Janine wrote in recently with a very common question. She asked, “Can I use swimming pool products in my pond?” She went on to mention that she’s had some algae problems in her pond and had tried chlorine for a time but wondered if something else might help the situation.
Answer: Thanks for the question Janine! I’m glad you asked because you are surely not the only person wondering about this. Here’s my take on this topic. I have always taken a very conservative approach to treating my pond or water garden. Which basically means that in a general sense I don’t ever suggest using a pool product in a pond.
You obviously don’t have fish, if you’ve used chlorine in the pond, or at least I hope you don’t. Chlorine and fish simply don’t mix well, and the same could be said for many pool related chemicals. They might work well in a swimming pool but would probably cause major issues for fish.
Some testing tools like pH strips may be useful but even with these, many pool strips don’t test in a wide enough range to be of use for pond owners. Ideally pH test strips should run from at least 6.0 to 9.0 and higher to be of much use.
Finally let’s talk a little bit about the filters used in each setting. Bead filters for ponds and swimming pool filters look very similar on the outside but that’s about as far as the similarities go. If you looked inside you’ll see many differences. The piping and tubes that route the water flow will probably be different and more than anything else the media inside will vary too.
Swimming pool filters normally will contain sand, and this is a great substance for filtering out chemicals, oils, and small debris that might enter a pool. In contrast, a pond filter usually has a biological component, or in other words, there is an active area in the filter that provides a home for beneficial bacteria which can help break down organic wastes such as ammonia, nitrites and nitrates, found in pond water. Physical filtration will also take place in a pond filter but the biological elements are the most important function of the filter.
Many pool filters that have been tried in ponds end up clogging up quite a bit and water quality problems can still be an issue because the organic elements aren’t being filtered out very well. One could try to change out the filter media in a conversion attempt but normally it’s just easier and simpler to purchase a good quality filter that’s designed for pond use and you’ll end up getting better results.