Have you ever noticed your pond water tends to be cloudy in the summer and then crystal clear in the winter? Ever wonder why? While your pond is man-made, it is still a part of nature. Ponds are heavily affected by the weather and the surrounding environment. Heavy rain can disrupt the water clarity almost overnight. Freezing temperatures create a layer of ice on the surface of the water. Pond care and maintenance change with the seasons, each new season bringing in specific issues and concerns.
We’ll be creating a two-part series on water clarity. This first part will concentrate on combating cloudy water during the summer. The second part will focus on how to extend the crystal clear water you have during winter.
Why does water get murky in the summer?
Compared to winter, there is a great deal of activity in the water during the summer. Summer rains can lead debris and fertilizers into the water from the surrounding grass and plants. The fertilizers combined with the long, warm, sunny days can lead to algae and weed growth. There are also more critters in your pond during the summer. You may notice frogs and turtles exploring in and around your pond. As they swim and look for food, they can churn up debris at the bottom of the pond. Fish are also more active during the summer, requiring more food, which creates more waste. All of this activity can have an affect on water clarity.
How you can combat cloudy water:
One of the best ways to prevent algae and keep water clear is aeration. You can use a fountain or waterfall to keep the surface water circulating, increasing oxygen levels and preventing the algae from receiving too much direct sunlight. An aerator can be used beneath the surface to pump oxygen into the deepest part of the water, which is often most lacking in oxygen. Beneficial bacteria require oxygen, and if the water is not properly oxygenated the bad bacteria takes over, releasing algae-loving nutrients as it slowly breaks down debris.
Run a Water Test
Water tests are important for figuring out the specific cause of the cloudy water. If the phosphate and nitrate levels are high, this indicates you could have a run-off problem. Phosphates and nitrates are common in fertilizers. High ammonia levels can be a sign of overcrowding as ammonia levels can be increased by too much fish waste. If dissolved oxygen levels are too low, you need to aerate. Oxygenated water is important for beneficial bacteria growth and pond life.
The leaves, blades of grass, and other debris that you see floating on the pond’s surface will eventually sink to the bottom and break down into sludge. A layer of sludge forms, and if it is disturbed by heavy rain or swimming pond life, the water becomes cloudy. You can manually remove surface debris with a skimmer net or install a pond skimmer. The pond skimmer will collect any debris that passes through in its basket, which is easy to clean.
Breakup the Sludge
If you have a buildup of sludge at the bottom of your pond, you can use the smartpond water clarifier and sludge remover. The water clarifier uses polymers to draw the particles in the water, causing the murkiness, into clumps. The clumps can either be scooped or filtered out. The sludge remover contains bacteria that has been carefully selected to eat debris and bad bacteria in the water.
Filtration is a great all-natural way to keep your water clear. Filters work without chemicals to remove small debris from the water. A mechanical filter uses filtration pads to catch debris as it passes through. A biological filter uses beneficial bacteria to break down any particles in the water. A UV filter works to eliminate algae at the microscopic level, using ultraviolet light.
Filters have to work extra hard in the summer to keep the water clean. If you notice your water is cloudy, it could be because your filter isn’t working as well as it normally does. You can take your filter apart (carefully) and gently clean out the pump. You can also replace any filter pads or UV bulbs.
Shield the Sun’s Rays
Many summer water clarity issues, including algae, are caused or intensified by the long days of direct sunlight your pond receives. Algae need sunlight to photosynthesis and grow. Warm water holds less oxygen than cold water. Oxygen levels tend to drop in the summertime, which can kill off the good bacteria. You can add floating pond plants, or plastic floating lilies to create some shade. Adding pond tint is like giving your pond a pair of cute sunglasses. It darkens the water, protecting the fish, and lowering the temperature a bit. Tint can make the water prettier too, by adding a bright blue hue.
In part two, we will examine how to extend the clear winter water. Clear water is always a goal for pond owners. You want your pond to have beautiful, crystal clear, water year round. Maintaining clear water in the hottest summer months can be a little bit of a challenge. It tends to be much easier in the winter, when you spend less time relaxing by the water. Understanding why water is cloudier in the summer helps you understand how your maintenance and water treatments need to change. It takes work, but clear water during the summertime is a realistic goal!