Unless you plan on partaking in winter activities on your pond, like figure skating, ice fishing or playing ice hockey, we highly recommend running yourAirmax Aeration System all year long. The water movement created by the aerator forms a hole in frozen winter ice, allowing for gas exchange and keeping water open and available for visiting wildlife. Below the surface, it helps to break down leaves and debris, which means less cleaning and easier maintenance come spring. Aeration also circulates the water column, infusing it with oxygen for your fish.
If the water is not circulated, it naturally separates by temperature: In the summer, the warm oxygen-rich water sits on the top while the cool water, thick with toxic gasses, sits at the bottom. As winter approaches, those different pools of water will flip. The cool water and all the gasses rise to the top while the warm water sinks. The pools of water mix and in extreme cases this stratification, seasonal shift, and toxic gas distribution can cause a winter fish kill.
Here are five tips to keep your system running its best for the winter:
- Move your diffuser plates to shallower water. If your diffusers were placed at the deepest parts of your pond, move the plates from the deepest areas of your pond to shallower areas. This will give your hibernating fish a warmer place to hunker down when the water temperatures get especially chilly. Supercooling could become an issue if you are vigorously aerating in the deepest parts of the pond, mixing the cold surface water's with the warmer water below, causing a drop in water temperatures in areas where your fish are dormant. When the plates are closer to the surface, they will also work better to keep a hole open in the ice. If you have a larger system, plan to completely shut down some of the valves.
- Clean filters and inspect your compressor.Have you cleaned your air filter in the past three to six months? Have you checked your intake pre-filter? If not, they likely need some attention--and possible replacement if it's been too long. Also consider installing a maintenance kit to keep your compressor running in top condition.
- Check the aerator regularly throughout the winter.After a heavy snow or a storm, head out to the pond and inspect your aeration unit. Remove snow that has accumulated around the unit, particularly any that's blocking the air discharge vent. If you lost power during a storm, check your GFCI; you may have to reset it.
- Keep alcohol on hand.In case condensation causes your airlines to freeze over the cold months, keep some isopropyl alcohol on hand to defrost them. It's easy: Use 1 cup isopropyl alcohol in the airline running out to each plate. Turn on the compressor to push the alcohol through the line and free any ice blockage.
- Be smart and safe.When your aerator is on during the winter, the ice that forms can be thin and uneven. The constant friction created by the aerating water weakens the ice that forms, and that could be downright dangerous. Make sure you post a "Danger--Thin Ice" sign and keep safety equipment out by your pond. A life ring, rope, blankets and a first aid kit are critical items to have on hand.
If you do choose to remove your aeration system for the winter, here's what we recommend: First, unplug the system. Then disconnect compressor flex-tubes from the airlines and cover the airline ends with winterization caps to prevent debris from entering airline. Move the cabinet and compressor inside to keep it dry.