Cleaning algae/green water - 35 g pond with no electrical access? Fun DIY/ Maker project?!?!?!

Discussion in 'Newbies to Garden Ponds' started by SFOAnna, Mar 2, 2018.

  1. SFOAnna

    SFOAnna

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    Hi all! I am new here, thanks in advance for your wonderful advice. I have been reading some of the posts, and it's great to be a part of such a supportive group!

    I have a 35 gallon preformed pond in my 7 foot x 9 foot community garden plot in full sun. I am able to visit the garden on average every 2 or 3 days. I have a few issues, the biggest one I am dealing with is that some kind of rodent is now eating my plants. I have 1/2 inch hardware cloth under the bed, but this critter(s) is coming from the top. I am thinking of making an above ground enclosure, which is not so lovely for a pond, but i digress (but happy for any suggestions regarding this too). In the meantime,I have the pond, which I had intended to have temporarily for the winter months,and only because I had divided my container water garden plants and wanted a place for the newly divided plants.

    But *of course* I can't give up the itty bitty pond! And there are 4 small feeder GF and maybe 8 or 9 gambusia living in it. Two very sad japanese irises (maybe I shouldn't have divided in the fall?), a couple of sweetflag grasses, dying anachris, just starting to grow a tad water lily, and a ton of floating (and struggling a bit) watercress that I added about a week ago. A dwarf papyrus just got pulled out and sent to the morgue (too much sun? kitty litter medium not good for the roots?). I have a small solar powered fountain pump that doesn't have a battery, so the fountain is about 2-3 feet max when the sun is full force, but I keep it set to mostly bubble so the water won't run out while I'm not there (learned that the hard way).

    Because of green murky water, I have resorted to two water changes, three if you count the fountain half emptying the pond, in the 4 months the pond has been there. I added beneficial bacteria fluid that the local water garden/koi store recommended and the watercress to offer some shade in the last 1 or 2 weeks,and so hoping that will help with achieving some kind of natural equilibrium against the yucky algae. I'm expecting the watercress to take over the pond surface, and I love watercress salad! I treat the tap water for chlorine of course. I have not been feeding the fish, as they weren't eating. The air temperatures here have been between 35 to 70 in the time the pond has been up. I'm in Northern California, 15 minutes from temperate San Francisco.

    So finally! My question! How can I filter the pond and keep it clear? I need fish to keep mosquitos from breeding. The goldfish eat the little snails, don't know what kind I had. There is no power available at the garden. I know my solar fountain is entirely and woefully inadequate for aeration and for filtration. So the solutions I was considering are: 1) get beefier solar filter [too expensive i think]; 2) use a cordless drill and drill pump fitting to pump water from pond through a DIY quilt batting filter https://www.homedepot.com/p/Milescraft-1314-Drill-Pump-750-13140103/204590189 [my hand gets cramped just thinking about holding the drill trigger that long]; and then I thought: 3) hey, can't I just scoop up the water and pour it over the DIY filter? at 35 gallons or less, is this feasible? How many "rinses" of the entire 35 gallons would it take to clean the water? of course,all the gunk on the bottom wouldn't get fished out (pun intended) with this method, so that's a potential problem too. i do firmly believe that the pond could reach equilibrium, but I am impatient and also concerned that others will complain if the pond looks "dirty".

    The really fun idea I had is if someone could think of a manual pumping system that could be kid-powered. So the children who visit the garden and who love to look for the fish could interact with the pond ecosystem. something attached to an old bike wheel, so when you turn it, the water pumps through something somehow and gets cleaned? something powered by a bike tire pump? or old fashioned hand crank? I tried some google searches and didn't come up with anything. Any suggestions would be most appreciated!

    wow, I really wrote a long post! Obsession will do that to a person.....

    Happy Ponding!
     

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    SFOAnna, Mar 2, 2018
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  2. SFOAnna

    MitchM

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    I think your setup would work well if you emptied it, placed a couple inches of organic garden soil on the bottom, covered that soil with a 1/2 inch thick 6 or 7 mm size gravel cap, planted it with some fast growing stem plants, provided some shade, ran your solar pump for some visual interest and added only a couple small fish after a few weeks.
    After the tub has been planted for a few weeks, the submerged plants will establish themselves and provide a safe environment for the fish.
    Do not add any more bacteria, it's not necessary.
    No filtration will be necessary.
     
    MitchM, Mar 2, 2018
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  3. SFOAnna

    bagsmom

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    I agree with Mitch! I have a 35 gallon preformed pond that I use for my lotus. It looks nasty right now, because the plants are dormant and the sun is growing a big ol crop of algae. However, last year, I was amazed at how Mother Nature took care of the water. I have a mixture of clay soil and clay cat litter. In it are lotus bulbs, potted creeping Jenny, and parrot's feather. There are some snails in there. No fish, although I might put in a teeny couple of fishies this year. (I just used a chunk of mosquito dunks for bugs.). I am hopeful that frogs will find it this year, too! Anyway, the water was amazingly clear with no filtration. Once a little system gets going, nature keeps things nicely in balance! Good luck and can't wait to se the progress!
     
    bagsmom, Mar 3, 2018
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  4. SFOAnna

    brokensword Not all those who wander are lost

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    you wouldn't need the fish to handle mosquitoes if you could keep the water moving; mosquitoes don't like moving water, they like stagnant. That said, it's more fun to have fish!

    Like Mitch says; plants are a great filter and you should encourage their ability to thrive. With a 'pond' this small, you'll have to maintain the plants more than in a larger pond, so they don't take over.
     
    brokensword, Mar 3, 2018
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  5. SFOAnna

    SFOAnna

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    Thanks for the suggestions!!! Thinking about the pond....I decided to keep it in the community garden and within the next month or so, will be draining and moving it when I raise the sides of the garden bed. I think I will, as Mitch suggested: "place a couple inches of organic garden soil on the bottom, covered that soil with a 1/2 inch thick 6 or 7 mm size gravel cap, planted it with some fast growing stem plants" Any suggestions for the "fast growing stem plants"? I'm in Northern California, zone 9 i think. Thank you!
     
    SFOAnna, Mar 9, 2018
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