WATER CHEMISTRY AND QUALITY:

Water is the most important element in a pond, and its quality is vital to the living creatures that depend on it.  Pond water must carry oxygen to fish, be able to remove carbon dioxide, and break down toxic waste.

There are many factors that influence the quality of pond water.  Excess solids accumulate in a pond and create sediment deficient in oxygen.  This sediment releases toxic pollutants into the water, causes noxious odors, green water, and the growth of string algae.  Low oxygen levels are detrimental to fish health, and the stress may reduce their growth and make them more susceptible to disease.

Chlorine, chloramines, heavy metals, pH, ammonia, nitrites, phosphates and minerals contribute to poor water quality.

The measure of water alkalinity or acidity is called pH.  A pH reading of 7.0 (neutral) indicates a perfectly balanced pond.  A pH reading between 6.0 (acidic) and 9.0 (alkaline) is acceptable for both plants and fish.  A pH reading above 9.0 is not harmful in itself, however, if you have a high ammonia reading combined with a high pH reading, the ammonia is much more toxic.

Ammonia is the toxic waste excreted into the pond by fish, birds, and other pond life.  It is also the result of decaying plant material and the decomposition of uneaten fish food.  The natural way to control ammonia levels is to use a biofilter.  The ammonia level needs to be maintained at
0 ppm.  If levels are consistently above 0.5 ppm, you need to decrease fish stocking density, reduce fish feeding, and increase filtration.

Even a low level of nitrite can cause stress to fish, leading to disease or death.  Nitrite affects the ability of the blood to carry oxygen throughout the body, leading to suffocation.  Aim for 0 ppm.  Anything above 0.15 ppm is stressful to fish.  To correct high nitrite levels, increase water changes and filtration, decrease feeding, and decrease fish stocking density.

Phosphates are produced not only by  fish and plants, but also by dying algae, decaying plants, and fish waste. External sources include  leaves, twigs, dead insects and even pollutants in the air itself.  Phosphate readings are not detrimental to pond life.  Phosphates become an issue because they trigger algae blooms in pond water.
Test kits are available to determine the levels of certain harmful chemicals in your pond.  They generally require you to add specific testing liquids to pond water samples, and to compare the results with colours on a chart.


 

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