New pond, fish are flourishing, but water quality isn't perfect


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This past November, my wife and I purchased our first home. The home came with a homemade in-ground pond where the previous owner kept goldfish. He had quite a few big fish in there when he was running the setup. We thought that he took all the fish before we moved in, because it had been mostly drained, and didn't do anything with the pond until the spring. I ended up finding 3 small fish that had begun rotting, drained the water that had accumulated from snow melt, and cleaned the pond with a chlorinated spray to kill off the bacteria causing the very strong stench. I looked up how to neutralize the chloramines, and used a solution of hydrogen peroxide to water as a rinse (the same way they neutralize excessive chloramines in water supplies). Pumped the water out, and rinsed with water to clear as much of the resulting inert solution as possible. I filled the pond and (after reading a ton about filtration over the winter) got his existing setup running. The house has an artesian well, with a water softener, and then a coconut carbon filter after the softener with an "auto fill" timer hooked up, running to the pond.

Fast forward: The 4 fish I have in the pond are flourishing. It was pretty easy to keep the water clear in the early months. I added API beneficial bacteria the first time I noticed water turning green, and it cleared. After the recommended 2 weeks, I added tablets to establish a 30 day release of bacteria to help establish the nitrogen cycle. It worked for a while. That is until the hotter months came along (We live in NH and July is when it began) I still have yet to get any nitrite, or nitrogen when I test. Ammonia levels also remain very low, but the water has a perpetual green cloudiness to it with small amounts of foam that remain for a couple weeks at a time, disappearing and now returning.

I've read that new ponds are difficult to establish a balance. The fish seem very happy. They always eat, no fin pressing (when I see them searching for food), no flashing, etc. I don't feel like they're in immediate danger, though I worry if this condition will worsen.

I've been on top of skimming, and adjusting ph to stay within healthy range. What worries me the most is that none of my tests, so far, turn up any nitrite or nitrogen. Though, the ammonia remains low, I'm inclined to believe that it's not a problem of waste building up. I could be wrong, as I'm new to all of this. When I skim the bottom, there's no sludge.

In short, is this a normal process, and how can I do better?
 

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addy1

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I see plants around the pond, but none in the pond. Plants do a great job with green water.
 
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That was my first thought. It's actually an aquaponics setup, and we haven't gotten any plants growing in it. We had trouble trying to get them to grow at first. I'm going to try to get some going in the system. I just wasn't sure entirely if that was the only thing missing.
 

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cas

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Very nice pond. I agree with Addy1. Get some plants in the pond and it will help with the algae.
 
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One thing I always like to point out - water QUALITY and water CLARITY are not the same thing. You can have a very healthy green pond. And an unhealthy pond that is full of crystal clear water.

I'm with @addy1 on this one - with no plants in the pond, you don't have a complete eco-system. So nature is providing that part with the green water. Don't worry about "adjusting" the pH - that will happen naturally. My mantra in pond keeping is constantly "less is more". Let it happen.
 
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One thing I learned from this group that may help you: the number of the pH isn't as important as stability. A little bit low or a little bit high is no big deal if it is consistent. There is a range that is healthy and outside that range is no good -- but in general, a consistent number within the healthy range is just fine.
 
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Do you have a nitrate test sitting around ?

How often are you feeding the Goldies?
I've been using an API freshwater master test kit. It has read 0 ppm on all tests from now going back to May, when the goldfish were introduced.

I've been feeding them tetra pond sticks 3 times a day. Usually the first and last feedings are normal (about 5 minutes for them to get it all). The middle of the day is a smaller feeding.
 
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One thing I always like to point out - water QUALITY and water CLARITY are not the same thing. You can have a very healthy green pond. And an unhealthy pond that is full of crystal clear water.

I'm with @addy1 on this one - with no plants in the pond, you don't have a complete eco-system. So nature is providing that part with the green water. Don't worry about "adjusting" the pH - that will happen naturally. My mantra in pond keeping is constantly "less is more". Let it happen.
Thank you, and it makes sense. I'm working on getting some seedlings planted in the aquaponics tubes. I only adjusted the PH because it registered 8.5 towards the end of July, on a test I did. I used a 1/4 cup of white vinegar once a day until it was fluctuating up and down from 7.5. I agree that less is more, and have tried to stick to tiny adjustments.
 
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Thanks for posting the photos. As you said earlier it is probably a settling in problem. Once your pond is mature the green water will go away. The mature water can take a year or two to establish. I suspect you are overfeeding the fish a bit but I am assuming the fish are small so they don't produce much waste anyway. by the way phosphates also produce algae. Basically the green water is natural in your circumstances (early in the life of the pond) and is a safety valve for the chemistry in the pond. So the algae is really protecting the fish from harmful buildups of any nasty chemicals. The heat makes it worse. As others have said plants will help as they use the chemicals in greater quantities than algae. So basically put plants in the system somewhere and wait a year for things to mature. Don't fiddle too much with anything else. We should all remember fish survived in ponds without man helping for a long time in the past!
 
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Thanks for posting the photos. As you said earlier it is probably a settling in problem. Once your pond is mature the green water will go away. The mature water can take a year or two to establish. I suspect you are overfeeding the fish a bit but I am assuming the fish are small so they don't produce much waste anyway. by the way phosphates also produce algae. Basically the green water is natural in your circumstances (early in the life of the pond) and is a safety valve for the chemistry in the pond. So the algae is really protecting the fish from harmful buildups of any nasty chemicals. The heat makes it worse. As others have said plants will help as they use the chemicals in greater quantities than algae. So basically put plants in the system somewhere and wait a year for things to mature. Don't fiddle too much with anything else. We should all remember fish survived in ponds without man helping for a long time in the past!
Thank you :)
 
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The water in my pond consistently tests well within parameter except PH which has allways been off the charts high. But there are no wild swings, it remains constant at over 9 so I don't worry about it. KH is constant a way low ~2. But fish have been happy since I put the pond in.
Plants drinking pond water are your friends.

I think the object of the pond game, is to allow your pond to set up it's own little eco system, and maintane it's self. (other than water replacement due to evaporation) Don't fight it, (you won't win) just run with it, and it will take care of it's self. Green water= need pretty plants to eat the nutrients, so that the ugly algae won't have to. You will get algae blooms, once or twice a year, in the late fall, when plants start to go dormant, and early spring, before plants start to really grow. Don't sweat it.
 
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Throw your test kit away and let your pond be. Don't add anything and don't worry about it. Think of a ditch on the side of the road with frogs and whatever living in it. Just make sure that your fish have oxygen.
 

addy1

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Throw your test kit away and let your pond be.
I quit testing about a year or two after I built my pond, no reason to the water was always fine. The only thing I fought was a very low ph, it stabilized as the plants grew and the water matured.
 

j.w

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I don't test anymore either as for so many years all is well. I clean the filters and sometimes do a bit of water in while water out to give a refresh for my too many fish pond. Should have built a bog...............oh well, whoa is me :cool:
 
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I dont test now either. My pond is mature and stable for all seasons. Have not tested water for years.
 
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One thing I learned from this group that may help you: the number of the pH isn't as important as stability. A little bit low or a little bit high is no big deal if it is consistent. There is a range that is healthy and outside that range is no good -- but in general, a consistent number within the healthy range is just fine.
i have never tested my ph in any of my aquariums or now my pond. the bigger the pond and or tank the less the parameters change quickly
 
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Casbah

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I'm new to ponding as well, but have never tested either. I did, however, have an established pond with lots of plants and have never had any issue with an over abundance of algae despite my fish load.

I gave up on water clarity pretty recently as I fear I'm fighting a losing battle due to the age and neglect my pond suffered. I just enjoy my healthy fish and clean the filters every two days....
 

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