Maintaining Water Flow

tenten | 10/07/2020 | 0 | public health

When planning a new pond, water supply for the pond is key. Ponds that have a continuous supply of water function more efficiently than ponds with intermittent water supply. Ponds will experience significant water loss during the summer months. Ponds with an adequate inflow of water will stay full while others with less water inflow become shallow and unattractive when the muddy beaches are exposed. Continuous overflow into a pond produces better nutrient conditions because excess nutrients are taken away with the overflow water. Such ponds are likely to gather more nutrients at a rapid speed than an overflowing pond. Excess accumulation of nutrients leads to too much vegetation of all kinds, as noted above.

Aeration is Encouraged

Adequate oxygen levels in pond water are extremely important to the overall health of the pond. The value of the health of fish is easy to see. However, less obvious is the pond’s ability to get rid of waste. The waste that occurs in the ponds includes waste materials from animals that enters with stormwater runoff, as well as animals and plants that die in the water. 

Aerobic bacteria work about 20 times quicker than anaerobic bacteria in breaking down waste and putting it into solution. Once in a solution, it is able to grow new life, or it can be flushed out. 

The oxygenation of ponds happens in two ways. Plants and algae will perform photosynthesis during the day, and oxygen is added by the wind during the night. This is why the conditions that block light from the pond have to be monitored or disaster can occur like water meal covering the pond completely.

The oxygen produced by the water meal is released into the atmosphere, not the pond water. Areas of the pond that are too dark for photosynthesis to occur will become oxygen deficient unless the pond is being mixed from the surface to the bottom. To perform visibility check, you can place a Secchi disk into the water. The depth of disappearance will be recorded. Because of photosynthesis, surface water above the disappearance depth is oxygenated, while the water below that depth can only receive oxygen if mixed.

Another method of oxygenating pond water is by oxygen exchange with the atmosphere that takes place on the surface of the pond. The rougher the surface of the water is, the more quickly the exchange will happen. Also, the more oxygen-deficient the water is, the more rapid the exchange will occur.

This process is crucial at night and for all ponds with an abundance of aquatic life. During the night, plants do cellular respiration instead of photosynthesis like animals. By dawn, the pond could become oxygen deficient if atmospheric aeration is hindered by a covered surface or lack of wind.

Pond Ecology in Winter

During the winter, water temperatures drop, and in some climates, ice will cover the pond’s surface. We will see the ways that these factors affect the animals living in the pond below.

Fish, frogs, and turtles are amphibians with adaptive features that can help when exposed to a dangerous environment. Their body temperature drops with the temperature of the water, decreasing their respiration rate and conserving energy usage. Frogs and turtles nestle in the middle and at the bottom of the pond for hibernation. They are able to do this by breathing through their skin.

Since ice blocks the entry of oxygen into the pond water through the surface, you may be curious how the low levels of oxygen that are required is supplied at this time. Enough light filters through the ice to cause photosynthesis for the aquatic plants. Ponds that are completely covered in snow can cause “winter kill,” the death of fish, turtles, and frogs. However, if you plow lanes stretching across the pond, clearing about half of the snow from the ice, this can prevent winter kill.

You should keep about 30% of the ice-free of extended snow cover. Be sure that removing the snow on the icy pond is safe. An alternative is using a diffuser type of aerator to add oxygen and keep a small area free of ice.

Summary of Pond Ecology

Ponds have a life cycle and limiting the inputs of nutrients into the pond is one of the best ways to extend and maintain the life of the pond. Catching sediment before it enters the pond, using less fertilizers around the watershed as much as possible, limiting access to water sources to animals, and preventing the addition of organic matter are all great preventative methods to use. A year-round supply of clean water causes nutrients to be flushed from the pond. Mechanical removal of overgrown vegetation will also help to remove significant nutrients from a pond. Finally, the use of pond aeration for supporting aquatic life and aiding in the decay of waste material is important. Keeping the pond surface free of plant cover and open to wind action will ultimately aid in better aeration with solar powered aerators.

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