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Reducing Foam Buildup On Your Water Garden’s Surface – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of Foam on the Water's Surface.

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: Foam seems to buildup on my water’s surface. What is causing this and can I get rid of it? – Tom of Ohio

A: Have you ever walked out towards your water garden and noticed a bunch of foam around where your waterfall comes into the pond? Sometimes this foam can get a little out of control and began to become unsightly.

Foam is the result of an excessive accumulation of organic waste in your pond caused by over population of fish, overfeeding, poor filtration, runoff and various other water quality issues. This foam will mostly occur in agitated water such as around your waterfall. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce this foam buildup. Some are quick fixes and others are more long-term solutions.

Quick Fix Solutions:

  • Use Shakedown Anti-Foamer - This anti-foamer works quickly to eliminate any foam building. Simply pour it in around foamy areas for immedate, but temporary control.
  • Surface Skimmer – If you have the pleasure of having a skimmer built into your water garden, usually the foam will be pulled right into it.
  • Partial Water Change – Replacing 10-25% of the water every few days until the problem is resolved is one way to dilute the excess organics to help reduce foam.

Long-Term Solutions:

  • Limit the amount of contributing organics by reducing fish feeding and making sure you don’t overload your water garden with fish.
  • Make sure your filtration is adequate for your sized water garden as well as your fish load.
  • Attack and reduce organic build-up an excess waste by using beneficial natural bacterias such as the DefensePAC.

Hopefully the above suggestions will help you if you are struggling with foam problem.

POND TALK: Do you have a foam problem in your water garden? What did you do to reduce the problem?

Foam is the result of an excessive accumulation of organic waste in your pond caused by over population of fish, overfeeding, poor filtration, runoff and various other water quality issues. This foam will mostly occur in agitated water such as around your waterfall. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce this foam buildup. Some are quick fixes and others are more long-term solutions.

Blue Pond Dye Versus Black Pond Dye – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of Blue Pond Dye & Black Pond Dye.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: I notice you have a black pond dye. Is there any reason why I should use black pond dye versus blue pond dye? – Nick of New York

A: We’ve received some calls lately about the difference between our Nature’s Blue Pond Dye & Black DyeMond Pond Dyes. What’s the best color for the pond? Is one better than the other? When would I use one of them and not the other? It really comes down to color preference as well as the environment surrounding your pond.

Nature’s Blue Pond Dye is the most widely used of the pond dyes. It looks very good in almost any situation. Our blue dye has a very deep, natural blue shade as opposed to some of the yellowish-blue colors you find with some other brands. Nature’s Blue Pond Dye works great in ponds that have a manicured and open landscape where the open sky can help reflect the color.

Black DyeMond Pond Dye is growing popularity extremely fast in the pond market. What we’ve found is that Black DyeMond pond dye fits very well in natural ponds in wooded areas. It gives the pond a pure, reflective quality that rivals some of Mother Nature’s best work.

Either way, whichever color you choose, blue or black, pond dye is an important aspect of keep your pond looking beautiful all year.

POND TALK: Do you use pond dye in your pond?

How Do I Reduce Mosquitoes Around My Pond? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of a Mosquito Close Up.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: I get a lot of mosquitoes. Are they coming from my pond? Is there anything I can do you to do to get rid of them? – Wendy of Ohio

A: There nothing worse than getting attacked and annoyed by mosquitoes. It’s hard to sit back and relax by the pond when swatting at mosquitoes! Well, like most topics I write about, I always like to start with the cause of your problem first.

What Causes Mosquitoes: Two words: Stagnant water. That’s right, any stagnant or standing water can be come a breeding ground for mosquitoes. And unlike the last few years, most of the country has had a wet spring, so expect mosquitoes to be a problem! The majority of your mosquitoes come from low areas, unclean gutters or any where water is allowed to collect and sit stagnate. A pond in most cases is not a great spot for mosquitoes to breed, especially if there is an aeration system or fountain
present. The constant ripples caused by an aeration system or fountain will make it very difficult if not impossible for mosquitoes to breed. Although, however, if your pond shorelines become overgrown with cattails or other emergent plants, they will block the rippling effect from an aeration system or fountain, thus contributing to mosquito growth.

Reducing Mosquitoes:

Use Mosquito Dunks & Bits to Reduce Mosquitoes:

  • Mosquito Dunks are donut shaped and are simply placed on the water’s surface. Each dunk can treat 100 sq. ft.. Dunks are great for small ponds, water gardens and birdbaths.
  • Mosquito Bits are recommended for a pond or lake. You just simply sprinkle the bits around the shoreline or any where the water is still. With Bits you don’t have to treat your entire pond. 1 oz of Mosquito
    Bits will treat up to 125 sq. ft. for 30-days.
  • Note: Mosquito Dunks and Bits are not recommended for ponds that are used for drinking.

POND TALK: What do you do to keep mosquitoes at bay?

Does Having Too Many Koi Cause String Algae? – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of String Algae.

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: I have a bad case of string algae in my water garden and someone told me it was because I had too many fish. I have an approximately 1,000 gallon water garden and around 40 koi 6″ long in it. Is that really too many? If so, how many should I have? – Marco of Texas

A: You can ask anyone here at The Pond Guy; usually the first question we ask when someone says they have a bad algae problem is, “How many fish do you have?”, followed by, “What size water garden do you have?”. 9 out 10 times, there are way too many fish in the water garden. So why does having that many fish cause algae? Let me explain.

Sunlight + Food Source = Algae: Algae really only needs two things to grow, sunlight and a food source. The food source can come from many sources but fish waste is a major contributor. This means the more fish you have, the more waste, the more algae. Make sense?

Finding a Balance: When you put fish into your water garden always consider the future. Small fish become big fish and fish are very romantic creatures. Let’s say you purchased 20 koi at around 3″ each. Your pond may be able
to handle the fish load for a few seasons then all things start to change. As time went by, your fish have grown and maybe even started a family. As nature takes its course, your pond starts to pay the price and water quality becomes an issue. Take into consideration that 40 1″ fish produce the waste of just one 12″ fish. So even though you pond may have been able to handle the fish load in the past, you must consider that your fish load or fish waste grows expotentially every year.

Koi vs. Goldfish: I know that when you’re shopping for fish koi are more expensive and sometimes the goldfish look really nice too. I feel the same way myself at times. Just keep in mind that goldfish can reproduce up to 6 times a year where koi only reproduce once a year.

Fish Tips: Goldfish can grow up to 18” long and live up to 20 years, where as a koi can grow up to 36” long and live over 200 years! One famous scarlet koi, named “Hanako” (c. 1751 – July 7, 1977) was owned by several individuals, the last of which was Dr. Komei Koshihara. Hanako was reportedly 226 years old upon her death. Her age was determined by removing one of her scales and  examining it extensively in 1966. She is (to date) the longest-lived koi fish ever recorded (wikipedia).

POND TALK: How many fish do you have in your water garden?

Using Water Hyacinth in Water Gardens – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of a Water Hyacinth.

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: I’ve had many people tell me to add water hyacinth to my water garden. I heard they spread like wildfire and can take over my water garden. What’s so great about them? – Tiffany of West Virginia

A: Water hyacinth, especially in water gardens, are a useful tool when trying to create a balanced ecosystem. Water hyacinth are simple to use and perform many functions in a water garden such as: great for filtration, compete with algae for nutrients and provides shade and shelter. I know many of our readers may not agree with this so let’s explain some of the cons first.

Many southern states have restricted water hyacinth because of its aggressive growth. They clog waterways and choke out native plants. In these areas other plant types can be used. Bogs can be planted with marginal/bog plants to maintain the water body that are not as aggressive. Water lilies can be utilized for shelter and shade. If you are in the northern climates, water hyacinth still spread quickly but they cannot survive the cold harsh winter.

So Why Use Water Hyacinth Anyway?

  • Easy to Plant: Water hyacinth are one of the most simple plants to add to your water garden. Simply drop them in and enjoy. You can place them in your waterfall filter, calm areas in the pond or any place where there is at least a few inches of water.
  • Shelter: Water hyacinth float on the water’s surface covering the pond and shading it from the sun keeping the water cooler. The root systems also provide hiding places for your baby fish as well as cover in general against predators.
  • Filtration Capacity: Water hyacinth have large root systems that can stretch 10 or more inches. Each of these individual roots have thousands of root hairs which increase the roots surface area. We know from our filter systems that the main reason they work so well is the large amount of surface area for bacteria to grow on. Multiply that by numerous water hyacinth and you have instantly doubled or even tripled your filtration capacity.
  • Compete with Algae: Since water hyacinth are prolific growers, they compete with algae for the same food source, thus keeping your water garden balanced and looking good all year.
  • Looks: Water hyacinth are nice too look at. Foliage is green all season and purple flowers form through out the year as well.
  • Easy to Remove: If water hyacinth get out of control in your water garden, don’t worry, they are extremely easy to remove with a pond net.

With so many benefits, in the right conditions, water hyacinth are a great renewable resource.

POND TALK: Do you plant water hyacinth in your water garden? Tell us what you think about water hyacinth.

How Do I Get Rid of this Terrible Odor Around My Pond? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of Gas Being Released from the Pond.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: I have an awful smell around my pond. What is causing it and is there anything I can do to get rid of it? – Hailey of Nebraska

A: I think we’ve all experienced this at one time or another. We’re outside, enjoying the spring breeze and decide to go wandering around the pond to maybe spot some frogs or to feed the fish. All of sudden you go to breathe in the fresh air and you quickly realize that it’s not so fresh after all. Your nostrils are engulfed with a distinct musky odor as you retreat away from the pond. Is it gas? Do you call the fire department? No. Call The Pond Guy. That sulfurous smell that finds its way around ponds is a common byproduct of a pond that is not aerated.

Non-aerated ponds stratify (layers in the pond have distinguished temperature differences) in the summer and winter, locking the bottom layer of water away for months. With no circulation, the oxygen is quickly used up down there, resulting in an anaerobic (functioning without oxygen) digestion process that is loosely equivalent to that of a cow’s stomach. Slow-moving anaerobic bacteria on the bottom use enzymes to ferment and digest the muck on the bottom. These bacteria produce waste products including carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell).

Most of the year, an un-aerated pond will smell fine because this buildup of nasty gasses stays locked away on the bottom. It is when the pond turns over (Spring/Fall temperature shift, strong weather event, etc.) that the foul-smelling gasses are released. Surprisingly, the foul smell is the least of the pond’s problems at this point. The release of this gas also signals that the inhospitable water that was stuck underneath has now mixed into the upper part where your fish are living. Wacky pH shifts, dissolved oxygen crashes, and algae blooms are a few of the byproducts of turnover, all of which have fish-kill potential.

The solution? Aerate like it’s your job! An Airmax Aeration System will keep the pond in a permanent state of motion, continuously venting gasses and providing oxygen to the bottom sediments. This allows the aerobic (good, oxygen loving) bacteria in the pond to inhabit the bottom sediments and work away at that ugly muck layer. Aerobic bacteria work similarly to plants in that that they use up the bad gasses and muck, and give off a little oxygen in return while working much more quickly than their anaerobic (cow’s stomach) counterparts. Supplement these bacteria with MuckAway or PondClear bacteria that will accelerate the decomposition process. Remember, keep that pond moving to keep that pond healthy and odor free.

POND TALK: Have you ever run into this odor problem? Tell us about it. What are you doing or have already done to get rid of it?

Controlling Green Water Algae in a Water Garden – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of Green Water Algae in a Water Garden.

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: I am having a terrible time with green water in my water garden. What can I do? – Abby of California

A: It’s that time of year again when the fish are playing, flowers blooming and your backyard is once again becoming your peaceful retreat, except for that green water in your water garden. Like most of us water garden owners the highlight of our yard is our water feature but what fun are fish if you can’t see and enjoy them? Here are some considerations that may help you take back your water garden.

Filtration: Early in the season your filtration system may not be up to par with the amount of waste and debris left over from the winter months. A good spring clean out may be needed if there is an excessive amount of debris in the bottom of the water garden. If your water garden is relatively clean use a pond vacuum or application of natural bacteria may help get you on your way. This is the time of year to wash out or replace your filter pads to prepare for the coming season.

Fish Load: Have your fish been busy? If your spacious water garden is becoming a full house, it may be time to find a few friends and share the wealth.  Overcrowding is a common source for green water since the filtration system may not be large enough to handle the amount of waste being produced. A simple rule of thumb to ensure room for your fish is 1 fish for every 10 sq. ft. of surface area.

Plant Coverage or Shade: We recommend 40-60% plant coverage in your water garden. This adds to your filtration, since the plants are up taking their nutrients from the water. They also provide the added benefit of shade to help protect your fish from predators. A variety of plants should be used, including: bog(marginal), submerged, water lilies or floating plants. If your not sure what to get, you can check out our aquatic plant packages.

Help Mother Nature Out with Natural Bacteria: Once you’ve checked your filtration, fish load and plant load, it’s time to add some natural bacteria. We recommend the Pond Logic DefensePAC. The DefensePAC is an award winning water garden care system that comprises of 5 products known in the water garden industry as the 5-Steps to Clear Water. They are:

  1. Oxy-Lift Defense: The Pond Cleaner.
  2. Nature’s Defense: The Pond Balancer.
  3. Clarity Defense: The Pond Clarifier.
  4. Muck Defense: The Muck Reducer.
  5. Seasonal Defense: The Autumn, Winter Prep.

The DefensePAC is an all-in-one source for water garden maintenance and will keep your water sparking clear all season….guaranteed!

What about a UV filter?: You might be wondering why UV filtration wasn’t mentioned as a solution to green water. Indeed, it is a solution but…it is also can be a band-aid covering up a deeper problem. Always be sure that your filtration is adequate and you don’t have too many fish! You should also be using your test kit to make sure your water is safe for your fish. If everything checks
out ok a UV may be a good tool as long as it is not the only one. Just remember if everything mentioned above is in check the green water should take care of itself and you will have a healthier overall ecosystem.

POND TALK: What kind of green water problems have you had? And what did you do to fix them? Please comment and let me know.

Aquatic Weed ID: Chara Versus Pondweeds – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of Chara, a Form of Algae.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: I have mats of pondweeds in the bottom of my pond. I used Pondweed Defense to treat it, but it seems to be unharmed by it? What am I doing wrong? If there another herbicide I am supposed to use? – Ted of Michigan

A: I remember when I first began treating ponds the importance of being able to identify what I was treating was vital. For example, after talking with Ted we discovered that what he had in his pond wasn’t a pondweed at all , it was actually a form of algae called chara. Chara, (refer to picture on the left), mimics true plants with its shape and form. At times, its hard to tell the difference between chara and pondweeds by just their physical appearances.

Aquatic Weed Identification: Chara Vs. Pondweeds
Even though there are times when it may be difficult to tell the difference between chara and pondweeds there are a few distinct qualities that chara has that will help you set them apart from pondweeds.

  1. Skunky Smell: Chara has an awful musky smell. Simply walking close to or around your pond will tell you right away if you have a chara problem or not.
  2. Easy to Remove: Chara is not as rooted into the pond as pondweeds are and is extremely easy to pull out from the water.
  3. Gritty Texture: Diagnose chara by pulling some out and rubbing it in between your fingers. Chara has a gritty feel to the touch.

Treating for Chara: When treating for chara, since it is a form of algae, you need to use an algaecide. We prefer to use Algae Defense Algaecide, but you can also use Cutrine-Plus Granular as well. Approximately two weeks after treating the chara we sugget to use a Pond & Beach Rake to rake out as much as you can (Note: DO NOT rake out chara before treating it, it will spread). Doing this will help you gain control relatively quickly.

WE CAN INDENTIFY WEEDS/ALGAE FOR YOU!: If you are ever unsure of what you have, just go ahead and send us a sample and we can diagnose it for you. Its FREE. You can either e-mail us a picture of mail the sample to us. See below for instructions.

E-mail: E-mail us pictures at mrwig@thepondguy.com

Or

Mail: Mail weed samples to: The Pond Guy, ATTN: Weed Sample, 6135 King Road, Marine City, MI 48039. When mailing just be sure to ship priority or exprss shipping to ensure the sample arrives quickly and fresh. Also, please wrap samples with a DRY paper towel and place in a plastic bag.

POND TALK: Have any of you had trouble identifying pondweeds or algae? Please comment and let us know how we can help.

Telling the Difference Between Koi & Goldfish – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of Koi & Goldfish.

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: I have many different types of fish in my water garden. Most were given to me by my friends. I think they are koi but how can I tell the difference between a koi and goldfish? – Troy of Kansas

A: I remember when I first got into water gardening not only did I not know what the heck a water garden was, but pretty much every koi or goldfish I saw in a water garden was a goldfish to me. So how do you tell the difference? Is it by size? shape? Hopefully the following will be able to help you become a basic koi and
goldfish identifier!

Koi and Goldfish are related but not closely. Colors, patterns and body structure are the most distinctive differences between the two fish types.

Colors & Patterns: Did you know that koi varities are named by their color patterns?

Here are some of the most common koi varieties. See the pictures to the left to help identify them:

  • Kohaku, white koi with red patterns;
  • Sanke, white koi with red and small black “stepping stone” patterns;
  • Showa White, red and black patterns fit together;
  • Bekko Solid color koi with black spots;
  • Ogon Solid color in with regular or metallic scales just to name a few.

Just like koi there are many varieties of goldfish. Common goldfish found in water gardens are:

  • Sarassa, red and white patterns;
  • Shubunkin, “Calico colored” bluish tint with red and black spots;
  • Commons, Orange, yellow, red, brown, or black

Body Structure: A koi’s body is tapered at each end with pointy noses, barbells/whiskers like a catfish and flat bellies. Koi fins can be well defined (called standard koi by retailers) or long fins (called butterfly koi) shown in the pictures on the left. Scale quantity and placement may vary on a koi as well. Some koi have scales on just a few parts of their body while some may have no true scales at all.

Goldfish tend to be more rounded with a blunt nose and do not have barbells. Goldfish may also have butterfly fins or fan tails. Fan tail fish have divided tail fins that form a triangle shape or fan shape when viewed from above. Scales on a goldfish are more evenly distributed and located all over the fish.

If you would like to know more information about these and other fish types check out the Book The Hobbyist’s Guide to Pond Fish. It’ll make you an expert in no time!

What Can I Do To Keep My Pond Clear? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of a Pond.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: What can I do to keep my pond clear? – Kara of Florida

A: When I ask my service customers what their top three goals are for their pond, clear water is almost always at the top of the list. Clear water is aesthetically pleasing and is a sign that your pond is healthy and balanced. Across the board, your first step towards clean and clear water is to aerate.

Airmax Aeration keeps the water in motion, allowing it to stay oxygenated while venting toxic gasses and clearing the water. Beyond aeration, there are a few easy steps to follow to clear up that water:

Start by finding the source of the problem. Dip a clear glass of water out of your pond and begin the diagnosis. Match what you see to the following problem/solution.

  • Pea Soup Colored Water: This is typically caused by a heavy bloom of planktonic algae. When treating for planktonic algae you must be very careful. Treating too big of an area at any one time could cause oxygen levels to deplete to a point where your fish could die. We highly recommend to have an aeration system running when treating for this type of algae. To help with this issue in the future, you must limit the nutrients that are entering the pond. Do this by limiting organics such as grass clippings, twigs, leaves, branches, etc. from entering the pond. Be careful of fertilizing around your pond as this too will cause algae blooms. Using Nutri-Defense will help bind any nutrients currently in the pond and begin using PondClear or MuckAway natural bacteria to help break down any organics that have already gotten into the pond. These bacteria work by eating any suspended nutrients and bottom muck in the pond to help keep your pond clean and clear.
  • Milky Gray or Chocolate Milk Colored Water: Most often this problem is caused by heavy runoff laden with silt and sediment. Aeration will typically take care of this problem within a week or two. If the problem persists, the soil in the water is probably clay. In this situation, apply a double dose of Nutri-Defense to try and help flocculate the suspended particulates.
  • Stained Brown/Black Like Tea or Coffee Colored Water: This color water is usually a result of heavy leaf litter on the pond’s bottom. When leaves sit for long periods of time, they can release tannins into the water column causing brown/black colored water. Use a Lake Rake to rake out the bulk of the material, and follow up with MuckAway to help accelerate the decomposion of the remaining leaves. As always, we recommend to aerate.

The recurring theme that we see here is that aeration is key when trying to solve pond problems. In nearly every case, your pond will greatly benefit from the use of Airmax
Aeration
. Aeration Systems will help create an environment for aerobic bacteria (like bacteria found in PondClear or MuckAway) to thrive. This aerobic bacteria will decompose organics at accelerated speeds and will help reduce the sediment at the pond’s bottom.

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