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How can I get rid of the discoloration in my pond? It looks like a tea pot. – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I get rid of the discoloration in my pond? It looks like a tea pot.

How can I get rid of the discoloration in my pond? It looks like a tea pot. Esther, Eureka, VA

Tea colored water is a common issue that typically comes up later in the year as the weather cools and the trees start to drop their leaves. The ponding season may be coming to an end in a couple of months but you still want your pond looking its very best. Where is this tea colored water coming from and how can you make it go away?

Water discoloration can occur for a couple of reasons both pertaining to organic debris having a significant presence in your pond. If you have a lot of floating organic particulates in your water they will cause turbid or colored water and is usually stirred into the water column via your pump or aeration system. The other cause of water discoloration, and the most common cause of tea colored water, is the presence of an abundance of organic debris. Leaves are the main contributor to the problem as they release tannins into the water which, like you said, leaves your pond looking like a tea kettle. The best way to determine if your pond suffers from floating particulate or an abundance of tannins is by filling a clear jar with pond water and placing it in a still area. Floating debris will eventually sink to the bottom of the jar leaving the water clear looking. If the water is tinted by tannins the water will remain discolored. Once you pinpoint the culprit you can effectively treat the problem.

Since an abundance of organics is to blame in either scenario you will want to start by cleaning the bottom of the pond to remove any muck, leaves and any other remaining debris. The easiest way to do so is to use a Pond Vacuum but if you do not have one yet a Skimmer Net, Gloves and elbow grease will do the trick. Once you have the majority of debris cleaned out of the pond you will want to do a partial water change. Physically scoop or pump out 10 to 25% of the contents of your pond and fill it with clean fresh water. If you have fish in the pond you will want to add Water Conditioner to detoxify the harmful components of tap and well water. If you are fortunate enough to be enjoying warmer weather still and your water temps are above 50° add Beneficial Bacteria to digest remaining organic debris and to keep them from accumulating again. Using Muck Defense® goes a long way in removing hard to reach bottom dwelling muck from between your rocks as well. If your water temps are below 50° substitute your beneficial bacteria products with Seasonal Defense®. To remove tannins from the water place a media bag filled with Activated Carbon in your biological filter. While the bacteria and activated carbon are going to work you may want to consider covering your water garden with a Pond Protector Net Kit or some Pond Netting to keep new leaves and debris from making their way into to pond. A cleaner pond going into the Winter is much easier to maintain come Spring time so a little work now will go a long way later.

POND TALK: How did you chase away tea colored water in your pond? Do you use a pond net in the Fall?

Get rid of tea colored water fast!

5 Responses

  1. Hi. I woke up today with a tea colored pond that was absolutely crystal clear yesterday. I have read all of the explanations, but here is something to defy them all. Yesterday I set up my pond to do a routine water change by setting out 6 18 gallon buckets with our well water . . . just as clear as the pond. But the gH of our well water is 100 ppm, and goldfish need harder water so I added food grade calcium chloride to TWO of the buckets to bring them to 300 ppm. The other 4 buckets get Epsom salt.

    Last night we had a VERY heavy rain. Guess what? The water in the two calcium added buckets turned tea colored along with the pond. The water in the other 4 buckets stayed clear. What other explanation for this can there be, except that something in the rain has reacted to the raised calcium levels in the buckets and the pond? This is not due to run-off mud/debris, leaves/sludge/tannins, rotting vegetation or fish because none of these things were in these two buckets.

    What does anyone think of this? What chemical substance in rain water might cause this? I would appreciate any suggestions or thoughts. Thanks!

    • Hi Linda – Did you use water conditioner? Or add anything besides epsom salt and calcium chloride to the buckets of well water?

      Well water typically has iron in it. It’s likely like the combination of iron, calcium chloride and rain water turned the water brown. How much rain fell? I would also do an experiment and see if the water changes color if it’s left in a garage area over the course of several days. This would take the rain out of the equation.

  2. Our well water has heavy tannin, so it isn’t a matter of removing debris. I will try the activated carbon.

  3. My husband built a ‘pond net’ with PVC piping and door screens. It stands on 4 legs and we bring it up from behind the toolshed to the front yard and place it over the ‘road’ pond which accumulates the most leaves. By having the sides remain open I can still reach under it to feed the fish. We also have a ‘windmil’ pond in the front yard but no trees nearby so it’s easier to keep clean.

    My question is: I leave a layer of leaves in the bottom of the pond and also put a box of dirt/mud in the bottom in case the frogs want a place to burrow into. We have a cinder block on it’s side in the bottom of each pond and this gives the fish a place to hide and, maybe the frog stays in there too. We have had Sumo make it through 3 or 4 winters and would hate to lose him now. Are there any other better options to give frogs a place to spend the winter at the bottom of a pond? The first year we had 8 frogs and tried to relocate them to a deep pond about 1/3 mile away but they all came back. Needless to say, they were small and didn’t make it through the winter. That was pre-cinder block time.

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