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Water garden balancing involves planting, stocking and maintaining your pond in proportions that ecologically support one another and help control algae growth (Note: some algae is desirable). Although each pond differs, here are some general guidelines to help you get started--or back on track!


Establish a healthy ecosystem by following these easy steps:

Use dechlorinator. New ponds - treat the entire volume of water in your pond.
Thereafter, dechlorinate for the amount of new water each time you add water.
City water sources in Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas City and many other area cities are treated with chloramines. Unlike chlorine, chloramines do not dissipate for up to 90 days. Our tap water is TOXIC to fish and other aquatic organisms. Treat all tap water to neutralize chlorine, chloramines and ammonia to protect fish and other pond life.
A well balanced pond is a beautiful thing.
Test and adjust the KH and pH - this provides a healthy environment for plants and fish and other new inhabitants in your pond. Our tap water tends to run very low in KH (carbonate hardness) and high in pH (alkaline). Periodic tests and treatments for these two influential parameters can expedite balancing and aid on-going pond maintenance.

Once the water is ready, you can begin to add life to the pond.
- Add plants. Use our stocking guidelines. Plants are your #1 filter! They
shade the pond and compete with the algae for the nutrients in your pond.
- Add beneficial bacteria. Treat the entire volume of the pond. Beneficial
bacteria breaks down pond debris and reduces green water. Dose weekly
for best results.
- Add fish. Use our stocking recommendations. Fish eat pests and circulate
the water. Choose fish who live harmoniously with the plants!

Each of the above steps serves an important purpose and builds upon the previous ones to achieve a balanced water garden.


Green water normally appears in all ponds during the early spring before other plants have had a chance to grow and compete. This also happens in recently cleaned or new ponds, using tap water rich in mineral salts. This is a natural, healthy process. DO NOT flush and refill your pond, or the curing process will have to start all over again. DO add beneficial bacteria to reduce the green water period and to speed up balancing . . . or simply BE PATIENT.

Remember--all green plants, including algae, are beneficial in the garden pond. They all absorb nutrients, convert them to new plant tissue, and give off oxygen as a by-product. This is known as photosynthesis. A “patina” of good algae must develop on the sides of the pond before it can fully balance. It helps to reduce green water algae, provides oxygen for your fish and also provides a home to many microscopic organisms that play a role in keeping a healthy ecosystem. Chemically killing algae removes the visual problem, but it does not address the cause of excess algae. A balanced water garden contains relatively clear water, yet allows some algae to exist for the benefit of these other pond inhabitants. In a healthy pond, you can see your hand (or fish) about 12" below the water surface. Anything below the 12" mark may not be clearly visible.


Use the table below to calculate the capacity and surface area of your pond:

Calculate the volume of water in your pond. This allows you to use water treatment products with accuracy for best results - No more guesswork!

Calculate the surface area of your pond. This allows you to stock your pond with plants and fish for the best balance. It also makes it easier to “check-in” every few years to re-establish that balance.

Plant to achieve 50-75% coverage
of your pond surface. More coverage is needed in sunny areas and less in the shade -- More for small ponds and less for ponds with over 1,000 gallons.

Waterlilies, Lily-Like Aquatics, and Floating Plants: These plants shade the pond, keep the water cooler and prevent algae photosynthesis. Waterlily plant sizes vary, so check our lily chart.

Submerged Aquatics:
These underwater grasses compete with algae for CO2
and dissolved nutrients. They also serve as a spawning bed to receive fish eggs and provide protection for small fry. We recommend one bunch of submerged aquatics for every 1-2 square feet of pond surface.

Fish: These finned friends eat pests such as mosquito larvae, aphids and other insects. They also consume algae as a routine part of their diet. The common American Goldfish, Comet and Shubunkin are excellent, practical choices for ponds in this area. Another popular choice is Koi. Those who opt for koi should plan to include a pump and bio-filter for their pond, and plan to protect their plants from these more aggressive pond fish.

For a Low Maintenance Water Garden, Keep less than 1” of fish per square foot of pond surface.

Snails, freshwater clams, and/or other scavengers: Touted for their role in helping keep ponds clean, these bottom dwellers are also known to be alternate hosts to parasites harmful to fish.

DO NOT add scavengers. Instead, DO dose beneficial bacteria regularly during the growing season to reduce green water and break down pond debris.

NOTE: Adding a filter system will improve water quality and allow for greater stocking density. If you are considering koi, filtration is a must!

Handy Formulas
(use AVERAGE dimensions in feet, not inches)

Pond Shape





Approx Gallons

Length x Width x Depth x 7.5

Length x Width x Depth x 6.7

Diam. x Diam. x Depth x 5.9

Approx. Sq Ft of Surface Area

Length x Width

3.14 (1/2 Length x 1/2 Width)

3.14 (1/2 Diam. x 1/2 Diam.)



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