Chlorine and Chloramines If you have city water, chances are it is treated with either chlorine or it's deadlier and more persistent cousin chloramines. Testing for either of the two should be done after filling your pond, a water change, or topping off your pond.First make sure appropriate amounts of de-chlorinators have been added. Chlorinewhile being deadly to fish is easily eliminated with commer- cially available de-chlorinators such as Pond Care Chlorine & Heavy Metal Neutralizer. Chloraminesare harder to eliminate since most commercial preparations will neutralize the chlorine part but in doing so release ammonia into the water. Always use products that neutralize the chlorine and bind the ammonia until your bio-filter converts it to nitrates. Crystal Clear De-chlorinator Liquid. pH pH is a measure of alkalinity or acidity of water. pH should be tested at the same time every day, as there will be ph swings from morning to dusk. Optimum for Koi and pond fish is the 7.4-8.2 range but ranges from 7.0 to 9.0 are tolerated provided the fish are acclimated slowly. Changing pH to either higher or lower is risky. Quick pH changes can harm, stress and in extreme cases kill your fish. High pH makes ammonia more toxic so your ammonia levels should be monitored more closely if you have high pH. Use of Crystal Clear Buffer is recommended. Additional information about pH Testing Do not be fooled by what seems to be a low spread between 6.0 and 7.0. Each whole number change represents a tenfold change in acidity. Drastic changes in pH levels must be avoided at all costs. Pond fish can tolerate to a wide range of pH conditions but those conditions must remain relatively stable. I use the word relatively because your pond pH will naturally fluctuate over the course of 24 hours and your fish adapt easily to these changes. Human manipulation however can wreak havoc on the fish’s ability to adapt to rapid change. Some experts recommend a pH between 6.8 - to 7.8 give or take 0.3 units outside this range. Our fish do well at a range 8.0 – 8.5 and have for 9 years. As mentioned earlier, the pH fluctuates over each 24 hours and keeping a diary of those changes assist in determining when water changes are necessary. We recommend that you take pH reading at 6-hour intervals at the start-up and log them. pH is influenced greatly by the concentration of carbon dioxide in the water. For example, late at night and before dawn, the pond will have a higher level of CO2, than during the day.Remember high school biology? Plants release CO2 at night and take it in during the day. Ponds having a lot of algae and/or submerged plants along with a low circulation rate show the greatest daily shift in pH. Conversely, ponds with rapid circulation rates and turbulent streams and waterfalls show greatly reduced pH shifts. Monitoring the pH values over weeks and months is more important than a single reading on any given day, because biological processes in an ornamental pond naturally acidify the pond over time. This method will give you a good idea of the appropriate time to test before you attempt adjusting the water. Dissolved Oxygen Most pond keepers never test for dissolved oxygen but it is an essential test. Particularly for new ponds and in ponds where heat is an issue or fish do not seem to be acting normally. - In new ponds, testing for dissolved oxygen is the best way to determine if the circulation system is adequate and providing enough aeration. Fish should never be added to new ponds unless you know that it is ready for the fish. Moving fish is stressful enough without moving them into an inadequate location. - In older ponds or problem ponds (those with algae problems for example), dissolved oxygen testing can help you determine if oxygen depletion is the cause of the problems you are having with clarity and or algae blooms. Dissolved oxygen concentrations should always be well above 6 parts per million in an ornamental pond. Again, the time of the day to test is very important. While testing for pH during the day, I like to test for dissolved oxygen later in the evening when oxygen concentrations are at their lowest. If you find that they fall below 6ppm, it is time to add extra aeration so you do not find your fish floating in the morning. When sampling for dissolved oxygen, take samples in the least disturbed area of the pond for the most accurate reading.
Ammonia NH4 Ammonia, the first stage of the nitrogen cycle, is constantly exuded by fish as urine, feces and is also produced by decaying plant material and can kill or stress fish, especially at high pH levels. While ammonia is present in a system, if your Bio-Filter is working correctly, you should never see any readings. Ammonia readings should be taken on a daily basis, when the pond is first set up and filled, or ponds that have had a 50% or more water change, or new fish are introduced, It is not necessary to test for ammonia in established systems unless your Nitrites or Nitrates show high readings since these compounds are interrelated. Ammonia can be eliminated with Zeolite and /or any of the commercial preparations such as Pond Care® AMMO-LOCK® 2 Nitrites NO2 Nitrites, the second stage of the nitrogen cycle, while being less toxic than ammonia, are still a detriment to your fish's health, can cause brown blood disease and should be tested for on a weekly basis. As with ammonia, high nitrite readings indicate a problem with your bio-filter, fish load, or water quality. High nitrate levels can be lowered by water changes. Ammonia and Nitrite-(not nitrate) are equally essential test kits for pond enthusiasts. Both are deadly to pond fish and regular testing will prevent escalating toxicity levels. Test weekly because even subtle changes in feeding; or reduced pump flow rates (caused by dirty filters and pump clogging), can produce sudden ammonia shock resulting in death. Nitrates NO3 Nitrates, the third stage of the nitrogen cycle are the least harmful compound and will be absorbed by aquatic plants as nutrients. A low nitrate reading is generally thought to be harmless. Nitrate testing in ponds with pond fish is unnecessary. Alkalinity or KH Measures carbonates and bicarbonates in your pond. These two compounds act as a buffer to keep your pH stable and are consumed by your bio bacteria. A rubber lined pond will require some additions of baking soda to keep the KH between recommended levels of from 120 to 170 PPM. Concrete ponds by virtue of their construction; usually leach enough of these compounds into your pond. Add your baking soda in small amounts, over a period of several days and discontinue feeding your fish for this period. Use of Crystal Clear Buffer is highly recommended. Thermometer A good pond thermometer is a wise investment. Koi and pond fish are hardy creatures, but fast changes in temperature exceeding 15 degrees F should be avoided as it will stress your fish and increase the possibility of disease. More information about water temperature will be discussed below. Water Temperature Knowing the water temperature allows you to know when the time is right for feeding fish, adding supplements, and installing a UV sterilizer. Knowing when to start and when to end treatments and feedings is often based on water temperature. Unfortunately, few pond keepers regularly measure pond water temperature. Water temperature plays a crucial role in regulating fish appetite, respiration, metabolism and immune response. - During spring, water temperature tells you when it is safe to begin feeding. Stable temperatures of 45 degree F signals low temperature, wheat germ feedings can begin. At 55 degrees F, staple, color and high growth foods may be given. - During summer, testing warns you that temperatures may be rising too high. (77 + degrees F) and it is time to shade the pond. - During fall, temperature signals when it’s time to change food again and when to stop feeding altogether. It also signals when to add a different bacterial treatment. Salt Testing Salt is beneficial for fish, but can harm plants therefore testing salt levels is very important. A salt test kit measures the salt level of pond water. Pond Care Pond Salt: For ponds without plants:
Add 2-1/2 cupfuls (730 g) of POND SALT for each 100 U.S. gallons of pond water.
Mix with water then distribute salt evenly around the perimeter of the pond.
After one hour, measure the salt level with a Pond Care Salt Level Test Kit
The salt level should be 0.2%. If the salt level is too high, make a partial water change.
For ponds with plants:
Certain aquatic plants are sensitive to salt; use lower salt levels when plants are present.
Add 1.25 cupfuls (370 g) of POND SALT for each 100 U.S. Gallons of water.
Distribute the salt evenly around the perimeter of the pond.
After one hour, measure the salt level with a Pond Care Salt Level Test Kit
The salt level should be 0.1%. If the salt level is too high, make a partial water change.