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Is it normal for my koi to change color? Why does it happen? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Is it normal for my koi to change color? Why does it happen?

Q: Is it normal for my koi to change color? Why does it happen?

Judy – Southport, NC

A: They say a tiger can’t change its stripes – but did you know a koi can change its colors?

As you get to know each one of your koi personally (and you will if you haven’t already!), you may notice changes in the pigment, color depth and hue in the fish’s black, white and red scales. Don’t worry: It’s not necessarily a cause for panic. The color changes can be caused by several factors, including:

Sun Exposure: During the summer when the sun is shining, you get a tan; during the winter, you don’t. It’s the same thing with koi. Their scales can change color depending on their exposure to that bright orb in the sky. They won’t turn an Oompa-Loompa orange during the summer (though that may not be a bad thing to some koi keepers!), but you may notice a color change in some of your fish after their winter slumber.

Genetics: Koi experts will tell you how critical a role genetics plays in the coloration and patterning of koi. Dominant and recessive genes dictate how much hi (red), sumi (black), shiroji (white) and other colored markings appear. And, just like your hair color can change based on your genetic makeup, the koi’s scale color can change, too.

Stress: If your fish are stressed, they may show their unhealthiness in their coloring – just like when you take on a pallor-type tone when you’re under the weather. Make sure to keep your pond clean and well-oxygenated with an aeration system, like the Pond Logic® KoiAir™ Water Garden Aeration System. Also be sure to check your water quality with a water test kit, like the PondCare® Master Liquid Test Kit that measures ammonia and pH, and correct it if necessary.

Diet: A koi’s overall health – just like human’s – is affected by what it eats. Feed your fish food that has enough vitamins and nutrients to support vibrant color, like Pond Logic’s Growth and Color Fish Food. It contains top-quality ingredients, vitamins, natural color intensifiers and chelated minerals that enhance colors in koi and goldfish. To punch up your koi’s colors even more, add some oranges and watermelon to its diet.

Pond Talk: What kinds of color changes have you seen in your koi?

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

What chemical should I use to treat water milfoil? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

What chemical should I use to treat water milfoil?

Q: What chemical should I use to treat water milfoil?

Douglas – Goddard, KS

A: Before we dive into how to treat this aquatic invader, let’s get to know it a little better first.

Water milfoil, also known as Eurasian Water Milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum), is a submersed aquatic plant that’s native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa. It has feather-like leaves that grow from white, red or brown stems, and some species produce four-petaled pink or reddish flowers that rise a few inches from the water’s surface.

Eurasian water milfoil thrives on fertile, fine-textured, inorganic sediments. An opportunistic species, the plant prefers water bodies that receive nitrogen and phosphorous-laden runoff, like a farm or agricultural pond. Growth explodes when water temperatures rise, which promote multiple periods of flowing and fragmentation (or when pieces of the plant grow roots and develop new plants).

If left unchecked, water milfoil can dominate a pond or lake in no time.

Controlling Growth

The good news is that you can find myriad products to manage this invasive species. The chemical you choose has to do with several factors.

Closed or open system? If your pond is mostly covered with water milfoil, does not have water flowing in and out, and is not used for irrigation, NovaSource™ WhiteCap® SC Aquatic Herbicide will be your best choice. The product uses the active ingredient fluridone, which effectively controls a wide range of floating, submerged and emergent aquatic vegetation including duckweed, hydrilla, bladderwort, naiad, elodea, water lily, coontail, pondweed and water milfoil – giving you more herbicide bang for your buck.

Small area or large? If you’re treating a smaller area of a pond or lake, Pond Logic® PondWeed Defense® Aquatic Herbicide works like a charm. It’s a rapid-acting contact herbicide that drops aquatic weeds below the water surface in four to seven days, though heavy growth may require a second application in 10 to 12 weeks.

Spray or granular? If you prefer granular herbicides to spray ones and have a smaller area to treat, choose Navigate. This granular herbicide is ideal for spot-treating weeds around docks, beach areas and shorelines, killing the roots of both submerged and floating plants, including water milfoil, coontail and water lilies. You’ll see it go to work within 10 days; you’ll see full effects in three to five weeks.

Plant, Human Considerations

When choosing a chemical herbicide, pay special attention to use restrictions. Some of these products have limitations for use in irrigation ponds, swimming holes and other situations until the chemical has adequately broken down in the water.

Also consider the other critters – plants, fish and animals – that live in your pond. Certain products can harm game fish, koi or goldfish, and can kill off prize water lilies and other welcome aquatic plants.

Pond Talk: How do you manage invasive plants in your pond or lake?

WhiteCap Fluridone Aquatic Herbicide - One Treatment Lasts All Season

Should I build a pond or a waterfall feature? Which is better? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Should I build a pond or a waterfall feature? Which is better?

Q: Should I build a pond or a waterfall feature? Which is better?

Bill – Antioch, CA

A: Ahhh… during the heat of the summer, there’s nothing better than sitting nearby the cool, tranquil trickle of running water flowing from your own fountain.

Water features – whether a half-acre pond with a 6-foot waterfall or a small table-top fountain that sits on your deck – create a slice of personal serenity in your yard or garden, as well as drawing birds, dragonflies and other wildlife.

You know you want some of that tranquility for yourself, but before you rent the Caterpillar and start digging, run through these questions, below. They will help you choose the right type of water feature for you.

What kind of budget do you have?

First of all, consider what kind of money you want to spend. In most cases, the larger the water feature, the more expensive it will cost. If you’re unsure, call a pond-building professional in your area to help you assess your needs and determine your budget.

What kind of space do you have?

Next, take a realistic look at your yard. Is it large or small? How can you blend a water garden and fountain into the existing landscape?

If you have a sprawling backyard with room to build, consider The Pond Guy® 11-by-11 or 11-by-16 foot Pond Kit or the smaller Pondbuilder™ Serenity Pond Kit, all of which include everything needed to build a pond, including fish-friendly rubber liner, underlayment, skimmer, filter, pump, check valve, plumbing fixtures and hardware, and complete instructions with a how-to video. The package even includes some beneficial bacteria to jump-start your feature’s biological filtration.

If you have a postage-size yard or one that’s tightly landscaped, consider a smaller water feature, like one of the Pondbuilder™ Cascading Falls disappearing waterfalls. The kits come in three sizes – 10 inches, 14 inches and 22 inches – and contains a waterfall box, basin, pump vault, pump, liner, underlayment, tubing, waterfall foam, check valve and instructions.

Who will visit your water feature?

Do you have grandchildren or young kids running around the backyard? If so, a waterfall with no open body of water, like the Pondbuilder Cascading Falls, would be an ideal choice. You’ll be able to enjoy the sound of running water without the potential danger.

Perhaps, however, you want your pond to be open – thanks to a water-loving dog sharing your house, a blooming love for tropical water lilies or a brand new fish-keeping hobby. If that’s the case, then consider a Pondbuilder™ Serenity Pond Kit or one of The Pond Guy® Professional Pond Kits, both geared toward to do-it-yourselfers.

How much maintenance time do you have?

Finally, think about your schedule and what you enjoy doing. Do you work long hours and simply want a peaceful place for an occasional night on the back porch? Do you like to have the sounds of running water – but without all the maintenance? If so, Pondbuilder Cascading Falls is right for you.

If you’re a gardener, or someone who spends a lot of time outdoors working in the yard, tending your plants and improving the landscape, then one of the pond kits, like a Pondbuilder Serenity Pond or The Pond Guy’s Professional Pond, should be your pick.

Pond Talk: What was the first type of water feature you had?

The Pond Guy Professional Pond Kits - Create Your Own Backyard Oasis

Is there an easier way to get rid of weeds? I’m tired of pulling them by hand. | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Is there an easier way to get rid of weeds? I’m tired of pulling them by hand.

Q: Is there an easier way to get rid of weeds? I’m tired of pulling them by hand.

Beverly – Richfield, WI

A: Who doesn’t love tools? They’re cool to look at, fun to play with – and, the best part, they help make chores easy. When it comes to maintaining your pond or lake, tools of all shapes and sizes will come in very handy, particularly these four must-haves, below.

Pond Rake

A pond rake pulls, gathers and removes dead debris from the surface or the bottom of a pond.

Debris on the surface of a pond, like algae or fallen leaves, can sink to the bottom and start to decay, adding to the muck and detritus that’s already there. All that debris degrades water quality, compromises fish health, provides a nutrient source for nuisance plants, and can even affect chemical treatments’ ability to work.

A floating/sub-surface pond rake, like the Pond Logic® Pond and Beach Rake, or a sub-surface pond rake, like the Jenlis Weed Raker™, lends a long helping hand. Elongated by rope so you can easily get the deep-water growth, both rakes work by removing submerged lake and pond weeds by their roots, slowing their spread.

Weed Cutter

A weed cutter, like the Pond Logic® Weed Cutter and the Jenlis WeedRazer®, mechanically slices through weeds at their stems so they can then be raked out.

The 28-inch, double-sided Pond Logic® Weed Cutter features a two-piece, rust-proof, powder-coated aluminum handle that’s 11 feet long. It’s great for removing floating aquatic vegetation, marginal weeds and cattails that extend past the pond’s edge.

The V-shaped Jenlis WeedRazer™ clears a 4-foot-wide path in pond weeds by sinking to the bottom and slicing through submerged weeds like watermilfoil, cattails and lily pads as you pull it across the pond. The razor-sharp tool weighs just 8 pounds, making it light enough to toss 30 feet or more yet heavy enough to sink straight to the bottom.

Sprayer

A sprayer makes pond chemical application easy. Most liquid chemicals are more effective when they’re sprayed over the target weed, and a tank sprayer, like an Airmax® Specialty Pressurized Pond Chemical Tank Sprayer, is designed just for this purpose. The 2.75-gallon pond tool features a wide-mouth fill top that minimizes accidental spills, a brass corrosive-resistant handle, and a high-pressure tank that allows you to spray hard-to-reach weeds.

Invest in a separate sprayer just for pond chemicals. If you use lawn and garden chemicals in the same sprayer that you use on your pond, doing so can be toxic to fish and other aquatic life as residue could be left behind. Keep your fish and pond plants healthy and happy: Use a different tool for the job.

Granular Spreader

The final must-have tool is a granular spreader, which helps you disperse granular herbicides evenly over your target area – and that means a more effective weed kill-off. The rust-proof Earthway® Granular Hand Spreader holds 10 pounds of material in a large hopper and features an application adjuster that lets you control how much product is released with its smooth-action hand crank.

Pond Talk: If you could only have one pond-care tool in your toolbox, what would it be? Why?

Pond Logic Pond & Beach Rake - Remove Weeds & Muck Build Up

How do I remove algae and debris from my waterfall? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How do I remove algae and debris from my waterfall?

Q: How do I remove algae and debris from my waterfall?

Richard – Wexford, PA

A: Get out your hip waders. It’s spring cleaning and summer chore time in your pond! Getting rid of all that debris and gunk that has accumulated in your waterfall is probably one of the items on your to-do list, especially if you have patio and pond parties planned, right?

Don’t worry: Waterfall cleaning isn’t a backbreaking chore. And if you use a cleaning aid, like Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense® Pond Cleaner, the task is made even easier. Here, we’ve outlined five simple steps for cleaning your waterfall using Oxy-Lift™.

1. Power down your pump. Before you begin, turn off your waterfall’s pump to stop the water flow and allow it to drain from the feature. Oxy-Lift™ works best when it’s undiluted and comes into direct contact with the gunk, so no-flow is the way to go.

2. Sprinkle Oxy-Lift™ over waterfall. Once the waterfall is drained, sprinkle some of the powder over the moist debris-covered rocks, using the amount recommended on the product label for your water feature’s size and/or the area you’re treating.

3. Wait 10 minutes. Go pour yourself a tasty beverage and enjoy it pond-side while the Oxy-Lift™ activates and starts cleaning. The bacteria-free product uses the fish- and plant-safe power of hydrogen peroxide to “lift” debris from pond liners, rocks, gravel and waterfalls – which means little or no work from you!

4. Add some elbow grease. For tough, stuck-on debris, you may need to lightly scrub the waterfall’s surfaces to help loosen it. A pond brush, like the one that comes with The Pond Guy® 3-in-1 Combo Net, can help – particularly as it’s attached to a telescoping pole that extends to 5 feet long. You can also use the net to scoop out larger chunks of debris.

5. Turn waterfall back on. When you’re happy with your (and Oxy-Lift’s) work, turn the waterfall pump back on and congratulate yourself for a job well done. If you use Oxy-Lift™ regularly as part of your pond maintenance routine, it will reduce or even eliminate yearly pond shut-down and clean-out.

A quick tip for those who spruce up their pond prior to a backyard shin-dig: Oxy-Lift™ will temporarily make the pond water cloudy, so do your chores the night before. That will give the product a chance to disperse and clear before guests arrive.

Pond Talk: How often do you clean your waterfall?

Pond Logic Oxy-Lift Defense - Remove Stubborn Debris With Ease

My pond has leeches! How do I get rid of them? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: My pond has leeches! How do I get rid of them?

Tana – West Allis, WI

A: Leeches. They’re not for the squeamish. These little bloodsuckers – which are actually segmented worms related to earthworms – use their suction cup-like mouths and teeth to latch on to vertebrate and invertebrate animals, feeding on their blood.

The majority of leeches thrive in freshwater environments, though some species can be found on land and in the sea, too. Of the 700 different species of leeches, 100 are marine, 90 are terrestrial and the remaining 510 prefer habitats like your lake or pond.

One of the more common leeches found in North America is the Freshwater Leech or North American Leech. This brownish-green worm with black and red spots grows to about 2 inches long and lives in lakes, marshes and slow-moving streams.

Harmless – and Healthy

Historically, leeches have been used medicinally on humans to improve and restore blood circulation. The practice of leeching, or leech therapy, can be traced to India and Greece and has been done in both Europe and North America up until the 18th and 19th centuries. Though the practice waned for a time – likely a combination of the yuck factor and modern medicine – it’s slowing coming back into favor.

If a leech latches onto you, don’t worry. In most cases, it won’t do any harm. In fact, you might not even feel it as the tiny critter injects the spot with anesthetic-anticoagulant combo while attaching itself with its suckers. You can remove a leech by breaking its suction seal with your fingernail or another blunt object, causing the worm to detach its jaws.

Tiny Hitchhikers

The leeches in your pond have probably hitched a ride from visiting birds or plants that you’ve purchased and placed in your pond. Leeches will attach themselves to their host – like a duck or heron – and take in their fill of blood. Once they’re satiated, they’ll drop off and establish themselves in their new home. Leeches will also hide in plant roots and on the bottom of pots, and when you place them in your lake, they’ll happily move right in.

Fish Food

Fish love to gobble down leeches. A healthy fish population will, in most cases, keep leech numbers under control. Among game and lake fish, red ear sunfish do a great job of eating these worms. Other natural leech predators include turtles, crayfish and water fowl.

Prevention, Removal

Besides using your finned friends to control the leeches in your lake or pond, you can also try some of these recommendations:

•Control the muck on the bottom of your pond – which is where they lay their eggs and spend their off time – with a product like MuckAway™.
•Remove debris, cattails and phragmites from shallow areas of your pond.
•Add more leech-eating fish.
•Set a leech trap. Punch leech-size holes in a coffee or aluminum can, bait it with raw chicken and position it in a shallow area of your pond. When the worms go for the grub, they can get in – but not out. The burrs from the whole punch will prevent them from escaping. Remove the can once it’s full and repeat until the leeches are gone.

Pond Talk: What did you do the first time you found a leech locked onto your leg?

Pond Logic MuckAway - Eliminate Muck Naturally

Is There Anything I Can Do To Keep My Koi Safe From The Heat? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Is there anything I can do to keep my koi safe from the heat?

Q: Is there anything I can do to keep my koi safe from the heat?

Shalini – Brinkley, AR

A: Baby, it certainly is hot outside! As the temperatures rise, you might think the coolest place to be is in the pond with your fish. Surprisingly, however, pond fish can feel the heat, too. The warm water feels “stuffy” to them because it contains less oxygen than cooler water. Check out these four tips for keeping your koi and goldfish cool as finned cucumbers.

1. Check your Water Temperature: Ideally, your pond’s water temperature should be at a comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Use the Pond Logic® Floating Pond Thermometer to check the pond’s temp, and if it’s too warm, do a partial water change to give the fish some fresh, cool water.

2. Top Off the Pond: Even if your pond’s water temperature is hovering near that 70 degree zone, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your pond’s water level and add more when needed. When the mercury rises, remember that your water will evaporate more quickly into the atmosphere.

3. Create Shady Spots: Just as you seek out shady spots to shield yourself from the sun’s rays, fish will do the same to keep themselves cool – and prevent themselves from getting sunburned! Be sure to provide floating plants, water lilies and other types of shade cover for your pond pets. Have fun with it! Add some tropical lilies like the Panama Pacific, tropical bog plants like the Red Canna or other hot-weather plants that prefer the warmer weather.

4. Provide Aeration: Do you like sitting by the fan or swamp cooler during heat waves like this one? Well, an underwater bubbler or aeration system, such as the Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration System, is like a fan to fish. The cooler water that’s loaded with oxygen is easier for the fish to breathe.

While the heat waves persist this summer, follow these tips to ensure your fish stay cool and comfortable in their watery home. They’ll thank you for it!

Pond Talk: Where is your favorite place to chill out when the temperature soars?

Pond Logic PondAir - Protect Your Prized Fish

How Can I Keep My Pond & Fish Healthy With All Of This Hot Weather? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: How can I keep my pond & fish healthy with all of this hot weather?

Cheryl – Cheshire, OH

A: If you’re feeling the heat, there’s a good chance the game fish in your pond are feeling it, too. Not only will they sense the temperature increase in the water, but they’ll also be affected by a decreased amount of dissolved oxygen in their environment.

So what can you do to keep the fish in your lake or pond cool and comfortable? Check out these four expert-recommended tips:

1. Provide a Cool Habitat: Like humans and other land-dwellers, fish like a place to hide to get out of the sun. They’ll slip under the shade of plants, swim inside logs and take advantage of spots like the Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres, which encourage plant growth and give them a place to feel safe, shaded and protected.

2. Keep the Water Moving: When the water moves and circulates with an aeration system like an Airmax® Shallow Water Aeration System or an above-surface fountain like a Kasco Decorative Fountain, it allows for greater gas exchange at the water’s surface, expelling dangerous ammonia and taking in healthy oxygen. This provides more “breathable” space for your fish to swim deeper in the pond – where it’s cooler.

3. Rake Out Dead Debris: To cut back on the dangerous gasses being produced in your lake or pond, remove dead debris and decomposing plant matter with a pond cutter and rake, like the Pond Logic® Pond Rake & Weed Cutter Combo. Less debris in your lake means less gas is being produced.

4. Be Cautious of Water Treatments: Dead or dying organic materials can reduce oxygen levels quickly, so be cautious when using algaecides or herbicides to treat algae and other weeds. Rather than dosing your entire pond or lake, treat one section at a time, waiting a week or two before treating another area. This allows the fish to remain in the unaffected areas.

With a little planning and a some regular maintenance, you can keep your recreational pond or lake healthy no matter the temperatures. Your fish will thank you for it!

Pond Talk: What do you do to keep cool during these scorching heat waves?

Kasco Fountains - Add Tranquility To Your Pond

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