If you want to enjoy the full beauty of a pond, then you've got to take some extra-special care of it. If you simply let it sit as-is, you'll wind up with water that gets stagnant -- which makes it a perfect breeding ground for algae, bacteria, and all kinds of other disgusting things. The healthier your pond water is, the healthier its inhabitants will be.
How do you prevent your pond water from getting stagnant?
Easy! All you have to do is increase the amount of oxygen in it. Both pond aerators and pond fountains can do this, but they work in very different ways. You can't just pick the option you like better and call it a day. Instead, you've got to figure out which option is best for your specific pond.
So, what's the difference between pond aerators and pond fountains?
1. The way they work
A pond fountain pulls water in, throws it into the air in various displays (like a V-pattern, for example), then sprays the water down onto the surface of your pond. The splash alone can prevent algae from forming, because it keeps your pond water constantly moving. And, because the water mixes with the air while it's spraying around, it naturally pulls oxygen into the water.
An aerator, on the other hand, works primarily at the bottom of your pond. A compressor forces oxygen through a tube, all the way down to a diffuser that's sitting at the bottom of your pond. That diffuser turns the oxygen into tiny bubbles and releases them into the water. So, the only "display" you'll see coming from an aerator is a few bubbles that may make it to the top of the water. Aerators aren't "pretty" like fountains are!
2. The price
Pond aerators are more expensive than fountains. In fact, count on paying about double for an aerator (depending on how fancy your fountain is, of course!). But even the fanciest of fountains will still be cheaper than an aerator because it doesn't have the same underwater infrastructure that an aerator does.
3. The noise
Because pond fountains are constantly pulling water in and spraying it out, they make noise. An aerator, on the other hand, is completely silent. So, if you're worried about the 24/7 pitter-patter of a fountain driving you crazy, you might want to opt for an aerator.
Or, you can simply run the fountain at times when it's not going to bother you -- like in the middle of the day, so that you can turn it off when it's time to go to sleep. Just remember, you'll need to run it for at least 8 or 10 hours each day if you want to see its oxygen-boosting benefits!
OK, noise value aside, how do you know which of these options is right for you?
Start by looking at the depth of your pond. If it's less than six feet deep, a fountain should be sufficient. Remember, fountains only work at the water's surface, so if you've got a very deep pond, you'll wind up with stagnant water down below.
If you're going to use a fountain to give your pond an oxygen boost, look for one that has a V-shaped display. That's typically the widest display you can get -- meaning that the spray will affect the widest portion of your pond. As a result, more of your pond water will be moved around by the spray, and you'll see bigger benefits. If your fountain simply shoots the water straight up into the air, most of the surface won't be affected by the spray coming down.
But if you're really concerned about the health of your pond -- and everything in it -- you need to go with an aerator. Fountains were originally designed to look pretty. Any oxygen they bring into the mix is a fringe benefit, so don't ask them to do more than they're capable of!
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Melanie Cartwell writes for MH Aquatics, a leading aquatics management company providing pond cleaning in Delaware, Ohio, fountain repair and installation, sub surface aeration systems, and dedicated treatment services.
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