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How does a bullfrog tadpole grow into a frog? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How does a bullfrog tadpole grow into a frog?

Q: How does a bullfrog tadpole grow into a frog?

Dan – Clovis, CA

A: What would a pond or lake be without bullfrogs? These croaking amphibians – which can grow to 8 inches in length and weigh up to 1½ pounds – reside near water sources, like lakes, ponds, rivers and bogs. The brown-green frogs with the scientific name Lithobates catesbeianus prefer warm, still, shallow water.

Through their seven- to nine-year life cycle, bullfrogs pass through several stages of development. Ever wonder what happens during those stages? Keep reading, because here’s what you need to know.

From Eggs to Tadpoles

Bullfrog breeding, which happens externally, takes place in May to July in the north and from February to October in the south. The female adult bullfrog, which sports a white throat during the mating season, deposits as many as 20,000 eggs in a foamy film in quiet, protected waters; the male, which has a yellow throat during mating rituals, then fertilizes them. Four days later, tiny tadpoles emerge. The little guys are able to fend for themselves right away and will stay in their tadpole stage for almost three years before transforming into adults.

Pollywog Waltz

While they’re in their tadpole – or pollywog – stage, the tiny gilled critters live exclusively in the water and nibble on water plants for nourishment. At first, their bodies, which can measure up to 6¾ inches long, are long and narrow and include a tail where they store fat when food is in short supply during the winter months. After about one year, the tadpoles will start to grow legs. Shortly thereafter, they grow arms. And then, their tails shorten, they develop lungs, and their gills disappear. The tadpoles have transformed into froglets.

From Aquatic to Terrestrial

After that two- to three-year tadpole-to-frog developmental period, the bullfrog ’s final growth stage is when the froglet hops from the water to dry land. Thanks to its fully developed lungs, the now-carnivorous and aggressive frog can now breathe oxygen, and that gives it the freedom to emerge from its watery first home to the shore where it can hunt for anything that will fit in its mouth, including insects, small mammals, birds, fish and other frogs. The adult bullfrog rests by day, and defends and hunts its 3 to 25 meters of shoreline territory by night.

Finally, after three to five long years of growth and development, the tadpole has become an adult bullfrog and reached sexual maturity – and the life cycle begins again. Bullfrogs in the wild live to about 7 to 9 years old; in captivity, they can live as long as 13 years.

Now the next time you hear your bullfrogs croaking, you’ll have a new appreciation for them!

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite part of having bullfrogs in your lake or pond?

Do I need to fertilize my aquatic plants? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Do I need to fertilize my aquatic plants?

Q: Do I need to fertilize my aquatic plants?

Bruce – Taneytown, MD

A: If your aquatic plants look lackluster, aren’t as lush as you’d like or are failing to produce those show-stopping blooms, they might need a little help – and that’s where fertilizers come to the rescue.

Whether we’re talking about plants in your water garden or vegetable garden, the soil they’re living in provides them with nutrients that they take up through their root systems. If you have your plants in pots or if they’ve been in the ground for some time, the soil will need a boost of plant food. Adding fertilizer will encourage quicker growth in new and established plants, and it will deliver enough nutrients for the plants to form those colorful blooms.

So what kind of fertilizer should you use? There are three basic types to choose from:

Spikes: Fertilizer spikes, like Laguna Plant Grow Fertilizer Spikes, slowly release plant food over the course of one year – making them super easy to use. The balanced nutrients in the spikes encourage both foliage and root growth and flower production, while the low phosphorous and no copper formula ensure no adverse effects on water quality or fish and plant life. You simply push the spike into the soil (one for every 1 to 2 gallons of planting container space) and forget about it until next year.

Tabs: Tabs, like TetraPond® LilyGro™ Aquatic Plant Food, are formulated for use during your aquatic plants’ growing season. As with the spikes, the nutrients in the fertilizer encourage greenery and bloom production, but the tabs need to be added to the soil monthly for best results. Using one tablet per gallon of potted soil, push it deep into the soil 3 inches from the crown of the plant and pack the hole with dirt to prevent the fertilizer from being released into the water.

Liquids: Liquid fertilizers, like Microbe-Lift® Bloom & Grow Aquatic™ Plant Supplement, add micro- and macronutrients to plants through the water rather than soil. These supplements, which need to be added to the pond water once or twice a week during the plants’ growing season, help produce brighter, faster blooms and healthier, stronger roots. The liquid fertilizers are safe to use around fish, but unsafe if the water is intended for human consumption.

No matter which form you choose, make sure it has no or low levels of phosphates, which fuel algae growth. You want your plants to grow – not the green water, right?

Pond Talk: What’s your preferred form of fertilizer?

Laguna Plant Grow Fertilizer Spikes - Maximize Plant Size & Color

How can I keep mosquitoes away from my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How can I keep mosquitoes away from my pond?

Q: How can I keep mosquitoes away from my pond?

Marcella – Aspen, Colorado

A: Buzzing, biting, irritating mosquitoes are the bane of pond and lake owners. Besides causing itchy welts, these little blood-sucking insects can transmit dangerous and deadly diseases, like malaria, dengue, yellow fever, West Nile virus, dog heartworm, and equine encephalitis.

Before we get into how to eradicate the little pests, let’s first learn their life cycle.

Eggs, Wigglers and Tumblers

Mosquitoes begin life as tiny eggs on the surface of fresh or stagnant water. Twenty four to 48 hours after they’re laid, they hatch into mosquito larvae, a.k.a. “wigglers.” The little half-inch larvae live on the water surface for four to 14 days, and they eat algae, plankton, fungi and bacteria and other microorganisms that float by. As the little wigglers develop, they molt four times and, after the fourth molt, they go into their pupa stage. Mosquito pupae, commonly called “tumblers,” live in the water from one to four days. When they emerge from their pupal case, they’re full-fledged adults – and the females are ready to suck your blood.

Deterring Mosquitoes

To crush these tiny vampires, your best bet is to prevent the females from laying eggs in the first place. Here’s what we recommend:

  •  Remove the habitat: Because mosquitoes prefer to lay their eggs in stagnant water, cut down dead debris around the edge of the pond with your Airmax® Pond Rake and Weed Cutter as these calm, secluded areas are perfect for developing wigglers and tumblers. Also drain containers with standing water, like buckets, gutters and ditches, and regularly change the water in animal troughs, pet dishes and bird baths.
  •  Keep the water moving: In your pond or lake, use an aeration system, like the Airmax® Large Lake Aeration System, to keep the water moving. The females won’t want to lay their eggs in agitating water, so this preventive measure can cut down tremendously on the mosquito population.
  •  Resort to mosquito dunks: If all else fails and you get swarmed whenever you get within 50 yards of your lake or pond, Mosquito Dunks® or Mosquito Bits® provide an excellent temporary solution. These mosquito destroyers contain Bt-israelensis (Bt-i), a specially formulated biological pesticide just for mosquitoes. They’re safe for use around fish and plants, and they provide relief for up to 30 days.

Of course, you may not be able to completely eradicate the mosquitoes, but you can at least suppress them using these measures. You can also contact one of the state, county or city mosquito control organizations, which can help with larger-scale efforts. For more information, check out the American Mosquito Control Association at www.mosquito.org.

Pond Talk: What do you do to control the mosquito population around your pond or lake?

Mosquito Bits & Dunks - Keep Mosquitoes Away For 30 Days

Why do I have foam on my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Why do I have foam on my pond?

Q: Why do I have foam on my pond?

Dom – Bellingham, WA

A: Foamy pond? No, the neighborhood kid (hopefully!) hasn’t dumped dish soap into your water garden or fish pond. The bubbly white or gray stuff you’re seeing on your pond’s surface is actually being caused by high levels of organic material in your pond. It’s natural – but it indicates an out-of-balance problem in your pond.

Question Your Water Quality

Foam forms when excess organic material has accumulated in your water garden. This happens when too many fish are living in the pond, you’re overfeeding them, you have inadequate filtration or there’s runoff flowing into the water.

When this nutrient-laden water pours down your waterfall, the air and water collide, causing the proteins and other organics to be trapped inside bubbles rather than turning into ammonia and nitrites. That air-water collision is why the foam seems to form at the base of your waterfall.

Tips for Removing Foam

So how do you get rid of the white frothy stuff? You can remove the foam in several different ways:

1. Use a defoaming product: A temporary solution is to dissolve the foam with a fish- and plant-safe defoamer, like Pond Logic® Defoam™. You simply shake the can and pour its contents into the water. The foam will disappear in no time.

2. Do a partial water change: To reduce the overall amount of organic material in your pond, you should drain the pond halfway or so and add fresh water and the defoamer. This will remove some of the organic material, dilute what remains and prevent foam from forming.

3. Reduce your fish population: Too many fish will produce excess waste, which means more foam. Remember that the rule is to allow 1 inch of adult fish per square foot of surface area – so if you have too many koi or goldfish in your pond, you might want to think about finding new homes for some of your finned friends.

4. Feed the right amount: If you’re feeding your fish too much, the excess food adds to the extra organic material in your pond’s water. Only feed your fish an amount they’ll gobble down in a few minutes.

5. Beef up your filtration system: A more powerful filtration system will remove those excess organics, so if you really want to erase foam, think about going bigger with your filter.

If you do suspect the neighborhood kids have dumped soap into your pond, your fish could be in danger. Do a water 90 percent water change before chasing the perpetrators down.

Pond Talk: Do you notice whether foam forms more often during certain times of year?

Pond Logic Defoam - Eliminate Unsightly Pond Foam

I’ve inherited an overgrown pond. How can I whip it back into shape? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

I’ve inherited an overgrown pond. How can I whip it back into shape?

Q: I’ve inherited an overgrown pond. How can I whip it back into shape?

Kent – Maurice, LA

A: Congratulations! You just purchased your dream property with rolling fields, lush green trees and a gorgeous lake or pond – or at least that’s how you remembered it when you signed the loan documents.

But once you move in and take a closer look at the situation, you realize that gorgeous lake is an overgrown nightmare. Believe it or not, this is not an uncommon scenario. Many new land owners purchase property with a lake or a pond only to discover it hasn’t been well maintained.

Of course, you want to reclaim that overgrown pond and turn it into a useable recreation or livestock watering area, but where do you begin? Check out these six tips for whipping your lake back into shape.

1. Evaluate the Situation

Your first task is to evaluate the pond itself and record what you find. What is its size, shape and depth? Is there an abundance of weeds? Can you find an aeration system? Are there fish living in the pond? Jot down as many details as you can, because they will be important when deciding what kinds of product to use to regain control of your lake. The more you know, the better.

2. Install Aeration

Next, install an aeration system. Aeration, which circulates oxygen throughout the water column, will go a long way toward improving the health of your pond while you regain control of the habitat and work to maintain it. Plus, your fish and the natural bacteria living in the pond rely on the mechanical water turnover to replenish the oxygen supply and remove harmful gasses like ammonia.

3. Identify Weeds and Treat Them

What weeds are growing in your pond? To help you identify the greenery and determine whether they’re beneficial plants or nuisances, check out The Pond Guy® weed control guide. Once you have the plants ID’d, you can then select the proper chemicals and the right amount to handle the job. Start treating the weeds with a suitable algaecide or herbicide once your aeration system is well established.

4. Rake Out Dead Debris

Yes, it seems like a tough job, but you will need to rake out and remove dead debris, like fallen leaves, cattails and other decomposing organic materials with a weed cutter and rake, like the Pond Logic® Pond Rake and Weed Cutter. The hard work will pay off in the long run. The more large debris you remove, the less work your muck-destroying beneficial bacteria and aeration system will need to do – and the faster your pond will get back into tip-top shape.

5. Maintain, Maintain, Maintain

To keep your pond or lake on the fast track to being clean, clear and usable, you must keep up on the maintenance chores. Remove the years of pond muck buildup with natural bacteria or phosphate binder, like those found in Pond Logic® ClearPAC® PLUS pond care package. Continue to remove dead and decomposing debris as your herbicides kill nuisance weeds. Add pond dye for aesthetic appeal and to slow algae growth. Now that you have the overgrown pond under control, don’t let it get away from you!

6. Be Patient and Persistent

Despite your efforts, it will take time to reclaim your pond or lake – so be realistic about your expectations. Consider the pond’s age and the amount of debris it has accumulated over the years. If it took a decade or more for the pond to look it way it did, it will take more than one afternoon of hard work to make it pristine again! Be patient and persistent. You’ll have that gorgeous pond in no time.

Pond Talk: If you’ve purchased property with a pond or lake, what kind of condition was it in and what did you do to make it usable?

Airmax Aeration Systems - Reduce 90 Percent of Nutrients in 90 Days

How can I find a leak in my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I find a leak in my pond?

Q: How can I find a leak in my pond?

Jan – East Wenatchee, WA

A: Talk about a tough mystery to solve! A tiny hole in your pond liner or one loose plumbing connection could cause a leak that slowly – or quickly, depending on the leak’s size – drains your pond. And that leak could be anywhere.

Where do you begin your search?

Don’t worry. You don’t have to completely drain your pond or rebuild it from the ground up. Try these mystery-busting troubleshooting tips first.

Is the water evaporating?

During the heat of the summertime, you can expect some all-natural water loss. Thanks to evaporation, up to an inch (give or take) of water will naturally disappear from the pond, and if you have a long stream bed with a lot of surface area or a large pond with few floating plants, even more water could transform from liquid to vapor.

If you suspect something fishy, fill the pond back up and keep an eye on the water level. Any more than an inch or so of water loss could indicate a leak.

Are there damp areas around the pond?

If more than an inch or so of water is disappearing daily, one clear clue that could lead to your leak is a damp area around the pond’s perimeter. That water has to go somewhere, and a patch of wet ground is a great place to start looking for its source.

Walk around the pond and carefully inspect the soil for signs of unexplained moisture. If you find some, take a closer look at that spot’s liner and construction.

Is the waterfall to blame?

If you’ve ruled out evaporation and there are no damp areas to be found, your stream or waterfall could be the culprit. Shut down the system and wait for several hours. If the pond’s water level stays the same, then you’ll know the leak is not in the pond itself. It’s likely in the waterfall or plumbing.

Some spots to inspect include tight curves in your stream where water might be splashing out, and plumbing connections on the pump or waterfall where pipe splits or loose connections could be causing the water loss.

Worst case: Let it leak

If the water continues to disappear from your pond after shutting down the waterfall, keep a close eye on the pond’s water level until it stops falling. When it does, that’s when you should look for the leak. Because the water level will stabilize once it lowers past the hole, you should be able to find the problem at or below the water level and fix it.

To repair the leak, you have two options: patch the hole with a 6-inch self-adhesive liner patch or close it up with some underwater sealer, like Gold Label Pond and Aquarium Sealer. The round liner patch has a self-adhesive backing that’s perfect for quick repairs on small cuts in EPDM liner. The underwater sealer, which works on wet or dry surfaces, instantly repairs leaks in rubber and vinyl liners, as well as concrete, stone, wood, plastic, glass and ceramic surfaces.

Good luck – and happy leak-hunting!

Pond Talk: How did you solve your most mysterious pond leak?

Underwater Pond Sealer - Patch Leaks, Even Underwater!

Help! How do I get rid of green water? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Help! How do I get rid of green water?

Q: Help! How do I get rid of green water?

Linda – Gardnerville, NV

A: Nope, there’s nothing nice about a pea soup-colored pond. Just about every water gardener dreams of a clean, crystal-clear pond – not an algae-filled eyesore. During the warmer seasons, what do you do to prevent and get rid of that unsightly green water? By making sure your pond is in balance.

For a stable pond that inhibits algae growth, you have to strike a perfect balance (or close to perfect, anyway) between fishes, aeration and filtration. And to keep it that way, you have to keep it well maintained. Here’s what you need to know to get rid of that green water.

Watch Fish Load, Feeding

Yes, it’s tempting to take home a dozen or more of those tiny koi from your favorite water garden retailer. But remember: those fish will grow and excrete nutrients that feed the algae. The rule of thumb is to allow 1 inch of adult fish per square foot of surface area, so don’t max out your capacity with one impulse buy at the koi store.

Speaking of fish, take it easy with the food. Feed them a quality diet, like Pond Logic® Growth and Color Fish Food, once a day, and give them only what they can gobble down in a few minutes. Anything more than that just adds excess waste to the pond – which is food for the algae. You can feed your finned friends more often, but be prepared to do more partial water changes or add extra filtration to handle the job.

Add Some Aeration, Bacteria

When you circulate your pond’s water with an aeration system, like the Pond Logic® KoiAir™ Water Garden Aeration System, you deliver oxygen to the bottom where all the muck – a.k.a. algae chow – sits. This oxygen helps all the beneficial bacteria, like Muck Defense® that’s found in the Pond Logic® DefensePAC® Pond Care Package, break down and consume the material there and throughout the water column, resulting in cleaner, clearer water. Plus, the aeration is good for your fish’s health, too.

Filtration – the Bigger, the Better

Go big with your mechanical filtration system. Make sure it’s at least big enough to handle the amount of water in your pond. Manufacturers rate filters for minimal fish load, so if you intend to have a lot of fish, go even bigger.

Plants – floating, submerged, marginals and bog varieties – make excellent natural filtration systems that complement your mechanical and biological filtration. Plants also shade the pond, keeping temperatures cooler and sheltering your fish. So try to cover 40 to 60 percent of your water with plants.

If you still have a pea soup colored pond after getting your fish load right, your feeding routine in check, your aeration system in place and your filtration system humming and growing, it’s time for the big guns – an ultraviolet clarifier. A UV clarifier, like The Pond Guy® PowerUV™ Ultraviolet Clarifier, will help to bind the green water algae so it can be pulled out by your filter.

Keep It Clean, Kind Of

Normal maintenance, like regular partial water changes and debris removal, can go a long way to get rid of excess nutrient buildup. But don’t overdo the filter-cleaning chores. Too much – meaning daily or weekly – washing of the filter media will wear the material down faster and wipe out the beneficial bacteria that actually clean the water. If water is unable to pass through the filter, simply rinse it lightly with water.

And if you don’t already, it’s always a good idea to do an annual spring cleanout of your pond to get rid of organic materials that feed the algae.

Pond Talk: How can you tell when your pond or water garden is out of balance?

Pond Logic® DefensePAC® - 5 Simple Steps To Clear Water

Why can’t I treat my pond with the common weed killer I use around my yard? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Why can’t I treat my pond with the common weed killer I use around my yard?

Q: Why can’t I treat my pond with the common weed killer I use around my yard?

Duane – Spring Grove, PA

A: It may seem like a convenience and a cost savings to use your terrestrial weed herbicides to treat weeds in your pond or lake. But when it comes to managing nuisance growth in and around your pond, not all chemicals are created equally.

Though broad-spectrum-use herbicides like diuron work great on grassy terrestrial weeds, they’re not approved for use on cattails and water milfoil because of the direct contact with public waterways or possibility of leaching into drinking/ground water. Instead, you need to use products that are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency for aquatic use, like Pond Logic® Algae Defense®, PondWeed Defense® and Avocet® PLX aquatic herbicides.

Why the regulations? Read on for details.

Environmental Protection

The EPA registers products like herbicides for aquatic use to protect the environment. Its goal is to minimize harm while maximizing results.

The government agency tests the ingredients’ concentration, frequency of use and effectiveness for their short-term and long-term effects in their intended environment. It also checks the chemicals’ half life, which is how long the substances remain in the environment before breaking down enough to be considered non-toxic.

Safer for Your Pond Visitors

If you use unapproved chemicals in your pond or lake, you could be doing harm to not only the ecosystem but also to your fish, your livestock and wildlife, your soil and, most importantly, to yourself, your family and your neighbors.

Herbicides that have been approved by the EPA include specific restrictions and precautions on their labels about consuming fish after treating bodies of water. They caution against swimming in or drinking from treated ponds within a certain amount of time after application. They even warn of soil contamination issues that landowners or pond professionals should be aware of.

Chemicals that are not approved for aquatic use have none of these warnings because they have not been tested for their effects on the pond habitat. In fact, some products can actually be considered a contaminant to the aquatic environment – and you don’t want that, right?

Obey the EPA

Even if you don’t consume your game fish, swim in your lake or drink the water, you should steer clear of unapproved chemicals. Some of them can leach into the soil surrounding the pond or be released during heavy rains when ponds flood. That runoff – including the potentially toxic chemicals – can then be released into the public waterways or wetlands used by neighbors.

Play it safe. Obey the EPA.

Pond Talk: What do you think of the EPA’s regulation of aquatic herbicides?

Pond Logic PondWeed Defense - Eliminate Aquatic Weeds

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