water right at that thermocline level to keep the trout alive until July 4th.

In another pond a few years ago that was much deeper we were able to keep trout alive all summer long by setting the diffuser 12' off the bottom and letting it run 24/7 along with a surface agitator in the 1/2 acre pond. The O2 levels were high enough in the upper water level to allow enough O2 transfer to the upper thermocline layer to keep the trout alive.

I really think that the people with the hot water in the summer would be much better off going to a surface agitator type aerator than a bottom diffusion aeration system to put O2 in the water. How many fish farms do you see running surface agitator systems vs. bottom aeration systems?

Another thing to consider is that if the bottom aeration system is sized to run 24/7, and someone only runs it for a few hours per day, they run the risk of under-aerating their pond which causes issues of it's own that won't help their situation.

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I moved the aeration at night replies to the "Algae and Dying Bluegill......a connection?" thread here for future clarity and search parameters.

Last edited by esshup; 08/22/22 07:20 AM.

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esshup, thanks for typing up all of your personal data and also for cleaning up the thread.

I wasn't quite following your point in your original post. I think I see it now. However, it appears to me that you are conflating two different issues. The first is reducing the pond temperature during the hottest time of the year, and the second is running optimal aeration for the pond during that period.

I have zero experience running temperature profiles on ponds IRL. I will just throw in my two cents worth on a theoretical basis.

A stratified pond will have a much cooler AVERAGE temperature in the summer than the same pond that is overturned completely due to aeration. Both ponds would have almost the exact heat gain during the day. However, the stratified pond would lose much more heat during the night, resulting in that pond staying cooler over the course of the summer.

The higher heat losses in the stratified pond are due to the hottest water being at the surface of the pond. Radiative heat losses are a temperature dependent function. The hotter water will radiate out more heat at night.

Perhaps even more importantly (based on conditions), the stratified pond will also generate much greater evaporative heat losses at night. The energy input to turn a gallon of liquid water into water vapor is much greater than the energy input required to raise the temperature of a gallon of water from 32 degrees to 212 degrees. In many circumstances, evaporative heat loss is a very important factor! The longer at night the stratified pond can keep the air temperature at the surface interface above the dew point, then the longer the pond will shed large amounts of heat due to evaporative heat loss.

Applying that theory to your observations does provide an explanation for both of your scenarios regarding the trout. For the pond that you aerated only at night, the pond lost its stratification and therefore became warmer than it would have without aeration. Your trout did better in the stratified pond WITHOUT aeration because it was cooler. However, if you had operated surface aeration on that pond, then the average pond temperature would have been cooler AND there would have been more oxygen in the surface layer. I suspect those trout may have been able to live a few weeks after July 4th.

Likewise with the second pond. Moving the aeration off of the bottom allowed the pond to stratify (cooler total water) and the well oxygenated surface water enabled the trout to survive all summer. However, if you had made those aeration changes AND only run the aerators at night, then the trout may have had an even more favorable environment due to the cooler average temperatures and the higher dissolved oxygen level at the thermal refuge where the trout could hang out just above the anoxic bottom waters.

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esshup (and everyone else),

Running full pond aeration (non-surface) can actually make things worse, as shown in your first trout pond example.

I have read lots of aeration threads on the forum, but I have never seen the reason for the importance of full pond aeration. (It just seems to be assumed.) I have also never read a good article that was like a treatise that fully explained all of the underlying science. Therefore, my questions below are totally newbie questions!

Originally Posted by esshup
Another thing to consider is that if the bottom aeration system is sized to run 24/7, and someone only runs it for a few hours per day, they run the risk of under-aerating their pond which causes issues of it's own that won't help their situation.

What are the actual issues with under aerating a pond?

I would imagine that a pond with good surface wind exposure is oxygenated above the minimum required level for the fish most of the time.

1.) Do fish thrive better with additional oxygen in the water, even well above the minimum threshold? For example, are fish more active and therefore better at catching forage? Is there a better survival factor of eggs hatching to fry, etc. due to better oxygen transfer through the walls of the eggs?

Or is under aerating a problem due to periods of "crisis" conditions?

2.) Do we require full pond aeration to survive the crisis when an oxygen crash occurs due to the die-off of a massive algal bloom, or pond overturning anoxic bottom water during a cold rain event, or due to long term oxygen stress due very high temperatures in the water column?

3.) If a manager provided adequate aeration in only a portion of a large pond, would fish be able to find these "oxygen refuges" to get through any crisis periods, or would you be damaging a significant portion of your fish population - ESPECIALLY in the desirable older/bigger class of fish?

Finally, I have been reading articles lately about commercial fish operations. It is amazing how often the accompanying pictures show surface aeration in the background. This is something I seldom see on Pond Boss threads.

4.) Do we need to consider more use of hybrid aeration systems on Pond Boss that include subsurface aeration combined with surface aeration?

Thanks in advance for any good answers provided. Clarifying any misconceptions about aeration that were stated or implied in my questions ALSO counts as good answers and might even be more helpful to all of us that are non-experts on aeration!

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Anecdotal information follows:

.35 acre pond. Not a typical bowl-shaped basin. Gently sloped down to ~6' then sheer drop into 12' on the south and 16' on the north.

During the warm season I run air from midnight to 7:00am.

Single diffuser set 4' off the bottom in ~16' (full pool) of water.

I typically see ~7°-10° delta between surface temps and 10' deep temps.

In June I was seeing 80° surface temps with 69° at 10'. The weather at that time was generally wet and cool.

Last month when it was close to 100° for days on end the highest surface temp I saw was 88°.
10' deep temp was 84°.

Three weeks later the weather has moderated, we've gotten some rain, and my surface temp has dropped to 77°.
10' deep temp it's 71°.

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Thanks for the additional info Augie!

When your diffuser was 4' off bottom was your pond generally at full pool? Asked another way - was your temperature at a depth of 10' above or below the diffuser circulation depth?

Another interesting bit from your data, is that the temperature differential at depth compared to the surface temperature became much smaller as your pond got hotter.

I wonder if that is a "general" phenomenon?

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My diffuser is 4' off the bottom, so 12' from the surface when the pond is full.
Right now the pond is down ~2', which puts the diffuser 10' from the surface.

If I were going to speculate on the smaller temp delta between the surface and the depth during extreme hot weather
I might think that is due to the relative volume of warmer surface water compared to the cooler water in the deep sump.

So I'm pretty sure the answer is "it depends". lol

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Yep, you anticipated my next question - is your water level significantly lower during your hottest periods of the year? (By definition that is almost certainly statistically likely.)

Do you have a "saddle structure" in your pond? Do you aerate in the southern 12' deep bowl?

Your design with two separate deep bowls is NOT recommended in the typical state pond guidelines, BUT those guidelines typically are not set up for aeration and intensive management. Your design may inhibit natural aeration through wind action. Yet having one separate deep pool that is not mechanically aerated may result in your pond having an even lower average summer temperature.

(I can't remember Augie if you take DO measurements in your pond?)

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https://vertexaquaticsolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Case-Study-Winston-Park-Nutrients.pdf

^^ Info supporting 1.0 turnover rate per 24 hr period.

https://vertexaquaticsolutions.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Case-Study-Heron-Cay-Destratified.pdf

** Note BOD, N and P levels in relation to the O2 levels.

https://vertexaquaticsolutions.com/...Study-Bahia-Del-Mar-Lake-Restoration.pdf

^^ Yes Alum treatments were done and no data was taken showing how the alum affected the results. But it's an interesting read anyway.


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'Rod:

In regards to pond temp, temp doesn't mean *that* much to me if there isn't enough O2 in the water to support life. BUT OTOH, I typically don't deal with the heat that the people in Texas see on a yearly basis.

I have seen a pond where the trout were alive (albet only for 3 weeks due to water temp increases) @ 80°F (Rainbow and Golden Rainbow Trout). The O2 reading was 10.5mg/l @ 80°F. We had an extended period of time (close to 2 weeks) starting a week after that 80°F water temp reading where the ambient temps hit 100°F during the day and only cooled to the upper 70's at night. I was at the pond 3 weeks later and didn't observe a single trout with water temps @ 84°F. O2 levels were still 9.5 mg/l. Clarity was bouncing between 36"-48"

Pond was 5/8 ac, max depth 10'. Vertex bottom diffusion system was running 24/7 and a 1 .5 hp Kasco surface agitator was running 24/7 at the same time. The pond had a tremendous amount of muck build up, I measured it at 5' thickness in the deepest part, and 3' thick with 3 feet of water over the top of that muck layer. Turnover rate of the pond was 2.1x/day with the system running 24/7.

The Vertex AirStations were sunk to the bottom, no suspended diffusers. 0 amount of muck was noticed being pushed to the surface after 50% thru the start up period (which typically takes a week from beginning to running 24 hr/day).


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esshup,

Thanks for your two replies!

I was contemplating the problem with only two parameters. Maximize the dissolved oxygen for the fish, and cooler water can hold a higher level of dissolved oxygen.

Yet, all of the experts kept noting the importance of turning over the full pond volume of water daily. I knew I had to be missing something!

From your first link:

"This study illustrates the need for a turnover rate greater than 0.8 to provide complete water column oxygenation so as to derive the subsequent benefits of decreased nitrogen and phosphorus levels and other water quality advantages."

That answers my question about how it is beneficial to the fish to have oxygen levels above their survival minimum. I didn't realize that an open pond also functioned like a tank in a recirculated aquaculture system, and that the nitrogen content as ammonia was so dependent on oxygenation to be rendered into harmless forms.

I really liked your first link. The author did have an excellent place to experiment, since the subject pond had a fish kill every summer!

The new concept (to me) that I found the most enlightening, was biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). I understood that stratified bottom water was anoxic due to zero circulation to enable oxygen exchange with waters containing oxygen. What I did not realize, is that this water typically has such a high BOD, and that any oxygen that DOES make it into that water volume would quickly be consumed.

That does help explain some of the fish kills that members have reported. If some event, pushes enough water with high BOD throughout the water column, then the fish aren't struggling just because the average oxygen level went down. They are dying because their surrounding water is actually scavenging out the remaining oxygen in the water column!

Thank you to everyone that helps provide the "big picture" regarding the topic of aeration on the forum.

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Yes, the fish can be decimated by either too high of temps (near or above lethal max temp) or not enough O2 (below minimum required amount). When near those levels in combination the stress can actually get them first even before max/min level is present.
















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Originally Posted by ewest
Yes, the fish can be decimated by either too high of temps (near or above lethal max temp) or not enough O2 (below minimum required amount). When near those levels in combination the stress can actually get them first even before max/min level is present.

Not to muddy the water, but the same can be seen in Tilapia when water temp drops. They might die due to stress related issues caused by the low water temp before the water temp hits the lethal level for them.


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Rod:

There are LOTS of pieces to the puzzle, not just one or two. grin


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Think I'll join in this conversation.
Here's what I've found: Different species have different temperature tolerances. Different sizes of those different species have different temperature tolerance. Those species have different lower lethal dissolved oxygen requirements. For example, Big gizzard shad can't live in water much below 4 ppm DO, but can tolerate temperature into the 90's. Largemouth bass, especially bigger ones, can't tolerate temperature consistently 87 or higher...they have to have a refuge. One study on a lake I've helped manage proved bass in that lake would stick their noses into the thermocline, where DO was about 3 ppm and temperature was in the high 70's, during the hottest months of the year, when surface temp was 90+, and 83 just above the thermocline.

Here's my response, based on decades of doing what I do and studying fish behavior. Largemouth bass are distressed when water temperature exceeds 83. If consistently above 87 for an extended period (a week), the bigger, older fish begin to die.

I've had several lakes under management in Texas where we saw that phenomenon firsthand. Had one client, in particular, who bought an aeration system from a vendor, had it installed, liked it so much he decided to add another one just like it. (The first one was sized exactly for this 10-acre lake.) So, he had twice as much as the lake needed. I bet the lake was turning over 3-4 times daily, at least. One hot July morning, he rang my number. "Seeing two or three big bass floating today. Why?" There wasn't enough logic to give him an answer. Then, it happened again, then again over the next few days. The lake was three years old, loaded with fat, young, healthy feed-trained bass that were two years old when he stocked them at a pound and a half, average. Water was fresh and healthy, visibility was 30+ inches, no toxic bloom. Fish fed well, behavior seemed normal, except feeding activity had dramaticall slowed. I had him get a thermometer and begin checking temperatures all over the lake in 2-foot increments. The entire lake, top to bottom, was 87 degrees. I had him turn off one of the systems. After three days, no change...and a few fish were floating each day. So, I had him put the remaining aeration system on a timer from 10 pm until 9:00 a.m. Within four days, the temperature dropped to 83 degrees and fish stopped dying.

I've seen this phenomenon happen over and over with Largemouth bass. It happens with bluegills to a lesser extent.


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Originally Posted by esshup
Rod:

There are LOTS of pieces to the puzzle, not just one or two. grin

Yep. That is why I post so many questions on the forum.

I see lots of things on the forum where I know 2+2=4, but the experts say the correct answer is 8.

In almost every circumstance the correct formula was 2+2+2+2=8, but I didn't know enough about the complex problem to even be aware of the last two "2s"!

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Originally Posted by FishinRod
Yep, you anticipated my next question - is your water level significantly lower during your hottest periods of the year? (By definition that is almost certainly statistically likely.)

Do you have a "saddle structure" in your pond? Do you aerate in the southern 12' deep bowl?

Your design with two separate deep bowls is NOT recommended in the typical state pond guidelines, BUT those guidelines typically are not set up for aeration and intensive management. Your design may inhibit natural aeration through wind action. Yet having one separate deep pool that is not mechanically aerated may result in your pond having an even lower average summer temperature.

(I can't remember Augie if you take DO measurements in your pond?)

So far I'll lose 12"-24" during the dry season. I'm still working at fixing a few small leaks left after the Great Muskrat Invasion.

I don't have two separate deep bowls. It's more like a small pond at the bottom of a larger pond.

I haven't purchased a DO meter.

There's a mountain of pics on my restoration thread that will explain it better than I can tell it.

https://forums.pondboss.com/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=500175#Post500175


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by Theo Gallus, November 13
Minnow identification
Minnow identification
by Mike Troyer, October 6
Sharing the Food
Sharing the Food
by FishinRod, September 9
Nice BGxRES
Nice BGxRES
by Theo Gallus, July 28
Snake Identification
Snake Identification
by Rangersedge, July 12

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