How to Balance Bacteria in Pond Water

Pond water is teeming with bacteria, but that is not as negative as some people may think. The bacteria play an important role in maintaining the health of the water for fish and plant life. The removal of all pond baceria could cause the water to become overgrown with algae and muck. It is important to understand the contribution of bacteria and how to keep the water balanced.

Know the Types

The two types of bacteria found in ponds are aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. Aeration of a pond benefits aerobic bacteria because it needs oxygen to survive. This is the type that consumes organic material and sludge in the water that can lead to algae blooms. Anaerobic bacteria feed on the decaying leaves, dead fish or other debris on the floor of the pond. Their assistance prevents the bottom from becoming slimy. Anaerobic bacteria do not need much oxygen to survive and that is why it can exist at the bottom of ponds where the level of oxygen is naturally low.

Understand Oxygen Needs

Aerobic bacteria die without oxygen and the water quality drops quickly in their absence. The anaerobic bacteria continue to thrive and eventually, its numbers expand. When the level of anaerobic bacteria is too high the pond will begin to smell. All anaerobic bacteria release an unpleasant gas but it is not usually noticeable when the bacteria remain at the bottom of the pond. The odor becomes apparent when the oxygen level drops and the bacteria are closer to the surface.

Know the Risks

There are risks when people allow their pond water to have too much anaerobic bacteria, in addition to the odor. Some types of this bacteria are dangerous to humans and wildlife. Examples of unwanted anaerobic bacteria include E. coli and botulism.

The solution is not to attempt to sterilize the water. Common home remedies like adding vinegar to control pH levels can kill off the fish and not address the underlying concern. Oxygen is the solution and it requires aeration for the pond to have the right level. Oxygenated water preserves the aerobic bacteria that keep algae away, so the water remains safe for fish, birds, and people and they reduce the food available for anaerobic bacteria. The high oxygen level keeps the anaerobic bacteria at the bottom where they are needed.