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How do I clear up my pond  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Location: Southern Illinois
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Hello,

I have a roughly 1/4 acre pond that is perpetually muddy/murky.  My neighbor has a similar pond about 500 feet away and his is perfectly clear.  Ever since I first saw this pond it has been a muddy/murky brown year round.  There is virtually no algae, but I do have a lot of black head catfish, hundreds, maybe thousands of crayfish and a host of turtles.  The pond is about 12-15 feet deep in the center.

I have been told that I need gypsum in the pond.  And in fact, at times I have used a grain scoop to spread between 2-5 40 pound bags of peletized gypsum into the pond.  Spreading 2 bags or 80# into the pond did clear up the water a little bit—for a couple of days after which point it turned murky again.  The time I spread 5 bags or 200# (exhausting) it actually cleared up quite a bit and stayed clear for most of the remaining summer, but if we get a heavy rain, the murk comes right back.

I have been told that the catfish and crayfish may be stirring up the muddy floor of the pond (it sits on heavy clay).  I have been told to hit it with rotenone (think roundup for fish) and restock.

Frankly I don’t know what to do.  It seems impractical and expensive to hit the pond with gypsum every time it rains and hitting the pond with rotenone seems terribly drastic.  I am open to restocking, if only I knew what to restock with.  I am also open to planting water plants,  but again I don’t know which plants (if any) would be appropriate.  

Finally I have been told that I need to put in a pump and circulate the water, but getting power there would be difficult and impractical and I really don’t want to do this with a pump if I don’t have to.

So I am really open to suggestions.  I am really puzzled.  I really thought that my pond and my neighbor’s should be similar, but they are not.  His is directly adjacent to a bunch of pine trees that drop their needles into the water so would raising the acidity possibly help?  I just don’t know.

If anyone here has any knowledge of hydrology, limnology or anything remotely similar, I would love to here your input.  I have been looking at the murk for too long and I want to clear it up.

Thank you so much in advance,

Eric
 
pollinator
Posts: 320
Location: San Diego, California
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Yes, plants will help. look at native plants in your surrounding streams/lakes/neighbor's pond.  

No, you probably do not need a pump/filter system - your goal is to get the flora/fauna balance right(like a natural lake).

What kind of fish(and what ratio) did your neighbor stock in his pond?
most healthy ecosystems have a variety of species of fish that all fill a niche in keeping the pond healthy.  take a day fishing, have a Catfish fry(not aiming to eradicate, but just decrease population), plant your pond plants, wait a bit for them to stabilize, have another catfish fry/crawfish boil, then stock some bluegill, small bass, mosquitofish.  Water insects and frogs too, if you don't have any; make shoreline habitat areas for frogs, the turtles, insects, etc.

All in all, just try to emulate nature, and see how the improvements begin to flow as the system becomes balanced.


PS - If your pond is stream-fed, having a smaller, shallow "sediment Pond" right upstream from your pond slows the flow of water to help catch sand/mud that is flowing down, keeping it out of your bigger pond.
 
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Might look into solar powered waterfalls to circulate the water.might go with them and gypsum if that proves worth while.but yet.thats a big maybe.
 
master pollinator
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Location: Illinois USA - USDA Zone 5b
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As has already been mentioned, balance is important for pond health. I would agree that fishing and reducing your fish population is a good idea. And who doesn’t like a fish fry? That’s a much better suggestion than poisoning the fish, in my opinion.

As to plants, I notice you are in Illinois. Here’s the Illinois DNR site with a list of plant suggestions. Plants will help oxygenate the water, which will help your pond’s ecosystem. https://www.dnr.illinois.gov/education/Pages/PlantListPond.aspx

As to pond aeration, that’s very often needed. Your pond is big enough that you might explore the wind powered pond aerators. Most of the solar ones I have had any experience with won’t move enough water to aerate a 1/4 acre pond, although such an aeration system may exist. In my part of Illinois, wind power is useful - we get plenty of wind - not sure how it is in your area.

 
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My father-in-law has been messing around with this problem for nearly 30 years and tried this 3 years ago.  He uses 2 jugs a year for a 50,000 gallon pond and it hasn't looked better.

Barley Straw Extract
 
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Location: The Balkans, Sofia
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I have a small pond, the first year it was terrible, the water looked all green despite I used liner and it didnt had contact with soil, then I was thinking how it is possible for the small natural ponds here to have so clean water?
I think I got it right at the end, I took all sorts of the vegetation in the pond and around the pond, also I took clams, few of the plants have survived, but these that managed it are thriving, and the water now is very clear!
I think in your case planting lots of vegetation around the pond is the answer(there are many plant species that will manage to tap to the water and will grow really good!), what you describe sounds to me like erosion, after rain first soil will find its way into the pond and then the sun will convert that into green water.
Also clams and other water plants will help alot too, it worth trying.
 
pollinator
Posts: 206
Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
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If you have fish that stir up the bottom and feed on plants, whatever you do will fail. You need to get a fish in there that catches and eats them for you. Best if the predator is very yummy itself.
Did you see the films of Sepp Holzer, Farming with Nature? He has chrystal clear healthy ponds all over his property? With fish he sells to restaurants. He doesn't feed them.
In europe everybody got Koi and other carps, they eat all the plants, rip them out, roots and all and stir through the mud looking for other stuff. Water pigs. Great way to get lots of algae. And of course a trip to the fish shop to try new plants and products against algae.
 
pollinator
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Location: Pac Northwest
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1st thing that comes to mind is, why do you wish to make your pond clear instead of murky?

It is a functioning ecosystem with that murk, so why change that? It is supporting life and working just fine as it is.

A clear pond is not necessarily better than a murky one.

Now that said, what is the difference in depth between your pond and the neighbors? That could be the difference between clear and murky. If your neighbor's pond is deeper it might have stratified water layers that the keep muddy bottom getting mixed up into the rest of the water. Or the neighbor's pond might just not have the life that mixes things up.
 
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