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 How to Clear Brown Pond Water

How to Clear Brown Pond Water

There's only one thing worse than green water, and that's brown pond water. In some ponds or water features, the water can begin to take on a discolored appearance at the end of summer or the beginning of fall. Generally, it's caused by one of two reasons:

  • Debris Tea: When leaves or pine needles fall into your pond, the tannins in them create a type of all-natural debris tea, which can give pond water a brown tint rather than the clean and clear look you're used to. This is the most common cause of brown koi pond water.

  • Sediment Stew: If you have a lot of floating particulates or sediment in your pond, playful fish, wind, or some other action can sometimes disrupt it, mixing it into your water column via your pump or aeration system.

To determine what's causing brown or cloudy pond water, perform a jar test. Grab a glass or jar from your kitchen, fill it with water from your pond, and let it sit for 24 hours. Once that time has passed, take a look at the water to determine the underlying issue. If the water is still brown, you have tannin-colored debris tea. If the water is clear with some particulates at the bottom of the glass, you have sediment stew.

Treating Brown Pond Water

Once you pinpoint what's causing the discoloration, here's how to clear brown pond water:

  1. Clean It Up: Because both causes start with an abundance of organics in the water, your first course of action is to clean the bottom of your pond to remove any muck, leaves and remaining debris with a Pond Vacuum or Pond Skimmer Net.

  2. Water Change: Next, do a partial (10 to 25 percent) water change, which will freshen things up and clear the water. Don't forget to add a Pond Water Conditioner to help support fish wellness.

  3. Add Beneficial Bacteria: If you have sediment in your pond, add some Nature's Defense (if water temperatures are above 50°F) or Seasonal Defense (if water temperatures are below 50°F). The beneficial bacteria will digest any accumulated organic debris and help eliminate brown pond water.

  4. Use Activated Carbon: If you have debris tea, toss a media bag filled with Activated Carbon into your pond. The carbon will absorb the tannins, leaving behind clear water.

Ongoing Maintenance

To prevent the discoloration from returning, keep organic material out of your pond. Clean up muck regularly with a skimmer net or vacuum, and when leaves or pine needles start falling, cover the water with pond netting like The Pond Guy PondShelter or Premium Pond Netting. If you have any questions or need help, our customer service team will be happy to assist you.