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I dug a 2 acre pond in the north east last year. It’s mostly 20 feet deep and is cut out of blue clay that goes all the way down. There is an island in the middle so it is a bit of a donut shape.

I installed a 5 air station Vertex system and finally got it turned on in August. The water went from 9’ of visibility (not great for fish production, but great for swimming, which is the primary purpose of the pond) to 1.5’ of visibility and “chalky” looking water. No doubt the aeration equipment has stirred up the clay, which is now suspended.

I was running the system intermittently but am now running it 24/7 on the advice of the supplier to try to get the clay particles to settle outside of the diffuser locations. The goal was to be able to go back to 8 hours a day of operation, done at night to maintain a natural look during daylight hours.

Interestingly I was talking to someone I consider a pond pro and he suggested that maybe I should simply leave the aeration off. He said it was a new pond so there wouldn’t be much need to turn the water.

I’m wondering what you all think of that. Should I keep the aeration going until it (hopefully) clears, or should I leave the aeration off for the foreseeable future and monitor DO for when to turn it on? As a potential third option maybe I leave it on but apply a flocculant to try to get the clay to settle out faster.

What do you all think? Any thoughts are appreciated.

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Are there any fish in the pond, or are fish any reason why you were aerating?

If there's no fish to speak of, I'd stop aerating and see what happens.

Also, if there's no fish concern, why were you aerating?


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"She took another microscopic bite of her sandwich, then pushed it away. Maybe she absorbed nutrients from her surroundings."

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Primary use of the pond is swimming, so I'm going to assume you stocked some Pumpkinseed Sunfish to control any snails that might get introduced into the pond?

I would do option #3 and use a flocculant. Using the aerator will slow the aging process of the pond. In addition, I'd run 24/7 unless the system was designed to run for 1/3 of the day.

No need to run it once the water cools down to the mid 50's until there is around 2" ice and 2" snow covering the pond, then just run the winter diffusers.


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Sunil right now there are only minnows in the pond, with a plan to add predator fish next year. The thought with aeration wasn’t so much for the fish (we also circulate the pond horizontally with a 2000 gpm stream, so there is always oxygenated water circulating), but more so to facilitate the break down of any organics that fall to the bottom. I mainly added aeration “because that’s what you do”, and it was easier to dig in the lines during construction versus after, but maybe aeration will be unnecessary for the first several years, or maybe even longer. What do you think?

Good questions Esshup. We haven’t stocked any pumpkinseeds yet but plan to. Fortunately we don’t have any snails yet, and didn’t in the smaller version of the pond we had for four years, so hopefully snails don’t become a problem.

For the system it was designed to run 8/7, so that we could keep the pond looking natural during the day. Like I mentioned above I added it because “that’s what you do”, but I got questioned on it for the first time and realized I felt like I didn’t have a great answer. If we are moving the water horizontally, and if there are limited organics, do we really need bottom aeration for now? The suggestion from the person I talked to was to turn it off, but to then keep an eye on DO, and only turn it back on if you see low DO as you go down. That made sense to me, but was a bit “counter traditional wisdom”, so I wanted to check with you all. What do you think of that?

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Just to be clear, I never meant that aeration is bad. It's almost always good to have. It just comes with a cost. None of my ponds have access to electricity, so I've never dealt with aeration.

Sounds like you are on the right track and have good depth to over-winter some kind of fish population.


Excerpt from Robert Crais' "The Monkey's Raincoat:"
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Originally Posted by ted_1209
I’m wondering what you all think of that. Should I keep the aeration going until it (hopefully) clears, or should I leave the aeration off for the foreseeable future and monitor DO for when to turn it on? As a potential third option maybe I leave it on but apply a flocculant to try to get the clay to settle out faster.

Ted - congrats on your large, deep pond!

Based on your paragraph quoted above, it appears you do understand that clay suspension is NOT the same as the suspension of sand or other solids.

The link below adds a little more detail.

Control of Clay Turbidity

Right now, I would be in the "turn aeration off" camp, just to observe the results in your pond. (Though I would also note that Sunil and esshup are far more expert than I am.) It should be perfectly safe for the amount of minnows currently in the pond.

If you have a colloidal clay suspension in your pond, then turning off the aerators should only make a tiny improvement. You will have to use a flocculant to treat the problem. (It is not possible to have THAT type of clay suspension settle outside of the diffuser locations.)

Here is a link for running a jar test.

Jar Test for Cloudy Water

If the clay stays suspended during your jar test, then you can test various treatments on your jars.

If you do reach the "treatment recommendation" stage, then post that on the forum and there are several experts on Pond Boss that can review that for you prior to the application.

I think that you should be able to remedy this current problem, and then get back to a deep, clear pond with your aeration running to keep it that way!

Good luck.

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ted:

The other issue with leaving it off, measuring the O2, then turning it back on if the O2 is low, is mixing the hydrogen sulfide that builds up in the anoxic water. You shouldn't have an issue turning it back on if you catch it when the O2 at the deepest level of the pond is middle 4's to 5's mg/l, but if it's down below that and there are fish in there, you'd be safe to do the 15 min day 1, 30 min day 2, 1 hr day 3, etc. startup procedure to avoid mixing too much hydrogen sulfide in the water too quickly.

What are you going to use to measure the O2 levels?


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Is it one 5 disk station, laying in the mud at bottom? That is going to make an incredible amount of current on one place.
Consider a stand to get it off the bottom, at 20 feet depth you might pick it up a couple feet.

Also, for 2 acres, 5 independent discs vs one 5 disc station would be better.

As for turning it off, I wouldn't.
Think about how many truck loads of leaves get in there each year, without aeration they don't decompose.

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Thanks everyone.

FishinRod, thanks for the good thoughts. I put some water in jars yesterday and so far it looks equally cloudy, so maybe I need a flocculant. That said the prior version of this pond (same location just smaller) had aeration and did eventually clear up, so maybe I shouldn’t jump to add a flocculant too quickly and should instead wait a few weeks and see what happens. What do you think?

Esshup I was considering buying a Hanna, something like this: https://www.hannainst.com/hi9146-portable-dissolved-oxygen-meter.html You raise a good point that it could be too late by the time I notice.

Journeyman it is five 2 disk stations, spread out around the pond. You have a good point about the leaves. We do get quite a bit. Our hope is most of these leaves will get sucked into the stream before they sink to the bottom, but it is an untested theory so far as this is our first fall with the stream running. We should learn more soon though.

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Originally Posted by ted_1209
I put some water in jars yesterday and so far it looks equally cloudy, so maybe I need a flocculant. That said the prior version of this pond (same location just smaller) had aeration and did eventually clear up, so maybe I shouldn’t jump to add a flocculant too quickly and should instead wait a few weeks and see what happens.

"Wait and see" is always a good strategy - especially for avoiding wasting your money or labor.

I assume your Canadian swimming season is almost over for the pond? Your minnow population would probably thrive a little better in clearer water, but that will matter much more next Spring.

However, your jar test does strongly suggest electrostatically charged clay particles are contributing to your cloudy pond water. Now might be a good time to get a chemical analysis of a water sample. You can then make a plan for next year after ice out.

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Originally Posted by ted_1209
Thanks everyone.

FishinRod, thanks for the good thoughts. I put some water in jars yesterday and so far it looks equally cloudy, so maybe I need a flocculant. That said the prior version of this pond (same location just smaller) had aeration and did eventually clear up, so maybe I shouldn’t jump to add a flocculant too quickly and should instead wait a few weeks and see what happens. What do you think?

Esshup I was considering buying a Hanna, something like this: https://www.hannainst.com/hi9146-portable-dissolved-oxygen-meter.html You raise a good point that it could be too late by the time I notice.

Journeyman it is five 2 disk stations, spread out around the pond. You have a good point about the leaves. We do get quite a bit. Our hope is most of these leaves will get sucked into the stream before they sink to the bottom, but it is an untested theory so far as this is our first fall with the stream running. We should learn more soon though.

Ted, talk to them and see if you need to move the probe at a certain speed to get an accurate reading. IIRC the YSI membrane probes have to be moved at a rate of 1 foot per second and they take up to 15 minutes to warm up and stabilize once turned on.

I use a YSI optical O2 meter. No need to move the probe, and it reads within a minute or so of turning on. But it is a bit more pricey than the Hanna unit.


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A quick update. The jar I bottled 6 days ago seems about 80% as clear as a jar of tap water as compared to a fresh jar of pond water. There is also “dust” looking particles on the bottom, so I’m assuming that’s the clay. So maybe it will eventually settle out?

That said the pond seems as murky as ever. I’ve kept aeration on 24/7 to try to help it settle out away from the diffusers, but after a week it seems roughly the same. I’m wondering when I should switch tactics and try flocculant. I’m ok with it being murky for now but would like it cleared up by next spring, so perhaps I wait until then and if it’s murky again in the spring then I try the flocculant. What do you all think of that?

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I am a geologist, not a pond or aeration expert.

However, there is a chance (depending on currents, wind, etc.) that your 24/7 aeration is keeping the pond murky.

Very fine sediments (that don't need flocculation) can stay suspended in moving water for a long time.

I would try turning off the aeration and circulation for 3-5 days as a test. If your pond clears substantially, then you have found the main problem. Then you would just need to optimize your aeration and circulation systems. You might need to move your aerators a few more feet off of the bottom.

There are definitely some experts on the forum that can help with your aeration modifications to keep your pond clear but still well oxygenated.

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^^^ With the water temp now I think that is a safe route to take. Do the jar test after a week of no aeration and compare the amount of gunk that settled to the bottom with the jar test that was done with the aeration on.

BUT, my SWAG tells me that using a flocculant will help things no matter what.


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Thanks all. I’ve kept things running as I’m hoping to keep the aeration at the bottom. After a few more weeks it’s still murky as ever, even though my jar tests have completely cleared.

I’ve just placed an order for some flocculant so we will see how well that works. They suggested I slowly pour it into where the aeration hits the surface to help spread it out. They said it’s even better to spread it out with a sprayer, but I don’t have one of those, so was their next suggestion. Any other ideas or recommendations for how I might best apply it?


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