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I’m jealous of my friend’s waterfall. Where do I start?| Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I’m jealous of my friend’s waterfall. Where do I start?

Q: I’m jealous of my friend’s waterfall. Where do I start?

Ethan – Kailua-Kona, HI

A: Waterfall envy. We’ve all experienced it. It’s that feeling you get when you see those stunning synchronized fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, some over-the-top displays during your local pond and garden tour, or your pal’s 15-foot 20,000-gallons-per-hour jaw dropper. You think, wow, my waterfall stinks. I want that in my back yard!

Let’s turn that jealousy into motivation.

With some planning, some equipment and a weekend (or two) of hard work, you can create a waterfall that will rival the others in your neighborhood. Here’s how.

Be Budget Mindful

Before you begin, think about how much money you want to spend and then work to develop a project budget. In most cases, the larger the waterfall, the more expensive it will cost—but some of those top-of-the-line accessories for smaller features can cost quite a bit, too. If you need some help, call a pond-building professional in your area who can assess your needs and suggest a starting point.

Making Space

You’ll also want to consider how much room you have for your waterfall. Do you want to add a new feature to your existing pond? Alternatively, are you planning to build one from the ground up? In either case, how large will it be, and where will it go? Make sure that it’s sized appropriately for your pond and/or yard, and position it in a place where you can enjoy it.

Changing the Look

If you have an existing pond and want to add a waterfall while changing the look of the water’s flow, check out the ClearSpring™ Waterfall Filter. Not only does it provide maximum year-round filtration to your pond, but it also offers two weir options – a smooth surface and a ribbed pattern – to add diversity to your water feature.

Another option is to increase your existing flow rate by bumping up your tubing size and pump size. More water and increased movement can make dramatic impacts in your water feature, and it’s an easy adjustment to make with some plumbing and pump swaps.

Hobby Time

Finally, think about how much time you realistically want to spend maintaining your water feature. Are you a weekend warrior with a full-time job, or do you have a busy family with soccer games every weekend? If so, you may not have a lot of time to spend on weekly and seasonal maintenance chores, like leaf netting and winterizing. A Pondless Waterfall Kit is an excellent solution. It provides the sights and sounds of running water with little maintenance.

If you have more time on your hands, consider adding a self-enclosed pond with pops of color to your landscape. The Colorfalls Basin Kit with Color Changing Waterfall Weirs is an easy-to-install system that includes a reservoir, the plumbing, the pump, all the fittings, double filtration, splash mat and even an automatic fill valve. The color changing weirs feature 16 patterns and 48 color options – which should be enough to make your friend jealous!

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite waterfall – real or human-made?

Waterfall Without the Pond - PondBuilder(t) Cascading Waterfall Kits

When treating weeds and algae, why do I have to treat in sections? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: When treating weeds and algae, why do I have to treat in sections?

Q: When treating weeds and algae, why do I have to treat in sections?

Zahn- Cedar Rapids, IA

A: It’s all about the fish. Though it’s an inconvenience to you, treating your lake or pond’s weeds and algae in sections is critical for the health of your underwater inhabitants. Those herbicides and algaecides deplete the oxygen in the pond, creating a stressful environment for the fish. Partitioning the treatments keeps oxygen levels safe while minimizing the stress.

When combating weeds and algae in the summertime, remember these three things:

  • Warm Weather = Less Oxygen: In the hot summer months, the water column will naturally hold less oxygen as it warms up.
  • Chemical Treatments = Less Oxygen: When you treat the weeds and algae with Shoreline Defense® or Algae Defense®, the oxygen levels will decline in your pond.
  • Decaying Matter = Less Oxygen:As the herbicide and algaecide start to work, the decaying matter will begin to be consumed by microorganisms, which use up the oxygen in the water.

All of these things create a stressful situation for your fish. When that happens, their immune systems could suffer, and they could develop and succumb to disease – which is something you don’t want to happen.

So while treating your pond or lake, break it into quarter sections. Then treat one section and wait 10 to 14 days to allow the water time to rebalance its oxygen level before treating the next section. Some other things you can do to improve the oxygen levels in your pond:

  • Add Aeration: Aeration, like the Pond Series™ Aeration Systems, adds oxygen to the water below the surface. The oxygen is utilized by the fish as well as the beneficial bacteria and microorganisms, which break down the muck and detritus that feed the algae and weeds.
  • Rake Away the Debris: As the herbicide and algaecide go to work killing the pond pests, take time to rake out the dead debris before it becomes algae- and weed-feeding pond muck. The Pond & Beach Rake makes the chore quick and easy.

Pond Talk: What kinds of spring and summer maintenance chores have you been doing so far this year?

Create the Perfect Pond - Airmax(r) Pond Series(t) Aeration Systems

I’m looking to cut back on energy costs. Can I shut off my waterfall at night? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I’m looking to cut back on energy costs. Can I shut off my waterfall at night?

Q: I’m looking to cut back on energy costs. Can I shut off my waterfall at night?

Gita – San Tan Valley, AZ

A: Energy costs have certainly been on the incline lately, and so it makes perfect sense to search for ways to save some of your hard-earned cash. If you must – though it’s not ideal – you can shut off your waterfall at night as long as you have your aeration system operating. It’ll keep the oxygen flowing overnight.

However, consider the hidden costs that you could be incurring:

Dealing with Poor Fish Health:

Still, quiet water – even just during the overnight hours – means that fewer water molecules are circulating and making contact with oxygen-rich air at the pond’s surface. The stagnant water will be unable to release dangerous gases, like ammonia, and absorb life-giving oxygen. That could cause your fishes’ immune systems to suffer, which could lead to disease or worse.

Replacing Beneficial Bacteria:

For your filtration system to remove contaminants from the water, it needs moving water flowing through it – so if your pump is off, your water’s not moving. If all the water drains out of your filter, you could wind up with a loss of the beneficial bacteria that live on the media inside, which means you’ll need to replace them later.

Managing Algae Blooms:

Moving water helps to keep debris suspended in the water column and pulled through the skimmer and filter for efficient removal. But if the pump is turned off, that debris will settle to the bottom of the pond and build up, creating a dense food source for nuisances like algae. When it starts to bloom, it’ll take your time, energy and some algaecide to clear up – which can equal a pretty penny.

Pond pump manufacturers understand that water gardeners are concerned about operating costs, so many of the designs on the market today, including the RapidFlo™ and MagFlo™ Pump, are energy efficient and consume relatively little electricity. Pumps that used to cost $100 a month or more to run have been replaced by models that cost as little as $12 a month. Now that’s some serious savings!

Pond Talk: Besides shutting down your waterfall pump at night, what are some other ways you’ve cut water garden expenses?

Breathe Life Into Your Pond - Airmax (r) PondAir(t) Aeration Kits

I’m getting tired of pulling weeds by hand. Any tips for removal?| Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I’m getting tired of pulling weeds by hand. Any tips for removal?

Q: I’m getting tired of pulling weeds by hand. Any tips for removal?

Maynard – Monroe, CT

A: Weeds just seem to keep growing and growing, don’t they? No matter how many times you pull on your hip waders, trudge down to the pond and pull out those pesky pond pests, they just grow back thicker than ever.

Part of the challenge, too, is that many herbicides, including Shoreline Defense® and Kraken™ Aquatic Herbicide, are prohibited in some states. If you live in one of these places, you have no choice but to manually or mechanically remove pond weeds.

Thank goodness for these trusty tools. They make the weeding chore a breeze – well, at least a little easier.

Weed Cutter

A weed cutter, like the Weed Cutter and the Weed Razer™, mechanically slices through weeds at their base so they can then be raked out.

The 28-inch, double-sided Weed Cutter features a two-piece, rust-proof, powder-coated aluminum handle that’s 11 feet long. It’s great for removing floating aquatic vegetation, marginal weeds and cattails that extend past the pond’s edge.

The V-shaped Weed Razer™ clears a 4-foot-wide path in pond weeds by sinking to the bottom and slicing through submerged weeds like watermilfoil, cattails and lily pads as you pull it across the pond. The razor-sharp tool weighs just 8 pounds, making it light enough to toss 30 feet or more yet heavy enough to sink straight to the bottom.

Pond Rake and Skimmer

A pond rake or skimmer pulls, gathers and removes dead debris from the surface or the bottom of a pond.

Debris on the surface of a pond, like algae or freshly cut pond weeds, can sink to the bottom and start to decay, adding to the muck and detritus that’s already there. All that debris degrades water quality, compromises fish health, provides a nutrient source for nuisance plants, and can even affect chemical treatments’ ability to work.

A floating pond rake, like the PondSkim™ Debris Skimmer, or a sub-surface pond rake, like the Pond & Beach Rake with float attachment, lends a long helping hand. Elongated by rope so you can easily get the hard-to-reach and deep-water growth, both rakes work by bringing those weeds back to shore.

Weed Prevention

Though you’ll have a tough time fighting Mother Nature and stopping her from propagating pond weeds, you can slow her down by following up your weed-whacking chores with treatments of MuckAway™ and Pond Dye. MuckAway’s™ beneficial bacteria will eliminate bottom-of-the-pond muck that fertilizes pond weeds, while Pond Dye will shade the water and prevent UV rays from accelerating weed growth.

Pond Talk: What manual or mechanical weed-killing tips can you share with fellow hobbyists?

Cuts Through the Toughest Weeds - Pond Logic(r) Weed Cutter

My pond is full of floating algae. How do I get rid of it? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: My pond is full of floating algae. How do I get rid of it?

Q: My pond is full of floating algae. How do I get rid of it?

C.J.- Dumas, AR

A: With summer temperatures settling in, algae blooms are coming out swinging. Bright sunshine and warm temperatures trigger green growth, so it’s critical to keep floating and submerged algae in check before it grows out of control.

For the health of your pond and its inhabitants, keeping algae blooms to a minimum is necessary. Here’s an approach that works to eliminate the green stuff and prevent it from taking over:

Treat the Growth
First, use an algaecide to great rid of the algae bloom. You can treat floating algae with a fast-acting liquid spray like Algae Defense® Algaecide with Treatment Booster™ PLUS, which treats floating algae and chara that’s less than 3’ deep. Simply spray it on with a pressurized sprayer to combat floating and bottom-growing algae.

Submerged algae can be treated with sinking granular products, such as Cutrine®-Plus. It works well for algae submerged deep in your pond or lake, such as Chara. It’s best distributed on a calm day via a granular spreader in the morning before mats form.

Remove the Dead Algae
Once the algae is dead, you should remove it. Why? By leaving the dead foliage in the lake, it will start to break down and become nutrients—or algae food—for new blooms. It’s a vicious cycle!

Use a pond skimmer, like the PondSkim™, or a rake, like the Pond & Beach Rake, to prevent that muck from accumulating.

Add Beneficial Bacteria
Three days after you’ve used algaecides, treat your pond with PondClear™. It contains beneficial bacteria that gobbles through the organic material that’s suspended in the water column. The result is a lake filled with clean, clear, odor-free water—and a healthy ecosystem for your game fish and other pond inhabitants.

Shade Water with Pond Dye
Finally, be sure to add blue or black pond dye to your pond throughout the spring and summer. By reducing the amount of sunlight that shines through the water and stimulates plant growth, you will ultimately reduce the amount of algae.

Pond Talk: How do you keep your algae blooms in check?

Fast Acting Liquid Formula, Eliminate Algae - Pond Logic(r) Algae Defense(r) Algaecide

I bought bullfrog tadpoles for my pond. What do I need to know about them?| Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I bought bullfrog tadpoles for my pond. What do I need to know about them?

Q: I bought bullfrog tadpoles for my pond. What do I need to know about them?

Iris – Kirkland, WA

A: Those big croaking amphibians sure love living in a water garden. Bullfrogs gobble pesky bugs and nibble on nuisance algae while entertaining their human hobbyists with their leaping prowess and trance-inducing ribbit-ribbit songs.

When they’re adults, bullfrogs are impressive creatures: As one of the largest frogs in the world, they grow to 8 inches long and weigh up to 1½ pounds. When they’re tadpoles, they’re impressive, too. The dark green swimmers measure up to 6 inches long, which is larger than most other frog species, and sport a dorsal fin that begins behind its arrowhead-shaped body.

Caring for your tadpoles involves understanding their habitat, diet and developmental stages. Here’s what you need to know to grow your baby bullfrog into a beefy bug-eating adult.

Healthy Habitat

Bullfrog tadpoles like to swim in shallow water on fine gravel bottoms. As they grow, they tend to move into deeper waters. They have speckled-skin camouflage to help protect them from predators, but you should still plan to provide a wide variety of floating and submerged plants, like parrots feather, frogbit and water lilies, as well as rocks and other hides to your pond. The little guys will hang out among them should a hungry bird or fish fly or swim by for a bite to eat.

Algae, Please

When they’re young, bullfrog tadpoles are herbivores that love to nibble on the string algae that forms along your rocks and under plants. Though they have been observed eating frog eggs (gasp!) and other newly hatched tadpoles, the algae should keep them more than satisfied – at least until they become adults. That’s when they become carnivorous critters with a hankering for bugs, rodents, reptiles, birds, small fish and even an occasional bat.

From Tadpoles to Adulthood

While they’re in their tadpole – or pollywog – stage, these tiny gilled critters live exclusively in the water. But after about one year, the tadpoles will start to grow legs. Shortly thereafter, they grow arms. As their tails shorten, they develop lungs and their gills disappear. The tadpole, now several years old depending on where it’s growing up, has finally transformed into a froglet that can make the leap from water to dry land.

Once your tadpole has grown into an adult, you can expect that bad boy to be around for 8 to 10 years. Enjoy your new pond pal! Ribbit!

Pond Talk: Have you ever been to a frog-jumping contest? If so, tell us about it!

Maximize Blooms and Beauty - CrystalClear(r) Thrive(t) Plant Fertilizer Tabs

I’m thinking about getting an aeration system, but how do I measure my pond’s depth? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I’m thinking about getting an aeration system, but how do I measure my pond’s depth?

Q: I’m thinking about getting an aeration system, but how do I measure my pond’s depth?

Lester – Muscantine, LA

A: Measuring the depth of your pond is kind of like measuring the square footage of an unfamiliar living room in the pitch black darkness. You can’t really see what you’re doing and you don’t know what shape it is, so all you can do is follow the walls and hope for the best, right?

Same thing with measuring the depth of a pond. Unless you’ve dug it yourself, there’s no real way of knowing what underwater undulations exist along your pond’s floor. Is the bottom flat? Sloped on one side and really deep in the middle? Are there shallow nooks along the perimeter? All these factors matter. You need to calculate an accurate number that will help you choose the right-sized aeration system for your pond – because its health depends on it.

It’s not difficult to determine how deep your pond is. First, you’ll need some tools, including a tape measure, some string or chain, a weight, something to write with, and a boat or canoe. Here’s what you do with them:

  1. Using your tape measure, mark a chain or knot a string in 1-foot intervals. Securely attach the weight to one end.
  2. Climb aboard your boat or canoe with your weighted chain or string and note-taking materials in hand.
  3. Travel to at least five points in various areas your pond, more if your pond is particularly large.
  4. Drop the weight into the water and note where you feel it hit the bottom. Repeat until you’ve gone to all the different spots and gathered a good sampling of your pond’s depth.

When you’re done, write down the maximum depth and calculate the average of the measurements you took. If the maximum depth is less than 8 feet deep, the Shallow Water Series™ Aeration System is a good choice. It features an energy-efficient, dual-diaphragm compressor that delivers oxygen to the water via two self-weighted membrane diffusers.

If the maximum depth of the pond is greater than 8 feet deep, the Pond Series™ Aeration System is the one for you. It’s powerful enough to aerate ponds up to 4 acres and can be easily adapted to fit uniquely shaped ponds, thanks to its multi-plate design.

Don’t forget: If you’re not sure which Airmax® Aeration System is right for you, we can help! After you do your depth measurements, we can do an aerial mapping to determine which system is best for your pond. Call today to speak to one of our aeration experts: 866-POND-HELP (866-766-3435) or use the Web Aeration Mapping Form.

Pond Talk: Do your Father’s Day plans include some rest and relaxation by your pond or lake?

Keep Your Pond Healthy All Year - Airmax(r) Shallow Water Series(tm) Aeration Systems

One of my fish isn’t swimming upright. What’s wrong?| Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: One of my fish isn’t swimming upright. What’s wrong?

Q: One of my fish isn’t swimming upright. What’s wrong?

Cherie – Englewood, CO

A: Unless you’ve taught your pond fish some pretty cool party tricks, it’s possible that they’re not getting enough oxygen due to a lack of aeration.

Fish will display some odd behaviors when they’re not getting enough oxygen, including gasping for air at the surface, hanging vertically in the water, and spending a lot of time around the waterfall or stream where oxygen levels are at their highest – at least for the few hours each day when the pump is running.

Some other telltale signs of insufficient aeration are:

  • The water in your pond appears to be stagnant in certain areas
  • You’ve noticed a growing mosquito problem
  • Algae growth always seems to be a battle you can’t win
  • Muck has accumulated at the bottom of the pond

Medical issues, like swim bladder problems, could be causing your fish to swim sideways, too. But, before you take your finned pal to the veterinarian, try adding or adjusting the aeration in your water feature. You can also check your ammonia and nitrite levels using a water test kit.

If your pond has a lot of fish for its size, or is a medium or large water garden or koi pond up to 16,000 gallons in size, consider adding an Airmax® KoiAir™ Aeration Kit. Its energy-efficient design includes a dual diaphragm pump that infuses oxygen into the pond while being virtually maintenance free.

If you have a handful of fish in a smaller pond that’s up to 2,000 gallons in size, check out the Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration Kits. It’s designed for decorative ponds and water gardens, and features an airflow control valve that allows you to adjust the aeration output with the turn of a dial.

Aeration should help your fish swim upright again. But if it’s still acting strange after you’ve pumped up the oxygen, you may want to check in with your veterinarian for medical advice. Good luck!

Pond Talk: What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen your pond fish do?

Water Testing System For Ponds - PondCare(r) Master Test Kit

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