The neutral pH reading of 7 is rare in nature, but can be accomplished to maintain health of plants and fish by use of buffers and special stones. Koi and frogs require a different balance than most flowers, therefore will suffer from fatigue and poor reproduction because of an imperfect climate. Flowers like water lily and lotus, will not bloom or spread when the pH balance is not leveled properly.Calcium Carbonate
Dip the meter into the water in the late morning. It will only take 15 seconds for the meter to read the pH level. Since photosynthesis by plants, rainfall and respiration from fish and frogs can cause fluxes in the water pH, test again 12 hours later. Take the median value of the pH level as your base level to work with. For example, if your first test is a 10 and the second an 8, then your water has a pH level of 9.
Evaluate the purpose of your pond. If your goal is to house Koi, know that they require a more alkaline water, close to a pH of 7 to 9, to maintain good health. Floating gardens, in contrast, require a more acidic pH level of 5.5 to 6. Add the liquid pH buffer, or calcium carbonate, near the pump so it will blend throughout the water. Add 2 cups per 250 gallons of water. This is a solution that will pull the acidity from the water and store it to be released for when the water is too alkaline. If you purchase a powder buffer, you will disburse a 1/4 cup per 200 gallons. Add more of the buffer once it has been depleted and the pH meter reads below a 5 or above a 9. Dip the meter into the water to retest your pH balance once a week, one time in the morning and once more after a 12 hour period.Barley and Limestone
Set limestone rocks into the bottom of the pond. They are normally found at garden or home improvement centers, often 10-12″ tall and 4-6″ wide. Start with two rocks in a 6′ diameter pond. The rocks will dissolve into the water over time, conditioning and adjusting pH as they melt. If you notice the pH has not changed enough after 1 week, add another rock.
Measure barley straw pellets into a table spoon. Dump one tablespoon per square yard of water into the pond. For example, if your pond is 6′ in diameter, use 2 table spoons of barley straw pellets. Place coral into the pond to act as a purifier and buffer like calcium carbonate. It must be true coral, usually found at aquarium stores. If the pond is 8′ in diameter, use two or three 12×6″ corals. Test your water again in 1 week, and add another coral if needed.Pond Vacuuming
Set a small, children’s size pool beside the pond. Pour several buckets of pond water into the pool to create the same habitat the fish are used too. If you use completely fresh water, the fish or frogs may go into shock. Dip the net into the pond and remove your live fish and frogs, if you have them. Place them into the pool. Only plan to leave them there for 30 minutes or less. Place the pond vacuum hose and nozzle into the base of the pond. Turn machine on and remove all the debris, algae and slime from the pond. The pond vac is made to be used with the water still inside the pond. Catch the fish and frogs once more from the pool and replace them into the pond. Things You’ll Need
- pH meter
- Log book
- Calcium carbonate buffer
- measuring cup
- two 10×4″ limestone rocks
- 1 package of barley straw pellets
- table spoon
- two 12×6″ live corals
- pond vacuum
- fish net
- children size pool
- Calcium carbonate is a natural mineral, although in liquid and powder form, it should not be used around children. These forms are harmful because they are concentrated. Wear gloves to protect your hands, and keep the bottle on a high shelf. Limestone rocks are a naturally occurring form of calcium carbonate, but they are safe for anyone to handle, because they are 100% natural.
- Checking and monitoring your pH levels is as important as the treatment of the water. Always check the water at the same time each week; Monday morning at 10am, for example. Keep a log to track seasonal changes that you can predict in the following years to come.