Here in NJ, the Mid-August weather can become quite oppressive. Before you go jumping in the pool or hiding out in air conditioning, take a few minutes to consider how this heat may affect your pond and the creatures that live there.
When air temperatures reach into the mid-90's and beyond, water temperatures are not far behind, and this can have a major impact on the health of your pond. The first changes you will probably notice in your pond during the dog days of summer are a decreased water level and increased amounts of algae. The drop in your pond's water level is due to high evaporation rates, and there's not much you can do about it besides providing more shade and adding cool, fresh water.
(Note: If you are adding/replacing more than 20% of the total water volume to the pond, you will need to add de-chlorinator to the water to neutralize the chlorine in your tap water. You can buy a kit to test chlorine levels here.)
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Dealing with increased levels of algae requires a proactive approach to treat it without disturbing the balance of your pond's ecosystem. We advise against using algaecides. As water temperatures rise, algae grows more rapidly, but levels of dissolved oxygen decrease, and that oxygen is crucial to the health of your pond. When you use an algaecide to get rid of all that new algae, it sinks and decomposes on the pond bottom. This sudden spike of decomposing organic matter uses up lots of oxygen, leaving less oxygen for your fish and whatever else is living in your pond. It also creates a cycle of new algae blooms that feed off the nutrients in the decaying compost. Rebound blooms like these often prompt pond owners to apply more algaecide, creating a harsh, recurring cycle of extremes. We never like hearing of fish kills that were caused by lack of oxygen after algaecide had been used in a pond. Such tragedies are easily preventable, and can be avoided without sacrificing water clarity or hours of your time to manually clean your pond.
A gentler way to treat your pond during an algae bloom is with flocculant. This works well on planktonic algae by binding it into clumps that your filter is able to remove. For the best results, place a fine filter pad in the skimmer or on top of the pump to catch the smaller clumps and particles. Check the filter pad regularly to make sure it isn't caked with muck. If so, just rinse it off with the hose and put it back. When the water has cleared and the pad is staying pretty clean you can remove the filter pad and put it away.
This same method can be used with SAB Stream & Pond Cleaner. This stuff has a mixture of enzymes, beneficial bacteria, and phosphate binder, and is designed to break down organic debris and minimize algae growth. It will also reduce nitrites and ammonia in the pond.
One easy trick you can use to help cool down your pond is to freeze jugs of water and place those frozen jugs in the stream where they will lower the temperature of water entering your pond. They will need to be replaced 2-4 times a day, but doing so can help your pond make it through the summer while minimizing the effects of excessive heat. The reason we recommend using this frozen jug method is because it gives a gradual effect, rather than the shock of suddenly dropping a large block of ice in your pond.
If you have an Aquascape Automatic Dosing System in place, the solution is simple. Hit the x2 button and it will infuse additional beneficial bacteria into your pond to naturally deal with the algae the way nature intends. If you do not have such a system in place, you can still add beneficial bacteria by hand.
There are a few other helpful tools we use to deal with algae: The IonGen will infuse copper ions into the water to safely combat excessive algae. Read more about the IonGen here.
The UltraKlear UV Clarifier is another tool used to combat algae without harming fish. These systems are pretty simple in action, but they need to be installed and set up correctly for the best results. Click here to watch a 4-minute video about the UltraKlear UV Clarifier.
Landvista Aquascapes is the premiere Certified Aquascape Contractor in the South Jersey region, building and servicing ponds and water features for all of Burlington County, Camden County, Gloucester County, and parts of Atlantic County, Cumberland County, Ocean County, and Cape May County. We are prominent in Medford, Medford Lakes, Marlton, Moorestown, Cherry Hill, Shamong, Tabernacle, Hammonton, Lumberton, Hainesport, Collingswood, Haddonfield, Waterford, Mantua, Berlin, Voorhees, Pemberton, Pine Hill, Clementon, and surrounding towns.
Landvista Aquascapes provides Pond & Water Feature Design, Installation & Maintenance -Repair services for South New Jersey Homeowners