If not taken care of, your pond can turn from paradise to hell really quickly. You could fall victim to poor water quality and other problems like leaks and fish disease. By following these steps, here are a few common pond nightmares and problems you can easily avoid.
SCARY GREEN WATER MONSTERS
Whether it's string algae on the surface of the rocks in your pond, or discolored green water ("pea soup"), it's all an eyesore! Algae are the result of a combination of factors: warmer seasonal temperatures, excessive nutrients in the water column, and the leaching of springtime fertilizers. Overfeeding is often one of the main causes of excessive nutrient buildup in the water. Uneaten food breaks down and adds to these levels. Make sure to remove all uneaten food from the pond. Feeding once daily is more than enough for the fish. They will also feed on some of the natural algae and insects within the pond.
Adding a variety of pond plants will help starve the algae. Believe it or not, it is recommended that about 60-70% of the pond surface is covered with pond plants. Plants help absorb some of the excess nutrients from the water column. Hornwort, water lettuce, and water hyacinths all make great additions to your pond or outdoor water feature. They have large root systems which allow them to easily soak up the nutrients.
You'll also want to use a pond skimming net to physically remove as much of the clumped up algae as possible - when doing this you will want to dose the pond with some S.A.B stream and pond cleaner (Ecoblast algaecide can be used in extreme conditions, but it is the most chemical-like product we have on our shelves). Using the S.A.B will help kill off the spores that are released into the water when the algae is broken apart.
Adding barley straw pellets or extract will also help break down the algae. Once the barley has fermented, the enzymes produced by the barley help rid the pond of these excess nutrients. We also highly recommend adding beneficial bacteria which also help aid in this process. It is important to follow the directions carefully on these products in order to get the desired results (a clear pond!).
If all else fails you may want to look into getting either the Iongen system (kills string algae by releasing small amounts of copper, zinc, and aluminum that "attack" the algae), or an ultraviolet sterilizer (the water passes through the ultraviolet unit, and is exposed to UV light which rids the pond of green water, parasites, protozoa, and other disease causing bacteria).
HACK JOB INSTALLS
However challenging the basic principles of pond design and pond construction, like the improper placement of your skimmer, biological waterfall filter or incorrect pump sizing, could make the difference between an absolute wonderful pond experience and a spine tingling waterscapes nightmare!
A pond with undersized filtration or undersized pond pumps – thus creating poor circulation, an inappropriate number of mechanical skimmers, and a home owner poorly informed of the proper water treatment routines and pond maintenance procedures.
Another frequently made mistake that we come across is homeowners (& sometimes contractors) believe that you can stop leaks with waterfall foam; however that is not the case. When you are building a custom Backyard Waterfall, it is important to know you will be using the waterfall foam primarily to direct water flow. When the waterfall foam solidifies it is extremely hard, practically like mortar, however it is porous and will not prevent water from slowly bypassing through the foam. This leads to the following paragraph about leaks.
If you notice you have to add water on a daily basis, or hear the "hissing" of your water fill valve constantly running, (after properly setting the water level) you may have a leak, most of which occur along the perimeter of the waterfall and stream. These leaks are generally due to the ground settling which causes the water to trickle over the edge of the liner. These leaks can easily be fixed.
Check the perimeter of the pond, waterfall, and stream for any areas that are wet. This is usually a good indicator that water is leaking over the liner.
Check to make sure any slow moving sections of the stream/waterfall have not become obstructed by leaves, plants, or other debris. This can cause the water to back up and leak over the edge of the liner.
Once you have found the leak, pack additional soil under the liner to raise the edge above the water level. Hide the exposed liner by replacing the gravel and add mulch.
If you have plants growing in your BIOFALLS® filter, it is common for their growth to displace the water, causing it to flow over the back side of the filter. Simply remove enough of the plants to lower the water level.
HORRID FLESH EATING FISH DISEASE
Ulcers (red sores or spots) are fairly common in koi/goldfish ponds and can be caused by several different things. You need to treat ulcers in koi and pond fish as soon as possible. Ulcers are caused by bacteria (Aeromonas sp.) that have penetrated through the koi’s defenses (mucous (slime coat), skin and scales). Ulcers often start out very small, but if left untreated can become large enough to kill the fish. If you need to treat ulcers on koi or other pond fish it is important determine what likely caused it in the first place. In most cases ulcers are caused by parasitic infection, poor water quality, and even spawning.
Parasitic Infection – parasites such as anchor worm, flukes, costia, and ick are common precursors to bacterial ulcers. These parasites break through the mucous and skin of the fish leaving an entry path for bacteria.
Water Quality – is another very common cause of ulcers. When fish are exposed to poor water quality (high ammonia or nitrites) they become stressed and their immune systems are weakened. As a result, parasites and bacteria have a better chance of breaking through the fish’s defenses.
Spawning – is also a reoccurring cause of ulcers. If you have ever witnessed your fish spawning you soon realize that it can get quite rough, especially for the females. Fish often lose scales and get scrapes from rubbing against pots, rocks or pumps in the pond. Spawning can last 3 or 4 days which can take its toll on the fish as well as the water quality; another great chance for bacteria to invade. If you determine you have a parasite problem in the pond, it is important to treat it immediately as well as the treat ulcers in koi.
If left undetected for long, fish can often develop a secondary infection of fungus growing from the dead tissue of the wound. Beneath the green/gray fuzz of the fungus is an advanced ulcer. There are many different treatments for ulcers, some work better than others, but you will always have the best results if you catch it early and treat immediately.
In conclusion, please don't let these pond nightmares scare you from fully loving your water garden experience. Be smart, safe, and proactive about your pond and it will reward you with more treats than tricks.