Help permies get a
new server
by contributing to the fundraiser
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Carla Burke
  • John F Dean
  • Nancy Reading
  • r ranson
  • Jay Angler
  • Pearl Sutton
stewards:
  • Leigh Tate
  • paul wheaton
  • Nicole Alderman
master gardeners:
  • Timothy Norton
  • Christopher Weeks
gardeners:
  • Saana Jalimauchi
  • Jeremy VanGelder
  • Ulla Bisgaard

Clearing muddy pond water

 
gardener
Posts: 5292
Location: Southern Illinois
1401
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I could use input from anyone knowledgeable in this area.

I have a 1/4 acre pond about 10’-12’ deep at its center that is extremely muddy.  It has been since we bought the property over 20 years ago.  I have always wanted to clear the water but always ran into other things to do.

The pond is constructed on a clay base.  There are (or at least were) blackhead catfish in the pond—as in hundreds of them, but they are at most 6 inches long.  If I drop breadcrumbs or old cereal in the water, the fish swarm in hordes to get the free food.  There are also plenty of turtles and crayfish.  Plenty of aquatic birds stop in from time to time.  

About 200 feet away there is another, larger pond (not on my property) whose water is crystal clear.  It also has an abundance of wildlife.  I don’t know if it matters, but the adjacent pond has huge pine trees that drop needles into the water.

In the past I have been recommended to use gypsum, which I did use.  At one point I used a fair amount of gypsum (and by fair amount I mean 4 40 pound bags). Indeed, the water turned from chocolate milk brown to a mildly translucent blue—a definite improvement, but by no means was the water clear.  The treatment only lasted a few weeks before turning brown again.

I would like to get my pond looking more like my neighbor’s pond.  Is there any Permies way to do this?  I have read/watched videos stating that I need to add a flocculant to the water.  Apparently gypsum is one such flocculant, but it doesn’t last terribly long.  There is no shortage of liquid products advertised as flocculants which probably work better than the gypsum but I just can’t tell if they are OMRI certified or Gick or something in between.  I have no intention of adding gick to my pond.

And just to get it out of the way, I did talk with one expert who told me the problem was the crayfish and catfish that constantly stirred up the bottom.  His proposed solution was to add gick to kill all the fish and then restock with a different species.  This is not happening.  I am not adding gick and restocking is expensive so that’s a double-no for me.

But if anyone has any suggestions or ideas that might be more Permie friendly, please let me know.

Eric
 
master steward
Posts: 6898
Location: Isle of Skye, Scotland. Nearly 70 inches rain a year
3345
4
transportation dog forest garden foraging trees books food preservation woodworking wood heat rocket stoves ungarbage
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Not one of the knowledgeable, just one of the curious here.
Since the only difference you state between your pond and your neighbours is the pine trees, I did a web search for "tannin based flocculants" and it seems at least it is a thing.  Obviously the references I found were to do with waste water treatment rather than ponds (see this summary for example, but I do wonder if it might be worth trying a few pine or spruce branches in an area of the pond and see whether you get any effect. You could even do a jam jar test first with just some needles I suppose. I gather some trees can be toxic (and certainly in large amounts) so you may wish to be fairly cautious, and not add lots at once. The ones near your neighbours pond seem to have been proved to be fairly harmless though.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 5292
Location: Southern Illinois
1401
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That is very helpful Nancy!

In the brief abstract I noticed that the flocculant targeted ammonium.  I would expect ammonium to stir up a bit of clay by itself so targeting ammonium might drop down those particles.  Further, I should state that the pond was a stock pond from many years ago.  Normally I would have thought that any ammonium left over from its stock-pond days should be long gone by now but maybe not?  At any rate, starting with some pine needles and a jar test is simple enough.

Eric
 
pollinator
Posts: 315
Location: Central Texas
88
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Throw breadcrumbs then start cast netting out the fish. They are the problem. They are all stunted so they aren’t getting big enough to eat other things so the muddiness is exaggerated by being overstocked. Use fish to make fish fertilizer or compost. Or get a few larger catfish and they will happily take your population down. I would use channel cat if I did it that way.

Catfish always stir up a bit especially during their breeding but it’s manageable when your stocking rate is close to correct.

You could get someone to shock the pond and remove an appropriate amount since they would all float up but that would be expensive but quick. This just stuns the fish so it’s possible someone might want to relocate them?

I don’t think any kind of treatment will work until the fish population is close to correct. Stocking rate would be less than 50 catfish at most.
 
pollinator
Posts: 124
Location: Northern Wisconsin Zone 3B
45
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What is the source of water for the pond?  Is it getting clean water to begin with?

Having that many bottom feeding fish may be part of the problem.

Have you talked to your neighbor to see how they manage their pond?
 
master pollinator
Posts: 1635
Location: Ashhurst New Zealand (Cfb - oceanic temperate)
510
duck trees chicken cooking wood heat woodworking homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Try tossing one or more bales of clean straw in there. Many people swear by this technique.
 
pollinator
Posts: 3826
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7 AHS:4 GDD:3000 Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
553
2
forest garden solar
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Possible Causes
* Livestock/Deer/etc in Pond
* Feeding Activities of Fish
* Shoreline Erosions caused by wave action and wind
* Muddy incoming water

Possible Solutions
* Reduce/Prevent Livestock/Deer/etc from using the Pond
* Reduce the fish or add more feed to the pond
* Add mulch/plant life/clean sand/gravel along the shoreline
* Build a swale all around the pond and fill it in with straw. This will filter and slow down the water that is entering the pond.
* Add a airpump/airstone to the pond this will aerate the pond, and help with the cloudy/turbid/muddy pond.
* Create a giant pool/pond filter and send the cloudy pond water thru said filter (you can use the swale as the filter).
* Maybe neighboring pond has some microbes(PNSB) that is helping with the cloudiness, grow some of those microbes
* Maybe you have alot more sunlight that the neighboring pond, so you will have to add some plants to absord/use the excess sunlight before the diatoms get to it.

Observations
1) Get a four containers
2) Fill each 1gallon bottle with pond water
3) Place the gallon bottles in a spot indoor with no sunlight where they will not be distrubed/shakens/etc
4) Add nothing to the 1st container, and in the other 3 container add different flocculant
5) Let us know how long each of the FOUR containers take to clear up, this should take less than 7days
6) The result will let us know if it is mechanical problem or if it is chemical/charged particle problem.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 5292
Location: Southern Illinois
1401
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow!  Thanks for all the information.  I should have posted all of this earlier but life dragged me away for most of yesterday.

The source of water is simple runoff that flows through a grassy field.  The runoff field is completely covered in grass & has no exposed earth or erosion.  To be clear, the entire drainage area is not huge and is bordered by my limestone gravel driveway on one side and an oil & chip road on the other.  I would suggest offhand that the entire drainage area is at most 2 acres and more likely one acre.  The pond is filled entirely by rain events and completely lacks any sort of feeding stream.  That being said, heavy rains can cause an overflow but summer droughts cause the surface to drop several feet.

The banks are steep and thoroughly vegetated right down to the normal waterline.  At times in the past I attempted to mow sections of the banks for visibility but that’s a tough, dangerous chore.  It is now more grown up with volunteer trees, but I have occasionally burned the side banks for visibility.  This only encourages future vegetation growth but gives me a nice view for a while.

Some deer do get to the edge to drink but I have only rarely seen them actually standing in the water as the banks are just too steep and about 2’ tall.

In the heat and drought of summer, the pond changes.  The surface level drops multiple feet from the maximum and exposes the flat, muddy clay bottom.  At this time many animals will walk around the edges, but the water turbidity stays roughly the same.  In fact, aside from gypsum applications, the turbidity changes very little.

Does any of this help at all?

Eric


 
Aaaaaand ... we're on the march. Stylin. Get with it tiny ad.
We need your help - Permies server fundraiser
https://permies.com/wiki/260600/Permies-server-fundraiser
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic