Beating my head against the wall because of pea soup water

stacey3822June 27, 2013

At least that's what I feel like I'm doing here beating my head against the wall. And I need some advice/encouragement.

First of all, I read. I read a lot on how to take care of my pond. I read this forum often. I'm not really a newbie at this hobby but can't quite get it right this year on this 2 year old pond.

In the wee hours this morning I noticed my koi and gold fish hanging out around the bell type fountain and waterfall (I have both in this pond) gasping for air. This morning at daylight I checked on them again and they were still gasping for air. I knew it was from low oxygen levels but I didn't know the cause so I did a water quality check. Nitrates, nitrites and ammonia levels all good. Ph and alkalinity were on the high side.

Although I've been living with the green pea soup water for approximately 6 weeks now I've done nothing except clean out my skippy filter waiting for the pond to 'cycle' through the algae bloom until today.

After some emergency reading, the general advice was to do a large water change and get more aeration into the pond. So I did the water change, approximately 40-50%, added the new water using the sprayer to help dissipate the chlorine and further add O2 to the water. I also changed out the 'bell' type fountain for a larger one and adjusted water flow accordingly for more aeration over a larger area. The only chemical I added was a dechlorinator. While the water level was low I vacuumed out the bottom of the pond as well. As a precaution I also checked the inflow/outflow of water through my skippy filter and that is fine for the size of my pond. I do have plants in the pond but the floating plants only cover maybe 20% of the surface area. They are not spreading as fast as I would like them to do.

This afternoon after the water change, the water is still green but the fish seem to be OK as they should be during the day when the algae is producing O2 instead of absorbing it up. I did another water quality check this afternoon after the water change and the results are basically the same as they were this morning, all levels good/safe except the pH and alkalinity which are still on the high side.

Now that you all know what I've done, my question is should I do more or something else? I REALLY, REALLY want to stay away from chemicals since my two yorkies will sometimes drink from the water garden and most everyone on here agrees to stay clear of chemicals. A UV filter for a pond this size (approximately 1,000 gals) is not an option for my pocketbook. I know that patience is key but how much? I would think after 6 weeks the water quality/pea soup would be better.

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Have you considered Horton's Kitchen Trashcan filter as a temporary fix until you can figure out why the algae is there? We had a temporary malfunction with our filtration system which led to optimal conditions for a huge algae bloom. I set up a tall kitchen trashcan with holes in one side, quilt batting rolled up inside the can on top or a mesh bag of aquarium grade charcoal and it cleared my 3500gal pond in about four days. I had to change out the quilt batting a couple of times but it filtered out a ton of the green stuff and I could see the bottom (and my fish) again. Super easy. I think I searched "Horton's kitchen trash can filter" for the link.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 8:44PM
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I haven't thought of adding an additional filter and am a little familiar with the 'trash can filter' which is why I use quilt batting now in skippy type filter. I think the idea of adding the aquarium grade charcoal is an excellent idea. Don't know why it wouldn't work in my existing filter since I've already got the quilt batting in there. Would you have any idea on how much I might need for a 1,000 gal pond? I'll also clean clean off the quilt batting. It's pretty easy to spray it off with a hose.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 11:52PM
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Sorry, I'm not sure how much charcoal to add. Sounds like adding it to your filter is a good idea, though. I just bought a small container of activated charcoal at the pet store for my 3500gal pond. It was probably 5-6 cups of the stuff? I kept rinsing off my quilt batting, too. I think I may try fleece next because it might last longer than the batting and may be easier to clean. Hopefully, I won't have another pea soup episode but just in case...

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 8:31AM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Activated charcoal won't do anything for algae although it is great for tannins and odors.

What kind of test kit did you use? How old is it? Strips are not always reliable and old, improperly stored liquid kits can give bad readings.

Large water changes only start the green water cycle over again.

Oxygen levels can be improved by using a bubbler such as used in aquariums.

How are you using the quilt batting and how much are you using?

Read the FAQ linked below and look up the Noem Meck reference.

Have patience.

Here is a link that might be useful: Algae FAQ by DRH1

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 9:27AM
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More plants will help (do you have any submerged oxygenating plants?) I actually had a lot of algae in my pond. Water changes helped but I also disconnected the hose from the waterfall and made it spray directly into the pond like a water hose so it would go deeper and move the water around more. I read online that temporarily shading the pond with an elevated tarp or sheet will limit the amount of sunlight getting to the pond.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2013 at 5:02PM
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Update: It's been two weeks since I did the large water change, vacuumed out the bottom, cleaned the quilt batting, pump, pump filter, added the larger bell fountain (for more aeration), charcoal and ammo chips - for good measure.

While my pond only cleared up a tad bit, I could tell the overall vitality of the fish was better.

Today however it's back to the thick pea soup. So I cleaned out the pump, pump filter, removed the quilt batting and washed it.

After reading more posts on here I have seen where several people change out and/or wash out the quilt batting frequently. Since I have approximately two queen size battings in my my 90 gallon skippy filter I have decided to replace only half at a time and to rotate out with the other half every day after washing and drying.

I also read on here where baking soda will help with the pH levels by stabilizing and next to impossible to OD the pond so I added a box of that.

Sleeplessinftwayne, thanks for the link. It was very helpful. Gave me new ideas for a battle plan. Thinking of trying the peroxide to kill the algae along with the frequent/very frequent batting changes to catch and remove the dead algae. May wait a week first to see it the batting cleaning alone will work first and I want to read up more on using it.

Sewshekits: Thanks for your help also. In theory (according my sometimes warped mind) I'm going to do the 'Horton method' but instead of making another smaller filter I'm going to change out/wash my batting more often. On the other hand, if this still doesn't work I will build one of the 'Horton' filters.

Thanks folks and happy ponding!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2013 at 11:18PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Hey there, glad the link is helpful.

Hydrogen peroxide is really effective for string algae but won't do anything for other types of algae. Since your pond is out in the sunlight algae growth is likely to be persistent. About the most effective treatment would be a UV. A relatively small system would work.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 10:45AM
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albert_135(Sunset 2 or 3)

My wife cleared up a green pond overnight by just tripling them filtration. She got the idea from an aquarium enthusiast who plopped three "30 gallon filters" in a 25 gallon aquarium. It works outside too in this one case. She moved her 600 gallon filter over to a 200 gallon tank for one night.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 2:40PM
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Save your pennies for a uv light. Trust me. It will clear up the water and save you all that time and frustration you have washing the filter media over and over. Besides, you are probably washing out beneficial bacteria which could be part of your problem.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 5:16PM
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The best way to solve this problem is with natural methods. Trust me you need a lot more plants. Ideally you want to cover 60% of your waters surface with waterlilies. This always works to get clean crystal clear water. The plants fight for the same nutrients as the algae and with enough plants the algae will die. Waterlilies struggle in moving water. So consider moving the fountain to one side and the waterlilies to the other. They will spread a lot faster like this. I don't use filters or pumps anymore I just let the plants and fish do all the work and my 9 ponds are all crystal clear. The sunlight also depletes the oxygen and with a lot more shade the oxygen levels will build up. Also put in some oxygenator plants like anacharis or hornswort but keep these away from your pump and filter. Try this it really works and your fish will be much happier for all that shade and places to hide.

Here is a link that might be useful: make money

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 11:14PM
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my hubby just finished using the stock tank with sand and a material,my pond is clear you can see the bottom.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 10:45PM
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If you are still having issues, I would suggest Bioverse. I started with them a year ago because of the same problem. I couldn't be happier. I toss one ball into my pond a month during the spring summer and fall and my water stays clear! The balls do sit on the bottom of the pond for 4-5 months but the break down eventually. My pond is deep enough that I don't really notice them. It may be the answer to your problem.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bioverse

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 10:06AM
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Hey guys, I'm just getting into this post. Stacy you are going through battle that we have all fought. I must agree with two posts on the thread. You do have to increase the amount of plants in the pond. Algae is at the bottom of the food chain. Plants will absorb nutrients produced by fish. A question that no one has asked. How many fish are in your pond and how often do you feed them. Fish waste and non eaten fish food will contribute to pea green water. I myself have always had problems with string algae. Last year I dropped an ion gen filter in my skimmer. I really could not believe the difference. I do believe in trying to balance a pond. However what happened the year before is that I had so many plants in the waterfall and pond. When the cold weather hit and my plants starting dying back, algae went crazy. I have 5 dogs that run around and play around my ponds. I have not had an issue with pond chemicals affecting them. Hope this helps!


    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 4:08AM
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Are you the same Ken listed as a sales rep on the Bioverse website?
Just curious, since you resurrected two old threads on string algae to post this information.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 7:59AM
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LOL Lisak, I haven't been on here for a few days, but I noticed both threads had a large number of reply's. That normally does not happen in a few days. That's awesome Lisak, nice catch!


    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 11:08AM
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I use quilt batting in a basket in my filter to catch the fine algae cells and rinse it and reuse it time and time again .I soak and clean it in peroxide and water .Peroxide is just a by product of what barley straw break down so will not harm the fish .My pond is 11 years old

    Bookmark   January 24, 2014 at 2:26PM
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Here's hoping you don't have the algea problems this year that you had last year. But, in case you do, I have a few tips. The sun is what is causing the algea bloom, you need some shade whether from plants in the pond or tall ones around it. My daughter had the same problem and this is what the pond people told her to do. Also, there is a pelleted chemical that is completely safe for fish and pets that clears up ponds crud but it is expensive. I think it was $80.00 for 10lb. If you want the name email me and I will get it for you. I tried it on my small pond and it definitely works.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2014 at 6:31PM
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SNAILS..... Natures filter. They eat algae, fish waste, decaying plant tissue and debris. Also what is your submergant plant (also natures filter as well as oxygenator) water ratio? You should have one submergant plant to every 4 square feet of water. Instead of fighting against nature try utilizing the materials it uses in keeping water clean.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 11:34PM
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ahassel4u(z6-7, NY Metro)

My aquatic garden could scarcely be called a pond - it's just a big water-tight oversized planter with a few aquatic plants (no fish) and a water feature. It was loved for its usefulness as a "watering bowl" by my 3 dogs all last summer, but the green pea soup problem (and constant cleaning) was driving me crazy until I read something about metallic copper as algae preventative. After adding several copper Brillo-type pads to the freshly cleaned container, I had no more algae problems for the rest of the summer (and no copper toxicity in my dogs as amount in the water is not enough to cause a problem per Vet). Just had to add fresh water whenever levels got low. Not sure about copper toxicity in fish though...

    Bookmark   February 28, 2014 at 7:55PM
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Don't pour a Budlight in your will still be green and you will be without a beer LOL....Floaters..Floaters...Floaters...Water Lettuce and Water Hyacinth..I have 20% Lily coverage...they don't help much......WL and WH...once covering 30-50% will put the hammer down on green pea soup me...Dave In WV...

    Bookmark   May 2, 2014 at 8:46AM
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