Keeping your pond in tip top condition is vital for both livestock and plants.
Testing the water for any significant changes in the chemical balance can give you a considerable advantage in preventing unsightly or unhealthy water quality problems that may arise.
What should you Test for?
Ammonia – Known as an “invisible killer”, ammonia is a chemical compound that is produced by fish waste, rotting leftover food and decomposing plant matter. If you have a filtration unit that functions properly and efficiently, then the biological filtration will usually take care of any ammonia without a problem, and will usually not be detected on pond water tests if your filtration unit is doing its job.
Nitrite – During the biological filtration process, ammonia gets oxidized and turned into Nitrite which is less toxic than ammonia, but in high levels can still be very toxic. Nitrite prevents blood from being able to carry oxygen, which can obviously become very dangerous overtime by crippling your fish’s immune systems and causing unnecessary stress.
If your water test shows any dangerous ammonia or nitrite levels, it is important to treat your pond quickly by using a suitable treatment such as Evolution Aqua Pure Pond Bombs, which uses friendly bacteria and enzymes to clean up organic waste by breaking down ammonia and nitrite in the pond.
Nitrate – Nitrate is the by-product of the biological filter breaking down ammonia and nitrite. But unlike ammonia and nitrite, nitrate is far less toxic for livestock and can be easier to treat. However as nitrate is both a food source and fertilizer for algae, high levels can become problematic overtime in attracting algae in your pond.
If your pond water test is reading high levels of nitrate, you can use pond algae treatments such as Banish Pond Green Water Treatment, which is a quick acting treatment for green water or green algae.
pH – pH is the measure of acidity and alkalinity of your pond water. pH levels generally do not cause many people problems but it can have an impactful effect on the toxicity of ammonia in the pond.
7.0 is regarded as neutral, and anything lower than this represents how acidic your pond water is. Anything above 7.0 represents how alkaline the water is. If the water is too alkaline in combination with increasing temperatures, it can cause ammonia to form which becomes very poisonous to your livestock.
Having extreme pH levels can cause a variety of different diseases in fish such as Acidosis which is a reaction caused by having too acidic pond water. On the opposite end of the spectrum there is also alkalosis which is a reaction to having pond water that is too alkaline. This can end up destroying the gills and fins of your fish and have similar symptoms to acidosis.
The pH level also has a direct effect on the water quality and chemistry inside of your pond. Useful bacteria such as nitrification bacteria that take care of breaking down Ammonia and Nitrite can die from being in too acidic conditions, which in turn can lead to major problems further down the line.
Blagdon’s pH Adjuster Pond Treatment gradually balances the pH levels in your pond to a satisfactory level, and comes in 2 varieties depending on if your pond is too acidic or too alkaline.
Water Hardness / Carbonate Hardness – Carbonate Hardness is simply the amount of calcium and magnesium present in your pond water. These two elements are vital to the health and well-being of certain fish such as Koi and Goldfish because of their ability to stabilize healthy pH levels and neutralize acids in the water.
Koi in particular generally do better in hard water than in soft water. The difference in salt concentrations in soft water mean that Koi have to work harder to prevent salts within their bodies from diffusing out through their gill membranes (osmoregulation). In hard water, Koi don’t have to work as hard which therefore reduces stress and makes osmoregulation easier.
By maintaining a good and safe level of carbonate hardness you are enabling your pond to protect and minimise major fluctuations in pH levels, which as a result helps to protect your fish from harm.
Phosphate – A by-product of the mineralisation of dead matter such as fish waste, bacteria or dead plant matter is Phosphate. Although Phosphate does not harm your fish directly, it can contribute to algae growth in your pond which can lead to water quality issues if not treated. Phosphate levels in ponds are generally more difficult to maintain as rain runoff from the surroundings can easily bring phosphate into the water.
How & When to Test
Generally, it is recommended to test for ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, pH and temperature levels once every week or two, especially during periods where your pond is likely to be going through a period of change according to the time of year. Such moments include changing seasons (spring warming for instance), after adding new equipment or new livestock to your pond.
If you are able to keep track of your pond tests constructively by using the results to create a graph, you will be able to see any gradual changes that may end up becoming a problem if left untreated further down the line. Treating your pond early on is a lot easier to manage and monitor than if it was to be left untreated over a long period of time. By knowing the direction that your pond’s water quality is taking you can correct any issues before a problem gets out of control.
Water Test Kits are a fantastic way of making sure your pond is in perfect condition all year round. From simple test strips to advanced testing kits, Aquatix-2u feature a wide range for you to choose: Click Here