The Death and Rebirth of a Pond
16 years ago the bulldozer was already on our property burying the old barn foundation when I decided to have the pond dug. By the next day we had a half acre hole in the ground behind our house and garage. Little did I know what problems lie in our future.
By the second year filament algae began to form on the surface in mid June and I raked it out by hand twice. The next spring grass carp were added and large mouth bass along with some fat head minnows. After work and on weekends much of my time was spent raking algae from the pond, lots of algae. Things were getting worse.
The next summer I discovered copper sulphate. During the next several seasons the pond was treated three to four times between May and October. Sometimes within just a few days the open surface would turn into a green and brown hairy mat. I would spray the algae, the algae would sink to the bottom and the cycle would repeat itself. Also, some where in this time frame I started to add Aqua Shade in the early spring but this seemed to have little or no effect on the algae.
By then I was wishing the pond had never been dug. Although we had more wildlife in the back yard, the perfect pond we dreamed of had turned into a huge liability. If the excavated soil had still been on the property I would have hired a bulldozer to fill the pond back in then and there.
The battle continued. Then came the hard winter of 2001-2002 when the pond was snow covered from November 1st through early spring. Grass carp, large mouth (16-18" by then) and every fish big and small were floating on the surface when the ice cleared. That summer I restocked and added two Koi as well. Spraying, raking and cursing there seemed to be no end in sight. But the end lay just around the corner.
The summer of 2005 was hot and dry. By early summer something was obviously changing in our pond. The filament algae continued along with a fine red dusty looking addition on the surface. We had the algae tested and to ours and the biologist's surprise we discovered Blue green algae which was red blooming and very toxic. Soon the whole pond seemed to churn, sometimes totally changing appearance within hours. Shapeless blobs of black, green and red floated to the surface. The water actually resembled pea soup.
The grass carp were the first to die. Two days later the Koi died followed by bass and finally all the minnows. When we walked around the pond's edge the few remaining frogs would jump into the water from shore and after we passed they immediately jumped back out. No fish, no birds, frogs that avoided the water and hardly an insect remained. Our pond resembled a cesspool. The pond was dead.
I have never seen such disgusting water in my life. This was sickening to see. Clearly something had to change. But how do we go about fixing such a mess? Weeks of research, dozens of phone calls and many appointments with experts would lead me to the answer. The one word I kept hearing over and over was "aeration".
Aeration would eliminate 95% of pond problems. The simple act of very fine air bubbles flowing up from the bottom of the pond added oxygen which would cleanse the water of undesirable nutrients and chemicals, along with circulating the water and detoxifying the bottom layer of black muck. Aeration would reverse the damage I had caused by years of killing algae and weeds. The fertilizers, nutrients and chemicals which contaminated the pond from run off and ground water would also be eliminated through aeration. In addition, there would be no more winter kills.
After further research, I decided the operating and maintenance costs made electric aeration out of the question. Fountains were pretty but only aerated the top few inches of water and expensive to operate. Eliminating electric units led me to the wind powered aerators. After serious investigation of wind aeration I found "Superior Windmill". After comparing other windmill brands to Superiors, I thought this is a no brainer!
The Turbo Jet Stream I purchased works great, does everything as advertised and much more. Assembly was pretty straight forward. The windmill is much stronger than I had expected. Within two days the concrete anchors were in place and the Turbo Jet Stream was assembled and pumping air.
The surface of our pond cleared in just a matter of days. Within two weeks the frogs started doing what frogs normally do by returning to the water. Insects reappeared, along with birds in and along the water's edge. In a short time even the dreaded great blue heron (we call him Fred) returned to terrorize the remaining frogs.
By the end of the summer the pond bottom which previously covered with a thick layer of black muck was on its way to a healthy recovery. Mid fall brought healthy plant life and by late fall our pond looked cleaner and clearer than ever before.
Now as I look out the window in January I can see my Turbo Jet Stream effortlessly churning away in a light wind, constantly repairing the damage from the past 16 years. In the center of the pond is a ten foot circle of open water which the birds and animals come to drink from if we should have a long cold spell. We can't wait til spring to restock with fish and enjoy the clean pond we always wanted.
During my research and through this whole ordeal I have learned a lot. First of all, although much of the damage to the pond was my doing the original problem was caused by nutrient and chemical run off from surface and ground water. This is a very common problem and in some ponds the damage may not be visible for years but goes on under the surface.
In the last few months I have talked with many people about aeration along with the problems a pond may experience. Several people have installed aeration units, some electric and many wind powered....without exception ALL stated the same thing, "I would never own a pond without installing an aerator". I couldn't agree more!
For me the choice would be easy. Free wind power, low maintenance, quiet, reliable, reasonably price, and great looking in any setting. The choice would be a Superior Windmill every time.