Grit Blogs > As My Garden Grows

The Beauty of a Pond

By Debbie Nowicki

Tags: pond, aerator,

Pond with Aerator

Sitting quietly alongside a pond you will observe a whole new and exciting world flowing by with each breath of the wind. From the many varieties of dragonflies buzzing overhead, the tiny fish swarming by the shoreline, the occasional snake skimming along the water top and the flip flop of the feeding fish as they reach out for an insect or two.  The skies are full of chirping music and the bushes and trees hide those awaiting a chance to explore the water below.

The importance of maintaining our pond was obvious as we struggled to save what was close to becoming a swamp. We knew a healthy pond required proper aeration and researched our options.  Our final decision was to install a Surface Aerator which would move 900 gallons of water per minute on our 3 acre pond!

The aerator adds oxygen to the water which allows the fish to thrive and the bacteria to consume decaying vegetation.  After shopping around, we purchased a 3 horsepower Surface Aerator with a 200 ft. underwater cable with disconnect. I would not recommend undertaking this type of project unless you are well versed in working with electricity or know an individual who can assist you.  Initially, the project was slated as a “One Day” endeavor.  After working through all the mechanics involved it actually took three days to complete!

Day 1 – A trench was dug from a telephone pole to the water’s edge in order to install additional pvc piping to feed the underwater cable through to the junction box.  The soil in Southern Illinois is heavy clay and this task was no simple feat.

Trench Digging

Day 2 – A control box was constructed inside the barn for the electricity to run the aerator along with a timer so it can be programmed to run a specific time each evening. We will be running the aerator each evening from midnight to 4 am.  

Control Box in Barn

Additional pvc piping was added in the barn to connect to the existing piping that was already installed.  An existing buried pipe was also used to bring power to the telephone pole from the barn.  Both runs of cable were a challenge since 4 wires were fed through and they kept getting “hung up”.  The buried pipe had to be blown out and dirt and pebbles were removed.  All cleared, cable all through … more challenges overcome! (pictures of control box & timer, outside box for pump)

Box for Pump

Day 3 – The aerator which arrived in 4 boxes several weeks ago was assembled.  This procedure took 2 ½ hours and the unit weighed roughly 200 lbs. when completed.  This is the point the second man was needed to move the aerator without damaging it.  Of course, I was the second set of hands all along but when it came to moving 200 lbs. that was out of my league!  The aerator was driven down to the pond dock and dropped in the water.

Aerator ready for the water

At this point, I jumped into the paddle boat and my mission was to use the anchoring ropes to pull the aerator to the chosen location (the middle of the pond). 

Aerator in the Water

I was fighting against the current in the water and the navigation of the paddle boat (you have to understand navigating a paddle boat is no easy task … you steer the rudder the opposite direction you want to go) and fumbling with 2 mixed up anchoring ropes made me want to scream! Each time I felt I was moving the heavy load a few inches it seemed to pull me back – it wasn’t working as expected.  Finally, Stan jumped in the canoe with additional rope, tied it to the aerator and delivered it to the other side to be anchored in the post. The second man then managed to pull the aerator into place and all the anchoring ropes were tied down!  Then the moment of truth . . .

The aerator was turned on and it was GREAT!  I expected it to sputter and twitch a bit but the result was Fabulous!

Working Aerator

We let it run for a couple of hours as we marveled at our accomplishment. We tossed in our fishing lines and it didn’t take long before 2 catfish stopped by to Thank us for making their home a much happier place to live!

Grandpa Cat

First Cat

addie funk herring
7/28/2014 7:55:39 AM

An Aerator is good. More oxygen less algae. Grass Karp is good for algae, but big karp. IF you have big bass and little karp the bass will eat the karp. Natural bacteria is good also to add to the pond, it stays in the pond and does it thing. Putting chemicals in the pond like Copper, etc. is only a temporary solution. Keep using Natural bacteria every year will help with decaying debri in the pond. Trapdoor snails are good also they are hardy, and they multiply. I own a pond business in New Jersey. These things i mentioned do work over time, they are not an overnite solution.

9/1/2008 5:16:34 PM

Thanks for the milk jug idea Lori - we will have to give it a try! Steve we have used dye on the pond (slows down sunlight helping the plants grow) and it works very well .. also, copper sulfate penthydrate mixed with heated water and sprayed on the algae. We were very successful with that. We are still fighting the water meal which we understand is tough to get rid of and we totally agree with that! We have done no dredging and the slope varies from 15-30 degrees, the pond is as deep as 25 feet in some places. We will be sending pictures of the water meal to the guy we purchased the aerator from and see what he advises. I know we should have started taking care of the pond earlier in the spring, but we were clueless. Any more questions, let me know! Debbie :-)

8/29/2008 9:32:48 PM

I'm curious about this project, since I am just starting down the same, um-wet, road. My understanding is that a fountain by itself won't bring a pond back from the brink of wetlandship. Did you do anything else such as chemicals, dye, dredging? What is the slope of the sides and how deep is this pond? How long did it take to get from swamp to swimming hole?

8/25/2008 11:14:16 AM

Debbie, WOW, what a lot of work! It looks to me like it was all well worth the effort though! The photos you posted look beautiful! As far as dealing with that snapping turtle, a turtle hook baited with some chicken livers then tied fast to a milk jug to float and a good turtle soup recipe would remedy the situation! The idea is that you hook the chicken livers on one end of the line and tie the other end fast to an empty milk jug. The milk jug floats on top of the pond to mark where the hook and line is. Then you check it periodically to see if you've caught anything. Some of the old timers use this method around here when they get a hankerin for turtle soup. I have never actually done this myself, just telling you what I know others have done.

8/24/2008 3:59:41 PM

You both are very funny and Thank you for the great words of encouragement! This coming holiday weekend Stan says absolutely NO big projects ... I think I can squeeze a few small ones in though! Hank, I am more concerned with the HUGE snapping turtle I hooked last year and caught a glimpse of. Anyone have suggestions how to remove this guy from the pond?? Debbie :-)

razor family farms
8/24/2008 2:25:22 PM

I must tell you that I drool over that pond as if it were just-from-the-oven ginger cookies. *gawk, drool, gasp, sigh* You did a super job! I love that you are tackling so many projects yourselves. The rewards are so great, you know? Blessings! Lacy NEWS at Razor Family Farms (

hank will_2
8/22/2008 10:31:12 AM

Deb -- It is really encouraging to see that you all took this project on without hiring a big trencher. It seems, these days, that people forget that with a little sweat you can still dig post holes and trenches with hand tools. So, with those big cats lurking below, how do you feel about swimming those waters?