Around the United States and other countries in the last few years, a great number of new housing developments have sprung up to house the ever-increasing population. These developments increase the levels of nutrients and sediments that wash into watersheds. Fertilizer, improper waste disposal, and soil run-off find their way into our streams, lakes, and ponds and cause the following problems: algae blooms, rooted pond weeds, bacteria, low oxygen levels, increased water temperature, nasty odors, and fish kills.
A normal healthy pond keeps itself clean because it contains an ecosystem with a food chain of organisms that absorb nutrients. At the lowest part of the pond food chain, aerobic bacteria eat nutrients. The natural system in the pond works very well until excessive nutrients and run-off overwhelms the pond’s ecosystem and its ability to absorb nutrients. Once this occurs algae and pond weeds take over. As algae and pond weeds die, sink to the bottom and rot, they add nutrients back into the water, use up the oxygen at the bottom of the pond, and increase the bottom sediment. Then, as soon as sunlight and water temperature are right again, new algae bloom and pondweed growth occur.
The Wrong Solution to Pond Weeds
Typically to combat this cycle, pond owners add chemicals and herbicides to kill pond weeds quickly. Unfortunately, this only acerbates the problem by adding more muck from dead vegetation to the bottom of the pond. The decaying plant material further depletes the oxygen levels. Extensive chemical usage can also result in a residual build up in the sediments and fish.
The Right Solution to Pond Weeds
The solution is to increase dissolved oxygen levels so that nutrients decompose aerobically. The bacteria and organisms that live in the pond need dissolved oxygen to decompose the organic sediments, and die off if the dissolved oxygen level decreases. A different type of bacteria, anaerobic bacteria, thrive in the environment when there is low or no dissolved oxygen, and these bacteria slowly digest the organic sediments and release toxic gases into the water that kill beneficial aerobic bacteria and insects.
Anaerobic digestion of pond sediments is 30-40 times slower than with aerobic digestion, allowing organic sediments levels to increase.
The ideal thing to do to save the pond, get rid of pond weeds and algae, and increase pond fish, is to stop the new nutrients from entering the pond. Since this is not always possible, the next best thing to do is to add dissolved oxygen to the pond, which will improve water quality, allowing aerobic bacteria to decompose organic matter. A process called pond aeration.
Pond Aeration – The Solution
Pond aeration increases the process of oxidizing or eliminating pollution. The best pond aeration systems work by using special equipment called diffusers. Maintaining the aerobic environment will also reduce or prevent the accumulation of organic sediments. Aerobic conditions at the pond bottom benefit all aspects of the aquatic environment, reduce algae and pond weeds, and prevent sediment build up.