What causes pond water to turn brown?

Written by james rada, jr.
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What causes pond water to turn brown?
(An ornamental pond with a waterfall. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

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The Problem With Brown Water

Ponds can be a beautiful feature to any landscaping, but if the water turns brown, they can become an eyesore. Understanding how your pond water turned from crystal clear to murky brown is the first step to being able to change it back. If the pond is recreational, swimmers and boaters may not want to use a pond with brown water, thinking something is wrong with it. Brown water also can affect how well certain species of fish are able to feed.

Bad Weather

The first thing to ask yourself when you see brown pond water is if there has been rain or snow melt recently. Water running off nearby hills and into the pond, even small ornamental ones, can carry dirt and other debris with it, causing the water to turn brown. If this is the cause, normal water flow or an artificial pond's filtration system should take care of the problem in a couple of days.

Biological Reasons

Another reason for brown water may be the fish in the pond or waterfowl using the pond. Large numbers of carp, goldfish and some other species can create muddy water when they spawn in the shallows. Their actions stir up the dirt and keep the water muddy. Waterfowl may eat vegetation along the edge of a pond, allowing dirt to enter into it. Farm ponds may experience this problem from livestock walking to the pond to drink.

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