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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?

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