It is important to know the total volume of your pond! Basic pond keeping often begins with such things as adding a product to the water to remove chlorine. The correct dosage of this product and any others can be added if the number of gallons that your pond holds is known. This not only saves you money, because you will not be adding too much product, but it will also help to keep your pond healthy. Here, then, is the formula to figure the amount of water your pond holds: Length(ft) x Width(ft) x Depth(ft) x 7.5 = Gallons.

Other chemicals must be kept out of the pond, also! Lawn fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, etc. will kill fish fast and some with also hurt your plants. It is best to slightly elevate the edge around the pond so water from the lawn cannot wash into the pond during heavy rain. Try not to use insecticides or other chemicals that must be sprayed, as some of the residue may drift into the pond. Organic fertilizers and insecticides are a good choice, not just to keep your pond healthy, but to keep your whole garden and our environment healthier.

The next important step is to balance the pH in the pond. The correct pH is very important and is often overlooked as a major cause of problems such as sick fish and algae growth. It is very easy to check the pH of the pond. Simple and inexpensive test kits are available for this purpose. The pH should be as close to neutral (7.0) as possible. A range from 6.8 – 7.4 is acceptable. The pH scale is logarithmic, like the Richter scale for earthquakes, and each full point higher really increases the value ten times. So, a reading of 8.4 is much, much higher than 7.4. Easy to use products are readily available to adjust the pH in the pond. The pH balance of the water must be close to neutral.

The natural cycle in the pond works basically like this: Fish and other inhabitants of the pond produce waste. This waste is converted into harmless fertilizer by beneficial bacteria. The fertilizer is then extracted and used by the plants in the pond. The items previously covered assure that the natural cycle in your pond can function. A garden pond is a little ecological miracle we created and it does need a little helping hand to assure it is functioning properly. Fish should be added one or two fish at a time to give the natural, beneficial bacteria colony time to get established and get big enough to be able to take care of the waste produced by the fish. A garden pond is a little ecological world with a natural cycle of its own!

Garden ponds that are primarily fish ponds, in particular those that support Koi, generally need a pump and a filter to keep the pond and the fish healthy. The filter’s main purpose is to increase the biological action and remove as much waste as possible. Filters are designed to provide a large and healthy bacterial colony to keep the fish waste from poisoning the fish. A filter generally does not remove the algae that turns the water green (the only mechanical device that can do that is an Ultra-Violet-Clarifier), but if it is efficient enough and if the water quality is good it can help to discourage algae from growing in the first place. Fish Ponds generally need a filter!

Ammonia and Nitrite levels need to be checked in the pond if fish are present to make sure levels of poison do not increase. These levels need to be checked more often in the beginning and less often after the pond is well established. A future column on “Pond Fish Care” will provide further information. Initially it is best to check all values every couple of days. After your pond becomes established and all values are within acceptable limits it is sufficient to test once a month unless some problem develops.