Why Is My Dam Horrible And My Neighbour’s Is Perfect? – Six Reasons Why Your Neighbour’s Dam Looks Better Than Yours (And How To Fix Them)

Have you ever coveted something your neighbour has? Perhaps you want that shiny new car sitting in their driveway or you’d kill for even one of their beautiful outfits. While, we can’t help you out on that front, we can lend a hand with improving your water quality.

So many people come to us and ask why their neighbours have such a lovely dam while theirs is absolutely disgusting. There’s not really a one size fits all answer here, but there are some common reasons:

Problem: Your neighbour has a dam aerator and you don’t.

Aerated dams are always going to be in better condition that their oxygen starved counterparts so if you can see bubbles floating up from the bottom, or an even more obvious surface aerator, there’s your answer. Aerating water helps keep ecosystems balanced which results in a nicer dam and happier, healthier fish and plants.

Solution: Install an aeration system.

If you’ve got a dirty dam, the first step should always be adding more oxygen to your water. Aeration supports the elements that your dam needs to be healthy and boosts beneficial bacteria populations so adding an aerator with greatly improve your water quality.

If you’re unsure whether you need a surface, or sub-surface aeration system, give us a call and one of our friendly experts will be happy to help.


Problem: You’ve got lots of ducks and other visiting wildlife whereas they don’t.

You might think that your new animal friends are wonderful, but your dam probably doesn’t. Ducks can relieve themselves almost one hundred times a day and while other visiting wildlife might not empty waste into your water as often, their offerings are generally larger meaning that they’re just as bad. Animal excrement greatly increases the organic waste and nutrient load within your dam and that can wreak havoc on your water, especially if you’re not aerating and treating it.

Solution: Install an aerator and/or scare away wildlife.

Your dam probably provides vital sustenance and possibly even a home for your wild friends and if you love animals as much as we do, you’re not going to like the idea of shooing them away. If you want them to stay, however, you’re going to need to invest in an aeration system. Aerobic bacteria require oxygen to survive and thrive and they’re the beneficial critters you want floating around your water so they can break down all that excess nutrient. But they simply can’t do this if there isn’t enough dissolved oxygen in your dam and conditions can turn anaerobic very quickly when you’ve got that much waste and excess nutrient being deposited daily. This will lead to poor water quality and can even cause hazardous odours and fish kills so make sure you’re keeping on top of things.

Adding a biological treatment will also help out with this as it’ll boost your beneficial bacteria populations, but aeration is vital for the health of your dam and your new friends in this situation.


Problem: Your dam catches run off and their dam doesn’t.

If your dam is downhill from crops, paddocks where animals are kept, ground with loose soil or any other set up that can experience run off during rain events, your water quality is going to suffer. This is especially true if any pesticides or other chemical treatments have been used in said areas but even natural fertilisers and basic dirt particles can spell disaster for your dam in high enough quantities.

Solution: Plant out your banks and build a barrier if you can.

Although aeration and biological treatments can help you pick up the pieces once all those excess nutrients and nasties are in your dam, ideally, we want to stop them from ending up in your water in the first place. Raising your banks so that run off is diverted is the most effective strategy here but that isn’t always possible due to environmental, budgetary or usage requirements. In instances where you cannot divert run off away from your dam, the best thing you can do for your water is to plant all around your banks and edges. Adding plants around your dam can provide mechanical filtration by physically stopping some run off from making it into your water but the main benefit here is going to be from the biological filtration that your new plants will offer. As run off passes through your planted area, the newest additions to your dam will help filter out any nasty chemicals that may be washing in and will draw the nutrients they need to survive, therefore helping to minimise the excess that ends up in your water.


Problem: Your neighbour removes their algae and aquatic weed manually or treats them with aeration and biologicals whereas you treat yours chemically.

Anything that dies in your water settles into, and adds to, your sludge layer. This layer then acts as fertiliser for the next generation of algae and aquatic weed so if you’re just killing them without treating the underlying cause, or at least removing the resulting dead matter, you’re creating a self-perpetuating cycle that will require more chemical use each time.

Solution: Follow their lead.

Manual removal and aeration are the two most effective ways to treat algae and aquatic weeds so in this instance, all you need to do is follow your neighbours lead. Dosing with biological treatments will also help clean up any outbreaks at a faster rate and can assist in preventing future outbreaks as thriving aerobic bacteria are really good at out-competing algae and other nasties for the nutrients in your dam.


Problem: Your sludge layer is thicker than your neighbours.

What’s going on at the bottom of your dam can have serious implications for the rest of your aquatic ecosystem. Over time your dam will generate a sludge layer (collection of dead and rotting organic matter) at its base and if left unchecked, this build up will eventually turn your dam into a swamp.

Solution: Implement a biological treatment plan.

If your sludge levels are particularly bad, you may need to resort to draining and dredging your dam but ideally, this is to be avoided at all costs as it is not only expensive, but extremely damaging for your dam and the environment. If you have not reached a point where such drastic actions are required, implementing a biological treatment plan can help improve your water quality and reduce your sludge. Biostim Pellets are a particularly effective sludge treatment as they sink to the bottom of your dam and start digesting all organic matter down there. They won’t be affected by any irrigation activities that you may be carrying out and can be used as a spot treatment if you have patches of particularly bad build up.

If you’re unsure how to get started with a treatment plan, our team of aquatic specialists will be happy to devise one for you.


Problem: The trees around your dam are dropping leaves and bark into your water but you neighbour doesn’t have these things falling into their dam.

There’s nothing like kicking back in the shade of a nice big Gum Tree and spending the afternoon fishing in your dam but if said Gum Tree has branches that hang over your water you might be in for some trouble. Any organic matter that finds it way into your dam can upset the balance of your ecosystem and generate excess nutrient load and leaves, bark and anything else that might come out of the tree are no exception.

Solution: Prune branches that hang over your dam.

Completely removing the trees surrounding your dam would be counterproductive, expensive and just straight up sad but pruning any branches that have gotten a bit too big for their boots can be beneficial to both your dam and the tree. By removing these branches, you reduce the amount of nutrients falling into your water and allow the tree to focus its energy on growing other parts of itself bigger and stronger.


Your dam, like any aquatic ecosystem, requires that a delicate balance be maintained for it to be in the best health possible. As a general rule, installing an aerator and implementing a biological treatment plan will vastly improve your water quality but if you’re not sure what’s wrong, it’s always best to speak to a professional first.

Our friendly team of specialists are always happy to have a chat and offer advice on how to get your dam in the best shape possible. We can probably even help you make your dam even nicer than your neighbour’s*. So don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions, we’re happy to help.

*Depends on whether we’re also working with your neighbours.