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If your pond needs aeration, you can turn to an air compressor to get the job done. Air compressors intended for use in water, however, differ from those manufactured for use on land, and many kinds of compressors exist. This article will provide you with all the relevant information on pond air compressors.

Table of Contents

What is a Pond Air Compressor?

Air compressors or air pumps are a vital component in pond aeration kits.  They provide the necessary air pressure to help oxygenate the pond.  Their design contains a poly or weighted tubing which is attached to the discharge side of the air pump or air compressor.  While on the other end of the tubing is the air bubbler or air diffuser. 

The air compressor then pushes air through the tubing to the air diffuser which allows it to diffuse millions of tiny air bubbles that then get dispersed throughout the pond from the bottom all the way up to the top. This is a great example of pond aeration called ‘diffused pond aeration.

Using an Air Compressor to Aerate a Pond

Before choosing an air compressor to aerate your pond, you must figure out your specific goals for pond aeration, which will make choosing easier.

Do not confuse these air compressors with your normal types of air compressors, as they’re very different. Although the term “air compressor” sounds like the machine will be able to deliver high volumes of pressurized air to any medium, that isn’t the case in an underwater situation. Many air compressors are intended specifically for use in dry conditions, like powering air tools, and therefore, won’t function in water.

Also, air compressors that are not intended for aquatic use can contribute toxins to water if they’re used there. Even when the word “pump” is part of an air compressor model’s name or label, the compressor still may not be suitable for use within a pond. That is because although “pump” usually indicates an item can be used with liquid systems such as ponds, some air compressor pumps are meant for use in dryland conditions only.

The Benefits of Aeration

Pond aeration provides many benefits to the aquatic ecosystems within them. Adding oxygen to a pond through aeration is often necessary when it becomes depleted by algae blooms or when it is chemically treated for plant overpopulation; the addition of oxygen helps the fish and other aquatic species in the pond stay alive during those times.

On top of this, aeration also circulates pond water, preventing many problems like stagnation, mosquito breeding, and the debris buildup that often accompanies low oxygen levels.

Suitable Air Compressors for Ponds

All air compressors used in ponds must be oil-less so that they’re able to deliver higher quality, clean air, which is safe for the animals and plants, or aquaculture, in the pond water. Oil-lubricated air compressors would not be able to provide this safeness.

Aquatic air compressors are very high-tech machines. They are capable of moving oxygen through water without breaking stratification, meaning they don’t mix the warm upper and cold lower pond water layers. Regular air compressors would not be capable of such a trait.

Air compressors usually are intended for use in large ponds deeper than 8 feet. So if your pond is shallower, you could consider other aeration methods, which I’ll briefly discuss.

Other Types of Aerators

Some other types of machines suitable for pond aeration include:

  • Blowers
  • Diffusers
  • Pumps
  • Fountains

Blowers work well for shallow ponds and often are used in conjunction with air diffusers, which mix pond water, breaking stratification.

Surface aerators force water from about 6 feet down upward to snag oxygen from the air. Fountains achieve the same effect, often with decorative flair, making them an option for aerating small, shallow garden ponds.

Reader Question & Response

Question

I would like to use a compressor with some 100 lb lp tanks for reserve capacity to aerate a pond.

I desire a flow of 2.0 CFM average at little to no pressure to run thru a rubber membrane diffuser. Not sure how to calculate building the system.

I am currently running a dedicated constant flow pond pump but it runs 24/7 and if any obstruction hits the diffuser it overheats the pump. This is why I would like to use a regular oil-less compressor.

Any thoughts? Am I not being realistic in my thinking?

Bubbler for aeration and to keep surface water from freezing
Bubbler for aeration and to keep surface water from freezing

Response

I’m curious about the pump you are now using.

And my first thought was perhaps you can get or more likely build your own PRV for the existing system.

Another possibility is to add a pressure switch to turn the pump off in case of blockage.

Using the tanks for reserve with a regular compressor could work if you can find a regulator that will go that low – or were you thinking of just restricting flow with a valve?

Lots of questions. Need some answers.

Question

I am currently using a Gast 0523V191Q G588DX pump that I had an obstruction problem with.

During the interim, I am just using a regular small compressor that will pump 120 psi.

Since I am going through a 200 ft of half-inch line I control the flow with a valve and easily maintain 5 psi to the diffuser.

I am looking to buy an oilless pump to charge 2 or 3 100 lb LP tanks to 120 psi.

I will again regulate the flow with a valve.

I don’t know how to do the calculation, but I would like to know how many cubic feet of air get crammed into the LP tank.

I think cycle time for the compressor will be an issue. I will want to have an output of around 3 CFM ultimately going thru the diffuser.

Thank you for your input on this.

Response

The below is based on a 3CFM requirement – a smaller compressor could work if you really need 2CFM.

According to a couple of sources, a 100 lb LP tank is 108 lt or 3.8 cubic feet.

So, *if using a regulator*, you would have at least 7 atmospheres of *usable* air or about 27 cubic feet which would last about 9 minutes or so, depending on ambient temperature.

Adding more tanks will just make the compressor work longer to fill them, with a corresponding increase in the amount of idle time.

Given that most (cheap – er, inexpensive) compressors have a 50% duty cycle, you’ll want one rated at about 6CFM to keep up. So, given the continuous nature of the application, there’s not much reason to use the tanks other than the more quiet time between cycles, against the same amount of run time increase.

If you decide to use the tanks anyway, mount them upside down so they won’t collect water.

Response

Having now looked at the specs on this pump, here’s what I think:

Get the repair kit for this and fix it.

Then add a fail-safe to kill it if the flow stops – maybe something like this:

https://www.grainger.com/product/CLEVELAND-CONTROLS-Switch-3ZM92?s_pp=false&picUrl=//static.grainger.com/rp/s/is/image/Grainger/3ZM92_AS01?$smthumb$

set to operate and turn off power above whatever the normal, unblocked pressure is.

Question

Thanks for the input. I will be looking into just upgrading my existing equipment. I am being educated a great deal here. I really appreciate it.

Response

OK.

Please let us know about your upgrade when you’re done.

It will help others in similar situations.

And feel free to ask if you have further questions.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can you use a regular air compressor to aerate a pond?

No, although the term “air compressor” sounds as if the machine will be able to deliver high volumes of pressurized air to any medium, that isn’t the case when aerating a pond. The vast majority of regular air compressors are intended specifically for use in dry conditions, like powering air tools, and therefore, won’t function in water.

What is the best air pump for a pond?

Some of the best air pumps for a pond include Aquascape 75000 Pond Air 2, Air Pro Deluxe Pond Aerator Kit by Living Water, Laguna Aeration Kit, Tetra Pond APK100, Airmax Koi Air 1 Water Garden Aeration Kit, Blue Diamond ETA 80 Pond Air Pump, and Airmax Pond Air 2 Aeration Kit. But, there are many many more sufficiently good air pumps available for your pond.

What size air pump do I need for my pond?

This will typically depend upon the water conditions. For normal water conditions, you should use a pump with a minimum of 1 1/2 HP aerator per surface acre. For warmer climates or excessive algae growth, you should use a pump with a minimum of 2 HP aerator per surface acre.

How do I build a pond air pump?

To build yourself a pond air pump, or pond aerator, you will need the following: air pump operating on 12V and lower, soft oxygen air hose, air stone, weatherproof pump and electrical housing/enclosure, red and black wires, heat shrink tubing, and a two-way terminal block to connect the pumps to power. After this, you will need to choose a design and put it all together. There are plenty of design inspirations available online.


If you have any questions regarding pond air compressors, please leave a comment below, with a photo if applicable, so that someone can help you!