Solving The Cloudy Water Problem In Your Pond

For many pond owners, there is an issue that can really frustrate the most diligent spirits. And why shouldn’t it. Afterall, cloudy water makes it hard to see your fish, or enjoy the clear and pristine water that we all dream of.

As I tell folks time and time again, every pond is different and dynamic in it’s own unique way, so that needs to be kept in mind. However I’ll cover some of the more common causes of various kinds of cloudy water and what you can try to resolve the issue if it’s plaguing your pond.

The first logical step in this process is to try and figure out what the source of the cloudy water might be. What I mean by this is that if the water is cloudy with a greenish tint, then there’s a very good chance what you’re looking at is planktonic algae.

The water with a planktonic algae issue can vary in color and in the density of the cloudiness. We’ve seen everything from a light, almost pleasing greenish tint to a thick pea soup like consistency that’s not pleasant at all.

Green water issues can be dealt with in several ways but our favorites include using beneficial bacteria, and this is often combined with adding additional plants in the pond. Many ponds that have consistent green water issues also get a great deal of sun exposure through the day, so adding floating plants is a very good step to take. When plants are used in combination with bacteria, a pond owner can often cover 1/3 of the pond’s surface with plants and get good results.

Many pond owners also get good results on green water by using an ultraviolet filter of some type. It’s important to get a filter that’s adequate for your pond size and volume and be sure to circulate the water through the filter at the recommended rates to get the best results.

Green water can also be a problem in very large ponds and in this case, the treatment methods will vary a bit. By far the most useful tool we’ve come across has been the ultrasonic algae treatments that can work on multi-acre ponds with ease.

Moving on, and this is important…if you see milky looking water in a backyard pond with fish, you’ll want to test ammonia and nitrate levels right away. Many times you’ll see a drop in clarity as these readings rise and consequently, as they are lowered the cloudiness will improve as well. Obviously for the sake of the fish, you’ll also want to bring these issues in line as quickly as possible as well.

New ponds and those being restarted in the spring can show cloudy water for a short time as the bacteria levels are building up. Sometimes even an overabundance of beneficial bacteria can create this phenomenon for a short time but this will usually clear up on it’s own after a few weeks.

If you find the cloudy water to be brown or “tea colored” in appearance, this type of issue could be coming from simple dirt in the water or something like suspended organic sediments that have built up in the pond. Organic sedimentation can come from uneaten fish food, decomposing matter like leaf debris and other natural sources.

You can improve the clarity of the water in this case by increasing your filtration systems in various ways or there are additives such as alum or montmorillonite clay or products such as Phosclear that can bind to these particles in the water and pull them down to the bottom of the pond. Over time this sediment (if it’s organic in nature) can be broken down by the use of beneficial bacteria.

The instances noted above are some of the more common issues related to water clarity and cloudy water. If you’re able to identify what type of issue you’re dealing with, you can then begin to apply the various methods to rebalance the pond or begin work to rectify the root of the problem. By working in this way you should see improving pond clarity as the days go by.

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4 Responses to Solving The Cloudy Water Problem In Your Pond

  1. Sarah L. Oliver August 2, 2008 at 12:44 pm #

    I appreciate all the help you give, but would like to respond to the one about ultraviolet lights. I purchased one and was amazed at how fast it cleared the pond. A few weeks later the string alge started to grow in leaps and bounds. After cleaning my pond twice, and usimg every chemical I could use, some one told me that it was the ultraviolet light killing the bacteria that was causing my problem. I turned it off, added benifical bacteria and now have it under control. Please tell people about this. It caused me a lot of trouble.

  2. Mark August 4, 2008 at 2:36 pm #

    Hi Sarah,
    You’re exactly right. Many kinds of beneficial bacteria are drastically reduced or eliminated when using UV. Now, UV works great on green water as you know, but when algae can’t pass through it it’s unaffected, and with reduced bacteria levels in the pond, string algae can grow.

    I used to suggest turning off UV when using the HP bacteria since I felt it would reduce it’s effects however I’ve had customers use it with UV and still get great results.

    The reason I think is the HP system releases bacteria constantly in the pond for 30 full days rather than the brands that you simply add manually now and again. So, due to HP’s dispensing system, it seems to keep up in some cases. But I agree with you in that ideally you would turn off UV to give bacteria a chance to do the job. When and if you have green water issues specifically, you can always turn the UV on again.

    KLM Solutions

  3. Katrina September 3, 2015 at 3:34 pm #

    Sorry but I don get what you are saying my pond is a week old ,I have put crystal clear in ,but me water is still cloudy what can I do to move the cloudiness
    Thanks katrina

  4. Mark September 3, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

    Katrina…since your pond is brand new, I would give this more time. It takes awhile, sometimes up to 6 to 8 weeks for the biological processes to get established…meaning if you have a biofilter for example, it can take that long for good microbes to build up to adequate levels and in that time you could see cloudy water. It could be green or tinted or it could be just whitish or gray, or brown. In any case, usually after a bit of time the filter will do a better job of clearing this.

    If after six to eight weeks, if the water remains murky or cloudy, and you’ve started the pond up with some beneficial bacteria supplementation (which you should always do anyway) then I might look at pond or water clarifiers to help with the problem but after only a week’s time, this is still way early in the process of start up. So I would give it a bit more time for things to settle in and see how it goes without doing too much more or adding a bunch of treatments to the pond.

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