so clear, what to do?

I wanted to show you the pond right now, as it's pretty incredible.

No, not the dreary, plant-free exterior of the pond. I want to show you the interior of the pond: what's underwater.


The water is so clear now, I can see exactly what's going on below the surface.

I guess this can be summed up with two words: plants and leaves.

It's fascinating being able to see into the deepest parts of the water.

Except I can't really see the bottom, as there is a huge thicket of submerged water plants here:

This is the deep part of the pond, so full of plants

That's mainly hornwort and anacharis, and these are the oxygenators of my pond. I do believe there is way too much of it in here now, which brings me to my questions for you experienced pond keepers out there...

How much of this should I remove? 
When should I remove it?

It's the only place for the fish to hide right now, so I don't want to just yank it out. I'm also worried about removing too much winter cover for other critters.  I've pulled some of these out during the summer and found dragonfly nymphs clinging to the stems, and I know some species overwinter before emerging as adults.

There are also lots of leaves that need to still be removed:

The winter-blend bacteria I've been adding every two weeks seems to be helping with water quality, but I'm not going to rely on it to digest every leaf in here -- that's asking too much I think.

Some raccoon-created variety here too:

See the brick and the rock? Raccoons pushed these in here.

That overturned nursery pot contains my water lily.
Thanks raccoons!

It's easier to focus the eye on the surface of the water and put all of the questions out of my mind:

That approach is not going to solve anything though.

If you have experience with ponds, please give me some guidance on how much of this greenery to remove and when to do it. 

(I'm hoping the fish will start breeding this year, but they may still be too young. If they do though, I want to ensure there's enough cover for the little ones, but I don't want the plants to occupy every cubic foot of the pond. Help!)


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Anonymous –   – (February 12, 2013 at 9:00 AM)  

Hey Alan,
When I remove leaves I hand pick the plants out and toss them in a bucket to return to the pond ... a little time consuming, but I try to keep as much as time reasonably allows. Most aquatic plants are so prolific that I doubt it matters much as long as you keep some of each species. You may want to rinse the ones you do keep. Moving water is really what you need! Good Luck! -jeremy

Anonymous –   – (February 12, 2013 at 1:23 PM)  

As the water heats up, there is going to be a lot of decomposition and probably an algae bloom. I'd remove a lot (70%) of those excess oxygenators. They will grow back quickly. As for small insects and the such, there are so many in there that even if you remove most oxygenators and dead leaves, your insect populations will still be stable. Just my opinion. I have cared for a similar sized pond for 5 full seasons.

Lisa  – (February 12, 2013 at 5:33 PM)  

I don't know how helpful this will be, but we were told a healthy pond needs one underwater plant for every square foot of surface area. Now if that one plant spreads to cover four feet, do you still count it as one plant? No clue! This is the first winter for our pond, and we are still completely iced over. We're just hoping something survives!

Curbstone Valley Farm  – (February 12, 2013 at 8:01 PM)  

When we had a pond, I started out with oxygenators like Anacharis. I just couldn't stay on top it, and it was a love-hate relationship. Then when I found out the waste water from the pond ran the risk of contaminating our local waterways with it (here it's an invasive weed), I decided it had to go. On the one hand, as it grew, it helped to provide shade, and use up nutrients produced by the fish, which in turn kept down algae, but on the other hand it was so prolific I couldn't see the fish! Ultimately I planted the pond back out with water lily, Cornus sp., Papyrus and their ilk, and added a small fountain head at one end for agitation. In your case, to keep the Anacharis, I'd have no qualms about removing at least half of it. Maybe just swish it around a bit as you pull it out to rinse off whomever might be living among the leaves ;)

Alan  – (February 12, 2013 at 10:11 PM)  

Thanks everybody, this is exactly the response I was hoping for! Remove most of it and everything will be fine. Not looking forward to the task though.

Barbie  – (February 13, 2013 at 1:22 PM)  

How amazing it actually looks - I love water features but would not want one - too much work. Funny what the raccoon did - rock art :-)

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