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What’s the Difference Between a Decorative Pond and a Large Pond or Lake? – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

The Difference: Decorative Ponds • Water Gardens • Water Features • Ponds • Lakes:

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: What’s the difference between a decorative pond and a large pond or lake? – Laura in Maryland

A: A pond is a pond, right? Maybe not. Decorative ponds and large ponds or lakes do share several similarities. They’re both bodies of water, habitats for fish and wildlife, and they both require upkeep to maintain their pristine beauty. But that’s where their similarities end. Upon closer look, decorative ponds and large ponds or lakes differ quite a bit.

Size Matters

A decorative pond fits nicely in a back yard – a suburban back yard, that is. Rarely larger than a 1/8th acre, the decorative pond provides homeowners with a tranquil retreat where they can tend their aquatic plants, care for their fish and relax with a cold drink in hand. They are also usually no more than a few feet in depth.

A large pond or lake, on the other hand, typically takes up an acre or more of space. Rather than decorating a back yard, a lake is often part of a larger landscape and serves some sort of function, whether it be a water element on a golf course, a holding pond for a watershed or a stocked fishing spot. Depths can be 10’ or deeper.

Planned Inhabitants

Though wildlife is drawn to decorative ponds, the majority of the critters living there are introduced into the environment. Pond owners fill their features with koi, goldfish, shubunkin and oranda – fish not typically found in the wild in the United States – and they care for them as they would a pet, feeding them and keeping them healthy.

Many decorative ponds also feature potted and planted aquatic plants, like water lilies, bog plants or lotus. Pond owners sculpt and develop their waterscapes with plants, décor and fountains just as they would develop their landscapes.

A large pond or lake is a different story. It’s typically stocked with game fish like bass, catfish or trout, and although lake owners can feed the fish and provide habitats for them, the fish can fend for themselves. Plants and landscaping surrounding a large pond or lake also tend to require minimal human intervention – other than controlling invasive weeds or rampant algae blooms.

Clean, Oxygenated Water

Because they’re closed systems, decorative ponds require filtration systems to keep the water clean. As biological pollutants, like plant matter and fish waste break down, the mechanical and biological filtration systems remove the pollutants to create an ideal environment for aquatic life.

Many lakes or large ponds, however, are open systems fed by steams or springs that continually refresh the water. The water quality self-regulates, thanks to wild aquatic plants that naturally remove pollutants. Plus, the large bodies of water can be too large (and expensive) to mechanically filter.

Both decorative ponds and large ponds or lakes can benefit from aeration systems that pump oxygen into the water, but the methods differ. Decorative ponds can be aerated with air stones or small diffusers, like the KoiAir Aeration System. Larger ponds or lakes can be aerated with fountain aerators, high volume surface aerators, or larger underwater diffuser systems like the Airmax Aeration System.

POND TALK: What are some other differences between decorative ponds and lakes?

Why Are the Catfish in My Lake Changing Color? Pond & Lake Q & A

Catfish: Changing Color

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: Why are the catfish in my lake changing color? – Carlos in Texas

A: When summer sun causes water temperatures to rise in your pond or lake, you may notice color changes in your catfish. Sometimes, the changes are caused by natural reasons like age, spawning and temperature fluctuations. Other times, their coloring lightens from environmental causes like stress and disease.

Your pond fish likely looked darker in the spring or fall – for good reason! The cooler water holds more oxygen, which your fish need to thrive and look their best. In warmer water, oxygen levels tend to drop off. The lack of sufficient oxygen, coupled with poor water quality, can cause your pond fish to stress. When stressed, they’re more prone to disease and health problems, which can cause their color to lighten.

In worst-case situations, stressed fish can succumb to disease. One that commonly affects stressed and oxygen-deprived catfish is Columnaris (Flexibacter columnaris), also known as cotton-wool, cotton-mouth, flexibacter or mouth fungus. It is a highly contagious bacterial infection that appears as white spots on the edges of the fish’s scales, fins and mouth area. When one fish is affected, the bacteria causes death within days; when an entire lake population is affected, it will wipe out an entire population within hours.

As the saying goes, “Prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so the best way to keep your catfish healthy and deeply colored is by making sure they’re getting enough oxygen and proper nutrition. Pond Logic Game Fish Food helps by strengthening immune systems while promoting good health and longevity. An aerator, like the Airmax Aerator, breathes life-giving oxygen into ponds and lakes, ensuring a clean water column, even water temperatures and reduced sediment.

With a healthy diet and oxygen-rich water, your catfish should start to show their true colors again!

POND TALK: What do you do to keep your fish healthy?

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