A Fountain Or Aerator - Which Is Better?

Which is better for my pond, a fountain or an aerator?

This is the most common question that comes up with regards to general inquiries about aeration for a pond.  And in truth, it's a good one to ask because getting the right system in a particular pond can make all the difference in the world.

I've always taken the stance that any aeration, is better than no aeration at all, and this holds true virtually every time. 

But as you narrow things down a bit more, and start looking at fountains, which float on the surface and drive water up into the air, versus a sub-surface aerator, which uses a land based pump that drives air through diffusers at the bottom of the pond, well, let's just say there is a world of difference between the two.

But knowing how to choose the best option for your pond doesn't have to be complicated or difficult.  Here's how we generally sort things out.

Pond Fountains Are Great For Shallower Ponds - Bottom Aerators Work Best For Deep Ponds

If a pond is pretty shallow, meaning 6 to 8 feet or less in depth, then a  fountain can be a viable tool for aerating.  You have the added appeal of the visual beauty of the water streams and patterns, which is also usually important, but make no mistake, despite the pretty looks, the aeration component is great too.

However with ponds that are deeper than 8', you really should lean more to the  sub-surface systems for the greatest benefit to the pond.  Of course if you want a fountain, by all means get one, but don't expect it to aerate the pond well down deep where you really need it.

To do that, you need to go to the bottom and release a nice stream of diffused bubbles that rapidly rise to the surface.  When they get there, they disrupt or break up the surface tension of the water and allow oxygen from the atmosphere to come in.  

Now usually that oxygenated water will just stay up near the surface but sub-surface aerators have the added benefit of pushing that oxygen down deep into the pond through a vortex-like circulatory action.  

This circulation is critical because not only does it help fight stagnant water (which can lead to a variety of problems) but it also really ramps up dissolved oxygen levels at the bottom of the pond.  In doing so, the organic cleaning processes (powered by microbes) can be improved greatly, leading to a cleaner and healthier pond.

Fish as well will be aided and protected by both forms of aeration, but only sub-surface aerators are usually used in winter months when icing can be a problem.

All of this discussion is not meant to dissuade you from getting a  fountain for your pond.  They are wonderful additions and I love them.  But you have to respect their limits.  If your conditions and needs match up well with a fountain, then that's great and you'll love using it.

If not, there are very few instances when a sub-surface  aerator won't help a pond, no matter the reason, or the season.

Here's a quick summary of how a diffused pond aerator compares to a surface based pond fountain.

  1. Aeration: A diffused pond aerator provides a gentle aeration of the water through diffusion, helping to improve water quality by increasing dissolved oxygen levels, reducing algae growth, and promoting healthy fish and plant life. On the other hand, a pond fountain mainly serves as a decorative feature, although it may provide some aeration through water droplets.  A fountain will mainly aerate the top 6 to 8 feet of the pond.
  2. Maintenance: Diffused pond aerators are generally low maintenance, as they require only occasional cleaning of the diffuser, air filter and pump updates. Pond fountains, on the other hand, may require more frequent cleaning and maintenance, such as cleaning of the nozzles,removing debris and build up around the intake screens, and regular monitoring for any clogging of the device.
  3. Energy Efficiency: Diffused pond aerators are generally more energy-efficient than pond fountains, as they require less energy to operate and can run for longer periods of time. Pond fountains typically require more energy to run the motor and drive water through the pattern nozzles.
  4. Cost: Pond fountains are generally more expensive to purchase and install than diffused pond aerators. Diffused pond aerators are a cost-effective option for those who want to improve the water quality of their pond without incurring the higher costs of a pond fountain.
  5. Noise: Diffused pond aerators are generally much quieter than pond fountains, which can create a substantial amount of noise, especially if they are located near residential areas.
  6. Aesthetic: Pond fountains can add a visual appeal to a pond, creating a visually attractive display of water. Diffused pond aerators, on the other hand, are less noticeable and blend in more with the pond's environment.
  7. Water Quality: Both diffused pond aerators and pond fountains can improve water quality by increasing the amount of oxygen in the water and reducing the buildup of stagnant water. However, diffused pond aerators are more effective at promoting a healthy aquatic environment, as they provide a more gentle and consistent aeration of the water throughout the entire pond from top to bottom.

As always, if you happen to have any remaining questions about aeration for your pond, just get in touch and we'll try to help!