Air pumps and winter

jls04(Wisc)November 7, 2008

Do air pumps need to be housed 'indoors' when running during the winter months...or can I simply put it in a container to protect it from the elements...with the hose running to the pond? I just picked up an Optima pump and the directions appear to indicate that is needs to be in a climate controlled environment...but no verbiage stating that. Does anyone in zone 5 leave their pumps out all winter?

Any advice is greatly appreciated!!

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We are on zone 7 and leave ours out all winter. I use a plastic jar, like a mayo or peanut butter jar. Wire it to a stake in the ground -- a couple of feet off the ground,(to protect it from the snow) hang it upside down, and make a hole in the lid and run the hose out. It's best to just put the air stone only a few inches below the water surface of the pond.
Our pump is just a cheap Wallmart aquarium pump and has been in use for many years.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 1:13PM
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johnkr(z5 PA)

I've had my air pump running outdoors for about a year. It's housed inside a plastic box intended for a boat battery. The lid hangs over the sides of the box and allows air to enter while keeping snow and rain out. I drilled holes in the box to connect the air hose and I run the power plug out the top.

My pump is located at the top of my waterfall, which is about 3 feet above ground level.

I use the pump to maintain a hole in the pond ice during the winter months.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2008 at 10:50PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

There are some good discussions in the FAQ section about air pumps, how to use them, etc. I noticed in particular the caution about the tubes getting moisture in them. Sandy

Here is a link that might be useful: Frequently Asked Questions- Air Pumps

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 3:02PM
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flora2b(z6a bc)

I decided to try this, this year as my water heater decided to give up....only had it for a year. It at least works good for holding the air stone in the right location. Here's some pics of what I did.
pond 2008

aeration & defunct heater

closeup of aeration

the stone is sitting about 8-10 inches below the surface...was wondering if I should bring it closer to the surface or not? The pond is about 3.5 feet at the deepest level.
Thanks for the great idea!!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 3:42PM
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flora, ours is placed only a few inches below the water surface, maybe 6" or so.
We only use a $6.00 walmart aquarium, about 3 watts.
pump. Here is a photo. It is next to the dock on the left side by the Japanese maple. Notice it is up on a stake inside a large plastic peanut butter jar.
We also use it in hot weather, as the fish love the airation.
Never used a water heater, the fish go down into the 3 1/2 foot section and hang out there is the winter.

June 20th 2008

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 4:19PM
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johnkr(z5 PA)

Flora, I have two air outlets on my pump and I use two 14 inch air stones. I just hung them vertically last year and they worked well. I would say the high points were about 6 inches under the surface.

I added one-way check valves to my tubing to prevent water from returning to the pump. I'm not sure if I needed them, but they were cheap enough to add as insurance. They were on the store rack next to the tubing.

My air pump served me well last Winter and I hope you have a similar experience.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 8:00PM
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sheepco(MN z4)

I set my air pump on a brick, turn a 2 gallon bucket over it and set a rock on top to keep the bucket from blowing away. Mine's a cheapie WMart one too. 3 winters and still going.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2008 at 9:35PM
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flora2b(z6a bc)

I just have a cheapie aquarium air pump as well. I put it in a plastic mayonnaise is tied to the fence about 1.5 feet off the ground to keep the snow off. I think I may lift the stone a little bit higher....make it closer to 6 inches.
Thanks for the responses.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 10:52AM
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If you are using one of those "cheapie's" as someone put it, the stone places 6 inches or so from the surface would make sense. If you have a higher volume pump like a Laguna etc. donÂt sweat it, I would (& do) keep it at around 12 inches at one side (shallow side) of the pond. I am using a float right now but it still sits on the shallow bottom and as water evaporates (due to wind & ice over time) the depth will no doubt be less...

    Bookmark   November 9, 2008 at 1:58PM
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I have a cheap aquarium pump from Wal-Mart. Put it in a styrofoam minnow bucket with the air hoses coming out the side near the bottom. Cut a hinged door for the plug. Connected the lines to the air stones and put them in the pond. Worked great last year and is back in the pond now.
I did put a brick on the top of the minnow bucket just so it didn't blow over. Works great.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 8:40AM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

If you are using a deicer and a bubbler/air pump don't position them so the bubbles come up under the deicer. It screws up the thermostat. Separate them by at least 6 inches. More if the bubbles still come up under the deicer. Sandy

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 4:11PM
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maryo_nh(z5 SouthernNH)

My cheap Walmart air pump was hanging from the floating deicer, the intention was that, thanks to the floating island, it was hanging over the deepest part of the pond. The deicer was ready to plug in if needed, but we only had it on for a few days during the coldest week of the winter. I don't even think it was necessary. Anyway, no thermostat under the deicer as far as I know... this year I don't think we'll plug it in at all, only use it to position the bubbler stones.

Btw, why not hang them deep? I think our stones were 18" or so down. But that's easy to adjust.

My air pump also sits on a brick, on our little bridge, with an upside down plastic shoebox over it. It's positioned so that intake air can get to it via the slit between the boards of the bridge, even if it's otherwise completely snowed in. The plug etc is also on the brick. Then a few more bricks on top of the shoebox to keep it from blowing away. Worked great last year.

I'll set it all up again just as soon as I find the pump and all back... maybe in the garage...

:) Mary

    Bookmark   November 11, 2008 at 4:37PM
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Mary, I believe the water temps on the bottom of the pond are a few degrees warmer than the top. Our fish lay on the bottom of the deep end, so we don't want to mix up the water down deep. The other reason is we just use 2 watt pumps in our pond in the winter. This way the bubbles don't have to travel up so far. :)
The 6" depth seems to be enough to keep an opening in the ice. Even the one winter where we estimate that the pond was frozen down 6" we still had an opening in the ice for the gasses to escape. In eleven winters of ponding, we only had to pour hot water into the opening a few times, as you know, you should never try to crack an opening into the ice, as the vibration can kill the fish.


Brrrrrr! I hate the winter!

    Bookmark   November 12, 2008 at 11:47AM
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I am trying a cheap aquarium bubbler for the first time this year. In the past I have just dropped the hose from the pump to the bottom of the pond and let the water circulate. So far it has kept at least a small hole open, though, because I cover the pond, it hasn't frozen hard at any time. We can get temps down to -40 F in the deep of winter, though usually they aren't worse than -20 for just a few days.

This is how I set mine up:
1. Here's the pond with windows covering it:

2. Here is the bubbler strapped upside-down to an old birdbath stand which is about 2 feet tall:

3. I then covered the stand and bubbler with a trash can:

4. I ran a single air hose to the pond (due to the short length of the bubbler electric cord, the bubbler is about 8' from the pond) and added a splitter so that I could run 2 airstones. The splitter is just above the surface of the water. You can see the ice building up on the outside of the air hose:

5. Here's what the airstone set-up looks like. I hang the airstones about 4 or 5 inches below the surface of the water.

As you can see in picture #4, there are plenty of bubbles. I am hoping that there are enough to keep a hole open. I think I remember reading a hint on the forum to have the airstones close to the edge of the pond. That works best for me anyway, so that is what I am doing. I'll post if I have any problems this winter, but from reading JoAnn's post and others' posts, it should work just fine.

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 11:10AM
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