To treat or not to treat. That is the question!
There are numerous Pond treatment products that can help to prevent and/or cure pond problems. Pond treatment products can help ponds achieve a healthier environment while also improving the aesthetics through cleaner clearer pond water. Some treat water conditions such as cloudiness, breakdown organic debris, control algal problems, aerate the water and some treat water properties such as the water hardness or pH.
The pond treatment product industry is just like any other industry. They claim to be the solution or cure for every problem. Not unlike chemical or pharmaceutical companies, they all claim to have the answer.
The answer is…..they all want to sell you more of their product.
Ponds are living breathing environments full of complex life forms that can all exist together in a well balanced ecosystem. When we encounter a problem, we need to understand the underlying causes and work with it, rather than just trying to fix it with a wonder pond treatment. That is not to say that we should never use any chemical or pond treatment, but rather understand what they are, how they work and when to use them….and…not to over use them.
What to use and when…
Modifying or adjusting the water chemistry can be a risky and often unnecessary exercise. It is best to try and minimise any pond treatment and make any changes gradually. Frequent partial water changes, good aeration and regular pond maintenance including pond vacuuming will help your pond establish a more neutral balance.
Dechlorinators should only be added if large water changes take place and you need to make the water safe for fish and other aquatic life within a short amount of time. If you have the time available, let the pond re-fill slowly, just a trickle over a few days. The chlorine will evapourate naturally without any additives required.
Algacides can be used successfully where you may desire clear water in water features that have no plants or other aquatic life. However care must be taken when using them with plants or other pond life. Algae is just a simple plant that is sensitive to certain chemicals in the water. When applied in low doses, the chemicals are harmful enough to kill the algae, but still weak enough not to harm larger plants and pond life. There lies the dilemma. If you keep adding more, you run the risk of increasing the levels of these chemicals to the point that they become toxic to other pond life.
…..Frequent partial water changes can help to minimise the risk of this occurring.
If you wish to encourage stronger plant growth, then slow release fertilisers need to be applied in the soil near the plant roots and only during the growing season. Liquid fertilisers should not be used, as they will only encourage more algae.
These products cause particles suspended in the water to clump together, making them heavier and results in these particles settling down to the bottom of the pond. Adding a floculant to a muddy pond helps to settle clay particles. The clay sinks and can then be removed by vacuuming the bottom of the pond.
Bacteria cultures are the more natural pond treatment solution. Some are added to boost biological filtration, while others assist in the breakdown of organic waste that accumulates in the bottom of most ponds. These beneficial bacteria are important in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. They are the recyclers of dead material such as decomposing leaves, breaking them down into nutrients, that can then be absorbed by the roots of the pond plants, helping them to grow. The bacteria also help to detoxicify the pond water by consuming the waste from fish and other pond life.
Bacteria need the right environment to work at their best. They prefer to be attached to surfaces. Understanding this fact is significant. The larger the surface area that the bacteria can grow on, the more bacteria. The more beneficial bacteria, the clearer and healthier the pond water. Biological filtration systems can help by creating this kind of environment through various mats and sponges that the bacteria can grow in.
However, we can help the pond environment further, through the addition of large quantities of rocks and pebbles. How does this Help? Imagine that your pond is a simple tank, with nothing else in it, except the pond water. In this pond the bacteria can only grow on the walls and the base of the pond. But, if you add a layer of pebbles, the bacteria can grow on all the exposed surfaces of each and every stone as well. In effect you create hundreds more surfaces for the beneficial bacteria to grow on and therefore have potentially a hundred fold increase in your beneficial bacteria populations. This can only help to improve the clarity and health of your pond.
Beneficial bacteria cultures should be added on a regular basis to most ponds, except during Winter as the cold water does allow for good growth.
There is no denigning the benefits of good aeration to improve the health of a pond. In many cases we find that the need for other treatments can be reduced by adding an aeration system to a pond. The fish thrive, but also the natural bacteria are able to grow faster in an aerobic environment. By speeding up their metabolism we speed up the process of the organic decomposition. The bacteria help to breakdown the organic waste from decomposing plant leaves and even the fish faeces. This in turn, helps to reduce the potential for polluted pond water and also reduces the available nutrients in the pond that could otherwise feed the algae. In effect we can naturally starve out the algae.
If you need help in selecting or sizing a filtration or aeration system for your pond, please feel free to contact us. Our pond service team can offer onsite consultancy and advice. We can even help solve existing filtration problems, or even design systems to suit your needs and budget.