So, you know how when the house cleaner is coming over to clean, you pick up the house, or when you drop your car off to the mechanic, you wash it? What would you do if Eric was coming to see your pond? What you believe is bad or dirty may be significantly different than what he notices.
Eric does pond inspections all the time. Sometimes the owners know they have a particular problem, like the water is so green, you can’t see the fish, or the pump stopped working, or the pond isn’t holding water. But he also does inspections where the owners just want a “check up”, so to speak.
If you were having Eric stop by to check on your pond, what “house cleaning” would you do before he got there? Empty the skimmer, clean the leaf trap, wash the filter pads, trim up the plants? Well, while he will peek at those things, what he is really going to look at is circulation, aeration, population, and algification. Those four things are going to tell him a lot about your pond, without him even having to open a filter.
Circulation is nearly the be all, end all, of your pond. If the water is not moving through the filtration equipment fast enough, and the pond is not turning enough times an hour, we know there will be water quality issues, without even having to run a test.
Your pond should be turning at least 4-6 times an hour if it is under 2000 gallons, 2 times an hour for 3000-6000 gallons, and at least hourly if larger than that. Until you get to a pond that is nearly the size of a lake. Then the game changes.
We also want to avoid dead spots in ponds. Areas where the water doesn’t move will allow wind born debris to settle to the bottom, where it will decay, and create water quality issues.
Aeration is important not only to help get oxygen in the water for the fish, but also to help break down debris in the pond more quickly. Without getting too “high school chemistry” on you, the positive ions on the oxygen molecules bond with negatives ions on hydrogen sulfide molecules (rotting debris in the pond molecules) and through a chemical reaction, help to break down the debris.
Aeration can be provided either through air bubbles from an air pump, or from the waterfall pounding on the water, breaking the surface tension, and allowing oxygen to be pulled down into the water.
Fish population is a huge clue about your pond. If your fish are 5 years old, and still only 6″ long, we know that you have not been doing your water changes, so your water quality may be bad.
Fish, like people, release pheromones into their environment. Unlike people, those pheromones can’t blow away on the wind. They are trapped in the water like a closed up room traps air. Think of a teenage boy’s bedroom!!!! Unless you do a water change, those pheromones stay put.
Pheromones tell fish a lot of things, but one specific thing they say is, to grow, or not to grow. If the pheromone level is high, they don’t grow. So, we know, if your fish aren’t growing, the pheromone level is high, so you haven’t been doing water changes.
Now, this is a pond, not a pool, so we WANT algae. Yup, you read that right. Algae in a pond is good. But, not ALL algae is good. A nice layer of algae coating the liner, or rocks and gravel in your pond, is just what the Digger ordered, but if you have chunky, bubbly, algae floating on the surface, a boatload of stringy algae, or so much green algae you can’t see 2″ into your water, there may be something fishy in your set up. Pun TOTALLY intended.
These types of undesirable algae can indicate poor filtration, too much food, debris build up, proper maintenance failure, low oxygen, and more.
So, go try to evaluate your pond like Eric would. Assess your circulation, aeration, population, and algification, get it all in order, and you will be well on your way to celebration!
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