Creating Balance in a Fish Pond
Here are a few simple hints to keep your fish pond clear. When constructing the pond, keep in mind the way Mother Nature does it, slow and easy. The prominent ingredients are: Water, plants, fish, snails, and soil.
When man assembles the pond, everything is rushed and it takes time for all the elements to settle together or “balance”, into a clear pond.
Wherever there is light and water, algae may be a problem. Hundreds of types of algae exist, from simple types of plant life like microscopic specks ranging to seaweed, while they are unsightly, they are not necessarily unhealthy. Free-swimming algae are the most common type in the garden ponds. Individually they cannot be seen, but together they make the water appear green or brownish. Other algae-growth form threads and others still, create moss-like coverings on walls and shells. Small amounts of algae are desirable as small fish feed on it. Thread-like algae are often associated with crystal-clear water and are evidence of the oxygen-generating ability of algae. All plants, including algae, absorb nutrients available in the water added by fish waste, decaying foliage and excess food.
Help reduce algae by adding plants that will starve out the algae by consuming the available nutrients and those that will help cut off the sunlight needed for algae to thrive. Shading the pond with leaves (lilies, hyacinths etc.)keeps the water cooler, which is desirable. Chemical control may also be used if necessary, however great care must be taken to select chemicals safe for fish and plant life. As the pond matures, the need for chemicals should diminish. Keeping decomposing material in the water to a minimum will also lower the nutrients in the water, less food will then be available for the algae to feed upon. Prune off old leaves and skim the pond surface for fallen leaves.
It may take two weeks to a few months for the pond to “balance” or clear. Sun, temperature, numbers of fish and plants, etc. are factors in balancing your pond. Even well-balanced ponds may look cloudy, this is normal and, in fact, helps conceal planters and feed the youngest fish.
The pH of the water can also affect pond balance. The average pond should be between 7.5 and 9.5 with 8.0 giving the least algae growth and maximum plant growth. Exceptionally acid ponds (low pH) may require small amounts of baking soda to correct pH to 8.0. Use only about a teaspoon per 100 gallons of water each day to change pH.
The following formula is suggested for achieving pond balance: One medium to large water lily, twelve water snails, tow fish (4″ to 5″) and 8 strips of oxygenating grasses to 1 sq. yard of surface area.