Newbie needs tips! :)

Discussion in 'Newbies to Garden Ponds' started by Hummingbird2, Apr 16, 2018 at 1:44 AM.

  1. Hummingbird2

    Hummingbird2

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    Hi, all! I moved into my new house about a year and half ago and it came with a pond in the back yard. It's about 1200 gallons and is the kind with a liner underneath. It's kidney shaped and at one end is the intake area and at the other end is a waterfall (about 3 feet high maybe - built into a mounded up flower bed). The deepest point is about 3'. There are a bunch of fish - just regular gold fish I think - and several irises and lilies. It's next to a line of pine trees (which I hate and would love to remove, but it would probably cost $5000 to remove five large evergreens - especially since they're along power lines). It's also mostly in full sun most of the day. The previous owner left me some info about the pond and apparently the pump is a ShinMaywa 3300. There are a couple different densities of filter pad and some lava rock.

    So my main issue, probably like everybody else, is freaking algae. The thing is CHOKED with algae. I spent more than $1000 last summer having the pond cleaned out and then buying and using string algae killer (EcoBlast) and algae control liquid (AquaOne) until it froze over in like December. I also use barley straw. By the end of summer it was disgusting again and now that it's spring again here in Ohio I can see that the bottom foot or so of the pond is just a mangled slimy mess of live and dead algae plus pine needles and rotten leaves and God knows what else. I stopped feeding the fish because I read that they eat algae and that adding fish food was just adding more nutrients for algae to take advantage of.

    So I'm assuming my major algae-causing issues are full-sun location, millions of pine needles constantly falling in, and too few plants. I also think the water flow is too slow. There is motion in a straight line between the intake and the water fall, but the rounded outer areas of the 'kidney' shape are pretty much stagnant!

    So I bought a pressure washer and plan to clean out the pond myself this year. I am well aware that a pond will *always* have algae, but I'm just wondering what I can do to reduce the amount of it? Certainly I shouldn't have to continually dump 2-4 times the company-recommended amounts of algae killers in there 9 months of the year should I? I'm assuming getting more plants would be a great idea to help 'use up' some of the nutrients that the algae are thriving on? How can I increase the water flow - especially in the stagnant areas off to the sides? Is there an underwater pump with tubing or something that can circulate water around the whole pond better? Would one of those canvas 'sails' help keep algae down by putting the pond in shade *and* cutting down on pine needles falling in? What else can I do to better take care of this pond?

    Go easy on me - I'm a newbie!! ;)

    Cynthia :)
     
    Hummingbird2, Apr 16, 2018 at 1:44 AM
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  2. Hummingbird2

    Lisak1

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    Welcome! We'll go easy on you... haha!

    First of all - no more chemicals. No Eco-Blast, no algaecide, nothing. You're just compounding the issue. Dead algae adds organic matter to the pond which only feeds more algae. Your goal is going to be to get this pond balanced WITHOUT chemicals.

    Second, no more power washing (I hope you kept the receipt - or have other things that need cleaning!) By power washing the pond you are destroying the biofilm which is an essential part of the filtration of your pond. If you need to, it's fine to remove some of the water to get things cleaned up, but in doing so you want that film to remain intact. It's critical to a well balanced ecosystem.

    Third - get a good pond net - and start scooping. All that dead and decaying matter needs to come out of the pond, ASAP. Scoop and scoop and scoop until you can't see anything else that can be scooped. My pond net is actually a pool net - much more durable and long lasting than the ones you buy at the pond stores.

    And yes - more plants. Lots and lots of plants will help you control that algae. Floating and marginal plants are the two most useful.

    As for your pump, IF the 3300 refers to the GPH and IF your pond is really 1200 gallons, it should be fine. But think about adding some aeration to the pond to get some additional movement. A few airstones at the bottom will help with your water movement and help with the algae, too.

    Hope this isn't too much information at one time... but the good news is I'm suggesting you spend LESS money, do LESS work and enjoy your pond MORE!
     
    Lisak1, Apr 16, 2018 at 2:29 AM
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  3. Hummingbird2

    addy1 water gardener / gold fish and shubunkins Moderator

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    Welcome to our group! Agree with all above^^^

    I use a pool net to clean out the pond bottom.

    I filter with only plants one huge bog, i.e. pea gravel up flow filter filled with plants. I don't feed a lot, don't use chemicals, the pond stays pretty algae free, water stays clear.
     
    addy1, Apr 16, 2018 at 9:58 AM
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  4. Hummingbird2

    EricV

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    My favorite part about coming to this forum for advice!
     
    EricV, Apr 16, 2018 at 1:15 PM
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  5. Hummingbird2

    ShawnInfirmity

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    @Lisak1 pretty much hit all the highlights and I second the recommendation for aeration. There are some pretty expensive aerator kits out there but I've had a good experience with mine (Aquascape 75000 Pond Air 2) and you can usually get one for less than $50. The "Pond Air 4", which has 4 airstones, is even pretty affordable at around $80.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0078LTKM8/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&th=1

    Welcome to the Forum!! and don't forget to post pictures. Not only are they fun to look at but they can often help when recommending or suggesting possible solutions.
     
    ShawnInfirmity, Apr 16, 2018 at 4:37 PM
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  6. Hummingbird2

    Hummingbird2

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    Hi guys!! You are the best!

    Well my dad actually bought the power washer to use at his house and I said I would use it for the pond and other things . . . I'm sure it will still get used - even if not for the pond. The place that installed the pond for the previous owner always recommended power washing everything all off every 1-3 years! I guess they just wanted to sucker her for $500 each spring. And they suckered me last year too apparently. The AquaOne supposedly has multiple strains of beneficial bacteria in it, so maybe they just rely on that for a few weeks after each cleaning until the biofilm can build back up? I don't know how I'm supposed to get all (or even *most*) of the algae out of there - pretty much all of it is glued to the rocks. How do I get it off of there without power washing or scrubbing off the biofilm?

    I have been planning on getting a better net - the one the former owner had is so freaking flimsy. And I will def get one of those aerators!! Where's the best place to get pond plants? Any recommended types/species? How much would shade help with keeping algae down?

    I read some about snails and pleco's, but it seems like there aren't many species that can winter over in the pond up here in Ohio. And the hardy ones apparently don't really eat that much algae compared to how much they poop (AKA add more algae food to the pond). Is this right?

    Thanks guys - so glad I found this place!

    Cynthia :)
     
    Hummingbird2, Apr 17, 2018 at 12:13 AM
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  7. Hummingbird2

    Hummingbird2

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    Me again - So I'm reading about the Aquascape aerator and it says the pump has to be *indoors* in a dry, dirt free area - the closest "indoor" area would be my detached garage that's like 15 feet away from the pond. Plus I'd have to like cut a hole through my garage wall for the cables to come out and even then I don't know if the cables would reach to the bottom of the pond. I have some of those nice fake rocks of various sizes - could I stick the pump under one of those? Maybe also inside a Rubbermaid or something? How cold can the aerator pumps get? Would I have to be really careful and pull the aerator in as soon as temps hit freezing at night (which would make the aerator only usable from like May to September)?

    Cynthia :)
     
    Hummingbird2, Apr 17, 2018 at 12:20 AM
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  8. Hummingbird2

    mrsclem mrsclem

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    Hi Hummingbird - you don't want to remove all the algae from the pond, it's a good thing! As far as the aerator, I keep mine in a Styrofoam cooler or a plastic tote. As long as it's not exposed to the weather but can move air, it's good.
     
    mrsclem, Apr 17, 2018 at 12:45 AM
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  9. Hummingbird2

    Lisak1

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    You nailed it - pond contractors do total clean outs to create an income stream. But it's definitely not ideal - although in their defense some people do want a crystal clean pond with rocks free of algae.

    Your goal should not be to get the algae off the rocks - that's the good stuff! That's often called carpet algae for the way it "carpets" your pond. Your fish will nibble at it and keep it nice and trimmed.

    I have the Aquascape aerator - we had plans to build a cover for it. Never did. It's been outside for six hard Chicago winters and still works great. Probably not ideal, but it's not complaining! We also have a plastic tote over ours - but yes, one of those fake rocks would work too!
     
    Lisak1, Apr 17, 2018 at 12:50 AM
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  10. Hummingbird2

    ShawnInfirmity

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    I have never had my aerator pump indoors but I have had it tucked under an overhang (or window box) on my back porch. It has been exposed to rain, wind, and freezing temps but it has worked fine for going on two years. I imagine if it was heavily rained on or submerged in water it may have problems but it seems that as long as it's somewhat sheltered it will work. My pond is completely above ground and made of landscape timbers, but if it were a more natural (in ground) pond I would mostly likely just use the fake rock covers like you previously mentioned.
     
    ShawnInfirmity, Apr 17, 2018 at 3:21 AM
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  11. Hummingbird2

    j.w I Love my Goldies

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    j.w, Apr 17, 2018 at 4:17 PM
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