Newbie; High PH (9.0), but Other Tests Fine...

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by deandome, Jun 22, 2017.

  1. deandome

    deandome

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    Hi, all. Not sure where to start, but I'll start with the problem, then do background. And I'll stick to the water issue as the 'question' and put others in other threads if necessary...here goes (also, trying to figure out how to add photo, but I'm posting first cuz I can't figure that out).

    Got API master kit today, tested water coming fresh outta the waterfall. pH is 9.0, but nitrates, phosphates and ammonia were zero, almost zero and/or perfectly centered in suggested range.
    It's clear as a bell; we've kept up on Algaefix & string removal more consistantly than last year, so I dove in & added three 4" koi 10 days ago (vs. buying cheaper goldfish; we knew we'd try fish this year)...thus the new test kit. I've used a good clarifier a lot in the past, but I've been out for about 2 weeks (and we never 'regular' with it). I do Algaefix on Saturdays, today's a Wednesday, if that matters. We have 'good well-water'; not much iron or TDS, pH is 8.0 and we top it off pond from the hose & rain helps when it can.

    It's our 2nd summer in house we bought that's pond was built about 3 years prior to that. Last year, we had 5 or more frogs that moved in, but no fish. Good Savio skimmer filter system, we treated & removed string algae & kept it clean, but never really cared about water chemistry as long as it didn't stink. Installers/contractors drained & 'mucked' pond last fall, then we tried to use a tarp as cover to catch leaves, but it sunk over the winter, which forcred us to drain & dig it out, thus doing a really good job of removing a most of the leaves/gunk from bottom.

    Cute story; teen kids started digging pond as surprise for single dad, got QUICKLY overwhelmed & called in pros who did 95% of build. No concrete or blocks, just a hole in dirt with large rocks anchoring membrane(s?), which is covered by rocks & pebbles to form the bowl. They actually were planning on keeping bass in pond, so it's pretty deep at center (maybe 3.75 feer or so). As you see in photo, it's 10' x 16' oval & I'd liken the profile of the 'bowl' to be that of a large egg (half), if that makes any sense. Online volume-calculators put it between 2500 and 3000 gals. It's pretty darn shady; ash tree overhangs about 1/2 of it, other trees nearby, so we drain the basket in the Savio a LOT in fall (leaves) and spring (seeds/pods from trees). The waterfall part is Savio too; it's a well w/a lot of plastic ribbon filling it (filter media), and we run the pump 24/7, so aeration is good (right?).

    Finally, there's a large...about 3.5' x 3.'00 or so...half-barrel-ish fish-hide built into the bottom center of the pond (black plastic, open on both ends,thickish & kind of corrugated....like an underwater quonset hut). Kind of an issue; my 10 day old koi are ALWAYS in there...I mean, I have to get a rake deep inside to get them to scurry out, do a quick lap & dash back into the cave, and it's so big sometimes I think they just stay inside it, move to the sides & laugh at me. My wife keeps saying they must have died, but all 3 look OK, but they haven't eaten any of the few food-pellets we've thrown in (kinda hard to see the food if you hide in a huge pipe...but I'd think they've been conditioned to eating pellets from the surface because they were raised in a tank with dozens of other store.

    I got them from a good pond-source near me; Lurvey's Garden Center in DesPlaines IL; good people, great selection. Two frogs this year...I think a few died under the tarp that sank (suffocation?).

    SO, do I want to do something 'chemical' to lower the pH PRETTY quickly, for the sake of the fish? How...and what can/should I then do to create a 'buffer' to keep it steady? Some sites say vinegar is good, some says it's the worst...same for muriatic acid; there's no consensus! I know that due to it's location, plant biomatter will always be an issue, but we do a good job of keeping it as clean as possible, so I don't think I can cure do this just by working harder/smarter on cleaning; it is what it is. I'm thinking a vacuum might help...thoughts?

    So please, fire away with thoughts & advise on water issue, whether I should chop out a large portion...not all...of the fish-hide (is that right term) and/or any other general advice you have!! THANKS!

    Dean
     
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2017
    deandome, Jun 22, 2017
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  2. deandome

    Tula

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    Welcome to our friendly forum :)

    It's pretty common for fish to hide when they're in a new environment, so give them some time to adjust. I wouldn't worry about your PH either, the important thing is to keep it stable.

    A net over your pond will do a good job keeping leaves out in the fall and save you the trouble of having to muck it out. Some people use pond vacuums, but many of us just use pool nets .

    Again welcome, we're glad to have you !
     
    Tula, Jun 22, 2017
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  3. deandome

    Lisak1

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    Welcome welcome welcome! Lurvey's is one of our favorite places, too!

    That was a very thorough introduction - thanks for all the info. First thing I would encourage you to do is stop bugging your fish - they will slowly get accustomed to their new home, but you poking at them with a rake isn't going to make that process go any faster. They are doing what comes naturally in the space that was provided for them.

    Second thing - let's talk about that algae "fix" and see if we can break you of that weekly habit! Algae isn't the enemy. It's actually beneficial to a pond and works as an integral part of the natural balancing act. TOO MUCH algae is a sign that you haven't reached that balance yet and have too many nutrients in your pond which feed the algae. Killing the algae does one thing - adds more nutrients to the pond, which, you guessed it... feeds more algae! The folks who sell this stuff are geniuses, as the "solution" only adds to the "problem" which sells more product. Get your pond in balance with fish, plants and water all working together and your algae problem will disappear. We were told that it takes 3 - 5 years for pond water to mature. It's hard to be patient, but it's really your best defense. Get lots of plants growing in your pond - they will compete with the algae for those nutrients and the algae will lose.

    As for your pH - it's high, yes, but the problem with fish and pH isn't the relative level, it's rapid swings. So steady pH is important. Over time you may find it goes down naturally as your pond water matures. It is interesting that your water from the tap is lower pH than the pond - that's a curious factor. Make sure you are testing your pH twice a day - morning and evening - to get an accurate value. But the last thing you want to do is to start chasing pH.

    As for posting pictures - just get the photos on your computer desktop and then drag them to the same box where you type your reply. You will get a message saying "drop files here to upload" - very simple! You can add as many photos as you want to a post.

    Hope this helps! And again - welcome!
     
    Lisak1, Jun 22, 2017
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  4. deandome

    sissy sissy

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    My ph is usually around 9 and long as it is stable you are fine .Get crushed oyster shells to stable it .you can even buy it at walmart now in pet department 101_0941.JPG
     
    sissy, Jun 22, 2017
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  5. deandome

    deandome

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    Thanks for the advice, everyone!!
    • How can you eliminate/control string algae without chemicals? I'm THINKING bout ponying up for Savio's UV filter, as the filter is already set up for it. but for now, I've gone to consistent, carefully measured Algaefix as opposed to last year when I'd grab the gallon and pour in about a cup or so by eye every few weeks or so. when I don't use it, string takes over the pond and the 15' x 2' tiered stream next to it, which I'll show pics of later. They're adjacent, but stream has it's own 'water-loop' (Aquascape "Pondless Waterfall System", to be exact). I gotta keep that clean, too, but no fish/plants in it, so I don't mind keeping that water heavily medicated to keep the water super clean/clear/algae free. I put 9 oz. of Algaefix a week in; it's on the low side for my pond size & any less and it doesn't work as well
    • We use a Pond Shark rake/net thing I stumbled upon @ Menards, and it's AWESOME for regular cleaning of surface stuff, algae & gunk. If you don't have one or know what it is...Google it & GET ONE
    • I'll monitor pH am & pm for a while and not panic about it...yet. The API test is probably very accurate, but are their easier-to-use sticks or strips that are also accurate (and cheap?)? what about a cheap pH meter...are there good ones?
    • Are oyster shells a ph 'lowerer', buffer, or both? How much for a pond my size? How often; just once? once a year? Should I put in in, say a pound or two a day, or can I put it all in at once?
    • It's not a new pond; installation,fall-cleaning/spring setups and even cleaning/filter upkeep was done professionals for the original owner I've been doing a good job, IMO). The only thing now is that I'm trying to keep koi alive & hopefully thriving...but the bacteria & chemistries are have reached some kind of balance over 5-6 years, if maybe not a GREAT balance. Old owners might have tried to do bass 1 or two years, I'm not clear on if they did or how they did, but frogs & plants do well there.
    • Speaking of that, we have a few in-water plants last year & new ones now; Hyacinths, water lily, we just added a papyrus on the side. They almost took over the surface last year (I forget which one), I'm going to 'prune' more if they get too big this year.
    • FWIW, I bought/added some 'liquid bacteria' per the instructions a few weeks ago, and I've done a few barley bales this year; how long to they last? And if they sink & you dry them out, do they really start working well again?
    • I was thinking of a vacuum to suck up the silt/gunk that builds up on the bottom, not for algae or surface stuff. Kinda like when you use those siphon-vacuums to clean the gravel in aquarium water-changes (but not actually sucking up rocks & swirling them around, they're too big) Again, we've got it pretty darn clean this year, but the rocky bottom makes it impossible to rake or net-out a certain amount of biomass.
    Thanks again for your help!
     
    deandome, Jun 22, 2017
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  6. deandome

    Tula

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    I use a Savio UV light in my Savio skimmer. It's effective against "green water" caused by small particulates of suspended algae, but NOT string algae.

    I'm going to look up this Pond Shark rake / net thing, as we have a Menards :)
     
    Tula, Jun 22, 2017
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  7. deandome

    deandome

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    If not, or for others, Amazon has 'em too:
    Regular model
    'Pro' model
     
    deandome, Jun 22, 2017
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  8. deandome

    Meyer Jordan Tadpole

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    I would cease all of these 'pond treatments' as most only address the symptoms and not the source of the problem.
    Concerning the pH. Do not attempt to lower it. Unless you know the exact gallonage of your pond there is no way that you can apply any accurate applications. Doing so without the information will risk causing a pH crash which could easily prove to be fatal to the fish.

    I would suspect that your pH is tied to the fact that the Carbon Dioxide level of the water may be low. This could account for a higher pond pH than the source water..

    As to the algae, what was the numeric result of the Phosphorus test? Phosphorus is the controlling nutrient for filamentous (string) algae.
     
    Meyer Jordan, Jun 22, 2017
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  9. deandome

    Lisak1

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    Yup - that's important to note: a UV is NOT effective against string algae.

    The only chemical compound that we use in our pond is sodium percarbonate - it's the same ingredient that is in OxyClean, you can use it to make your own laundry soap, they use it to clean algae off roofs and boats and patios AND you can buy it from pond dealers for big bucks under names like "Green Clean" and "Algae Blast" or something like that. It will rid your pond of string algae and is safe for your fish and plants. We bought the 12 oz container for like $24 from a pond dealer one time. It worked great but I researched to see if I could find the same product for less money. Lo and behold, I stumbled on to a site where a super smart guy (way smarter than me!) had been experimenting with sodium percarbonate in ponds for years with great success.

    With that reassurance I found it online from a soap making outfit and ordered 20 lbs of it for about $1.50 a pound. Lasted me two years. I have another 50 lb bucket sitting in my garage right now - haven't touched it yet, but it's there in case we need it. The price has gone up some since I first bought it - they tell me it's because the packaging requirements have changed for shipping. It used to come in a heavy duty bag - now you get a nifty reusable bucket. I think this last time I paid about $1.90 a pound. (A quick Google search shows that 1 lb of GreenClean is about $13 or so. You may be able to buy it in bulk for less.)

    About once or twice a season our waterfall gets a good batch of string algae going, usually in the spring or when it gets above 90 degrees for multiple days. I shut the waterfall down, sprinkle it with the powder, wait an hour or so, turn everything back on and within 24 hours the string algae is completely gone. I will also use it for my one time spring cleaning - I sprinkle it all over the surface of the pond and all the debris just lifts right up from the bottom of the pond. It's been a great find for us.

    I've read that it breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and soda ash upon contact with water. The H2O2 is what kills the algae, and the soda ash just might be what brought our pH down to 7.6 from a high of 9.0 in the early days. Just a guess... I have no scientific proof of that. We also have a pondless waterfall and I use it in there to keep the rocks clean.
     
    Lisak1, Jun 22, 2017
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  10. deandome

    sissy sissy

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    I don't use anything and it is fine .My use is air ,plants and water movement even deep down .Plus fish only eat 3 or 4 times a week.I have air stones in my filters also
     
    sissy, Jun 22, 2017
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  11. deandome

    Meyer Jordan Tadpole

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    Also do you know the GH (hardness) and KH (alkalinity) levels?
     
    Meyer Jordan, Jun 22, 2017
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