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How to Choose the Best Fountain for Your Pond: PART 1 - The Basics

by Joe Cadieux on April 26, 2023

Congratulations! You own a pond and now get to take care of it…. FOREVER!! 

Though slightly dramatic, the preceding statement is largely correct. It is up to you to select the hardware and strategies that will keep your pond clean and clear for the duration of your time as a pond steward. You may also choose to show the neighbors “what’s up” with a majestic fountain, letting them all know that you have gotten this pond thing figured out.

 Floating fountains are a beautiful addition to any large pond, providing not only visual appeal but also functional benefits such as increased aeration and circulation. However, with so many floating fountains available on the market, it can be challenging to determine which one is the best fit for your specific pond. In this article, we will explore the key factors to consider when choosing the best floating fountain for your large pond.

Fountain Type

There are a few types of floating fountains available on the market, each with its own unique style and functionality. 

  • Aerating Fountains: These fountains are designed to increase oxygen levels in the water, which is essential for aquatic life. They come in a range of sizes/horsepowers, with spray heights ranging from 3 feet to over 10 feet. These units are great dual-purpose units, designed to take care of your pond while looking pretty too.
  • Decorative Fountains: These fountains are designed primarily for visual appeal, with spray patterns that range from simple to complex. They come in a range of sizes and styles and are a great choice for those who want to enhance the beauty of their pond.  Installing these units into your pond will add some circulation as well, though never in the amounts of an aerating fountain. Large or small, these fountains give a great display for your dollar.
  • Surface Aerators: These may not be considered true fountains but definitely need to be included here so that you may make an informed choice about the future of your pond. Surface aerators actively churn in oxygen into the pond. These units give the maximum oxygen transfer, per horsepower, of all the units in this article. These floating pond aerators do NOT have a pattern to speak of but are great at injecting oxygen. These units can be sized for large water tanks for rearing fish all the way up to large potable reservoirs. Surface aerators have been a staple of the water quality industry for decades. 

(For a longer discussion on pond aeration categories please see the link below.)

3 Types of Pond Aeration: Which is Best for Your pond?

When choosing a floating fountain type, consider the desired functionality and visual effect. An aerating fountain may be best for a pond with a high fish population, while a decorative fountain may be a better choice for those who want to enhance the beauty of their pond.

Pond Size / Pump Size

The size of your pond is a critical factor when it comes to selecting the right floating fountain. You want to choose a fountain that is appropriately sized for your pond to ensure that it looks balanced and aesthetically pleasing. A fountain that is too small for your pond will not create the desired visual impact, while a fountain that is too large will overwhelm the space and look out of place. Aside from the visual aspects, sizing an aerating fountain to your pond is vital to the future health of the aquatic environment. So, size matters…ahem…

The size (horsepower) of the pump is an important consideration when choosing an outdoor fountain and is directly related to the size of the pond. The pump is responsible for circulating water through the fountain and should be appropriately sized for the fountain to ensure optimal performance.

When choosing a pump, consider horsepower, voltage, and power consumption.

For a discussion on 115V vs 230V power, please see my article on the subject HERE.

When choosing a decorative floating fountain, consider the height of the spray, as well as the width of the water pattern. The height of the spray should be proportional to the size of your pond, and the water pattern should fit comfortably within the boundaries of the pond. That being said, if you’re looking for a grand display, feel free to oversize the fountain a tad to get extra attention to the property. A pond that is ½ acre in size or larger can hold (contain) virtually any decorative fountain.  

Oh, and don’t forget the lights. Fountain lights are a must for decorative fountains.

Beware: in windy areas, tall geyser type patterns can blow around in gusty winds. No sense emptying your pond into the neighbor’s yard, parking lot or street…

Aerating fountains are better suited to a basic rule of thumb. 1HP per surface acre will suffice to circulate enough water on a continual basis to keep algae in check and even gain ground on nuisance issues like duckweed or nutrient runoff from lawns, fields, or parking lots. 

  1. EXAMPLE: ¾ acre pond = ¾ hp aerating fountain 

This rule of thumb may also be used for surface aerators with the knowledge that you are getting more circulation per HP with a surface aerator than with an aerating fountain.

Having a goal for your pond is the best place to start your fountain selection process.  What do you want for your pond? What do you want for your community? What’s best for the pond’s ecosystem? All of these questions help narrow down which unit is best suited for your project.

This completes Part 1 of my article on choosing a fountain for your pond.  Please see my follow-up discussion on the more technical aspects of fountain design and how it affects your fountain choice. How to Choose the Best Fountain for Your Pond: PART 2 - Getting in the Weeds (get it???)