i am struggling

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Hi there. I inherited my koi pond with the purchase of our house. Unfortunately I have struggled with algae overgrowth, lack of oxygen, and dead fish.
Specs:
Aquascape Signature Series BioFalls 6000
Signature Series 8.0 Skimmer
2000-4000 gph Variable Speed pump
approx. 2000 gallons
Ion Gen G2 Algae Controller
Pond is 6 years old
Moraga, california - east bay of san francisco (gets hot to 100's in summer, cold in the winters 30's-40's.)

The previous owner had no problems with pond. It was professionally cleaned every 1-2 years. He used beneficial bacteria weekly, and had appx 20 fish, 3 of which were Koi.

Within a few months of taking over the fish started acting strange. They were hanging out near the top, sucking air. The penny wort started to die off. The fish continued to stay at the top despite it getting cold. There appeared to be an over growth of algae and the fish weren't getting oxygen. The fish began to die off or got plucked out of the water by birds due to lethargy, hanging at the top, and no penny wort to hid under. I was very bummed. These were the original fish.

I had the pond cleaned professionally by the guy who built the pond and does the regular cleaning. He recommended that i put the ion gen at 1-2 which i did. I put the beneficial bacteria in daily for one week based on the reqs by the pond guy. The water and pond looked awesome. within one week the water turned pea soup green. Pond guy was of minimal help. He recommended to turn up the ion gen but it wouldn't turn up. I tried to turn it up to 4 but it would default back to 1. I spoke with Aquascape and apparently there wasn't enough salt in the water.

Time went on and eventually I did a clean out myself. Added the bacteria, salt and the pond looked amazing for 3 days. Pea soup again. I added about 30 small starter gold fish. I had some black algae growing on the rocks and just now used algae out (peroxide based treatment).

I want the pond water to be clear. Apparently there wasn't any problems prior to me taking over.

Help!!!!!

pH - 7.0
NH3 - 0
NO2 - 0
Phos - 0 - 0.25
Replaced the iongen probe (needed to be doned)
 

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Welcome to the forum, sorry you are struggling!
I'm thinking your pond just needed time to properly cycle. If you start over every time it turns green, the cycle will also start over and never complete.

What kind of water do you fill it with? Do you have an aerator?
I would fill it up, add some plants with a few goldfish and leave it to do it's thing, sure it will get algae, but if you don't overcrowd or overfeed your fish the algae will eventually disappear on their own.

Good luck! :)
 
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Welcome to the GPF! Sorry that it's pond trouble that has you posting. Let's see what we can figure out!

Here's a few things that I noticed right off from your post:

1. Your pump is likely undersized, unless you are running it at the highest speed. You want to turn over your pond volume at least 1.5, preferably 2X per hour. At 2000 gallons, you should have at LEAST a 4000 GPH pump - and like more to account for the height and distance the pump has to send water.

2. The clean outs aren't helping. The only reason to completely clean a pond would be total disaster - you're not even close. We can discuss reasons why later, but @Gemma brings up the number one reason: every time you break down and refill a pond, you are starting all over with a new pond. New pond often equals green water. So no more clean outs.

3. The beneficial bacteria isn't hurting anything, but it's not doing any good either. Save your money. Let your pond grow it's own bacteria.

4. I'm not a fan of the IonGen - it works by putting copper in the water. Copper is toxic to fish. You do the math. We had one (before I knew better) and experienced the same thing you did - wouldn't go past a 1. Same reason - salinity was low in the water. Thank goodness, as I do believe they can be harmful.

You don't mention plants in the pond - do you have any? Plants are your best defense against algae as they will compete for the nutrients in the water, and the bigger guy will always win. If you don't have plants in the pond, make plans to get some.

Remember two things about algae - it's sending you a message (excess nutrients) and doing you a favor (removing the nutrients). Dead algae serves on purpose - it feeds more algae. Doesn't matter how you kill it - it leaves organic matter in the pond and the result it more algae. Vicious cycle.

How many fish are left in the pond? Are they all goldfish or do you still have koi? It doesn't sound as if you are overstocked so that's good.

Do you clean your filter material? If so, how are you cleaning it?

And one last thing - remember that your fish could care less if that water is clear. They need a healthy pond. The clear water will come, but right now patience is your best ponding friend.
 
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The only thing I can see that hasn't been addressed as yet is from the picture it looks like you have more stems then you have leafs look at it this way. If you have an apple tree that has never been pruned it gets very scraggly and doesn't produce a lot of flowers that turns to fruit. I f your plants are all lanky thinning it out will promote tighter growth and fresh new growth again any plant where you remove the spent or aged leaves and flowers, branches etc your removing nitrates and phosphates that were absorbed by the plant and with the established roots the plant should want to thrive and explode.

I especially agree with a little more gph.

To take your pond to the next step I see you have plenty of room on the uphill side of the pond to create a BOG with the addition of a small pump say a 2,000 -2,500 gph submersible push the water up to a trench that's 16" deep that's has pvc pipe with slots cut into the pipe facing down toward a epdm liner and a mix of 3/8" and 3/4" stone placed over and around the pipe . plant the bog with some fast growing plants and watch them explode. make a small waterfall dropping into your pond maybe down from the main falls or even have them merge together in a split stream before it enters the pond. Yes the bog absorbs o2 which is not a benefit to you at this point but the added waterfall will more then make up for it and your water will be crystal clear
 
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I also just noticed something else - you have a significant slope leading directly into the pond - what are the chances you're getting runoff into the pond when it rains?

I'm going to be honest here - this pond does not say "professionally built" to me, sadly. Just the fact that he undersized your pump tells me he didn't know what he was doing. The other guy said he had no problems with this pond - I bet that's not exactly the truth.
 

Mmathis

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Hello and welcome! I can’t add anything. @Gemma and @Lisak1 have pretty much covered anything I would contribute (and they are a lot more knowledgeable than I am). Adding 30 new fish right off the bat probably didn’t help, but what’s done is done. But keep in mind that you probably don’t want to add any more. Those goldies are going to grow and then have babies — you will be in danger of being overstocked — which causes a whole new set of problems.

We do appreciate the info you provided about your pond and the water values! That’s very important and really does help us get a better picture of what’s going on. Most of the time we have to repeatedly ask the poster for this info, and if they tell us anything, it’s usually incomplete. Thank you for that!
 
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Welcome to the forum, sorry you are struggling!
I'm thinking your pond just needed time to properly cycle. If you start over every time it turns green, the cycle will also start over and never complete.

What kind of water do you fill it with? Do you have an aerator?
I would fill it up, add some plants with a few goldfish and leave it to do it's thing, sure it will get algae, but if you don't overcrowd or overfeed your fish the algae will eventually disappear on their own.

Good luck! :)
Thank you for the response. I do not have an aerator but the pond has a waterfall that is appx 6 feet high/above the pond with appx 2-3 tiers. I keep the pump on high all the time. There should be plenty of aeration (from what i am told) from the waterfall.

I filled the pond with tap water and treated it with bacteria. There is penny wort there now and some other plants like garlic rush, iris, acornus, striped rush, canna, spiked rush. The penny wort is the only plant that grows in the pond water. There are about 20-25 small goldfish in there now ( 2-3 inches long). I do not feed the fish at all. there may be a red eared slider turtle in there. I havent seem him in months though.

So, my main complaint is the pea soup color. I would love to see the bottom. it seems weird that there were no problems until i took over.

Thank you all for the advice.

In summary, it sounds like i should:
1. be patient
2. add more plants
3. maybe add some more fish
4. remove debris
 
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I also just noticed something else - you have a significant slope leading directly into the pond - what are the chances you're getting runoff into the pond when it rains?

I'm going to be honest here - this pond does not say "professionally built" to me, sadly. Just the fact that he undersized your pump tells me he didn't know what he was doing. The other guy said he had no problems with this pond - I bet that's not exactly the truth.

There is a slope but and runoff was possible back in March and April but it hasn't rained since then. We have a rainy season ( late fall, winter, and early spring) and dry season the remainder of the year.
 

Mmathis

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No, don’t add more fish! Yes, be patient and allow the pond to stabilize. You don’t need to add bacteria. Yes, remove debris. And don’t “clean” the pond — you’re disrupting the natural cycle. I think this was mentioned already.
 
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...

4. I'm not a fan of the IonGen - it works by putting copper in the water. Copper is toxic to fish. You do the math. We had one (before I knew better) and experienced the same thing you did - wouldn't go past a 1. Same reason - salinity was low in the water. Thank goodness, as I do believe they can be harmful.

....
Agree.
No iogen, no salt. They will kill your ecosystem.
 

sissy

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The iogen is shown to kill koi .Cut back feeding and you will need a test kit to test water and is the pond in shade or sun and what temperature is the water
 
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@Michael Chaffin , all this info you are receiving can be a bit overwhelming, I know it was for me when I started out, but we're actually asking you to do less and spend less money so if you accept the fact that a new pond doesn't look that great for a while, the rest will be easy.

I used to work hard and spend hundreds of dollars to keep the water presentable, then I joined this group and much of what they said sounded too good to be true, but I decided to keep an open mind and test each advise starting with ditching anything bottled, boxed or bagged, and adding lots of plants instead, and adding media to the skimmer which I then cleaned often
Keeping fish healthy and water clear has never been easier, I'm glad I listened to this group, I hope you'll give it a try :)
 
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Hi Michael. My daughter just moved to the Bay area. She is working for a tech company and they keep her very busy! I agree with all the comments above. Your list looks okay but, don't add more fish because there is too much bioload already and that is what is causing the excess nutrients and green water. Also just remove easy to get at debris like floating leaves. I wouldn't stir up the bottom a lot until your pond has cycled. Basically you have a brand new pond because of all the cleaning. Sit back, relax and have a beer and next year it will look much better! You might have green water for a month or more. There is nothing you can do about it and the more you try to fix it the worse off your pond will be. The chemicals you add really don't help much and sometimes they hurt. I have had a pond 10 years and never have added chemicals except for declor. You need to cut way down on feeding and try to eliminate excess nutrients and add plants to utilize any nitrates that are produced by the nitrogen cycle. I would recommend that you read up on how and why ponds get cycled. Basically you are creating an ecosystem that utilizes all the fish waste and breaks it down to less harmful elements. Once your pond has cycled the green water will instantly go away. Also you definitely need to add an aerator. If the fish are gasping for air it's a sure sign there is low dissolved O2 in your pond.... unless you added non chlorinated water then you are dealing with fish with damaged gills but the same problem that they can't breathe properly. Good luck!
 
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Welcome to the forum, sorry you are struggling!
I'm thinking your pond just needed time to properly cycle. If you start over every time it turns green, the cycle will also start over and never complete.

What kind of water do you fill it with? Do you have an aerator?
I would fill it up, add some plants with a few goldfish and leave it to do it's thing, sure it will get algae, but if you don't overcrowd or overfeed your fish the algae will eventually disappear on their own.

Good luck! :)
I think I should clarify I did NOT mean for YOU to add more fish, I was just saying what I would do to start a new pond.
Sorry for the misunderstanding! :oops:
 
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Hi Michael. My daughter just moved to the Bay area. She is working for a tech company and they keep her very busy! I agree with all the comments above. Your list looks okay but, don't add more fish because there is too much bioload already and that is what is causing the excess nutrients and green water. Also just remove easy to get at debris like floating leaves. I wouldn't stir up the bottom a lot until your pond has cycled. Basically you have a brand new pond because of all the cleaning. Sit back, relax and have a beer and next year it will look much better! You might have green water for a month or more. There is nothing you can do about it and the more you try to fix it the worse off your pond will be. The chemicals you add really don't help much and sometimes they hurt. I have had a pond 10 years and never have added chemicals except for declor. You need to cut way down on feeding and try to eliminate excess nutrients and add plants to utilize any nitrates that are produced by the nitrogen cycle. I would recommend that you read up on how and why ponds get cycled. Basically you are creating an ecosystem that utilizes all the fish waste and breaks it down to less harmful elements. Once your pond has cycled the green water will instantly go away. Also you definitely need to add an aerator. If the fish are gasping for air it's a sure sign there is low dissolved O2 in your pond.... unless you added non chlorinated water then you are dealing with fish with damaged gills but the same problem that they can't breathe properly. Good luck!
thank you so much for the reply and reassurance. This forum has been awesome. I am going to summarize all the suggestions:
1. sit back, relax, enjoy the pond and allow it to cycle. it should clear with time.
2. add more plants and thin out the stalks of penny wort.
3. don't add more fish or feed the fish - I don't feed the fish and there are only ~20 tiny gold fish in there now. Far cry from the original fish that died after i took over. :(
4. no more chemicals or cleaning.
5. be diligent removing organic material - leaves etc
6. I turned the iogen to 1, considering removing it.
7. consider adding an aerator - the fish aren't gasping anymore. That was previously when the pond was sick
8. consider creating a bog - im not sure what that is and how to do it. I will try that if above items don't yield results.

last questions:
1. would installing a UV light filter system help improve water quality? I would like to avoid this as it will be a big undertaking?

thank you all for your input. I should have signed on last year when i bought the house and maybe the fish would still be alive.

Michael
 
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I don't have a UV light and have no problems with algae. When my pond was brand new and beginning to cycle, I did have string algae, but I just twirled that out with a toilet brush (only used for the pond.) You should search bog filters on here so you will know what everyone is talking about. I don't have one either, but the people who do - swear by them for fresh, clean, clear water. Basically, it is using Mother Nature as a filtration system. You allow the water to flow through a bog - a dedicated area of plants planted in gravel. The roots of the plants use the excess nutrients from fish waste to flourish - and they filter the water in that process. There are some really neat plants that can thrive in a bog. But I'm thinking that could be an optional project at some point in the future -- if you get totally Pond Crazy like the rest of us and want to piddle around some more with your pond. My guess is that the suggestions from the group -- Number 1 being to wait it out -- will have your pond looking and doing great!
 
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We don't have a UV - not a big believer in them, and it's one more thing to maintain. My gut instinct tells me if the UV is killing off the single celled algae, it's probably killing a lot of other tiny microscopic creatures as well. And if it's killing algae, that means dead algae in the pond - which will only feed more algae. Just my opinion though - plenty of people have them and swear by them.
 

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Agree, with what has already been said. Increase circulation in the pond, add more plants to the pond. Just doing these two things will help rid the pond of the free floating algae.

Lastly, remove the Ion gen, asap like MitchM and Lisak1 suggested there is no benefit to having it in there. Copper even in minute amounts is highly toxic to invertebrate life. The ion gen, in your style of pond is counterproductive. Your pond setup is trying to use nature to balance itself, this includes the biofilm, micro and macro fauna that start at the bottom of the food chain. Your ion gen prevents the lower/mid level of the food chain from established itself. Thus the green water, that never goes away.
 
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