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#161826 05/03/09 07:40 PM
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My pond has been full for about 6 months. It drops off quickly and I do not have any algae problems yet. My water is very murky (less than a foot visibility), but I think that is from it being a new pond with a clay bottom. The guy at the plant store suggested that I should start putting in bacteria one a month to prevent problems this summer and help clear up the water. I have some of the threads about bacteria, but don't have a clear picture on when it is used. Some use it to control algae and some use it to clear up muck (I don't have either). Not sure what I should do. Do I just let the pond be the first year (I would like it to clear up a bit) or should I do some preventative stuff?


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Coach - I think your conclusion is correct; bacteria won't do much to clear up muddy water or control algae that is not there in a clay turbid pond. Algae will not get growing much at all in turbid water. As water clears and sunlight penetrated deeper into the water, expect to see more plant growth. The guy was trying to sell you bacteria. I think that is philosophy of selling a product that is not needed and will not produce results as in your case just sours your (customer's) opinion of bacteria and the place that sold it to you.

If you want to speed the clearing process consider quick lime or alum. Your water in your area should be pretty hard and well buffered so you will not have to be concerned with major shifts in pH. Do you have a secchi disk or similar water clarity measuring device to determine how fast your water is clearing up? Weekly mesurements will show the clearing process in actual length or depth measurements.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 05/03/09 08:48 PM.

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I do not have a disk. Where would I get one, along with the lime or alum? How do you decide which to use? From reading the threads, it sounds a bit tricky to get the balance right. The water here is pretty hard, but should I get a kit and measure it through the process? sorry for all the questions. It seems as soon as I ask one, 57 more come up.

the pond was clearer a few weeks ago, but all of the rain in April hit it hard. I am working on plantings around the pond to control run off. I hope that we have some gentle rains instead of these one-inch storms that blow all of the seed into the pond.


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Coach, a sechi disk is easy to make. I use a white top off a 5 gallon bucket. Poke a hole in the middle of the top. Run a cord through it and tie on just enough weight to get it to sink but not enough to really stretch the cord. Measure the cord where the disk disappears. It's not rocket science and the Pro's USUALLY use professionally built ones. You can also stick your arm in the water and measure at the point where you can't see your fingers. If you get past your armpit, you probably need to fertilize.


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Coach:
I know you are in Michigan. Northern Michigan Aquatics is hosting a PARADE OF PONDS TOUR ON June 27, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for $10, proceeds to charity. They advertise Beautifully Landscaped Water Gardens & Ponds. 939-345-7574, it is somewhere near West Branch. I met these guys at the MLSA conference.
There is also a new park displaying watershed, plants, buffer zones, somewhere in Sterling Heights, MI, it was just put in last year, I have the article here somewhere. If you are interested in that let me know and I will look for it.


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Until you get grass growing all around that new pond expect to see cloudy silty looking water. I would not add lime or alum in a pond that does not have the watershed and area around the pond grassed. Next stong rain will make the pond turbid again.


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Hmmm...Bacteria in a new pond. This is a topic I have grappeled with for a long time.

Since the pond is new, do you seed the pond with bacteria to start a culture? Alternatively, are these bacteria already there or likely to be there by the time you start to acquire a bio-load? Is your pond even ready to receive the bacteria?

Most of the bacteria we buy from our pond suppliers is naturally occurring bacteria in almost every water body and soil in the world. They are simply more concentrated and selected for a particular water treatment service. But, they have certain habitat requirements and one of these is a surface area to grow on.

Much like the bio-ball filters in an aquarium, the plants in your pond provide a surface area for these bacteria to grow. If you don't have plants in your pond, which it sounds like you don't, the surface area of "liveable" spaces for bacteria is significantly diminished and therefore, so is the effectiveness of the bacteria. In fact, in wastewater applications, engineers actually specify extended growth media to increase the surface area and therefore the rate of bacterial nutrient conversion.

It's my opinion (I have not found any literature on the topic so please share if you have) that until you have plants or other large areas of suitable bacteria habitat, it is pointless to add bacteria. You are simply not going to get a lot of bang for your buck. Furthermore, bacteria have other requirements in order to thrive. pH = 6-8.5, water temp > 55 F, DO > 2 PPM to name a few.

When buying bacteria, the salesman should ask similar questions as when buying an aeration system. What are your goals, water chemistry, inputs from watershed, etc... If your salesperson is not asking these types of questions, I fear that what BC said is true, he/she is just trying to sell some product.

BC, thanks for your input and not just passing off bacteria as "snake oil" as many do. I am a big advocate of bacteria, especially as a substitute for copper based algaecides...but only when the conditions are right.


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Outstanding post, WW, may I call you WW? Can the growing media include organic debris such as decaying leaves, fish wastes and phytoplankton, or need it be macrophytes?

thanks


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IMO WW is correct but I also think he has pigeon holed benficial pond bacteria into one category that primarily live on underwater "plant" surfaces.

Bacteria are a very diverse group of organisms that live in a very diverse spectrum of situations and habitats. Numerous ones are digesters of waste materials and organic digesters. The denitrifying bacteria are one group that does live attached, colonize, or coat underwater surfaces including plants living and dead. Numerous types of bacteria are associated with soils and sediments and do not live on plants or similar above the bottom surface areas. Granted the few common bacterial strains that are in "beneficial pond bacteria products" may be primarily surface oriented bacteria.

However there are more types of naturally occurring bacteria that are planktonic in nature that adhere to all sizes of planktonic particles. There are probably about as many species of bacteria as there are substances or things to digest or decompose. There are bacteria that are primarily responsible for breaking down and converting not solids but organic chemicals such as proteins, carbohydrates, fats, oils and yes, ammonia. There a whole group of bacteria that just "deal" with the compound sulfur. Many of the chemical oxidizer or reducing bacteria types probably live attached to something, but I am sure sediment, wood, stones, rocks would be an acceptable substrates. Submerged plants do provide tremendous amounts of surface area for bacterial to colonize. There are no doubt many types of bacteria that live on or are associated with zooplankton, invertebrates and even algae that live both attached and are plankonic.

My point is there are many more types of bacteria and their habitats other than plant surfaces.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 05/04/09 09:11 PM.

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Okay, what is a macrophyte and i don't even think i can spell phytoplanton. Great answers from all of you. Dave i am quickly building a disk to check my water, and the overwhelming response is to wait on bacteria. We are working on the grass around the pond, so I will wait and see how it goes. It sounds that I should not expect visibility over two feet? It looks like on other threads that I should consider fertilization if I can see much deeper than that. Is that because I don't have enough zooplanton (are those phytoplanton)?


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I have so much to learn!! I love it!! I now know I have planktonic particles. Keep sending me this stuff. I have learned more about ponds and water composition and plants and fish in last couple of months then I thought existed. Thank you for all of the help.

2catmom, if you can find that article it would be great. I will be coming back from fishing in WI that weekend and cannot make the show, but it sounds great. I will plan on it for next year.


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Macrophyte are larger plants that have vascular systems (fluid transport) and usually with leaves and stems, i.e. higher and more specialized types of plants than algae types. Macrophytes are also called vascular plants. There are two basic types terrestrial and aquatic.
Plankton (free floating with little if any mobility) has two basic types: animal type called zooplankton and plant type called phytoplankton.

Water clarity is all relative. My pond in NW OH currently has visibility to see your soon to be made visibility disk in water 8-9 ft deep. Earlier it had visibilities of 10-12 ft. Too clear? - It all depends. I don't think so. In a small deep steep sided pond one can grow quite a few big fish. You do it by feeding them pellets. Ferilization of northern "farm" ponds (non hatchery) tends to be tricky and often problematic for beginners and even those with good experience. Fertilization of northern ponds often leads to winterkills and nuisance bluegreen algae blooms during July and August. Dr. Willis had an good article a year or two ago in PBoss Mag why fertilization of northern ponds is not suggested or reccommended. One should be able to find the issue it occurred in, in Cody's PB Magazine Contents/Index topics located in the Archives Section.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 05/04/09 09:30 PM.

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So it sounds like fertilization is more of a southern pond thing. Thanks for the marine biology lesson. Now the posts make sense.

I get my dock this week and will test out the disk then.


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Coach B:
I was wrong, it is Clinton Township, the name of the Park is the Geroge George Memorial Park, and it is an interconnected rain garden that leads to 10 acres of wetlands. The rain garden ponds are filled with native plants that naturally filter storm water runoff before it eventually flows into the Clinton River, and then Lake St. Clair. (by the way, our lakes outflow to the Red Run District of the Ferry drain, which also go to the Clinton River and then to Lake St. Clair).
Bacteria is a subject I am very interested in - check out http://www.OaklandLakefront.com, April edition, for an article called Bacterial Augmentation, our Lake guy is quoted in it quite a bit, Brent, they are having success with our types of storm water detention ponds,they have been successful in getting new products approved in MI that were not in the past.


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Northern ponds in fertile, limestone based soils (alkaline water) often have natural phytoplankton communities that produce water transparencies of 2ft-3ft. Adding lime and fertilizer is often not needed or necessary. Abundances of FA and aquatic macrophytes in these ponds consume the fertility, compete with the plankton and usually cause the water to be clearer than 3 ft.


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Coach B. now that you've gotten the full baptism, let's talk about your pond in layman's terms. Bottom line, you dont need bacteria until you have water quality problems, such as too much nutrients causing excessive algae, green water, floating mats, etc. You may or may not eventually need them. In the deep south, where the summers are long, hot and the pond can get stagnant and polluted or over fertilized from farming, etc., they can kick start new colonies to deal with excess nutrients.
BUT, in no way intended to be contrary to Bill Cody's advice, in my particular case, adding alum to my new, turbid pond, caused the suspended particles to flocculate and sink. that was 1 yr. ago. I have had several big rains, the last being in March, with 5 inches in 3-4 hrs. twice in one seek. the pond breached the dam, was so muddy you could track a coon across it; then when I got there 1 week later to siphon it down, it had 4 ft. visibility. What I am trying to say is, in my case, even though there is still some bare(red clay) ground around the pond, it still settled out. So, the alum has had a lasting effect. I think you should go ahead and try and clear it, add fish, then deal with trying to plant grass for erosion control.


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Is the idea of not fertilizing a pond in the north because of the amount of Phosphorous which occurs naturally in our soils?


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 Originally Posted By: burgermeister
the pond breached the dam, was so muddy you could track a coon across it;


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BC, again great info . I did not intend to imply that bacteria only grow on plant surfaces. In fact, I think the ones that are most beneficial are the ones consuming organic muck (that's decaying leaves, fish waste, etc. burgmeister and yes you can call me WW)in the benthic layer. I was just pointing out that in a new pond, there typically isn't a lot of surface area, organic or inorganic, for bacteria to attach to. And, bacterial treatments will be more effective with increased surface area regardless of its nature.

What I like about plants as a bacterial growth media is that the plant itself has a relatively large surface area when compared to other objects. That is, you could probably cover an entire softball sized rock with the leaves off one sprig of elodea. Plus the leaves are two sided therefore doubling the surface area. Furthermore, plants will come and provide their services whether you like it or not which, in my mind is the definition of sustainability...but I digress.

The point being Coach, IMO it's too early for a bacteria program.


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I love the information you WW and BC are giving!

What do you think of this salinity level: Early on:right after the ice melt and heavy rain on 3/10: 512 ppm, main sample, 428 ppm near my drain. And then on 3/18 it was 463.0 ppm near the outflow, PH was 9.3, Phosphates 150. ppb, Nitrates 1,452.0 ppb. The others were within the normal range but kind of high, the water is hard 282.0 ppm. We have no vegeation (other than the CLP). As you know I am trying to get one drain diverted from out of my lake, and the heavily salted road coming in had filter paper on it,and the area is still wet, so we didn't get the normal run-off from that road. We collected it ourselves, then the Lake Co. came out and did a total test. I keep running across info here and there that talks about natural bacteria and salt causing problems with it.


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I can only read what is written and not determine what is ment, intended or implied.

Last edited by Bill Cody; 06/07/09 09:41 PM.

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Okay, time to pick up this thread again. It is now mid June and I am starting to see a bit of FA in the shallows (some strings coming up from the bottom). I also have had small clumps of black stuff floating around the pond. the clumps are not big (the biggest about the size of a hand) and not that numerous. I scooped most of them out with my net. Also, the darn cottonwoods have covered my pond with snow. I also scooped most of that out as well.

Here is my question: what should I be expecting/looking for during this first year of the pond that indicates that I have problems? the fish are doing great and the water clarity is about four feet.


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 Originally Posted By: CoachB
Okay, time to pick up this thread again. It is now mid June and I am starting to see a bit of FA in the shallows (some strings coming up from the bottom). I also have had small clumps of black stuff floating around the pond. the clumps are not big (the biggest about the size of a hand) and not that numerous. I scooped most of them out with my net. Also, the darn cottonwoods have covered my pond with snow. I also scooped most of that out as well.

Here is my question: what should I be expecting/looking for during this first year of the pond that indicates that I have problems? the fish are doing great and the water clarity is about four feet.


If you ever do have problems you probably won't see them this early in the pond's life. A little FA and some clumps coming loose from the bottom are normal.

Do you circuclate your water via a diffuser(s)?


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I don't have power at the pond yet. We are debating whether to use a wind mill, or run power out there. I was hoping to get through the first year without it. Is this something that I should act on this year? The pond is kidney shaped with a deep end of 15 feet and a shallow end at 8. 1:2 slopes to about 4 feet on all sides. half an acre.


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I think this stuff, especially the floating algae, is pretty normal. It usually disappears after a rain. If you took all of the cottonwood junk, put it in a bag, and wetted it down, it would be pretty small. No problem.

However, if the cottonwood is next to the pond, it will drink a lot of water.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

Without a sense of urgency, Nothing ever gets done.

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