Taking Care of Your Water Garden
The water garden industry is massive, and new technologies are coming along every year. We advise our clients to make sure what they are asking for is what they need. This can be difficult when starting out as a new water gardener, but turn first to natural solutions that mimic nature before you invest in fancy technologies. Imitating nature has this considerable advantage that it greatly minimizes maintenance efforts.
Here is what is happening in your pond:
Water is added to your pond from your tap, from rain or stream or groundwater, or any combination of these sources. The water warms and nutrients arrive after a heavy rainfall, from the ground as runoff, from fish food, fish waste or from plants. In some instances as soon as a basin fills, the water can become green right away.
The presence of water creates an ecosystem, and over time the ecosystem evolves. It is a living system and is searching for a balance of oxygen, movement, light, shade, and nutrients. As water gardeners we have a goal or expectation about what we want the water to be like: crystal clear, cool, sparkling, clean, we want to see our fish, our plants etc. In any given season, the water can be all of these things, in addition to being murky, green, cloudy and smelly.
What can be done to control water quality?
Firstly remember this is a pond, and not a pool, nor is it a basin for storing potable drinking water. As such, it will have a rhythm and water quality will cycle in relation to temperature, rain etc. Your goal is to keep the water quality as stable as possible.
The ingredient that does that for us on the micro-biological level is beneficial bacteria. They help clarify water, they reduce nutrients and produce protein as waste that gets cycled in the system. They keep odours down, they consume organic sediment so that more oxygen is available for the water, the fish, and the plants. These little wonders, of which there are about 500 found naturally in Canadian waters, are our biggest assets to the water garden and pond. They live in the slime or bio-film that covers all surfaces under water and they need our respect and protection.
Bacteria live in the slime (or biofilm) that covers submerged surfaces such as rocks. These little wonders are our biggest asset; they need our respect and protection.
Pond UV filters technology and ozone generators kill these bacteria, since they were designed for drinking water purification, for industry etc. And filters although helpful, are largely unnecessary in the presence of bacteria and a pool net. So if you are starting out in the water garden world or are an experienced water gardener, consider the water garden or pond as a natural ecosystem, provide oxygen, perhaps add beneficial bacteria to keep the nutrients cycling in your pond, and enjoy.
When the bacteria are killed by whichever technology, you will be resorting to chemicals to seek the water you desire, and not relying on natural processes; the use of chemicals will never cease. Whereas using aeration in presence of beneficial bacteria (added or naturally occurring) will keep your pond in the stable state you seek, give or take a few rhythms thrown to us by Mother Nature!