Best Pond & Lake Dyes 2023 (Top Fish Safe Dyes – updated)
Pond dyes are a great way to add rich color to your pond water, whilst also providing long term algae control and helping to deter predators. In this guide we further explain the benefits of different water dyes, as well as review the best pond dye products currently on the market.
What Exactly is Pond Dye?
Pond dyes, or water dyes, are solutions which color the water of your pond, helping reduce algae growth and deterring predators away from fish.
Pond dyes usually work through a solution containing the dyes, acid-blue 9, or sometimes a combination of acid-blue 9 and acid-yellow 23. These are common synthetic dyes widely used as food colorants, but are also used in aquatic science and soil science due to their non-toxic nature. In recent times, they have been become popular among lake and pond owners as a safe way to combat algae, deter predators, and add a rich color to the water. The best pond dye products use food-grade ingredients to ensure maximum safety and for the best color results.
Pond dyes can come in the form of powder or a liquid solution, with liquids being more common for ponds as smaller doses are required. Powders are easier to sell in bulk, and are more often used to dye larger bodies of water, such as public lakes. There are no differences in terms of color, and both work well to color water and provide algae and predator control.
The Main Benefits of Lake & Pond Dyes
1) Control Algae Growth
The main benefits of adding pond dye to your water is to help reduce algae growth, hide fish from predators (especially air-borne), and to make the water more aesthetically pleasing.
Pond dyes are designed to block a large amount of UV light from penetrating the surface of the pond water. Without UV light, growth of all types of algae is greatly reduced and their populations are much easier to handle. In large ponds or lakes where manual removal is very difficult to keep algae under control, supplementing with a pond dye which helps slow down growth is a very popular control method. With that said, pond dyes are also fine to use in smaller ponds for algae control, and would still be able to help block a large chunk of UV light which algae need to grow.
Pond dyes are a good method of control, but will not be able to remove large amounts of algae already present in the pond. To make the most of pond dyes you would need to first treat the majority of algae, and then add water dyes to help prevent it growing back as quickly. For a guide on how to effectively tackle algae in pond water, check our updated guide here.
2) Deter Predators from Fish
Another benefit of pond dyes is to deter predators from eating your pond fish. Dyes will help cloud the water, making is very difficult for flying predators, such as herons, to locate fish from above. The way the dyes are designed to absorb light means fish towards the bottom of the pond will be almost invisible to most birds flying overhead. As well as this, certain dyes will also create a more intense reflective water surface, making it much harder to see below the water line.
Ground based predators, such as cats, will also be more weary about a pond with dye pigment compared with a natural pond. They’ll notice the strange color, odor, and since the fish are more hidden, they will lose interest faster and be less inclined to stalk the pond.
3) Add Water Color
A final major benefit is that pond dyes make water look really spectacular! If your pond is looking a little dull, a pond dye is a great way to add some vibrancy to the waters. The dyes come in a range of different colors, and all provide a long lasting and rich color effect. It’s common for pond owners to purchase water dyes just for this reason alone; with the added algae control and predator reduction being a great bonus to the color results.
The length of time a pond dye will last will depend on the amount of dye used, the size of the pond, and the amount of water flow and sunlight exposure. In ponds with large amounts of water movement, dyes will begin to fade faster than ponds with little flow. Also, in summer where the sun is stronger, dyes will fade much faster due to the UV light degrading the dyes over time. Dyes can be topped up more frequently in warmer months to compensate for the loss of color. Generally most pond dyes will last 4-8 weeks, so a single dose can often see you through an entire season quite easily.
Is water dye safe for pond fish?
Yes, all high quality pond dyes should be safe for fish and plants. The active dye ingredient is usually food-grade (the same dye used in our food as colorant) and is non-toxic to fish, wildlife, and plants. Most dyes are also non-staining, so you won’t notice any stains appearing around the pond edges. You need to be careful not to overdose on dyes, however, as they would completely block almost all sunlight. This will interfere with the natural nitrogen cycle of the pond, which can lead to major problems later down the road. As long as you follow correct dosing instructions as per the manufacturers guidelines, your fish, plants, and pond will be perfectly fine using water dyes.
Different Colors of Pond Dye – Which Are Best?
1) Blue Pond Dye
The most common color of pond dye is blue, which comes in a range of different shades. Blue dyes will transform your pond water to a rich blue color, making it appear more vibrant. Blue dye looks particularly nice against green foliage, so works very well for garden ponds surrounded by trees or bushes. Blue pond dyes also create the most natural looking water, essentially just enhancing the natural blue tones which are easier to see in larger bodies of water.
Blue dye is also a good choice for algae control, being able to block a large chunk of UV light from entering the water. It’s less effective compared to black dyes, but should be more than sufficient for algae control in most ponds. It will also help deter predators and make fish harder to see deep in the pond water.
2) Turquoise/Aqua Pond Dye
A lighter shade of pond dye that will give water a more tropical feel are turquoise and aqua dyes. These dyes are much clearer compared to blue dyes, and will help brighten up the pond water, turning it into a garden oasis. Turquoise is less effective for algae control, so we would only recommend this dye for larger ponds or for owners who just require the visual appeal. For deeper ponds, most dyes will help with stopping predators from noticing your fish, but we find turquoise and aqua-blue works less effectively in shallow ponds for this purpose.
A very appealing choice if you’re looking to create a backyard oasis, but less so if you need maximum algae control.
3) Black Pond Dye
A less common color pond dye is black, or twilight, which is more often used in lakes than in ponds. Black dyes create a very strong reflective service on the water, allowing the surrounding foliage to be perfectly clear on the surface. This is popular in ponds or lakes surrounded by forest, as the trees will create some superb reflections on the surface of the water.
Small amounts of black dye will also work fine in ponds, and are especially good for algae control as they block more UV light compared with lighter dyes. They also help deter predators, as the dye creates a more reflective water surface and greatly masks the deeper areas of pond water. They look less natural compared with blue dyes, and you may need to under dose if you don’t want much darker water.
Which color of dye do we recommend?
Unless you want a pond dye to minimize algae and predators, you really can’t go wrong with any color! The choice in this instance would be down to personal preference, and which color would work best with the design and setting of your pond. For a more natural aesthetic, blue dyes are a good choice. For a tropical paradise, turquoise or aqua-blue will work great. For a magical pond reflection? A black or twilight dye will do the job.
In terms of algae control, the best dyes would be a blue or a black color. These are also the best for hiding fish from flying predators. The difference between blues and blacks are subtle, but black dyes also create a very reflective surface, so that needs to be taken into account.
If you want a more natural feel to your water, as well as some good algae and predator control, we’d probably recommend a regular blue dye. They’re also usually a bit cheaper than more exotic colors, and you will have more options available in terms of brands.
Maximizing the Results of Water Dye
There are a few things you can do to maximize the results of a pond dye; whether it be for algae control or just water color. Below are some steps to consider being adding dyes so you can get the best results:
- Pond dyes will not be able to remove large amounts of algae, just help control it from coming back after removal with a treatment. Algae will also absorb dye and make your pond look very unappealing after application. We recommend treating algae problems before adding a pond dye for the best color results. Once the dye has been added, the algae will have a much tougher time growing back to the same extent.
- If your water is already a brown or yellow color, you’re likely already suffering from a natural organic dye called tannin. This is the color that leaks from decaying matter in a pond, and it can slowly turn a pond brown/yellow over time. Tannin will mix with pond dyes to change the color, so we recommend treating a pond for tannins before adding dyes. Check here for our guide on this.
- Activated carbon products will reduce the color of dyes, so make sure to stop an activated carbon treatment before applying the color to water.
- Dye should be distributed evenly throughout the pond for the most even color tone. If you have good water flow, the color will naturally disperse by itself over the first 24 hours after application.
- ALWAYS follow the dosing instructions as per the manufacturers guidelines. You should dose accordingly per gallon of pond water, and it’s better to underdose than to overdose. You can always top up with more dye, but it’s more difficult to remove it if there is too much.
Best Pond & Lake Dye Reviews 2023 (updated list)
One of our favorite blue pond dyes due to it’s vibrant color and high quality food-grade ingredients, making it 100% safe for all fish and wildlife. TotalPond’s Pond Blue water dye is designed for garden ponds, and one bottle can provide color to 4,000 US gallons of pond water. The blue dye is food grade acid-9, which is manufactured safe for wildlife and plants when correct dosing instructions are followed.
The blue color is lighter and more subtle than other blue dyes, creating a visible blue hue across the pond water. The color is in-between that of blue and aqua (turquoise), and creates a lovely middle-ground color. For a lighter blue, use less drops, and for a darker blue, dose slightly higher.
Even thought it’s a lighter shade of blue, the dye works well to absorb UV light to stop algae growth and helps hide pond fish from predators. If you have an algae bloom, remember to threat the algae before adding the dye as the algae will absorb color and reduce the effects. The dye works well to control algae and slow it’s growth after a bloom has been treated, however.
Overall, a versatile blue pond dye that provides a fish safe light blue color to the water and helps reduce algae growth and predators. A great choice for both small and large ponds.
How to use: 1 bottle threats 4,000 gallons. Distribute evenly across pond water and allow to disperse. Use only a few drops for an aqua color shade, or follow dosing for a richer blue.
A more concentrated blue dye for larger ponds or for pond owners who want a deeper blue color. EasyPro’s blue pond dye is safe for fish, plants, and other wildlife and will not stain rocks and water features. The blue dye is non-toxic, but more concentrated compared to TotalPond’s Dye, so you may want to dose lower until you reach the desired color. It needs to be diluted as per the manufacturers instructions to ensure correct color is achieved and no staining occurs.
The color is comparable to Royal Blue, and will provide pond water a deeper blue shade. The color is great for reducing algae growth as it blocks more UV compared with lighter colors, and also helps hide fish within the pond from predators. It would be a good choice for ponds which have problems with predatory birds, such as herons.
Algae and tannin problems in your pond should be treated before adding pond dyes, or the color results will not be correct. Algae in particular can cause water to appear green after applying after dyes, so make sure this is treated prior.
Since this dye is concentrated, it needs to be diluted at 1 flu oz per 1,000 gallons. We actually recommend dosing lower if you have a smaller pond, as the blue can become very dark. It’s easier to add more than to remove dye from water if you dose too much! Overall, a good water dye choice which provides a deep blue color and good algae and predator control.
How to use: 1 flu oz per 1,000 gallons. Distribute evenly across pond water and allow to disperse. Use less for lighter blue, and follow dosing for dark blue.
Our recommended choice of black water dye for garden ponds! Microbe Lift’s Bio-Black pond dye contains a concentrated food-grade dye which is 100% safe for fish, plants, and other wildlife. The dye is non-toxic and non-staining, so will not damage water features, rocks, or fountains in the pond.
The color of the dye is black, and it creates a strong reflective surface to the pond water. This effect is great if your pond is surrounded by foliage, as the reflections will become crystal clear across the surface. The black color is also the best for algae control, as black naturally absorbs the largest chunk of UV light. As well as this, the dark color combined with the reflective water surface means it’s the safest choice for hiding fish from predators. Fish are well hidden under the water and the reflective properties confuses air-borne predators overhead.
Another benefit of this particular dye is that is contains beneficial bacteria to help general pond balance. The natural enzymes will help break down substances that cause odors, as well as waste that may interfere with water color. It’s certainly not something that is required in a pond dye, but it’s a great bonus – the more beneficial bacteria in a pond, the better!
Since the dye is concentrated, a little bit will go a long way! Be careful when dosing, as it’s better to use less and add more when needed than to try to remove excess dye. Not much is needed for a reflective surface effect, so you can dose lower if this is all you require.
Overall, the best black pond dye currently available for fish ponds. Non-staining, non-toxic, and great water color with minimal dosing.
How to use: 16 oz Treats up to 8,000 gals. 2 flu oz per 1,000 gallons. Distribute evenly across pond water and allow to disperse. Use less for for subtle reflective shade, and follow dosing for darker black water.