In any waterbody, no matter the size it is important to have sufficient Dissolved Oxygen (DO) Levels. Dissolved oxygen is typically measured in parts per million (PPM) and the minimum level you should be aiming for is between 4 and 5 PPM.
If the amount of dissolved oxygen is lower than this then you risk any fish within the waterbody dying from suffocation. Stratification, an oxygen deficient layer of water at the bottom of the waterbody, is another possible side effect of low oxygen levels. This can cause plant life within that layer to die off and if it is not removed it will rot causing silt and a build-up of nitrate and nitrate levels, eventually leading to a build-up in ammonia. As well as this you risk releasing dangerous toxins into the atmosphere from potential anaerobic waste digestion.
So, what exactly causes low oxygen levels? Large amounts of algae and aquatic plants are the main culprit as they absorb a great deal of oxygen after nightfall. High silt levels will also decrease dissolved oxygen levels as well as releasing harmful gasses into the water. Finally having too many fish in your waterbody can reduce your levels not simply through oxygen consumption but also the increase in waste materials they produce.
In a natural, ecologically balanced lake there would be little requirement for aeration but due to the added pressures exerted upon many waterbodies, during spring and summer especially, added aeration is an essential management tool.
The dependency on oxygen occurs across all levels when it comes to a waterbody with a healthy ecological balance. This includes fish stocks, microscopic bacteria which are essential for the processing of organic waste, the oxidisation of silt, the processing of harmful gasses or nutrients and a number of other processes.
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