Bacteria are tiny microorganisms that break down organic debris and remove harmful substances from pond water. They are incredibly useful, like the bacteria in our guts that help with digestion or immune function.
Scientists have found ways to culture these bacteria so they can be used in lakes and ponds to hasten the natural processes. This is known as biological water quality augmentation.
Increase Water Clarity
If you are dealing with green water due to excess floating organic debris, beneficial bacteria treatment can reduce it and restore clarity to the pond. This will allow you to see fish and plants much easier, making your pond look nice and clean. Beneficial bacteria can also help break down sludge and muck on the bottom of your pond. This is important because these organic compounds can build up and create ammonia levels unsafe for fish. Bacteria break down these compounds into nitrites and then convert those nitrates into nitrogen that is used by plants to grow.
Many bacterial products on the market are chemical-free, which is always good for a lake. However, they do need certain water parameters to thrive and work best. They should be added to a pond in good shape with a neutral pH, less than five ppm of ammonia and nitrates, and adequate aeration.
Break Down Organic Debris
Even though bacteria occur naturally in ponds, sometimes they aren’t enough to break down organic debris such as leaves, fish waste, insects, pond sludge and other organic matter that can cause green water or string algae. Pond bacteria products can help increase the populations of these beneficial microorganisms to help break down this organic matter and improve water clarity.
Bacteria can also help decompose harmful compounds in the pond, such as ammonia. These bacteria can reduce nitrates by using denitrification to transform them into nitrogen gas, which helps prevent algae growth.
When adding bacteria, choosing a product with the right strains and population of colony-forming units (CFU) for your particular water system is important. They also need to be added in an environment where they can thrive, such as a pond with adequate aeration and at the same temperature as the existing bacteria in your pond. Changes in the pH, water temperature, oxygen levels, light exposure or other environmental conditions can kill them.
Decrease Algae Growth
While some Algae can be beneficial, excessive amounts indicate low water quality and can harm fish, wildlife and humans. Fortunately, algae can be controlled using the same principles you use to control weeds in your lawn – water, light and food. Beneficial bacteria reduce excess organic waste and nutrients that feed algae by breaking down sludge, fish waste, uneaten food, dead and decaying plant material and other sources of extra nutrients in the pond. They also work to remove phosphates and ammonia by converting them into non-toxic forms like inorganic nitrates and nitrogen gas.
Pond bacteria products work best when used regularly, every week in spring, summer and fall. Regular treatments help prevent green water and string algae by ensuring the bacterial population is high enough to keep up with reducing nutrient buildup and decomposing organic debris. This also allows the pond plants to absorb the remaining dissolved nutrients not used by the algae.
Decrease Nitrate and Ammonia Levels
Bacteria eat organic sludge and digest waste, thereby helping to lower the level of dissolved nutrients that feed nuisance algae. They also tie up phosphorus and nitrogen in their cells, so these compounds are no longer available to algal blooms.
As a side effect, bacteria help to lower ammonia levels. Ammonia is released as organic material decays and also by fish and fertilizers. If pond water is not properly maintained, ammonia levels can build up to lethal levels for fish and other aquatic life.
Beneficial bacteria break down nitrates and ammonia into simpler compounds that are not harmful to fish and other wildlife. They convert them into bacterial biomass, carbon dioxide and water. As a result, these pollutants are converted to something beneficial for the pond community (such as food for goldfish and koi). This helps to keep ponds cleaner and healthier for fish, plants and other wildlife.