Stay in the know about wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems on Sanibel and Captiva Islands and in Southwest Florida

How’s the Water Quality in Your Backyard Pond?

April 30, 2024

Enjoying a small pond or lake in your backyard is one of the joys of Sanibel. Here are a few steps to improve water quality in your pond, improving the health of the whole system.

Installing an aerator will move water and introduce oxygen from the surface into the system. As opposed to stagnant; moving, oxygen-rich waters benefit fish, which attract additional wildlife like turtles and birds. Moving water also discourages the formation of algae.

Preventing nutrients from entering the system is another way to create a healthy pond in your yard. Fertilizers contain high amounts of nutrients and should be applied in ways that limit runoff into water bodies. The City of Sanibel has guidelines on fertilizer use, which you can find at The Sanibel Fertilizer Ordinance.

SCCF’s Native Landscapes & Garden Center offers a wide variety of native plants that do not require fertilizer as an even better way to prevent nutrient runoff.

Other ways to keep nutrients from draining into your pond include:

  • Removing decaying vegetation
  • Planting waterside plants
  • Preventing lawn clippings from entering the water
  • Picking up after your pets
Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) grows to about 3 inches and prefers full sun to part shade.

Native, waterside plants like bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) absorb nutrients before they reach the water and can help prevent erosion.

The City of Sanibel, in partnership with the SCCF Marine Lab, conducts water quality sampling in lakes and ponds across the island as part of the Sanibel Communities for Clean Water Program. Its website provides information to residents on water bodies within island communities, including information on improving water on and around Sanibel.

The website includes a comprehensive guide to caring for water bodies and ranks communities demonstrating top water quality. Click here to check out the water quality score for your neighborhood!

Ponds with good water quality support life within and outside the pond. As you are working and enjoying your pond, remember to keep an eye out for wildlife.

Florida mud turtle (Kinosternon steindachneri)

A healthy pond may host a variety of species including sailfin mollies (Poecilia latipinna), Florida chicken turtles (Deirochelys reticularia chrysea), and Florida mud turtles (Kinosternon steindachneri). Small fish feed on insects and larvae within the pond.  Fish will attract birds and other wildlife you can enjoy from your yard, including river otters (Lontra canadensis).


Archives by Month