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Changing to a Wheatgerm Fish Food As the Temperatures Get Cooler – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of Koi Eating Fish Food

Q: I heard as the temperature gets cooler outside that you have to change to a different type of fish food when feed my koi. Is that true? If it is, when would I do that? – Linda of Kentucky

A: Yes, it is true. As the temperatures get cooler you will want to switch from feeding your fish a high growth, high protein fish food to a wheat germ fish food that is much easier for the fish to digest in cooler temperatures.

Why wheat germ fish food?: As the temperature continues the drop, your fish’s digestive system begins to slow down. Feeding your fish a wheat germ food will ensure that the fish can digest the food easily. Wheat germ fish food is specifically designed to be fed to your fish in early Spring or late Fall when the water temperatures are cooler.

When to switch to wheat germ: The best time to switch is when the temperature of your water drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

No feeding under 40 degrees Fahrenheit: It is also very important to remember to not feed your fish once the temperature of your water drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. At this point, a fish’s digestive system has shut down and will remain in a dormant until the temperatures come back up in the early Spring.

Prevent Fall Turnover & Fish Kills by Using Aeration – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of a Fish Kill due to Fall Turnover

Being Aware of Fall Turnover.

Instead of a Q & A for Ponds & Lakes today, I wanted to make everyone aware of what Fall Turnover is and the steps you can take to protect your fish. Around this time of the year we receive quite a few phone calls from customers waking up to find a pond full of dead fish. Hopefully, I can shed some light on this subject that can help you prevent an event like this from happening.

What is Turnover? With no aeration present, the pond’s water is stratified (aka has a thermocline). Meaning that the water at the top is warmer and full of oxygen while on the bottom the water is cooler, nutrient rich and contains no oxygen. This causes the fish to habitate towards the surface of the pond. As the seasons change from the hot summer to the cold winter, the pond goes through a process known as “turnover”. This is when the cooler,
un-oxygenated water at the bottom of the pond, mixes with the warmer oxygenated water at the pond’s surface. Since the rising cooler water contains no oxygen, the fish lose the ability to breathe in a sufficient supply of oxygen. Shortly after, the fish begin to die.

Aeration to the Rescue! You’ve probably heard me talk about aeration in many Q & A’s over the past couple months and are probably sick of hearing about it. But it really is that important and really is a solution to a majority of a pond’s problems.

By properly aerating your pond, the oxygen will be saturated throughout the pond, thus eliminating the thermocline and eliminating the chance for future fish kills caused by “turnover”.

You can also under-aerate a pond as well. Please read the following Q & A for more information.

Keeping Leaves Out of Your Water Garden with Pond Netting – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of Pond Netting Over a Water Garden.

Q: My water garden is placed by a tree and a ton of leaves collect in my water garden. It is a real pain cleaning the pond out at the end of the year. What can I do to prevent leaves from coming in? – Matt of Pennsylvania

A: This is definitely an issue that should be addressed. By preventing leaves from entering the pond, you will help reduce the “muck” build-up, allowing for less pond maintenance.

Using Pond Netting to Keep the Leaves Out: A simple solution to keeping leaves out is to place a pond netting over your water garden. Most pond netting will come with their own stakes that can be used to keep the net in place. This is by far the best and easiest way to accomplish this.

Fish Stocking Predator to Prey Ratio – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of a Bass

Q: I am looking to stock my pond this year and in the past I’ve had trouble with keeping the fish population balanced. Any suggestions? – Ed of Kentucky

A: Initially, when stocking your pond, the biggest factor to keep in mind is the predator to prey ratio.

Predator to Prey Ratio: 1predator fish to every 3 prey fish is a great rule of thumb when stocking your pond. Predator fish are large mouth bass or walleye,
while prey fish would be perch, hybrid bluegill or redear sunfish. Also, add fathead minnows to feed the predator fish to allow the prey fish to get established.

Please note: Adding catfish to your pond does not have any effect on predator to prey ratio but they will cause your pond ‘s water to be cloudy.

Advantages of Stocking Your Pond:

  • Fishing!…Of Course! Why not have a great fishing area, right in your backyard.
  • Keeps frog and leech populations at bay. Do you stay away from your pond because of the annoying frogs or blood sucking leeches? Well, stocking your pond helps keep down that population.

Another thing to keep in mind regarding fish is aeration. Using an aeration system will ensure not only clean and clear water, but healthy fish as well.

Fish Day is Saturday, October 4th, 2008: If you’re in the Southeastern Michigan area and are looking to stock your pond with fish, our semi-annual Fish Day is here to help. Click here to read more.

Pond Vacuums Will Make Cleaning Out Your Water Garden Easy – Water Garden Q & A

Q: I have leaves and muck on the bottom of my water garden. I was looking at your pond vacuums. Why is there such a difference in the price between the two models? Is either of them worth the money? – Vicki of California

A: The question really should be “how do you own a pond without owning a vacuum”? Would you put carpet in your house and not have a vacuum? Well, this may be a little extreme but there is some truth to the statement.

First, let consider why we need to vacuum our ponds:

As time passes by, our ponds accumulate “muck” from leaves, fish waste, uneaten fish food, lily pads, etc. This “muck” is very high in nutrients and a great food source for algae! Although we do suggest a complete cleanout each and every spring, this is sometimes not an option, especially every year. So having the ability to remove waste without removing all the water is a huge advantage. In general, you will only lose about 10-15% of your water after a complete vacuuming, which is just the right amount for a small water change to freshen up the pond.

Which vacuum is right for you?

The real decision when choosing between the Pond-O-Matic XL or the Pond-O-Vac  III really only comes down to a couple of questions. How large your pond is and how often you will need to vacuum?

If you have a smaller pond (less then 300 sq. ft) then a Pond-O-Matic XL will be sufficient: The Pond-O-Matic XL features a automatic fill-and-drain system that senses when the vacuum basin is full and automatically shuts off, drains and then turns back on. You will get a good 30-45 seconds of cleaning time between each drain with the drain time approximately the same. So 45 seconds of cleaning could take you up to 90 seconds.

Larger ponds (over 300 sq. ft.) and ponds that receive an excessive amount of debris would be great candidates for the Pond-O-Vac III. The biggest advantage of this “Cadillac” of pond vacuums is its ability to drain a pump at the same time. This is a real time-saving operation because it does not have to stop and drain before continuing.

Other advantages of the Pond-O-Vac III:

  • 5-year warranty compared to the 2-year warranty of the Pond-O-Matic XL.
  • Clear vacuum extension for monitoring operation.
  • Build in rack for to conveniently store and organize accessories.
  • Build-in wheels for greater mobility.

Properly Getting Rid of Chara (Algae) – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of chara, an erected form of algae.

Q: I have been treating for Algae/Chara about every two months throughout the summer although with fall approaching (and cooler temperatures) should I still be treating it or should I wait until spring? – Paul of Michigan

A: In general we suggest that you wait until water temperatures are above 50°F: Although the real answer is that you can treat Algae/Chara anytime it is actively growing. In most cases (in the Midwest) you can start treating algae as early as March or April and continue treatment through the month of October.

Treating for Algae/Chara: Chara, although it looks like a plant is actually just an erect from of Algae.

When treating for Chara and/or floating algae always take in to consideration the following:

  • Benefits of Chara: Chara unlike planktonic and floating algae is not always an eyesore and can benefit your pond in many ways such as: naturally filtering the water, providing fish habitat, and preventing more aggressive plant grow. Chara can be selectively treated in swimming and fishing areas in larger bodies of water.
  • Treatment Area: Only treat 1/3 of your pond at a time, waiting 7-10 days between treatments to minimize oxygen depletion caused by rotting vegetation.
  • What Product Works Best: In almost every case we would suggest using liquid Algae Defense due to its cost and effectiveness. Although if your pond contains Trout, Koi or Goldfish you must test for hardness before any treatments. If the water hardness is not above 50ppm then Hydrothol 191 should be used to reduce the chance of a fish kill.
  • The Best Time of Day For Treatment: Treat early on a calm sunny day; this will give you optimal conditions for your treatments to work.

Preventive Tips:

  • Removing and/or raking dead Algae and Chara after a treatment (wait 5-7 days) can help prevent it from coming back in the future by removing excess nutrients.
  • Always consider a proactive solution over a reactive one when possible consider aeration, natural bacteria and other alternatives for a long-term solution to your problems.

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