Why Is My Pond Water Brown?

As the season begins to change and the leaves start to fall, things start to happen in your pond. Here at Art of the Yard around this time of the year when we begin to frequently hear the question, why is my pond water brown?

Often people will know what to do about green water but are stumped when their pond water turns brown. Of course, neither is desirable, but if you do not know what causes brown water or what to do about it, here’s some information and tips to keep your pond water nice and crystal clear.
First of all, you should determine the cause of your brown water. There are two types of problems which will turn your pond water brown.

The first usually is referred to as debris tea. When pine needles and leaves fall into your pond water and are allowed to sit for a period of time, they begin to release tannins that turn the water an unappetizing shade of brown–exactly like tea does! The difference is that tea is delicious, and brown pond water is very undesirable. Here is the most common cause of brown pond water.

The second is similar and can be called sediment stew. A lot of wet debris breaking down can end up forming a sediment on the bottom of your pond. That sediment can get stirred up by any fish you might have swimming around in your pond or even wind or some other action that disrupts the water. The tiny particles of sediment then get caught up in your pump and start circulating through the system, creating that unpleasant brown hue.

The procedure to find out the source of your brown water is simple. Simply fill a jar with pond water and let it sit for at least 24 hours without touching it or moving it. If when you come back, the water is still brown then you have yourself a nice jar of debris tea. Likewise, if you find that particles of sediment have settled to the bottom of the jar, then you have a case of sediment stew.

So, now that you know why your pond water is brown, you can go about cleaning it up. Whether you have debris tea or sediment stew, your first step will be to get out a pond vacuum or skimmer net and clean the bottom of your pond. You need to get the organics out of the water. Then you can do a partial water change to help freshen up the water. Do not forget to treat the water with a water conditioner if you have fish living in there.

If your problem was caused by sediment, then you can add good bacteria to the water to help eat up any organic debris and clear the water. If your problem was debris tea, then you throw a bag of activated carbon in the water to absorb the excess tannins and leave your water sparkling clean. Regular maintenance and cleaning out organic materials will keep your water perpetually clear.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to talk to the friendly professionals here at Art of the Yard in Denver. We’ll be happy to discuss what you might have brewing in your pond and help you return it to tip top shape.

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