Pond Care : Fertilize or Not to Fertilize?

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Phytoplankton Algae Control

Fertilization is done to improve the quality of fish growth.  In the United States, fertilization has been used extensively since 1925 as a means for increasing pond productivity.

Applying proper pond fertilizer to a lake has the same effect as fertilizing your garden, it increases production.  Research has proven that pounds of fish produced may be increased 300 percent or more by proper fertilization.  How does this happen?   Pond fertilizer increases the small green algae called phytoplankton.  Phytoplankton is eaten by tiny insects called zooplankton. These little insects are eaten by your fish. The more food you produce from fertilization the more fish you can grow. 

When NOT to Fertilize:

                • If your pond has excessive water flow.

                • If your pond has extensive areas with a 2 foot depth.

                • If your pond has a history of pond weed problems.

                • If your pond is acidic.

                • If your pond is constantly muddy; phytoplankton requires sunlight for growth.

There are several types of pond fertilizers, granular, liquid and a new concentrated dissolvable powder.  The powder option requires no mixing and only takes 5 lbs. per acre.  This is the easiest type of fertilizer to use and very effective in developing and maintaining plankton bloom.

Most ponds require applications every month from March through October.  Begin application when water temperature reaches 65°F, continue until water temperature drops below 65°F.  Reapply when you can see an object 22 inches below the water surface.

Common Mistakes:

                • Failure to maintain adequate bloom.  Infrequent fertilization can increase pond weed problems.

                • Waiting too late in the spring to begin. Once rooted pond weeds become established, fertilization will only worsen the pond weed problem.

                • Failure to check the total hardness.  Lack of lime will reduce the development of adequate bloom and encourage pond weed growth.

Improper or infrequent fertilization procedures can cause major pond weed problems and oxygen depletion.   A clear weedy or slime infested pond is not productive and cannot be properly fertilized.  Fertilizing pond weeds or algae make them grow more rapidly.   Pond weed removal is necessary before fertilization can begin.  For pond weed identification and control options, contact your local environmental agency or pond professional.


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