Can someone point me to the Algae-101 post(s)?


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Hi all.

About 3 mos ago (?) I re-did the plumbing on my pond from internal to external pump and in doing so I now have a leak. I cannot find the leak… I have other posts on the forum that describe this problem but that’s not why I am posting this today.

The reason I’m posting this today is, because of my leak, I have to constantly add (chlorinated) city water to my pond. I use de-chlorination products but I still think that the chlorinated water is possibly killing my good bacteria in my filter. I’ve got a severe algae problem that is starting, see pics, and about every other day my external pump basket needs to be sprayed off with a fire nozzle because it is an algae growing haven which blocks the flow of water to the pump.

I have not tested my water yet, but will once I get a new test kit, mine is very old. I’d like to learn what to look for in pH, alkalinity, etc., so if there is a beginners post about these things I would love to be directed there so I can learn. I’ve had my pond for over a decade, and never had this issue to this degree.

Thank you so much!
// Radar //

Equipment:
Lim AquaWave 1/6hp
Oase BioSmart 10000 flow-through filter
Oase Vitronic36 UV-C light (bulb only a few mos old as well)

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Additional info:
-surface area 175 sq/ft
-3600+ gallons volume (15’x3’ with a plant shelf, bog, filter, fountain, etc.)
-if I don’t get help from the rain, I may add equivalent of 300 gallons of water per day. I say equivalent because I may go 2 days and then have to add 600 gallons.
-Water flows very well — waterfall, fountain, and a bottom 1-1/2” “directional” pipe has water moving completely all the time
-Sunlight is an issue, but I do have a shade sail over the pond that helps. The pond temp is high though as I’m in Florida.
-I have a large tree frog and toad population which recently led to thousands of tadpoles to be in the pond. I believe the goldfish were feeding on them as they quit eating “my” food. I haven’t actually fed my fish in 6-8 weeks and they are doing great.
-16 goldfish between 7” and 14” (guesstimating)
-one side of the pond is lower than my yard behind it. I’m surely getting runoff during the large thunderstorms we get in the afternoons here (sometimes daily)
-I have NOT used any algaecides yet.

// Radar //
 
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First thing I noticed is you have no plants in the pond - is that correct? Bacteria alone will not keep the pond free of algae. Algae is actually just another form of plant life that nature intends to keep water in balance and safe for fish. Get some plants growing in your pond and you'll see a remarkable difference.

Why is this just now happening now in a ten year old pond? My guess is your fish have grown and are now producing more waste than the pond can handle without additional biological support. Runoff from the surrounding area isn't going to help, and is especially detrimental if there's any fertilizer in the runoff. Address that if you can. I'm not a big believer in sunshine being a problem - I think it may make the algae greener, but it isn't the cause of algae. The cause is excess nutrients - address the issue and the pond will take care of itself.

300 gallons a day is a LOT of water to lose. Are you seeing where you're losing it from? Adding that much water a day is essentially doing a 10% water change every day - that isn't helping your algae issue either. Pond water matures over time - constantly adding fresh water just keeps turning the clock back on how long your pond will take to get itself in balance.

I'm not a big water tester, so I can't really help there. The basics are easy - ammonia and nitrates/nitrites should be zero. pH needs to be stable - the actually number isn't that important. GH and KH are important, but I don't know much that I can share about those two factors.
Here's one website that talks about ideal values:

 
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First thing I noticed is you have no plants in the pond - is that correct? Bacteria alone will not keep the pond free of algae. Algae is actually just another form of plant life that nature intends to keep water in balance and safe for fish. Get some plants growing in your pond and you'll see a remarkable difference.
I have plants in the bog but none in the pond yet. That’s something I can address right away.

Why is this just now happening now in a ten year old pond? My guess is your fish have grown and are now producing more waste than the pond can handle without additional biological support. Runoff from the surrounding area isn't going to help, and is especially detrimental if there's any fertilizer in the runoff. Address that if you can. I'm not a big believer in sunshine being a problem - I think it may make the algae greener, but it isn't the cause of algae. The cause is excess nutrients - address the issue and the pond will take care of itself.
No, it all started when I decided to get an external pump to replace my (4th) failing internal one. I had to do a TON of muck removal, took out (literally) half-a-ponds worth of irises, shoveled 17 wheel barrels worth of rocks off the bottom, etc. Then I ran pipes through the liner and connected up my new “system” to replace the old. In a nut shell, 16 years worth of overgrown pond was “corrected”. The leak is undetectable... I paid to have HydroScout come scope it even... can’t find the leak. It even leaks once it gets below the pipe bulkheads! Crazy, but I don’t have the time money or energy to replace the liner yet, so, it is what it is, for now.
I wasn’t aware of runoff being an issue till I started looking into this. Def something I'll need to address.

300 gallons a day is a LOT of water to lose. Are you seeing where you're losing it from? Adding that much water a day is essentially doing a 10% water change every day - that isn't helping your algae issue either. Pond water matures over time - constantly adding fresh water just keeps turning the clock back on how long your pond will take to get itself in balance.
I know... it sucks. I feel that that is my MAIN issue, always adding city water in such high doses.

I'm not a big water tester, so I can't really help there. The basics are easy - ammonia and nitrates/nitrites should be zero. pH needs to be stable - the actually number isn't that important. GH and KH are important, but I don't know much that I can share about those two factors.
Here's one website that talks about ideal values:

Thanks I’ll check that out as well! I’ll use my pool and spa strips for a quick reading.

Appreciate your time! ;)
 
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Wow! Your pond has really been flipped! Knowing all that I'm not surprised you're dealing with algae. Plants in the pond won't stop your leak (sorry!) but they will help with your green water!
 
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Yeah. Wish it would have been less painful than it’s been!

Just checked Ph... off the charts for my poll &spa test strips, meaning it’s over 8.4. So I added a cup of white vinegar to pond water and distributed around the ponds edge. Will prob need to do that a couple more times till I get it in correct range (6.5-9.0 from what I’ve read).

Also added a good dose each of microbe-lift aqua-xtreme and nite-out 2.

Plants in bog:

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Really neat pod, love the center water feature ! While the water is circulating, especially with your underground pipe, is there enough aeration? From these pictures it doesn't appear the water is moving. For the water to be aerated, the water movement needs to disrupt the water's surface. Do you have air stones in the pond?
 

addy1

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Air stones like @Lisak1 says might help. Hydrogen peroxide will help kill the algae, but then you need to pull out the dead stuff or it will feed more algae.

That is a neat pond, wish you could find the hole in the liner, that is a issue.
 
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Just checked Ph... off the charts for my poll &spa test strips, meaning it’s over 8.4. So I added a cup of white vinegar to pond water and distributed around the ponds edge. Will prob need to do that a couple more times till I get it in correct range (6.5-9.0 from what I’ve read).
If I can encourage you to do one thing right now it would be to ignore the pH. Stable pH is the goal - not a particular number. Your fish are fine and they are they only reason you would be concerned about pH right now. You basically are dealing with "new pond syndrome". Your pond is struggling to find a balance.
 

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My ph was 5.3 I balanced it up to 7.6 or so. Using crushed oyster shells, bog and plants and time.
 
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Really neat pod, love the center water feature ! While the water is circulating, especially with your underground pipe, is there enough aeration? From these pictures it doesn't appear the water is moving. For the water to be aerated, the water movement needs to disrupt the water's surface. Do you have air stones in the pond?
Thanks, it looks better when it’s not covered in algae! Lol

The filter runs down over about 2 feet of rocks, then falls into the bog with plants, then over the waterfall into the pond. There’s also the center fountain which doesn’t flow much, but a little, twice from the top then to the bottom, then to the pond.

Never had much luck with air pumps... were kinda loud and didn’t produce much air for me. Maybe I just had crappy ones. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
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If I can encourage you to do one thing right now it would be to ignore the pH. Stable pH is the goal - not a particular number. Your fish are fine and they are they only reason you would be concerned about pH right now. You basically are dealing with "new pond syndrome". Your pond is struggling to find a balance.
Well, I’ll follow that advice once I get it within reason. It could be at 10 or 11, no way to know. Once I get it within a readable value I’ll feel okay.
 
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Air stones like @Lisak1 says might help. Hydrogen peroxide will help kill the algae, but then you need to pull out the dead stuff or it will feed more algae.

That is a neat pond, wish you could find the hole in the liner, that is a issue.
True. And thank you... we love having the pond. Just wish I could find that leak. It’s got to be in the liner somewhere; I’ve isolated the plumbing and it still leaked so at least I am sure of what it’s NOT. ;)
 
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I have some of that natural clay powder stuff, prob about 4-5 lbs worth. Forget what it’s called, and to be honest I forget what made me buy it (what the supposed benefits were). Do you think throwing some of that in the pond might help calm things down a bit??
 
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Hard to tell in the picture, but this is a 15” or so wide waterfall that drops over a foot down into the pond.

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Well, I’ll follow that advice once I get it within reason. It could be at 10 or 11, no way to know. Once I get it within a readable value I’ll feel okay.
I doubt your pH is above 9 - your fish would be showing signs of distress. It's not unusual for a newer ponds to have higher pH - and I realize your pond isn't new but you emptied the pond and basically started over. And you're doing forced water changes almost daily. Again - I'd leave the pH alone, but that's just my opinion.

The clay you have is probably koi clay or montmorillonite clay. It is beneficial for the fish as it adds minerals and trace elements to the water. It also binds toxins and acts as a flocculant.
 
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I would stay FAR away from any type of algaecide. Too many horror stories of fish dying from so called fish safe algaecide.

You need to find that leak. Way too much water loss. You can't go on like this. Do you think you damaged the liner when you scooped all that muck out? What did you use? I use a pool net.

The best way to locate the leak is to let the water leak until it stops. The leak will be at that level. If it gets dangerously low for your fish, maybe capture them and house them temporarily in a kiddie pool, stock tank or other container(s) filled with pond water. Aeration will be needed.
 
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I would stay FAR away from any type of algaecide. Too many horror stories of fish dying from so called fish safe algaecide.

You need to find that leak. Way too much water loss. You can't go on like this. Do you think you damaged the liner when you scooped all that muck out? What did you use? I use a pool net.

The best way to locate the leak is to let the water leak until it stops. The leak will be at that level. If it gets dangerously low for your fish, maybe capture them and house them temporarily in a kiddie pool, stock tank or other container(s) filled with pond water. Aeration will be needed.
Did all that. Multiple times actually. Water kept draining. Pulled the fish and it kept going down. It’s in the bottom area somewhere. I think it’s inside one of the holes of the cinderblocks used for the center fountain area. Anyway...
 
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So, what's next...a new liner or find and fix the leak?
I don’t know. Maybe a liquid rubber treatment... maybe putting a sand/Bentonite mix on the bottom and praying every night... ;)

I seriously don’t know. This has been mentally taxing to say the least. Too much work to replace the liner, that’s my last option.
 

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