The Pros And Cons Of Dam Aeration

The Pros And Cons Of Dam Aeration

Dam Aeration is one of our main services so it may seem odd that we want to point out the cons as well as the pros, but the fact is, if you don’t do your research and get your set up right from the get go, the cons can be pretty big.

Don’t get us wrong, installing a dam aerator is one of the most effective ways to improve your water quality, but that doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine and rainbows.

If you want the best results possible, it’s important to understand what kind of dam aerator you need, how to install and run it properly and what the limitations of your selected product are.

So we decided to take a stroll on the dark side and play devil’s advocate so that you can ensure that the product you get, is the right one for you.

Types of Dam Aerator

Before we get too deep, we just want to explain what the different types of aeration are for those who are at the beginning of their dam care journey. There are three key kinds of dam aerator:

Surface Aerators

Also known as surface based dam aerators, floating dam aerators or top dam aerators, surface aerators work by sucking water up and out of your dam and dispersing it across the surface. This aerates dam water through surface transference and can also provide mixing benefits.

Surface Aerators are great for those looking to pair their dam aeration with a biological treatment that is active in the water column as you can simply add your treatment next to your aerator and let the currents it produces do the rest.

Aerating Fountains

Aerating Fountains are surface aerators that provide a dome shaped display along with aeration benefits. Often confused with decorative or floating fountains, these units provide their display not for decorative purposes, but to create a rippling effect which increases oxygen transference.

Sub-Surface Aerators

Sub-Surface Aerators, sometimes referred to as a bottom dam aerator, underwater dam aerator, or dam water column aerator, work by pushing air through hoses to air diffusers on the bottom of your dam.

By making use of a sub-surface dam aeration system, you will be able to inject air directly to the bottom of your dam. As this air is carried up through the water column by thousands of tiny bubbles, it drags water from the bottom of your dam up to the top, therefore effectively mixing your dam water and aerating the water column.

The Pros Of Dam Aerators

Dam Aeration Systems support the health of your aquatic ecosystem by adding oxygen to your water and mixing that oxygen throughout the entire dam.

There are many benefits to this but we’re going to explore the main pros of dam aeration systems below:

Using a dam aerator prevents stratification by mixing oxygen throughout all layers of your water. Stratification is a process in which your dam water separates into layers with different temperatures and oxygen levels within each layer. It is also the main reason why you’ll experience the build up of toxic sludge at the bottom of your dam. This is because all the organic matter decomposing down there requires a fair bit of oxygen to be effectively dealt with. If not dealt with properly, this sludge will release a mass of nutrient, and in some cases toxins, into your dam water. This leads to odours, fish kills, algal blooms and aquatic weed growth so the inclusion of a dam aerator can be seen as a preventative measure when it comes to dam health.

By making use of a dam aeration system you also create a constant circulation between all levels and areas of your dam. This discourages blue green algae and mosquitos from making your dam their home and helps the beneficial bacteria in your dam water to thrive and perform at their best (namely consuming excess nutrients floating about in your dam).

This mixing process also makes your dam a much safer place for any fish you may be stocking, as it means they will be able to utilise all areas of your dam rather than just the warmer water near the surface. This lets them swim away from predators and also greatly increases the survival rates of any bottom dwelling fish you may have (such as freshwater catfish).

Plus, aerating dam water can help prevent fish kills and toxic odours from arising when your dam turns itself over (which it naturally does whenever seasonal changes bring temperature differences). This is thanks to the fact that your dam aerator will have kept most layers of your water at a fairly uniform dissolved oxygen level and temperature and prevented your sludge layer from building itself up to a dangerous level. This means your fish will generally stay healthy even during a turn over and stops you from ending up with a disgusting smelling dam that could possibly pose health risks.

The Cons Of Dam Aerators

Now all these things are wonderful but we do still need to look at the downside to installing and running a dam aerator.

The main con of dam aeration systems is that they can be quite expensive to buy upfront. A good dam aerator will most likely cost a couple of thousand dollars to purchase and install but when this is weighed up against the cost of regular dredging and constantly having to purchase new fish as the ones you currently have stocked have suffocated or been poisoned by your sludge layer, it is a cost that is certainly warranted. In fact, you can most likely purchase a dam aerator for less than the price of dredging your dam just once if it is a decent size.

The next con is maintenance requirements and costs. If you have the wrong type of dam aerator you will end up having to perform constant maintenance on the compressor and diffusers of your dam aeration system. Ideally you want to find a quality aerator which utilises non-clogging diffusers and has a strong manufacturer warranty. Aeration systems offered with these components tend to have far lower maintenance requirements than their cheap aerator counterparts (with many only needing a rebuild kit fitted every so often) and if you’ve got a decent warranty, you can expect good customer service.

A con unique to aerators that sit on the surface of your dam (both floating dam aerators and aerating fountains) is that you will have power in your water. If your dam is simply for display this is not an issue, however, if you wish to use it for recreational purposes it is recommended that you select a sub-surface dam aeration system.

Finally, running costs are also a common con that people come up against when selecting and operating their dam aerator.

If you’re looking for decoration as well as aeration, an aerating fountain or surface dam aerator could be perfect for you, but if your aim is to keep running costs down, we suggest the installation of a sub-surface dam aeration system as moving air requires far less power than moving water. It may not seem like a big factor when you’re selecting your aerator but when you consider the fact that dam aerators are designed to run 24/7 365, those extra dollars on your bill quickly add up.

Long story short: The easiest way to combat the cost issue is to install a dam aeration system that moves air, or, alternatively, if you would like to cut running costs even further, you can look into wind powered or solar dam aerators. These options generally require very little maintenance and the running costs are virtually non-existent.


Dam aerators are vital for maintaining the health of your dam. They boost water health and quality and a good quality unit can assist in managing even the largest and most complex systems.

A dam aerator isn’t going to solve all of your issues and depending on factors that influence the health of your dam, you may still find yourself experiencing an algal bloom or aquatic weed issues from time to time, but your dam aeration system will reduce the severity and frequency and help avoid other issues that can arise. For this reason, we believe that they are the perfect base for your dam solution as long as you do your research properly.

For more information about the dam aeration products we stock or to get assistance with managing your dam, large pond, lake, or other large water body, please call us on 1300 283 387 or fill out a contact form. Our friendly team of experts are on hand to ensure that you get the right aerator, first time, every time and want to make sure you get the best results possible.

  • Av McCandless wrote...

    We have a pond 20 x 5 x2.0 deep
    We would like to keep water clear
    We thought an aeration pump would be the best approach
    Would you suggest say maybe 4 tubes from pump to spread bubbles
    Please advise and thanks. Av

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi Av,

      Aeration is definitely the best place to start, biological treatments would also be useful for you.

      For our specialists to properly design a system for you they’d need a bit more information, would you mind giving us a call on 1300 283 387 or filling out a contact form so we can provide the best possible advice?

  • gear pumps wrote...

    Such a wonderful blog about the pros and cons of dam aeration and I appreciate your effort for bringing this in to notice. Great blog indeed, will visit again future to read more!!

    • The Terrific Treatment Tardigrade wrote...

      Hi Colin,
      Thank you for your feedback, always appreciated.

      We do our best to keep the blogs happening – one a month at a minimum.

      If you have any thoughts on topics we could cover in the future, we would love to hear them.

      Kind Regards,
      Water Quality Solutions

  • godless redneck wrote...

    hi, weve got a dam bigger then yout average house block and about 30ft deep. i want to clean it up and load it with fish but worried theres to much vegitation below the surface and not enough oxygen. whats the best way to go about it? cheers

  • John wrote...

    I am in the early stages of costing up a small commercial Yabby business in WA.
    I like the idea of your windmill system and would like to get a price per unit compared to your solar options.
    I’m operating out of farm dams to start with approx 800m2 each and 3m to 5 m depth when full.
    I plan to build 1000m2 x 1m deep commercial ponds next year and will need aeration for them too.
    Any pricing will help me greatly at this point.

    Kind Regards,

    John Powell

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