Grit Blogs > Tackling the Country Life

Solar Aeration and Other Pond Stuff

By Steve Daut

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A photo of Steve DautI need some help. Has anyone out there tried solar pond aerators, and if so, what is your experience?

I’ve been researching this pond clean-up idea since we bought our new place last summer. We limped along last year, trying to control the weeds and algae with chemicals until I could come up with a long term solution, and now that it’s warming up I’m ready to take the next step.

I’m convinced that aeration is an important component of the solution, not only from reading Debbie Nowicki’s pond blog here at GRIT, but also by talking with a friend of mine who sings the praises of aeration. So the way to go, as far as I can tell, is bottom aeration in order to create the best mixing and eliminate the thermocline, which is that magic line that keeps the bottom water at the bottom, creating anoxic conditions which kill fish, generate toxics, and contribute to rampant weed and algae growth.

But I’d prefer to find a unit that is self-contained if possible, but the pond is in the low spot on the property, and because of the layout of our lot I don’t want to build a tower for a wind powered unit, so I set out on a quest for a solar powered unit. I found a solar-powered system sold by Pennington Equipment Company out of Springfield, Illinois. If anyone is familiar with this system, or has come up with any other self-contained system, I’d appreciate hearing about it. If you don’t want to discuss it “in public” on this blog, you can email me at

As for the “other pond stuff,” my problem with tossing chemicals in to control weeds is that it just makes the problem worse. Since bottom muck is a nutrient for plants and herbicides just cause plants to die and sink to the bottom as muck, it just sets up an expensive cycle that get worse and worse with time. Well, after talking with a number of folks and checking out different approaches to the problem, I finally found an outfit that seems to fit the bill. The system is called Airmax® Eco-Systems, Inc., and it includes aeration but instead of chemicals, it uses bacterial agents to actually break down the muck and oxidize nutrients suspended in the water. There is also a binding agent that causes the suspended nutrients to drop to the bottom where the bacteria can eat them. Seems to me, the process is like adding Rid-X® to the septic system – it just makes the natural cleaning processes work better. Another part of the pond system is a blue dye that blocks sunlight and helps keep the weed growth down. Once again, if anyone is familiar with this system, or has anything else that has worked for them, please let me know.

Oh, and I’m not all that afraid of hard work, either, so I got this pond rake where I can drag all the muck and weeds out by hand. I tried it today. It’s a great stress reliever, and it really gets out the weeds and muck from around the shore. It’s also a pretty good way to collect all sorts of bottom-dwelling critters. If I ate crayfish, I would have had a good meal, but I’m sure they do something good so I fished them out of the muck and sent them home. I threw the tadpoles back because Sue will blame me if we don’t have peepers pretty soon, and all the tiny little bass will eventually become lunkers that I can brag about catching. And the muck makes a great addition to the compost pile. We’re going to need plenty of compost for the new garden, but that, as they say, is another story.