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I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think?

I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think?
Jessica – Jackson, MI

Pond owners are intrigued by the prospect of being able to ditch chemical treatments for a natural means of algae control. While it is true that barley straw is capable of helping your pond fend off algae it still comes with advantages and disadvantages.

Studies have shown that as barley straw decomposes it releases agents that inhibit algae growth with no adverse effects on your water garden plants or decorative pond fish. Originally customers would place bales of Barley Straw in their waterfall filter boxes, skimmers or waterfall areas where they would decompose over time. As barley straw treatments continue to grow in popularity new types of barley products have been made available. Barley Straw Pellets are available for a cleaner and easier way to implement barley treatments into your pond or for even faster results, Barley Straw Extract. Barley Straw Extract is basically barley straw already broken down into its beneficial byproducts.

While barley straw can help keep your pond less green this season it is not 100% effective on all algae that may form in your pond. One of the biggest issues with using barley straw and pellets is that you have to put them in your pond early in the season as they will need time to start decomposing before providing any benefits. Some may also argue that you are also adding muck and nutrients to your pond in the process. You will gain some speed by using barley straw extract but it then becomes less convenient because you will have to continuously add it to the pond. Barley also does not directly kill algae so chemical treatments may still eventually be required.

Your best defense against algae has always been a good offense. Keeping your pond clean and balanced with adequate filtration, bacteria treatments, minimal fish loads and sun exposure you will reduce your dependence and need for algae treatments in general. It is when your pond is balanced and just needs a little extra kick to keep algae at bay that your barley treatments really begin to shine as their gradual release of anti-algae agents will help maintain clear water throughout the season with minimal or no additional chemical treatment.

Pond Talk: Do you use barley straw as a part of your pond maintenance? Have you noticed a cleaner pond while using barley straw?

All the benefits of barley straw without the mess!

I shut my aerator off for the winter, will I have to introduce it slowly again in the spring? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I shut my aerator off for the winter, will I have to introduce it slowly again in the spring?

I shut my aerator off for the winter, will I have to introduce it slowly again in the spring?

George – Albany, NY

As pond owners we buy aeration systems for our water bodies with the intentions of creating a cleaner and healthier environment for both ourselves and our fish. While aeration systems are great at eliminating water stratification and promoting the ideal environment for a healthy pond, the key to proper use is proper installation.

The surface of your pond reacts to the ambient air temperature and warmth from the sun considerably faster than deeper regions. As we head into spring the temperature will begin to rise as the sun shines down on your pond. The top layer of water in your pond will begin to warm up quickly while the bottom of your pond stays dark and cold. Furthermore, the surface of your pond is exposed to oxygen which is naturally wicked into the water column but remains only in the upper layers. This formation of warmer and cooler layers of water is known as stratification. Stratification can become a potential hazard as the two different layers of water will sometimes flip or “turnover” and mix together causing a sudden change in water temperature and dissolved oxygen levels which, depending on its severity, can make it difficult for your fish to adapt to the quickly changing environment.

Airmax Aeration Systems are designed to infuse oxygen into your water column from the bottom of the pond while continuously circulating the water. This constant action aids to prevent water stratification for occurring. However, when aeration is introduced suddenly and continuous to your pond you are, in essence, creating a man-made turnover by forcing all of the water at the bottom of your pond to the surface.

When installing an aeration system in your pond, or upon reintroduction of your system after winter removal, you will want to run your system in small increments that grow in duration over the course of a week. Think of this process as the same way you acclimate new fish to your pond. You wouldn’t just grab a new fish by the tail and toss them in your pond, you float their holding container in your pond and slowly mix some of the water together to give them time to adjust to the variations in each environment. By running your aeration system for only an hour the first day you install it and doubling the run time each day after, your aeration system will be running continuously by the end of the week while keeping your fish safe from pond turnovers.

Pond Talk: Have you ever experienced turnover in your pond? Share your stories with potential aeration newcomers and pond veterans alike.

Keep your pond healthy all year long!

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