Pond analysis is necessary for garden owners who plan on putting fish or plants into their ponds. Pond analysis is a service mostly performed by local municipalities, but some forms of pond analysis can be conducted by the homeowner when using appropriate tools such as pH strips and CHEMetrics tests.
Collecting Pond Water
To have an external party conduct pond analysis, the pond owner needs to collect the water in a bottle. The bottle must not contain any air pockets, which can skew results of the laboratory test. The bottle is then sent to a municipality or university extension office that provides these services.
Laboratories often test water to see how conductive the water is. Some kinds of fish thrive in different levels of conductivity. The conductivity of the water affects what kind of fish can thrive in the water. Conductivity is altered by the kinds of solids that are dissolved into the water, with some solids having more conductivity than others. Oxygen is needed by most forms of life other than some bacteria. Plants need oxygen in order to perform basic photosynthetic processes. Animals also need oxygen. Too little oxygen can suffocate the animals within the water. Too much can lead to oxygen poisoning in some organisms and lead to algae blooms, which can consume all available oxygen. The water should ideally have 5 to 12 milligrams per liter.
Homeowners can easily analyze the acidity of their pond water using pH strips. One area that needs to be analyzed is the alkalinity of the pond water. The alkalinity of water needs to be high because bacteria produce ammonia, which tends to make the water more acidic. The alkalinity can neutralize the acidity. PH strips are used to determine the alkalinity or acidity of water. These strips are placed in the water and develop a color that corresponds with a particular pH range. Water with a pH above 7 is alkaline, while water with a pH below 7 is acidic.
CHEMetrics Test Kit
Ponds with aquatic plants need carbon dioxide to allow the plants to engage in natural metabolic processes. CHEMetrics test kits measure the amount of carbon dioxide in the water. The amount of carbon dioxide appropriate for plants is above 10 milligrams per liter. Chloride is usually found in water, though the water should not have more than 250 milligrams per liter. The CHEMetrics test used to determine the amount of carbon dioxide in the water can also determine the amount of chloride.
Adding Nutrients to the Water
Dead organic matter in ponds tends to release phosphorus, which is necessary for aquatic plants to survive. Pond analysis often studies the phosphorus level to determine if more needs to be added for plants to thrive. Phosphorus fertilizers are added to the pond along with lime, which allows the phosphorus to break up in the water. The phosphorus should not be added with gypsum or else the two will combine to form calcium phosphate, which will cause the phosphorus to not be available to organisms.