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I can’t get chemicals in my state, so how do I get rid of my weeds? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I can’t get chemicals in my state, so how do I get rid of my weeds?

Q: I can’t get chemicals in my state, so how do I get rid of my weeds?

Wayne- Ocean Shores, WA

A: Some states – like California, Washington, Maine, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, among others – regulate the use of chemicals more so than others. If you live in one of these places, and need to control weeds or algae growth around your lake or pond, your choices are limited if you want to avoid fines and protect your local ecosystem.

But don’t worry. You still have options! Here are some ways you can manage pesky weeds and algae while keeping the regulators (and the environment) happy.

  • Mechanical Removal: Use a variety of pond tools to control the growth in your pond or lake. Cut down weeds with a Weed Cutter or Razer™ and rake them out with a weed rake, like the Jenlis Weed Raker™. If you have floating algae, you can also skim it away with a pond skimmer. This mechanical removal will take some work, but they are chemical-free ways to manage weeds and algae.
  • Limit Sunlight: Weeds and algae use sunlight to flourish, so another chemical-free way to tamp down growth is to add pond dye to the water. Available in liquid concentrate and in convenient packet formulas, Pond Dye shades your pond, preventing foliage from thriving.
  • Limit Nutrients: Plants need nutrients to grow, so adding some all natural beneficial bacteria can help. The microorganisms will eat through decomposing organics, fish waste and other plant-feeding fodder. We recommend using ClearPAC® PLUS without Algae Defense®, which contains which contains PondClear™, MuckAway™ and EcoBoost™, along with some pond dye.
  • Aerate 24/7: If you don’t already, keep your Airmax® Pond Series™ Aeration System up and running 24/7. Doing so will circulate the water column and deliver oxygen to the beneficial bacteria as they gobble through the nutrients. Aeration will also promote the growth and reproduction of those beneficial microorganisms.
  • Hire a Professional: If you’ve tried the non-chemical methods and aren’t satisfied with the result, a final option is to hire a licensed applicator in your area that has the proper permits to purchase, transport and apply chemical herbicides and algaecides.

Like them or not, rules and regulations controlling the use of chemicals are in place for a reason. Use common sense and obey the federal, state and local edicts. You have non-chemical options available, so try them out. You have nothing to lose – except a hefty fine!

Pond Talk: What are some other ways to control weeds and algae naturally?

Remove Unwanted Weeds & Muck Build Up  - The Pond Guy(r) Pond and Beach Rake

I went to clean my filters and found worms! What are they doing there? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I went to clean my filters and found worms! What are they doing there?

Q: I went to clean my filters and found worms! What are they doing there?

Gene – Tehachapi, CA

A: They’re weird looking, they’re tiny, and they’re blood-red – or at least a creamy pink color. What are they? They’re non-biting midge fly larvae, also known as bloodworms. Though they’re an unsettling infestation to see in your filter, they’re actually a sign that your pond is happy and healthy.

What’s In a Name

Midge flies hail from the family Chironomidae, which includes more than 10,000 different species worldwide. Some varieties appear bright red in color thanks to a hemoglobin-type substance that helps them live with oxygen-depleted water, giving them their “bloodworm” nickname.

As adults, midge flies resemble mosquitoes, but they have fluffy antennae and no blood-sucking proboscis. Large numbers of them can be a nuisance as their droppings can cause damage to paint, brick and other surfaces. And when their tiny corpses pile up, they can cause a stink.

Feasting in Your Filter

These insects thrive in freshwater aquatic and semi-aquatic environments. In their larval stages, they live in tree holes, plants, rotting vegetation, soil and artificial containers – including filtration systems, infesting media pads where there’s an abundance of organics from debris and fish waste. They spend their time attached to the container’s solid surface and eat as food floats by.

Midge flies lay their eggs in water, preferring it to be still, clear, dark and safe from critters like fish and frogs that nosh on the larvae when they emerge. To protect themselves, the bloodworms actually create and live in tiny half-inch tubes they build from mud, algae and other naturally occurring resources. Look closely in your filter, and you’ll probably see some of these worm-sized mud huts.

A Tasty Fish Treat

Don’t worry: These little guys won’t harm your pond or your fish. In fact, if one wriggles its way into your pond, it will be a welcome treat for your fish. Goldfish and other smaller fish will gobble them and their little mud homes; koi and other larger fish will treat them as tasty hors d’oeuvres.

Bloodworms are quite nutritious for fish. In fact, the insects are about 55 percent protein – which is a key nutrient fish need to grow, reproduce and maintain their health. So rather than balk at the tiny worms, scoop them out of your filter and give them to your pond dwellers. They’ll thank you for them!

Pond Talk: What kinds of treats do you feed your pond fish?

Four Densities for Every Filtration Need - Matala(r) Filter Media Pads

What can I do to get rid of mosquitoes near my pond?| Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: What can I do to get rid of mosquitoes near my pond?

Q: What can I do to get rid of mosquitoes near my pond?

Richard – Benkelman, NE

A: It’s twilight. You’re relaxing pond side, enjoying a cold beverage and conversation with your pals, when the buzzing and biting starts. The mosquitoes have crashed your party, and they send you scurrying for insect repellent, long sleeves and – at the peak of swarm season – the safety of the indoors.

Mosquitoes are not fun. They feed on blood, leave behind itchy welts and, in some cases, transmit dangerous diseases like malaria, dengue, yellow fever, West Nile virus, dog heartworm and equine encephalitis. So how do you control the evil little vampires?

Clean House

Your first course of action is to destroy their home. Adult mosquitoes live among the debris surrounding your pond, so pull out your Weed Cutter or Pond & Beach Rake and cut down and rake out the dead plants, overgrowth and other potential hiding spots – at least in the area where you hang out most often.

Stop Stagnant Water

A female mosquito prefers to lay her eggs in stagnant water that’s full of algae, plankton, fungi and bacteria, so your next plan of attack should be to churn the water with an Airmax® Aeration System near the area where you sit. The waves will make her think twice about calling that part of your pond home.

Bring In the Troops

If you don’t already have a fish population living in your lake, consider adding some mosquito fish, which are small fish that gobble the mosquito larvae. The American Mosquito Control Association recommends adding predacious minnows or native fish to lakes and ponds for biological control of the insects.

Use Mosquito Dunks

If you find you’re still having problems with the vampire bugs, try some Summit® Mosquito Bits® & Dunks®. These handy-dandy little disks and crumbles contain Bt-israelensis (Bt-i), a specially formulated biological pesticide designed to mosquito larvae. You simply toss them in your pond or lake and they’ll provide relief for up to 30 days. Plus, they’re safe for use around wildlife, pets and humans.

Don’t put away the insect repellent because, unfortunately, mosquitoes are part of life with a lake or pond. But you can keep the population of those irritating bloodsuckers down with aeration, physical control, biological control and, if necessary, chemical control so you can enjoy relaxing evenings without being chased inside.

Pond Talk: How do you manage mosquitoes by your pond or lake?

Eradicate Mosquitoes for 30 Days - Summit® Mosquito Bits® & Dunks®

How do I know how many gallons are in my pond?| Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How do I know how many gallons are in my pond?

Q: How do I know how many gallons are in my pond?

Jolene – New Rochelle, NY

A: Gallons matter. Knowing how much water your pond holds will help you determine the size of aeration and filtration systems you need. It will also help you properly dose your pond with commonly used pond products and determine how many fish your pond can house.

So how do you calculate this all-important figure? Put on your thinking cap, because we’re revisiting some high school geometry.

Rectangular Ponds

The easiest ponds to measure are those that resemble a rectangle. If you’ll recall from geometry class, you can calculate a rectangle’s volume by multiplying its length by its width by its height, so L x W x H.

First, to get your length and width, measure your pond at its longest point and its widest point. Figuring out its depth is a bit trickier, particularly if you have plant shelves or if the pond has a slope. If it is the same depth throughout, use that number in your formula. If you have a plant shelf or the depth varies, measure the maximum depth and cut it in half to create an average depth. For instance, let’s say the pond is four feet at its deepest but has some shallow areas for plants. Use half of that depth, or two feet, for your formula.

So let’s put this in real terms: If your pond is 15 feet long by 10 feet wide by 2 feet deep, your pond’s volume is 300 cubic feet. One cubic foot holds 7.48 gallons of water, so multiply 300 by 7.48 to get your total – which equals 2,244 gallons.

Circular Ponds

If your pond is round or oval, you’ll start by using the formula to find the surface area of a circle – which is Pi x Radius2 , or 3.14 x R x R. The radius of your pond is half the distance across, so if your pond is a 10 foot circle, the radius is 5 feet. Your formula will look like this: 3.14 x 5 x 5 = 78.5.

Next, figure out your pond’s depth, just like we did with the rectangular pond. If it’s 4 feet deep with plant shelves and sloped sides, use 2 feet. Then multiply that number by your surface area: 78.5 x 2 = 157 cubic feet.

Finally, convert that number into gallons. One cubic foot holds 7.48 gallons of water, so 157 x 7.48 = 1,174 gallons.

Irregular Shaped Ponds

The more irregular your pond’s shape, the less accurate your measurement will become – but it’s OK. In most cases, you don’t need to pinpoint its volume to the exact gallon. Use whichever formula best resembles your pond’s shape. For instance, if your pond is kidney shaped, use the rectangle formula and remember that the final figure will be slightly higher.

Playing with the Numbers

With your newfound numbers, head over to The Pond Guy’s® online calculator where you can plug in those figures and see how many boulders you need, how many fish your pond can hold, what pump size you need and more.

Now aren’t you glad you paid attention in geometry class?

Pond Talk: What kinds of improvements have you made to your pond or backyard this summer?

5 Easy Steps to Clear Pond Water - Pond Logic (r) DefensePAC 9r)

I think I have grass growing in my pond. Could it be Sago pondweed? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I think I have grass growing in my pond. Could it be Sago pondweed?

Q: I think I have grass growing in my pond. Could it be Sago pondweed?

Lewie- Gwinner, ND

A: Sago pondweed, or Potamogeton pectinatus, is a distinctive aquatic plant that kind of does resemble grass.

Sago is a perennial that grows from thickly matted rhizomes. It has no floating leaves, but it has thin, long and branching stems with tapering, filament-like leaves that are 1/16 of an inch wide and 2 to 12 inches in length. The leaves grow in thick layers and originate from a sheath. The plants produce a nut-like fruit that’s 1/8 to 1/4 inch long and 1/10 to 1/8 inch wide.

Pondweed Pros and Cons
The Sago pondweed, like other aquatic plants, provides habitat for many below- and above-the-surface critters. From the birds that eat the plant’s fruit and tubers to the fish that find food and safety in their stems, the pondweed has lots of fans. Even fungi and beneficial bacteria benefit from it – as the plant decomposes, the microorganisms feed on the detritus.

But Sago also has its drawbacks. Plants rapidly spread between bodies of water. In a small water body or backyard pond, unchecked Sago can become a nuisance. And when you do mechanically remove it, remaining plant fragments, including leaves and roots, can sprout new growth.

Controlling Sago
If you suspect Sago in your pond, you have several management options. Here’s what we recommend to help you get the weed under control.

  1. Herbicides: To rid your pond or lake of Sago, an herbicide will be necessary.
    • Sonar™ A.S. is a season-long herbicide. One treatment wipes out Sago and many other common floating and submerged pond weeds for the entire season.
    • Ultra PondWeed Defense® is a broad-spectrum herbicide that will quickly kill Sago. It doesn’t stay in the water body, however, so multiple treatments may be necessary.
    • Clipper™ is a fast and selective herbicide that controls tough invasive and nuisance floating and submerged aquatic plants. It comes in a fine wettable powder to spray weeds.
  2. Mechanical Removal: Once it has turned brown and died, Sago pondweed can be removed by raking it with a Weed Raker™ – but remember that the plant will sprout and reestablish from any remaining roots, seeds and foliage fragments.
  3. Pond Dye: Non-toxic dyes, like Pond Logic® Pond Dye, reduce and prevent Sago pondweed growth by limiting sunlight penetration.
  4. Aeration and Beneficial Bacteria: Aerating your pond or lake with an Airmax® Aeration System can help, too – particularly if you’re using the beneficial bacteria found in PondClear™ . The extra oxygen in the water fuels the tiny bacteria as they break down nutrients that fertilize the Sago.

Pond Talk: Have you ever had Sago pondweed in your pond or lake? How did you get it under control?

Broad Spectrum Control - Pond Logic(r) Ultra PondWeed Defense (r)

Someone told me I need to do the Jar Test. What is that? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Someone told me I need to do the Jar Test. What is that?

Q: Someone told me I need to do the Jar Test. What is that?

Margie – Clinton, ME

A: Let me guess: You have discolored or cloudy water, right?

Your friend gave some good advice. If you have green- or tea-colored water, or murky water in your pond, a jar test is an easy way to diagnose just what’s causing those clarity issues.

It’s simple to do. Take a clear glass jar, dunk it into your pond, fill it up with the water and let it sit for 24 hours. Overnight, the jar and its contents become a miniature version of your water garden – and it’ll reveal the source of your problem. Here’s how to read your jar:

Green Water

If your jar contains green-tined water or if the water has green particles in it, you most likely have algae. Planktonic algae – the source of algae blooms – are floating, microscopic plants that color pond water green, blue-green, brown or variations in between. Your jar is telling you to treat for algae with an algaecide like AlgaeFix®. It clears up all types of algae blooms fast.

Tea-Colored Water

Discolored or tea-colored water means you have some leaf tea brewing in your pond. As organic debris decomposes in your pond, the tannins and other byproducts mix into the water column, discoloring it. Your first remedy is to add a bag of Activated Carbon to the water. It will clear up the dissolved materials that are causing the problem. While the carbon is working, remove floating and decaying material with Collapsible Skimmer Net and ClearVac™ Pond Vacuum. Keep your pond clean by skimming it regularly and covering it with pond netting or a Pond Shelter™ during the fall months.

Water with Sediment

Does your jar have clear water with a layer of sediment on the bottom? If so, you have an abundance of organics in the pond, and your fish are constantly stirring them up and clouding the water. Your four-step solution: Remove large debris, perform a partial water change, add a Water Conditioner, and double down on the beneficial bacteria from the DefensePAC®.

A jar test can reveal a lot about the water in your pond. If you need some assistance in discerning what your jar is telling you, just email one of The Pond Guy experts. They’re there to help!

Pond Talk: Have you ever been surprised by the results of a jar test in your pond?

Safely Clear Tea Colored Water - Pond Logic (r) Activated Carbon

Should I turn off my UV light when adding water treatments, like Nature’s Defense®, to my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Should I turn off my UV light when adding water treatments, like Nature’s Defense®, to my pond?

Q: Should I turn off my UV light when adding water treatments, like Nature’s Defense®, to my pond?

Olivia – Blissfield, MI

A: Great question! The answer all depends on the kind of ultraviolet light you’re talking about – so let’s quickly go through the differences between a UV sterilizer and a UV clarifier.

UV Sterilizer: Cleans It All- Good and Bad

A UV sterilizer completely sterilizes the water – which means it kills anything and everything that floats past its path, including beneficial bacteria found in some water treatments. These units are effective at killing floating algae and harmful pathogens like parasites, but they kill the good stuff, too. We don’t recommend adding bacteria to your pond while using a UV sterilizer.

UV Clarifier: Targets the Green Stuff

A UV clarifier is different. It targets just algae and leaves the bacteria alone (as long as the unit is sized right for the pond). The clarifier uses ultraviolet light to destroy the reproductive ability of suspended green stuff. Dead algae then clumps together into particles large enough to be removed by mechanical filtration, leaving the pond cleaner and clearer. If pea soup water is a recurring problem for you, add a UV clarifier to your pond.

Optimize the Flow

If you use a UV clarifier, you can leave the light on while you use bacteria-based treatments, like those found in the DefensePAC® Pond Care Package. But just be sure the bulb and pump are sized correctly.

Bright Enough Bulb: For a UV clarifier to be most effective, the bulb needs to have a high enough wattage for your pond’s volume. All UV clarifiers are rated based on pond size. The larger the wattage, the larger the pond size the UV clarifier can handle.

Power to the Pump: The water needs to flow pass the UV bulb at the just right speed, so the pump size is important. If the water moves too quickly, it won’t kill the algae and it could cause the seals on the unit to malfunction; if it moves too slowly, it will kill the algae and beneficial bacteria. A great rule of thumb is to push the water approximately half of what the UV is rated per hour.

A convenient option is to try out an all-in-one unit, like the AllClear™ & SolidFlo™ Combo Kits. The mechanical and biological filter system comes with a built-in UV clarifier. When used with the SolidFlo pump, you’ll be well on your way to clear water.

One last tip: Keep the water well-circulated by running an aeration system, like one of the Airmax® Aeration Kits. Its diaphragm compressors and air stones keep the beneficial bacteria supplied with oxygen, as well as ensure every drop of water and every algae cell float past that UV bulb.

Pond Talk: When have you used an UV clarifier in your pond?

All-Natural Pond Care System - Pond Logic (r) DefensePAC 9r)

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