Last Updated: 11/12/13
Watergardening has become a major undertaking for many people. A well-balanced and natural pond is beautiful, healthy, and a joy. Trying to "treat problems" with chemical pesticides, herbicides, and other "medications" often leads to more severe problems or just "quick fixes." For a pond to be truly healthy and a joy, chemicals should be used sparingly. The pond should be "organic."
I have been "ponding" since 1997. My pond site includes information on how to deal with such "problems" as stinging insects nesting near the pond, aphids, other insects, algae, fish overpopulation, and good and bad bacteria.
For information on creating a pond for wildlife, see my wildlife pond page.
In Depth Information
Ponds can be maintained using natural methods and a variety of new products that are either all- natural or not very dangerous. Many pond keepers use algicides, herbicides, pesticides, and fish "medications" indiscriminately resulting in more problems than when they started. If chemicals are used to kill algae and pests, often fish and/or plants may die. So, for a pond to thrive, it really has to be organic. If you want to harvest food for yourself or other pets (see here for edible pond plants), the pond has to be organic. A chemically treated pond will have a lot less life in it, and that life will not be as healthy. Also, a pond can be well balanced using any number of the bacterial and enzymatic concoctions being sold. I have used CSA (see here for my favorite thing to keep my pond clear and safe; this site may no longer work so try BZT instead at http://www.united-tech.com/), Stress-Zyme, and Microbe-Lift.
Below are the links to my pond web pages that deal with the various plants and animals that pond keepers want to get rid of in most cases. Remember that most of these species have some beneficial qualities as well as the negative and to eliminate them completely from a pond system is not the goal. To keep them manageable is the goal. Click on the underlined "problem" to go to the information.
Algae is the bane of water gardeners. Some algae is required for a healthy pond but if it takes over, it can cause all sorts of problems. Safe methods of control include adding the appropriate mix of animals including algae-eating animals, adding lots of plants, having a good filtration system, using a number of environmentally safe pond additives, using barley straw, and using a UV sterilizer if all else fails for green water. My web site lists dozens of organic options.
Mosquitoes can be controlled using a variety of methods including the addition of insect-eating fish, increasing water movement and depth, adding more floating plants, encouraging mosquito predators like dragonflies and bats, and using mosquito dunks (Bt bacteria which may also kill other aquatic insects) when these methods are not enough.
Aphids can annihilate water lily leaves, water lettuce, and other plants. Methods of organic control include washing off the leaves into the pond for the fish to eat, buying ladybugs and lacewings to eat aphids, and using a number of organic aphid killers like herbal aphid control and Bladerunner.
Other Plant Pests including leaf-mining midges, aquatic moths like the China mark moth, and waterlily leaf beetles can also create damage to aquatic plants. These insects can be dealt with by physically removal, using mosquito dunks in some cases (Bt bacteria), or dessication using something like Bladerunner.
Bees, Wasps, and Hornets often build their nests near a pond. This section of my web site lists a number of non-toxic methods to make them leave including using a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher and a few organic-based insect sprays. Recently, pond keepers have expressed concern over stinging insects coming to the pond to drink. This usually only occurs during drought when puddles and smaller ponds are dried up. While they can appear scary, often stinging insects that are coming to drink in ponds are not very defensive since they are away from their home and happy to drink. You would have to physically contact them, pester them, or run into them to get stung in most cases. I have been in my pond in a swim suit surrounded by lily pads with up to a dozen hornets and wasps drinking and yet have never been stung while in my pond. I just avoid them. In fact, despite honey bee hives on the property and dozens of bee, hornet, and wasp species on our land since we don't use pesticides, I have only been stung twice in the last 15 years. A few years ago, I was stung twice by a European hornet which is not even native to my state of MD, USA. That species is nasty, and their sting is excruciating! My leg was hot and swollen for over a month! When I see one of them, I leave, fast! But, most stinging insects are nothing to worry about unless you're severely allergic.
Fish Diseases and Parasites are a major problem and need to be dealt with properly. Fish with problems need to be properly diagnosed. Once the problem is understood, it can be treated. In most cases, it is better to remove the ill fish for treatment elsewhere as most "medications" can harm some fish, frogs, plants, and more. If an entire pond must be treated, some plants and animals may need to be removed. It is much easier to quarantine all new fish for a month to be sure they are parasite and disease free. Personally, I have lost more fish in aquariums from "medications" than from the problem I was treating. For this reason, I quarantined my pond fish before adding them to the pond and used a general parasite killer in quarantine. I have never put "medicine" in my pond. So far since 1997, only a few fish have died from predators, isolated infections, and injuries.
Organic Gardening magazine. Robyn's Pond Page URL is mentioned on Page 25 of the July/August 2001 in an article on organic water gardening that inspired this site (I mean just this single page of my 149+ pages).
Victor Poison-Free Pest Control provides alternative ways of controlling pests
Rachel Carson Council
No Spray News
Pesticides and Safe Alternatives - includes web site links
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