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Is It Safe To Shut My Pump Off Overnight To Save On Electricity Costs? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Is It Safe To Shut My Pump Off Overnight To Save On Electricity Costs?

Q: Is it safe to shut my pump off overnight to save on electricity costs?

Melissa – Telford, PA

A: Just about everyone is looking for ways to save money on their monthly bills – and you might think that turning off your pond’s pump every night is one way to stretch some of your hard-earned cash.

Think again!

Though most pumps do cost a nominal amount of money to run 24/7, if you shut yours down each night, you could be affecting your pond’s water quality and your fishes’ health, and that could cost you even more in the long run.

Check out these top four reasons why you should keep your pump pumping:

1. Efficiency: Pond pump manufacturers understand that water gardeners are concerned about operating costs, so many of the designs on the market today are energy efficient and consume relatively little electricity. Pumps that used to cost $100 a month or more to run have been replaced by models that cost as little as $12 a month. Now that’s some serious savings!

2. Filtration: In order for your filtration system to function properly, it needs moving water flowing through it – so if your pump is off, your water’s not moving or being filtered, and that could do some damage to your pond’s inhabitants. Plus, if all the water drains out of your filter, you could wind up with a loss of the beneficial bacteria that live on the media inside.

3. Settled Debris: Moving water helps to keep debris suspended in the water column and pulled through the skimmer and filter for efficient removal. But if the pump is turned off, that debris will settle to the bottom of the pond and build up, creating a dense food source for nuisances like algae.

4. Oxygen Depletion: Still, quiet water – even just during the overnight hours – means that fewer water molecules are circulating and making contact with oxygen-rich air at the pond’s surface. The stagnant water will be unable to release dangerous gases, like ammonia, and absorb life-giving oxygen. Moving water, however, ensures those molecules keep churning and exchanging bad gases for good.

If you still feel like you should shut down your pump each night, at least keep an aerator, like the Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration System, running to keep the water circulating. The PondAir™ systems consume even less electricity than pumps – costing only pennies per month.

Pond Talk: Do you keep your pump running 24/7? Why or why not?

Pond Logic PondAir - Breathe Life Into Your Pond

Which is better for my pond? PondClear™ or MuckAway™? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Which is better for my pond? PondClear™ or MuckAway™?

Mitch – Syracuse, NY

A: PondClear™ and MuckAway™ have their similarities and differences. They both are chemical free, safe to use in recreational ponds, and contain aerobic bacteria that naturally work to break down dead organic material in your pond or lake. They differ however, by targeting different types of debris.

Pond Logic® PondClear™ Beneficial Bacteria focuses on debris that’s suspended in the water column. The floating material may cause your pond or lake to appear cloudy. The beneficial microorganisms in PondClear™ consume and digest that suspended organic matter, leaving you with clean, clear, odor-free water and a healthy ecosystem. It’s even safe to use in ponds and lakes that water horses, livestock, pets, birds and other wildlife, as well as those that contain game fish.

Pond Logic® MuckAway™ Pond Muck Reducer focuses on sunken organic debris – also known as pond muck – that has accumulated along the beach, shoreline or pond bottom. The MuckAway™ pellets sick below the water’s surface and dissolve, releasing hungry beneficial bacteria that instantly begin consuming and digesting the settled debris. The all-natural muck buster is perfect for spot-treating trouble areas or managing material in canals or lake-front properties. As with PondClear™, MuckAway™ is safe to use around horses, livestock, pets, birds, wildlife and in lakes that contain game fish.

When used as directed, both PondClear™ and MuckAway™ will begin working right away and, in most cases, you can expect to see real results within one month of use. Of course, each pond is different; the longer the muck has had to accumulate, the longer it will take to be devoured by the bacteria.

To give the microorganisms a performance boost, add an aeration system to the pond and increase the water’s circulation. Aerobic bacteria require oxygen to live, thrive and reproduce. An aeration system, such as the Airmax® Deep Water Aeration System or the Kasco Surface Aerator, will diffuse O2 into the water while increasing the water’s movement and exposure to surface oxygen.

So before you add PondClear™ or MuckAway™ to your pond or lake, make sure you choose the product that targets your particular situation.

Pond Talk: Which bothers you more: cloudy water or pond muck? Why?

Pond Logic MuckAway - Naturally Eliminate Pond Muck

What Are Those Tiny Red Worms In My Filter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

What Are Those Tiny Red Worms In My Filter?

Q: What are those tiny red worms in my filter?

Jose – Highland Park, IL

A: They’re tiny, they’re wriggly, and they’re blood-red – or at least a creamy pink color. What are they? They’re non-biting midge fly larvae, also known as bloodworms. Though they’re an unsettling infestation to see in your filter, they’re actually harmless to your fish.

Know Your Chironomidae

Midge flies hail from the family Chironomidae, which includes more than 10,000 different species worldwide. Some varieties appear bright red in color thanks to a hemoglobin-type substance that helps them live with oxygen-depleted water, giving them their “bloodworm” nickname.

As adults, midge flies resemble mosquitoes, but they have fluffy antennae and no blood-sucking proboscis. Large numbers of them can be a nuisance as their droppings can cause damage to paint, brick and other surfaces. And when their tiny corpses pile up, they can cause a stink.

Home Sweet Home

These insects thrive in freshwater aquatic and semi-aquatic environments. In their larval stages, they live in tree holes, bromeliads, rotting vegetation, soil and artificial containers – including filtration systems, infesting media pads. They spend their time attached to the container’s solid surface and taking in tasty food as it floats by.

Midge flies lay their eggs in water, preferring it to be still, clear, dark and safe from critters like fish and frogs that nosh on the larvae when they emerge. To protect themselves, the bloodworms actually create and live in tiny half-inch tubes they build from mud, algae and other naturally occurring resources. Look closely in your filter, and you’ll probably see some of these worm-sized mud huts.

A Tasty Fish Treat

Don’t worry: These little guys won’t harm your pond or your fish. In fact, if one wriggles its way into your pond, it will be a welcome treat for your fish! Goldfish and other smaller fish will gobble them and their little mud homes; koi and other larger fish will treat them as tasty hors d’oeuvres.

Bloodworms are quite nutritious for fish. In fact, the insects are about 55 percent protein – which is a key nutrient fishes need to grow, reproduce and maintain their health. So rather than balk at the tiny worms, scoop them out of your filter and give them to your pond dwellers. They’ll thank you for them!

Pond Talk: What’s the weirdest (or coolest!) insect you’ve seen in or around your pond?

Filtration Made Affordable

What Should I Feed My Game Fish? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: What should I feed my game fish?

Beth – Richmond, VA

A: Sure, your bass, trout and other game fish nibble on nature’s all-natural bounty of algae, weeds, insects and worms. However, they also need supplemental nourishment, particularly if you’re growing them for sport. That’s where commercial fish food, like The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower Fish Food, comes into play.

The Ingredient List

When choosing an over-the-counter food for your game fish, look for three vital ingredients on its label: protein, vitamin C and fish meal.

• The protein gives your fish amino acids that their bodies use to grow and repair muscles and other tissues, and reproduce and lay eggs. The protein quality and digestibility matters, as any that’s unused is excreted as waste.

• Vitamin C delivers essential antioxidants that help to fend off sickness and disease commonly found in game fish. Vitamin C also helps fish form collagen, which helps build strong bones and skin. Because fish don’t manufacture vitamin C on their own, they need it in their diets.

• Adding supplemental nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein and fat, highly digestible fish meal helps your lake inhabitants grow to whopper size.

Don’t think we’ve forgotten about carbohydrates! While ingredients like grains do their part to bind the food’s ingredients together, they’re not essential in a fish’s diet. Most fish will get their daily dose of plant-based carbohydrates when they nosh on algae or other sub-surface vegetable matter.

Portion Control

Seeing those fish swim to the surface for food is certainly entertaining – and that enjoyment (coupled with dreams of giant fish!) might tempt you to overfeed. However, you should feed your fish an amount that they’ll consume in about 5 minutes. Any more than that turns into waste, which means more nutrients for algae.

If your pond or lake is stocked with small fish or growing fry, crush a few of the pellets into tiny bite-size pieces for them.

Along with the commercial food and foodstuffs found in the pond itself, you can also offer your fish human treats like torn-up chunks of stale bread, chopped up fruits and tiny minnows. They’ll add much-welcome variety to their diets – and help you clean out your refrigerator!

Pond Talk: What special treats do you feed to your game fish?

Promote Rapid Fish Growth - The Pond Guy Game Fish Grower Fish Food

How Well Do You Know Your Koi? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How Well Do You Know Your Koi?

How Well Do You Know Your Koi?

Koi add color and movement to your pond. They’re relaxing to watch. And they’re likely the centerpiece of your water feature. But how much do you really know about your finned friends? Check out these five factoids about koi and impress your fish-keeping pals during your next pond-side shindig.

1. A Long Life Span: Have you heard of Hanako? He’s the fabled koi who lived for 226 years after being supposedly passed down through the generations and was aged by counting rings on his scales. To set the record straight, Hanako has been proven to be an urban myth. Koi typically live 25 to 35 years in a well-maintained fish pond – but that’s still not a bad life span, all things considered!

2. Growth Spurts: Koi, like most other fish, start out as teeny-tiny fingerlings and grow to their genetically determined adult size. But unlike many fish, koi will grow to fit their accommodations – which means they’ll develop into super-sized beasts in the right environment. In their first three to four years of life when housed in an adequately sized pond, a koi will reach about 18 inches long. Throughout its lifetime, it can grow to reach up to 3 feet and more. That’s some big fish!

3. Colorful Gastronomes: The ultimate underwater foodies, koi will eat just about anything, with the exception of meat. Though they love their commercial pelleted diet, like Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food, koi will happily gobble down lettuce, apples, oranges, watermelon, and even tiny shrimp. So why not treat your scaly pals to some healthy fruits and veggies now and then!

4. Feast and Famine: Koi love to eat and will chow whenever food is offered, but these guys can actually go more than 10 days without food during the warmer months – and fast even longer when temperatures drop and they go into their winter torpor, or hibernation, when they pass on meals for months at a time. Of course, if you feed your fish regularly, don’t suddenly stop as doing so can affect their health and happiness.

5. Koi Agility? No, koi unfortunately cannot be trained to jump through hoops like a dolphin or fetch a floating ball like a Labrador, but they can be conditioned to recognize your footsteps and come to the water’s edge for a visit. Simply feed your fish from the same place consistently and, before long, they’ll learn to go there for food and even learn to eat from your hand! Now that’s a cool party trick.

Pond Talk: What other interesting factoids have you heard about koi?

Pond Logic Growth & Color Fish Food - Optimum Fish Health & Beauty

Algae, Pollen or Both? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Algae, Pollen or Both?

Ah, spring. As the days get longer and the temperatures get warmer, trees and plants start flowering – which mean two things to pond and lake owners: algae blooms and pollen spores.

When those sneeze-triggering spores start flying and land on your lake’s surface, giving it a bright green, yellow or white oil slick-like appearance, it can be hard to tell whether you’re dealing with a troublesome algae bloom, a layer of pollen or a combo of them both.

A case like this calls for a little detective work, starting with a primer on algae types.

Know Your Algae

Planktonic Algae – the source of algae blooms, are floating, microscopic plants that color pond water shades of green, blue-green, brown or variations in between. In controlled amounts, this type of algae can actually be beneficial. It’s considered the start of the pond food chain as the tiny plants feed fish inhabitants, and it can also shade the pond’s bottom, preventing subsurface nuisance plants from growing. In uncontrolled amounts, however, planktonic algae can cause oxygen depletions and fish kill.

Filamentous Algae – single-celled plants that form long, visible chain, threads or filaments. These threads, which start growing along the bottom of the lake in shallow water or on rocks or other aquatic plants, intertwine and form mats that resemble wet wool. When these mats rise to the surface, they’re commonly referred to as pond scum. These mats make great homes for micro- and macro-invertebrates, like bugs and worms, but they’re also unsightly and can affect the oxygen levels and fish health in your lake.

Pollen Versus Algae

Unlike planktonic or filamentous algae, pollen simply settles on the water surface, creating an oil slick-like appearance on the lake or pond. When you run your fingers over a pollen-covered body of water, the green, yellow or white material will break apart. That doesn’t happen with algae. Instead, the tiny planktonic algae remains suspended in the water, while the filamentous algae can actually be grabbed and pulled out.

Clearing Things Up

The good news is that water circulation with a decorative fountain, such as Kasco’s 1/4HP Decorative Fountain, and subsurface aeration, such as an Airmax Aeration System, will help remedy both the algae and pollen situations. The movement of the water breaks up the pollen layer and it will eventually go away. If your lake or pond has a significant algae bloom, you may need to treat the water with an algaecide, like Pond Logic Algae Defense.

Pond Talk: What have you found to be the best way to manage algae in your lake or pond?

Kasco Decorative Fountains - Sound, Beauty & Aeration

I Know That Floating Plants Help Shade My Pond, But What Do Submerged Plants Do? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

I know that floating plants help shade my pond, but what do submerged plants do?

Q: I know that floating plants help shade my pond, but what do submerged plants do?

Donnita – Palos Park, IL

A: Got plants? If you’re like most pond hobbyists, you probably have plenty of growing and blooming greenery surrounding your water garden – but what about sub-surface varieties? Underwater plants, like hornwort, and red stemmed parrots feather, offer great benefits to your water feature and its inhabitants, including:

Filtration: Underwater plants naturally filter your water. How? Plants, with their copious amounts of surface area on their leaves, stems and roots, absorb nitrates and fish waste – which is actually fertilizer to them. The result is a body of water that’s cleaner and clearer, thanks to Mother Nature’s nitrogen cycle.

Predator Protection: Sub-surface plants also give your fish and other pond critters places to hide when predators stalk or attack. Koi and goldfish will swim into the lush growth and hide out when a raccoon stops by the pond or a blue heron circles overhead. The greenery provides excellent camouflage for your finned friends.

Aesthetic Appeal: As popular as they may be, gravel-bottom ponds are boring. And they’re not very natural-looking either. Have you ever seen a wild pond or lake with no plants beneath the surface? Nope, didn’t think so. Ponds planted with below-the-waterline foliage create a more realistic-looking – and aesthetically pleasing – water feature, which is something most (if not all!) hobbyists hope to achieve.

Oxygen: Underwater plants are called “oxygenators” for a reason. They naturally produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis – and oxygen is one of the best things for your pond’s health and vitality. When submerged plants are used in combination with a sub-surface aeration system, you’ll wind up with cleaner water that truly supports your pond’s inhabitants.

Spawning Areas: The leaves, stems and root systems of underwater plants give your pond life safe places to spawn and lay their eggs. And when those tiny fry hatch, the plants provide protection, food and a comfy place to call home.

Submerged plants are easy to add to your water garden or fish pond. Simply fill planting baskets, like the Laguna Submersible Pond Planting Baskets, with planting media, add some oxygenators, and place the planted basket on the bottom of your pond or on a plant shelf on the side of your pond. The planting baskets allow the plant’s roots to branch out and find nourishment while containing it and preventing fish from nibbling on its root system.

Add some plants to your pond today. Your fish will thank you for them!

Pond Talk: Do you have submerged plants in your pond?

Create Oxygen For Your Plants - Hornwort Submerged Plants

What Can I Do To Reduce Or Remove Cattails From My Pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: What can I do to reduce or remove cattails from my pond?

Ryan – Bradford, PA

A: Cattails, when left unchecked, can proliferate and take over a pond or lake in no time. These common aquatic plants grow from 3 to 10 feet tall in dense colonies around the margins of ponds and lakes. In the spring, the green strap-like foliage grows from large, creeping, below-the-ground rhizomes. As the seasons progress, the cattail’s leaves and spikes – or the plant’s brown cylindrical flower – grow. And when the flowers open and let loose their cottony seeds, the cattails spread and propagate new plants throughout the lake.

Cattails can indeed be a nuisance. Granted, a small, managed area of cattails will provide an ideal habitat for amphibians, insects, birds and fish, as well as helping to prevent erosion. But too many of these plants can create an unappealing look and begin to transform a healthy lake or pond into marshland.

Controlling cattails involves a simple three-step process: You’ll need to spray an herbicide to kill the plants themselves, cut the leaves and spikes down and remove them, and retreat as necessary.

Step 1: Treat the Plants

The most common way to control cattails is to apply an EPA-registered herbicide and surfactant product, like Avocet PLX, using a pressurized pond sprayer, such as the Airmax® Pond Sprayer. Read the product labels for proper dosage rates for your size lake. To treat a 2,500-square-foot area of weeds, mix 8 ounces of Avocet PLX with 1 gallon of water, pour into pond sprayer and apply onto actively growing plants and at least 18 inches above the water surface where the cattails are growing. Allow the mixture to absorb into the plant and the root system, which is the most difficult part of the plant to kill, for one to two weeks.

Step 2: Cut, Remove the Stalks

Once the herbicide has had a chance to soak into the cattail’s root system, the plant will turn brown and become limp. At this point, you should remove the stalks. Doing so prevents muck accumulation, and it also makes it easier to treat and remove new cattails in the future as they will come up between the dead stalks. Cut the stalks using the Airmax® Pond Rake and Cutter Combo or the Jenlis WeedRazer® Pro Aquatic Weed Cutter at the base of the plants, allowing for easier removal with your rake.

Step 3: Retreat as Needed

To completely eradicate cattails in a pond, this process may need to be repeated – and repeated and repeated because not all cattail roots will be killed by one treatment. But once you have the plants under control, they can make a nice addition to your landscape and encourage wildlife to call your pond or lake home. Just don’t let the cattails take over again!

Pond Talk: How large of an area do you have in your lake or pond that’s devoted to cattails?

Avocet PLX - Eliminate Cattails & Phragmites

Do I really need to adjust my water’s pH level? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Do I really need to adjust my water's pH level?

Q: Do I really need to adjust my water’s pH level?

Terry – Bishopville, MD

A: Sure, you’ve seen those pH tests, like the Pondcare® Master Test Kit, online or at your local pond supply shop, and you’ve overheard veteran pond keepers talking about pH level adjustments. But what in the world is pH and why would want to monkey with it in your water garden or fish pond?

pH Defined

In super simple terms, pH, which stands for potential hydrogen, is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a water body is on a scale from 0 to 14. Pure water is neutral. It has a pH close to 7.0 at 77 degrees F. Blood is also close to neutral. Ammonia’s pH is ~11, which is high on the alkaline charts, while stomach acid’s pH is ~1, which acidic enough to burn through your chewed-up chow.

pH in Your Pond

So why is the pH level in a pond or water garden such a hot topic? Because pH affects the health of those things swimming around in the water. Fish love a liquid environment that strikes the right balance between acid and base. Your pond’s pH level affects their ability to reproduce, to fight disease, to metabolize their food – to do just about everything. The pH level also affects the health of your plants, frogs, turtles and any other living critters that call your pond home.

Adjusting to a Proper pH

Don’t worry: You don’t have to keep your pond at a perfect 7.0 pH all the time. In fact, an acceptable pH reading for a pond is 6.5 – 8.5. But you should use caution when adjusting it because doing so rapidly can harm your aquatic life. If you absolutely must adjust your pH using a pH Stabilizer like pH Lift or pH Drop, apply enough treatment to shift the levels 0.5 at a time, wait several hours before re-treating, and test the waters often with your Pondcare Master Test Kit.

Pond Talk: How often do you test the pH in your pond?

The Most Complete Test Kit For The Job - PondCare Master Test Kit

Why Does Algae Keep Growing In My Pond, Even After I Treat With Algaecides? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Why does algae keep growing in my pond, even after I treat with algaecides?

Cathy – Bagley, WI

A: Algae seems to take on a life of its own sometimes, doesn’t it? Once that green slimy, stringy or seaweed-looking stuff crops up, it keeps growing and growing until you wind up with a messy situation in your pond or lake. Even if you treat it with algaecides, it still grows back.

Turns out that all these tiny plants need to grow is sunlight and food source – both of which are abundant during certain sunny times of year and when there’s a healthy mix of detritus built up along the bottom of the lake. To make things worse (or better for the algae!), when a pond is treated with chemicals, the process just adds dead algae to the pond, which is actually a food source for the growing algae.

Rather than battle this green monster after it has a foothold, it’s best to take a proactive approach. After you verify that you’re dealing with algae and not weeds (read here for a quick lesson on chara and other types of algae), we recommend you follow these four all-natural steps for preventing algae attacks:

1. Use Aeration: Aeration systems, like Airmax Aeration®, circulates debris that has accumulated in the lake or pond so it doesn’t settle at the bottom and become algae food. Aeration also spreads the debris throughout the water column, making it more accessible to beneficial bacteria that break it down.

2. Use Natural Bacteria: Natural beneficial bacteria, such as Pond Logic® PondClear™ Beneficial Bacteria, power through nitrates, breaking down fish waste, leaves and other organics that accumulate in the pond. This naturally improves the water clarity as the bacteria devour the sediment.

3. Use EcoBoost™: Pond Logic® EcoBoost™ Bacteria Enhancer is an innovative product that binds algae-feeding phosphates in ponds and stimulates the growth of essential beneficial bacteria, which are essential when controlling algae in your lake or pond.

4. Use Pond Dye: Because algae thrive in sunlight, Pond Dye filters those rays and stops them from reaching below the surface, thereby preventing algae from growing. Plus, the cool colors mask the soupy green hue of the algae.

We can’t guarantee your algae problem will disappear, but if you follow these steps you’ll be creating a pond that’s inhospitable to algae invaders.

Pond Talk: How have your algae blooms been this spring and summer compared to last year?

Airmax Aeration Systems - Even Ponds Need To Breathe

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