2017-04-18 / Front Page

Purdue Extension Putnam County: Pond Maintenance

By Jenna Nees, Ag & Natural Resources, Extension Educator

Many enjoy getting to spend a calm, cool summer day out by a pond fishing, swimming, and enjoying nature; however, that experience can be ruined by a few (or several) unwanted plants. You can help avoid these annoying pond problems by taking some time now to think and strategize about basic pond maintenance.

The main pond maintenance issues to consider is a high level of plant growth and algae in a pond. There are several reasons that one could experience this problem including a high nutrient level that is a result of nutrient-loaded runoff from yard, pasture, or field, the pond is stagnant, overfeeding of your fish, allowing livestock to drink and enter the pond, or the pond is too small or shallow. Ultimately, to fix a high nutrient level problem, you need to try to reduce the amount of nutrients entering your pond. One way you can do this is by adding a filter strip. If you can’t add a filter strip, you could try utilizing an aerator to help move the water, prevent livestock from entering the pond, and stop feeding your fish.

Controlling the nutrient level in the pond will help prevent the development of the various types of algae: microscopic algae (commonly referred to as blue-green algae), mat-forming algae (commonly referred to as moss), and Chara (a calcified, brittle plant that is rooted). In addition to controlling algae formation by reducing the nutrient level in the pond, you can also control most algae problems by using copper products. However, you should not use copper products if there are trout or koi found in the pond.

Some pond owners are successful in controlling the amount of algae and other pond weeds in their ponds by using blue dye. By adding the blue dye to their pond frequently, pond owners block out some of the sunlight, which ultimately reduces vegetation. If you are interested in trying to utilize dye in your pond this year, then you should put your first application of the dye in your pond around mid-April. You will then need to reapply the blue dye throughout the summer based on the recommendation found on the product label.

Some of the other pond weeds that can be an issue include: duckweed, watermeal, waterlilies, watershield, and American pond weed. Duckweed and watermeal are two free-floating plants that can wreck havoc on a pond. These two plants are extremely small (duckweed is 1/8 to ¼ inch in diameter). You can tell these two plants apart by looking for roots. Duckweed has small roots that hang in the water while watermeal has no roots. Both of these plants can completely cover a pond and cause oxygen depletion to occur.

Waterlilies, watershield, and American pondweed are three examples of rooted-floating plants. Each of these plants have underground stems, call rhizomes, from where new plants sprout. The leaves and flowers of these species then float on top of the water. American pondweed has long slender leaves that are 2 to 3 inches long. They will be attached to their roots by long petioles. Waterlilies and watershield are similar in appearance. However, you can tell them apart since watershield has smaller leaves and petioles that are attach in the center of the leave.

It takes a lot of time and effort to learn to identify the various pond weeds that can be found around a pond. For help with identifying pond weeds, you can bring in a sample (live or photograph) of the weed to the Putnam County Extension Office. If you would rather try to identify the plant yourself, Purdue Extension Publication APM-3-W Identifying and Managing Aquatic Vegetation is a great resource. You can find a copy of it at: APM/APM_3_W.pdf. In addition to being a great identification resource, this publication has information on how to control the various weeds both biologically, manually, and by using chemicals.

Visit our homepage at www.extension.purdue.edu/putnam or you can contact the local Purdue Extension Office by calling 765.653.8411 for more information regarding this week’s column topic or to RSVP for upcoming events. It is always best to call first to assure items are ready when you arrive and to RSVP for programs. While many publications are free, some do have a fee. Purdue University is an equal access/equal opportunity institution. All times listed are Eastern Time.

Upcoming Events:

April 20 – Diagnosing Plant Diseases for the Average Person webinar, 12 Noon, Register at https://ag.purdue.edu/ Extension/wia/Pages/webinars.aspx

April 20- Indiana Extension Homemakers Association Spring Dessert, 7:00 PM, Putnam County Fairgrounds, York Community Building

April 27 - Gardener Gatherings: Vegetable Gardening 101, Extension Office, 6:30-7:30 PM,

Register at 765-653- 8411

May 2 – Putnam County Master Gardener Monthly Meeting

May 11 - Gardener Gatherings: Composting & Soil Amendments, Extension Office, 6:30-7:30 PM, Register at 765-653- 8411

May 13 – 3rd Annual Plant Auction sponsored by the Putnam Co. Master Gardeners, Fairgrounds, Auction starts at 10 AM.

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