Cloudy pond

My pond is cloudy. It has no visibility. The water is kind of brownish. I'm told I can put fertilizer in it to clear it up. I also have catfish in it so I don't want to harm the fish. Any suggestions.

Hello Terry,

I also received the following answer from Richard Ott, Managing Supervisor for Inland Fisheries District 3C of the Texas Parks and Wildlife


The most likely cause of the murky water is the catfish themselves.  As part of their feeding behavior they stir up the bottom mud’s and contribute to the turbidity that is being described.  Fortunately, catfish do fine in the murky water because they use taste rather than sight to find their food.

Fertilizer will not clear the water and would likely contribute to additional turbidity.  What the pond owner is probably thinking about is using alum (aluminum sulfate) to flocculate the clay particles and clear the water.  Although an alum treatment might temporarily clear the water the action of the catfish would just cause it to get cloudy again.  Furthermore, repeated alum treatments can significantly decrease the pH and is not good for aquatic life. 

As catfish are removed by angling the water will probably clear on its own.

Richard  A. Ott, Jr.

Management Supervisor

Inland Fisheries District 3C

Office 903-566-2161

Cell 903-570-1871

Hello Terry,

Thank you very much for your question.  Because your land is in Leon County Texas, I was able to find a local expert who could provide some guidance.  Dr Billy Higginbotham a Professor and Extension Wildlife and Fisheries Specialis at Texas A & M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Overton recommended the following:

If the pond is muddy these publications should help:

Fertilization will promote a phytoplankton bloom but if there is no sunlight penetration into the water column due to the coloration it will be of limited benefit. If the pondowner is feeding the catfish, he should not need to fertilize anyway (see attached publication on catfish). Hope this helps!

Best Regards,

Billy Higginbotham
Professor and Extension Wildlife
and Fisheries Specialist
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Texas A&M AgriLife Research and
Extension Center at Overton
POB 38, Overton, TX 75684
v. 903-834-6191