When garden water features suddenly turn murky or smelly in the warm season, the odds are good that summer maintenance mistakes are to blame. Learn which water feature maintenance errors are common and how to avoid them.
Overstocking Water Features with Fish
Outdoor water features that double as koi ponds or hold other forms of aquatic life usually experience a bit of a population boost as the landscaper adds new specimens to make up for those that died during the colder months. In some cases, it is possible to overstock these outdoor water features to such an extent that the balance between the filtration system, the pond plants and finally the fish is severely disturbed.
Pet Education explains that the problem during this routine maintenance function is the depletion of oxygen in the water by an overabundance of marine life. It is noteworthy that this is not necessarily easy to check visually. For example, an overage of plant life can also deplete oxygen levels, and in this case it is hard to ascertain if the newly added fish are too many or just enough.
Tip: Check the oxygen content of outdoor water features that contain aquatic life. Add fish in small numbers and allow the ecosystem to adjust before introducing more. Remember: it is always easier to add than to take away.
Running a Bio Filter at the Same Speed as a Mechanical Filter
When landscapers plan on enhancing their water feature maintenance devices during summer, they may choose to exchange a mechanical filtration system for a bio filter. The advantages are easy to see: using biological filtration makes quick work of organic wastes (inorganic waste is usually already removed by the skimmer). That being said, these same landscapers see their attempts at a new summer maintenance protocol thwarted when faced with murky and perhaps even smelly water.
Fish Pond Pumps contends that this is due to the mistake in assuming that the speed with which water runs through a mechanical filter is similar to that of water passing through a bacteria-laden bio filter. In fact, the opposite is the case. Mechanical filters work 50 percent faster than their biological counterparts.
Tip: Landscapers adding new features that require speedy filtration may need to add a secondary pump to a mechanical filter that only supports the addition. Make filtration changes incrementally and adjust as needed and supported by water tests. Remember: it is easier to deal with slightly cloudy water than a major algae bloom!
Failing to Update or Maintain a Skimmer
One of the hardest working garden water features components is the skimmer. Landscapers use it in addition to (not instead of!) the pumps and filters. It catches solids, such as leaves, twigs and floating debris and requires frequent cleaning for best operation. Landscapers are notorious for adding enzyme solutions to the water in the effort to combat algae, investing in an expensive bio filter and also stocking their ponds as part of a summer maintenance program, but the well concealed skimmer is frequently forgotten.
Pond Solutions urges the consumer to pay attention to these devices. Seasonally evaluate the filter brushes and pads. If needed, replace the filter brush rack for maximum efficiency. This is especially important if the skimmer runs year round.