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Will my heron decoy still be useful since it’s getting cold out? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Will my heron decoy still be useful since it’s getting cold out?

Q: Will my heron decoy still be useful since it’s getting cold out?

Mary – Berkeley Heights, NJ

A: To prepare for fall’s and winter’s colder temperatures, you’ve pulled out your decorative fountain, positioned your deep water aerators, added your cold-temperature beneficial bacteria and performed all the other pre-season maintenance chores, but what about that heron decoy? Does he need to be put up for the season?

The short answer: no.

Realistic heron decoys, such as Pond Logic® Blue Heron Decoy, are used to dissuade birds from landing in your pond. Heron are territorial by nature, and when they fly by and see that one of their feathered cousins (fake or real) has already claimed the area, they’ll keep going until they find their own pond to fish.

Heron don’t hibernate, and so seasonal climate changes will trigger these colorful, statuesque birds to fly to warmer environments for several months of the year—which is probably why you’re asking about removing the decoy – but it’s still a good idea to keep that decoy in place.

Why? The foods that carnivorous herons love to eat, including fish, frogs, salamanders, lizards, snake and grasshoppers, disappear or become scarce, particularly in areas that freeze or reach chilly temperatures. As a result, these guys must find other ways to scare up some grub. They fly to a new territory (usually south) for a few months where the eating is good and the weather is warm.

In North America, herons’ range spans the entire United States and the southern regions of Canada, so chances are pretty good that you’ll encounter migrating herons passing over your lake or pond—and looking for some tasty sushi to spear. With your lifelike Pond Logic® Blue Heron Decoy in place, you’ll encourage them to move on and not stop to stock up on their trip south.

Pond Talk: How do you keep your blue heron decoy looking cleaned-up and realistic all year long?

Pond Logic® Blue Heron Decoy - Keep Pesky Herons Away

How can I tell if my fish are ready for a lighter diet? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I tell if my fish are ready for a lighter diet?

Q: How can I tell if my fish are ready for a lighter diet?

Steve – Wallingford, PA

A: When feeding your koi and pond fish, a “lighter diet” doesn’t mean that your finned friends need to switch to low-cal, low-fat foods. Instead, it refers to an easy-to-digest wheat germ-based diet that’s formulated for the fishes’ slowed activity and metabolism during the transitional fall and spring months.

Wheat germ-based diets, such as Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Floating Fish Food, TetraPond® Floating Spring & Fall Fish Food and PondCare® Spring & Autumn Fish Food, are packed with vegetable protein, amino acids and digestive enzymes. These diets, which help them ease into and out of winter, are gentle on their digestive systems while keeping their constitutions strong to fight off disease.

How do you know when it’s time to switch diets? Here are three clues:

  • Temperature: When your water temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, you should feed your active, hungry fish protein- and carbohydrate-balanced foods, like Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food. But when water temperatures dip to between 40 to 50 degrees, they require the lighter, wheat germ-based foods. Use your Pond Logic® Floating Pond Thermometer to keep an eye on the water temperature as the days and nights get cooler.
  • Fish Mobility: Are your koi and goldfish moving a bit more slowly than they normally do? That’s another clue that it’s time to switch to a lighter food. Fish will naturally begin to slow down their activity in cooler water as their bodies begin to prepare for their annual “hibernation.”
  • Feeding Interest: As the fish slow their activity and require less food to fuel their metabolisms, they won’t be as interested in the tasty morsels as they are in the summer. So if your koi and goldfish seem to have turned into picky eaters, that’s your third clue that it’s time to switch to a lighter diet.

When water temperatures fall to below 40 degrees, that’s when it’s time to stop feeding your fish altogether. Don’t worry: They won’t starve! Their bodies, which need very few nutrients to sustain them during the cold months, have plenty of fat stored—but you can bet they’ll be ready for a nice, big meal when spring arrives.

Pond Talk: What changes do you see in your fishes’ behavior during the fall?

Specialized Cool Weather Diet - Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food

What should I do with my fountain in the winter? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

What should I do with my fountain in the winter?

Q: What should I do with my fountain in the winter?

David – Crystal Lake, IL

A: Do you have a decorative fountain in your lake or pond? If so, take advantage of the off season and do all your maintenance chores now rather than in the spring—when you could be caught without a fountain for that early-season party.

Any time before the ice begins to form on your pond, remove your fountain and perform these basic upkeep tasks:

1. Power Check: Check the fountain’s power cord for any cuts or cracks. If you find any, you may need to repair the cord or replace the unit altogether.

2. Power Cleaning: Next, pull out your power washer and clean the fountain’s float and motor to remove debris buildup that’s occurred over the past year (or however long you’ve procrastinated …). Built-up debris can act as an insulator, which can possibly cause your fountain’s motor to overheat during the summer months.

3. Routine Maintenance: Finally, contact your fountain’s manufacturer or call your local fountain dealer to have routine maintenance performed on the motor. Its seals and oil should be replaced every year or two to ensure good performance.

When spring rolls around, put your decorative fountain back in place—but until then, make sure you keep your pond or lake aerated with a diffused aeration system, like the Airmax® Deep Water Aeration System. It efficiently pushes tiny oxygen bubbles throughout your pond’s water column all winter long

Pond Talk: How often do you perform maintenance on your pond or lake’s decorative fountain?

Airmax® Aeration Systems - Eliminate Fall Leaves & Debris

Can I overwinter my tropical water lilies? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can I overwinter my tropical water lilies?

Q: Can I overwinter my tropical water lilies?

Jill – Kingsport, TN

A: Unlike other aquatic plants that will happily overwinter in the deeper regions of your pond, tropical water lilies need special care.

Here are six steps to follow when putting your blooming beauties to bed for the season.

1. Slow the Growth: First, when the air temperatures start to cool (like right about now …), slow down or stop fertilizing the lilies to slow the plant’s growth. This allows the plant to naturally slow its metabolic processes and more easily transition into winter. If you abruptly stop fertilizing and remove the plant from the pond, you could shock the lily and damage it.

2. Deadhead and Remove Foliage: Next, using your Coralife® Aqua Gloves™ and Pond Scissors and Pliers, snip off all lily pads and blooms from the lily tuber once your pond’s water temperatures start to dip below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Besides looking unsightly, the spent flowers and foliage will start to wilt and should be removed to reduce waste material.

3. Remove and Rinse: Once you’ve cleaned up the plant, gently remove the lily tuber from pond and rinse it off in a bucket or with your garden hose. Trim off any straggling foliage with your pond scissors.

4a. Bury Tuber in Moist Sand: To keep the tuber moist and healthy during the winter, fill a sealable container with moist (but not too wet!) sand and bury it, covering it lightly with sand. Moist sand will hold moisture to keep tuber from completely drying—but if the sand is too wet, the tuber may rot.

4b. Submerge Tuber, Place Under Grow Light: Another overwintering option is to fill a container with distilled water and place the tuber under a grow light in a room that’s a comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The lily will continue to grow slowly through the winter months.

5. Safely Store and Inspect Often: If you choose the sand-storage option, store the container in a cool, dark place like a basement—but make sure it’s not too warm or too cold. If it’s too warm, the tuber may start to grow or rot; if it’s too cold, the tuber may freeze. Check on the tuber often to make sure the sand is still moist and the tuber is not rotting.

6. Replant in the Spring: Once pond water temperatures return to 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the spring, haul your container to the pond, pull out the tuber and replant it in the pond. Don’t forget to add a dose of fertilizer to jump-start the growing season!

Pond Talk: What do you do with your tropical water lilies in the wintertime?

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

Are other fish like my plecostomus as hardy over the winter as my koi? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Are other fish like my plecostomus as hardy over the winter as my koi?

Q: Are other fish like my plecostomus as hardy over the winter as my koi?

Dale – Paoli, PA

A: Last week, we talked about how koi and certain types of goldfish, like Sarassa and Shubunkins, can overwinter in your pond or water garden even when water temperatures dip to near-freezing levels.

But what about other common pond fishes?

Well, it depends on your USDA hardiness zone, which divides the country into zones based on how cold the temperatures get. Just as with plants, some fish species can be “hardy” in some climates and not in others. An Oranda, for instance, might do just fine overwintering in a pond in Orlando, Fla., but up in Fargo, N.D., that same fish would turn into a popsicle—even with an aeration system and de-icer.

When the temperatures begin to fall in colder zones, here’s what you do:

1. Keep a close eye on your pond’s water temperature using a thermometer, like the Pond Logic® Floating Pond Thermometer. When the mercury hits 68 degrees or so, it’s time to bring those less hardy fishes—including Plecostomus, Oranda, Telescope goldfish and Black Moors—inside.

2. Carefully scoop those snowbird fishes out of the pond with a net, like The Pond Guy® 3-in-1 Combo Net, and place them in a bucket pre-filled with some of your pond’s water.

3. Re-home the fishes in a properly sized indoor fish tank or aquarium outfitted with the right mechanical and biological filtration system for the job. Be sure to condition the water and pre-treat it with some beneficial bacteria to kick start the system’s biological filtration, too.

As soon as sun thaws your pond water—or at least heats it back up to room temperature—it’s safe to return those fishes to their “summer” home.

Pond Talk: What kind of overwintering setup do you have for your less hardy fishes?

Pond Logic® Floating Thermometer - Monitor Water Temperature

Is it too cold to treat my algae blooms? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Is it too cold to treat my algae blooms?

Q: Is it too cold to treat my algae blooms?

Ashley – Cross Junction, VA

A: The bane of pond keepers, algae—be it planktonic pea soup, filamentous pond scum or bottom-dwelling chara—can be treated any time of year, as long as the water temperature in your pond or lake is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

But what’s so special about the magical 60-degree temp?

Though algae will grow at temperatures lower than that, the chemicals in both Pond Logic® Algae Defense & Cide-Kick Combo and Applied Biochemists Cutrine®-Plus Granular Algaecide that are used to control suspended, floating and bottom-of-the-pond algae require warmer water temperatures to work properly.

If you’re unsure of your lake’s water temperature, use a pond thermometer, like the Pond Logic® Floating Pond Thermometer, to get a fast and accurate reading.

Here are three more tips for treating fall algae blooms:

1. Heavier doses may be required: When treating well-established algae or algae that has grown later in the season, you may need to up your dosage rates to get the same effect as when treating fresh algae or algae that has sprung up in the spring. Read the product’s label for safe usage guidelines.

2. Use the right product: Pond Logic® Algae Defense & Cide-Kick Combo will take a serious toll on planktonic, filamentous and chara growth, but Applied Biochemists Cutrine®-Plus Granular Algaecide works especially well on chara. Well-established chara will build up a chalky deposit, which gives it super powers against chemical treatments. But the Cutrine-Plus granules sink to the bottom of the pond and dissipate right where that nuisance algae resides.

3. Watch the weather: The best time to apply Algae Defense and Cutrine-Plus Granular is in the morning on a calm, sunny day. For the Algae Defense, simply mix with water and spray with a pressurized sprayer; for the Cutrine-Plus Granular, broadcast the granules in the area that needs to be treated.

Once the water temperature dips below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you’re out of luck when it comes to treating algae blooms. But you can revel in the fact that they will slow down when the water reaches 50 degrees or so—only to emerge again come spring!

Pond Talk: What do you do to treat fall algae blooms in your pond or lake?

Pond Logic® Algae Defense® - Quickly Eliminate Pond Algae

I want to install aeration. Which system do I buy for my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

I want to install aeration. Which system do I buy for my pond?

Q: I want to install aeration. Which system do I buy for my pond?

Cindi – Troy, MT

A: Choosing the right aeration system can be quite a puzzle to solve, particularly if you have an oddly shaped lake or pond. But with these three keys that we’ve provided below, you can unlock the secret to selecting the right system for your pond or lake.

Pond Size

First, determine the size of your pond or lake so you can choose the right size aeration system to handle it. To calculate its surface area, measure the length and the width, multiply them, and then divide that number by 43,560. Aeration systems list the pond surface area that it can handle on the package.

Pond Depth

Once you know your pond or lake’s surface area, you then need to figure in its depth. It plays an important role in the system compressor’s efficiency and aeration area—the deeper the pond, the more area one diffuser can handle; the shallower the pond, the less area it can handle.

Look for the system that will handle the surface area at the depth of your pond. Ponds less than 6 to 8 feet deep will benefit from an efficient shallow water system, like the Airmax® Shallow Water Aeration System. It allows for multiple aeration plates that can be spread across the pond to compensate for the shallow depth.

Pond Shape

Finally, take a look at your pond’s shape. If you have a round pond, it’s relatively easy to fit an aeration system, like the Airmax® Deep Water Aeration System, based simply on its size and depth. If you have a long, narrow pond or one with odd shapes or coves, however, you may require additional diffusers for optimum circulation.

Still having a problem figuring out the aeration puzzle? Let us help! We can look up your pond via satellite and size the aeration system for you along with a layout for diffuser placement. Just give us a call!

Pond Talk: What problems have you experienced when trying to figure out what type of aeration system to install in your lake or pond?

Airmax® Aeration Systems - The Perfect Fit For Any Pond

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