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Should I add gravel to my pond?… even if it is preformed? | Decorative Ponds & Watergardens Q&A

I took my fish out for the winter…when it is best to put them back?

Should I add gravel to my pond?… even if it is preformed?
Kandy – Racine, WI

Adding gravel to the bottom of your water garden can help create a more natural appearance than the plain black plastic or rubber liner you are looking at now. The small stones create an excellent source of surface area for beneficial bacteria such as Pond Logic® Muck Defense™ to colonize and filter your pond water. Aquatic plants can also benefit from the gravel base by anchoring themselves within the gravel and establish a root system beneath the rocks, safe from curious or hungry decorative pond fish.

A common question customers ask is if added gravel will actually cause more maintenance. This is not really the case. Adding gravel in your pond actually hides muck so it is not always visible, creates additional surface area for bacteria to accumulate in order to keep your pond muck free and provides a more natural landscape look actually brightening your pond’s bottom and helping to make your fish more visible.

Addition of gravel to your pond is a quick and easy transition. Ideally you will want to add a layer of stones that is 1-2 inches deep. Making the gravel any deeper will allow muck and debris to settle between the stones and out of reach from the natural bacteria. Choose stones that are smooth and rounded so there are no added risks of sharp edges which could puncture the liner. Also make sure the stones you add are not too small such as pea gravel which would get packed together trapping in debris or be picked up by pond vacuums or other maintenance tools. Ideally you will be looking for stones around 1” in diameter. Proper planning and installation will the key to successfully having gravel in your pond, and following the guidelines above will ensure your success.

Pond Talk: Do you have gravel in your pond? Why or why not?

Pond Logic Muck Defense

How can I find out the size of my pond? | Pond & Lake Q&A

There are some weeds in the pond but do I need to add anything else for my fish?

How can I find out the size of my pond?
Paul – Scottsdale, AZ

While most of us could take a quick guess at the size of our pond many times we don’t really know the true dimensions. Most products for pond treatment such as aquatic herbicides, algaecides, and pond dye are dosed based on surface acres or square footage. Being off by 30 ft. in pond measurement could mean reducing or increasing your pond size enough to make a treatment ineffective. So how should you go about getting the correct measurements of your pond?

It is important to understand that measuring your pond involves using a universal unit of measure like feet and inches. While you may know what you mean when you say the water comes up to your chin that will be interpreted differently from person to person. For measuring depth, tie a weight to some string and let it sink to the bottom of the pond, pull the string in just enough so there is no slack left. Mark the string at the surface of the water. Once you bring up your weight lay the line out on the ground and measure it with a tape measure for a more accurate reading. Take measurements in multiple areas as most ponds are not the same depth throughout. When measuring overall lengths and widths you can use a flexible tape to gather dimensions or measure your stride and pace off the dimensions. Typically one pace is around 3ft. If your pond is irregular in shape you can also use online applications like Google Earth and Bing to locate your pond and measure it from the comfort of your computer chair.

To calculate your pond size you must first figure the square footage of the pond. Multiply the length of your pond by the width to find your square footage. Let’s use a 200’ long by 100’ wide pond as an example. 200’x 100’ equals 20,000 square feet. 1 surface acre consists of 43,560 square feet. To find out how our 20,000 square foot pond measures up to 1 acre we can simply divide 20,000 by 43,560. You should end up with .45 surface acres or slightly under ½ surface acre. If your pond better represents a triangle or circle you can use the equations given below to help calculate the total surface area.

Pond Size Dimensions

If you are unsure of the best method for measuring your pond or want a second opinion you can always contact one of our pond guys and gals toll free at 866.766.3710 or use our web calculator.

Pond Talk: Was your pond dimension “guess” accurate with your actual pond measurements?

Airmax Aeration

I took my fish out for the winter… when it is best to put them back? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I took my fish out for the winter…when it is best to put them back?

I took my fish out for the winter… when it is best to put them back?
Kathie – St. Cloud, MN

It is about time to get your pond up and running for the season. Your decorative pond fish may be even more excited than you are if they’ve been stuck inside for the winter. Before you re-introduce them to their pond you will want to give it thorough once-over to make sure the pond is healthy, clean and ready for spring.

You may choose to perform a complete pond cleanout and start from scratch, or if you prefer you can leave the pond in tack and just do some minor preparations. If this is the case, start by removing debris and algae from the water column, stream, rocks and pond bottom. Dusting Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense® on your rocks and waterfall will lift hard to remove debris and save you the time and energy of having to scrub them clean. You can don a pair of Aquatic Gloves or use a Pond Vaccum and go to work removing the muck and debris that have sunk to the bottom of your pond.

Once you have removed as much solid debris as possible you can perform a partial water change of around 25%. Include a dose of Pond Logic® Stress Reducer Plus or Water Conditioner to neutralize harmful water contaminates. Inspect your filter media for signs of wear and tear and replace as necessary. Thoroughly rinse off soiled filters and seed them with PL Gel Bacteria so they are ready to work as soon as you reinstall them in your filters. If you brought your Pressurized Filters, UV Clarifiers and Water Pumps inside for the winter you begin to bring them out and install them now. With your pond cleaned out and filtration system in place you are ready to fire up your pumps and circulate the water in your pond. Add your seasonal cool-weather bacteria like Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense to further establish beneficial bacteria in your filtration media and pond.
Let the pond circulate over the course of a few weeks if possible before adding your fish. This will ensure your fish don’t suffer from peaks in pH or ammonia while your water finds a happy balance. Ideally temperatures over 50 degrees are more easily adaptable for your fish but be sure you acclimate them to the pond slowly following the same process you would to introduce a few fish. Using Pond Logic® Stress Reducer Plus will aid in this process.

A good spring clean out will set the pace for your ponding season and prevent future headaches and stressed fish. Be patient and thorough using the proper tools so you can make your pond even more enjoyable this coming season.

Pond Talk: Have you performed your spring clean up yet? Any new ideas for your pond this season?

Pond Logic Stress Reducer Plus

There are some weeds in the pond but do I need to add anything else for my fish? | Pond & Lake Q&A

There are some weeds in the pond but do I need to add anything else for my fish?

There are some weeds in the pond but do I need to add anything else for my fish?
Kyle – Portland, ME

The fish in your farm pond or lake will definitely use weeds as a source of food and shelter but providing additional habitat is key for pond owners looking for a balanced fish population with large game fish.

Using pond weeds as a source of habitat for your fish population is an at times be a double edged sword to pond owners. While your fish will have somewhere to eat, hide and spawn you may not exactly enjoy seeing weeds taking over and greening up your pond. Snagged fishing hooks, expensive chemical treatments and a downright ugly pond can ruin any pond owner or fishermen’s day.

Porcupine Fish Attractors are constantly growing in popularity as they provide excellent structure for your fish population without the headaches caused by an abundance of aquatic weeds. Unlike pine trees and pallets these Fish Attractors will not bio-degrade or promote algae and weed growth. The PVC spines are easy to fish within and do not snag lures or tangle fishing line. While they are essentially a simple concept these plastic spheres go a long way in maintaining a healthy stock of fish. Simply use PVC Primer and Glue to secure ½” PVC pipe within the Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres and you have an instant fish habitat. The Fish Attractor structures sink to the bottom of your pond on their own but can be secured to weights using the pre-drilled hole in each plastic sphere for areas with wake or strong currents. When placed in small groups the fish attractor spheres create hiding places for both large and small game fish. Smaller fish can maneuver closer to the center of each sphere while larger fish can utilize the outer portions. Minnows and fry hide within the hollow interior of the PVC tubes. Providing an adequate amount of fish habitat gives your smaller species an opportunity to grow and reproduce.

If an unbalanced fish population is a concern click over to our Pond Stocking Blog for some tips on what to look for when stocking your pond and how to select the right types of fish for your pond. You can also read more on natural fish habitats versus their man-made counterparts another of our Fish Habitat Blogs.

Pond Talk: Have you tried the Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres? What do you use to create fish habitat?

Fish Attractor

My fish are looking for food, can I feed them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

My fish are looking for food, can I feed them?

My fish are looking for food, can I feed them?
Arlette, Arlington, VA

Now that the rain and warmer weather has melted the ice away from your water garden you can see your decorative pond fish moving about the pond. After a long winters rest you would think they are hungry and ready to eat but it may still be too soon to feed your fish.

Temperature is a major determining factor in whether or not it is time to feed your fish and what type of food you should feed them. Install a floating pond thermometer within reach of the pond’s edge so you can readily check water temperatures throughout the day. Once the weather warms up enough to keep the pond water continually over 40°F you can start feeding your fish a wheat-germ based food like Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food. As your fish are still a bit chilly their digestive tracks are working at a decreased rate. Foods designed for cooler weather consist of easy-to-digest ingredients that can be broken down faster so they don’t sit inside your fish and cause problems.

Once water temperatures rise above 50°F you can switch over to your growth and color enhancing foods like Pond Logic® Growth & Color or Pond Logic® Professional fish foods. As your fish will be warm and fully active, they will have no trouble breaking down these denser high-protein foods.

Your decorative pond fish will naturally want to eat at any chance they get whether they are hungry or not. They commonly fool their owners into thinking they are starving as they splash around at the surface of the pond and fight for every last pellet you throw to them. Be sure to wait for the temperatures to rise before you give them food and rest assured that a small handful of food each day is all they need to maintain healthy diet.

Pond Talk: Is your pond free and clear of ice yet? Are you fish actively swimming around your pond?

Pond Logic Spring and Fall Fish Food

The geese are already showing up at my pond. How can I stop them from making my pond home? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

The geese are already showing up at my pond. How can I stop them from making my pond home?

The geese are already showing up at my pond. How can I stop them from making my pond home?

Tracey – Akron, OH

As the warmer weather rolls in you will begin to notice a gathering of geese around your pond. While ponds are great for drawing wildlife some pond owners are hesitant to let geese congregate in their yard. How can geese become a nuisance in your pond and what can you do to keep them away?

If you have ever been to a park that is frequented by geese you will notice that they tend to cover the entire ground with droppings. This abundance of waste is less than ideal for those of you that swim in your pond. The additional influx of organic waste can also cloud your water and promote increased weed and algae growth. Geese can also carry problematic items from neighboring ponds. Duckweed and leeches commonly hitch a ride on the feet of water foul like geese and ducks which are then introduced into your pond as they loiter in your yard.

To prevent your pond from becoming the local hot spot for geese this season try placing a pair of floating swan decoys in the water when the ice melts. As geese are extremely territorial they will spot the swan decoys as they fly overhead and skip over your pond as they search for a less-crowded water body. Coyotes, Alligators and motion activated decoys are also available forms of predator control if you are looking for alternative options.

Whether or not you should let geese use your pond depends on what you want to use your pond for. If you use your pond for recreation or decorative purposes it will be in your best interest to keep them away. If your pond exists for reasons outside of recreation and you enjoy the additional sights and sounds of geese in the summer then rest assured that your feathered friends will be relieved to see your decoy free pond.

Pond Talk: What form of predator control works best to keep geese out of your pond? What kind of issues have geese caused in your pond and how have you resolved them?

Swan Decoy

What are the differences between a true Koi pond and a water garden? | Decorative Ponds & Watergardens Q&A

What are the differences between a true Koi pond and a water garden?

What are the differences between a true Koi pond and a water garden?
Natalie _ San Francisco, CA

When it comes to backyard ponds you may hear multiple names thrown out like water garden, Koi pond, decorative pond or other, more creative, titles. While these names are used loosely and interchangeably by many-a-pond owner there are considerable differences between a water garden and a Koi pond used for spawning and raising Koi.

So what draws the line in the sand between Koi ponds and water gardens? Water gardens are geared more towards the every-day pond owner as they are tailored to be easier to construct and maintain while having a higher aesthetic appeal and yard friendly design. Decorated with spitters, plants, lighting and other outdoor décor, water gardens can contain can contain all types of fish with goldfish and Koi being the most popular. Koi ponds tend to be sought after by pond owners that plan raising an abundance of Koi for selling or showing in fish clubs or competitions. With this goal in mind these ponds discourage the presence of species like goldfish as they breed prolifically and take up valuable space for their prize winning koi.

Another distinguishing factor is the design of the pond itself. Water gardens are typically less than 2 ft. in depth and contain plant shelves around the outside perimeter to hold a wide variety of aquatic habitat and visual stimulation. While a koi pond may also include plants for filtration or aesthetic appeal the design of this type of pond is all about the koi. These ponds do not contain plant shelves and are usually 4 ft. in depth or more. One reason for this is to discourage predators and increase useable area for their fish to roam and grow. Koi ponds also utilize bottom drains and large amounts of water flow to create ideal breeding conditions. As Koi breeders want to fit as many fish as they can into their ponds they rely on complex heavy duty filtration systems, and UV sterilizers to keep pond water clean. These systems are much more complex then the pond skimmers, pressurized filters and waterfall boxes water gardeners use.

Have the pond already but need help getting it established? Check out our fish and plant packages. Also, for more information on koi breeding click over to our blog on Fish Reproduction. Need help deciding? There are also a wide array of informational books and videos for those of you who are just looking to get started in the watergarden or koi pond hobby.

Pond Talk: What type of pond do you have?

Live Fish

I still have dead cattails standing from last year. Should I cut them down? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I still have dead cattails standing from last year. Should I cut them down?

I still have dead cattails standing from last year. Should I cut them down?

Josh – Canton, OH

It seems not even the harsh winter winds and giant piles of snow are a match for cattails growing around your pond. After a much awaited spring thaw you may still see dead cattail reeds standing tall for all to see. Nobody wants an abundance of aquatic weeds overtaking their pond so will managing those existing cattails help you maintain your pond this season?

Cattails left in your pond throughout the season will begin to go into a state of dormancy as we head into winter. While the reed or stalk of the cattail browns out and dies the rhizome, or roots, will become inactive underground until next season. At this time the dead stalks remaining above ground will begin to decompose and add muck to the pond if not removed. To remove these dead cattails from your pond you will want to use management tools like the Weed Eradicator to cut through tough cattail reeds with ease and then use the pond rake to rake them away from the pond. Raking this debris out of the pond before it decays and turns into muck will save you the hassle of rampant algae blooms and weed growth later in the season. If you do notice an abundance of submerged debris and muck in your pond you can start using MuckAway™ or PondClear™ bacteria to help clean the pond once your water temperatures are stably around 50 degrees.

With old stalks cleared from the pond it will be easier to address any new growth that may begin in the spring. Once the cattails begin to show signs of new growth of at least 18” you can begin further treatment. To control active cattails use products like Avocet® PLX as it is absorbed by the cattail reed and delivered directly to the rhizome killing the entire plant. Once the cattail reed has become inactive and brown it will no longer act like a transport system for chemical treatments rendering them ineffective and these stalks can be cut down as well.

Not all cattail growth is bad and many pond owners use cattails to provide shade for their pond, privacy, prevent soil erosion, create fish habitat and some people even cook and eat them. If you choose to leave areas of your pond more natural make sure you mark boundaries along your shoreline to ensure you can monitor the spread of your cattails and control them as necessary.

Pond Talk: Do you leave some cattails in your pond? What do you use them for?

Clean your shorline with the weed raker and weed eradicator

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