How to Maintain a Pond or Lake Naturally

Do you have a pond or lake on your property and are in search of natural pond maintenance methods to prevent algae blooms or other nutrient pollution?

Here is your three step guide to maintaining a pond and removing pond pollution!

Ponds and lakes serve many purposes. They can be a vital water source for fish, birds, wildlife, crops, and livestock. They are also a good source of recreation for families during the warmer months. A clean and clear pond will add value to your property. We highly recommend learning the proper ways to maintain a pond!

Unattended ponds and lakes can suffer from algae and weeds, foul odors, and stagnation. But what causes such problems to occur? Nutrient pollution is the cause of these symptoms, and it’s a problem that plagues rivers, lakes and ponds throughout North America. According to the U.S. Department of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, nutrient pollution in water is the process where too many nutrients, particularly phosphorus and nitrogen, are populating bodies of water which can act like fertilizer, and causes algae blooms.

Where does nutrient pollution, phosphorous and nitrogen come from? Forms they come in range from:

  • Animal waste
  • Sewage runoff
  • Agricultural fertilizers
  • Fossil fuels
  • Factory byproducts
  • Detergents and soaps

In recent years, this has developed into an issue of epic proportions, affecting our freshwater sources to a degree that scientists are having serious concerns with regards to the future health of freshwater sources. If we don’t do anything to reduce these issues in all freshwater bodies, oxygen levels will deplete, many fish will die, water will stagnate, algae blooms will become more frequent, and the quality of water and the health of our animals and livestock will deteriorate.

Pond Maintenance Strategies to Fight Back Against Nutrient Pollution in Freshwater

There are many pond care options at your disposal, so you need to decide which is best for the body of water on your property. Here are a couple of paths you can go down to address the issues:

Option 1: Treat Algae Blooms and Weeds with Algaecide or Herbicide (Not Recommended)

You can treat the algae and weeds with algaecides or herbicides. However, these remedies can be toxic. In addition, this solution only treats the symptoms by killing the unwanted aquatic vegetation. The true cause of the problem isn’t really being addressed in this method. Depending on the product you buy, it may make the quality of your water worse than it was in the first place as time goes on. 

Option 2: The Use of Natural Remedies to Stop Nutrient Pollution (Recommended)

Use an all natural program for your water to treat the pond problems caused by excess nutrients. It’s the most effective and is safe for humans, fish, animals, crops and the environment. Also, it is a sustainable approach that won’t leave toxic residue in your pond. Your pond maintenance costs will go down over time, and your water, along with everything around it will become healthier. 

Here are three simple steps to achieve natural pond care.

Step 1: Stop Excess Nutrients with Beneficial Bacteria and Enzyme Blends

Maintain your pond with natural bacteria and enzyme blends to prevent excess nutrients. These are designed to consume the nutrients in the water that cause nutrient pollution. Bacteria and enzyme products are natural, safe and easy to use, and they are eco – friendly. Using the right blend of bacteria and enzymes for your pond is crucial. Freshwater bodies that are suffering from nutrient pollution need hungry bacteria to consume phosphates and nitrates. Enzymes are also crucial in the natural process of cleaning up ponds, as they break down the organic matter allowing the bacteria to consume the nutrients.

It’s important to note, not all bacteria are made to deal with nutrient pollution, so do your research and look for proven quality products that have a good track record. We’ve got a great resource on beneficial bacteria, we encourage you to check it out.

Look for products that:

– Contain only natural ingredients.
– Are in liquid form and contain high levels of live bacteria. This way it can be dispersed effectively thought the water body. Dry forms of bacteria best used in smaller bodies of water, like small backyard ponds.
– Contain aerobic bacteria, which consumes suspended nutrients in the water.
– Contain anaerobic bacteria, which are able to eat up sludge and muck at the bottom of the pond.

Step 2: Add an Aeration System to Treat the Source of the Problem

Aerating the water is another good practice for environmentally sound pond management. Aeration is the process of oxygenating the water, and improves the oxygen vs. dissolved oxygen levels.

Aeration provides oxygen that will help with:

– Aerobic bacteria to live and be effective.
– Aids in the decomposition process of organic matter.
– Keeps the algae and weeds at bay.
– Vent off carbon dioxide and foul odors.
– Decrease the growth of insect larvae.

There are two main kinds of aeration systems – surface aeration and bottom-up aeration.

Surface Aeration

With surface aeration or fountains, the water is sucked up and pumped many feet into the air. Though these pond aerator systems are a beautiful addition to a pond, surface aeration only adds oxygen to the surface of the pond derived from the splashing of the water. Essentially, the splashing water traps oxygen in the top 6 to 12 inches of the ponds surface. Furthermore, these motors must work much harder because they push water vs. pushing air like bottom up aeration systems do raising energy costs of operation and shortening the life expectancy of the equipment.

Bottom Up Aeration

Bottom up aeration systems aerate the water from the bottom of the pond. These systems are by far the most effective way of aerating ponds – 8 to 10 times more efficient than surface aeration. Dissolving oxygen into the water at the bottom of the pond helps the oxygen to efficiently mix with the water and provides a filtration effect. While the oxygen bubbles rise through the water column they collect organic debris suspended in the pond body burning off excess organic debris that causes algae, weeds, and pond stagnation. The dissolving process is more efficient when the oxygen has more time in the water. Bottom up aeration can help keep your fish thriving and support an overall healthier ecosystem in your pond.

Bottom Up Aeration Systems For Maintaining a Pond

There are three main types of bottom up aeration systems:

Electric Aerators

A low draw electric aerator may be a good fit for you if:

Pond aerator in a wooded pond area

– There is a source of electricity within 1000 feet.
– You wish to keep your pond open during the winter.
– There is a low to moderate wind or is in an area sheltered from the wind.
– The pond is in a densely populated area or has trees all around.

Solar Aerators

Solar aeration systems may be a good fit for you if:

– Do not have access to electricity.
– Prefer a method of eco-friendly green energy.
– Are located in an area sheltered from wind.
– Consistent sunny climate.

Windmills

A windmill aeration system may be a good fit for you if:

– Do not have access to electricity.
– Prefer a method of eco-friendly green energy.
– Your electricity rates are high.
– You like the aesthetics of a windmill.

Step 3: Maintain Your Pond!!!

In order for pond treatments and aeration systems to work effectively, you need to manage the amount of vegetation entering the pond. Regular manual removal of unwanted aquatic vegetation like weeds, fallen leaves, and algae. As mentioned earlier in this article, using algaecides and herbicides to kill off unwanted vegetation may not be a good choice for you. Those chemicals only mask the problem, and often times make it worse. When weeds and algae are treated with algaecides and herbicides, the decaying matter sinks to the bottom of the pond, adding to the pond sludge. This increases its nutrient load zapping oxygen from the water. Excess nutrients allow new weeds and algae to grow and creates an ineffective cycle inevitably requiring costly dredging to remove muck and sludge.

To remove unwanted vegetation manually, get a good week cutter or rake that is lightweight and includes a cutting head and removable floatation device. You can cut weeds and then pull them out of the water with the rake, and the floatation device can help you remove the floating aquatic vegetation. You can detach the floater to sink the weed cutter in the water to access the lower weeds.

WHY NATURAL?

Natural pond care programs are a much more sustainable approach to maintaining your pond, but most of all, it targets the root cause of the problem. Natural products will transform your pond’s ecosystem to be more self-sustainable over time, and lower costs in the long run. The natural solutions we’ve talked about  treat your water without the consequences of harmful side effects, and they are safer for the surrounding environment. Addressing the lack of oxygen in your pond attacks the root of poor pond water quality. By using all natural pond and lake care products, you can maximize the value of your property and enjoy your pond or lake in the long term.