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Aquatic Plants – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Pink Water Lily

Get Ready to Soil Your Plants
Owning a small pond is not just about pumps, filters, and fish. Pond guys and gals everywhere are exercising their green thumbs by implementing aquatic plants into their water feature.

Go Green or Go Home
Aquatic plants are an excellent addition to your pond as they add life to your water garden with their diverse shapes and colors. In addition to their obvious visual appeal, plants also feed off of available nutrients in your water garden which decreases the amount of food available for potential algae blooms. Furthermore, aquatic plants provide food for your fish population as well as places to spawn and hide.

Plethora of Plants
You may love the idea of incorporating plants into your water garden, but there are so many types to choose from it may feel a bit overwhelming. If you are still a bit fresh in the water gardening scene, or you just don’t know that much about aquatic plants, you can find solace in an Aquatic Plant Package. Getting great plants for your water garden is as simple as choosing a plant package that fits the square footage of your pond. Packages also include Black Japanese Trapdoor Snails, which are great for eating algae without taking over your entire water garden. More adventurous water garden owners can purchase aquatic plants à la carte to add even more diversity to their pond. Mixing a variety of plants will make for a more interesting landscape and will help promote a balanced ecosystem as each plant has its own unique attributes.

Click over to our Planting Aquatic Plants article to read more about aquatic plant selections and how to plant them.

POND TALK: What type of plant selection can be found in your water garden? Which plant is a MUST have?

Aquatic Plant Packages

What’s a Nitrogen Cycle? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

PondCare Master Test Kit - Complete System

Explaining the Nitrogen Cycle

We’ve Got Good Chemistry
Today we trade in our waders for lab coats as we discuss your pond’s nitrogen cycle. While many of us find it hard to stay awake for science lectures, we promise this one will save you time and money and give you the upper hand in the fight against algae and fish kills. The nitrogen cycle is present in all water gardens and is truly a great thing when in balance. As plant matter decays and fish produce waste, ammonia is released into the water. The bacteria in your pond naturally break this ammonia down into nitrites and then down into nitrates. Plants, including algae, feed off of these nitrates, which in turn die and decompose or are eaten by fish and the process repeats itself. Having too many fish in your water garden or an abundance of decomposing organic debris can dramatically increase the amount of ammonia in your pond and, in turn, can harm your fish or turn the water body into an all you can eat buffet for unwanted algae.

Put Your Water Garden to the Test
Different types of test kits are available for purchase that will allow you to measure nitrite levels and ammonia levels. Kits like our PondCare® Master Test Kit let you measure nitrites and ammonia and pH all in one package. Regularly testing the water quality of your pond will give you the ability to locate potential problems and adjust accordingly before they become a danger to your plants or fish. Your ammonia and nitrite levels should ideally be at 0 with a pH level between 6.5 and 8.5.

Are You Unbalanced!?
So you know why it is important to achieve balance in your pond, you know how to test for it, but how do you go about achieving balance? A great, natural way to combat high nitrate levels in your pond is by incorporating some aquatic plants. Plants like Water Hyacinth filter the contents of the water, helping to create a clean, clear pond. Furthermore, providing adequate filtration is key in maintaining a balanced water body. Pay attention to your fish load. The more fish available to produce waste, the more filtration will be needed to break down the resulting ammonia. A good rule of thumb is to figure one fish per ten square feet of water surface. Adding beneficial bacteria such as Nature’s Defense® will further help to break down organic debris and fish waste. Using natural products and methods like those listed above will reduce your dependency on algaecides and other chemicals to fight algae blooms.

POND TALK: What products do you use to control your water gardens nitrate levels?

PondCare® Master Test Kit - Complete System

My pond is covered in duckweed. What can I do to treat this stuff? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

Duckweed

Q. My pond is covered in duckweed. What can I do to treat this stuff? – Tony in Indiana

Friend or Fowl
A: For the lucky pond guys and gals out there who have never experienced duckweed in their pond, or those of you who think you may have it but are unsure; duckweed is a very small floating plant with kidney shaped leaves and a small hair-like root hanging below. It is approximately the size of a pencil eraser and is frequently misidentified as algae. It can cut off sunlight to submersed plants and cut off oxygen to fish and other wildlife. Duckweed is an extremely prolific grower and can quickly cover an entire pond making it frustrating to treat and maintain. More often than not, duckweed is introduced into your pond by hitching a ride on the feet of waterfowl.

Don’t Go Daffy Over Duckweed
There are two great options available to you in your fight against duckweed. Choosing the product that is right for you depends on the time frame you have to treat your pond. For fast acting, short term results, you can use a contact herbicide like Ultra PondWeed Defense® . Treatments with these types of herbicides work best on mature aquatic plants that are in a contained environment. Multiple treatments are typically required for effective short term control. It is important to remember that whenever you are treating large amounts of weed growth, only treat one third of the pond at a time and implement aeration whenever possible to ensure safe oxygen levels. When treating with Ultra PondWeed Defense®, we suggest that you use a tank sprayer to apply the herbicide directly onto the weeds. Ultra PondWeed Defense® has some water use restrictions, see label for details.

For long term treatment of duckweed, we suggest using Sonar™ A.S.. By adding Sonar™ A.S. to your pond in early Spring, you will inhibit the weed’s ability to produce carotene, a pigment that protects the plant’s chlorophyll. Without carotene, the sun quickly degrades the green chlorophyll and the weed dies. Sonar™ A.S. must stay in your pond for up to 90 days for maximum results, so if your pond has a constant overflow or you are experiencing heavy rains, you may need to include additional treatments. Sonar™ A.S. is degraded by sunlight, so when applying, make sure you spray the product directly into the water and not onto the plant foliage itself. Also, adding Nature’s Blue™ Pond Dye after treatment will help prevent sun degradation as well as track water dilution from heavy rains. Sonar™ A.S. has a 30 day irrigation restriction.

POND TALK: Have you ever experienced duckweed in your pond? What did you use to treat it?

What does filter media do for my water garden? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Savio Skimmer

Q. What does filter media do for my water garden? – Debbie in Illinois

Keep It Clean
With all of the pads, balls and nets in this blog you might think The Pond Guy has hung up his waders and opened a sporting goods store. Not to worry pond guys and gals, we are of course talking about filter media in your water garden.

Hey! Nice Pad!
When you look inside your filter, whether it’s a waterfall filter or pressurized filter, you may notice there are assortments of pads, balls, etc. These are called filter media. This filter media serves a vital purpose in any water garden.

Bio Blox Filter MediaFilter media are specifically designed to help colonize a ton of natural bacteria in a small area. As fish excrete waste, ammonia levels began to rise. Without enough natural bacteria, ammonia levels can become so high your fish will become stressed which can eventually to death. Natural bacteria will grow in a water garden without filter media, but unfortunately it is very minimal and never enough to keep up with high ammonia levels.

Less IS More
Many pond owners often think that a clean filter pad will lead to a cleaner pond. This is not the case. As it takes several weeks for nitrifying bacteria to colonize, many pond owners often clean their filter media as soon as it gets dirty. This unfortunately defeats the purpose of the biological functions of the filter media. Some of our readers have written in telling us that this buildup is even blocking or restricting water flow. It is most likely debris or algae being picked up from the water, not the bacteria causing this issue. If necessary, to clean filter media we highly suggest removing the filter media from the filter and placing into a bucket of “pond water” and gently swish the media back and forth. Do not scrub, or use tap water to clean the filter pads. Again, this will cause a loss in natural bacteria. If you accidentally do clean your filter pads, you can use PL Gel on your filter pads to colonize the bacteria faster. It is known throughout the pond industry to reduce colonization by up to 80%!

To prevent blockages to your biological filters use a pump pre filter or a skimmer which includes a net or debris basket along with its own filter pad. This will prevent large debris from getting to your filter. Vacuuming will pick up debris and muck from the pond floor also preventing clogs. Placing these “pre-filters” as buffers will ensure a shorter, easier cleaning time as well as make certain that your beneficial bacteria are left alone to flourish and protect your water garden.

POND TALK: How have you tackled filtration in your water garden? How often do you find yourself cleaning your filters?

Filter media is a must for healthy ponds!

I have a ton of algae growing on my pond. What can I do to get rid of it? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

Pond Algae

Q. I have a ton of algae growing on my pond. What can I do to get rid of it? – Jeff in New York

The ice is finally off. You walk out to the pond for the first time, expecting to see your happy fish except….in their place is a happy, healthy sprout of algae! This may leave you thinking where do I begin? Here is a quick guide to get you started towards taking back your pond.

1) Give your pond short term relief. If you are in a climate where water temperatures are already above 50° Fahrenheit you can begin doing algae treatments. The chemical choice will depend on the type of fish contained in your pond, whether the algae is floating or submerged and how much area the algae is covering. For more detail on choosing the right chemical view our Weed Control Guide.

2)  Add Pond Shade. By adding pond shade you can reduce the amount of sunlight reaching into your pond.

3)  Rake the Pond. Once the algae is dead you can rake out the dead matter in order to reduce the amount of accumulation of muck in the bottom of the pond. Muck is a major food source for algae.

4)  Treat with Natural Bacteria. Adding natural bacteria such as PondClear™ & MuckAway™ will aid in quickly decomposing any organic material that does reach the pond’s bottom. You can also use EcoBoost™ to give your natural bacteria a little extra oomph.
Dyed Pond with Aeration5) Aerate the Pond. If you aren’t already aerating, aeration is a great way to increase the oxygen contact for the bacteria to be more efficient and also to help keep your fish healthy for the upcoming warmer months.

If your pond hasn’t quite hit the 50° F temperature you can still be proactive about algae reduction and prevention. Dye and aeration is not dependent on temperature and can be started at any time.

POND TALK: What are your favorite methods for keeping your pond clear and beautiful?

Use Pond Dye To Keep The Algae At Bay

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