Ponds and Water Gardening forum: How do I get pond water much cleaner, less muddy brown

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Name: Brenden Reinhart
Flushing Michigan (Zone 6b)
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bhart90
May 19, 2016 5:51 AM CST
I know it doesn't help NOT having a picture, bear with me... we had a pond dug out last summer, the whole thing is about the size of a small restaurant... like a subway, haha.....
Anyways, is there any way to clear it up. We have nothing but clay here, and there's like noooo visibility.

It's roughly 4 to 5 feet deep as well.

What are my options, if any¿

Thank you, Brenden
Brenden
Name: Paul Anguiano
Richland, WA (Zone 7a)
GW & DG: tropicalaria
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psa
May 19, 2016 6:24 AM CST

Moderator

What kind of filtration and aeration are you using? Is the color from suspended clay particulates, or from algaes and the like? The former normally is cleared away from a healthy environment by bacteria which clings to the particles and drops them out of the water column over time, provided there is sufficient circulation and oxygen. Algae (which can be brown or green) is a different story, and we've been discussing it on the Green pond thread: http://garden.org/thread/go/49641/
Name: Brenden Reinhart
Flushing Michigan (Zone 6b)
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bhart90
May 21, 2016 7:48 AM CST
psa said:What kind of filtration and aeration are you using? Is the color from suspended clay particulates, or from algaes and the like? The former normally is cleared away from a healthy environment by bacteria which clings to the particles and drops them out of the water column over time, provided there is sufficient circulation and oxygen. Algae (which can be brown or green) is a different story, and we've been discussing it on the Green pond thread: http://garden.org/thread/go/49641/


No filtration or aeration I guess, just a machine dug pond in our field.
Stagnant
Brenden
Decatur, Georgia (Zone 7a)
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helenchild
May 21, 2016 11:48 AM CST
What fills you pond? Run off and rain water? That could be where your dirty water is coming from.
You have lots of options to clean it up but if you just dug a hole in a field I'm not getting an idea of what you had in mind?
Try a picture and more details.
pas had some good comments. Follow up with answers to his questions.
Name: Paul Anguiano
Richland, WA (Zone 7a)
GW & DG: tropicalaria
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Garden Photography
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psa
May 21, 2016 4:19 PM CST

Moderator

Since it's been there for a while, I would expect it's reached a steady state in terms of bacterial cycling. I would say that either you have incoming cloudy water as helenchild suggests or you've got a stagnation-induced oxygenation problem that's preventing the natural cycle of bacteria and algae from clearing the water. Either way, you've got to improve the health of the body of water to deal with it. Around here the farmers know that a bit of greenery around the edges and some fish to stir things up keep the water fresh in a retaining pond, and even then they usually have a sprinkler or fountain of some sort to improve surface oxygenation.
Decatur, Georgia (Zone 7a)
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helenchild
May 22, 2016 5:47 AM CST
Great suggestions psa for bhart90 to get his pond in better shape!
I'm kind of new to ATP and am curious what the word Moderator under you name means?
Name: Brenden Reinhart
Flushing Michigan (Zone 6b)
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bhart90
May 22, 2016 7:52 AM CST
Pictures tonight after work, we had it dug last year
Brenden
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
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dyzzypyxxy
May 22, 2016 8:13 AM CST
Brenden, yes a picture would be a big help. Do you know if the pond keeps its water through summer? Paul said this above, but to elaborate a bit, the basics of clear water are:
1. Aeration - you need the water to circulate so that fish and plants will survive and the water will not stagnate. Lots of people buy a small, solar operated fountain to put out in the middle of the pond and it does the job.
2. Plants - marginal plants like irises and cannas that grow at the edges of the water (and sometimes are IN the water when it rises) will filter out a lot of stuff for you. Plants growing in the water like hardy water lilies (that will survive the winter and come back each spring to bloom all summer) will also filter stuff out of the water AND they will spread their leaves over the surface to shade the water in the warm months so that algae has a harder time to grow.
3. Fish - will eat algae and mosquito larvae as well as other things in the water. You do not need to feed fish in a balanced pond, they will do fine on what's available. You can stock it with 29 cent feeder goldfish from Petsmart or down here the County Extension service gives away gambusia (mosquito fish) to anyone with a pond or water feature they want to stock. The fish also fertilize the plants with their poop. Be careful not to put in too many fish.

Balance is the key. Once you get the water balanced, it will generally take care of itself. If you have a big algae bloom going on before you get the pond balanced, you can buy some barley straw that helps clear up the water initially.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
May 22, 2016 1:53 PM CST
When I had an open pond, the key seemed to be: plants, plants, and more plants. Underwater plants, marginal plants, floating plants. They all work to keep your system clear.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Brenden Reinhart
Flushing Michigan (Zone 6b)
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bhart90
May 22, 2016 7:04 PM CST
Here it is.


Thumb of 2016-05-23/bhart90/2a0ea7

Brenden
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
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dyzzypyxxy
May 22, 2016 8:32 PM CST
Yep, you're going to have to just get some water plants started in that pond. Hmm, got a little boat? You need to plant stuff like water lilies in about a foot or two of water so looks like around the island is the place to plant. Marginals could grow on the little island, too. It's way too big to try and clear it up with filters and gizmos. If you don't get some fish in there soon, it will be a mosquito habitat as soon as it warms up, too. Fish need air in the water and algae to eat until the mosquito larvae turn up. So, aerate first, plant second - lots of plants! Then get some fish in there.

Once you get a balance established, you'll be amazed how it will clean and clear up, but you need a fair sized aerator for a pond that big.

See if there's anyone locally who has a pond - often they will have plant starts you can trade for or they'll even give away starts if their ponds or water gardens are overgrown.

You could grow the big native lotus Nelumbo lutea in that pond - they're beautiful big, yellow fragrant flowers and huge leaves 2ft across, and they're a native plant, hardy to zone 4a.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Jay
Nederland, Texas (Zone 9a)
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Horntoad
May 22, 2016 9:04 PM CST
Here are a few that are native to that area.


wildflowersoftexas.com
texasnatureonline.com


Name: Brenden Reinhart
Flushing Michigan (Zone 6b)
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bhart90
May 22, 2016 10:18 PM CST
Thank you you guys very much!

Will fish survive in there? Considering it's depth of only 5 feet or so, won't it freeze?

Never tried walking on it this past winter.

ALSO, our entire property is going to be shamefully fenced for our cows, what impact will they have?


Or I can pray they go to their water containers instead..
Brenden
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
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Bonehead
May 23, 2016 6:21 AM CST
We have a farm pond very similar to yours. The water appears murky, but is actually quite clean if you dip out a container. Depends on what your soil is. We also have an island (which we did NOT want but the guy who dug the pond apparently decided otherwise...) which increases the amount of silt. We've let it just grow in naturally, planting some natives along the banks now and again. If your cows will have access to the pond, think about bringing in some gravel and establishing an area that is easy for them to get to the water. Otherwise, they will trample at will. Does your pond have a source of fresh water? Ours is fed by a creek, which is helpful for keeping it clean and less mosquitos. Be cautious of introducing invasive water plants - we made that mistake with yellow flag iris. I'd recommend planting natives, easy enough to get a list from your county extension. Have fun!

Thumb of 2016-05-23/Bonehead/6c64af

I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
May 23, 2016 7:38 AM CST
The fish will survive the winter by burrowing down into the mud at the bottom. A big pond like that may or may not freeze right over in winter, I guess it depends upon how cold it gets for how long. If you have a solar operated pump aerator (which I would if it were mine) that will help keep the water moving and slow down the freezing.

Again, if you get the water balanced, with aeration, lots of water plants, and fish to eat the mosquitoes, it will be a nice feature. I would think the banks are much too steep for your cows to use it as a drinking source. They'll fall in and you'll need a crane to get them out. Or they'll swim to the island and be there the rest of their lives . . . Hilarious!
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Brenden Reinhart
Flushing Michigan (Zone 6b)
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bhart90
May 23, 2016 8:00 AM CST
Hahahah yea, trust me, if there were any bovine that would do that...it would be ours, we lost our biggest one named chevy last month, he bit the water heater in their water basin
Thumb of 2016-05-23/bhart90/aa92e4

Brenden
Decatur, Georgia (Zone 7a)
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helenchild
May 23, 2016 2:53 PM CST
Sorry about Chevy. Poor guy... he was just curious.
Name: Mary Stella
Anchorage, AK (Zone 4b)
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Oberon46
May 26, 2016 7:01 PM CST
Rolling on the floor laughing sniff sniff Poor cow.

I live in a pretty cold area and my pond is only 4' at the very deepest. I have one koi and lots of goldfish in 2800 gallons. The worst it got was down about 2' of ice. The fish have a cave beneath the rock that lines the deep end and they go there to sleep all winter, around six months from beginning to end. Not really winter but they don't come out immediately in the spring. Guess it takes them a while to wake up. I pump water from the deeper end to the shallow end to keep the water circulating and oxygen levels up in the caves. Also use deicers to assure a couple of holes in the ice of the water being lofted about 2' from the surface isn't enough.
"What a person needs in gardening is a cast iron back with a hinge in it" Charles Dudley Warner (spelling edited by Dinu lol)
Name: Brenden Reinhart
Flushing Michigan (Zone 6b)
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bhart90
May 29, 2016 11:32 PM CST
Interesting Mary, how often did you do that? Aerate it?

Also, I went to an oil change shop, and they had a pond with a fountain...which was a subpump set on reverse...thoughts anyone?
Brenden
Name: Mika
Oxfordshire, England and Mento
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cliftoncat
May 30, 2016 2:46 PM CST
Hi Brendon, we have 3 ponds, including one big one in Oxfordshire, England, in heavy clay soil. We were told that it would take 2 years for it to settle and clear - in fact it took 3 years, but it is now really clear. We have a stream running into the pond, so oxygen supply is good - previous posts about that are essential advice (a fountain or stream would be great). What we did to help our pond settle included adding lots and lots of oxygenating plants, marginal plants, and even adding watercress in the stream and around the pond margin (watercress vacuums up nitrates).
If you add fish (and leave it for a couple of months before you do) you should make sure that if the pond freezes over, there is an area of unfrozen surface to allow gas exchange/escape, or your fish might die from poisoning. It's easy to do, you can pour boiling water onto the ice, or simply leave one or two beach balls on the pond surface so there are spaces from which the toxic gases can escape. But don't break ice with a hammer or similar, the noise can kill fish from shock. If you do that, the ice per se will not be a problem for the fish.
Another thing - if you dug your pond to a 4 foot depth, you should expect it to drop quite a bit further -- our pond was four and a half feet at its deepest when first installed, but the weight of the water resulted in a drop of almost one and a half feet, so now we cannot wade out to the middle without an underwater swim!


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