24 Jan 2020

What Are Tannins and How Can You Prevent Them

We’ve officially reached the time of year when the leaves have mostly fallen off of the trees. Inevitably, at least a few of those leaves have found their way into your pond or water feature. For most ponds, a few leaves getting past the net or skimmer and making their way to the bottom of the pond is no big deal. Your pond is a thriving ecosystem, after all, so surely it can handle a few leaves, right?


Your pond ecosystem can indeed handle some leaves. However, letting too many fall into your pond, or letting leaves from certain tree species (like pecan) collect in the water can leave it with an unsightly brown or yellowish tint in the autumn. The tint is from tannins, which are an organic, carbon-based substance. Tannin buildup can be frustrating if you don’t know what caused it or how to fix it.


In low doses, tannins are not dangerous to your fish or your plants. They’re essentially a stain in the water that can, at times, be as dark as a cup of tea! So, what do pond owners need to know about tannins, and how can they get rid of them once they buildup? Read on to learn all about tannins.


What You Need to Know About Tannins


Imagine that your pond is a cup of tea and that the leaves are the teabag. The longer you let the leaves “steep” in your pond, the more tannins you’ll have staining your water and potentially knocking your ecosystem out of balance.


The most common cause of tannin buildup is leaves collecting in the pond in the autumn. However, a pond can develop tannins year-round if it has an excessive buildup of decomposing organic material. All organic materials release tannins into the water as they breakdown, but some release more than others. Pecan leaves and nuts, for example, create more tannins than some other tree species.


If your pond begins to develop tannins and you leave it untreated and let it progress, it can lower the pH in your pond. Too many decomposing organics can also overwhelm your pond’s beneficial bacteria, which allows ammonia and nitrite levels to climb. All three of these conditions can be dangerous for your fish and plants.


If you leave the tannins in your water during fall and winter, the bacteria in your pond will continue to decompose the organic materials in the warmer months. Bacteria use a lot of oxygen to breakdown organics, but the spring and summer are when dissolved oxygen is in the highest demand for your fish. When your fish have to compete for limited oxygen, it harms their health.


The good news about tannins? They’re easy to prevent, and they’re treatable!


How to Prevent Tannin Buildup


The best way to prevent tannin buildup is to address the problem at its source: leaves! Before autumn progresses and the leaves really start to fall, you should tightly cover your pond with a protective net. If you don’t already have a skimmer, you should invest in one. Skimmers are amazing filtration devices that mechanically remove solids from the surface of the water.


After installing a skimmer, or if you already have one, it’s really helpful to make sure that it is clean. If you live in an area with dense foliage near your pond, you may need to cover it with a net AND check your skimmer a few times each week as the leaves fall to keep the tannins in check. If you have questions about skimmers or would like to have one installed in your pond, give us a call.


Another quick, easy strategy to prevent tannin buildup is to rake the leaves in your yard to keep them out of your pond.


What Should You Do Once You Have Tannin Buildup?


Cleaning out tannins takes some effort, but it is possible, and it is worth it for the health of your pond. When we come across a pond that has a tannin problem, our first step is to remove the source: decomposing organic materials.

 What’s a Tannin, and Why Should You Care

Our pond experts begin by cleaning your pond’s skimmer and manually removing as much decomposing organic material as possible from the bottom of the pond. Next, we do a 25% water change twice a week to freshen the water. We also install a protective net to keep the pond from filling back up with leaves.


If the first steps aren’t quite enough, we add a water treatment called Clear by Aquascape. Pond owners usually see great results within 48 hours.


Another common and effective strategy for treating the water is to use activated carbon. As the water flows over or through the carbon filter, the carbon removes most natural pollutants, leaving clear, tannin-free water behind.  


Struggling with Tannin Buildup?


If you’re struggling to get the tanning buildup in your pond under control, or you’d like to prevent tannin buildup in the first place, get in touch. Your pond is our art, and we’re passionate about helping you maintain the most beautiful water garden possible. 

22 Nov 2019

Be Spring-Ready with Fall Koi Pond Maintenance

As you know, your pond is a full, thriving ecosystem. It includes plants, fish, and bacteria. Yes, your pond is full of good and bad bacteria. The good bacteria keep your pond balanced and help your koi stay healthy. However, there are two types of bacterium, Aeromonas and Pseudomonas, that can be deadly to your koi if the population grows out of control. Thus, it is important to understand good koi pond maintenance!

As a pond owner, knowledge is your best defense against koi illnesses. Knowing what causes Aeromonas and Pseudomonas to flourish and how to keep the population as small as possible is key to maintaining a healthy home for your koi. In this article, we’ll explain koi pond maintenance on how to manage the bacteria in your pond to keep your koi well.


What Are Aeromonas and Pseudomonas?

Aeromonas and Pseudomonas are harmful bacteria that flourish in cool water, usually from 42°F – 62°F. Your koi live side-by-side with Aeromonas and Pseudomonas year-round, and there’s really not a way to completely rid your pond of them. Most koi have some amount of the bacteria on their bodies and can even have them inside their intestines.

When your koi are healthy, their natural slime coat and immune systems protect them from the bacteria. However, in the spring, when your pond water temperature is ideal for Aeromonas and Pseudomonas, your koi’s immune systems are weak. After a dormant winter without eating, your koi are stressed and especially susceptible to parasites and bacteria.

Aeromonas and Pseudomonas cause ulcerative illness in your koi, such as mouth rot, fin rot, dropsy, and more. If left untreated, these ulcerative illnesses will eventually kill your koi.


Preventing Bad Bacteria Overgrowth

Heat is one of the best defenses to Aeromonas. However, most ponds rely on the sun for warmth, which is why the bacteria thrive in the cool spring water.

Aeromonas and Pseudomonas bloom in ponds that have a lot of decaying matter and fish waste after a long winter. One of the best things that pond owners can do is control the amount of waste that gets into their ponds. The less organic matter there is decomposing in your pond, the less food there is for Aeromonas and Pseudomonas.

You should also introduce good bacteria into your pond to fight the bad bacteria. Good bacteria blends include enzymes, natural microbes, micronutrients, and probiotics. The good bacteria eat the same thing as bad bacteria — decomposing organic matter and fish waste. Having a healthy dose of good bacteria means that bad bacteria have competition for their food. The result is that the good bacteria end up starving the bad bacteria so that they cannot bloom out of control in your pond.


Fall Maintenance with Oklahoma Ponds

Your pond is a magnet for falling leaves and blowing grass, which is exactly the kind of debris that Aeromonas and Pseudomonas love. The key to a successful spring and keeping your koi healthy is preventative fall maintenance. If you plan ahead and keep your pond water from getting too full of organic waste, then your koi will have less to fight against in the spring as they’re coming out of dormancy.

Oklahoma Ponds offers a fall pond service to preserve your ecosystem and protect your koi from Aeromonas and Pseudomonas. Our pond experts will trim aquatic plants to prevent decomposition, clean your pump, and check the filtration system to ensure that it is operating well. We’ll also introduce essential cold-water bacteria to help starve the Aeromonas and Pseudomonas throughout the winter. Finally, we’ll add a protective net to keep debris out of your pond.

By taking just a few steps to shut down your pond for the winter properly, your koi have a much better chance of getting through the tough spring months in good health. Give us a call right away to schedule your fall koi pond maintenance appointment.

05 Feb 2019

Time for Spring Cleaning, Especially for Your Pond

Winter is winding down. The days are getting longer; the weather is getting warmer. Now is the time to get your koi pond ready for summer with spring cleaning!

Proper garden pond maintenance is essential to the health of your fish, plant life, and your pond’s ecosystem overall. A thorough springtime cleaning is the number one way to keep your pond looking beautiful well into autumn and to prevent serious issues with water quality or fish health.

Warm Weather and Your Pond

Hot Oklahoma summers can wreak havoc on a neglected backyard pond. As the temperature heats up and the water warms, your pond comes back to life! But the heat also causes faster decomposition of sludge, fish waste, and debris on the bottom of your pond and between the rocks and gravel. Without manual removal, these can overwhelm both your biofilter and the awakening beneficial bacteria. With your biofilter and beneficial bacteria overworked, unsafe levels of ammonia and nitrites begin to form, leading to unsafe levels of algae or worse – killing your fish and plants. A thorough springtime cleaning can prevent biofilter overload, keeping your pond healthy all summer long.

Why Koi Ponds Need Spring Cleaning

Backyard water gardens thrive on a balanced ecosystem. Springtime cleanings are a critical component to keep your garden pond thriving.

A healthy pond ecosystem relies on four factors working together in harmony. Here’s how spring maintenance affects each of these factors:

  • An effective filtration system. Everything starts with your pond’s filtration system. The biofilter pulls particles from the water and hosts beneficial bacteria that eliminate and convert toxins in the water.  A professional pond cleaning service will clean all filters and check that your filtration system is working correctly.
  • Beneficial bacteria. Fish waste, decomposing plant life, and other debris in and around a pond cause an increased level of ammonia. Beneficial bacteria work to convert waste into nitrates, an element that is essential for healthy plants and clean water. As a garden pond matures over time, more and more of these beneficial bacteria occur naturally. However, newer ponds need a little help. Springtime pond maintenance should include adding beneficial bacteria to your pond to jump start this conversion process. Ask your pond cleaning technician which product and dosage is best for your pond.
  • Fish and plant life. A pond’s ecosystem relies heavily on plants and fish. Aquatic plants work in conjunction with your pond’s beneficial bacteria to eliminate harmful elements from the water, prevent algae growth, and add oxygen that is vital to the survival of your fish.Koi not only look beautiful and add color to a garden pond but also give the beneficial bacteria the “fuel” it needs to work properly.

    As summer approaches, plants begin to grow, and fish become more active. Spring pond maintenance will check the health of your plants and fish, fertilize plant life, and start proper fish care. It’s an annual check-up to make sure all pieces of your pond’s ecosystem are healthy and ready for the hotter months ahead.

  • Pond additives. Newer ponds benefit from chemical additives that help the entire ecosystem function more efficiently. Over the years, as your pond matures, it should become mostly self-sustaining. But a springtime clean-out is an excellent time to assess a pond’s overall health and determine if any additives are necessary.

What’s Included in a Springtime Pond Cleaning Service?

We suggest pond owners schedule service as soon as the weather begins to heat up – usually between now and June here in Oklahoma. If you have larger koi then the sooner the better. Larger koi are at a higher risk for stress and changes in their water chemistry, the colder the water the calmer they are through the cleaning process. (If your pond has koi over 14” and you would like more information on how we specially care for them, please call 405-473-2042 and speak with a Pond Pro).  At Oklahoma Ponds, our springtime pond maintenance includes the following:

  • Carefully remove fish and plants, placing them in holding tanks with oxygenating aerators.
  • Drain all water, vacuum out any debris or waste, and pressure wash all surfaces.
  • Inspect and clean the filtration system to ensure proper functioning, and introduce beneficial bacteria as needed.
  • Inspect any installed lights and clean lenses.
  • Test existing water for harmful elements. Introduce additives as necessary.
  • Inspect hardy water plants for overgrowth and potential issues.
  • Reintroduce and acclimate fish into the freshly-cleaned pond and examine them for any health problems.

Garden ponds should be enjoyable, beautiful additions to your space. A thorough spring cleaning will help your pond flourish all year long.

Contact the Pond Pros at Oklahoma Ponds today to schedule your cleaning.

Call Us Now 405-353-6144