Splash Ecosystem Ponds pretty much take care of themselves.
The skimmer pulls out 90 percent of the muck and debris that falls in the pond, and the biofilter gives your beneficial bacteria plenty of space to grow. Throw in some plants and fish, and you have a recipe for a crystal-clear pond.
Sometimes, though, you need a little extra help. That’s where water treatments come in. Some are good for preventative maintenance, while others are just nice to have on-hand for when you need them.
Below are five of our favorite products. No water treatments will replace the work that your plants, biofilter and skimmer do, but they can give your pond a little extra boost.
At a Glance: Our 5 Favorite Water Treatments
- Pond Detoxifier: a great product to have on-hand if you accidentally overfill your pond with hose water.
- Maintain: a beneficial bacteria product that helps keep your water crystal-clear and your fish happy and healthy.
- Sludge & Filter Cleaner: harmlessly breaks down sludge left on the bottom of your pond after the skimmer has done its work.
- Barley Extract: a natural product that some pond owners find helpful for treating string algae.
- S.A.B.: a powder that breaks down string algae.
1. Pond Detoxifier
The very first water treatment we recommend every pond owner keep on-hand is a bottle of Pond Detox.
If you’re like us, you’ve probably accidentally left the garden hose on too long when topping off the water level in your pond. When you do that, you’re filling the pond with chlorine and chloramines – two chemicals that aren’t great for fish.
Our Pond Detox removes these toxins from the water, making it safe again for your finned friends.
Another favorite water treatment is a product called Maintain. Maintain is a beneficial bacteria, which, if you’ve heard us talk about our Ecosystem Ponds, you know is the heart and soul of our pond system. Beneficial bacteria are the tiny microbes that colonize over all the nooks and crannies in the pond and keep the water crystal-clear and your fish happy and healthy, on top of producing great nutrients for your plants.
Maintain is a product you would apply to the pond once a week, just in small doses, to keep the beneficial bacteria growing in your biofilters. The great thing about Maintain is you can’t really overdose with it. If you accidentally get the math wrong and miscalculate the number of gallons of water in your pond, or if you trip and knock the whole bottle in, you’re not going to hurt anything. We definitely recommend keeping a bottle of Maintain on-hand at all times.
3. Sludge & Filter Cleaner
If you’ve owned a pond for a few years, you’re going to start to see a little leaf and debris build-up in the bottom, even with the most effective skimming systems. Our Sludge & Filter Cleaner is the perfect way to handle that. This liquid sinks down and eats the muck on the bottom of the pond and converts it to oxygen and water, making it virtually disappear.
Like Maintain, Sludge & Filter Cleaner is perfectly safe for your fish and plants. You could dump the whole bottle in the pond and not hurt anything. (Not that we recommend testing it; always follow the instructions on the label of any product.)
The Algae Fighters
Pond Detox, Maintain and Sludge & Filter Cleaner are what we consider staple products. They’re good for every pond owner to have on-hand at all times.
The next two water treatments on our list are a little different. They both help treat string algae, a filamentous gunk that commonly clings to pond rocks.
Before we dive into the benefits of our two favorite algae fighters, you need to know a few things:
- String algae is the stuff that clings to your rock and floats in your stream. If it’s green, slimy and you can pick it up with your hand, it’s probably string algae. String algae requires different treatment than green-water algae, which – you guessed it – turns your water green. Click here if you’re not sure which kind of algae you have.
- A little bit of string algae in your pond is normal. Remember: it’s a pond, not a swimming pool. String algae won’t hurt your fish, so it’s only a problem if you’re tired of looking at it.
- You’ll find all kinds of products claiming to kill string algae. No water treatment, however, will take the place of pond plants. Here’s why: Each plant in your pond takes in a different kind of nutrient. A red-leaf plant eats a different kind than a green-leaf one. A blue flower sucks up a different kind than a yellow one. String algae needs these same nutrients to survive, so the more plants you have – and the wider variety – the fewer nutrients left for opportunistic string algae to get a start. Plants essentially starve string algae, so grab a few lilies or water hyacinths before you even think about other treatments.
4. Barley Extract
If you read a little bit about barley, you’ll find that some people find it effective; some people don’t. We’d say that in our experience, about half the people who try barley really find it effective in reducing the amount of stringy algae you find in the pond.
No one is quite sure why barley stops string algae growth. As far as researchers can tell, it creates a water condition the string algae just doesn’t like. It does not treat green-water algae, and it works better for preventing new growth than it does for getting rid of existing algae.
You can buy barley in all kinds of forms, from regular straw to pellets to extracts. We prefer – and sell – the extract version, which doesn’t leave any kind of decaying plant matter in your pond.
Our final verdict: Give barley a try if you have string algae problems. It won’t hurt your fish or plants, so there’s no harm in seeing if it will work for you. Remember, though, that plants should always be your first line of defense against string algae.
Let’s say you’re having a backyard party, and you want your pond to look absolutely spotless. The pond is overflowing with all kinds of plants, and you’ve tried adding barley. S.A.B. is a great polish for getting rid of that last bit of string algae.
S.A.B. is a powdered product you sprinkle wherever you see a little bit of debris. Within about 24 hours, you’re going to start to see it slowly disappear.