Many outdoor Koi ponds eventually experience having tea-colored water. This is when the water is clear, but looks dark brown or orange. You might be alarmed, but the most important thing you can do is address the root of the problem and implement the right solution.
Why does the water look like tea?
Tannins come from plants. When the water looks like tea, it is because there is a buildup of tannins in the water–which, are a class of polyphenolic molecules. Since they come from plants, and plants break down, you have your answer. In fact, tannin comes from the old German word for oak. Many different plants produce tannins. In addition, tannins aer what make tea brown and bitter. They also give astringency and color to wine and coffee. Tanning comes from the word tannins, as tannins are used to tan leather. Tannins are often quite useful, but don’t make your pond too pretty.
Addressing the color
What you’ll need to do first is eliminate excess plant material. Leaves and sticks may be on the surface, you’ll have to get rid of these. If you have a really dark-colored pond, then you’ll have to look to the bottom of the pond. This means manually removing leaves, sticks and acorns from the bottom of your pond. This is called a sludge layer that is a major source of tannins. There are no shortcuts to dealing with tannins. If the source is still in your pond, the problem will continue to come up.
A bit of pond sludge is inevitable, but you don’t want it to turn into a runaway problem. The first step to controlling pond sludge is prevention. The physical route is by keeping sludge-forming debris out of your pond. Keep grass trimmings, fertilizers and lawn chemicals out of your pond. Then, trim back and remove dead and dying plants from your pond to keep them from falling to the bottom and rotting. Next, you’ll want to keep your pond stocked with healthy aerobic bacteria.
It can be in a biological filtration system or loose in the water. The most important thing for a healthy pond is oxygen–keep it flowing. One of the best ways to keep a pond healthy is through aeration. An oxygen-adding aerator at the lower levels of your pond will keep your slime layer and aerobic bacteria healthy. It also prevents the sludge layer from forming a seal.
In addition, pull out as much of the sludge as possible. You can do this with a good pond vacuum, your hand just isn’t as effective to remove sludge between rocks or loose in the pond. After a vacuum, you’ll be pleased with how nice your pond looks. Just remember, you won’t be able to get rid of all of your sludge, but you can keep it under control. You also want to add extra beneficial bacteria to keep your pond on the right track.
Clean your pump intake
Things may have been building up and growing in your filtration system. A fully functional pump can make everything easier. The least you can do is pull out your pump and clean out the intake. You can use your fingers or a brush. This will extend the life of your pump. It will also make it run more efficiently throughout the year.
Time your food changes
You should not start on cold-water fish food until your pond consistently stays above 42 degrees F. Furthermore, you should only start on regular fish food when your pond stays above 55 F each night. Your fish’s metabolism are slowed by cooler water. Normal fish food is richer, which may cause digestive problems if your fish has a slower metabolism in cold water.
Partial water changes
If you want to prevent the buildup of harmful elements in your pond, then you need partial water changes. They may make the most difference early in the year when your pond has had a full winter of filtration. Dumping new water into your pond on a chilly weekend night may not be the most fun, but it is certainly worth it.
To continue to break down the sludge and tannins, consider cold-water bacteria. When water gets below 50 F, the pond’s beneficial bacteria metabolism slows down. Cold-water bacteria will give you the extra push your pond needs for improving its overall health. It is designed with bacteria that can metabolize nitrates and ammonia down to 35 F. This means you have weeks or months of extra biological filtration. This then equates to healthier water and fewer issues with sludge.
A tea-colored pond does not mean your pond is dead. It just means there is extra plant debris that needs to be removed and broken down. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. With the right physical and biological treatments, your pond will be gleaming in no time. A little work is worth it to have a clear and healthy pond. Not to mention, you can see your Koi better too.
Content Source: Next Day Koi