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How do I prevent my pond from clouding up when it rains? – Pond & Lake Q & A

If your pond looks cloudy like this, then this article is for you!

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: How do I prevent my pond from clouding up when it rains? – Dave in Missouri

A; When the skies cloud up and the rain starts to fall, it’s almost a guarantee that your farm pond or lake will cloud up, too. Muddy runoff, along with nutrients like grass clippings, twigs, trees, livestock waste, yard and farm fertilizers drain into the water, feeding the dreaded algae and triggering a bloom. Before you know it, your pristine pond turns into a cloudy green mess.

With some preventative steps, however, this can be avoided. Try these tips to keep your pond clean and clear when the rain starts falling:

Install a pond-wide aeration system: By churning and roiling the water in your lake with a Pond Aeration System, the sediment and debris disperses throughout the water column, allowing the beneficial bacteria, like those found in PondClear®, to consume it and get rid of it. The aeration system also breathes life-giving oxygen into the water, which your fish and pond inhabitants will appreciate!

Create a fertilizer-free ring around the pond: Sure, some fertilizer may make its way into your pond, especially if it’s on a farm or near livestock, but if you establish a perimeter around the pond that you leave fertilizer-free, it will cut down on the nutrient load going into the water and feeding the algae. You can also try using organic or low-phosphorus fertilizers.

Boost your beneficial bacteria: When you know rainfall is in the forecast, add some natural beneficial bacteria, in anticipation of the storm. The bacteria will become established and ready to gobble through nitrates, breaking down fish waste, leaves and other organics that accumulate in the pond and naturally improving the water clarity.

Don’t despair when the skies turn stormy. With some planning, you can have a pristine pond all year long despite what the weather forecaster predicts!

POND TALK: What do you do to prevent cloudy water in your pond or lake when it rains?

How do I control floating and bottom-growing algae in my lake? – Pond & Lake Q & A

No Algae Here!

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: How do I control floating and bottom-growing algae in my lake? – Tom in New York

A: Whether it’s floating or submerged, algae can turn a lake into a green mess in no time. It’s unsightly, it’s sometimes stinky and in extreme cases, it can cause a fish kill. The good news is that algae can be controlled no matter what time of year. It starts with controlling the population and ends with a long-term management plan.

Before we dive in, it’s important to understand the difference between algae and weeds. The term “algae” refers to a wide range of single and multi-celled organisms that live in the water and metabolize carbon dioxide into oxygen via photosynthesis, just like plants. They differ from plants or weeds in that they don’t have true leaves, roots or stems.

In lakes and ponds, the most common varieties of algae include: Green floating algae that creates a “pea soup” appearance; Chara or Stonewort, which are a bottom-growing, seaweed-looking type that can be mistaken for weeds, and string or filamentous algae, which are actually long strings of algae connected together.

Sometimes, pond and lake owners may mistake duckweed for floating algae, but if you look very closely, you’ll find that it’s actually duckweed or watermeal. Check out this blog entry to learn more about controlling this invasive weed.

Population Check

If your pond is coated in pea soup or the bottom is carpeted in Chara or string algae, you can knock back the population with a chemical herbicide like Algae Defense®. It provides quick results and it’s formulated to get a pond under control – especially during the hot summer months. Do not use if your pond or lake is stocked with koi or goldfish. If your pond has trout, check your carbonate hardness with a water hardness test kit, like the Laguna® Quick Dip Multi-Test Strips, and make sure the carbonate hardness is above 50 parts per million (ppm) before using Algae Defense®.

Long-Term Strategy

Algae Defense® by Pond Logic® will solve a crisis, but to keep your pond or lake looking clean and clear, you’ll need to be proactive and develop a plan to manage the algae. The most successful approach centers on cutting off the algae’s food supply – nutrients.

Nutrients can come from a wide variety of sources, like grass clippings, twigs, trees, fish waste, yard and farm fertilizers and runoff. As these nutrients break down, they produce ammonia, which triggers the nitrogen cycle. Nitrifying bacteria surround the ammonia, turning it into nitrites and then into nitrates (nutrients) – which then feed the algae.

So, how do you reduce the nutrients in your pond?
Try these tips:

  • Buffer before fertilizing: To prevent inadvertently fertilizing the algae, leave a buffer area around the pond. You can also try using organic or low-phosphorus fertilizers.
  • Aerate, aerate, aerate: Because that muck at the bottom of the pond feeds the algae, you should prevent the buildup with proper aeration.
  • Reduce the muck: Use natural bacteria like MuckAway™ by Pond Logic® to breakdown up to 5-inches of organic muck per year. You can also rake your pond using a Pond & Beach Rake to remove dead vegetation, leaves and other organics that will eventually decompose on the bottom.
  • Reduce sunlight: Like all photosynthetic organisms, algae requires sunlight to thrive. Adding pond dye can help provide shade. If possible, consider adding some non-invasive aquatic plants to your pond. The plants, which also consume nitrates, will also be a source of competition for food.
  • Add beneficial bacteria: You may also consider adding some additional beneficial bacteria, like PondClear™ by Pond Logic®, to your pond or lake. The bacteria gobble through nitrates, breaking down fish waste, leaves and other organics that accumulate in the pond, naturally improving the water clarity.
  • That green gunk can be controlled in your pond or lake. It just takes a little planning and some proactive management. When you see the results, it’ll be worth it!

    POND TALK: When was your worst algae bloom and how did you control it?

    Why is it important to aerate my lake during the summer? – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Airmax® Aeration

    Pond & Lake Q & A

    Q: Why is it important to aerate my lake during the summer? – Eric in Texas

    A: Though the hottest days of summer are nearly behind us, your pond or lake still needs proper aeration – especially as we approach fall, when temperatures shift and your pond water will turn over. An aerated pond is a healthy pond, and a healthy pond is one you’ll enjoy all year long.

    Why Aerate?

    Ponds and lakes go through two stages of life: Stage 1, when the pond has just been excavated and Stage 2, when the pond has had a chance to become established. During Stage 1, which may only last a year, the pond is virtually nutrient-free. It has little or no leaf and plant debris, the fish have produced little waste and the environment has leached almost nothing into the water. It’s like the honeymoon stage of your pond – all the beauty with little maintenance.

    After a season or two, the pond enters into Stage 2. Nutrients, like leaves, plants, fish waste and plant fertilizers, build up in the pond. You’ll start to see large amounts of algae and weed growth. Under the surface, the water column becomes murky with debris; at the bottom of the pond, muck will start to develop. This decomposing organic waste adds even more nutrients to the water – which can cause even more algae and weed growth. Talk about a vicious cycle!

    At the same time, all those decomposing nutrients create a rise in toxic gas levels. Ammonia and nitrites build up in the water while the oxygen level plummets, especially in the deeper depths of the pond. Because ponds without aeration can become thermally stratified, the toxic gases created on the bottom build up in the cool water underneath. A change in temperature, a heavy rain or sometimes even high winds can turn the water over allowing the toxic, oxygen-deprived water at the bottom to mix into the top layer leaving your fish without oxygen and causing a fish kill.

    The Solution

    Many pond owners will turn to fountain aeration or surface aerators to churn the water. While fountains are aesthetically pleasing, they will only draw surface water, leaving the bottom of the pond uncirculated and doing nothing to eliminate toxic gases underneath.

    A bottom bubbler, however, will circulate the entire water column from the bottom up and eliminate the thermal layers that form in the pond or lake. In a permanent state of motion, the action caused by the bubbler will continuously vent gasses and provide oxygen to the bottom sediments, allowing the beneficial bacteria to break down the toxic gasses and muck and give off a little oxygen in return.

    The best option for a bottom bubbler is the Airmax® Aeration system. In combination with aerobic muck-eating bacteria, like MuckAway™ Pellets or PondClear™ Packets, the system can eliminate up to 5 inches of muck per year – and keep your pond or lake healthy no matter the season.

    POND TALK: Why do you aerate your pond or lake?

    What’s the difference between PondClear and MuckAway? – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Pond clarity results with MuckAway and PondClear

    Pond & Lake Q & A

    Q: What’s the difference between PondClear and MuckAway? – Barry in Oklahoma

    A: We can summarize the difference between the two in one sentence: PondClear works to remove excess nutrients from the surface down; Muck Away works to remove excess nutrients from the bottom up. Seems simple – or is it?

    In general, water clarity problems occur when excess amounts of rotting vegetation, leaves, twigs and fish waste accumulate in the pond or lake. These tiny particles are either suspended in the water column, or they settle to the bottom of the pond.

    PondClear packets, which are made of beneficial bacteria, are designed to break down waste and suspended organics in the water column. Imagine thousands of hungry bacteria, which multiply every 20 to 40 minutes, swimming through your pond or lake and gobbling through the excess nutrients. After just a few weeks of use, chemical-free PondClear will begin to clear up your water and dissipate any lingering odors.

    PondClear comes in easy-to-use, pre-measured water-soluble packets that you simply toss into your pond or lake every two weeks. One pail of PondClear will treat a quarter-acre pond for up to six months. It’s safe for use around horses, livestock, birds, fish, pets and wildlife.

    MuckAway pellets, which are also made of beneficial bacteria, are designed to sink to the bottom of a pond or lake to digest the detritus, which are their natural food source. As the bacteria start to work, the muck will begin to break down, noxious odors will dissipate and the water clarity will improve. It’s great for spot-treating troublesome areas, like beaches and shorelines.

    When used as directed, MuckAway will break down up to 5 inches of muck per year. One pail of MuckAway will treat up to 16,000 square feet of pond. It’s safe for use around horses, livestock, birds, fish, pets and wildlife, too.

    Whether you use PondClear or MuckAway, be sure to use when water temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you use an algaecide or herbicide treatment, wait at least three days before adding the beneficial bacteria.

    POND TALK: What successes have you had with beneficial bacteria in your pond or lake?

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