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How to Care for Your Backyard Pond

Updated on January 11, 2015
Serene place to relax
Serene place to relax | Source

Many homeowners love to have the water element in their premises. A pond provides relaxation and tranquility in any household. You can even make it as the centerpiece of your gatherings. Ponds are also excellent conversation starters, especially if you have Koi fish in them. As you well know, a pond needs to be cared for constantly. It has to maintain its healthy condition. A healthy, well-maintained pond is clear, clean, and has the scent of a natural body of water.


Coastal marine environments and freshwater ecosystems are mainly impaired by eutrophication. It is an event, in which excessive algae and plants overwhelm the body of water. It is brought about by the increase in one of the factors needed in the process of photosynthesis. Too much nutrients, sunlight, or carbon dioxide can stimulate the growth of algae in your pond. Eutrophication is a naturally occurring event. Since the dawn of man, it has accelerated in various bodies of water all over the world. Recreational bodies of water, fisheries, and sources of drinking water also suffer from eutrophication. In the United States alone, an annual cost of eutrophication damage is about 2.2 Billion USD.

You can immediately tell if your pond is suffering from eutrophication if there are dense algal blooms, very low water quality and clarity, and a foul smell. When the algal population is too much, sunlight is blocked from entering the water. Lack of sunlight eventually kills the aquatic plants. If the plants die, other aquatic organisms are eliminated as well. Eutrophication depletes the water’s dissolved oxygen, killing the fishes. It also makes the water acidic (high pH), which makes aquatic organisms blind by disabling their chemosensory abilities. Eventually, the affected body of water turns anoxic, hypoxic, or considered a dead zone.

Eutrophication threatens recreational, commercial, and agricultural areas in the world. It is associated with the drastic changes made in the structure of aquatic communities. When algae (cyanobacteria) bloom, they dominate the body of water. This detrimental event is still a serious threat. Whether it is in your pond or in your area’s lake, algal populations should be controlled. Various groups have devised plans on how to control algal populations. Installation of shading, alteration of nutrient ratios, biomanipulation, application of algaecides, and applying pond dyes are some of the employed strategies for eutrophication.

How you care for your pond is the reflection of the type of pond owner you are. If you take the time to care for your water feature, you will reap the rewards. One of the primary signs that you care for your pond well, is the regulated algal population. It is very easy to do this. Just focus on the following pointers and you are on your way to an ideal pond.

Install Some Shade

Like other plants, algae love sunlight. Sunlight helps them produce their food through the process of photosynthesis. Your pond water has many nutrients and if there is abundant sunlight, algae are bound to thrive. When this happens, your pond is easily taken over by algae. The water becomes murky and turbid. Any aquatic life you have in your pond is sure to die because of too much algae.

Shading over your pond is necessary if it is positioned under direct sunlight. Sunlight also increases the water’s temperature. The rise in temperature increases the rate of algal metabolism, allowing them to feed, assimilate, and reproduce rapidly.

Decrease the Nutrients

Pond water can acquire more than normal levels of nutrients. Rain, surrounding plants, waste, wind, and various activities are the usual culprits. The rain brings in runoff from gutters and surrounding plants. The fish you care for in your pond excrete waste products as they thrive in the water. The wind carries sediments, such as leaves and soil into the pond water. Human and animal activities around the pond are also able to bring more nutrients. The added nutrients in the water enable the resident algae to feed and reproduce more.

To lessen the nutrients, install some netting over your pond, so that dead leaves and unwanted sediments can be caught before they enter the pond water. Also, monitor the number of fish you have in your pond. More fish mean more waste. More waste mean more food for algae. Be mindful of how much you feed your fish. Excess fish food, add more nutrients into the water as well. Installing a gutter around the pond can direct the runoff away from the pond water.


Biomanipulation is usually performed in lakes. It is a way to improve the water quality by removing whole species, living in that aquatic ecosystem. The process of biomanipulation is a form of management that aims to reduce toxic phytoplankton (blue green algae). One way to decrease the population of harmful phytoplankton in lakes is to remove the zooplankton-eating fish. Removing these species of fish allows the increase in rooted vegetation. More aquatic plants increase the clarity of the lake water because they help stabilize the lake’s sediments. Zooplanktons also increase in number. They consume the toxic phytoplankton.

You can also do this in your pond by removing excess fish. Doing so reduces the amount of waste products and increases the number of aquatic plants. If algae do not have enough nutrients to assimilate, then they cannot reproduce and take over your pond. Aquatic plants in your pond provide shade to the deeper parts of the water, disabling the ability of existing algae to produce their own food and thrive.

Applying Algaecides

Algaecides are solutions or mixtures, manufactured to eliminate algae in ponds and lakes. Let’s say you have been very busy with work lately and you have not been able to care for your backyard pond. It is now like pea soup. Everything is green! It’s a painful thing to see because when you built that pond, it was pristine. You just weren’t able to maintain it. To restore your pond back to its original, clean, and clear state, you need to get rid of the algae. Most pond owners prefer algaecides. There are regular algaecides and there are green algaecides, like those found in reputable pond care sites.

In administerins algaecides, you have to make sure that you stick to the directions printed in the packaging. If you put too much in the pond water, you will kill fish, snails, plants, and frogs. If you use too little, you will just make the product ineffective in getting rid of the algae. You can use the following formulas in helping you use your chosen algaecide (all measurements should be in feet):

  • If you have a rectangular pond—length x width x average depth x 7.5
  • If you have a circular pond—width x depth x 7.5
  • If you have an oddly-shaped pond—surface area x average depth

Remember that when you administer algaecides in your pond, the algae eventually break down. Carbon dioxide (CO2) and ammonia are released as byproducts of the decomposition. Ammonia is a toxic chemical to fish, even if it is present in very low levels. Carbon dioxide is released when bacterial additives are added into the pond water. The bacteria convert the ammonia into less harmful nitrite and then into nitrate. Even if the water becomes less toxic, the level of carbon dioxide increases. Because of this, you have to make sure that you aerate the pond when you apply algaecides. More aeration is beneficial if you treat your pond during the warmer months of the year. Warmer months lower the levels of dissolved oxygen in ponds.

Even if you have a substantial amount of aquatic plants in your pond, they are not enough to bring up the level of oxygen in the water. Aquatic plants do not produce enough oxygen at night, so the oxygen levels are significantly low. It is always best to administer algaecides during the day. Daytime algaecide treatment allows you to observe your fish and assess the level of oxygen in the water. If the fish move about sluggishly and gasp for oxygen at the surface, the oxygen levels in the water are low. You can also tell if the dissolved oxygen is low if the fish gather around your pond’s waterfall or fountain.

Make sure that you remove the dead algae immediately after the algaecide takes effect. You should vacuum the pond and change a little bit of the pond water to free it from the decayed algae. You can also use sludge removers to help eliminate the debris through accelerated breakdown. Ridding the pond water of the decomposing materials makes sure that the water is safe and useful to the other living organisms after you administer algaecides.

You should ask your pond expert for more guidance on how to use algaecides, if you are still uncertain of what to do. Professional help is always a welcome factor in maintaining or treating your pond. Take note of the mentioned precautions, so that you can enjoy your pond after your algaecide treatment.

Applying Pond Dyes

Pond-friendly dyes should be food grade. Ideally, they are not toxic to you, you fish, or your pets. Administering pond dyes in your pond significantly reduces the amount of sunlight that enters the water. The dark color reaches to the deepest parts of the pond. It usually takes 12 to 24 hours for pond dyes to disperse completely in the water. A gallon can treat an acre of pond water with a depth of 5 feet (5 acre feet).

Using pond dyes confines algal growth to the shallow parts of the water, reducing your problems with stubborn, hard to kill algal populations at the bottom. All you have to do is to spot treat your pond with algaecides. It is ideal to apply pond dyes in March or early April because this is when algae start to germinate. Prevention is always better than treating your pond when the algae have already thrived.

Remember that the pond dye you apply in March starts to fade in May, June, or even earlier. This happens because of dilution (from rainwater), biodegradation, and photodegradation. You should maintain the dark color in the pond so that algal germination does not occur. Measuring the darkness of the dye is done by submerging a white object, attached to a string, on the same spot, at that same time. You can make your first assessment or measurement, two days after application. Perform the succeeding readings every two weeks.

you should replenish the dye in August, so that late summer algal blooms can be prevented. As the cooler months set in, algal growth slows down. The pond dye you applied will continue to reduce the sunlight that enters the water up until fall.

Ponds that have very minimal water inflow benefit most from aquatic dyes. This is always the case even during a heavy downpour. Excavated ponds are also benefited by pond dyes because they receive small amounts of runoff.

Caring for your pond is essential, if you want to maintain its beauty. The natural elements that it contributes to your property are priceless. Your pond provides you relaxation. It is your refuge from a stressful day.

Your pond also reflects the kind of pond owner you are. If days get too busy, you can always seek the help of pond professionals and reliable green pond products. Maintaining your pond is a good way to let your family and friends know that you are an advocate of Mother Nature.

If you realize the need to make some adjustments to prevent pond algae growth, feel free to do so. Knowing how algae thrive helps prevent them from taking over your pond. They are naturally occurring organisms. They actually help balance the dissolved oxygen in the pond, but if the environment provides substantial factors for its growth and reproduction, problems arise, such as eutrophication. It is never a bad trait to be meticulous in caring for your pond. Just make sure that your methods are safe and healthy for you and your entire household.

Prepare Your Pond for Winter

Care for Your Pond During Winter


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