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Can you add too much beneficial bacteria to your pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Can you add too much beneficial bacteria to your pond?

Q: Can you add too much beneficial bacteria to your pond?

Michelle – Norman, OK

A: They say too much of anything is bad. In this case, too much beneficial bacteria isn’t necessarily bad – but your pocketbook might be getting a little lighter.

The Cycle of Life

Beneficial bacteria, those debris-gobbling microorganisms found in our Nature’s Defense®, Muck Defense® and Seasonal Defense®, lives just like other living things. They’re born (well, most bacteria come into the world via a kind of cellular division called binary fission), they eat food that’s available to them (organic debris in your pond), they divide to perpetuate the population, and they die when their life cycle is complete.

Survival of the Fittest

When too many bacteria live in your water feature, they battle and compete for resources rather than growing big and healthy and reproducing. A la Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, the weaker organisms ultimately starve and die. The overall bacteria populations drop, and the pond owner then needs to buy more to replace what he or she has lost to keep up on managing the nutrient load. Those repopulation costs could certainly add up over a while!

Too Much of a Good Thing

Having too much beneficial bacteria in your pond is safe for plants and fish in most cases. But if your pond has a lot of organic buildup, a lot of beneficial bacteria and inadequate aeration, could be a recipe for disaster for your fish. As those bacteria launch their full-scale attack against all that detritus, they deplete the water of oxygen – which the fish needs to survive. An aeration system, like the PondAir™ or KoiAir™Aeration Systems, can help in cases like that by supplying the oxygen and circulating the water column.

The Right Dose

Our advice: For routine maintenance, dose your pond according to the instructions on Nature’s Defense®, Muck Defense® and Seasonal Defense® labels. After clean-outs or treatments, you can use a double dose of bacteria to kick-start the repopulation process, but no more than that. And, if you don’t have one installed already, consider adding aeration to your pond. All your pond’s inhabitants – from microorganism to macro organisms – will appreciate it!

Pond Talk: Have you ever added too much beneficial bacteria to your pond? If so, what were the repercussions?

Maintain a Healthy Balanced Pond - Pond Logic (r) Nature's Defense (r)

I’d like to build a pond but my soil doesn’t hold water. What types of liners are there? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I’d like to build a pond but my soil doesn’t hold water. What types of liners are there?

Q: I’d like to build a pond but my soil doesn’t hold water. What types of liners are there?

Jasper- Colrain, MA

A: If you have a natural- or clay bottom pond that doesn’t hold much – if any – water, a pond liner may be your only leak-proof option. But before we outline the different types of liners you can use, let’s first discuss what’s currently in your pond.

Many ponds will contain some water. If your pond is more than 25 percent full and you want to install a liner, we recommend you either drain the pond before laying the liner or plan to put two feet or more sand or soil on top of the liner once its installed.

If your pond is less than 25 percent full, you have several liner options, which we’ve outlined below.

Liner Types

Two types of liners are used in pond and reservoir applications: poly vinyl chloride (PVC) and reinforced polyethylene (RPE).

  • PVC is widely used in irrigation reservoirs, detention ponds and golf course ponds. PVC liner is very flexible and cost effective. When installing this type of liner, we recommend your pond’s slope to be 3:1 for cover soil to stay in place, and we suggest you cover the liner with 12 inches of sand or clean soil to protect it from degrading in the sun.
  • RPE is widely used for more durable applications for water activities or in areas that get a lot of wildlife visitors, like agriculture ponds, irrigation reservoirs and golf course ponds. As with the PVC, we suggest you cover the liner with one foot of sand or clean soil where liner could be exposed to sunlight.

Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) liners are mainly used in small water gardens. The synthetic rubber isn’t durable enough to handle large applications like your half-acre pond. Stick with PVC or RPE instead.

Liner Thickness

In addition to coming in different material types, liners come in different thicknesses. PVC comes in 20 and 30 millimeter thicknesses; RPE comes in 30, 36 and 45 millimeter thicknesses. The higher the number, the more durable and puncture-resistant the liner.

If you have livestock, deer or other wildlife coming in the pond, you’ll need at least a 30 millimeter PVC or RPE liner to withstand those hooves and claws.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

When you’re ready to order your liner, get the measurements of your pond, including its length, width and maximum depth. Plug those numbers into an online calculator, and you’ll find out what size liner you require.

Pond Talk: What are some tips you can share with readers for installing a large pond liner?

Eliminate The Guess Work - Pond Logic(r) ClearPAC(r) PLUS

Isn’t the Waterfall Enough? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Isn’t the Waterfall Enough?

Q: Isn’t the Waterfall Enough?

Staci – Bethel, VT

A: As your waterfall gurgles and churns gallons of water, it would certainly appear that your pond is getting plenty of aeration. All that action does, in fact, help with gas exchange and infuse oxygen into the water. But it isn’t always enough, especially if you run your waterfall pump for a short time during the day.

If a pond isn’t aerated enough, expect to see these telltale signs:

  • Algae Battles: Algae thrive in calm water that’s devoid of – and in need of – oxygen and beneficial bacteria. If you regularly fight algae blooms, that means your pond is out of balance and could use some additional oxygen and movement throughout the entire water column.
  • Oxygen-Starved Fish: Fish that need more O2 will hang out beneath your waterfall, where oxygen supplies are the densest. They may also be coming to the water surface, gulping and gasping for breaths of air because there’s not enough in their environment.
  • Too Many Fish: The general rule for a fish population in a pond is to allow 1 inch of adult fish per square foot of surface area. If you have too many fish, or your existing population has outgrown their space, aeration is critical to their health and well being.
  • Stagnant Water, Mosquito Boom: Is the water stagnant in certain areas of your pond? Are you suffering through a mosquito boom in your backyard? These little pests prefer to lay their eggs and raise their young in still water – so you might have created a perfect mosquito habitat!
  • Muck Accumulation: Decomposing plant matter and fish waste build up when the water is still and your biological filtration system – beneficial bacteria – breaks down. That muck feeds the algae blooms, which create more muck. It’s a vicious cycle that can be remedied with aeration.

Do any of these ring true? If so, your waterfall or stream is not providing enough aeration for your pond. One of our aeration systems can help. The Airmax® KoiAir™ Water Garden Aeration Kit is designed for medium and large water gardens and koi ponds that are up to 16,000 gallons. The Airmax® PondAir™ Water Garden Aeration Kit is designed for smaller water gardens up to 2,000 gallons. Both whisper-quiet systems can be run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing your finned pals and beneficial bacteria plenty of oxygen and water movement.

Pond Talk: When did you know it was time to upgrade your pond’s aeration system?

Breathe Life Into Your Water Garden - Airmax(r) KoiAir(t) Water Garden Aeration Kit

If PondClear™ and MuckAway™ are both beneficial bacteria products, what is the difference? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: If PondClear(tm) and MuckAway(tm) are both beneficial bacteria products, what is the difference?

Q: If PondClear™ and MuckAway™ are both beneficial bacteria products, what is the difference?

MaryBeth – Worthington, MA

A: In 1998, an American microbiologist worked out that the number of bacteria on Earth at that time was five million trillion trillion. This is the number 5 followed by thirty zeroes – an impossible number to comprehend.

That’s a lot of microorganisms.

With all those different types of bacteria, it’s safe to say that not all bacteria work the same way. PondClear™ and MuckAway™ both contain human- and animal-safe bacteria that will reduce nutrients and improve the overall health of your farm pond or lake, but they differ in the types of debris they target.

Suspended Debris

Pond Logic® PondClear™ focuses on debris that lives in the water column. The suspended material may cause your pond or lake to appear cloudy, but the beneficial microorganisms in PondClear™ disperse throughout the pond, consuming and digesting that organic matter, leaving you with clean, clear, odor-free water and a healthy ecosystem. It’s even safe to use in ponds and lakes that water horses, livestock, pets, birds and other wildlife, as well as those that contain game fish.

Sunken Debris

Pond Logic® MuckAway™ focuses on reducing sunken organic debris – also known as pond muck – that has accumulated along the beach, shoreline or pond bottom. The MuckAway™ pellets sink below the water’s surface and dissolve, releasing hungry beneficial bacteria that instantly begin consuming and digesting the settled debris. The all-natural muck buster is perfect for spot-treating trouble areas and controlling leeches by destroying their habitat. As with PondClear™, MuckAway™ is safe to use around horses, livestock, pets, birds, wildlife and in lakes that contain game fish.

A Perfect Pair

The bacteria in MuckAway™ and PondClear™ work well on their own, but they really take care of business when used together. Used as directed, this dynamic duo will begin working right away and deliver a clear, healthy, fresh-smelling pond within one month of use. If you have issues with water clarity, odor and muck, give these bacteria a try.

Pond Talk: How have beneficial bacteria improved the quality of your pond or lake?

Reduce Mucky Pond & Lake Bottoms - Pond Logic(r) MuckAway(tm)

I fill my pond with tap water. Should I be using water conditioner?| Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I fill my pond with tap water. Should I be using water conditioner?

Q: I fill my pond with tap water. Should I be using water conditioner?

Mary – Sioux City, SD

A: Yes. The water that flows from your hose may be “clean” enough for humans to drink and use for household purposes, but it actually contains a cornucopia of contaminants that can be deadly to fish.

What are some of those pollutants? Besides the naturally occurring ones, like heavy metals and nitrogen compounds in soil, water can contain human-originated contaminants, including bacteria and nitrates from human and animal waste, fertilizers and pesticides, industrial byproducts, and chemicals that actually disinfect and treat the water—like chlorine, chlorinates or chlorine dioxides, according to the EPA.

That’s where water conditioners come into play.

Pond Logic® Water Conditioner removes harmful chlorine and chloramines from your tap water and detoxifies contaminants and heavy metals that may harm your fish. But that’s not all. A conditioner also clears away ammonia generated by the nitrogen cycle and adds essential electrolytes to the water that increase oxygen uptake.

So every time you add city water or hard water to your pond, be sure to add a dose of water conditioner to eliminate those contaminants. In addition, add some Nature’s Defense® . The beneficial bacteria in the additive further reduce ammonia and digest dead organics in the pond, such as phosphates and nitrogen.

To ensure your water is safe for your finned pals, perform regular tests with a Master Test Kit. Designed for water garden and backyard ponds, the kit includes tests for pH, ammonia, nitrite and phosphate.

Pond Talk: Do you pay attention to the way tap water is chemically treated in your area?

Debris Lifts Away in Seconds - Pond Logic (r) Oxy-Lift™ Defense®

We had a heron last year. How do I stop it from coming back? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: We had a heron last year. How do I stop it from coming back?

Q: We had a heron last year. How do I stop it from coming back?

Vicki- Maryville, TN

A: The bad news is, once a heron knows food is served in your pond, it’ll be back for more. Chances are pretty good that it’ll stop by for a bite to eat when it flies through this year, so be prepared with these surefire heron-proofing devices to keep the sushi lover at bay.

  1. Use a Decoy – Your first plan of defense should be setting up a realistic Blue Heron Decoy. Heron are territorial by nature, and when one cruises overhead and sees that one of its feathered cousins (fake or real) has already claimed the area, it’ll keep going until it finds its own pond to fish. Move the decoy regularly to make it appear even more realistic. Another expert tip: Remove the decoy during mating season, which runs from March through late May or June.
  2. Shore Up the Perimeter – Heron refuse to land in water and hate stepping over wires, so we recommend Heron Stop as a second line of defense around the perimeter of your pond. The impassable barrier – made up of simply nylon line and stakes – prevents the bird from approaching and protects up to 40 feet of shoreline without blocking your view.
  3. Set Up a Motion Detector – For a final layer of protection, set up a ScareCrow® Motion-Activated Animal Deterrent. Thanks to a built-in infrared sensor that detects movement up to 35 feet in front of it and up to 45 feet wide, this heron-scaring tool chases off unwanted visitors with a surprise spray of water. It works both day and night to set boundaries around your water garden or koi pond. But be warned: It doesn’t know the difference between an animal and a human, so you might get wet!

Pond Talk: What tips do you have for keeping herons away from your pond?

Protect Your Prized Fish From Predators - Pond Logic(r) Blue Heron Decoy

Predator Control | Learning Center

There is nothing more frustrating that losing fish to a predator or stepping in bird droppings on your way to your own swimming hole. Knowing your enemy is the best way to determine what control methods you should put in place.

Are you using your pond for fishing, swimming or decorative purposes? Adding decoys will be in your best interest. Between the extra waste and increased weed growth, you know some animals can be problematic.

Don’t wait for a predator to find your pond before utilizing predator control devices. Once geese, swans or other wildlife have claimed your pond as their own, it is difficult to get them to vacate.

Make sure you know your enemy. For example, if you are trying to keep geese out of your pond, you will want to use a swan, alligator or coyote decoy. These animals are naturally unfriendly towards each other. If the geese see one of these decoys as they fly overhead, they are likely to skip over your pond in search for a less crowded water body.
Some animals, like the Blue Heron, compete against their own breed for pond real estate. A blue heron decoy will deter a real heron from landing due to their territorial nature. Just be aware that late April to May (sometimes early June) is mating season. If used too early, your blue heron decoy may attract a heron searching for a mate.
Move your decoys regularly. A stationary decoy will only work for so long before potential predators notice that something’s fishy. Move your decoy regularly to give it a more realistic effect.

Want to learn about specific predators? Check out this article Specific Predator Control.

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