Aerator vs fountain – what’s the difference?

Ask: “What’s the difference between a water fountain and an aeration fountain?”

To aerate or not to aerate that is the question?! The answer is simple:

Answer: Perhaps because both aerators and fountains have the ability to create amazing water formations, it is a common misunderstanding for many to consider the two as synonymous. However, there is one major difference that completely differentiates the two. Simply put, aerators are primarily a water quality management tool and are used to correct poor water conditions and help maintain a healthy aquatic environment. Water fountains just look nice.

To really understand what provides the most benefits to a pond, it is best to first understand a pond’s life cycle. Water bodies such as ponds and lakes are generally classified into three categories depending on their age and health. Scientifically, the terms are: oligotrophic, mesotrophic and eutrophic. Essentially, oligotrophic refers to newer ponds, which are ponds that are clear and low in nutrients. At the other end of the spectrum are eutrophic ponds that are older, high in nutrients, much darker, and experiencing severe algae growth. Somewhere in the middle is the mesotrophic pond, which has features of both.

Getting from oligotrophic to eutrophic can take as long as 100 years or as little as 10. The speed of the aging process is based on the oxygen content and amount of nutrients in the pond. As nutrients (i.e. fertilizers, leaves, grass clippings, bird droppings) get into the water body, bacteria work to metabolize or oxidize them. This is known as aerobic digestion. Without sufficient oxygen, however, this process cannot take place and an anaerobic (literally “without oxygen”) condition arises. In this case, fish kills occur and algae and water weeds will absorb the excess nutrients and grow excessively, ultimately causing cloudy and odorous water.

To clean up cloudy water and kill algae, many are turning to harsh chemical applications. The negative effects of chemicals on the environment and also their high costs make their use insidious. Fortunately, the introduction of an aerator at any stage of the pond’s life cycle will prevent or reverse the aging process in a natural, safe and cost-effective way. It has no harmful side effects and supports the natural ecosystem.

To keep your pond healthy, aerators work to bring oxygen into the water, which in turn stimulates aerobic bacteria to cleanse the lake of organic nutrients. They also increase circulation, so that excess nutrients do not settle on the bottom and form a layer of silt. They fulfill these tasks by pumping large quantities of water under low pressure.

It is best to keep an aerator running constantly 24 hours a day for maximum benefit. The industry’s leading aeration system manufacturer designs aerators that are tuned 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and offer a wide variety of water patterns to aesthetically enhance your pond.

Whatever stage a pond is at, installing an aerator is always beneficial. While water fountains provide a nice pattern, an aerator does this and also improves the aquatic environment and water quality. There are three types of aerators: bottom dispersion, horizontal extractors and surface spray aerators. Each type is generally more effective than the other in different situations and one can contact an aeration systems specialist to learn more about which type is best suited for a specific situation.