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Big Payback with Eco-Friendly Lake & Pond Management

By Rick Smith – EasyPro Pond Products

eco friendly lake pond management

Ponds and lakes are a valuable natural resource. They add beauty to the landscape, provide recreation and are a habitat for fish and wildlife. A natural body of water is a complex biological, chemical and physical community. The quality of the water determines the health of the entire community and the aquatic organisms living within the system, from microscopic bacteria to the largest fish!

The "engine" that drives everything within a body of water is the presence of oxygen in proper levels. A pond's condition deteriorates when its bottom environment cannot support aquatic life. The bottom is where the most oxygen is consumed and the farthest from the surface where it is replenished. Without adequate oxygen at the bottom, oxygen loving beneficial bacteria can die off and be unable to break down the organic waste. This results in increased layers of sediment (muck) along the pond bottom and conditions become favorable for harmful and smelly gases. Phosphorous can stay in a readily available state promoting rapid and undesirable plant growth, and the living environment for fish and wildlife is greatly reduced. Simply put, without oxygen a pond cannot clean itself!

Another deadly condition arises without proper levels of oxygen, stratification and fish kill. Stratification occurs when there is a horizontal layering of water, with the warmer water at the surface and the cooler, low or no oxygen water on the bottom. A summer storm will typically kick off the event leading to a fish kill. Wind and colder rain water can mix the water. When the cold, stagnant bottom layer mixes with the warm water on top, the bottom water absorbs much of the oxygen and releases its harmful gasses resulting in a fish kill. This is what has happened when someone says the lake or pond has "flipped." Years of experience has taught us that three main tools are needed to manage lakes and ponds:

1-Aeration

Bubbling fountains and diffused air systems are commonly used to increase the natural levels of oxygen. The added oxygen, and equally important, the circulation created by these devices help to create a stable and productive ecosystem. Fountains typically float on the surface and spray water up into the air. As the water droplets fall back to the surface they pick up oxygen. They are best used in shallower water, since they draw water from a relatively smaller area and don't do much for the deeper water. Diffused air systems utilize a shore-mounted air compressor that pumps oxygen through a hose to a special diffuser lying on the pond bottom. Since the bottom of the pond is where the most oxygen is consumed, it is an ideal way to deliver oxygen to where it's needed the most. As the bubbles rise out of the diffusers they create a "lifting" or boiling action, which creates considerable circulation throughout the pond. This circulation helps to prevent water stratification.

2 – Beneficial Bacteria

Aeration in conjunction with beneficial bacteria is the most important two things you can do for a lake or pond. The use of beneficial pond bacteria has proven to be one of the best tools (along with aeration) a pond owner can use to maintain water quality. Beneficial bacteria are like mini vacuum cleaners working along the ponds bottom to consume and digest organic materials such as decayed leaves, grass clippings, dead algae/weeds, fish waste, etc. Left in the pond, these materials will contribute to future water quality problems.

Most ponds contain natural bacteria. The problem is these are usually anaerobic bacteria (meaning they do not need oxygen to survive) and they digest sediment (muck) very slowly. When we add beneficial bacteria, like EasyPro's Pond­Vive, to the lake or pond we are adding mostly aerobic bacteria which does require oxygen to survive (this is why we talked earlier about the importance of aeration in ponds) but decomposes sediment at a much faster rate. The results are improved water quality, reduced odors, reduced need for weed and algae controls, improved oxygen levels and a better environment for fish and other aquatic life.

3 -Weed and Algae Controls

The use of these products is a good short-term solution to a problem, and in some cases is like receiving medical treatment to save the patient. There are a wide variety of treatment products available to safely control aquatic weeds and algae in lakes and ponds. These tested and approved products are a safe and quick way to gain control of waters that are infested with aquatic weeds or algae, however, to gain long term control we need to evaluate the overall ecosystem and determine the real cause of the problem. In most cases, aeration and/or the use of bacteria will greatly improve the system and the use of these chemicals can be greatly reduced.

This is an excerpt from an article in Pond Trade Magazine by Rick Smith – www.pondtrademag.com