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Minimizing muck/algae/etc. in a small pond?

 
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I'm looking for tips on getting the gunk out of my 1/4 acre pond. Starting this time of year the pond grows progressively greener until by midsummer it's a solid sheet of algae and vegetation. You can't cast a line without reeling in a load of green goo. The (rocky) bottom is also covered in a thick layer of decaying plant matter, duck poop, fishy bits, and who knows what else. I found out just how bad this was two days ago when I waded in in an attempt to retrieve a fish that had snapped my daughter's line above the bobber. Each step into the muck released some interesting aromas of rot and decay.

Trying to mechanically remove the gunk seems quite impractical and isn't likely to happen, unless someone wants to offer his or her pond gunk removal for dirt cheap (though I would love to spread it on my fields). A few years ago we put in two hybrid grass carp, but they either haven't done their job, or they simply died (and thus aren't doing their job). (The pond is otherwise stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish.) I've read about the effects of barley straw, but I don't know where I'd get that without shipping it in.

Any ideas? I don't want a spotlessly clean pond, I just want to fish.
 
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Hi Wes,

I only have a very small ornamental goldfish pond, but it gets algae too. Here's some of the things I have done:

*Installed a small pump to flow into a biological filter, which then cascades back into the pond, adding oxygen.
*The filter is filled with gravel and has both pond plants and a couple vegetables growing in it (it's not a big filter--probably about 2sq feet) to take up excess nitrogen in the water.
*Last year I also put in a small gravel reed bed at one edge, with cattails and a few other marginal plants. The gravel gives habitat for beneficial bacteria to convert the nitrates into nitrites (or is it the other way around? I always forget!), so the plants can absorb it, instead of feeding the algae. Cattails and other reeds are supposed to be very good at cleaning up murky water.
*I have added barley straw in the past, with mixed results. It has worked some years, and some years it hasn't. I think it worked better when the pond was in shade, rather than in full sun as it is now. We have a ready source of barley straw here.

I still get algae, but it hasn't been overwhelming. My main focus is to get plants to clean the pond for me, and my reed bed is still new and small; I hope to see it take off this year. Maybe you could do a search for biological filters or reed beds, to see if that's something that might work in your pond. Good luck!
 
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Plant lillies and other surface semi surface plants . They cut off the sun light to the algea , oxygenate the water and provide habitat for other creatures .
 
Wes Hunter
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I should perhaps point out, too, that the pond is largely surrounded by trees, so every year brings a new crop of leaf litter. Really, I think what I need is something that will deal with the current thick layer of muck, while also dealing with the ongoing contributions to keep them from building up. I am assuming that the algae buildup and the slowly decomposing muck are one and the same problem.
 
David Livingston
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The plants I suggested will eventually do that but it will take time
David
 
G Freden
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David Livingston wrote:The plants I suggested will eventually do that but it will take time
David



I agree, having a variety of pond plants should help. The algae feeds off the excess nutrients released by the fish and the decaying leaves. Pond plants will soak up these nutrients, denying the algae. Like David says, it will take time. However, I think it is worth it, as it's a permanent solution, unlike say dredging the pond twice a year.

From Gaia's Garden, Toby Hemenway suggests the following plants as being effective at purifying water: Bulrush (Scirpus validus), Canna lily (Canna spp.), Cattail (Typha spp.), Soft rush (Juncus effusus), and Reed canary grass (Phragmites communis). He also says Reed canary grass is on some invasive species lists, so check before introducing. Note: this list is in his section on graywater wetlands, but I believe the principle applies to static ponds as well.
 
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