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My pond is spring fed, so I don’t need an aerator, right? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

My pond is spring fed, so I don’t need an aerator, right?

Q: My pond is spring fed, so I don’t need an aerator, right?

Charles – Wadsworth, OH

A: Great question! First off, let’s tell the folks at home the differences between a catch basin pond and a spring-fed pond.

A catch basin pond is a reservoir filled with precipitation runoff—and pollution, in some cases—from the surrounding area. A spring-fed pond, however, is fed by a spring or ground water, which keeps the pond full. If you have cold areas of water in your pond, that could indicate that you have a spring-fed pond.

As the fresh water flows into the lake or pond from the underground aquifer, the water does move somewhat. But it doesn’t keep it agitated enough to naturally aerate it and maintain good water quality.

Preventing Thermocline

Whether you have a spring-fed or catch basin lake or pond, it’s critical to keep the water aerated. Why? Because doing so prevents thermocline, which is when the water forms layers, or stratifies, depending on the water temperature.

During the summer in a pond that’s not properly aerated, the water at the top is warmer and full of oxygen while the deeper water remains cooler and nutrient-rich. This phenomenon causes the fish to hang out at the pond’s surface. As the seasons change, however, the pond water does a “turnover,” which is where the warmer, oxygen-rich water sinks and the cooler, oxygen-depleted water to rise—leaving your fish gasping for breath.

Aerating Your Spring-Fed Pond

Obviously, you don’t want that to happen! So you should aerate your pond, even if it’s spring-fed. The action created by an aeration system, such as the Airmax® Deep Water Aeration System and the Airmax® Shallow Water Aeration System, effectively moves the water and causes the shallow and the deep water to mix. The Deep Water Aeration System is powerful enough to aerate ponds up to 3 acres and can be adapted to fit any shaped pond. The Shallow Water Aeration System is ideal for shallow lakes or ponds that require multiple aeration plates due to depth restrictions.

The result: oxygen is spread throughout the water column while dangerous gasses, like ammonia, are released at the water’s surface—and that means happy fish, good water quality and a healthy lake.

Pond Talk: Would you prefer to have a spring-fed or a catch-basin pond on your property?

Airmax® Aeration Systems - Create the perfect pond with aeration

How can I prepare my aquatic plants for the fall and winter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I prepare my aquatic plants for the fall and winter?

Q: How can I prepare my aquatic plants for the fall and winter?

Sandy – Holly, MI

A: This topic—what to do with your aquatic plants—tops the to-do list of many pond owners and water gardeners at this time of year. No matter the climate where you live, you will need to do some plant clean-up and relocate them to ensure they survive the winter frost and freeze.

What you need to do depends on the type of plant. So pull on your 28-inch, PVC Coralife® Aqua Gloves™ to protect your hands and arms and keep them dry, grab your handy-dandy Pond Scissors and Pliers, and let’s get to work! Here, we’ve outlined some basics:

Hardy Water Lilies

They may be “hardy,” but that doesn’t mean they’re indestructible! When the first frost hits in your area and the lily’s foliage begins to die back, trim the plant material back with your pond scissors to just above the root and toss it in your compost pile. Don’t worry: Come spring, the greenery will reemerge healthy as ever from the plant’s crown. Because water lilies are typically planted in frost-proof deep water, they will overwinter just fine.

Tropical Water Lilies

Tropical water lilies prefer warm temperatures all year long, so these colorful and fragrant beauties will need to be completely removed from your pond and relocated to a protected indoor space for the winter. We’ll talk more about how to overwinter these aquatic plants in future blogs.

Marginals and Bog Plants

As with hardy water lilies, your marginals’ and bog plants’ foliage will need to trimmed back with pond scissors and removed after Jack Frost first arrives. And if your iris, arrowhead, canna and other marginals are at or above water level, sink them lower into the pond where the water remains unfrozen during the wintertime.

Floating Plants

Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a climate that doesn’t freeze, floating plants like hyacinth and water lettuce won’t survive the winter. Plan to remove them from your pond to prevent the dead plants from decomposing and causing water quality issues through the wintertime.

Pond Talk: How do you prepare your aquatic plants for winter?

Coralife® Aqua Gloves™ - Keep your hands clean & dry

I’m considering digging a pond but I hear they are a lot of work, is it worth it? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

I’m considering digging a pond but I hear they are a lot of work, is it worth it?

Q: I’m considering digging a pond but I hear they are a lot of work, is it worth it?

Peter – Stoughton, WI

A: Let’s be honest: pond maintenance can be a drag. Going out to your lake or pond over and over to clean up dead vegetation, fill the fish feeder, add your beneficial bacteria and check on your aeration system (not to mention all the seasonal chores) takes precious time and energy—so why bother?

Here’s some inspiration: Think about why you wanted a pond in the first place. Check out these four fabulous benefits of having a pond. They’ll remind you why all that maintenance is worth your effort.

A Cool Place to Relax

Your pond or lake is a scenic, peaceful place to snooze in a hammock or Adirondack chair, sip some cool lemonade, take in the views and just relax. It’s also a great place to hang out with family and friends and let the warm days of summer pass by. Enjoying the tranquil beauty of a pond—enhanced by Pond Logic® Pond Dye, which shades and protects the pond while adding to its color and beauty—is one of the top reasons why people have one in the first place, so it’s in your interest to keep it looking its best.

Sport Fishing

Having a lake stocked with game fish, like trout and bass, is another benefit to keeping and maintaining your pond. Any time you’d like, you can grab your fishing pole, head down to the lake and hook some tasty dinner. You can invite the kids (or grandkids) down for some catch-and-release fun. Maintaining you pond or lake—and feeding your finned friends some extra grub—will ensure a big catch every time.

Water Recreation

Do you enjoy swimming in your lake? How about boating or kayaking around—or even just floating on an inner tube? Your pond or lake is an ideal place to keep cool (and get away from your lengthy to-do list!) all summer long. When you keep your pond of lake in tip-top shape, it’ll be an inviting place to get wet, stay cool and forget about the outside world.

Support Local Wildlife

Deer, frogs, birds, dragonflies, raccoon, opossum—lots of critters (besides you and your family, of course!) make use of your pond or lake. They’ll visit for a drink of water. They’ll use it for shade and protection. They’ll even nibble at the bugs, plants and fish food, giving them sustenance throughout the year. By maintaining your pond, you’ll help support the local wildlife. And what land owner doesn’t want to do that?

Yes, maintenance can be a chore. But when you remember these four benefits to keeping a pond, you’ll (hopefully!) see those chores as a way of keeping and improving your property—and your peace of mind!

Pond Talk: What was the No. 1 reason why you decided to add (or restore) a lake or pond on your property?

Pond Logic® Pond Dye - Shade & Protect Your Pond

My skimmer keeps clogging with leaves, how can I keep them out of my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

My skimmer keeps clogging with leaves, how can I keep them out of my pond?

Q: My skimmer keeps clogging with leaves, how can I keep them out of my pond?

Joyce – Stewartstown, PA

A: There’s no surer sign of fall than falling leaves. Unfortunately, when those leaves land in your pond or water garden, they can create a water-quality mess. As they break down and decompose, they can turn your water brown and leave behind muck and detritus.

Thank goodness for pond netting.

These temporary covers keep leaves, pine needles and other debris from landing in your water feature. You can purchase several different types—but which one is right for you?

To help you choose, ask yourself these three simple questions:

1. How long do you intend to use the netting?

Many of us are pinching our pennies these days, and so the less-expensive one-season-use net, like DeWitt Pond Netting, is an attractive option. The 3/4-inch black polypropylene mesh, which comes in a range of sizes to fit just about any pond, prevents debris (and predators, too) from getting into your pond without restricting air flow or views.

For a little more money, however, you could purchase a higher-quality net/pond cover system, the Nycon Big Top Pond Cover, which can be used year after year. Also available in a range of sizes, this pond cover features a netting with a hemmed, fray-resistant border; center pole(s); brass stake grommets; and aluminum stakes that can weather years of use. The net is made with 1/4-inch black nylon mesh, which keeps some of the smallest debris from entering your pond.

2. What types of leaves will be landing in and gathering around your pond?

Look around your yard. What kinds of tress do you (and your neighbors) have? If you have trees with larger leaves, like maple or oak, you can easily rake up the blowing leaves from around your pond, scoop them out of your pond with a portable pond net or skimmer, and prevent them from landing in there with a basic 5/8-inch nylon mesh netting, like The Pond Guy® Pond Cover Net.

If you have pine needles and smaller leaves around, however, you’ll need to cover your pond or water garden with a tighter-weave mesh, such as The Pond Guy® Fine Mesh Cover Net. This clear, heavy-duty, 1/8-inch mesh netting prevents stubbornly small debris from landing in your pond while still allowing light to shine through. It includes plastic stakes to secure the netting.

3. What is your main goal?

Are you a no-muss, no-fuss kind of water gardener who avoids pond chores like the plague? Then you should invest in a tent-type netting system with a center hub, like the Pond Logic® PondShelter™ Net Kit. This fully adjustable unit with an aluminum frame will fit most pond configurations. It supports a swath of durable, black 1/4-inch mesh, which keep debris from entering the pond. And the kit includes 30 metal stakes to ensure the unit stays in place.

If, however, you want to see your fish, and you’re OK with a few scattered leaves and doing a bit of work to remove them, then consider one of the fine, economy or premium surface netting options, like The Pond Guy Fine Mesh Cover Net, the DeWitt Economy Pond Netting or The Pond Guy Pond Cover Net.

Pond Talk: What tricks do you use to keep leaves from landing in your pond or water feature?

Pond Logic® PondShelter™ - Keep Leaves & Predators Out

How does carbonate hardness affect my pond and fish? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How does carbonate hardness affect my pond and fish?

Q: How does carbonate hardness affect my pond and fish?

Bob – Underhill, VT

A: Hard water, soft water – you’re probably familiar with these terms as they relate to the water flowing through your home’s plumbing. But the water in your pond or lake can be hard or soft, too, and it matters to your fish, particularly if you’re using algaecides or herbicides.

A Natural Buffer

The technical term for hard or soft water is “carbonate hardness” and, simply put, it refers to the amount of calcium and magnesium present in the water. The greater the water’s alkalizing mineral content, the harder the water is. Those microscopic minerals actually act as a buffer that offsets swings or dramatic changes in your pond or lake’s pH level caused by chemicals found in algaecides and herbicides.

Fish Friendly

The beneficiaries of the hard water’s buffering calcium and magnesium are your fish. Carbonate hardness in your pond or lake affects the sensitivity of certain fish—mainly trout, koi and goldfish—to the acidifying chemicals found in algaecides and herbicides. If you have high carbonate hardness, or hard water that contains more than 50 ppm of the minerals, the fish are less likely be affected compared to those fish in that are in soft water.

Measuring Minerals

If you’re curious about your water’s carbonate hardness level, or you plan to use an algaecide or herbicide in your lake that requires hardness to be at about 50 ppm, test your water with a Carbonate Hardness Test Strip.

The strips are easy to use. Simply open the pouch and dip it into the water for three seconds, remove it from the water, wait 20 seconds for the water to mix with the solution in the pouch, and remove the strip. To see what your water’s carbonate hardness is, match the color on the strip to the color block on the package.

Remember to perform this test each time before you treat your pond with herbicides or algaecides as the levels of calcium and magnesium in the water may fluctuate.

Pond Talk: How often do you test your lake for carbonate hardness?

Carbonate Hardness Test Strips - Test Your Water Hardness With Ease

My water is brown! What should I do? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

My water is brown! What should I do?

Q: My water is brown! What should I do?

Dale – Anselmo, NE

A: In the spring and summer, many pond owners complain of green water caused by algae blooms—but in the late summer and fall, brown water causes headaches. If your pond or water garden has taken on a tea-colored hue, follow these simple steps to get your water back to its crystal-clear self.

An Optical Illusion?

First of all, take a closer look at the water and determine whether it’s really brown or just reflecting dead debris in the pond. Grab a clear glass, dip it in the water and hold it up to the light. Is it clear? Then it’s reflecting pond debris. Is it brown? Then the water has been colored by tannins released by dead leaves, similar to what happens when you steep your breakfast tea.

Clear Water: Add Bacteria

If your water is clear, you can minimize the brown-water optical illusion by using a natural bacteria, like Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense®, to help decompose the muck and accumulated debris on the bottom of your pond. The beneficial microorganisms found in this cooler-weather additive break down the organic materials, leaving your water looking clean and clear.

Brown Water: Add Carbon

If your water is brown, you can use Pond Logic® Activated Carbon to absorb and correct the tea-colored discoloration. To use the carbon, pour the granules in a mesh bag and place it in an area of fast-flowing water, such as in your skimmer or waterfall. Leave it there until the carbon absorbs the dissolved organics. Typically, 4 to 6 pounds will treat 1,000 gallons of water for two to three months.

Remove Dead Debris

In addition to either adding beneficial bacteria or using activated carbon, you should also remove any accumulated dead or decomposing debris in your pond with a vacuum like the Oase Pond-O-Matic XL. If leaves or other blown-in debris continue to be a problem during the fall months, consider covering your water feature with netting, like the Pond Logic® PondShelter™ Net Kit.

Pond Talk: Have you had success using activated carbon in your water feature?

Pond Logic® Activated Carbon - From Brown To Clear Water...FAST!

It is starting to get cold here; do I need to do anything special for my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

It is starting to get cold here; do I need to do anything special for my pond?

Q: It is starting to get cold here; do I need to do anything special for my pond?

William – Great Bend, KS

A: It’s September: The kids are back in school, and you’ve probably noticed a nip in the air, a flush of color in your trees and fewer hours of daylight. Fall is well on its way, which means you have some work to do after a relaxing summer lazing by your pond!

Here, we’ve listed five ways to prepare your pond for colder weather – and get a jump-start on your winter pond or water garden chores, too.

1. Switch to wheat germ food. Wheat germ-based food, like Pond Logic® Spring and Fall Fish Food, is much easier for fish to digest as their metabolisms naturally slow during the cooler months. The food contains a careful balance of nutrients like carbohydrates, vegetable proteins, amino acids and digestive enzymes that will keep your fish healthy and content as fall turns to winter.

2. Switch to cool-weather bacteria. Because different types of bacteria thrive at different temperatures, switch to a beneficial bacteria that’s formulated for colder weather, like Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense®. It works best in water that’s less than 50° Fahrenheit, and it accelerates the decomposition of leaves, scum and sediment that turns into pond muck during the fall and winter months.

3. Keep out the leaves. Blowing leaves and other debris will fall into your pond during the fall, and if you don’t get them out, they’ll decompose over the winter and create a mucky mess in the spring. Plan to put a net over the pond, like the Pond Logic® PondShelter™ Net Kit, to keep them out – or be prepared to empty your skimmer every day until the leaves stop dropping.

4. Start your aerator. Aerating your pond with an aerator, like the Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration Kit, helps to break up the water column in your pond and add essential oxygen to the water. If you skipped using your aerator during the summer, now is the time to get it going again so that it is well established when you shut down your pump and filter in the wintertime.

5. Cut back and remove dead plant vegetation. Just as you want to prevent those pesky leaves from falling into your pond, you should also hack away any dead plant material inside and around your water garden. Use a handy long-reach tool, like the Pond Scissors and Pliers combo, to remove water hyacinths or cut back water lilies and other aquatic plants.

Pond Talk: What other pond and water garden chores do you like to do in the fall?

Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food - Formulated For Cool Temperatures

I have a plant that looks like a cattail, but it has a plume on top instead of a catkin. What is it? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

I have a plant that looks like a cattail, but it has a plume on top instead of a catkin. What is it?

Q: I have a plant that looks like a cattail, but it has a plume on top instead of a catkin. What is it?

Mike – Cottonwood, AZ

A: It sounds like you’ve got phragmites. Also known as “common reed,” certain invasive varieties of this plant have taken root on the East Coast, Midwest and Pacific Northwest – and, apparently, in your pond! To identify the species of phragmite in your pond, check out Cornell University’s “Morphological Differences” website here.

Phragmite 101

Generally speaking, phragmite is a perennial wetland grass that can grow to 6 to 15 feet in height. Its stems, which are erect, smooth and hollow, measure nearly 1 inch in diameter and are topped with 12-inch-long dense panicles, or purple-brown pyramid-shaped plumes of flowers, that emerge between July and September. The leaves that arise from the stem are 10 to 20 inches long and up to 2 inches wide.

The plants propagate mainly via an extensive network of underground rhizomes, or horizontal stems, that produce roots and shoots that grow as deep as 39 inches, with their root systems growing down another 3 feet. They’re hardy – and unfortunately, they can be tough to control.

A Substantial Threat

These invasive, non-native bad guys can do some serious damage to your lake or pond. Not only do they create tall, dense stands that crowd out native plants and animals, but they also block your shoreline views, create fire hazards from dry plant material, and reduce areas for swimming, fishing and hunting. They’re definitely not something you want on your property.

Treatment Options

Once phragmites has taken root in your lake or pond, you’ll need to develop a long-term management plan to control them. Unfortunately, because the plants spread through their rhizomes, they could be difficult to eradicate entirely. That’s where chemical and mechanical control can help.

  • Chemical control: First, you can spray an EPA-registered herbicide and surfactant product, like Kraken™ & Cide-Kick™ Combo, in the late summer or early fall. Mix the herbicide with 2 gallons of water, pour it into pond sprayer and spray on the plants with your Airmax® Pressurized Pond Sprayer, completely wetting the surface of the leaves. Allow the mixture to absorb into the plant and the root system – the most difficult part of the plant to kill – for two weeks.
  • Mechanical control: Once the herbicide has had a chance to soak into the phragmites’ root system and kill the plants, use a weed cutting and removal tool, like the Pond Logic® Pond Rake and Weed Cutter, to slice at the base of the plants and remove them. If you can control your pond’s or lake’s water line, you can also cut the phragmites 2 to 3 inches below the water surface to cut off the plant’s supply of oxygen and drown the plant.
  • Destroy what you’ve removed: To prevent the accidental spread of the plant, collect the cut material and bag it before disposing of it. In extreme cases, prescribed burning after herbicide treatment can provide additional control.

Before you begin, check with your local environmental agency to see if a permit is required for the treatments of these buggers. Plan to repeat this routine several years in a row. Patches may emerge even after regular treatments, but once you’ve wiped out the majority of the phragmites, the plant will be much easier to control. Just remember: early detection is key!

Pond Talk: How do you control phragmites in your lake or pond?

Kraken™ Aquatic Herbicide & Cide-Kick™ Combo - Eliminate Emergent Weeds

Do I have to put fish in my pond? I won’t want them to nibble on my toes when I swim. | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Do I have to put fish in my pond? I won’t want them to nibble on my toes when I swim.

Q: Do I have to put fish in my pond? I won’t want them to nibble on my toes when I swim.

Scott – Ypsilanti, ND

A: When you’re enjoying a refreshing dip in your pond or lake, that tickling sensation of tiny mouths nibbling at your toes can be a bit, well, unsettling. (Cue the Jaws theme … )

If you swim in your pond or lake and don’t like the tiny sharks mistaking your feet for food, you don’t have to stock it with fish – but they’ll probably wind up there anyway. How? Pond visitors, like birds and other animals, will bring tiny fry and fish eggs with them, depositing them in the water where they grow and multiply.

The trouble (and nibbling!) happens when the population of these uninvited guests explodes out of control. Schools of tiny bluegill with no predator fish, like perch, pike, walleye or salmon, to control their numbers are looking for food – and they see your toes as something tasty to eat.

To maintain a healthy, balanced fish population in your pond, it needs some predator fish. Ideally, there should be a 3-to-1 ratio of prey to predator fish. That will keep those nibblers to a minimum, allowing you to enjoy your swim time in peace.

Keep the prey and predator fish population in your pond thriving, make sure they have safe places to spend their time, like in the Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres. The spheres, with their PVC-pipe barbs, provide a safe spawning habitat and a refuge for young fish.

Pond Talk: What kinds of game fish do you have in your lake or pond?

Porcupine Fish Attractors - Create A Healthy Fish Population

What is the difference between a waterfall filter and a pressurized filter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

What is the difference between a waterfall filter and a pressurized filter?

Q: What is the difference between a waterfall filter and a pressurized filter?

Ryan – Houston, TX

A: Your pond or water garden needs some kind of biological filtration system to keep the water crystal clear. In general, you’ll find two basic types: a waterfall filter and a pressurized filter. Both are comparably priced and work well at cleaning the water and removing suspended particles, but there are some distinct differences.

Waterfall Filter

Typically installed during pond construction and connected to the liner, a waterfall filter, like the PondBuilder™ Crystal Falls Waterfall Filter, is buried in the ground at the top of your waterfall. This allows a place for water to pool, which then creates a smooth, even flow as the water pours down into the pond.

The filter box itself houses the biological filtration media, like bio balls and filter media pads, that are covered with nitrogen- and ammonia-eating beneficial bacteria. Overall, it’s a simple, easy-to-maintain system that can handle high volumes of water.

Pressurized Filter

Unlike the waterfall filter, a pressurized filter, like The Pond Guy® AllClear™ Pressurized UV Filter, can be positioned anywhere outside the pond. The unit holds water pressure, so the filtered water can be routed back to the pond or up to a waterfall, creating a flowing waterfall effect without taking up space at the top of the falls.

As with the waterfall filter, the filter box itself holds the biological filtration media, but it can also house an ultraviolet sterilizer and may even be configured to backflush for ultra-easy maintenance. Another benefit: The pressurized filter is an easy addition to an already-existing pond that needs filtration (or an upgrade).

Purchase Options

When deciding whether to invest in a waterfall filter or a pressurized filter, ask yourself these questions:

  • Given your current pond situation, which one is easier for you to install?
  • What type of filter can accommodate the intended water flow? A waterfall filter can generally handle more water flow than the pressurized model.
  • Do you wish to also use an ultraviolet sterilizer? If so, consider a pressurized filter, like the AllClear™, that includes a built in UV unit.

Pond Talk: What kind of filter do you have in your pond?

The Pond Guy AllClear Pressurized Filters - 3 Types of Filtration, 1 Powerful Unit

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