by Anthony Maldonado
(Ponte Vedra Florida )
What a pond or lake fountain might look like
Visitor Question: Is a pond fountain required in ponds exceeding a certain depth?
Editors Respond: When dealing with a question of this sort, we always look at who or what conditions might require such a thing.
If you are asking if there is a legal requirement for a pond fountain, we haven't heard of any jurisdictions where a government has mandated that a pond owner must put in a fountain, or even an air pump. That doesn't mean that such a place doesn't exist, but certainly it would be an uncommon occurrence.
Homeowner's associations or subdivision associations usually would own any pond as part of the common area, and HOAs usually don't make rules that apply only to themselves!
So that leaves us with the possibility that you really are asking whether a pond fountain will be required by Mother Nature if the owner wants to have a healthy pond. Let's tackle that question.
In addition to just looking pretty, a pond fountain performs the helpful functions of increasing water flow and thereby discouraging stagnant water and sedimentation, circulating nutrients around the pond faster than would happen otherwise, and adding oxygen to the water.
Let's expand on the importance of adding oxygen to the water. Of course if you have fish in the pond, a good oxygen supply is essential to preserve life and to help the pond cope with the fish waste products. But aside from fish, oxygen is still important to the health of water plants and beneficial bacteria that help to clean the water. You also keep down the mosquito population when you have properly aerated pond water.
Aeration is really the process of getting water to circulate from the bottom of the pond to the top. Typically ponds start to become more shallow over time, as the bottom fills up with muck consisting of various waste products and pollutants. To keep the pond at a good depth and encourage healthy self-cleansing of the pond, you need a pump, bubbler, fountain, or something else to start the movement from bottom to top, where bad gasses can be replaced with oxygen.
It is possible to provide enough oxygen and water movement to keep your pond healthy without the use of an electrical-powered or solar powered pond fountain. Careful cultivation of appropriate water plants can provide the same water cleansing benefits and also attract the smaller wildlife that will help with water movement.
For some interesting information about the role of plantings in pond health, you may want to read our page featuring an expert on floating islands. This technique may or may not fit your needs, but regardless of what you decide, the information about the importance and functioning of the right plants in ponds will be worthwhile for you.
If you are working with quite a large pond, you might find a windmill pump to be ideal as a long-term solution to putting enough oxygen in the water and avoiding stagnation.
So do you need to have a pond fountain to maintain a good pond? No, but if you don't, you will need some type of substitute. Ask local extension agents, university folks, or conservation department people for suggestions about how you can aerate and oxygenate your pond. There are also commercial people who will sell you this or that system, but it's good to establish some baseline knowledge yourself rather than relying on the word of a salesperson.
While not required by government or bylaws that we know of, you will want to take care of your pond to keep the water clear, keep positive wildlife healthy, and keep the pond from filling in with muck over time.
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