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How does carbonate hardness affect my pond and fish? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How does carbonate hardness affect my pond and fish?

Q: How does carbonate hardness affect my pond and fish?

Bob – Underhill, VT

A: Hard water, soft water – you’re probably familiar with these terms as they relate to the water flowing through your home’s plumbing. But the water in your pond or lake can be hard or soft, too, and it matters to your fish, particularly if you’re using algaecides or herbicides.

A Natural Buffer

The technical term for hard or soft water is “carbonate hardness” and, simply put, it refers to the amount of calcium and magnesium present in the water. The greater the water’s alkalizing mineral content, the harder the water is. Those microscopic minerals actually act as a buffer that offsets swings or dramatic changes in your pond or lake’s pH level caused by chemicals found in algaecides and herbicides.

Fish Friendly

The beneficiaries of the hard water’s buffering calcium and magnesium are your fish. Carbonate hardness in your pond or lake affects the sensitivity of certain fish—mainly trout, koi and goldfish—to the acidifying chemicals found in algaecides and herbicides. If you have high carbonate hardness, or hard water that contains more than 50 ppm of the minerals, the fish are less likely be affected compared to those fish in that are in soft water.

Measuring Minerals

If you’re curious about your water’s carbonate hardness level, or you plan to use an algaecide or herbicide in your lake that requires hardness to be at about 50 ppm, test your water with a Carbonate Hardness Test Strip.

The strips are easy to use. Simply open the pouch and dip it into the water for three seconds, remove it from the water, wait 20 seconds for the water to mix with the solution in the pouch, and remove the strip. To see what your water’s carbonate hardness is, match the color on the strip to the color block on the package.

Remember to perform this test each time before you treat your pond with herbicides or algaecides as the levels of calcium and magnesium in the water may fluctuate.

Pond Talk: How often do you test your lake for carbonate hardness?

Carbonate Hardness Test Strips - Test Your Water Hardness With Ease

My water is brown! What should I do? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

My water is brown! What should I do?

Q: My water is brown! What should I do?

Dale – Anselmo, NE

A: In the spring and summer, many pond owners complain of green water caused by algae blooms—but in the late summer and fall, brown water causes headaches. If your pond or water garden has taken on a tea-colored hue, follow these simple steps to get your water back to its crystal-clear self.

An Optical Illusion?

First of all, take a closer look at the water and determine whether it’s really brown or just reflecting dead debris in the pond. Grab a clear glass, dip it in the water and hold it up to the light. Is it clear? Then it’s reflecting pond debris. Is it brown? Then the water has been colored by tannins released by dead leaves, similar to what happens when you steep your breakfast tea.

Clear Water: Add Bacteria

If your water is clear, you can minimize the brown-water optical illusion by using a natural bacteria, like Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense®, to help decompose the muck and accumulated debris on the bottom of your pond. The beneficial microorganisms found in this cooler-weather additive break down the organic materials, leaving your water looking clean and clear.

Brown Water: Add Carbon

If your water is brown, you can use Pond Logic® Activated Carbon to absorb and correct the tea-colored discoloration. To use the carbon, pour the granules in a mesh bag and place it in an area of fast-flowing water, such as in your skimmer or waterfall. Leave it there until the carbon absorbs the dissolved organics. Typically, 4 to 6 pounds will treat 1,000 gallons of water for two to three months.

Remove Dead Debris

In addition to either adding beneficial bacteria or using activated carbon, you should also remove any accumulated dead or decomposing debris in your pond with a vacuum like the ClearVac™. If leaves or other blown-in debris continue to be a problem during the fall months, consider covering your water feature with netting, like the The Pond Guy® PondShelter™ Net Kit.

Pond Talk: Have you had success using activated carbon in your water feature?

Pond Logic® Activated Carbon - From Brown To Clear Water...FAST!

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