Something magical about water

Gazing out at the ocean, pond or lake is something magical. I’m not sure if it’s the hypnotic effect of the waves or what. I do know that people are passionate about their ponds. Last week was a real testament to that. I think it was the perfect storm, we had a large rain, followed by very hot weather. This all led up to fish kills, blue/green algae blooms and lots of other bad stuff.

First off, it took some rethinking for me to think a rain is a bad thing for a pond. I guess it’s the difference in thinking of quantity over quality. Certainly, it’s good to get runoff to fill the ponds, but on the quality side, that runoff is loaded with a lot nutrients to feed the moss and algae.

Next, we suddenly had summer temperatures. When the air temperature goes above 78 degrees Fahrenheit, the oxygen exchange between pond and air decreases. When the oxygen level is at 5 ppm, fish growth can be slowed. When it dips to 3 to 4 ppm, you will have a fish kill, with the largest fish dying first. These events are just heart breaking.

Plants in the pond feed the pond with oxygen as they are photosynthesizing, but at night, they use the pond’s oxygen, so the best time to check the pond is at daylight. This is when the oxygen level will be at the very lowest. If you see fish up at the surface, gasping for air, you can take action.

You can harvest the fish, to reduce the oxygen strain on the pond. The stocking rate should be 1,000 pounds of fish per acre of surface water. To help with the oxygen level, you can back a boat into the water and let the engine circulate the water, to add oxygen. Another way is to add a fountain or aerator into the shallow water and spray it back onto the top of the water.

I’ve been trying to research options for pond aerators and/or fountains. There are many you tube videos of make your own fountains out of sump pumps. It would be a quick and cheaper option!

Treatment for the blue/green algae also is mystical. In some places, the barley straw bales seem to be helping and then in other places it’s been a train wreck. We’ve built two of the slow sand filters for livestock water use. That’s a solution for livestock, but it doesn’t help the aesthetics of a pond.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment watch and warning list of lakes and reservoirs is growing each day. We keep learning about blue/green algae, but the solutions are evading us. A reporter from a Kansas City network wanted an expert to talk about blue/green algae blooms. It’s pretty sad when you can’t find one!


Jody Holthaus41 Posts

Jody Holthaus is the Meadowlark Extension District agent in the area of livestock and natural resources.


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