Pond Fountain

While they may simply look like an irrelevant small body of water, ponds host a delicate ecosystem that requires very precise conditions to thrive. Without these, the pond may suffer and any life, whether flora or fauna may be unable to survive. This concept leaves a lot of people asking ‘do you need to oxygenate a wildlife pond?’

Regardless of whether there are fish or other types of animals in a pond, it is still important to ensure that there is a good supply of oxygen in the water. This is because the natural beneficial bacteria that are found in ponds need this, along with nitrogen, to thrive.

But without pumps and expensive electrical equipment, many people think that it can be a bit of a pain to aerate their wildlife ponds. In truth, there are several ways of doing this that are not as difficult as you may have first imagined. In this article, we are going to be demonstrating this.

What’s The Difference Between Oxygenation And Aeration?

When you’re looking at how to take care of a wildlife pond, you’ll come across the terms oxygenate and aerate quite often. It’s easy to think that these are the same things and to a degree, they are. Or at least, they are two parts of a larger whole.

Oxygenation is essentially a smaller part of the whole aeration process and in short, one cannot exist without the other. Aeration simply refers to the movement of water around the pond. This process allows oxygen and important nutrients to also move around the pond.

In addition to this, aeration also allows gas exchanges to occur on the water’s surface. As you aerate your pond, the process of oxygenation will be happening at the same time. This process will mean that various areas of the pond will have a greater oxygen content.

Why Is Oxygenation Important In A Wildlife Pond?

If you have a pond that contains fish, oxygenation is a lifesaving process for these animals. While they breathe underwater, there are still oxygen levels here and the fish need this gas in order to survive; just like humans and other terrestrial animals. If the pond is not oxygenated, the fish will be starved of oxygen and will perish.

However, a wildlife pond typically doesn’t house fish but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need healthy oxygen levels. Oxygen is needed in any body of water that has living organisms, whether this is the vast ocean where huge whales and sharks can be found or a tiny wildlife pond that houses microscopic bacteria and plant life.

The reason for this is that the pond will have levels of beneficial bacteria and without the necessary oxygen and nitrogen, these tiny organisms would quickly die off. This would in turn cause the pond to quickly become stagnant. In addition, any waste products that are created by these bacteria must be disposed of and aeration is an ideal way to allow this to happen naturally.

If you are looking to create a haven for birds, frogs and various insects then a wildlife pond is a great way to do this. However, ponds can also serve as a breeding ground for nuisance flies like mosquitoes. Nobody wants to be sharing their outdoor space with biting bugs but an aerated and oxygenated pond is much less attractive to these pests.

How To Oxygenate My Wildlife Pond?

If you have an ornamental fish pond, you’ll likely need an electric pump to keep the water clear, but owning a wildlife pond usually means that you leave it and let nature run its course although there are a couple of things you can do to ensure that the water stays oxygenated.


Having a water fountain in your wildlife pond is one of the best ways to aerate it. The good news is that many of these now operate using solar power. You simply purchase the fountain, install it along with the solar panels and let the sun and nature do their work.

This is a great option for smaller ponds but can also be used in a larger pond as part of a more complex system. What’s more, if your local area experiences a lot of overcast days, there are many solar-powered systems that come with backup batteries.

Pond Plants

Plants are one of the most natural and effective ways of encouraging aeration in a wildlife pond. The more plants you can introduce into the ecosystem, the better. Although, there does come a point where you might say that you’ve gone overboard.

There are pond plants that can be fully submerged, for example, things like hornwort. As a general rule, these are thought to be better for aeration purposes. However, it is important to keep in mind that in any case, plants will never create the same level of oxygenation as a pump or fountain. That being said, they can be used alongside these systems to aid them.

Your pond will also benefit from improved filtration when installing various plants. This is because the plants will absorb waste and can reduce the level of algae within a wildlife pond. If you do have fish in the pond, they will benefit from the presence of plants also.

Check out our article on the best plants for a wildlife pond.

Air Oxygenation For Large Ponds

If you are the proud owner of a massive pond, perhaps something that covers more than an acre, then oxygenation becomes much trickier. However, there are products out there that are designed for just this reason.

A windmill oxygenation system involves using large, wind-powered structures to encourage aeration. While these are very large and unlikely suitable for most garden ponds, they are very effective for significant bodies of water.


Oxygenating a wildlife pond might seem unimportant if there are no fish in the water. However, these ponds still contain microscopic life which needs oxygen and other nutrients in order to survive. Without these beneficial bacteria, the pond would quickly become stagnant and unable to serve the local wildlife as you might have hoped.

There are several ways of aerating a pond without the need for electric pumps including pond plants for smaller bodies of water right through to huge windmills for much bigger ponds.

Garden Doctor Trev

Garden Doctor Tips

“Have plenty of plants in your wildlife pond!”

“Plant different plants at different depths to create the perfect ecosystem!”

“If fish have made their way into your pond, it is best to install a pump!”

“Clean out the sludge in the bottom of your pond every 3 to 5 years to remove the anaerobic bacteria!”

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a wildlife pond need a pump?

No, wildlife ponds do not need pumps. As opposed to other types of ponds, wildlife ponds are an organic, natural environment that relies on the number of plants and water to attract insects and animals such as dragonflies, frogs and newts.

How do you oxygenate a wildlife pond?

Plants. Planting plants at the right depths will ensure that your wildlife pond is oxygenated in a natural way to encourage more wildlife. Pumps in wildlife ponds are not recommended.

What should I put in the bottom of my wildlife pond?

Gravel. Put a little gravel in the bottom of your wildlife pond. It creates a place for all of the smaller organisms to live. Also, when adding plants to your pond, we recommend leaving them in pots that will weigh them down and keep them in place.  

About Me

Hi, I’m Trev and I’ve been growing things since I can remember. When I was younger, I grew up on a farm, so I have always been around plants and animals. After studying horticulture at university, I decided to start my own nursery which I have run now for 25 years. In my spare time, I run this website – which is a resource for people who want to learn more about their gardens.

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