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Should I eradicate all algae from my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Should I eradicate all algae from my pond?

Should I eradicate all algae from my pond?
Suzanne – Arlington, VA

In a word, the simple answer to this question is no. Algae serves a vital role in the health of your pond, providing both natural filtration and food for fish and wildlife. Algae also looks aesthetically pleasing in a pond, provided there’s not too much of it.

To better understand algae’s place in your pond, it’s important to know the different types that are common. First, there’s filamentous algae. Often referred to as “pond scum,” growth of filamentous algae typically begins on the pond bottom. As it grows, it rises to the surface, and can quickly spread to cover the entire pond if not controlled.

String algae is the second variety of algae pond owners will invariably come to know. Essentially a variation on filamentous algae, this algae isn’t harmful, but its rapid growth can quickly take over the pond if it’s not controlled. Frequently seen on rocks in waterfalls, string algae has been known to double its mass in 24 hours when conditions are right – leaving little room for beneficial algae growth, and inhibiting the growth of beneficial bacteria and plants.

Where filamentous alga are generally unwelcome in most ponds, planktonic algae is its beneficial counterpart. Planktonic algae generally thrives within the first few feet from the surface, where it relies on light for photosynthesis – and produces food for microscopic pond dwellers and newly-hatched fry. While typically desirable in ponds, planktonic algae can bloom, and some forms can be toxic to animals. In those circumstances, special measures may be necessary to control its growth.

In order to maintain a healthy balance of algae growth in your pond, there are a few simple steps that go a long way. First, consider our PondLogic® KoiAir™ and PondAir™a Water Garden Aeration Systems to ensure sufficient aeration. Stagnant water is an open invitation for excessive algae growth. Even if you have a waterfall, consider adding one to increase water circulation. For more aggressive algae treatment, our an algaecide such as AlgaeFix to kill the algae and then follow up with the Pond Logic® DefensePAC. And as a precautionary measure, consider adding a selection of Aquatic Plants to help maintain your pond’s equilibrium, to reduce excessive algae-promoting sunlight, and to provide safe havens for fish.

Pond Talk: What type of algae do you battle most?

Pond Logic® DefensePAC®

Can I swim in the pond if I add pond dye? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Can I swim in the pond if I add pond dye?

Can I swim in the pond if I add pond dye?
Sarah – Reno, NV

For a lot of good reasons – beyond the fact that blue skin isn’t terribly flattering on anyone – this is a question that begs for an answer. We’ll start with the basics. At the Pond Guy, we sell a variety of pond dyes – including Pond Logic Nature’s Blue, Twilight Blue and Black Dyemond, and Pond Logic Nature’s Blue PLUS and Twilight Blue PLUS which both include bacteria. For the sake of safety, all of the pond dyes we carry are food grade – which ensures that they’re safe for recreational use, including swimming. Because our dyes are food grade, even an accidental slurp of dyed pond water is no cause for concern.

Since our dyes pose no health risks to people or pets, the second line of inquiry about pond dyes usually involves the potential for staining. In its concentrated form, pond dyes will stain pretty much anything. Clothes, skin, pets, rocks – you name it. When you put a lot of dye in one place, it’s bound to leave a mark. But when applied properly in a pond, and permitted to disperse for 24 to 48 hours, dyes pose little to no risk of staining.

In the event that you or your pet come into contact with concentrated dye, there’s no need to worry. Food grade dyes pose no threat to health whatsoever – even in concentrated forms. On the downside, however, it may take a while for you to shed your new hue. Over time, dyes will fade, and your skin – or Rover’s fur – will be back to its natural tint.

Pond Talk: Do you use dye in your pond?

Pond Logic® Nature's Blue™ Pond Dye Plus

I think I spotted some eggs in my pond, do I need to do anything with them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I think I spotted some eggs in my pond, do I need to do anything with them?

I think I spotted some eggs in my pond, do I need to do anything with them?
Kathie- Walnut, CA

If you have koi fish in your pond, there’s a distinct possibility you may be right. If you don’t, we may have a mystery on our hands.

For the purposes of identification, koi eggs are about the size of small beads – or small pinheads. Their color can range from milky white to greenish brown, and you’ll often be able to see black dots – which are developing koi eyes – inside them.

Fortunately, by the time you’ve identified the eggs, Mother Nature is already on the job. But, as a good steward to the future koi of America, you might consider adding some Aquatic Plants to the pond to provide good hiding spots for the fry. With everything from floating plants to pond flowers to submerged oxygenating plants, we have plenty of choices to keep your kiddie koi safe from predators – until they’re ready to make it on their own. For an added measure of protection, consider our Koi Shelters, which provide safe havens for koi of all sizes.

Koi eggs generally hatch within a week. So, within a few days from your first sighting, you’ll be graced with an abundance of koi fry. When they’re first hatched, koi fry can’t swim – so they attach themselves to the sides of the pond to grow. Within three or four days, your koi fry will begin to swim.

While it might be tempting to give your fry a welcome feast, there’s no need. During the first stages of their development, your koi will find sufficient natural food in the pond. By the time they’re approximately three to four weeks old, the koi fry should be between ¼” and ½’ long – and they’ll still be capable of finding sufficient natural food in the pond.

After two to three months, your fry will have reached between 2” and 3” in length. They’ll continue to grow until they’re between fifteen and twenty years old – so they’re just getting started. And with an average lifespan of approximately fifty years, you’ll have plenty of time to appreciate your koi, and the generations of offspring they’re sure to produce.

Pond Talk: Have you had the opportunity to see new koi in your pond?

Aquatic Plants

Why do fish swim in schools? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Why do fish swim in schools?

Why do fish swim in schools?
Chris – Akron, OH

Most people are well aware that fish – most of them, anyhow – swim in tightly-knit groups known as schools. But when pressed for a rationale, few people know exactly why fish are so intent on sticking together. As it turns out, school is just as smart for fish as it is for people – but for some very different reasons. So, in no particular order, here they are.

There’s safety in numbers. When pond and lake predators look for a meal, they look for easy targets. And while a school of fish might seem like a logical choice, it’s actually easier to identify a single target – and track it down. Schools of fish, on the other hand, present multiple targets. And when a predator goes in for a snack, the school scatters, making it difficult to keep track of a single individual long enough to catch it.

But when survival’s at stake, group behavior can always use a helping hand. That’s why we recommend Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres. When placed in your pond, fish will enjoy improved spawning habitat, and young fish will have a great place to hide when predators are on the hunt. Using our Fish Attractor Spheres, you’ll see improved fish survival rates, healthier stocks, and, if you’re so inclined, better fishing.

The buddy system makes life easier. When a fish goes solo, he faces currents and resistance all alone. And when you have to fight resistance on your own, you have to work hard just to get where you’re going. In schools, however, a lazy fish can draft off the fish around him, significantly reducing resistance. By reducing the energy they need to expend, they can expend even less energy looking for food.

For a good paradigm, think of the Tour de France. During each stage of the race, a few aggressive riders typically break from the tightly-packed peloton. Those lead riders are often overtaken late in the race by riders who stuck with the peloton for the majority of the race to enjoy the benefit of riding behind and among other riders whose bodies reduced wind resistance and made the ride less fatiguing. The breakaway riders, on the other hand, are forced to work harder, making it tougher to maintain the lead. Migratory birds often employ the same tactic, flying in v-formations to reduce drag and conserve energy.

While schooling helps to preserve energy, it’s still important that your fish have the proper food to stay healthy, active, and capable of successful reproduction. We strongly recommend a scientifically-balanced food like Pond Logic Game Fish Grower Fish Food. Designed to promote optimal growth of game fish like bass, bluegill, trout and perch, the large pellets are high in protein, which helps to promote a strong, healthy fish population for more satisfying game fishing.

Having walked our way through fish that do school, it’s worthwhile to note that some simply don’t. In most cases, those fish have evolved with a different set of survival techniques – from hiding to aggression – that works just fine for them.

Pond Talk: Do you often see your fish swimming in a school in your pond?

Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres - 3 Pack

How often do I need to replace the air filter on my (Airmax) Aeration system? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

How often do I need to replace the air filter on my (Airmax) Aeration system?

How often do I need to replace the air filter on my (Airmax) Aeration system?
Mike – Flat Rock, MI

First, for people strapped for time, we’ll go with the short answer. Under ordinary circumstances, we recommend filter replacements every six months. If you live in a dry, dusty environment, it’s best to change the filter every three to four months. For Airmax Filters, we strongly recommend Airmax Silent Air Black Air Filters (Complete), and Airmax Silent Air Replacement Air Filter Elements for routine replacement.

Now, for those who want the rest of the story, here’s the long answer, which, incidentally, also makes for fascinating cocktail party conversation. To make sense of our recommended filter replacement schedule, it’s important to understand why it’s even necessary at all.

First and foremost, regular filter changes will prevent the premature failure of your filter compressor pump. As it turns out, filter pumps are designed to perform best with clean filters. When filters become clogged, the compressor is forced to work harder. When it works harder, its wear parts are subject to greater wear and tear. And if a filter is left unchanged for too long, an overworked pump is likely to fail. Accordingly, given the cost of replacing a pump, regular filter changes are a much more economical alternative.

In addition to the stress they place on pumps, dirty filters won’t allow the compressor to do the job they’re intended to do, circulate pond water. As a result, the entire pond ecosystem feels the effects. With regular filter changes, pond water is safer for fish and plants, and clearer and more enjoyable for the people who care for them.

Occasionally, our customers ask whether filters can be cleaned and reused. While it seems like a logical option, filters can’t be effectively cleaned – and their performance is significantly compromised. We also strongly discourage the installation of a wet element in a filter system, given the potential to further stress the pump and to unintentionally introduce foreign contaminants into the pond.

As an economical alternative to filter cleaning, we recommend the use of Airmax Silent Air Replacement Air Filter Elements, rather than installing a complete filter unit. The savings are significant – and the filter system will be ready to perform flawlessly for another three to six months.

Happy aerating.

Pond Talk: Do you notice the performance of your aeration system begin to decline as the filter becomes clogged?

Airmax SilentAir Complete Air Filter

How do I divide my bog plants? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

How do I divide my bog plants?

How do I divide my bog plants?
Andrew – Phoenix, AZ

It’s a good question – and one that requires a bit of background before we get down to the answer.

Let’s start at the beginning: why do we want bog plants in the first place? At the risk of stating the obvious, it’s pretty simple. First, the right mixture of bog plants look downright beautiful, adding color, texture and interest to any backyard water garden. Second, bog plants are vital to a healthy pond ecosystem. They produce oxygen, thrive on fish waste and other organic matter, and provide foolproof hiding places for fish to evade predators. Finally, bog plants deliver lots of satisfaction – with very little effort. They’re tremendously forgiving, they often grow quickly, and they’re the key to transforming a quiet pond into a vibrant backyard vista.

But too much of a good thing, is, well, too much – whether you’re talking about dessert, out of town guests, and yes, even bog plants. Which conveniently brings us to question number two: why divide bog plants in the first place? The answer lies in one of their finest attributes: they’re hearty – and they love to grow. When left unchecked, some varieties of bog plants can literally take over a pond, blocking light and turning the water body into a floating jungle, unfit for fish, fowl and other beneficial plants. So, rather than allowing your most opportunistic bog plants to take over, we strongly encourage our customers to divide them, leaving just enough to ensure healthy growth.

Determining when to divide your plants is fairly straightforward. If plants begin to outgrow the pot in which they’re planted, the odds are good they need some breathing room. Rootbound bog plants don’t perform as well as those with room to stretch out their rhizomes, and they often show their dissatisfaction by producing more leaves – and fewer buds and flowers.

And with that, we’ve arrived at the sixty-four thousand dollar question at the top of the blog: exactly how does one successfully divide the bog plants in a water garden? Roll up your pantlegs, grab a few supplies, and we’ll walk you through it, step by step:

Step One: Identify the plants you’re planning to separate, and remove them from the pond. This step requires some judgment, depending on the means used to contain the plants in the first place. If they’re in floating planters, simply bring the planter to shore. If they’re rooted beneath the surface in a submersible planter – or without any planter at all – you may need to get your feet and/or arms wet. Take proper precautions, make sure there’s help nearby, and make a splash.

Step Two: Separate the roots. Once you have your target plant on shore, take some time — and abundant care – and gently separate the root cluster to divide the portion of the plant you’ll put back from the portion that’s moving out.

Step Three: Replant the selected portion of the plant. Since you’re making the effort to maintain your water garden, this is a good time to consider using our Laguna Submersible Pond Planters or our Floating Island Pond & Water Garden Planters. These innovative planters help to contain your plants, making them much easier to maintain. And when you replant, be sure to line your plant baskets and floating planters with Microbe-Lift Aquatic Planting Media. This innovative media includes beneficial bacteria to help keep the pond clear without promoting algae growth, while absorbing excess alkalinity to enhance overall water quality. The media also helps to reduce transplant shock, which significantly improves transplant success.

Step Four: Fertilize. To further enhance the odds of a successful transplant, we strongly recommend our Laguna Temperature Activated Aquatic Plant Fertilizer Spikes and our Tetra Pond Lily Grow Aquatic Plant Food Fertilizer Tablets. Scientifically formulated to produce stronger, more vibrant plants, both products are low in phosphorous, and have no adverse effect on water quality or fish health.

Step Five: Reuse the leftovers. Once you’ve divided your plants, you’ll probably be reluctant to throw them on the compost heap. Instead, consider planting some of the excess roots in a floating planter for added surface coverage. Or, if you’d prefer to add a little life elsewhere around your home, simply plant some of the remaining roots in a regular pot or planter to brighten up the porch, the patio, or even the living room.

Give your green thumb a whirl. You’ll be glad you did.

Pond Talk: Do you make it a normal practice to divide your plants every year?

Laguna Temperature Activated Aquatic Plant Fertilizer Spikes

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do?

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do?
Kandy – Portland, OR

Phragmites are the worst kind of uninvited guest: once it makes its appearance, it’s too late to give it the slip. For those who have experienced phragmites, they’ll attest to its tenacity. They’ll also attest to its heartiness. Unlike the plants you’re actually trying to grow in your pond, phragmites requires no care and feeding at all – and it’s remarkably adept at withstanding any effort to slow it down. .

Characterized by a green stalk with purple/tan plumes in late July, the majority of each phragmites plant is underground. As a result, by the time you actually see a phragmites plant in your pond, its root system is well established – laying the groundwork to take over the entire body of water. In fact, phragmites plants continue to spread throughout their life, sending stalks skyward at a blistering pace. And once the stalks reach maturity – typically from early to late summer – the plants double their efforts at pond domination by distributing seeds throughout the watershed. Phragmites, it seems, is quite capable at taking care of itself.

When taken alone, phragmites might actually be considered attractive. Unfortunately, it has no interest in sharing its turf. Through its aggressive growth, phragmites chokes out native plant species in short order, and can transform an entire pond’s flora over the course of a single season. And while it’s nearly impossible to eliminate phragmites once it’s established, our Kraken Aquatic Herbicide and Cide-Kick Combo – carefully and regularly applied with our Airmax Specialty Pressurized Pond Chemical Tank-Sprayer or our 4-Gallon Backpack Pond Sprayer – can significantly impair root system growth, while leaving room for the plants you’d like to keep around.

After herbicides are applied, many pond owners are eager to eliminate both existing growth and dead stalks left over from the previous season. Our Aquatic Weed Cutter makes short work of offending plants. Once the cutting is done, our Aquatic Weed Rake helps to remove mess. In some instances, pond users also use controlled burns – after herbicide application – to remove standing plants. While this can be effective, it should never be practiced apart from herbicide use. Some evidence suggests that burning alone – without the use of herbicides – can actually increase the density of phragmites plants.

Good luck with your battle against phragmites. Stay vigilant, stay focused, and act quickly to curb new growth. The fight may last a long time – but the results will be worth the effort.

Pond Talk: Have you battled phragmites in your pond?

Kraken and Cide-Kick Combo

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