Keeping Pond Water Clear: Maintenance for Algae-Free Water Gardens

Garden pondThere is little else that can mesmerize and raise the spirits quite like water in our gardens.

While you want your artificial pond water to look as magically clear as possible, many homeowners find themselves dealing with murky water. Pond water turns green and cloudy usually during warm weather. The culprit? String or blanket algae.

String algae are the most common setbacks in achieving a stunning water garden, but there is something you can do to eliminate them from your pond.

According to Thomas Martin, assistant professor of aquatic ecology at Penn State’s School of Forest Resources, the key to mitigating the presence of excess algae in a garden pond lies in controlling nutrients. Nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen compounds, the primary ingredients in lawn fertilizers, contribute most to the proliferation of string weed.

Sorting Out the Problem of String Weed

According to Martin, it pays to install your pond in a way that will prevent lawn runoff from draining into it. To control the nutrients that get into the pond, install a buffer strip of plastic pond liners around it to keep nutrients in the surrounding soil from soaking into the pond.

Introducing rooted plants into the pond is also another way to counteract algae. These additions do not only absorb the nutrients that otherwise support the growth of algae, but they also shade the surface of the water, depriving them of the kind of environment that’s conducive to their growth. To control algae growth, Martin says it is essential to shade 70-80% of the water surface.

It also helps to use floating leaf plants and turning the water surface black using water dye. Doing so will prevent temperature and light from encouraging the growth of algae.

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To Add or Not to Add Fish?

Looking to introduce fish into your pond? The Penn State professor says too much fish may cause an increase in algae. Fish produce ammonia in their waste, and bigger bodies of water such as lakes or rivers dilute that ammonia. In a small pond, however, the ammonia level tends to build up quickly, which may kill the fish. While the presence of bacteria can break down ammonia, it breaks down into nitrates, which serve as a fertilizer that promotes algae growth.

It’s not at all a bad idea to add fish to the pond, as fish can also help prevent any insect problems. Martin says, however, that for a small pond, limit the number to one or two at a time.

If you decide to add fish, remember to change the water about 10% weekly or 40% monthly. If you’re using water from the municipal water system, chances are you’re using chlorinated water which kills the bacteria that break ammonia down.

When keeping your pond clear and safe for the fish, it pays to partner with a company that provides all the pond supplies necessary to keep your pond water free from algae and chlorine. You may need to aerate the water or add chemicals that eliminate the chlorine before adding it to your pond. A reliable company should be able to supply you with the necessary materials in no time.