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#437159 - 02/08/16 01:16 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
Turtlemtn Offline


Registered: 11/24/15
Posts: 368
Loc: Missouri
I haven't seen any discussion of the reason for muck accumulation. It's a pzzle to me. Muck is organic matter with probably a bit of silt mixed in.
1. Why isn't the organic matter consumed by the organisms in the pond or lake?
2. If bacteria are the answer, why aren't they the answer before the problem becomes a problem?
3. If you apply a type of bacteria to the muck that are specially selected because of their muck consuming properties, why is the muck still there, and why do you have to apply more bacteria a month or a year later?
4. Why don't the bacteria thrive rather than disappear? If aeration helps reduce the muck, it must be because the muck is oxygen deficient.
5. But how did that part of the BOW become oxygen deficient in the first place?
6. Was it oxygen deficient before the muck accumulated, or is the presence of the muck the reason it's O2 deficient? My guess is, it's the latter. For unusual reasons, organic matter is deposited on the bottom of the pond faster than the detritus eating organisms that are there can handle it. They were in balance with the conditions that preceded this unusual event, and can't adjust as fast as the detritus is accumulating. The unusual event may be a heavy leaf fall or a sudden plant off or some such thing. The detritus creates its own micro environment that is hostile to the organisms present in the BOW and it just lies there until another unusual event adds more detritus to it, and the volume of muck grows.

So we can look at the problem of muck in two parts: how to prevent it in the first place, and what to do about it once it's a problem.

Some steps that may help to prevent it:

Remove heavy accumulations of organic matter as soon as practicable.

Keep as wide a variety of detritus eating critters in your pond as practicable.

Rather than avoiding or removing critters that stir up muck, keep some in your BOW. Choose those that are least offensive or that provide some additional benefit.

Some steps that may help to remove it:

During periods when your BOW is spilling, stir up the muck and flush out as much as possible.

Investigate the various detritus eating organisms and see what your pond might not have that it probably should have, e.g., micro organisms, crustaceans, worms, snails, clams, fish.

Continue to experiment with aeration and commercially available bio agents.

Share what you learn with others.


Edited by Bill Cody (02/08/16 03:35 PM)
Edit Reason: Separated the questions

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#437165 - 02/08/16 02:19 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
RER Offline


Registered: 01/23/12
Posts: 1926
Loc: N FL
don't tilapia eat detritus?
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#437170 - 02/08/16 03:33 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
Bill Cody Offline
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Supposedly tilapia eat settled organic detritus according to Rainman our forum resident tilapia expert. Rex says tilapia eat organics to get the bacteria growing on the organics. I've seen tilapia ingest bottom organics in a fish tank. IMO tilapia will eat algae before they eat dead bottom organic materials. Dead organic materials are probably an alternative food source for tilapia especially when algae are abscent.

Turtlemtn answers most of his own questions IMO correctly, so I will not answer them again.


Edited by Bill Cody (02/08/16 03:38 PM)
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#437181 - 02/08/16 05:08 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
Rainman Offline
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The Tilapia will "farm" detritus by forcing oxygenated water onto and under detritus to promote aerobic bacterial growth. The tilapia get nutrition from the bacteria growing and decomposing the detritus.

Turtlemtn, "Muck" builds up as you "guessed"...from a heavy influx that existing bacterial colonies can not consume. The muck comes in, like a fall leaf dump, and cover the bottom and existing aerobic bacteria. Water under the new leaf quickly becomes devoid of oxygen (anoxic) as the aerobic bacteria consumes the oxygen....once the O2 is gone, your "beneficial bacteria" die. Since water can't circulate under the leaf litter, anaerobic bacteria form. Anaerobic bacteria does consume detritus, but at a rate about 1000 times or more slower than aerobic bacteria does. Anaerobic bacteria also produces hydrogen sulfide gasses that can be poisonous to the fish and aerobic bacteria and is noticed by the "sewage" smells produced.
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#437186 - 02/08/16 05:51 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
Turtlemtn Offline


Registered: 11/24/15
Posts: 368
Loc: Missouri
Rainman,

That's a detailed explanation of what I was guessing at. And what I've been thinking is that fish and crayfish that stir up the muck may be performing a needed service. Someone already told how he urges CC to stir up the muck. So perhaps the pond owners with muck problems should take a second look at the species they've shunned because they stir up the mud, and maybe even some of those who don't have muck problems yet should too. It seems that detritus is much easier to deal with before it becomes muck. Keeping a variety of detritus eaters in your pond can only help in that regard.

Bill,

I was sort of working it out as I went along. I figured it would serve some purpose to offer the ideas I had, even if they were wrong. Someone with the right answers would likely set things straight.

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#437191 - 02/08/16 06:34 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Turtlemtn]
Rainman Offline
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Originally Posted By: Turtlemtn
Rainman,

That's a detailed explanation of what I was guessing at. And what I've been thinking is that fish and crayfish that stir up the muck may be performing a needed service. Someone already told how he urges CC to stir up the muck. So perhaps the pond owners with muck problems should take a second look at the species they've shunned because they stir up the mud, and maybe even some of those who don't have muck problems yet should too. It seems that detritus is much easier to deal with before it becomes muck. Keeping a variety of detritus eaters in your pond can only help in that regard.

Bill,

I was sort of working it out as I went along. I figured it would serve some purpose to offer the ideas I had, even if they were wrong. Someone with the right answers would likely set things straight.


Turtlemtn, the critters you mentioned will help, yet they can not go where the water is anoxic. In a way, the critters mentioned can help push detritus even deeper into the pond, depending on shape and depth of the bottom. This would slow detritus decomposition since in an unaerated pond, the muck will never get oxygen, of be disturbed.

If you want to reduce, slow, or even eliminate muck buildup due to organics, a pond with a well designed basin using a bottom draw discharge system, and effective, well designed aeration system is your best bet.

Beneficial bacteria (Commercial blend additives) has a place in pond management, yet the best bacteria's for any given body of water are ubiquitous, so adding bacteria that may not be able to survive or thrive can be an expensive waste....


Edited by Rainman (02/08/16 07:21 PM)
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#437196 - 02/08/16 07:30 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
Bill D. Offline


Registered: 10/19/14
Posts: 5913
Loc: Boone County Illinois
FWIW when I built my pond I considered muck prevention a priority on my checklist and I would recommend that to anyone building a new pond. The pond was full October 2013 and I installed bottom aeration as soon as I could in May 2014. Right or wrong, the old "Ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" was my thinking... smile Now the pond is a little older and I'm looking at stocking scuds, crawfish, and grass shrimp, if I can catch some. I have a few CC wandering around as well keeping things stirred up a bit but mostly cause I like to eat them! grin
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#437223 - 02/08/16 09:05 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
Turtlemtn Offline


Registered: 11/24/15
Posts: 368
Loc: Missouri
Sounds like you're covering all the bases Bill. The way you designed your pond, there probably won't be much need for cleaning. But the crustaceans you plan to stock will still provide great forage for the fish.

Rainman,

The pond I bought has a water release system that could probably have been easily modified to sweep sediment and detritus out the bottom, but it was designed to provide a constant supply of water to a trough for livestock. Fish were an afterthought, or no thought at all. The way it's working keeps the water level very low. Maybe I can at least correct that.

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#437240 - 02/08/16 10:55 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
Rainman Offline
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An auto start, bottom draw siphon is always a fairly inexpensive and highly effective retrofit in any pond, when done properly.
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#494234 - 07/25/18 12:46 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
Journeyman Offline


Registered: 08/10/17
Posts: 46
Loc: wisconsin
Bump;

Great discussion on this topic...

Any new input based on recent years experience, products?

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#505012 - 04/29/19 04:00 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
Jimtom Offline


Registered: 04/29/19
Posts: 1
Loc: N. Illinois
OK, I'm new hear and I'd like to see this topic and it's experiments keep going.

I have a 1/8 acre bean shaped pond that has about 2 feet of muck. Due to foreclosure, lack of care, and them damn cotton woods that they let grow around it. I just girdled 2 of them today with plans to dominate the rest in the near future. I understand that 2 feet of muck most likely requires manual removal but to be honest with you and myself, I doubt that's ever going to happen. I've got an aggressive fountain running at one end and a 2 ring bubbler running at the other. The fountain needs to go for electricity bill reasons but it has done a decent job of reducing muck when it was the sole apparatus in the middle of the pond. I've got my 1st hatching of bluegill from 5 that were released 2 summers ago, so that's a good sign. It was a swampy frog pond when we moved in and got the fountain going 2 years ago. Killed off the duckweed last summer and hope to keep the algae at bay. I'm with the crowd that thinks stiring it up and keeping the oxygen in there is the way to go. So... will I regret putting in some catfish to help work it up a bit?

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#505015 - 04/29/19 04:32 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
canyoncreek Offline


Registered: 05/07/13
Posts: 2090
Loc: West Michigan
It sounds to me like the prop wash of the pontoon boat does more to remove muck, lift it up, stir it, get oxygen under it than any enzyme tablet on the top of the muck.

Is there study of mechanical agitators combined with aeration?

My brother in law was amazed at how a couple years of fountain induced surface agitation could not do much for the bottom of the pond even in the shallows, but one summer of bottom aeration and he has nice sandy bottoms in the shallows.

But someone out there surely must have a way to get the right enzymes, bacteria and superfuel their growth and have them help with the process of breaking down or consuming the organics at the bottom?

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#505017 - 04/29/19 05:32 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
Mike Whatley Offline


Registered: 04/22/18
Posts: 1210
Loc: Louisiana
My little pond is a near perfect bowl. Deep in the middle (11' when full) steep sides and very little shallow area. My aeration system is elevated 22" but I removed the bottom plate when I installed it. Since turning it back on this year, my water has remained turbid, with a visibility of around 16". When checking temps, there is only 3 degrees variance from top to bottom (a definite need to monitor closely as temps continue rise), so I believe the system is drawing detritus up from the bottom as well as providing needed O2 across all the bottom's surface.

If I understand everything that's been posted previously, this condition should provide enough O2 to accelerate muck decomposition....is that correct?
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#505024 - 04/29/19 07:43 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
Bill Cody Offline
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Registered: 04/18/02
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Yes - If you can maintain 3F difference or less between top to bottom you are getting real good DO on the bottom for good muck digestion.


Edited by Bill Cody (04/29/19 07:43 PM)
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#505026 - 04/29/19 09:06 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
Mike Whatley Offline


Registered: 04/22/18
Posts: 1210
Loc: Louisiana
Thanks Bill. Now if I can only maintain that variance without over heating the pond. I've reduced run time to 3 hours over the weekend, and have started running from 7a-10a as of this morning because my surface temp is already crowding 80f, and the variance is still holding. I have pond dye arriving tomorrow to try help with shading and to hopefully reduce some FA.
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#505047 - 04/30/19 08:34 AM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
RC51 Offline
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Registered: 07/06/09
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Loc: Arkansas
You can also try this at your own risk of course. This may not be the best practice but I do it from time to time. With your air running in your pond. I have a 15 foot steel rake that's about 3 feet wide at the bottom looks like a large garden rake. I will get in my small boat with a trolling motor and have one person troll around the pond slowly as I drag the rake on the bottom of my pond and we will make a few passes that way specially in the area of most concern. Course my pond is only 10 foot deep max so this is not as hard. It mixes up that bottom pretty good though and gets things moving. I also use a certain bacteria product that I believe works well along with air. So here are my steps.

1. Get air, correct air going in your pond. That should be priority 1.
2. If you can stir up that bottom a bit. I do this twice a year.
3. If you believe it will help. Use some beneficial bacteria to help the muck reducing process get going!(There is a lot of controversy on the subject of beneficial bacteria) I wont mention any products here in this post, but if your interested in what I use IM me and I will let you know. Keep in mind any of this takes some time it does NOT happen over a few months. Maybe more like a couple of years and I am still doing it. lol but since 2010 I believe I have lost about 8 to 10 inches of muck maybe a little more out deep, I haven't checked lately. And of course if you have more cash to use you can buy more product to help. I only use this product twice a year, but it can be used more for sure. Some of it does depend on your budget that's for sure!

RC
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#505058 - 04/30/19 12:03 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
cb100 Offline


Registered: 12/19/14
Posts: 169
Loc: lake co calif
Has anyone tried taking a pump with a pipe on the discharge hose and pumping surface water down into the muck to put more oxygen down into the muck. I have observed a substantial algae bloom when I mix up some of the muck.

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#505059 - 04/30/19 12:14 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
Quarter Acre Offline


Registered: 06/10/16
Posts: 1598
Loc: West Central Missouri
cb, I think you would have to leave the pump/s on fairly continuously to see any real effects and, at that point, wouldn't the common aeration system do the same thing, maybe better?

A pump system, like you describe, would certainly stir the muck up and redistribute it throughout the pond leaving rich nutrients in oxygenated waters. The algae would take advantage of this newly available fertilizer.

Not that I have any real experience in the matter...just my thoughts.
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#505063 - 04/30/19 12:39 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
cb100 Offline


Registered: 12/19/14
Posts: 169
Loc: lake co calif
I was wondering whether rather than trying to fertilize using the nutrients in the muck to create an algae bloom would be a good thing. I also am running an aerator

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#505066 - 04/30/19 12:44 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
cb100 Offline


Registered: 12/19/14
Posts: 169
Loc: lake co calif
I don't know why my post doesn't want to post maybe this will bump both of them

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#510137 - 08/11/19 10:25 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: canyoncreek]
palmerdad Offline


Registered: 06/15/11
Posts: 6
Loc: Michigan
A couple of years ago I got curious about using some sort of prop or blower to push muck around. I saw a product that attached to your dock and did just that but it seemed pretty expensive. That's when I realized that the blower they were using strongly resembled a Kasco deicer like they use in harbors and marinas in the winter. I found someone that was selling a used one and bought it. I mounted it in a square wire metal milk crate and attached a pole onto the crate to act as a handle. I took it out to the dock at my folks house and plugged it in aiming it horizontally. The thing was so strong that it blasted it self out of the water! I learned that I basically had to rest it on my leg to keep it aimed where I want it. If you're not careful it will dig a hole in the lake floor blowing sand rocks and everything. We were able to easily blow a couple of inches of muck out away from the shore and dock. I don't know where it went, perhaps out into deeper water, or maybe just into the water column where it was easily digested. The ground stayed pretty clean for 2 or 3 years until we repeated it again this Spring. The whole process took less than 15 minutes each time and we were only limited by the length of the power cord. (I had someone holding the connecting points of the extension cords on the dock to keep it out of the water for safety.) I also used this device in my own smaller pond and in no time I had a swirling milk shake of muck in the water column. (there were no fish in the pond at the time) but without a place to go it all settled back down. And oh the smell that was released! Wow! I have to think the stirring helped stimulate bacteria and I repeated it several times. Ultimately the muck was just too deep and I suspected there was a lot of inorganic matter as well so we rented an excavator and dredged. Still using aeration with a bottom bubbler and some added bacteria now to try and keep the bottom from getting so full of muck again.


Edited by palmerdad (08/11/19 10:30 PM)
Edit Reason: spelling

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#510141 - 08/11/19 11:39 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
cb100 Offline


Registered: 12/19/14
Posts: 169
Loc: lake co calif
Well it's been a while since my last post. I'm going to try the pump and pipe. My pond is 46 years old with about 5 feet of muck we then had a fire that destroyed all the vegetation for miles around after that I got about 3 feet of sediment at one end of the pond. My hope is that by pumping water down into the muck it will soften the lower part of the muck. I have been sucking the muck out of the pond with a trash pump and sending it to an above ground pool let it settle and drain the water to my bait fish pond and then drain the muck to a pit to make garden soil. I have aeration so I hope that it will bring up some muck to be consumed in the water column.

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#510142 - 08/11/19 11:45 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
4CornersPuddle Offline


Registered: 01/24/11
Posts: 301
Loc: southwest Colorado
palmerdad, thanks for bumping this thread. I've had a "light bulb moment" as a result of re reading the entire piece.

In spring of 2017 I ran two old 9.9 Evinrudes on small boats in my 1/4 acre pond. I was repairing and tuning the motors. The planing round and round stirred up all sorts of mud. What I didn't realize until just now is that stirring the bottom also released lots of fertilizer so to speak in the form of bottom muck.

That summer we had an outrageous FA and elodea explosion, unlike any other of the 10 years we've owned the pond. The Elodea reached the surface on most of the pond; the FA was an incredible nuisance. Now I can see that stirring up all those nutrients probably led to the vegetation's excessive growth.

These past two years I have not run an outboard in the pond, not even one time. We have had a manageable amount of FA and elodea instead of the weed bonanza of 2017. Today was the first day this year that I had to get out and rake any debris. And, that is mainly because the cottonwood bud scales have fallen along with the cotton and were floating around with the small amount of FA present.

Guess I won't be racing around the pond no more. Ha! It was a lot of fun while it lasted.

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#510241 - 08/13/19 04:27 PM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
liquidsquid Offline


Registered: 11/20/11
Posts: 1973
Loc: East Bloomfield, NY USA
A couple of observations and learnings from reading this site:

1. Beneficial bacteria are only helpful on getting started on the muck removal, you need to also provide oxygen for them to get and keep them working. It is a speed boost to the natural process of bacterial growth.

2. If you get your muck digesting quickly with O2, you will also need a means to remove the excess nutrients that will be created in your water column. If you have no means to do so, you are building up fertilizer in your water. The plants will use it for you. Think algae blooms and weed growth. You are doing the process of turning your muck into viable life again. Tilapia, water exchange, bottom draw, grass carp, are examples of managing this accumulating nutrient source, as in the case of fish, they will accumulate it in biomass. Remove that biomass to the dinner table.

3. Moving O2 with an aeration system is one of the most efficient ways to get O2 into a water column and move water, but you need a strong flow to work it down into the muck. If you have too much flow, you will have a boiling cauldron of fish and debris. With a more reasonably sized system, the O2 laden water will work into the top layer of muck, and over time may be one of the best ways as it will work on muck at a manageable rate. Best to start with aeration before the muck starts though as the process is slow. Plenty of threads here with more details.

4. Bottom draw system. It will pull O2 water down through the entire muck layer, and then dispose the nutrient rich water outside of the pond basin as the muck breaks down or is sucked through. The drawback is you need flow-through of water for it to work. No flow-through, no different than any other stagnant pond. Another advantage is any anaerobic bad stuff is put somewhere other than in your pond when it starts up, so no toxic compounds to skunk your fish. At least in your pond. Where it goes, you must be careful.

5. For a smaller pond, you can create an under-gravel filter system. A large version of what aquariums used to use. This allows an aeration system to pull water up through a pipe which is attached to a network of buried pipes full of holes under sand and gravel. Easy to build yourself but could be expensive. This system efficiently pulls O2 water down through the muck and gravel, and the gravel surface provides the surface to host beneficial bacteria that scrubs the water. It works like a bottom draw but can be run all the time. You could also combine it with a bottom draw siphon pipe for the best of both worlds when you have enough flow-through.

These systems need to run as frequently as possible to keep the aerobic bacteria alive that is working the muck. Let it stop for too long, and most of the good bacteria will die. Death rate likely depends on a huge variety of factors, but I have the same problem in aquarium filters if I lose power in my house for more than 12 hours. Rather than 8 hours and 16 hours off, create a schedule of 4 hours on, 8 hours off, or even finer time periods so the bacteria can "breathe".

I am trying the under-gravel filter in a larger garden pond, and so far, very happy with the results. It is keeping the water sparkling clear, making the goldfish easy targets for herons. So far, no algae problems despite flooding rain washing in topsoil.

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#510486 - 08/19/19 12:17 AM Re: Muck Eating Bacteria Experiment [Re: Bob VanOrman]
cb100 Offline


Registered: 12/19/14
Posts: 169
Loc: lake co calif
Well since no one seems to have tried it. I took a 1" clear water pump a piece of flexible hose a piece of 1" pvc pipe and a 90 capped the end drilled a hole in the cap and 8 more in the pipe 4 three inches above the cap and 4 more 12 inches above the cap. Then hooked it up to the pump. Set the intake about 2 feet below the surface then proceeded to move around the pond pumping surface water down into the muck. I would shove the pipe down till I hit solid bottom then pull the pipe up about 3 inches and pump water down until I have a cloud of dark grey or black water coming to the surface.My pump seems to be adding some air in the discharge. So I held it under water so I can see the bubble pattern. When I push the pipe into the muck I get about 5 times the bubbles from the disturbed h2s.The clouds of muck and organic debris creates a nice bloom. Before I did this experiment I had about 4-5 foot visibility after a few hours I get a nice green bloom with about 24 inches of visibility.

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