How to Test Pond Water

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Pond water can get out of balance quickly. If we have a heavy rain or run off gets in the water, if we feed our fish too much or plants die, our pond water becomes unhealthy. Unhealthy pond water can turn green with algae, get foul and stink, kill fish and plants and become an awful mess that makes us regret the day we ever installed a pond. Occasional or regular testing of the water can find the problems at their beginnings, so we can correct them quickly before they get out of hand.

Things You'll Need

  • A pond test kit that can test amounts of ammonia, nitrates, nitrates, and pH. Most pond kits available commercially contain all you need to test for each of these.

When, What, Why and How to Test.

  • Test your pond before fish are introduced and regularly monitor it throughout the year. Test your water based upon weather conditions in your area. If you have winter, test every two weeks from April to the end of September. Test during the winter especially when the pond is iced over. Test all year in sub-tropical and tropical climates.

  • Test for Ammonia. High ammonia levels can be fatal to fish. Medium levels may cause such problems as depressed appetite, reduced growth, impaired functions and permanent gill damage.
 Test for Nitrites. Nitrites are very harmful to fish. High levels can cause fish to fade in color, gasp at the surface and die.

  • Test for Nitrates. Nitrates are found in all fertilizer, but high levels may lead to an undesirable accumulation of algae. Test the pH of your water. Acid pond water (low pH) can result in a shortage of oxygen. If oxygen is not available, your fish cannot breathe and will die. Alkaline conditions (high pH) can harm fish and damage plant life.

  • To test for all of the ammonia, nitrates, nitrates, and to find the pH of your water, you must use the equipment contained in the kit you have. Most kits come with test tubes, test strips, pellets to add to water, vials of liquid to add to test tubes, and a color coded plastic strip to compare your test tube water to. So to test for pH, for example, fill a test tube full of pond water, add a drop or two from one test kit bottle and compare the color of the test tube water to the colors on the plastic strip. Depending on which color it matches, you will know if your pH is low, high or just right. All of the tests work the same way. What to add to your water to make levels proper is usually easily determined with the same test kit. Normally you have to buy the correction material. It does not come with the kit.

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