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How Many Fish Can I Have? – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of a School of Fish

Q: How many fish can I have in my water garden? -Several Customers

A: There are many rules of thumbs out there regarding how many fish you can have in your water garden. Just remember, the old saying goes, “The more animals in the barn, the more doo doo to clean up.” With that said, if you have the number of fish that the picture to the left has…my guess is that you have algae! Below I am going to explain the 4-Key Factors in Maintaining a Clean, Clear & Healthy Pond Ecosystem. The way these factors work is this: If you plan to increase your fish load, then you must improve the other 3 to help compensate. Hopefully this helps!

1. The DefensePAC®:
The products included in the DefensePAC® provides beneficial bacteria, trace minerals, and a fish and plant safe pond cleaner. The DefensePAC works to breakdown fish waste, leaves or other organics that accumulate in the pond. These are essential to maintain a clean, clear and healthy ecosystem.

2. Fish Load:
When calculating your fish load think of it in pounds of fish or total inches. For example, one 6” fish can weigh as much as four 4” fish. The number of fish will affect the overall fish load, although 10 small fish may only produce the waste of one large fish. With this said, remember that your fish are growing and in many cases multiplying. Always plan for the future and be careful not to overstock your pond.

3. Proper Filtration:
The size and type of your filtration system will depend on your total fish load. If your filter is not properly sized for max potential, your fish will outgrow the filter. In most cases filters on the market are rated for ponds containing no fish or a minimal fish load. It is always best to get a filter that is rated for at least 2x the water volume of your pond.

4. Aquatic Plants:
A simple rule of thumb is to have 60% plant coverage. This should consist of submerged, floating and marginal plants. Floating plants, such as Water Hyacinths, pull their nutrients directly from the water. Rooted plants, such as water lilies and marginal plants, create a great place for your fish to hide from predators. Please note when aquatic plants are not present, algae will take their place.

Controlling Leeches – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of a Leech

Q: How do you get rid of leeches?
- Richard of Waterbury Center, VT

A: The “muck” at the bottom of your pond is a great breeding ground for leeches. So the absolute best way to get rid of them would be to get rid of the “muck”. MuckAway™ Pond Muck Reducer is the best way to do this. MuckAway™ will eat up to 5″ of “muck” per year!

Another thing you can do in the short term is trap them. To do so, do the following:

1.) Start with a coffee can with a plastic lid.

2.) Poke holes in the sides of the can with a nail. Holes should be 1/8 to 1/4 inch in size. The nail holes should leave a sharp burr on the inside of the can (approximately 50 holes).

3.) Put about 1/4 cup of raw meat in the can (ground beef, liver, chicken or turkey giblets are recommended).

4.) Put the lid on the can and submerge it completely in your pond. A rock placed on top of the can will prevent it from falling over and will help prevent snapping turtles from tampering with it.

5.) Check the trap a couple of times a week and remove the leeches. Keep the trap in the pond until the leech numbers decrease, or you no longer catch any leeches in the trap.

Finding a Leak in Your Liner – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of a Waterfall

Q: I opened my water garden up for the Spring/Summer and its seems as though I have a leak? But I don’t know where? Any suggestions? -Several Customers

A: Having a leak in your water garden can always be frustrating. I hope to shed some light on some great ways to detect where your leak is located.

1.) Bottom Leak - The first way to test for a leak is to turn off the waterfall system and check to see how far the water drops. If it drops all the way to the bottom of the pond, then we know for sure that the leak is on the bottom of the pond. This could be caused by a bottom drain or sharp rock edges. It would be suggested to place your fish in another place while checking this.

2.) Side Leak - If the system is off and the water level drops and seems to stay at a certain point, then there is a side leak. The best way to find a side leak is to wait until the water level stays at that certain point, fill the water garden up a 1/2″ or so and go around the edges with a food grade dark colorant or a cap full of milk. By doing this you will be able to see where the dye travels out of the water garden. You may have to shift some rocks around in order to locate exactly where the leak is. A liner patch

A liner patch will easily fix these types of leaks.

3.) Waterfall/Stream Leak – If you turn off your waterfall/stream/pump system and the water level doesn’t drop, then the leak is somewhere within that system. It could be water spilling over the edge of a stream instead of going back into the pond. The fittings on the waterfall or filter could be leaking. The Flex PVC or kink free tubing from the pump to the waterfall/filter could be leaking.

Controlling Frog Population – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of Frog

Q: My pond is filled with hundreds of frogs, really loud frogs. What is the best way to decrease the frog population?
- Diane of Metamora, IL

A: Ahhh, frogs. Its nice to have a few frogs here or there to jump in the pond as you walk by, but if the population gets over bearing, all of a sudden they become a huge annoyance. Frogs can be very loud, especially when there is an excessive amount of frogs present. If you would like to keep the frogs population down here are a couple of things you can do:

1.) Frogs love to hide in cattails or any other emergent weeds around a pond’s shoreline. A clear shore will usually have a lesser population of frogs. Simply use the Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS Combo to control shoreline emergent weeds and grasses.

2.) Bass – Simply adding bass to your pond is a great way to control excessive amounts of frogs. Bass will utilize the frogs as another food source.

Protecting Your Fish From Predators – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of Great Blue Heron

Q: Last year something caused over 20 of my fish to disappear overnight. How can I protect my fish?
-Katherine of Nanty Glo, PA

A: More often than not, what took your fish was a blue heron. We hear this quite a bit throughout the year. Here are a couple suggestions:

Blue Heron Decoy: These decoys, when used correctly, will deter blue herons away from your water garden. Here’s why: Blue herons are very territorial birds. If a heron sees another heron by a prospecting water garden, it will rather fly to another destination than challenge the heron thats there. By using a Blue Heron Decoy, you can accomplish just that. It is recommended to move the heron decoy every other day. Caution: DO NOT use heron decoys during mating season as they will become a heron magnet instead.

Motion Activated Scarecrow Sprinkler: This motion activated sprinkler works extremely well to deter any predator (including kids =) ). Simply hook to your garden hose, set the sensitivity level and any predator that comes within a 20 foot range will get hit with a 3 second burst of water. It works great and it is guaranteed effective.

Aquatic Plants: Having a 50-60% coverage in plants will help create a hiding spot for fish when predators are around.

Controlling Cattails & Phragmites – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of Cattails & Phragmites

Q: How do you control emergent cattails & phragmites around my pond? -Several Customers from across the US

A: At first site, cattails and phragmites seem to add a natural look to your farm pond. But before you know it, they grow out of control and wrap around the pond causing a very unappealing look. Here are 3 Easy Steps to killing cattails, phragmites or other emergents: Spray … Cut … Remove.

1.) Spray - The best products to use to get rid of emergent weeds is the Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS Combo. It it always best to read the product labels for dosage rates, but a great suggestion is to mix 8 oz Shoreline Defense®, with 4 oz Treatment Booster™ PLUS, with 2 gallons of water into a pond sprayer. This recommendation will treat approximately 2,500 sq. ft. of emergent weeds. It is best to spray when cattails or phragmites are around 12″ high or taller. Before cutting and removing, it is recommended to wait a week and a half to allow the chemical to get into the root system. By not allowing this time to pass or cutting too early will allow the root system to stay alive.

2.) Cut – Use a Weed Cutter to cut at the base of the cattails/phragmites. This will allow for easier removal.

3.) Remove – Use a Pond & Beach Rake to assist in removing the of the cut cattails/phragmites.

Controlling Algae in a Pond Containing Trout – Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: How do you control algae growth in a small pond that will not affect the fish (trout) in it?
-Jerry of Harrisburg, PA

A: We always suggest to customers with a pond of any size to use an aeration system along with natural bacteria to help eliminate muck and prevent stagnant water. Using these products together will make pond management easier and in time will reduce the need for chemicals. As far as the algae you currently have, there are a couple options to get rid of it. They are Algae Defense® Algaecide and Clipper™. If you use the Algae Defense®, you will need to test your water hardness to ensure the carbonate hardess is above 50 ppm (parts per million) which is safe level for trout when treating with Algae Defense®. If you do not wish to go that route or if your pond contains koi or goldfish, use Clipper™ instead. Clipper™ is a granular that will work both on algae and weeds.

Just remember, using only chemicals to control algae is a “reactive”, short-term approach. If you really want to gain control over the long-haul, then you need to be “proactive” and follow the 4-Easy Steps to the Perfect Ecosystem. Watch our 4-step video online to learn more.

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