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Beneficial Pond Bacteria Products: Are They a Waste of Money?

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As strange as it may sound, bacteria are an important component of a healthy pond.

They work around the clock to keep your pond clean, improve water quality and reduce filter maintenance.

Many companies have recognized the importance of this bacteria and packaged it up into a product known as beneficial pond bacteria.

I want to take a closer look at the claims of this particular product and help you understand if you really need it for your pond.

I’ll also show you how to grow your own beneficial bacteria in your pond and make sure you always keep your good bacteria levels high.

Psst! Pin This Page For Future Reference

What Is Beneficial Pond Bacteria?

Bacteria are an essential part of a healthy pond ecosystem. In fact, ponds are filled with billions upon billions of these microorganisms.

Beneficial pond bacteria, also known as aerobic bacteria, thrive in oxygen-rich environments and help keep your pond clean. While they won't necessarily help get rid of algae, as some believe, they are an important part of the nitrogen cycle of your pond, converting ammonia and other harmful substances into nitrites, and then nitrates.

did you know Did you know...

Beneficial bacteria naturally start growing in ponds as soon as you fill it with water (in fact, bacteria are already on your pond liner before you even fill it with water).

Pond bacteria consume nutrients in the water and grow on your pond’s substrates, ie. pond liners, rocks, and plants.

They also grow and thrive in a ponds biological filter media, which is why we highly recommend you use one in your pond. While your mechanical filter catches large debris, the biological filter housing billions of bacteria will help break down the harmful substances that try to pass through. We highly recommend the Oase BioSmart pond filter for effective biological filtration.

OASE BioSmart 5000 Pond Filter

OASE BioSmart 5000 Pond Filter

Price:
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Do I Need To Use Beneficial Bacteria In My Pond?

As stated above, beneficial bacteria are essential for a healthy pond ecosystem. They help decompose organic matter, consume nutrients, and ultimately help keep your pond clean and happy.

But, do you need to use commercially available beneficial bacteria products in your pond?

Short answer, no, you probably don’t need to.

But, if you have depleted levels of bacteria, adding beneficial bacteria can help speed up the process of getting those levels back up. It’s important to understand, however, that adding beneficial bacteria will only be a temporary solution unless you find out why your pond’s bacteria was killed off in the first place.

So, why might the levels of bacteria in your pond be low? Here are three common reasons that pond owners inadvertently kill their pond’s bacteria.

Chemicals & Algaecides

Pond algaecide and chemicals used to adjust pond PH can kill your pond’s beneficial bacteria. Be especially careful with copper algaecides and only use them in large ponds. If you do use copper algaecides be prepared to follow it up with some beneficial bacteria supplementation a few weeks after using it.

More importantly, there are many natural ways to get rid of pond algae, so until you've exhausted all of them, chemicals and algaecides should be a last resort. If your pond is suffering from an excess of algae, whether it be blue, green, brown, or any type of algae, you should definitely refer to our guide on how to get rid of pond algae like a pro!

UV Filters

UV light filtration systems are an effective way to help get rid of planktonic algae, but it will also kill the good bacteria, as well. So, you can see how overuse of a UV filter can negatively affect your pond.

That doesn’t mean you need to stop using your UV filter. We recommend using a biological filter in conjunction with your UV filter. And when adding beneficial bacteria to your pond, be sure to turn your UV filter off for a day or two to let the new bacteria circulate through your bio-filter and establish itself in your pond.

Over Cleaning Your Pond

A common mistake many pond owners often make is draining their pond and scrubbing it out and refilling it with new pond water. By doing this, you are essentially killing off your population of beneficial bacteria. When adding new pond water, you are starting from scratch again and will need to wait for nutrient levels to rise in order for bacteria to thrive and multiply.

You should only drain your pond in extreme situations. Check out our guide on how to clean your pond without draining it to get it crystal clear again without negatively affecting your pond’s ecosystem.

To Summarize…

If your pond’s natural bacteria levels are low, you’ll definitely want to increase them. Though some would argue that you could probably do the same with a pinch of soil. Either way, both will be a short-term solution if you don’t have the right environment for your bacteria to thrive in

Benefits Of Adding Bacteria To Your Pond

We know beneficial bacteria is essential for a healthy pond, but what exactly are the benefits of adding them to your pond? If your pond is suffering from low bacteria levels, and you’ve already identified why and fixed the issue, adding beneficial bacteria to your pond can:

  • Improve Pond Water Clarity: Murky pond water is caused by an excess of floating substances in your pond. In many cases, pond bacteria can help break these organic substances down which in turn will help the pond water appear clearer.
  • Improve Water Quality: If you have a lot of pond fish, or your pond is prone to catching a lot of debris, beneficial bacteria can help break down this organic waste (fish waste, leaves, excess fish food, etc.) before ammonia and other harmful substances reach dangerous levels.
  • Reduce Pond Filter Maintenance: If you’ve recently added new biological filter media (or cleaned existing), adding beneficial bacteria to it will help boost the colonization and immediately help it be more efficient at breaking down organic substances.

Also, if your pond is new, adding beneficial bacteria can help kick start the growing process of bacteria and allow them to reach adequate levels sooner. This is important as it can take months for bacteria to reach these levels in new ponds. And if you have introduced fish to your new pond, especially large fish like koi, this is even more important so the bacteria can start breaking down all that extra organic waste.

Pond Bacteria Reviews

Description Size Price
Eco labs Microbe-Lift PL Eco labs Microbe-Lift PL 1 gallon SEE PRICE »
Aquascape Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria Aquascape Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria Various sizes SEE PRICE »
Helix Life Support Beneficial Bacteria Helix Life Support Beneficial Bacteria Various sizes SEE PRICE »

*Buying through links in this chart may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

Eco labs Microbe-Lift PL Pond Bacteria

Eco Labs Microbe Lift PL is a specially formulated bacteria designed for koi ponds (or any pond with fish) and water features. This 100% natural beneficial bacteria helps dissolve organic material and reduce ammonia levels in your pond, which in turn will help fish grow and thrive. It also helps colonize and maintain your biological pond filters.

How to use

The first application should be a larger amount, followed by weekly treatments for 4 weeks, then you simply put your pond on a once-a-month maintenance program. For example, if you have a 1,000-gallon pond, the first application would call for 14 oz., followed by weekly 5 oz. treatments for 4 weeks, then once a month you would apply 5oz for maintenance.

Pros

  • Only need to apply once a month when in maintenance mode
  • Perfect for ponds and water gardens with fish
  • Helps dissolve organic material and help reduce ammonia, and nitrites
  • Suitable for cold and warm water
  • 100% natural

Cons

  • Not suitable for colder water conditions
Eco labs Microbe-Lift PL

Eco labs Microbe-Lift PL

Price:
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Aquascape Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria

Aquascape Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria was designed and optimized to work in temperatures under 50F or 10C and even as low as 35F or 2C. These special cold-water strains of beneficial bacteria will help reduce organic material, ammonia, nitrite and excess nutrient levels for a cleaner and clearer pond.

How to use

One pump will treat 600 gallons of pond water. If you’re unsure of your pond’s volume you can use our pond calculator to quickly figure it out. In Fall, when water temps drop below 50F or 10C, treat twice a week for two weeks, then switch to once a week until the water freezes. In Spring, when water temps reach 40F or 5C, treat twice a week for two weeks, then switch to once a week until temps reach 60F or 15C. You can continue maintenance using a warm water Beneficial Bacteria in the warmer months.

Pros

  • Special cold-water bacterial strains
  • Will help reduce organic material, ammonia and nitrites
  • Handy pump bottle design for easy dispensing – One pump will treat 600 gallons
  • One of the best cold water pond bacteria products on the market

Cons

  • Not suitable for warmer water temps above 60F degrees
Aquascape Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria

Aquascape Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria

Price:
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Helix Life Support Beneficial Bacteria

Brought to you by The Pond Digger, Helix Life Support is a blend of electrolytes, enzymes and probiotic microbes designed to improve water quality.

This formulated dry powder consumes pond sludge, fish waste and uneaten food, and other organic material.

How To Use

Simply sprinkle 1 teaspoon into your pond for every 1000 gallons of water. Treat your pond weekly for best results. Works best in temperatures above 55 degrees (13 celsius).

Pros

  • Contains electrolytes, enzymes and probiotic microbes
  • Consumes pond sludge, fish waste and uneaten food, and other organic material
  • Cost effective dry powder formula

Cons

  • Not suitable for colder water temps below 55F (13C) degrees
Helix Life Support Beneficial Bacteria

Helix Life Support Beneficial Bacteria

Price:
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Clicking this link to make a purchase may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

How Much Beneficial Bacteria Should You Add To A Pond?

The amount of beneficial bacteria you should add to your water is going to depend on what product you are using and how big your pond or water garden is.

Always read the directions on the specific bacteria product you have. In all of the products we have used and tested there is typically a large initial dose, followed by frequent doses for a short period of time (anywhere from 2 weeks to a month), and then finally a maintenance plan.

For example, Eco labs Microbe-Lift PL application directions look like this for a 1,000-gallon pond:

  1. Add 14 oz. of the product to your pond or water garden for the initial application. The product should preferably be added to a spot in the pond where the water circulates. For example, close to where the water pumps into the filter.
  2. Next, you will add weekly bacteria treatments of 5 oz. for 4 weeks.
  3. Then once a month you would apply 5oz for maintenance.
Eco labs Microbe-Lift PL

Eco labs Microbe-Lift PL

Price:
Buy Now on Amazon
Buy Now on Chewy

Clicking this link to make a purchase may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

Can you put too much beneficial bacteria in a pond?

Technically, too much of anything is bad, but overdosing beneficial bacteria is more likely to hurt your wallet than anything.

If you did go all out and highly overdosed your pond with a beneficial bacteria product, and you have poor aeration, a lot of organic build-up, and fish, then technically you could deplete oxygen levels enough to be harmful to your fish. The perfect storm is possible, but I wouldn’t worry about it. Just stick to the directions on the package and you’ll be fine.

How To Grow Beneficial Bacteria In A Pond

Growing beneficial bacteria in your pond is easier than you might think. In fact, if you have a pond it’s growing in their right now.

There are, however, ways to maximize the amount of beneficial pond bacteria you have growing in your garden pond. If you’re looking for a way to kind of DIY your beneficial bacteria growth instead of buying an expensive commercial pond bacteria additive, then you’ll need the following.

Adequate Substrate For Bacteria

Substrate is the surface area in your pond that bacteria like to grow on. This can include pond liners, pond plants and especially pond rocks. A well-designed pond will include all these surfaces in abundant amounts to maximize beneficial bacteria growth. Often times when a pond is lacking beneficial bacteria it’s simply because there are not enough places for it to grow. And adding a bacteria product won’t solve that problem.

Proper Biological Filtration

Along with the surface area in your pond, beneficial bacteria love to grow in biological filter media. This typically consists of small pieces of plastic or sponge-like material located in your pond filter. Not only do the bacteria love growing on these types of surfaces but providing them a home right where dirty and debris-filled water filters will help maximize their cleaning potential.

OASE BioSmart 5000 Pond Filter

OASE BioSmart 5000 Pond Filter

Price:
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Clicking this link to make a purchase may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

Ample Nutrients

As organic material enters your pond, it naturally provides bacteria the nutrients they need to thrive. That doesn’t mean throw a bunch of debris in your pond. Not at all, but like any living thing, bacteria need nutrients to survive. That’s why new ponds with low levels of nutrients take a while for their bacteria to hit adequate levels. New ponds don’t have an abundance of nutrients for bacteria to rapidly grow. As your pond establishes itself, it will naturally collect the nutrients needed for beneficial bacteria to grow and thrive.

So, as long as you have ample amounts of all three of the above, and you’re not inadvertently killing off your colonies of bacteria by adding algaecides or completely draining your pond, you should have a thriving bacteria environment in your pond that won’t need the addition of store bought beneficial bacteria products.