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Should I vacuum the bottom of my lined pond?


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So today I was admiring the hornwort that had established itself in a tangle of yuck at the bottom of my pond. 

 

That is a long sentence, but true. The sun rays lit it up, and I love to see the delicate fern-like plant thriving.

 

Usually if I see a tangle of yuck (string algae + mulm: the sludge that collects at the bottom of an aquarium, consisting of fish excrement, decaying plant matter, and other assorted dreck) I can take a stick and twirl it around and remove it....but I didn't want to disturb the hornwort. I really like seeing plants establishing themselves on the bottom of my pond, it seems more natural.

 

So what do you think Kokonuts?

 

Should I vacuum up the debris at the bottom of the pond (dragonfly nymphs and all?) or go au naturel?  I ask because it seems my water is not as clear as it used to be. 

·         I use Pond Perfect as a sludge reducer at least once a month

·         I use a UV light for the single-celled algae.   Sometimes I turn the UV light off for a few weeks.

·         I don't have a surface skimmer. 

·         I change the mechanical filter often (once a month?)

·         I deep clean the Bio Canister once a quarter (while still retaining the beneficial bacteria!)

 

I haven't vacuumed the pond bottom in a LONG time, perhaps 10 months.

There are overhead trees that drop leaves into the pond.

I feed gel food that can disinegrate.

 

Do you think not vacuuming the bottom is the difference between last year's sparkling clear water and today's particulate-water?

Edited by mysterygirl
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I'm interested in the answer to this too...I have half an old rainwater tank as a pond and there is a lot of "yuck" collected on the bottom of it and I'm unsure if I sould be vaccumming it or not. All my floating plants died so that added to it too I think

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Vacuuming the bottom of a lined pond (without a bottom drain) has exactly the same function as vacuuming the bottom of an aquarium.  The decaying stuff at the bottom of the pond does exactly the same thing as debris piled up at the bottom of an aquarium -- rots, using oxygen and releasing small bits of floating debris, partially decomposed organic materials, carbon dioxide, and ammonia.

 

Do you do water changes?  How much and how often?  I don't even know what you have for filtration.  (Please fill me in.)  How deep is your pond and how much of that depth lies below ground level and how much above?   Most people flush their filters (~ 10% of the pond volume) weekly doing a minimal water change in the process.   We used to consider a 10% weekly water change adequate, but most now advocate a minimum of 30% a week.

 

I'm puzzled by hornwort on the bottom.  Usually it floats at or just below the surface, dropping to the bottom in the winter.  The only hornwort I've seen on the bottom in the summer appeared dead or dying.  Of course, different species of Ceratophyllum may have different habits.  With leaves falling into the pond, you should get a skimmer.  I have one pond outside of the pool enclosure and the steady fall of live oak leaves had me netting them out of the bottom almost daily.  I finally broke down and got a floating skimmer, which, while not as good as a wall-mounted skimmer, does help clear the surface.  I also made a filter pit and put in a retrofit bottom drain to clean the bottom.  

Edited by shakaho
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Very good thread for the pond ignoramus (me)

Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk

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I do not use any miracle products in my pond and I also don't use a UV. I do, however, use a butterfly net to scoop debris off the bottom. The main source of the debris is string algae. Personally I'd say yes, remove it.

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Do you do water changes?       No, it is a 1000 gallon pond. I top it off.

 

 How much and how often?     Never

 

 I don't even know what you have for filtration.  

 

A robust Tetra bio canister, which I maintain quarterly.  The pump is a

Tetra Pond Debris Handling Pump which has been problem free, a shout out!

 

 How deep is your pond and how much of that depth lies below ground level and how much above?

24 inches below ground level 

 

 

Thanks! 

Edited by mysterygirl
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What is the easiest way to remove this stuff? It began taking forever with a normal siphon...

DSCN0911_zpsmsz8n9gw.jpg

The fish love it and it isn't causing problems, but its so UGLY. My brother spilled those rocks right there and I just couldn't be bothered to remove them BTW. The little summer pond is a foot deep, about 70 gallons, and has a flowerpot filter for now. Water changes are scheduled at 25% a week with top offs every 2-3 days.

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Do you do water changes?       No, it is a 1000 gallon pond. I top it off.

 

 How much and how often?     Never

 

 I don't even know what you have for filtration.  

 

A robust Tetra bio canister, which I maintain quarterly.  The pump is a

Tetra Pond Debris Handling Pump which has been problem free, a shout out!

 

 How deep is your pond and how much of that depth lies below ground level and how much above?

24 inches below ground level 

 

 

Thanks! 

 

I haven't responded to this because I'm puzzled.  Do you never change water because of water conservation concerns or because you don't think you need it?  I know many people in CA with large ponds (>20,000 gallons)  really struggle with providing minimal 10% to 30% weekly water changes because of water restrictions.  Some have set up water purification systems so they can remove pollutants from pond water to reuse it.

 

If one just tops off the pond, one loses distilled water to evaporation which concentrates the dissolved solids in the water.  If one replaces the evaporated water with rainwater or RO water,  one can maintain the level of dissolved inorganics, but the organics go up, since the fish and the assorted other organisms in the pond produce them.  If one replaces the evaporated water with tap water,  one increases the dissolved inorganics.

 

Carbonate goes down in a pond that doesn't get water changes because the nitrifiers use it.  Ponds that don't get water changes have a risk of a pH crash that increases with time.  As the KH declines, the pH goes down slowly for a long time.  The goldfish do fine with this pH decrease, since they adapt to slow pH changes.  When it gets to a certain level, the pH crashes.  Usually one becomes aware of a pH crash when fish start dying.  The pH drops suddenly to below 5.  If one can remove the fish to another pond or tub or get enough baking soda into the pond to get the pH above 7, one may save some, if not all of the fish. However, one can't save the cycle, so one has to deal with the ammonia with large water changes.  Go to any pond forum and search for pH crash to find lots of sad stories.  Watch your KH!

 

I think you have a filter like this.  I assume your quarterly maintenance involves taking it apart for cleaning, but how often do you backflush?  I've never used a pressure filter, but those who have recommend at least weekly backflushes, and increasing the frequency if the pond doesn't stay clean.  Incidentally, backflushing the filter and topping off the pond constitutes a small water change.

 

Is this your pump?

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Much thanks for your thoughtful reply Sharron. 

 

Let’s take one question at a time.

 

 

Do you never change water because of water conservation concerns or because you don't think you need it? 

 

Cos I thought I didn’t need it.  Last year I was fighting the rising pH with many 5 gallon bottles of RO water, as I’ve documented.

 

This year I use garden hose water mixed with prime and HCl to combat the added county’s added hydrochloric acid and turn it into safe table salt. I’m fairly obsessive about pH.

 

I used to and just did vacuum the bottom of my pond with a 5 gallon wet-vac, so that is a water change of sorts. (5 gallons x 4 loads of mulm+ water equals  at least a 20 gallon water change.)

 

My Kh is 8 which is fine, but my GH is through the roof : 19 , probably because I haven’t added any RO water this year , and you’ve succinctly explained the dynamics. I added calcium carbonite and Epsom salt. No problems with low pH here, just the opposite.

 

I think you have a filter like this. Yes, exactly.  I assume your quarterly maintenance involves taking it apart for cleaning, but how often do you backflush? 

 

Only when I clean it. About once a quarter, and it does remove 20 gallons or so when I do it.

 

 

Is this your pump?  Yes, and a great one: highly recommended.

 

I think I’ll be adding some RO water in the near future.

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What pH does your tap water have?  Some people have a  concern about a pH above 9 for goldfish, but others don't worry about anything below 10.

 

This year I use garden hose water mixed with prime and HCl to combat the added county’s added hydrochloric acid and turn it into safe table salt. 

 

I'm pretty sure you have a typo here. ^

 

Your GH and KH both look fine.

 

I think you will find that backflushing your filter weekly will greatly decrease the accumulation of detritus in the bottom of the pond and clear the water as well.   Backflushing provides the mechanical filtration of a pressure filter and cleans the biomedium for optimum biofiltration.

 

I have a terrible problem with the steady drop of leaves from the live oaks.  Even with bird netting over my one pond that isn't inside the screened pool enclosure, the leaves collect on the bottom.  I recently got a floating skimmer that catches most of them before they sink.  

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What pH does your tap water have?  

 

As high as 8.5, since they add sodium hydroxide  (not Hydrocloric Acid- that was a mistake - that is what I add to neutralize it.) 

Plus my old pH meter was giving me false readings of pH over 9 and I was freaking out. I've since purchased a new one.

 

I'll try backflushing more often. I don't leave the backflush hose attached, there is not a nearby place for the dirty water to go.

 

I'd love to have a skimmer, something to think about. Is it stationary or does it float around the pond like a Roomba?

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I wonder why they add lye to the water.  I haven't heard that before.

 

Your plants dream longingly about that backflush water.

 

The skimmer floats around, but I tie mine so it doesn't stay under the filter outflow.  It has a pump included and the filter pad collects enough gunk -- in addition to leaves -- that it can use a daily hosing.

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I wonder why they add lye to the water.  I haven't heard that before.

 

The  city makes the water artificially soapy with Lye so that it doesn't leach lead and copper from water pipes. If you've been following what happened in Flint, MI, the lack of such "treatment" resulted in high levels of lead.

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Lye... They put that stuff in chemical hair processors like perms and texturizers. Pretty horrifying for it to be in the drinking water. Something is weird with my tap water, too. It always registers pH off the charts at 8.8 on the API test kit.

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I learned that Hydrochloric acid turns the lye in my tap water to table salt. A little salt is okay for the fish, even healthy for their slime coats. So I often add an ounce or two (diluted around the pond, far from the fish) to keep the pH at 8.3 or lower.  I never lower it more than .1 or .2 in a 24 hour period.

 

I don't know anyone else who does this, although Muric Acid (HCl) is sold in the pool sections of big box stores, so it seems pool owners  use it to lower their swimming pool pH. I wouldn't dare drink the water mixture - even if the pH was 7.0! 

 

Last summer the city's sodium hydroxide injector broke and they didn't catch it for months. The fish and I had a wonderful summer with a normal pH of 8.0-8.1.

Edited by mysterygirl
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