Written by James F. Burns
Water coloring for weed and algae prevention
In order to prevent the growth of weeds and string algae, water in almost any type of pond or lake should not be perfectly clear. The way the water is colored is of major importance.
Clear water will not stay clear very long when exposed to the sun. Something will grow in the water, and it will probably not be what you want. To control this in farm ponds, fish ponds, lakes, or even in koi ponds and other backyard ponds, you will have to take some action. Prevention is better than trying to treat for slime, blanket weed, or submersed lake weeds later on. Getting out in front on this issue could save you a lot of money in treatment costs.
Pond water color good and bad
Not all pond water color is good. Turbid or muddy water isn’t good for any beneficial aquatic life, and the problem causing the turbidity should be solved before anything else can be done to improve water quality. This problem can occur for a variety of reasons, the most common of which is a bare watershed. Once the cause is dealt with, the water can be cleared using a flocking compound, and then the real work of getting the water properly tinted can begin.
The best pond water color is achieved with algae. Not string algae or pond scum, but the type of algae suspended in the water, known as phytoplankton.
Phytoplankton for pond water color
Phytoplankton is the best solution to most water clarity issues, it shades the water against sunlight, and uses nutrients which would otherwise be used by weeds and string algae, and it feeds zooplankton which feeds fish. There are several different types of phytoplankton.
The type of phytoplankton present in the water is also important. There are many types, but perhaps the most productive is diatom plankton. These are the microscopic plants with silica exoskeletons which exist both in salt water and fresh water. Like phytoplankton in general, their numbers are diminishing, and have been for many years. Diatoms are very efficient in food production, and present a marked increase in zooplankton when they are present in large enough quantities. Diatom algae adds a golden brown tint to pond water.
Green phytoplankton, have cellulose as their skeletons and produce increases zooplankton, but to a lesser degree than diatoms. Both produce color in the water, both remove excessive nutrients from the water, both produce oxygen, break down carbon dioxide, and raise dissolved oxygen levels, and both reduce weed and string algae production. Diatoms produce these desirable effects more efficiently, and great strides forward have been made in efficient means of producing it. Green phytoplankton produces similar results, but phosphorous is needed to produce and maintain this bloom, and phosphorus supplies are running low. Not all green algae are the same.
Dyes for pond water color
There are occasions where phytoplankton production may be difficult to acheive due to a variety of factors such as local water use restrictions. It is even possible to produce some types of fish without the presence of high concentrations of phytoplankton. Catfish respond well to regular feeding, and the introduction of fathead minnows into the environment, but for weed control, and for temperature control, some coloring of the water is needed. In such situations, and for decorative fish ponds, fountains, and other decorative garden type ponds, dyes may present the best possible alternative.
Part 3 in our series and lake and pond interaction
Poor fishing and skinny fishPoor fishing quality and poor fish quality are issues that many pond owners experience. They often go hand in hand. Weeds may provide enticing cover for game fish, but if there is too much aquatic vegetation, even getting your lure into the water can become a problem. Low dissolved oxygen, and lack of food can cause fish to (pardon the pun) flounder. The prescience of excessive lake vegetation and mats of pond scum can make fishing a less than pleasurable experience. If the water has too little of one type of algae, and too much of another, the ponds life cycle is interrupted, and the fish go hungry, resulting in skinny fish. There is a connection between all of these elements. Learn what that connection is in: Pond Scum And Lake Weeds The Real Problem
Part 1 in our series on pond and lake interaction