Don't know if this is the right place to post this, but need help.


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I have a 5000 gal lined pond, about 12 years old, with goldfish. I have had green water before, but always cycled itself out. This year, I believe that someone sprayed fertilizer around my pond. Got green, did a 500 gal water change, and it kept getting worse and worse. We are on a well, and this summer, am in a severe drought area, so water changes had to stop. I tried shop vacing the bottom - was ALOT of sludge on the bottom, that is now floating to the top. I have not lost any fish, and am only feeding every 3 days. I want to drain the pond, put the fish in a plastic swim pool, and clean the pond completely, and lightly spray wash it down. Only problem, I need to wait till mid September to make sure my well can handle cleaning out the pond. I plan on having water delivered - and will slowly add the water to the swim pool to adjust the fish to the new water. My problem is, living in Central NY, cold weather starts to come around Mid Oct. Is there any thing I can add to the new pond water, to get the bacteria going before winter freeze. It has to be cleaned before winter - I know the fish would not survive the ice buildup on the pond. Any help, any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Welcome karyl :) I haven't seen your pond, but am thinking with 5000 gallons and gold fish, they should be fine remaining in the pond over the winter. You could use a Pond Breather, aerator, de-icer, to provide O2 and keep an area open to de gas the pond. If they remain in the pond, perhaps you won't feel under such a time crunch to resolve the algae.

Have you tested your water? You might have high phosphates, if the area was fertilized. Can you increase the circulation and aeration in the pond? I've found both of those things to be very helpful with algae. I use a long handled pool net, to scoop out debris.....I had a lot of it this Spring and it would sink, then rise.

If you can post pictures it would help.
 

Mmathis

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I was thinking similar thoughts to @Tula. Once the sludge has a chance to settle back down and isn't being actively disturbed, the water should be OK for the fish, at least until spring when maybe you'll have a better time-line. Aeration would be helpful.
 

Mmathis

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@karyl Oh, and hello, welcome! Glad you joined. Your 12 years of experience would be nice to share with others, as it sounds like you have a good handle on what's going on and the necessary steps to keep your fish healthy.

Back to your question of putting something in the water, like beneficial bacteria..... If you go that route.... Most of us don't hold much faith in that. Do you have any rocks in the water, something with lots of surface area that would be growing the beneficial bacteria? If you set up the holding tank now, and only put in a few fish with a good filter and seed the tank, it's still going to take weeks for the bio-filter to be cycled, and that's depending on the size of the holding tank, etc. Then you have to be concerned with insulation for the tank -- is it going to be outdoors?

All in all, I think the least stressful option for your fish is NOT to move them.
 

addy1

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It has to be cleaned before winter - I know the fish would not survive the ice buildup on the pond. Any help, any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
Get a pond breather, it keeps a good exchange going. That is all I use in the winter, I do not clean my ponds that well
 
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Thank you everyone for your response. I do keep a pump going all winter, with the output near the surface - but sometimes, in a harsh winter, I have to go out and clear it off (not unusual to have 5 ft of snow on the pond). I am posting a picture of when I drained some water last spring, to refill with fresh. Where the lily pots are, is about 2 ft below the water level. From what I can tell, there is about 1-1/2" of sludge on that shelf - cannot imagine what is on the bottom. I have 2 DIY filters that usually do the job, going to the waterfall. Right now, I also have a pump in the front, with 2 outputs going to the corners, to keep the water moving. I haven't been able to clean the filters much this summer, do to water issues. The water that I would replace in the pond is well water from a different source, so no chlorine or other goodies added. I am just concerned about the fish surviving the winter with all that junk in the bottom. The pond is roughly 15' x 15', and the deepest part is about 4-1/2' deep.
Fish would not be in the plastic pool for any more than a week if I did the cleanout this fall. Catching 100 goldfish would be the hardest part of this ordeal. Cleaning the pond, another day, then getting the water on the 3rd day. Would slowly exchange fresh water for the water in the plastic pool until all is done. Then the fish back into the pond a few days later. Also, its been a hot summer, and only about 1/2" of rain since Mid May, unusual for here.
 

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cas

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Hi Karyl. If it were me, I would let the sludge settle and vacuum out the sludge accumulated on the bottom. I would do it in stages so as not to stir up too much of the muck at a time. I don't think it is necessary to drain the whole pond and clean it.
 

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The fish have been in this environment for years now -- this sludge didn't build up over night. Use @addy1's suggestion about the pond breather to keep the ice open, and just wait until spring when you won't be in such a rush. Moving the fish back and forth will probably cause more stress on them going into winter than leaving them where there are for now. I would be concerned that stress can lead to illness -- what you don't need just before winter. Just my opinion, though.
 
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I'm going to agree with the suggestions to leave the fish in the pond and work on slowly cleaning it out. Goldfish are incredibly hardy - folks have reported finding goldfish alive in ponds that have been neglected for years. Clean the pond in stages, keeping it well aerated and they'll be fine.

Welcome! We'd love to see pictures of your pond!

Edit: Oh wait! There it is! haha!
 
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Your pond is lovely. What amount of water do you turn over, per hour? In my pond, I've found turning it over a couple times an hour, has helped with everything! I think turning it over at least once, per hour, is recommended.

Do you think your filters are dirty? If water is an issue, maybe you could clean one at a time?
 
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This sludge buildup is new this year. Normally shop vac every couple of weeks, then refill what I take out. Water problems this year has stopped that. My next door neighbor (who moved a few days later, and never ever fertilized his back field), had a great time on a windy day. When I started smelling it in the house (windows open), I went out and started yelling. All he did was laugh. Pond turned green, added an extra pump to get some air into the pond, pond water turned yukky brown, stuff started growing quickly on the sides of the pond, then would die, then regrow again, then stuff started floating to the top, made a skimmer, seems more it skims, more it appears. I have never had this kind of a problem, just makes me want to cry, and go down south and kick my old neighbor. Tula, really don't know for sure how many times it turns, I would say at least once per hour.
The more I read your ideas, I may put a second pump bubbing this winter. My hubby, who really doesn't care about the pond (altho he will build me whatever I need), has been checking the well, and if he thinks we will be ok, tells me to slowly add some water for an hour or so. I have lived here for 30 years, and have never had my well go so low. Thanks again every one.
 
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That's a frustrating problem indeed, but I do believe time will be your best helper. The water quality doesn't seem to be bothering your fish, so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

Is that a recent picture of your pond?
 
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If in 12 years you haven't had a problem then I wouldn't worry about it now. It's pretty late in the season so I would just wait until next spring to do a clean out. The only reason I vacuum my pond is that it makes me feel better. I don't think the pond cares and I know the fish don't. As far as the green water goes, a UV light would solve the problem in a few days.
 

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@karyl You are getting lots of good information, based on the various experiences of the members here. That information overload can be overwhelming and confusing. In the end you will do what works best for your pond. Personally, I like to look at the reasons behind what different people say when I'm trying to make a decision. What solution is looking best for you right now?
 
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Still trying to decide what to do for sure, but hopefully our well water will improve, and I'll be able to shop vac the bottom, and add more water, and wait till spring to do the complete cleanout. Some pics from last year....
 

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Thank you everyone for your response. I do keep a pump going all winter, with the output near the surface - but sometimes, in a harsh winter, I have to go out and clear it off (not unusual to have 5 ft of snow on the pond). I am posting a picture of when I drained some water last spring, to refill with fresh. Where the lily pots are, is about 2 ft below the water level. From what I can tell, there is about 1-1/2" of sludge on that shelf - cannot imagine what is on the bottom. I have 2 DIY filters that usually do the job, going to the waterfall. Right now, I also have a pump in the front, with 2 outputs going to the corners, to keep the water moving. I haven't been able to clean the filters much this summer, do to water issues. The water that I would replace in the pond is well water from a different source, so no chlorine or other goodies added. I am just concerned about the fish surviving the winter with all that junk in the bottom. The pond is roughly 15' x 15', and the deepest part is about 4-1/2' deep.
Fish would not be in the plastic pool for any more than a week if I did the cleanout this fall. Catching 100 goldfish would be the hardest part of this ordeal. Cleaning the pond, another day, then getting the water on the 3rd day. Would slowly exchange fresh water for the water in the plastic pool until all is done. Then the fish back into the pond a few days later. Also, its been a hot summer, and only about 1/2" of rain since Mid May, unusual for here.
Overall good plan, but I would return the original pond water in the plastic pool to the pond along with the fish at the same time. This water already has a population of aquatic organisms to serve as seed for the newly cleaned pond. Of critical importance is providing biofiltration to the plastic pool while it is housing the fish.
 
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How lovely to have a shoal of goldfish that size, it looks amazing!
 
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I think everybody has been having a tougher time with algae than we're used too. The things that seem to help is what everybody has been recommending, more aeration, and more turnover. It might help to drain the sediment chamber on the water fall more often than you are used too also. More air allows the beneficial bacteria to clean the water, and more turnover get more water to the bacteria to be cleaned. If you really have a lot of muck on the bottom, sometimes you can scoop a lot of it out with a swimming pool leaf skimmer or even a pool vacuum head.
 

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