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Do I treat phragmites the same as I treat cattails? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Do I treat phragmites the same as I treat cattails?

Q: Do I treat phragmites the same as I treat cattails?

Ben – Clio, MI

A: Phragmites are trouble. These perennial, warm-season grasses are an invasive species in many parts of the country. When the dense stands take over a lake or wetland area, they can cause adverse ecological, economic and social impacts – including reduced access to your swimming or fishing hole and increased fire danger.

Before we discuss how to control these weeds, also termed “common reed,” let’s learn a bit more about them.

Phragmites 101

In their information-packed booklet titled, A Guide to the Control and Management of Invasive Phragmites, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan Department of Natural Resources describes phragmites as plants that can reach 15 feet in height with flat, stiff, tapering leaves. During growing season, the plant grows gray-green foliage and purple-brown-silver seed head plumes at the end of long stocks, which appear in late July. In the fall, the foliage turns tan and falls off, leaving behind the stock and plume-topped shoot throughout the winter.

But the worst part of phragmites is its rhizome and root system, which can grow to an incredible 60 feet in length and 6 feet deep. More than 80 percent of the plant’s yearly biomass is contained below ground, making it very difficult to treat and control.

Managing the Biomass

To eliminate phragmites, you have to attack the right portion of the plant at the right time within its life cycle. Here’s what we recommend.

  1. Herbicide Treatment: In the late summer, early fall when the phragmites are flowering, treat them with an herbicide. We typically recommend Shoreline Defense® to control cattails, but sometimes it only provides partial control of phragmites. In those cases, use Kraken™. When you use either herbicide, make sure you use Treatment Booster™ PLUS, which contains a surfactant that will help the chemicals enter the plant’s system faster.
  2. Remove the Dead Weeds: In two to three weeks, after the weeds have died, cut them down with a Weed Cutter and manually remove the dead weeds – including the seed heads and rhizomes, which should be bagged and thrown away.
  3. Controlled Burn: In situations where it can be used safely and effectively, a prescribed fire is an effective and ecologically sound method for controlling phragmites. It’s critical, however, to first treat the area with herbicides and then follow-up with the controlled burn the following year in the late summer, according to the DEQ. Work closely with your local departments to ensure safety, proper permits are in order and timing is correct.

For more information about removing these invasive weeds and reclaiming your pond or late, contact your local Department of Natural Resources or Department of Environmental Quality. They have a wealth of knowledge and know-how to help.

Pond Talk: Have you successfully battled phragmites? What was your strategy?

Treat Nuisance Weeds & Phragmites - Kraken™ Aquatic Herbicide & Treatment Booster™ PLUS

Should I add a pressurized filter to my water garden? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Should I add a pressurized filter to my water garden?

Q: Should I add a pressurized filter to my water garden?

Sherri – Hilliard, FL

A: Whether you have an existing pond or are building a new one, just about any pond can benefit from a pressurized filter.

Able to be positioned anywhere outside your pond, these units hold water pressure so filtered water can be routed back to the pond or up to a waterfall. This allows you to create a flowing waterfall effect without taking space at the top of the falls.

But that’s not all. Here are some more reasons to add an AllClear™ PLUS Pressurized UV Filter to your water feature:

  • Remove Excess Fish Waste: Are your koi and goldfish getting bigger and adding to the waste load in your pond? Instead of parting with a few of your finned pals, just add another filter! It will help to reduce the added waste from the growing fish and allow you to keep them part of the family.
  • The Backflush Feature: Water changes can be a pain. Pulling out a pump and routing water out of the pond for your regular water changes take time and effort. But with the backflush feature on the AllClear models, the hard work is a snap! You simply turn a dial, and waste water and debris are rinsed from your filter via a discharge outlet.
  • Green Water Abated: In addition to featuring mechanical and biological filtration, the AllClear filters include an ultraviolet light, which destroys algae and clears up green water. If you experience algae blooms throughout the pond season, a UV light will help.

With some things in life, too much isn’t always a good thing—but that’s not the case with filtration. As long as you’re not filtering out your beneficial bacteria, more filtration will only make your water clearer and pond healthier.

PRO TIP: If temperatures dip below freezing where you live, the AllClear PLUS will need to be removed for the winter and stored in a frost-free area.

Pond Talk: How has your pond benefitted from a pressurized filter?

Three Types of Filtration, One Powerful Unit - View The Pond Guy® AllClear™ PLUS & SolidFlo™ Combo Kits

Besides koi, what are some other types of fish for my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Besides koi, what are some other types of fish for my pond?

Q: Besides koi, what are some other types of fish for my pond?

Judy – N Tonawada, NY

A: Koi may be the living jewels of the pond world, but you can choose from a variety of fish that are suitable for your water garden – most of which can be found at your local pet store. Some of our favorites include:

  • Comets/Sarasa: Colorful and active, these varieties of goldfish are distinguished from their aquarium cousins by their long, single and deeply forked tail fin. In optimal conditions, their tails can grow up to 2 feet in length! Comets typically have red and white coloration with red appearing on the tail and dorsal fin. The Sarasa’s color pattern, in fact, often resembles a kohaku’s, making it quite koi-like. These guys have a life span of 7 to 14 years or more.
  • Shubunkin: Another variety of goldfish, shubunkins sport opalescent red, white, grey, black and blue scales in a calico pattern – and the bluer, the better (according to fanciers). They have streamlined bodies with well-developed and even fins. Shubunkins, which hail from Japan, reach a length of 9 to 18 inches and live 7 to 14 years or more. They add a big splash of color to your pond.
  • Plecostomus: Why not put your fish to work for you! The plecos is an omnivorous fish that will actually eat your string algae (as well as leftover fish food and other scraps). In a pond, sucker fish can grow up to 2 feet long. Because he is a tropical fish, he will need to be overwintered inside when water temperatures dip below 60° Fahrenheit because he’ll die in temperatures below 55°F.

As temperatures start to dip in the fall, it’s a great time to add new fish. Just make sure you have the necessity on hand to acclimate them. You’ll need Pond Salt, which will reduce the fishes’ stress, improve their gill function and protect them against common pond toxins while adding essential electrolytes to the water. You’ll also need Stress Reducer PLUS, which forms a protective slime coat on your new fish, and removes chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals from tap water. For more tips for acclimating your new fish, check out our blog post here.

So many fishes, so little time … With all these fabulous finned friends to choose from, you’ll wish you had a bigger pond!

Pond Talk: How many varieties of fish do you have in your water garden? What’s your favorite?

Daily Summer Diet For All Fish Varieties - View Pond Logic® Ponstix Floating Fish Food

Why can’t I use lawn weed killers to clean up my pond’s shoreline? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Why can’t I use lawn weed killers to clean up my pond’s shoreline?

Q: Why can’t I use lawn weed killers to clean up my pond’s shoreline?

Kevin – Heath, OH

A: If you read the fine print on your favorite lawn weed killer and your favorite aquatic shoreline weed killer, you’ll notice that they both contain the same active ingredient—glyphosate. This broad-spectrum herbicide works wonders in destroying actively growing foliage. In fact, it’s one of the most popular weed destroyers out there.

Inert Ingredients

Just because the lawn weed killer and shoreline weed killer have the same active ingredient, however, doesn’t mean you can use them interchangeably. You see, the inert or inactive ingredients used in the formulas are different. Those different ingredients make the shoreline chemicals safe around bodies of water and lawn chemicals unsafe around bodies of water.

By law, these differences and designated uses must be noted on the herbicide’s label. The Environmental Protection Agency approves the label and warns consumers of any dangers. In fact, if you continue to read that fine print on your lawn weed killer’s label, you’ll find it says to not apply the product on or around water sources.

Stay Legal

If you’re treating weeds around your pond or lake, be sure to use one that has been approved for use around water bodies, like Shoreline Defense® and Treatment Booster™ PLUS. When applied directly to the foliage, the aquatic herbicide safely destroys a range of weeds and grasses—including cattails—on the shoreline, beach or anywhere emergent weeds grow.

Like it or not, you should read your labels and use the right formula for the job. You’ll be keeping your water supply safe, the government happy and your land legal.

Pond Talk: How carefully do you read the fine print on your lawn and aquatic herbicide’s labels?

Safely Treat Shoreline Weeds & Grasses - Pond Logic® Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS

I heard salt is good for my pond. Can I run my water softener discharge into my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I heard salt is good for my pond. Can I run my water softener discharge into my pond?

Q: I heard salt is good for my pond. Can I run my water softener discharge into my pond?

Chris – Eureka, MO

A: No, that’s not a good idea. Resourceful, but it’s not safe for your fish. Water softening products often have additives in addition to the salt. Even at low doses, these additives can be harmful to your pond’s inhabitants.

Believe it or not, there’s a lot to know about salt. Here’s a quick primer about the different types of salt and what’s best for your fish.

Salt 101

Salt comes in several forms, including rock salt (halite), solar salt (sea salt), evaporated salt (refined salt), iodized salt and packaging salt. The first three are the kinds most commonly used in water softeners.

  • Rock Salt: The most popular salt used in softeners, rock salt, or halite, is mined from underground deposits by drilling and blasting. Being raw and unrefined, you can imagine the other kinds of minerals and impurities that hitchhike along with the sodium chloride.
  • Solar Salt: Commercial solar salt is produced by natural evaporation of seawater or brine in large, diked, earthen concentration ponds called condensers. Though the end product can be up to 99 percent pure sodium chloride and has become a favorite among food gourmands, the sea salt also contains minerals and other impurities.
  • Evaporated Salt: The purest grade of salt, evaporated salt is manufactured using a system of pans that boil away the water from salt brine. The brine, which can itself be purified, is crystallized under controlled conditions often in plants that resemble food processing plants. The process has two steps: obtaining the brine, usually from a solution mine, and then thermally reducing it to crystallized salt.

Salt for Your Fish

Pond Logic® Pond Salt, which is a special form of evaporated salt, is the purest form of sodium chloride and is created specifically for use in your pond.

Adding pond salt to the water reduces the stress on the fish by assisting the fish’s osmoregulation, making it easier for the fish to maintain itself physiologically in the water. It reduces fish stress, adds essential electrolytes, improves gill function and protects against common pond toxins. In fact, most diseases suffered by fish can be cured and prevented by simply adding pond salt.

Salt is a great addition to your pond, but careful to only apply as directed, particularly if you have plants in the water. Be sure to monitor your salt levels by using a salt tester, which will instantly measure your water’s salinity.

Pond Talk: How has pond salt helped your fish? Do you have a story to share?

Instantly Measure Salt Levels - Salt Level Tester

I bought an aeration system this year. What maintenance should I be doing? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I bought an aeration system this year. What maintenance should I be doing?

Q: I bought an aeration system this year. What maintenance should I be doing?

Gary – Saginaw, MI

A: Congratulations on your purchase of an Airmax® Aeration System—and good for you for thinking about regular maintenance, which will keep it operating well for years to come. Here are some things to inspect on a routine basis:

  • Check Your Cooling Fan and Pre-Filter: Regularly clean out your pre-filter and check to see that the fan is indeed operating. Hot air should be blowing out, not air being pulled in. An easy way to remember to do this is to always check your fan and shake off your pre-filter when you cut your lawn.
  • Check Your Air Pressure: Check to see that your air pressure has not risen or dropped significantly. Normal operation will range between 5 and 10 psi. Also be sure to check your pressure relief valve to make sure no air is escaping.
  • Check Your Air Filter: Clean and replace your air filter every three to six months, depending on your environment, and do not place a wet air filter back into the unit. For deep-water units, use the Pond Logic® SilentAir™ Piston Compressor Air Filter; for shallow-water units, use the Pond Logic® SilentAir™ LR Series Air Filter.
  • Purge Your Membrane Sticks: Once per year, purge your membrane diffuser sticks. See the product manual for additional instructions.
  • Use the Maintenance Kit: Finally, be sure to use your maintenance kit for the system you have installed. For shallow-water systems, use the Pond Logic® SilentAir™ Diaphragm Compressor Maintenance Kit every 12 months to keep your diaphragm compressor running its best. For deep-water systems, use the Pond Logic® SilentAir™ Piston Compressor Maintenance Kit every 24 months to keep your piston compressor humming.

Remember, if you have any questions, need additional information or want to read through some troubleshooting tips, refer to your product manual.

Pond Talk: What is your aerator maintenance routine? Do you have any tips to share?

Maximize System Performance - Pond Logic® SilentAir™ Piston Compressor Air Filter

What is the thermocline? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: What is the thermocline?

Q: What is the thermocline?

Walt – Cedar City, UT

A: Have you ever swum in a pond without a bottom aerator and felt colder water near your toes and warmer water on top?

You’ve experienced the thermocline.

Simply put, the thermocline is a layer of water between the warmer, surface zone and the colder, deep-water zone.

In ponds and lakes in the summertime, a natural phenomenon called stratification occurs when warm, less-dense, oxygen-rich water sits on top of colder, denser, oxygen depleted water. The thermocline separates the warm layer—the epilimnion —and the cold layer—the hypolimnion. In this stable system very little mixing of the layers occurs, particularly in calm weather.

Fish and other underwater critters (including beneficial bacteria) have trouble with this stratification. As summer marches on, your finned pals have less and less oxygen available below the thermocline, so they have to come closer to the surface to get their needed O2 supply. That means less room for them to swim. It also means your beneficial bacteria below the thermocline become oxygen-starved, which could result in algae growth and odor.

Thank goodness for aeration.

Bottom diffuser aeration, like Airmax® Aeration systems, prevents your pond or lake from stratifying by churning and mixing the temperature layers. The tiny bubbles created by the diffuser force the cooler oxygen-starved water to the pond’s surface where it becomes pumped up with O2. The warmer, oxygen-rich water then drops down, fueling the beneficial bacteria.

The result is an eliminated thermocline and higher oxygen levels throughout the water column.

It’s critical, however, that your system be sized correctly for your pond so the aeration is uniform throughout. If you currently have an aeration system running and you’re not sure if it’s doing its job, take your pond’s temperature. Using a thermometer and string, measure the temperature of the water every 24 inches down in various locations in your lake. If you find that you have more than a few degrees difference in your vertical readings, you’re probably under-aerating your pond.

But once you get your aeration system dialed in, your fish will once again have full access to the entire body of water, and your beneficial bacteria will have the opportunity to grow and thrive.

Call us if you need help mapping the aeration system in your lake. We’re happy to help!

Pond Talk: Have you experience stratification in your pond or lake?

Create The Perfect Pond - Airmax® Aeration Systems

I’m upgrading my pump. Do I need new tubing as well? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I’m upgrading my pump. Do I need new tubing as well?

Q: I’m upgrading my pump. Do I need new tubing as well?

Roger – Cordova, TN

A: Congratulations on the purchase of your new toy! To get the maximum flow out of your pump, you’ll need to make sure your tubing size lines up with your flow rate.

Here’s what we recommend:

  • Up to 500 GPH: ½ inch tubing
  • 501 – 900 GPH: ¾ inch tubing
  • 901 – 1,500 GPH: 1 inch tubing
  • 1,501 – 2,700 GPH: 1¼ inch tubing
  • 2,701 – 3,600 GPH: 1½ inch tubing
  • 3,601 – 5,400 GPH: 2 inch tubing
  • 5,401 – 13,500 GPH: 3 inch tubing

When it comes to selecting a type of tubing, you can choose from three different types: flexible PVC tubing, flexible kink-free tubing and flexible black vinyl tubing. Each has its own unique features and uses. Here’s what you need to know:

Flexible PVC Tubing

Ideal for water features, flexible PVC tubing can have water in it year round without damage from freezing temperatures, and the pipes can be buried. To join the lengths of pipe and plumb your pump, you will need to use schedule 40 PVC fittings and PVC glue. Flexible PVC is the most expensive of the bunch, but it’s your best choice for high-flow pumps. It comes in 1½” to 4″ diameter.

Flexible Kink-Free Tubing

The most popular and widely used water feature tubing, flexible kink-free tubing makes plumbing jobs a breeze as it requires few pipe cuts and unions. The heavy-duty tubing can withstand freezing temperatures and being buried. Connect the tubing with barbed and insert fittings and hose clamps rather than messy glue. We have it in ½” to 1½” diameter.

Flexible Black Vinyl Tubing

Ideal for smaller pumps, fountains and statuary, flexible black vinyl tubing is connected with insert fittings and hose clamps. It’s not sturdy enough to withstand being buried or left out in freezing temperatures. We carry 3/8″ to 1″ diameter tubing.

Get the most out of your new pump with the right tubing in the right size. You’ll be glad you did!

Pond Talk: Have you re-plumbed your pump or pond recently? What plumbing tips can you share from your experience?

Make Your Plumbing Job Easy - Flexible Kink-Free Tubing

I don’t know if I have chara or another weed. How do I tell? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I don’t know if I have chara or another weed. How do I tell?

Q: I don’t know if I have chara or another weed. How do I tell?

Dan – W Jefferson, OH

A: Though it resembles a pond weed, chara—also called muskgrass or skunkweed—is actually a type of bottom-growing algae that can efficiently take over your pond or lake.

Can’t tell the difference between the two? Here are some tips to help identify and treat the chara.

IDing Chara

Pull out some of the plant in question and take a close look at it. Does it have these characteristics?

  • No Roots: Unlike pond weeds with traditional leaves and well-established root systems, chara is a gray-green branched multicellular algae that lacks flowers, true leaves and roots. Instead, it has six to 16 leaf-like branchlets that grow in spirals around the stem.
  • Distinct Odor: Next, smell it. Does it have a skunky, musty, garlicky-type smell? If so, it’s probably chara. Simply walking close to or around your pond will tell you right away if you have a chara problem, particularly late in the pond season.
  • Crunchy Texture: When you rub the plant between your fingers, what does it feel like? Chara has a crunchy or gritty-type texture that’s different than pond weeds.
  • Quickly Disintegrates: Finally, when you leave it on the dock, what happens to it after a few hours? If it almost disintegrates after a few hours, you’ve got chara.

Treating Chara

Once you determine it’s chara and not a pond weed, you’ll need to treat it with an algaecide rather than an herbicide. We prefer to use Pond Logic® Algae Defense® Algaecide, a fast-acting liquid formula, but use Cutrine®-Plus Granular as for chara growing in water deeper than 3 feet.

About two weeks after treating the chara, we suggest to use a Pond Rake to rake out as much as you can Doing this will help you gain control relatively quickly. (Important tip: Do not rake out chara before treating it because it will spread).

Pond Talk: What kinds of problems do you have with pond weeds or algae?

Eliminate Bottom Growing Chara - Cutrine®-Plus Granular

How do I treat my pond fish for ich and other diseases? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How do I treat my pond fish for ich and other diseases?

Q: How do I treat my pond fish for ich and other diseases?

Nadine – Okemos, MI

A: There’s nothing sadder than a sick fish—particularly when it’s your friendliest koi or most gregarious goldfish. If your underwater pal is looking a little under the weather, here’s what you need to do to nurse him back to health.

1. Water Change

Some clean, fresh water can make a big difference. It’s full of oxygen, and it’s devoid of pathogens that could be sapping his immune system and making him sick. So the first thing to do is complete a 25 percent water change to get some new wet stuff into the pond.

If only one or two fish seem to be affected, sequester them in an isolation tank. You can use an aquarium, a large plastic bin, a child-size swimming pool—whatever size is appropriate for your fish. Be sure to add pond salt to the water, which reduces fish stress, as well as an aerator and a net to cover the tank.

2. Inspect Your Fish

Next, you’ll need to get up close and personal with your finned friend. Examine him from head to tailfin. Do you see any signs of inflammation? Is there redness in his gills? Do you see cuts or scrapes? Strange parasites or spots? Make note of unusual findings to determine what illness your fish has. Some common diseases include:

  • Ich: Technically known as Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, ich is an ectoparasite that presents as white spots on the body, fins and gills. Symptoms include loss of appetite, rapid breathing, hiding, resting on the bottom of the pond or tank, flashing, rubbing and scratching against objects, and upside down swimming near the surface. If not treated, ich will kill your fish.
  • Anchor Worm: These copepod crustaceans from the genus Lernaea are parasites that latch onto fish and grow into an unsegmented worm-like protrusion. Visible with the naked eye, anchor worms cause localized skin redness and inflammation. A fish with anchor worm may frequently rub on objects or flash, have trouble breathing and appear lethargic.
  • Fungus: Unlike ich and anchor worms, fungal disease—scientific name Saprolegnia—is an actual fungus that grows on fish that are injured or sick. Appearing as a white coating or cotton-like growths on the skin or fins, the fungus will eat away on the fish if left untreated, ultimately killing the fish.

4. Treat the Disease

Once you’ve determined what ails your fish, treat him with an appropriate remedy. You can find a range of treatments on The Pond Guy® Fish Health page, but here are some popular choices:

  • MinnFinn™ is a natural, biodegradable, broad-spectrum treatment for parasites and fungal and bacterial infections. Many issues can be eliminated in as few as one to three treatments.
  • CrystalClear® ParaCid™ specifically attacks parasites, like anchor worms, fish lice and flukes, on goldfish and koi.
  • Aquatic Nutrition Medicated Fish Food is formulated with four antibiotics that combat bacterial infections and disease while providing nutrition to your pond inhabitants. The soft pellets sink to the bottom of the pond where sick fish tend to hide.
  • CrystalClear® KnockOut™ treats just about everything, including ich, parasites, protozoa, bacteria and fungi, that affect koi and goldfish.

4. Reevaluate Your Routine

You know the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure …” Well, when it comes to fish health, most times it’s true. Prevention is key to keeping your koi and goldfish healthy, and that prevention centers on your maintenance routines.

We recommend routine water changes, use of pond salt in low doses (don’t worry: it’s safe for your plants), filter clean-outs and removal of debris from the bottom of your pond. Doing so will keep your pond clean—and your fish happy and healthy.

Pond Talk: Have you ever nursed a fish back to health? If so, what did you do?

Treat A Broad Spectrum of Illnesses - MinnFinn™ Biodegradable Pond Treatment

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