A couple years back, we got a call from a customer in Oakland County, Michigan whose pond we’d installed in the spring of that same year. When she called it was mid-summer, and she thought she might have a leak. I had time, and her house was close by, so I jumped into the truck to check it out.
My Fish Are Drinking All My Pond Water?
I asked her a number of questions to figure out exactly what was going on in her pond. After listening to her answers, I thought for a minute and said (with a straight face), “You know ma’am, it’s been really hot lately, and your fish might have gotten really thirsty. I think they’re just drinking the water in your pond.” The woman listened to my analysis of the situation, thought it over and said, “Oh really? I didn’t realize that fish would actually get thirsty.” At that point, my straight-faced delivery broke into a chuckle, and I confessed that I was just kidding, and that I would need 30 minutes or so to find the leak. If you’re tempted to try this explanation on one of your customers, make sure that they have a good sense of humor and that you can keep a straight face while telling it. Without both, it just won’t work.
Each pond ecosystem possesses its own qualities, conditions, and characteristics, as do ponds in nature. All of Aquascape’s ponds have some algae because algae is natural, and is part of an ecosystem, just like everything else in the pond. The key, however, is to find the balance that Mother Nature intended, and algae will stay under control. Managing the pond ecosystem in a way that’s logical and consistent with Mother Nature is a technique that’s proven very successful for us. There are two orientations, or philosophies, of algae control ... synthetic and naturalistic.
The Synthetic Orientation
We are all well aware of the popular UV sterilizer and chemical treatment methods of algae control. These methods will clear up the green, pea-soup looking water. Yes, you read correctly–UV sterilizers and chemicals will kill suspended algae. However, the debate does not end there. For starters, UV sterilizers kill a variety of things in the pond, including microorganisms, that are highly beneficial to the ecosystem. They will only kill floating algae, however, since string algae will never pass through the sterilizer. Chemicals, on the other hand, can be detrimental to the pond system over time. After the algae gets “nuked” by chemical treatments, it falls to the bottom and disintegrates. In this disintegration process, all of the previously stored nutrients that the algae possessed are released back into the system, feeding the next algae bloom. So, a cycle is created that often becomes bigger and bigger the more you treat it, creating a vicious circle of chemical dependency. Both your client and their water garden become dependent upon these artificial killers, which cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars, not including operating costs. Time, effort, and money are also wasted on changing UV bulbs and sterilizers, purchasing chemicals, and so on. Meanwhile, the time needed for pond maintenance slowly intrudes on the time for relaxation and pond enjoyment.