Water Treatments in Koi Ponds
There seems to be an endless number of choices for water treatments in koi ponds. Clarifiers, bio filter boosters, chlorine removers, ammonia binders, koi stress relievers, bacteria and enzymes galore. Algae removers, phosphate binders, medicines, barley, clay and so much much more. So how does one make sense of it all. What's good, what's dangerous, what can and can't be mixed? What products do you really need and what are just a waste of money? It can all be very confusing and it may take a time and a lot of money before you manage to filter though all the junk to find the products that are very useful.
First let me give a small plug for a great website called Pond Product Reviews. Here you can cut through all the BS and hear straight talk from people who have actually used all of these products. Everything from pumps and filters to water treatments and koi nets. Check it out!
The most important water conditioner you can have as a koi hobbyist is an chlorine remover. Most of us are on municipal water sources which are going to contain chlorine and probably chloramines. These MUST be removed before they are allowed to effect the koi. The best chlorine removers are also ammonia binders. In order for a chlorine remover to also remove chloramines it must have an ammonia binder. For many koi ponds, a good dechlorinator and ammonia binder is the only treatment you will ever really need.
Another one of my favorite water treatments is Koi Clay. Koi Clay is a mineral rich calcium bentonite clay. It will add tons of minerals to your pond which will help every living thing, from the koi to the bacteria in the bio filter. It will also help give you crisp clear water. Good koi clay should be 100% clay and not have any other additives.
Other then the two above, most every water treatment product on the market and designed to correct some problem in the koi pond. Troublesome koi ponds are generally over stocked and under filtered. The most troublesome koi ponds are the rock bottom ponds. These products are designed to keep a balance when your system is out of balance. It's a way of having your cake and eating it to. You want lots of koi, but don't have the space or the money for a big pond, so we can have better living through chemistry. There is nothing wrong with it really, but it can get expensive. Usually the cost per year can be more then the filtration upgrades. But for those of you who intend to use these products, let me identify a few that actually do what it is they say they do.
One great product is Koi Zyme. This is a natural enzyme that helps control aeromonas bacteria in the pond. This is the bad bacteria that causes ulcers and infections in the koi. Click here for more info on Koi Zyme.
Other helpful tools are products that container LIVE nitrifying bacteria. There are many many “biofilter bacteria” type products out there and while they won't hurt anything and might help a little, products with actual live bacteria in the bottle will be the best. These are refrigerated products because the bacteria will go dormant when kept cold and allow the product to be stored for longer periods. If you see a koi pond nitrifying bacteria product that is stored at room temperature, don't expect too much from it.
There are also some good koi pond clarifiers on the market. They can come in dry or liquid form. Some will work as a flocculant absorbing micro particles and clumping them together so they can be removed by the filter. Others have enzymes and bacteria to dissolve debris and waste. Most products out there will work to some extent. One of my favorite products is Proform PC. It really does what is says it does!
A distant cousin to the clarifier is the sludge reducer. These products are used heavily in the rock bottom koi pond market to help control the waste and sludge that get trapped between the rocks. Most don't do a whole lot. The only real way to remove heavy sludge deposits between the rocks is to drain the pond and wash out the rocks. For more on rock bottom ponds, please read this article.
Some people will turn to an algaecide to get rid of algae. Please be very careful with these products. Many are not designed to be used for fish, others will kill all plants, not just algae. The ones that say they are safe for both fish and plants are still risky. Most will at the very least dramatically reduce the amount of oxygen in the koi pond. So make sure all the pumps are running. I always recommend that you always under dose a little rather then over dose. Also, never use any algaecide as a preventative to keep algae from forming. Remember, algae is natural, algaecide is not. For more info on algae in koi ponds, please read this article.
Water treatments are a major money maker for the koi and water garden industry. Most everybody out there is over stocked and under filtered and there is a product out there for everybody and every koi pond. But remember, if your koi pond is properly designed and maintained there should not be much of a need to add tons of bottled products. Most times just good clean water is all any pond truly needs.