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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!

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!

What Can I Do To Keep My Pond Clear? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of a Pond.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: What can I do to keep my pond clear? – Kara of Florida

A: When I ask my service customers what their top three goals are for their pond, clear water is almost always at the top of the list. Clear water is aesthetically pleasing and is a sign that your pond is healthy and balanced. Across the board, your first step towards clean and clear water is to aerate.

Airmax® Aeration keeps the water in motion, allowing it to stay oxygenated while venting toxic gasses and clearing the water. Beyond aeration, there are a few easy steps to follow to clear up that water:

Start by finding the source of the problem. Dip a clear glass of water out of your pond and begin the diagnosis. Match what you see to the following problem/solution.

  • Pea Soup Colored Water: This is typically caused by a heavy bloom of planktonic algae. When treating for planktonic algae you must be very careful. Treating too big of an area at any one time could cause oxygen levels to deplete to a point where your fish could die. We highly recommend to have an aeration system running when treating for this type of algae. To help with this issue in the future, you must limit the nutrients that are entering the pond. Do this by limiting organics such as grass clippings, twigs, leaves, branches, etc. from entering the pond. Be careful of fertilizing around your pond as this too will cause algae blooms. Using EcoBoost™ will help bind any nutrients currently in the pond and begin using PondClear™ or MuckAway™ natural bacteria to help break down any organics that have already gotten into the pond. These bacteria work by eating any suspended nutrients and bottom muck in the pond to help keep your pond clean and clear.
  • Milky Gray or Chocolate Milk Colored Water: Most often this problem is caused by heavy runoff laden with silt and sediment. Aeration will typically take care of this problem within a week or two. If the problem persists, the soil in the water is probably clay. In this situation, apply a double dose of EcoBoost™ to try and help flocculate the suspended particulates.
  • Stained Brown/Black Like Tea or Coffee Colored Water: This color water is usually a result of heavy leaf litter on the pond’s bottom. When leaves sit for long periods of time, they can release tannins into the water column causing brown/black colored water. Use a Lake Rake to rake out the bulk of the material, and follow up with MuckAway™ to help accelerate the decomposion of the remaining leaves. As always, we recommend to aerate.

The recurring theme that we see here is that aeration is key when trying to solve pond problems. In nearly every case, your pond will greatly benefit from the use of Airmax® Aeration System. Aeration Systems will help create an environment for aerobic bacteria (like bacteria found in PondClear™ or MuckAway™) to thrive. This aerobic bacteria will decompose organics at accelerated speeds and will help reduce the sediment at the pond’s bottom.

How Do I Get Rid of Brown Tea Colored Water? – Water Garden Q & A

Activated Carbon


Q: I have brown tea colored water and I can’t seem to get it cleared up. Is there something that will remove color from my water? – Karen of Oklahoma

A: Brown or tea-colored water is generally caused from “tannins” in the water. As leaves or other vegetation accumulate and decay in the water garden, they begin to leech these tannins dying the water a brown or tea-color.

The Solution:
Activated Carbon. Activated Carbon absorbs tannins and other toxins such as chlorine from city water. Place the activated carbon in a fine mesh bag and place in your skimmer or filter box. If you don’t have either of these, simply place it near your pump or in the area of your pond that receives the best circulation. The water must run “through” the carbon to work. Typically 4-6 lbs. will treat 1,000 gallons for 2-3 months.

Pond Netting

Use Pond Neting to stop leafs from discoloring your water and adding muck to the bottom of you pond this fall with a heavy duty leaf net.