High nutrients increase the single-celled and string algae in a koi pond. A severely green koi pond can be an eyesore. It also poses significant health risks to the fish. While it might seem challenging to get crystal clear koi pond water, it is not.
There are several ways to keep koi fish water clear. Remove the algae manually using a cheap toilet brush explicitly bought for the project. Move it in the koi pond gently to clean string algae. Alternatively, use a pond skimmer to remove the algae and debris discoloring your koi pond.
I have discussed in great detail how to get crystal clear koi pond water below. You will learn how to do it using hydrogen peroxide, beneficial bacteria, and barley straws. Note that you may need to apply a combination of these solutions depending on your pond size and other factors.
12 ways to get crystal clear koi pond water
Here are the effective ways to get crystal clear pond water for your koi fish:
1. Remove algae from your koi pond manually
This the most cost-effective way to clean your koi pond. Manual removal does not necessarily mean using your hands to pull out the string algae. You can hold a piece of equipment, such as a toilet brush, and gently swipe it on the algae.
Buy a new toilet brush and dedicate it to your koi pond. Don’t use your toilet brush in your pond or vice versa.
However, manual algae removal is effective against string algae and not so effective against single-celled algae. Combine it with any of the techniques below.
2. Add hydrogen peroxide and water to your koi pond
Hydrogen peroxide can also make your koi pond crystal clear. The chemical has antibacterial and antifungal properties. It can suppress algae, cynobacteria, and diatoms in your koi pond for up to 72 hours.
Use 1 milliliter of hydrogen peroxide per gallon of pond water. It is safe for koi ponds because it releases oxygen as it reacts with the microbes. Unlike manual algae removal, H2O2 will make the water transparent quickly.
3. Install pond skimmer
As the name suggests, a pond skimmer “skims” the koi pond surface. It has a basket and a sponge that pulls water and directs floating debris to the collection point for sieving.
I recommend an automatic pond skimmer such as the Atlantic Water Gardens PS3900 Pond Skimmer for larger ponds. Otherwise, use the Adjustable Depth In-pond Skimmer to keep your small to average koi pond crystal clear.
4. Add barley straws to the koi pond
Barley straws are a natural, cost-effective, and safe way to get crystal clear koi pond water. You can find it in various forms, including liquid and pellets. How long it takes to work depends on the barley form you use.
Liquid and pellet barley straws will turn pond water clean much faster than the organic plant parts. But you can still use the latter.
Tie barley straws to a wire mesh and hang it on your koi pond so that water flows through it. The straws will decompose in one or two weeks to release beneficial bacteria to clean the water.
5. Add beneficial bacteria
Beneficial bacteria are safe for cleaning koi ponds. They are not like chemicals that can kill koi fish if applied in large doses.
Beneficial bacteria compete with algae for nutrients and starves the algae to death. I recommend the Aquascape Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria for crystal clear koi pond water in a couple of days.
6. Grow aquatic plants on your koi pond
There are several aquatic plants you can add to your koi pond. However, not all will give you crystal clear koi pond water. Grow plants such as blue flowers, pink flowers, iris, and lilies along the edges, and float others on the pond.
Aquatic plants will outcompete algae for nutrients. The starving string algae and single-celled algae will die within a few days. Aquatic plants also help with carbon sinking and increase koi pond oxygen levels.
Beyond that, aquatic plants will help the koi fish sleep at night or during resting periods since they sleep hidden from predators.
7. Remove debris and sludge
Runoff water carries twigs, leaves, and other materials to koi ponds. The pond ecosystem has bacteria that break down the debris for months and years into sludge.
The soft mud accumulates at the pond’s base and is easily disturbed by koi fish movements. Remove the debris and vacuum ¾ of the sludge out of your koi pond to improve the water clarity.
The rest of the sludge is essential for maintaining the chemical and biological balance in your koi pond.
8. Install a biological filter
A biological filter is one of the most important koi pond equipment for keeping your pond sparkling clean.
It uses beneficial nitrifying bacteria to break down suspended debris and accumulated toxins like ammonia.
A biological filter accelerates the cleaning process for crystal clear koi pond water.
9. Use algaecides
Algaecides kill algae in koi ponds and make your fish pond water clean and clear in a few hours. Although algaecides clean the pond water fast, it is a chemical.
Overdosing the pond with algaecides can cause severe health issues to koi fish. Use algaecides as prescribed at your fish store or read the container instructions.
10. Don’t overcrowd your koi pond
Overcrowding makes a koi pond dirty and murky due to increased aggression and constant chasing of rival fish.
The first step to crystal clear koi water if your pond is overcrowded should be to reduce the koi population or increase the pond size.
11. Don’t overfeed the koi fish
Give your koi fish food they can eat and finish without leftovers. Food leftovers decompose into ammonia, nitrates, and nitrites, turning the water murky and unhealthy for the fish. Ensure clear koi pond water by not overfeeding the fish.
Since koi fish don’t have teeth, you should feed them soft foods they can finish. Otherwise, you’ll have lots of leftovers which murky the water up.
12. Keep a couple of male mystery snails
Keeping male mystery snails in your koi pond is a natural way to get crystal clear koi pond water. Mystery snails are pond cleaners. They eat microfilm and pond algae on every surface, leaving the water and decorations sparkling clean.
Besides, mystery snails and koi fish are peaceful tankmates. They can coexist with one another in the same pond. However, choose male snails because female mystery snails will breed and overpopulate your koi tank.
While you could use guppies to eat the algae, I tried it and ended up being disappointed. First, the guppies are quite small compared to koi fish and the latter ate most of them. Secondly, having just one type of fish in the pond (koi) was a far better idea than two for aesthetic reasons.
- Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. (2021). How to bury carbon? Let plants do the dirty work.