Ponds and beneficial bacteria

Ponds and Beneficial Bacteria

What is the deal with ponds and beneficial bacteria?

Beautiful ponds and beneficial bacteria go together!   Beneficial bacteria helps keep algae at bay.  This bacteria is very important to have in a pond.  We recommend 3/4" gravel in the bottom of ponds to provide a place for beneficial bacteria to colonize.  While bacteria occurs naturally in a pond, it is difficult for it to keep up with an enclosed eco system.  Things like fish load, uneaten fish food and organic debris disrupt the balance of the ecosystem and can cause unwanted algae.   The regular addition of beneficial bacteria on a regular basis helps prevent this.

You may have purchased a variety of pond treatments and aren't sure what is what.  Beneficial bacteria is completely safe for fish and animals.

CFU - (Colony Forming Unit)

There are countless strains of bacteria and there are different strains in different products.  Some products have a higher concentration of bacteria than others.  For instance, the dry beneficial bacteria from Aquscape has a 3.0 billion CFU per ounce potency.  The cold water strains have about 1.5 billion CFU.

Dry or Liquid?

Liquid bacteria jump starts the ecosystem as it works more quickly.  However, dry bacteria offers different strains of bacteria which provides a diversity to increase overall stability of the whole system.  Good bacteria along with aeration, fish and plants create the balanced eco system that is a beautiful pond.

Temperature Matters!

There are strains of beneficial bacteria that will die once the water goes below a certain temperature. Cold water bacteria can be added down to the water temperatures at 35 degrees. Regular bacteria can only be used down to about 55 degrees.  Temperature is a big reason why we see algae blooms in the springtime.  Just as different trees and flowers bloom at different times, the various biological elements of the pond "wake up" at separate times too. The plant life and the bacteria come to life just slightly after the algae.  This is why we see algae blooms in the early spring - the other plant hasn't gotten to work yet and gives the algae a head start.


It is the algaecide that you want to be careful with!  Algaecide can harm fish and animals if not used correctly.  It also kills beneficial bacteria- disrupting the eco system we are trying to balance!   Read more about click HERE.

 Want a beautiful pond that is easy to maintain?

Ponds and beneficial bacteria go together! Add bacteria:

  • Once a week (from April to November)
  • The day after it rains (extra dose)
  • Twice a week in hot temperatures
  • More often if you are having a green water issue  (try adding different types of bacteria to get a better variety of strains in).

To read more about pond ecosystems and how to keep them healthy, check out more articles by clicking HERE. 


Pressure filters

Pond Pressure Filter – Right for your pond?

Pond Pressure filter

Pressure filters clean water by pushing the water through a mechanical filter.  Mechanical filters may be foam filters, small rocks, and other material that will physically remove debris form the water. Some pressure filters (but not all) have a UV light inside them. As the water passes by the UV light, the rays penetrate living micro organisms and kill them.  This will clear up green cloudy water. Keep in mind that this UV light is sterilizing the water.  This is how it cleans up the green cloudy water (microbial algae).  Keep in mind, it kills the algae AND the good bacteria too! Beneficial bacteria is essential for a balanced pond eco system. 

A skimmer box that contains a basket, net, brushes and/or filter pad are a form of mechanical filtration as well.  Pressure filters can be used in addition to a skimmer box. 

If your pond is missing essential elements to a balanced pond, a pressure filter may be a good idea. For instance,  if you really can't put in a skimmer box, biofall or plants, a pressure filter could be the way to go. 

Upkeep of pressure filters:

Most pressure filters need to be shut down in the winter time because if they freeze there is a risk of the UV light breaking or a crack occurring in the pipe.

Pressure filters  need to be back-washed on a regular basis.  If you are having to do this as often as once a week, your pressure filter may be too small for your pond. 

What about a pool pressure filter?

It is important to note that swimming pool pressure filters are not the same as pond pressure filters. Pool pressure filters have sand in them which is too fine a filter for a pond.  They will clog up way too quickly!  This results in having to clean it too often and low water flow.  In some cases, sand can be replaced with a different filter media.

Pressure filters are a good solution to problematic situations.  Check with a pond professional to see if it's right for your pond!

Heat can Green up a Garden Pond!

Are you seeing green cloudiness in your garden pond?  Here in Colorado we have had days on end of over 90° and several that hit 100°!  Heat can green up a garden pond!  Here's 8 things to know about the heat and keeping your pond healthy:


1. Oxygen

Did you know that cold water can hold more dissolved oxygen that warm water can?  That means that when the outside air temperature increases, it is more important that the pond have good aeration.  Waterfalls and aerators help provide oxygen.  Lack of oxygen can lead to slimy algae!


2.  Circulation

Do you notice certain parts of the pond get more algae on the rocks or the water just doesn't seem to move?  That is a great place to add are aerator.  Not only does it get more oxygen to the pond, but it is going to move that water.


3.  Water temperature

Did you know that although koi can be healthy in water from 35° to 85°, the ideal temperature is between 65° and 75°? When the weather really heats up you may notice your fish spending more time at the bottom of the pond.  It's cooler there at the sun heats the top of the water.


4.  Plants

Plants provide shade that can help keep the pond cool in the hot weather.  Lilies, once they are established, are great for added shade.  Submerged plants also add oxygen to the water.  Floaters like water lettuce and water hyacinth are fantastic for filtration!  If you have trouble with them floating into the skimmer tie some fishing line aroudn the roots and tie it in a circle. Then tie another piece of it around a rock (attaching it to the plant circle of fishing line) and put it where ever you like! Lettuce and hyacinth propagate like crazy, but don't worry, here in Colorado they aren't a nuisance because once a freeze comes they will die.


5.  Sunburned fish?

Did you know that if fish don't have somewhere to get out of the sun they can actually get a sunburn?  YES!  You might not be able to see it, but it can kill them.  Most fish don't get sunburned because they live in water deep enough that the sun's rays can't hurt them.  But if you have a more shallow pond, you might need to consider adding shade. If you don't have a shade tree or lots of lilies, try putting in a fish cave or adding a shade cloth over the pond that shades 1/2 the pond.  You can even take a bucket or trash can and cut it in half lengthwise and putting a rock on top to weight it down to create a shady place for fish.  Make it look good by covering it with rock.


6.  Not too much fish food!

Feed your fish in the morning, rather than the heat of the afternoon.  Overfeeding fish is a major cause of algae.  In warmer weather, uneaten fish food decays faster and can be fodder for algae.  Remember to feed fish only what they can eat in a few minutes.


7.  Exposed Liner

Make sure you don't have any liner exposed.  The sun and heat can make it brittle, leading to leaks!


8.  Evaporation

No matter the size of the pond, 2 to 3 inches of evaporation a week is normal.  If you have an autofill that is attached to your sprinkler system, it will be brought up tot he correct level each time that zone comes on.  If you are turning off the sprinkler system for repairs, make sure you don't forget about the pond.  Either leave that zone on, or be prepared to fill it up by hand.

Want to read more about pond health?  Click HERE for more topics.


Pond Foam

Pond Foam

4 Causes of Pond Foam

There are several potential things that could be causing this this white foamy stuff.  If it's green, it's algae!

  1.  Organic Material - The most common cause of foam build up is organic material in the pond.  Organic material build up is leaves, uneaten fish food, gunk or even a dead fish!  These things may not have dissolved into the water and can cause foam. Removing them is a good start to get rid of foam!  Make sure you are not feeding the fish too much.  THey should be able to eat what you give them within a few minutes.  Remember they can munch on algae and bugs too, so feeding them everyday is not mandatory. Adding Foam Free by Aquascape can help, but to really get your pond in balance, add beneficial bacteria on a regular basis.  If this is a consistent problem, you may want to check with a professional to see if you have the right filtration.
  2. New Liner - If you have recently had the pond or stream installed or relined, it could be the off gassing of the liner.  This will dissipate in a few days.
  3. Spawning Fish - If your pond is the perfect environment for fish.....they might be feeling a bit frisky.  This spawning can cause large amounts of foam.  Don't add products in the pond at this point.  You'll need to wait until they stop spawning.  Did you know the babies are called "fry"?
  4. Soap - Once in a while someone puts soap in a pond.  This gets crazy nuts with bubbles.  If this happens, you'll need to do a water change right away!

Want to learn more about keeping your pond in balance?  Click HERE! Scroll to the bottom to use the search function to find a variety of topics you may be looking for!

get the pond clean!

Pond Cleanout -Before and After

Pond Cleanout - Before and After pictures are a great way to see the difference.

Are you wondering how much a difference a pond cleanout makes?  They say a picture is worth 1000 words!

Ponds are small ecosystems within themselves.  We strive to create a balanced ecosystem.  When we do a cleanout we:

  • Remove any fish and put them in a portable pond that we bring
  • Remove water from pond
  • Pressure wash waterfall, stream, and pond
  • Remove all debris
  • Clean skimmer and biofalls
  • Cut back plants as requested
  • Fertilize water lilies
  • Divide lilies if they need it
  • Check for proper operation of all equipment
  • Re-stack disturbed rocks
  • Refill pond
  • Treat water with beneficial bacteria and detoxifier (for the safety of the fish)

Care of a pond after a cleanout

Please keep in mind that after a cleanout beneficial bacteria needs to be added 2 days afterwards and again in another 2 days. We add some before we leave.   After that it will need to be added weekly.  Beneficial Bacteria is an important part of a pond’s ecosystem and keeps it from getting green!  

If your pond develops an algae bloom or becomes green and cloudy at some point after a cleanout, it does not mean that the cleanout wasn't done well.  It simply means the pond is not in balance yet. Give us a call to discuss how to get your pond in balance or refer to the paperwork our pond technicians left with you.

Please remember that the use of algaecide can also disrupt the balance of a pond.  It removes oxygen so that the algae dies, but it also kills beneficial bacteria and can even kill fish.  It makes establishing a balanced eco system difficult! Check out more information about algaecide HERE.

Leaks or fish loss

Colorado Pond Pros has years of experience cleaning ponds. We treat your waterfeature as if it were our own!  Technicians must walk in, near and around waterfeatures when cleaning or other work is being done.  It is unavoidable!  That being said, if we did not install your pond we cannot control the quality or manner of the installation of the lining or underlayment, the age of the pond, the quality of the existing electrical wiring, or the health / condition of fish before we arrive.  We cannot be held liable for fish loss or leaks due to these conditions beyond our control.




When the sun begins to heat up our summer days, our ponds may get green.  Algaecide may seem appealing and is useful in some situations,  but know that while it may quickly kill off algae, it can quickly kill off your fish too.  Be sure to read the instructions carefully and call a professional if you need help.

Algaecide works by removing the oxygen and suffocating the algae.  It is also hard on plants, beneficial bacteria, and fish.  Algae itself puts oxygen into the water. For that reason we recommend only treating ¼ of the pond at a time.  When treating algae in a waterfall, turn it off and sprinkle dry algaecide onto the area, leaving it sitting without the waterfall on for 30 minutes.

Right After Algaecide Application

The day after using algaecide, make sure you add beneficial bacteria to either replace what has likely been destroyed  or to add it if it has been absent.  When large amounts of algae are present, we know that the balance of the eco-system is off.  Getting it back in balance will help your pond look beautiful again.  Algaecide can destroy good parts of that system so they need to be replaced several times after a treatment.

If your fish are coming to the top of the water and seem to be gasping for air after and algaecide treatment, then too much has been used and you are at risk of losing fish.  Do a partial water change, adding detoxifier for protection of the fish.  You can also put in an aerator to get more oxygen flow going and hopefully keep the fish from dying.

Remember that overuse of algaecide can cause future outbreaks of algae -- worse than the original problem and can damage plants and fish.  If it is necessary to get control of algae, follow directions to the letter and make sure to get the pond into balance after its use.

Need help finding that balance?  Give us a call! 303-775-0224

Does My Pond Need a Cleanout?

Does my pond need a cleanout?

Balanced ponds may need to be cleaned out every couple of years.  Ponds that struggle with balance may need annual cleanouts. Take a look at your pond.

◊  Is the water brown, black or unclear?

◊  Do you see muck or sludge on the bottom of the pond?

◊  Is your pump struggling to work because of excess debris around it?

Ponds are ecosystems.  When they are in balance, the water should be clear.  There may be a touch of algae here or there, but not excessively.  When the water looks good, the plants and fish are thriving you still might need to have the gunk cleaned out.  Ponds in Colorado need to run all yearlong to help clean the water clean.  Leaving the water stagnate over the winter can breed slimy composted sludge that has to be cleaned out in the Spring.  Learn more about ponds in our Ponds 101.  Wondering if your pond needs a good cleanout?  Contact us and text us over some pictures -  we'll help you figure out if a cleanout is right for  your pond.

What exactly is a pond cleanout?

When we perform a pond cleanout we:

  • Remove the water from the pond
  • Safely transfer the fish into a portable pond that we bring.
  • Pressure wash every surface of the water feature including streams and waterfalls.
  • Clean out equipment like skimmers, biofalls and canister filters.
  • Check all equipment for proper operation.
  • Check for any lights that may need to be replaced.
  • Remove the gunk from the pond.
  • Cut back plant material as needed.
  • Fertilize lilies.
  • Put clean water into the pond.
  • Add water treatments to establish a healthy ecosystem balance and to protect the health of the fish.
  • Replace any rocks that may have been disturbed during the cleanout.
  • Return fish to the pond.
  • Consult you about the on going maintenance of the pond so that it will be beautiful all year long!

What about barley straw?

clear pond Barley straw helps keep algae at bay.

When using this type of algae treatment, it is imperative that it is organic.  Straw that may have been treated with pesticides could kill the plant life and even the fish in the pond.  It usually comes in a small "bale" that can be placed in the pond and weighted down by tying a string to a rock that is attached the the barley straw bale. As it begins to decompose, it creates and enzyme that helps to reduce algae.

How long does it take to work?

You won't get instant gratification here!  This may take 4 to 6 weeks to really get going, so we recommend adding it in early spring.  Adding it at the time of a cleanout is even better. While a bit of patience is needed, it pays off. Barley straw can keep a pond looking great all season long, because it lasts about 9 months!

Make sure you are adding the correct amount of barley straw for the size (gallons) of your pond.  Directions generally come on barley straw that can be purchased over the internet.

Want to learn more about pond eco systems, check out our Ponds 101 page!