Bacteria can be essential to keeping algae from growing in your water garden or backyard pond. But there are so many bacteria products out there to choose from. What are the pros and cons of each one? Blain’s Farm & Fleet will help you navigate the murky waters of choosing the right bacteria treatment for your water feature.
Beneficial bacteria for ponds are an alternative to chemical algaecides. They are generally more healthy to the plants and fish that you may grow and stock in your water feature. This makes beneficial bacteria for ponds a favorite among water garden owners and fish owners.
Pros & Cons of Beneficial Bacteria for Ponds
The main thing to remember is that all of these bacteria are beneficial. None of them will harm your pond. The key is finding the right ones to meet the needs of your specific pond or water garden.
Beneficial Bacteria for Ponds: Nitrifying Bacteria
This class of bacteria consume the ammonia in fish droppings and runoff and produce nitrates, which is a vital nutrient for plants. Especially if you have fish and plants in your pond, you’ll need some nitrifying bacteria. You need to maintain strains of this: nitrosomonas and nitrobacter. You’ll need to maintain a balance between the two for proper nitrification, and that balance will vary depending on the size of your pond and how many fish you have.
- Regulates the nitrogen level in your water feature
- Promotes the growth of plants
- Doesn’t clean up gunk or algae
- Not very robust (can be killed easily by sharp changes in water temperature, pH, and even UV light exposure).
Beneficial Bacteria for Ponds: Heterotrophic Bacteria
Heterotrophic bacteria are the kind of bacteria that turn your bananas brown. They “eat” organic material and break it down into gases that your fish and plants need to thrive. You should only add extra heterotrophic bacteria to your pond if you have issues with muck, murkiness, or algae. To jumpstart their algae-killing prowess, you can add bags of barley straw to your water.
- Break down organic matter (such as scum and algae) in your pond
- Release oxygen and CO² into your water
- Doesn’t produce nitrogen very well
- Doesn’t consume ammonia
One way to think about your pond is as a cycle. Fish eat algae and bugs, produce waste (ammonia), which the beneficial bacteria break down into nitrogen. The nitrogen feeds the algae, and the cycle starts over. Of course, you need to maintain a balance in this cycle. That’s why it’s vital to have your pond tested and checked by a professional on a regular basis.