Gardening with Ciscoe ( ) Gardening - Topics - Fountains

Keeping water features and bird baths clean

A recent caller told me asked me how to keep water features and bird baths clean. Algae tends to build up in them and to keep them clear you want to make sure that you use products that are safe for wildlife.

Bird baths

I clean them out often (daily in summer) by shooting a jet of water from my nozzle into the bird bath. The old water spills out and, when empty, I refill the bath. I plant water loving plants under the bird bath and they are happy to receive the extra water.

Water fountains

I keep mine clean with a plant that filters the water. The plant is common water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes). They are vigorous growers known to double their population in two weeks. So, use them in the fountain, keep them thinned out. They are not hardy, so at the end of the season, throw them in the yard waste or compost bin. NEVER throw them in a waterway, water system, or natural body of water.

Other than that, I did not have any suggetions so I asked for comments from listeners and received the following. Note that I did not try these methods but thought I'd share what others have found.

  1. An email writer suggests this product for cleaning ponds: It's hydrogen peroxide, 35% which is a special strength also used for commercially cleaning and sanitizing kitchens. She get's it at Linda's ponds in the Summit area on Canyon Rd. and about 116th St. She hasn't used it in small water features but uses it often in a large pond with a waterfall. It has proved to be safe for fish, plants and the birds that drink there. There's a formula for how much to use; She uses 10 ozs. for 1000 gallons in her pond. It breaks down into water.
  2. Another caller uses an infrared filter that comes on a pump. Available at pond stores.
  3. Another email suggestion came from Bethany from Lael's Moon Garden in Rochester. She included links to specific products for keeping fountains clean: She uses a product called Small Fountain Clear made by Ecological laboratories. It contains a "bio-enzymatic product especially formulated for smaller fountains. Natural, safe for humans, pets and fish. Biodegradeable and non toxic. For larger fountains and birdbaths, they make Large Fountain Clear. She said that the product can be found at nurseries and Wild Bird stores such as Lael's Moon Garden in Rochester. For a large pond that has Koi in it, she uses a plant based bog filter to clean the water and when needed in the spring when they get an algae bloom, they use a product called: Quick Fix made by Clear Pond products . It clears the algae bloom and oxygenates the water Biodegradeable safe for fish, plants and animals. She gave a link for more information about it. She said that they've tested both products and find them completely safe for birds, fish, plants and humans when used as directed.