Before adding any fish or taking a long soak, you should let your new swimming pond age and develop a little bit. All-natural bodies of water need anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to settle and build a strong colony of beneficial bacteria and tiny creatures. This settling period also allows the plants plenty of time for growing strong roots before you stress the system by swimming in the water. If you’re trying to determine how long to let your pond rest before moving to the next step of care, consider these signs that your pond is ready for use.
Water Settling and Clearing
Watch the clarity and color of the water as it ages and settles in the days after you first fill the pool. Many swimming ponds start out quite cloudy and may have unpleasant odors that come and go for the first few days. As long as the water is still cloudy or filled with sediment, you should wait and give the pond time to age before taking a dip. In cool climates, ponds can take a few months to settle down enough to develop relatively clear and light-colored water. If the water develops a fresh smell but is still somewhat cloudy, it’s likely safe to try a short swim without any issue.
New Growth on Plants
Check out the water plants you’ve added to naturally filter the system. Once they’ve established enough root growth to start showing visible signs of green growth at the tip of the plants, your pond is likely well-established enough to handle regular use. Don’t expect to see much growth from your plants during the first year. Even a 1/10th of an inch of green growth on your irises or cattails may indicate the plant is becoming fully established. Look for an edge of lighter green foliage along the edges of your water plants to determine if they’re growing or not.
If you want the final word on whether your pond is ready for swimming or not, invest in professional water testing. Taking a small sample with a provided sterile vial will reveal whether the water is clean and safe enough for daily exposure or not. You may need to treat the water you’ve added to the pond if testing reveals a bacterial or mineral content issue. Test the water before adding any fish since it’s much easier to treat the water to adjust the pH or particulate content before any living creatures are added to the pond.
Check the recommended withdrawal periods on any treatments or chemicals you add to your pond after filling it with water. Many people with no choice other than to use tap water from a hose must add dechlorinating tablets or liquids in order to reduce the chemical components of the water they use. Other pond owners must reduce mineral content and adjust the pH before adding fish that require specific conditions. Most of these treatments state a treatment period of anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks, depending on the composition of the product. Don’t be tempted to take a dip before the stated period or you might end up with skin irritation or worse.