Record Heat Can Equal Pond Problems

Record high temperatures across the nation create a number of challenges for people, pets, plants, and yes, even your water garden. You’ll want to keep a close eye on your pond, especially when the water temperature reaches 80 degrees or higher. When it stays hot outside for a while, your pond water can get too warm. You may notice stressed out fish, struggling for air. Your plants may look a bit droopy as well.  What exactly is happening and how can you help your pond and fish?

The Science of a Hot Pond

Warm water has a low capacity for holding oxygen, so you may start to see your fish gasping for air close to the water’s surface, or especially close to a fountain or waterfall. In addition, warm pond water leads to increased activity and that means your fish require more oxygen at a time when it’s least available.

As your fish struggle for oxygen, they’ll become increasingly stressed. And stressed fish are more likely to develop diseases…a scenario you want to avoid.

To optimize fish health during extreme heat, you’ll want to ensure your fish have the best pond environment possible. It all starts with a well-designed water feature. Depth, plant coverage, shade, and circulation should all be considered when building a pond. A minimum depth of two feet is suggested so the bottom can remain cooler.

A Hot Pond Likes Cool Plants

What happens to your plants when you have a hot pond? Your pond plants might start to show the effects of extreme heat. Water lettuce and water hyacinth can turn yellow and burn. The pads of your waterlily might also begin to turn a brownish color and start to decay.

Since the leaves of a waterlily help shade the pond and keep it cooler, maintaining the plant’s health is a priority. Fortunately, it takes a long time for pond water to reach 80 degrees, and you have some solutions available to assist with cooling.

You’ll want to stock your pond with a lot of plants to provide shade for the fish. A good rule of thumb is to provide plant coverage of approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of the pond’s surface area. Waterlily pads provide great coverage, but if your pond lacks the proper amount, you can easily add floating plants such as water lettuce until the waterlilies fill in.

Pond Design and Circulation is Key

Perhaps one of the most important parts of pond design is circulation. If possible, you’ll want to place your biological filter and mechanical filter across the pond from each other, so that all areas of the pond are skimmed and the water circulated. And keep in mind that waterfalls, streams, and even fountains play a huge part in the oxygenation of the water in your pond. If you don’t already have a waterfall cascading into your pond, you might want to invest in a fountain that can be added without any construction to the pond.

Ponds with a depth of two feet or more have an advantage over shallower ponds, as the bottom of the pond will remain cooler and the fish can hang out at the lower depth.

During these hot, dog days of summer, try some of these tips to keep your Hot Pond performing optimally:

  • Add oxygen to your pond by placing an aerator in your pond. You can also install a fountain with a pump if your pond doesn’t have a waterfall or stream built in.
  • If you feed your fish, feed them in the morning and be careful not to overfeed. Uneaten food decays faster in warmer water and can pollute the pond.
  • Be sure to remove dying leaves and flowers before they have a chance to decay in the warmer water.

The bottom line is that you need to keep an eye on your pond and let your fish and plants do the talking. If you have a balanced ecosystem, you don’t need to be checking your pond out everyday, but you do need to check it out every once in a while to make sure your aquatic plants and fish are healthy.

More help for your overheated pond

You can use a pond thermometer to check the temperature of your pond water. If you find the water nearing 80 degrees, you can increase oxygen with a pond aerator. We can provide this aerator for you.

Keep in mind, you don’t need to take your pond’s temperature every day – especially if you have an ecosystem pond with proper circulation and filtration. Simply watch for tell-tale signs like fish gasping for air at the surface of the water or near a waterfall. Contact us for more information.