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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 recommend Shoreline Defense® to control cattails and for partial control of phragmites. When using an 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?

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?

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 Airmax® SilentAir™ Piston Compressor Air Filter; for shallow-water units, use the Airmax® 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 Airmax® 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 - Airmax® 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

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