What is Water Aeration?

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  • Written By: Larry Ray Palmer
  • Edited By: Amanda L. Wardle
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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Water aeration is the process of introducing air into a body of water to increase its oxygen saturation. Oxygen is an important component of water quality and its ability to sustain life. Water aeration can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Some commonly used methods include forcing air through aeration tubing, the use of fountains to spray water into the air, and the use of wind-driven aeration devices.

Aerated water has more dissolved oxygen than non-aerated water. This oxygen is used by the living creatures in the body of water, such as fish and other aquatic animals. It is also used by aerobic bacteria to eliminate organic pollution from the body of water. When the level of dissolved oxygen in a pond, lake, or other body of water is kept at a high level, the water is able to support life. If this oxygen saturation is depleted, either through pollution or stagnation, the body of water becomes anoxic and unsuitable for fish or other aquatic life.


Many people are familiar with at least one common example of water aeration, the aquarium air pump. Using a pump, aeration tubing, and a diffuser, the aquarium aeration system forces fresh air into a tube. The air in the tube is then routed to the bottom of the aquarium and forced through a diffuser. The diffuser makes thousands of tiny bubbles, which push the deoxygenated water at the bottom of the aquarium to the top where it comes into contact with the atmosphere. Upon reaching the surface, this water releases the stored noxious gases and takes on oxygen.

The aquarium aeration system is an example of water aeration on a small scale. The basic principle holds true despite the size of the body of water being aerated. In larger bodies of water, the aeration tubing may be replaced by larger aeration hoses and the diffusers may yield coarser air bubbles, but the same concept is applied. In some cases, electric or gas-powered air pumps are used to create the necessary air pressure while other applications may use a wind-powered water aeration pump to push air to the lower levels of the water.

Aeration can also be accomplished by forcing water into the air. A pump is situated at the lower level of the water body and connected to a hose. This hose is positioned at the surface of the water or connected to an ornamental fountain. When the pump is activated, the water from the bottom is forced up through the hose and into the air. The exchange of gases and oxygen takes place in the air before the water falls back into the pond. Though this method results in more water loss through evaporation, it is commonly seen in ornamental goldfish ponds and other decorative bodies of water.


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