Algae and my pond - long list of ?'s
This was originally in response to my post regarding my UV sterilizer. I’m posting as a separate topic as it is now more of a complete overview of my pond.
“#1 Algae problems listed below:
To many fish or snails inside providing to much waste ( remove the excess fish or snails)
Dead plant waste, leaves ect. (use net to remove)
Not doing 20-25% water change once a week
Over cleaning pond this removing good bacteria in pond ( will need to cycle again)
In a to sunny hot location ( move to area with less sun if you can or provide shade with water plants or umbrella or shade cloth above the pond area.”
Thanks for replying. Below is a very long list of information and questions. I greatly appreciate any further advice you have to offer.
In looking at the list I see overfeeding and overstocking as possible culprits. When I do clean the algae I don't remove the substrate, which is a combination of soil and river rock. I just scrub the algae from the outside of the submersed filters and tubing. My UV light is working and it is the proper bulb for the product but the algae actually grows inside the canister! I think it's probably just a crappy product.
I use the compressed barley powder 8 oz packets as directed in Spring and Fall. I used another when I refilled the pond yesterday. Question regarding those at end of post.
The pond doesn't receive any direct sunlight. It can't be moved due to being a permanent attachment to the house. There is virtually no debris because the roof overhang protects it. As such, it doesn't get direct rain water either, just some spray drops.
As for water changes, the high heat here causes evaporation, thus the pond is topped off with fresh well water at least once per week, which would equate to about 10-20% fresh water being added once or twice a week. I have not been in the habit of actually changing the water the way I do my indoor tanks, unless it is to work on the algae issue. I can see where that might be something I need to start doing.
Yesterday I realized I had no clue what all was living in there. I drained the pond down to 1/2 to 2" (depending on the area), moving the fish into a tub of old pond water. Keeping in mind I had semi-drained the pond twice previously, I was astounded at what I found.
For an 80 gal, shallow pond I now have:
- One 5" Koi (thought him long dead)
- Four 5" Goldfish
- Six 3-4" Goldfish
- Something that appears to be a 4" Rosy Minnow, if that's even possible
- At least 25 mosquito fish of varying age and size. I'm sure there were several more fry in the remaining pond water but I couldn't count them.
-As for snails, only could find one live Japanese Trapdoor, but did save three other shells I wasn't sure about. -Only found two tiny garden snails.
My biggest discovery of all was that I have three 8-10" plecos!!! I got those guys nine months ago at 2" and never saw them again. Just assumed they were gone. Scared me to death when they jumped out of their hiding spot lol!
So my questions:
I am a terrible over feeder, finally stopped with my indoor tanks. Someone told me Goldfish need sinking food, (which is impossible to find) instead of floating pellets because they suck in air with they eat from the top - mine are also spoiled because the won't eat from the top. I take pinches of flakes in my hand and hold them under the water until they sink. Aside from probably using too much, is my method a problem?
With the barley packets, or any other barley usage - having read the Sticky on this topic and the instructions on my product: why am I supposed to use less in the summer and more in the Fall and Spring? I thought heat to be a major factor in algae growth. Does my tropical locale change those directions?
Plants: The pond is total shade. Having difficulty finding total shade plants I used Elodea and Moneywort which initially had to be reduced on a regular basis. Perhaps I removed too much because now I have a mass of strings with only a few "leaves" at the end of each. Guessing someone ate some of it, which is okay by me, but: are the strings considered decaying matter? The Elodea can float, so I broke it off and only put back in the tendrils with actual buds or whatever the plant part is called. The moneywort has roots at one end and just some tufts of plant at the other, with long yucky looking strings in the middle. If this is decaying matter, should I just replant the roots and cut the rest out?
I do know Koi and Goldfish are terribly dirty fish. I don't mind finding a good home for a few but would like to keep some of my large Goldfish. Any advice on the maximum number and size I can have in this pond?
Plecos - Again, I had no idea I still had these guys, nor their size. I LOVE them and I thought they were supposed to be great for algae but you may have better information. Can I keep them?
Snails: I've tried in vain to purchase Japanese Trapdoor snails. The one purchase I could afford to make resulted in 12 dead snails in my mailbox. Pretty gross. There is at least one still living. Should I continue my quest for these? Most info pages recommend about 20 for my size pong, but those are also the same people that want to sell me 20.
I know most people view other snails as pests but my indoor aquariums were never better than when covered in snails. I used to take the excess and put them in the birdbath. I'm amazed that my pond only has two when snails are very common to this area. Should I try to stock more common freshwater snails local to the area?
I will put the remainder of my info into another post... please read on.
The trick to fixing an algae problem is first in identifying what is feeding it. To treat it is like putting a band aid on a laceration that requires stitches... and it will only continue to cost you money and get worse at the same time. It sounds pretty clear that over stocking and over feeding are your primary issues. Fixing those, along with water changes to clean up the waste problem, should help you to battle the algae. Adding plants that can tolerate your environment will also help to out compete the algae for food, which not only resolves the algae problem but helps to keep water quality in better condition in the future so it stays gone.
Before I go I wanted to address your comment about the overhang which means no rain water into the pond. This is also going to contribute to your algae problem and require actual water changes instead of top offs. Rain water is a water change for a pond... filling it beyond its level and forcing old water out while putting clean, fresh water in. If the rain can't do this then your pond is not getting any water changes at all. Imagine such an overstocked 80 gallon aquarium with heavy, messy feeding and no water changes? Thats basically what you're getting. Is there a way you can route/direct rain water into the pond? There are ways to create rainwater traps and using pvc pipe, channel the rain water into the pond.
And lastly, you didn't make mention of filtration in your pond? What kind of filter are you using? Is there any media in it? Adding a good filter with carbon or PuraPad can help to remove nutrient levels that contribute to algae growth. If all you have is a pump, then you are not getting filtration other than biological, and it sounds as if your waste levels have overwhelmed that already.
If there's anything more I can do to help please let me know... I will do all I can. I have been keeping ponds of various sizes with various plants and species of fish for many many yrs. I have lots of tips/tricks to help with situations such as yours if needed. I have even built my own filtration units that attached to fountain heads for use as a temporary filter... turned out to work better than the expensive pond filters sold in the stores and was cheap/easy to make, just not as pretty to look at. Something like that may be just what you need for your initial clean up period.
Once I know what kind of algae you are battling I may have more ideas/suggestions for you.
Thanks so much for the reply! I do see that overstocking is the primary issue now, not having realized so many were in there. I'm in the process of creating another pond for the backyard, again with the primary purpose of mosquito control so I'm planning to move some of the goldfish and one pleco, then find homes for the others.
I'm especially thankful for the info on rain water. I can easily divert rain water to the pond but I wasn't sure if I should. That will be my next undertaking.
As for algae, I had all three - string hair, slime and the kind that turns the water green. I removed all I could from removable items and sides of pond, but left the bottom substrate alone so as not to remove all good bacteria. I know there are still spores waiting to bloom but I used the barley pack, and am now removing and rinsing the clustered algae daily. So far so good as long as I keep up with it.
For filtration I use a UV sterilzer with a sponge-type filter. Not sure if I'm using the proper terminology here but the submerged pump has a sponge filter, then the water goes through the sterilzer and back into the pond. Right now I have an extra sponge filter pump in there to collect the algae sediment and help with airation.
I've got plenty of carbon filters I could add without having to buy a new set-up. I always get confused though, do I want the carbon on the intake or outflow side of the water? Does it really matter as long as the water is going through the carbon prior to re-entering the pond?
When diverting rain water be sure to do so safely with the fish and their environment in mind. I have seen people simply move gutter drain pipes to flow into their ponds, which is something you don't want to do. Not only is there the risk of metal and paint contamination to the water, but gutters tend to collect a lot of organic debris such as leaves and dead bugs. These things will also contaminate the water, which can contribute to the problem and create new ones instead of resolving the original issue.
In regards to filtration and carbon use, this should be temporary until you resolve the original cause of the problem. Beyond that there should be no need for it. Carbon tends to be most effective on the intake end of a filter, which is why its typically put into the box of a HOB or into a canister. How fast the water flows through it will determine how effective its is, the slower the water movement/more contact with carbon, the more effective it will be. With that said, the home made filters I have created all attached to the outflow end of things, as they fit on top of a fountain head so the water bubbles up through them before going into the pond. So, whatever is going to ensure the most contact with flowing water through it is what I suggest you use... it depends on the type of filter and how it works.
In regards to the UV unit... please keep in mind that these have their limit as well. How quickly the water travels through the unit makes a huge difference, just as with the carbon I mentioned above. If the water moves through it at a fast/heavy rate, that means less contact with the UV, which means less is being destroyed as intended. A UV sterilizer also will not eliminate all algae growth in any pond, and is more effective at controlling excessive amounts of bacteria, fungus, parasites, etc. from taking over in a given situation. When you are working with an outdoor environment such as a pond, all of these things will be ever present, introduced by the environmental factors around it. The goal for any pond is in control, not total elimination.
Knowing you are dealing with multiple types of algae tells me that over population is only a part of your water quality problems. Hair algaes are primarily fed by phosphate, which is usually introduced mostly through prepared foods, especially flake foods. Over feeding is something you will need to learn to get under control if you wish to get rid of or control the hair algae. For the initial clean up, the carbon should help to remove some of the phosphate, as will water changes (provided the new water is not loaded with phosphate). Many tap water sources are heavy in phosphate and can require a specific phosphate remover to control. If you find this is a need let me know and I can suggest a few different product options I have had great results from in the past. You might want to consider testing your water for phosphate content, either by taking a water sample to a lfs or in purchasing your own test kit. Because phosphate can be difficult to control when its found in tap/source water, having a kit on hand is the only way to help monitor its fluctuations to make it easier to deal with.
Best of luck to you & your fish. Post some photos of your pond, and the new one when you finish it. I love to see the beauty others create!!
Thanks again. I was just reading about phosphates in another forum. It seems to be something basic FAQ sites for beginners tend to overlook. I use well water for the pond, going to test it.
The biggest problem seems to have been overfeeding of flake food. I do have small floating pellets, going to have to train the guys to eat these.
Also going to create a carbon filter for the outflow. I put activated carbon in a peice of old pantyhose and hang in my indoor tank. Going to do the same abd have my outflow tubing run through it.
As for pics, unfortunatley my pond is not at all pretty. It's very utilitarian, created for mosquito control and doing a great job. Once I get everything stablized for a long period of time I'll work on beautifying it one piece at a time.
Thanks again for all your help.
You do realize that feeding the fish in a pond created for mosquito control basically defeats the purpose? Mosquito larvae are a really good, healthy food for those fish. Adding other food usually means one of 2 things... either they are eating less mosquito larvae or they are eating less of the food you are adding for them. An area with a high mosquito population should not require other foods added.
Also, with the carbon.. if you snake a tube of water through it, be sure the water coming out of the tube is the water that's going through the tube. It needs to be moving/flowing "through" the carbon in order for the carbon to be effective. Carbon exposed to water that is mostly still around it isn't going to be effective.
If you notice on a HOB filter, the box area where carbon is put, has water constantly moving through it... same with a canister filter... and be sure to change out the carbon ever couple of wks until you bring down some of the nutrient level. Carbon does get used up. The higher the nutrient level the faster the carbon is spent.
Best of luck! (I would still like to see photos of your pond... "pretty" or not. People tend to learn a lot from seeing what other people are doing/have done) With the ability to actually see what you have set up, I may have other ideas to offer you, too.
How many times should I feed my fish in my pond? I seem to have an inordinate of algae growth that gets worse every time it rains. My fish are dying one by one! I have a 500 gallon pond with 7- 1" long goldfish, (I used to have 9). HELP PLEASE!!
You really don't need to feed the fish in an outdoor pond, they find plenty of natural food on their own. Algae problems usually indicate an upset in balance of light and nutrient levels. Have you tested the pond water yet? I would start there, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and pH. Those numbers will help us to help you.
Does your pond get a lot of direct sunlight during the day? If so, how many hours/day and how much of the pond gets the full sun? Are there any pond plants in there? Plants such as lilies, water hyacinth, and water lettuce can help a lot with creating cover/protection for the fish and also to block sunlight, plus they help to use up excessive nutrient levels that feed algae blooms.
With this being spring I would also check to see if there are a lot of leaves and other types of natural organic debris in the pond from the fall season... all of the things that blow into the pond during fall will slowly break down and add to the excessive nutrients that contribute to algae blooms.
Does your pond have a filter? If so what type? Is there carbon in the filter?
Can you post any photos of the pond and any filter you are using in it?
The more information you can provide the faster we can help you to sort out what the problem is and get it resolved in a safe way.
Algae growth getting worse after it rains can indicate nutrients are being washed into the pond. On top of answering the above questions, do you fertilize your yard? Do you have dogs that like to use the bathroom around the pond? And a picture never hurts. It's not a bad idea to let us see what kind of landscape your pond is in.
Pond feeding schedules depend on water temperature because fish metabolism is regulated by water temperature. Do you have a thermometer in the pond?
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