what's with this brown pond water?

laurieohAugust 16, 2009

First I had a problem with green, algae water, now it looks pretty clear, but it's the color of tea. What causes this and what can I do to correct it? I have a fair no. of plants and fish, good filtration (I think). Please advise.

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horton(6 b Ontario.)

Laurie, usually it is caused by leaves that fall into the pond and break down releasing tannins into the water.
Oak leaves are a common culprit.
Or it could be from run off from the surrounding soil, during a heavy rainfall.

A bag of Activated Charcoal, placed in your filter or on the waterfall, where the water can run through the charcoal, will help clear up the tea colour in the water.
If you go with the activated charcoal, be sure you rinse it through first with cold tap water, as it contains powdered up little bits of charcoal, that you don't want in your pond.

Some folks have had success removing the brown staining, by adding a layer of polyester quilt batting to their filter materials. The quilt batting is cheaper than the charcoal.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 3:50PM
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Thanks, Horton. I currently have quilt batting in the filter, although to be honest, haven't been changing it daily, like I was in the beginning.
I don't have any big trees near the pond. The pond is near the deck, and the closest tree is a Northern bayberry and the leaves aren't falling from that, so I'm not sure that's the culprit. We haven't had much rain lately so I don't think it's runoff. It really has me stumped.

I will try the activated charcoal...where can I pick some up....can I use that from the aquarium section of a pet store or are there bigger bags at the pond store (and probably more $)?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 5:19PM
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What about something leaching out of the pots your plants are in?

Maybe the type of dirt or something in the dirt?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 5:55PM
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horton(6 b Ontario.)

Laurie, yes the aquarium charcoal will do the job.

Missa's point about the soil in pots is worth taking a look at. Especially if there is any cattle manure in the mix.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 7:28PM
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Do you have barley in the pond?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 8:57PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Did you pot your aquatic plants with bagged potting soil or any bagged soil that has peat in it? Peat will turn water brown in a heartbeat.

Ditto any mulch with peat or bark that might have washed in.

It won't hurt your fish. I'd rather have clear brown water than opaque green water..... which is what might happen again if you change out this brown water....

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 9:21PM
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I did not use prepackaged dirt or peat moss. We were doing some constructing on our property at the time, so I used fairly good clay-type soil from what was dug up at the time.

Mike, I have been using liquid concentrated barley straw extract the past few weeks (although I missed last week because I was gone). Could this be causing the problem?

I do agree that clear brown water is better than murky green water, but still would like to get a nice looking pond before summer is done!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2009 at 9:50PM
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I, too, use quilt batting. I just rinse it off everyday until it becomes "ratty". Then I cut a new piece. A roll of that stuff can last quite awhile.

I had really brown water too. It was caused by the leaves I left in from the fall and compost that had run into the water. With all the rain we've had here the water is much better so maybe a partial water change would help you.


    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 8:52AM
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What kind of fish and sizes.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2009 at 7:43PM
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I have all goldfish. I have one large one (8-10") and about 10 or so that are 3-4". The pond is 250 gallons with a stream and waterfall.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 3:26PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Tea colored water can come from dead algae, too or precipitates. Let a glass of water from the pond sit for an hour or two and see if anything separates out. The Batting is good for removing that.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2009 at 4:25PM
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We have got a new pond (couple of weeks) and our water has turned really brown. After reading your messages I am wondering if it is due to the fact that out freestanding pond is next to a bush or that we brought a lilly from a garden centre and put it into the pond! Any suggestions please

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 11:39AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

What is your waterlily potted in? If the soil has peat in it it will turn water brown.

It is a waterlily right? not a potted bulb lily that is certainly in peat based potting soil...

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 1:27PM
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Our fishpond is approx. 8,000-13,000 gallons. Problem for the past couple months has been the brown tea color water. All tests are great, except for the PH which is high. I am not sure if the high PH is causing this. There has been NO green algae in the pond this year. I hear that if you do not have ANY green algae then, this tea brown color could occur. I have tried the charcoal and matting - no difference. I changed a good 10-15% of the water. The bottom is rocks, and I do not see much dirt in it. We have natural bio filter that dumps into the pond via a waterfall. I am thinking on cleaning out bio filter and see if that makes a difference. But we have zero green algae, where I would hope for a little of this green algae on the rocks. But this is probably due to the high PH. Any thoughts? thanks guys

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 7:52PM
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