How To Create A Balance Ecosystem
Creating a balanced ecosystem in your backyard pond can be done naturally, without chemicals. You will have to learn how to balance the nutrients in your pond as the water in your pond forms the foundation for the ecosystem. You will be creating the same balance that Mother Nature has created. You will be adding plants, fish and filtration.
When you fill your pond with water from the tap, the water may contain chloramines. You will have use a dechlorinator to remove the chloramines from the water.
You will want to check the pH levels of your pond to provide a pH level between 6.8-8.5
Your bio-filter gives good bacteria a place to grow, the bacteria speeds up the decomposition of harmful ammonia emitted from your fish. Once bacteria neutralizes the ammonia, it begins a nitrogen cycle that will provide nutrition for your plants.
Once you add water to your pond, the addition of nutrients and sunlight allow algae to grow.
Microscopic creatures (zooplankton) in your water feed on algae.
Insects, worms, snails and leeches feed on the zooplankton.
Frogs, toads, salamanders and newts feed on insects, snails and leeches.
Fish will eat algae and insects, they are omnivorous.
Reptiles and birds that travel to your pond will eat all of the above.
As your pond ages, the organic materials and nutrient levels increase. Adding plants to your pond will aid in the uptake of the extra nutrients in your pond.
Aquatic plants aid in the uptake of ammonium and nitrates, aquatic plants remove toxic metals from the water, help to oxygenate the water, helps remove CO2 from the water as well as aiding in the removal of algae. Plants contribute to all aspects of good water quality.
Hopefully you are beginning to understand the ecosystem cycle that occurs naturally, but now YOU are the one creating the ecosystem as you add water, fish and plants to your pond along with a little beneficial bacteria.
Fish add phosphorus and waste that your plants, as well as algae, need to thrive.
You have created a delicate balance. Once the balance of that ecosystem is upset, several things may occur. Example: If you overfeed your fish, they will excrete more nutrients into the water, too many nutrients in the water will cause too much algae to grow, therefore you will have an algae bloom. You never want to upset the balance of the ecosystem. You must learn to recognize what is happening and be able to address the problem quickly.
At this point, most people want a "chemical cure" to get rid of the algae bloom. We would rather teach you about natural methods to reduce the extra nutrients and algae by adding beneficial bacteria products to your pond instead of dechlorinators and chloramines. We would also like to encourage you not to feed or overfeed your fish! If you do choose to feed your fish, make sure you are feeding them a high quality fish food. When you buy inexpensive fish food, the fish will eat the inexpensive food but are not able to digest the food as well, and the undigested food adds to the decomposing matter in your pond.
Keeping 60-70% of the surface area of your pond covered in floating plants, (waterlilies, frog bit, water lettuce, water hyacinths, mosaic plant, bacopa, etc.) will help to keep the nutrient level in your pond, manageable. Adding additional plants around the edges of your pond (iris, pickerel rush, canna, sedge grasses, etc.) along with oxygenators (hornwort, cabomba, anacharis, rotala, etc.) planted in the substrate, will help to keep your water sparkling!