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How to Improve the Water Quality in Your Pond or Lake

Mary is a tilapia farmer in Brazil. Through her articles, she shares insights and tips to make your farm more profitable.

Tilapia cages

Tilapia cages

The Importance of Water Quality in Lakes and Ponds

Whether you have a small garden pond or lakes that are used for fishing and boating, maintaining the quality of your water is necessary to support not only the fish but also the plant life on or around it.

If you wish to raise fish, grow plants or simply enjoy the view, maintaining a healthy growing environment is crucial. Finding the right balance of plant life, water quality, sunlight, and fish, or other aquatic life, is necessary to ensure all of these organisms not only survive but thrive. With a few pointers you can achieve anything from a tranquil garden pond to a fish farm. It all has to do with improving and maintaining the water quality.

Let's first look at some plants you can use and then at ways of aerating your pond or lake. Here on our tilapia farm we use a combination of both plants and aeration to minimize the impact on the quality of the water.

Water Hyacinth

Water Hyacinth

The Water Hyacinth

This beautiful flower makes a wonderful addition to a lake. It grows fast and floats. However, if you are in a windy area, they will all be pushed to one side. Their cupped shaped leaf acts like a sail and propels the plant with the wind. It is necessary to place them where they won't become beached as you want the roots in the water absorbing toxins from the water. They can also be caged. I have used empty fish cages to place them in the center of the lake. This works well.

The plant grows by sending out a runner which produces a separate plant. It is possible to pull out several that are attached. For removal, these are easy due to their large size and the fact they float.

I have seen one lake here in Brazil that had clusters of hyacinths that looked like a floating island. They just sailed by in the wind and in the afternoon, floated back as the wind changed direction.

The water hyacinth is an ideal plant to have to remove toxins from your pond or lake. They love the ammonia and nitrates that are found in closed water systems. This in turn also makes them a wonderful fertilizer for the garden.

To harvest we use a metal rake, pulling them into shore and then place them in bags. We tie these tightly and leave them to decompose. All the chemicals that aren't good for your pond, are perfect for your garden.

This plant does need to be managed because left to its own devices, it will cover a body of water completely. This could kill off any animal life by blocking the sunlight. This would also make an ideal place for mosquitoes to breed which you don't want.


Water Lilies

Water lilies are another type of aquatic plant. These can vary in size and color of flower. As with all lilies, they will need to be controlled so they don't cover a lake completly. Rooting themselves in the bottom, they help remove ammonia, phosphates and nitrates from your body of water. The flowers of some lilies open only at night and for early risers it is a show rarely seen by those who like to sleep in.

These not only shade the water, keeping it cooler for the fish, they provide an excellent place for small fish to hide from predators.

We have one bird here at our home in Brazil called a Wattled Jacana. It lays its eggs on lilies. No nest or anything, just the lily

When it comes time to remove lilies, you will want to wear gloves, as they will stain your hands. Remove the root unless you want them to return.

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Great Egret

Great Egret

Planting Reeds

Planting reeds along the edges of a lake not only helps to clean the sediment off the bottom, it adds privacy around the lake. This encourages wildfowl into the lake adding another dimension to your ecosystem.

Reeds can be wonderful for wildlife but can become invasive if not properly managed. They will need to be cut back or they can cover an entire lake, depending on the depth. Some of ours have grown up to 12 feet in height.

The wildlife these support is amazing. We have had moor hens nesting in them. Iguanas often are seen darting in and out and birds that are too shy to come into the garden, are often seen looking for insects around the reeds. Even wild guinea pigs have been known to weave through them in route to somewhere else.

Aeration of Water

There are many ways to get air into your pond or lake. It can be as simple as the wind blowing across it. This breaks the tension on the surface of the water, thus adding air. If your body of water is in constant wind, this is ideal for the fish or other animals. For plants you will find that they develop a definite lean away from the wind.

Using mechanical aerators such as the one in the top picture draws water from far below and throws it across a large area. This not only is aerating the lake, it is cleaning the bottom of the lake. Here on our farm we have two aerators these pull water from 6 feet deep.

Using a blower or compressor to power diffusers is another option. These push air down to a disk or air-stone that is placed under the water. These produce tiny bubbles that aerate the water and clean the lake or pond water as well.

Hiring a digger

If algae is a problem, you can use a chemical that will eliminate the algae or bring in a digger. This can scrape the bottom of the lake removing excess muck which will be fish faeces, dead algae, and uneaten fish food.

The cost of hiring a tractor or digger can be expensive so it is better to maintain a high water quality than try to recover one.

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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Mary Wickison


Mary Wickison (author) from USA on August 20, 2012:

Hi Flashmakeit,

You are welcome. They can be a lot of work but are so peaceful to be around.

Thanks for the comment.

flashmakeit from usa on August 20, 2012:

I would love to have a small pond with water lilies in them and a few small fish that would be a beautiful and enjoyable addition to a backyard. Thanks for the wonderful tips on how to care for them.

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