The original pond (built in 1999) was left behind when we moved in 2003. It really added to the quality of life whether sitting around the dining room table listening to the falling water, or walking past the fish and lush vegetation on the way to the mail box. Certainly well worth the little extra effort to keep it clean and healthy. What a relief from the weed-patch that previously occupied the site! I learned a lot, to be sure. Like, don't use algae control chemicals without taking extreme care of lilies and hyacinths.
My new home has a professionally installed pond. It has a lot of nice features my old pond didn't have, like auto-fill, an external filter, and a nicer environment for plants and fish. It still suffers from the same challenges from algea that all ponds must contend with.
I've learned (the hard way) that one should never panic over algae growth and attack the problem with an algaecide. Algae is a green living plant just like other plants in the pond. Algae killer will kill them too. Water lilies are particularly vulnerable. Just don't use the stuff. If you have a big algae problem going on, then there's too much nitrogen in the water from some source, be it decaying plant material or fish food.
I don't feed my fish at all. They get plenty of stuff to eat from bugs, earthworms and slugs that haplessly wander into the pond. I don't grow koi or other fancy fish. They're awfully expensive cat food. I get goldfish people usually use to feed other larger fish. They grow quickly, are quite colorful, and don't mind if the water temperature drops near freezing. Out of the dozen or so I stocked my pond with last summer, a single pair survived the winter. They had babies, and now there's probably a half dozen or so new fish that seem to be much more pond savvy, and seem to avoid the cats more successfully.
OK, back to the algae. A spray bottle with a concentrated solution of bleach works wonders on the face of the waterfall for removing algae. Turn off the water for a several hours and allow the algae to dry before treating. Allow chlorine to evaporate for an hour or two after as well. The algae will bleach out white and be gone in a couple of days. Take care not to get the bleach in the water, where it will kill important algae control bacteria, and then you'll have a real mess. Fish don't like bleach either.
I've also learned to treat floating plants by removing them to five gallon buckets filled with a dilute solution (1/4 cup bleach to 5 gallons water) for a half hour to remove algae from their roots. It wipes out the algae and frees the roots to do their job. I remove the rest of the algae mechanically. Think of it as manual nitrogen removal. Lots of floating plants do two things - they help keep light levels low discouraging algae growth, and they process the excess nitrogen, which also reduces algae growth.
I always expect a dramatic algae bloom in the spring. Algae can grow vigorously and very quickly the instant the water temperature gets warm enough to support it. The rest of the plants take more time to get up to speed. This is probably the most important time to be sure the nitrogen levels in the water are as low as possible. This past spring (2002) was my most successful to date. The algae bloom was minimal and easily controlled with manual removal over a period of just a few days.
For more details on the construction and landscaping of my pond, please visit the photo album below. I was so enthusiastic about the completed project that there are even some 3d shots. Oh, well...
Early Pond Stuff...
The Photo Album
- Phase 1 - The hole has been dug, the rock is in.
- Phase 2 - The liner has been installed, rock edging is in place and the pond has been filled with water
- Phase 3 - External Landscaping
- Phase 4 - The Contemplation Bench
- Phase 5 - Miscellaneous views of the completed pond, May 30, 2000
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