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For anyone who’s read anything on this blog, you no doubt have come to realize that I love beneficial pond bacteria for all that it can do.
I can’t think of any one thing that will organically work and do more to improve a pond’s environment. From nutrient reduction to limiting organic material build up, and reducing what’s there if you have a good bit already, it’s really a swiss army knife for eco-friendly pond management.
With all of this “power” you’d think it was the best thing since sliced bread. But let me cover a few of it’s drawbacks…and don’t worry this won’t take long.
First, it’s not a quick fix. I find this to be a great advantage, because it means it’s usually pretty safe to use where fish and other wildlife are concerned. But it can try a person’s patience in this day and age of instant gratification. Sadly, there’s usually trade-off’s for the quick fixes and slow and steady usually win’s the race if you can hack that route.
Second, it’s important to note that at certain times of the year, and with some blends of bacteria you’re more than likely just wasting your money if you use them at the wrong time.
Beneficial Bacteria Basics
If someone asked me about the biggest mistakes I see people making when it comes to using beneficial bacteria in their ponds, I would say three things come right to the top of the list.
First, the dosage you’re using treat the pond may be too low.
Trying to improve a pond’s condition starts with a clear estimate of your pond’s gallon volume. This will serve as the baseline of dosing with bacteria. Then you have to evaluate any nutrient influences like muck or sludge build up, age of the pond, water sources and how nutrient dense these might be. If the nutrient influences appear to be high, it can take twice as much bacteria as recommended for the pond’s size to shift things into a more balanced and clear condition. There’s no hard and fast rule here, but it just needs to be understood that underdosing will simply never produce good results. Factor all of these things into the equation when it comes to dosing with bacteria and you’ll end up better off.
Second, you don’t know what your water chemistry is.
Water chemistry, meaning things like pH, alkalinity, and water hardness can play a role in how well, or how poorly pond bacteria will work. So it’s a good idea to check these readings from time to time just to know where you stand. The good news is that for many formulations on the market today, the bacteria can handle a fairly wide range of readings here, but all of them have their limits. Check the label or contact the manufacturer to see just what those limits may be.
If you find something like pH being off, I’m not a big fan of necessarily trying to adjust this persistent reading. You can try it once but if it returns to an unworkable level, I’d suggest looking for another type of bacteria that may work better in your current setting, or looking for other options that won’t be as dependent on water chemistry.
Third, you don’t consider other limits of the bacteria you’re using.
This last one is important, because not all bacteria will work well or survive in colder water. In fact, naturally occurring bacteria will usually slow down and go dormant in temperatures below fifty degrees. Most commercial blends also follow this trend. So you wouldn’t want to add more of this type of product once the weather cools off because it simply won’t be of much help. If a bacteria formula isn’t marked for “all season” use, or specifically noted to work in colder water, then I’d suggest not using it below 50 degrees F. Save it for when warm weather returns next season.
Keep in mind that not every pond will need bacteria through the colder months, but some will still benefit. If you’re in the midst of trying to improve the conditions in the pond, particularly after you’ve had a difficult year with algae, odors, and other unwanted things, it’s worth it to try to extend beneficial bacteria applications into the fall and early winter. And it’s even better to get a great head start in the spring, before temperatures warm up again. Getting ahead of any algae outbreaks and the usual hot conditions of summer will often go along way in your battle to reclaim your pond.
If you haven’t found a good “all season” bacteria blend to use in your pond you might consider taking a closer look at our Biosphere line of pond bacteria products for any size of pond.
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