Common Pond Management Concerns
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Every year, around this time we begin getting an influx of pond management questions. The three biggest are addressed below.
1: I have Algae in my pond, what do I do?
The first step in treating algae is to verify that it is in fact algae. Often times well-meaning pond owners actually have a large weed problem that they have misdiagnosed as algae. Diagnosis can be done by bringing a large jug of water (mason jar, old peanut butter jar, etc.) filled with water and the suspected algae to the cooperative extension office for identification. Once it is confirmed that algae is the problem, the next step will be to take a water sample for analysis. This water sample will provide us with an overall picture of pond health. It will let us know if any nutrients are too high, indicating that they could be the cause of an algal bloom and also allow us to ensure that water parameters will allow for affective treatment of algae. Once these steps have been taken the extension office will be able to assist you in developing a control plan. This plan will take into consideration the use of the pond, the fish status, as well as the extent of the algae problem.
2: I have weeds in my pond, what do I do?
Treating weeds in a pond is very similar to treating algae. The first step is to bring a sample of the weed, in water, to the cooperative extension office. We will identify the weed and help to develop a control plan for weed mitigation. Chemical control is a very common method of weed management in ponds but we can also utilize other tools such as mechanical control and certain species of vegetation eating fish, depending on the weed species and pond design.
It is important to note that the control of weeds and algae are just that- control. They do not solve the underlying problem that led to the weeds or algae in the first case. Often times the underlying issue is a shallow pond. There are ways to help prevent the problem from returning such as applications of pond dye. Extension can help to identify any underlying pond management issues as well, if necessary.
3: I want to make sure my pond is safe to add fish, how do I go about that?
The first thing I recommend when I get this question is a water sample. I may sound like a broken record but the water analysis give us a look at the health of the pond as a whole and will provide recommendations if needed. The water sample can be taken in a empty, clean 20oz drink bottle. It should be free of weeds and separate of any vegetation identification sample you may be taking. More than likely the water sample will inform us that your pond also needs to be limed to raise the pH. To determine the amount of lime that needs to be added you must take a soil sample, ideally from the bottom of the pond. This can be done by attaching something like a can to the end of a pole and using it to collect soil from the bottom of the pond while aboard a boat. Collect soil samples from 8-10 places in the pond, combine these samples, and allow them to dry before bringing them to the extension office to be sent off for analysis.
For extra information about common pond management practices check out this Pond Management Guide.
Pond Water Samples- $5 payable by check to NCDA&CS
Soil Samples- Free from April-November and then $4 payable by check to NCDA&CS