As ponds age, they accumulate nutrients in a process called eutrophication. This enrichment process stimulates the growth of aquatic life. As time passes and organisms live and die, material in the pond accumulates, resulting in a buildup of nutrients and sediment that can cause excessive plant growth and reduce the lifespan of a pond. As a pond owner, it is your responsibility to take a proactive approach to managing and maintaining your pond. So, what steps can you take? The following tips offer some solutions to improve the water quality and health of your pond and extend its lifespan.
Proactively Manage Nutrients
1. Shade your pond with pond dye
Excessive sunlight leads to the overgrowth of submerged aquatic plants and algae. Using pond dye to shade your waterbody actively limits photosynthesis by blocking specific portions of the sunlight spectrum, thus slowing plant and algae growth and keeping your water cleaner and clearer. Pond dye is also good for the fish in your pond. It provides cover from airborne and pond-side predators and allows fish to breathe easier in hotter months by keeping water temperature down and dissolved oxygen levels in the water up.
2. Remove muck buildup and reduce organic nutrients
As mentioned earlier, ponds fill up with sediments they age. This buildup leads to a loss in water volume capacity, causing the pond to lose depth, which compromises the pond’s ability to manage floods and can lead to the formation of pond scum, algae, and weeds on the water’s surface. It is therefore important to monitor the depth of the sediment in your pond, and when the sediment gets to be 25 percent of the original pond, it is time to remove it. In order to remove sediment from your pond, you can manually remove it by dredging. This may be a viable option if sediment buildup is very thick or if you want to remove all sediment quickly. However, the dredging process can be expensive and disruptive, and will likely require subsequent pond and turf repair. An easier and less disruptive option to consider is using Lake Restoration’s SparKlear® pellets or SparKlear® liquid. SparKlear® products contain bacteria, enzymes, and trace minerals, and can remove feet of muck from the bottom of your pond. SparKlear® pellets just need to be evenly distributed around the waterbody and then the bacteria in the pellets naturally dissolves sediment. You can also apply the liquid SparKlear® using Lake restoration’s TORMADA™ product application boat.
3. Remove free phosphorus from the water
Free phosphorus levels in your pond water are the number one determinant of how much algae growth you will have. Plants use phosphorus to develop their roots and algae uses phosphate to grow its cell walls and other cell parts. Even relatively small amounts of phosphorus can lead to considerable algae growth. In fact, just one pound of phosphorus can support 500 pounds of algae growth. It is important to do what you can to cycle free phosphorus out of your pond environment in order to have clearer, algae-free water. One option for removing accumulated phosphorus from your waterbody is using PhosControl®. PhosControl® bonds with phosphorus, making it unavailable to aquatic plants and algae.
4. Consider aeration
Water aeration is a process employed to maintain oxygen saturation in a waterbody and can be achieved through the introduction of air into the bottom of your pond or by surface agitation through the use of a fountain or spray-like device. Aeration benefits your pond in multiple ways. It can eliminate bad odors caused by anaerobic bacteria breaking down organic matter. By infusing oxygen into the water, aeration systems change these anaerobic bacteria into aerobic ones, and thus eliminate the accompanying smelly waste gas produced by anaerobic bacteria. Aerobic bacteria are also much more efficient than anaerobic bacteria at breaking down organics and can cycle out nutrients such as phosphorus, which will help in eliminating algae from your pond. Additionally, aeration systems will allow the fish in your pond to breathe more easily in the summer and winter months. Check out Lake Restoration’s Vitaflume® Vortex Aerating Fountains which provide the benefits mentioned above, especially for ponds two acres or smaller with depths of ten feet or less.
Consistently Manage Plant and Algae Growth
5. Manage plant growth throughout the year
Excessive aquatic vegetation can deplete the amount of dissolved oxygen in your pond, and according to the Texas Farm Bureau, only 10-15 percent of the pond should be covered in aquatic vegetation. It is important to actively manage the plant growth in your pond. Lilies, cattails and other emergent plants can often take over and choke out a pond. Check out Lake Restoration’s “Cattail and Waterlily Control” products, which can be used effectively to kill these plants down to the roots and keep their growth area contained. Submerged plants are also healthy for a pond, but similarly should be maintained and monitored. Too much aquatic plant growth can put a lot of pressure on a pond’s ecosystem by creating imbalances in oxygen and pH levels in the water. It is important to come up with a management system to control underwater plant growth. Lake Restoration’s Dibrox® is a contact herbicide, meaning it controls plants that it contacts within the time it is active in the water. It can be used to spot treat and control plants in your favorite fishing hole, a swim spot, or in areas that cause an eye-sore from plant overgrowth.
6. Manage algae growth regularly
When algae overgrow, they block sunlight from underwater plants. Dead algae also consume oxygen, depleting levels of dissolved oxygen in the water. Additionally, certain types of algae blooms can release harmful toxins. Algae blooms will occur regularly throughout summer months, so again, it is important to take an active approach to manage the algae in your pond. Algaecides are a great option here, and are the most direct and effective means of pond algae control. One of Lake Restoration’s algaecides, Mizzen®, is a copper-based formula that treats a wide range of algae types and is fish safe if no more than half the pond is treated at a time and there are no trout, koi, or channel catfish present in the water. Lake Restoration also offers Cape Furl®, which is a sodium percarbonate-based algaecide that is fish safe for all species. Users have the option of broadcasting the powder-like granules directly onto algae or dissolving the granules in water and spraying the solution onto algae. Make sure to read the safety labels and instructions on any algaecides you use.
The conditions in your pond are constantly evolving, so it is vital that you actively monitor what is going on in your water and respond accordingly. These tips, if followed, will allow you to stay ahead of issues before they arise and your pond will thank you for it!