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What is supercooling? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: What is supercooling??

Q: What is supercooling?

Aloma, Warroad, MN

A: Supercooling is uncommon, but it can occur in lakes and ponds, particularly in the northern states. Here’s what you need to know about it and how to prevent it from happening.

In the winter time water stratifies in pond and lakes without proper aeration when surface temperatures are extremely cold, creating what’s called a thermocline. A thermocline happens as warmer water about 39°F or so – sinks to the bottom, while colder water about 32°F or so – rises to the top. Very little mixing of the layers occurs, particularly in calm weather.

Supercooling could become an issue if you’re running a surface aeration system in shallow ponds with fish. The fish prefer to stay on the bottom of the pond in the warmer pockets of water during the winter. They’re in winter-hibernation mode, and all they want to do is be in a stress-free spot until spring.

As the aerator circulates the warmer water with the cooler water at the surface, the overall temperature could drop. In extreme cases when the temperatures are well below 0°F, the water temperature can actually drop below its freezing point without becoming a solid – a rare process known as supercooling.

If the water gets too cold, your fish have nowhere warm to go. Living without their warm hangout spot could compromise their oxygen supply and immune systems, making them vulnerable to parasites and diseases.

The best way to deliver oxygen to your fish is with a bottom diffused aerator, like an Airmax® Aeration System. You can keep it running without creating an inhospitable environment for your finned friends by simply moving your diffuser plates closer to the surface or turning half of them off.

If you relocate the diffuser plates to a spot that’s about half the depth of your pond or run only 50 percent of them, a pocket of warm water will remain for your fish at the bottom. You’ll continue pumping oxygen into the water and keeping a hole in the ice for gas exchange without having to worry about freezing your fish.

Pond Talk: What steps do you take to prevent over cooling or supercooling your pond?

Call (866) POND-HELP - Free Aerial Aeration Mapping Service

For winter, do I need to move my diffusers, or can I just close the valves?| Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: For winter, do I need to move my diffusers, or can I just close the valves?

Q: For winter, do I need to move my diffusers, or can I just close the valves?

Chuck- Tipton, IN

A: Diffusers – and the oxygen they pump into your pond or lake – ensure the health and well being of your fish. Year-round aeration circulates the water column and fills the pond with oxygen. If your pond freezes over during the cold months of the year, an aeration system will can also help maintain a hole in the ice to allow harmful gases to escape.

Move Your Diffusers:

As part of your winter-prep chores, you will need to move the diffuser plates to a shallower spot in your pond or lake. Why? Give your fish a place to safely overwinter in deeper, warmer water. When the plates are closer to the surface, they will also help to keep a hole open in the ice.

Close the Valves:

In addition to relocating your diffuser plates, you can also close about 50 percent of the valves (unless you have the PS10 or LS10 models of Airmax® Aeration Systems, in which case you leave the valve open). You won’t be mixing as much water, but you will be adding enough oxygen to the pond and allowing for gas exchange at the surface.

Stay Safe:

Because you’re aerating your pond over the winter, consider putting up a “Thin Ice” sign near the shoreline. Air pockets form in ice sheets created on aerated ponds, and they make the surface unsound and not safe to walk or skate on. Warn would-be hockey players and figure skaters of the danger before they get into trouble.

While you’re thinking about safety, make sure you have a Life Ring, first aid kit and blanket stowed lakeside in a weatherproof bin just in case someone does fall through the ice.

Pond Talk: How spectacular are the fall colors around your pond or lake right now?

Aerate Your Pond in All Seasons - Airmax (r) Pond Series (t) Aeration Systems

I see pond nets for little ponds, but how do I stop leaves from getting into my 1-acre pond?| Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I see pond nets for little ponds, but how do I stop leaves from getting into my 1-acre pond?

Q: I see pond nets for little ponds, but how do I stop leaves from getting into my 1-acre pond?

Casey- Wichita, KS

A: Pond netting works great to prevent blowing leaves and debris from landing in small water features, but they’re not practical – or possible, really – for large ponds and lakes like yours.

Can you imagine what it would take to install a supersized 1-acre pond net? It would be like you and 20 of your friends trying to cover Fenway Park’s field in rain delay tarp while maneuvering tiny tricycles. Entertaining for those watching, but almost impossible for those installing!

Instead, we suggest a three-pronged approach that involves a little manual labor, some beneficial bacteria and a lot of aeration – but no tricycles.

Shoreline Cleanup

The first step is to manually remove fallen leaves and debris from the shoreline with a tool like a Pond & Beach Rake or PondSkim™ Debris Skimmer. When you rake up or skim all that decomposing material and dump it in your compost pile away from your pond, you’re preventing it from decomposing in the water, where it turns into algae-feeding muck.

Bombard with Bacteria

To break down the organic material that does find its way into your pond, use muck-busting beneficial bacteria like those found in Pond Logic® MuckAway™. The pellets can be used throughout the fall, as long as water temperatures are above 50° Fahrenheit. They’ll sink to the bottom and instantly begin to break down debris and improve water clarity.

Aerate and Oxygenate

An aeration system, like the Airmax® Aeration System, removes dangerous gases like ammonia while delivering oxygen to your fish and muck-eating beneficial bacteria. It churns and turns over the water column, circulating that oxygen and keeping your pond or lake healthy. And if your pond freezes over in the winter, your aeration system can create an air hole in the ice for gas exchange.

They may not make 1-acre nets, but you can keep those blowing leaves managed with these three easy tips. Good luck!

Pond Talk: How do you prevent leaves and debris from landing in your large pond or lake?

Remove Unwanted Leaves This Fall - The Pond Guy (r) Pond & Beach Rake

I’m buying property with a half-acre pond. What do I need to know?| Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I’m buying property with a half-acre pond. What do I need to know?

Q: I’m buying property with a half-acre pond. What do I need to know?

Vernon- Tolono, IL

A: A pond is a great resource to have – and it’s even better when it’s filled with clean water and supporting a thriving ecosystem. To keep it functional and healthy, you’ll need to do a few clean-up and maintenance chores and do a little research to ensure you’re complying with the law. Here’s what we recommend.

Check Regulations

While you’re waiting for move-in day, contact your city, county and state government offices for information about chemical use and pond/pool safety regulations. For instance, depending where you live, you may not be able to use some algaecides or herbicides, or you may need to install a fence around your pond to prevent kids or pets from falling in.

Install Safety Gear

Speaking of safety, you should also make sure safety gear, like a Life Ring, rope and first-aid kit, are installed in a conspicuous and accessible place near the pond in case of emergency. You never know when you’ll need it, so it’s better to be safe than sorry!

Assess Aeration

Does your new pond have an aeration system installed, does it work, and is it included in the sale of the property? An aeration system, which includes a diffuser, compressor and airline, is an important piece of equipment to have. It circulates the water column and delivers life-giving oxygen to your pond’s inhabitants. If the property includes an aerator, make sure it works; if not, consider investing in one. Measure the length, width and depth of your pond and call 866-POND-HELP to select the right system for your pond.

Power to the Pond

Your aeration system will need to be plugged in, so does your pond have electricity? What voltage is it set up for? If you plan on buying a new aeration system, Airmax® models come in both 115 volt and 220 volt.

Meet Your Neighbors

Before you apply any pond-care products to your pond, find out what kinds of critters live in it. Certain types of fish, including trout, carp and koi, will affect the way you use chemicals in your pond.

Manicure Weeds

If your pond hasn’t been tended in a while and the weeds have taken over, you’ll need to regain control by identifying the unwanted vegetation, killing and removing it. Start by using a Weed Control Guide or email a photo to weedid@thepondguy.com to help you identify the plants and select the right products for the job. Once the weeds are dead, mechanically remove them from the water with a Pond & Beach Rake so that they don’t become algae fertilizer next spring.

Start Maintenance Routine

Your last to-do item: Start a maintenance routine using a series of beneficial bacteria products like those found in the Pond Logic® ClearPAC® PLUS seasonal care package. The microorganisms will break down pond muck buildup and keep the water clean and clear all year long.

Pond Talk: What advice can you share with this new pond owner?

Be Prepared For Any Senario All Year - Taylor Made Life Rings

I can’t get chemicals in my state, so how do I get rid of my weeds? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I can’t get chemicals in my state, so how do I get rid of my weeds?

Q: I can’t get chemicals in my state, so how do I get rid of my weeds?

Wayne- Ocean Shores, WA

A: Some states – like California, Washington, Maine, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, among others – regulate the use of chemicals more so than others. If you live in one of these places, and need to control weeds or algae growth around your lake or pond, your choices are limited if you want to avoid fines and protect your local ecosystem.

But don’t worry. You still have options! Here are some ways you can manage pesky weeds and algae while keeping the regulators (and the environment) happy.

  • Mechanical Removal: Use a variety of pond tools to control the growth in your pond or lake. Cut down weeds with a Weed Cutter or Razer™ and rake them out with a weed rake, like the Jenlis Weed Raker™. If you have floating algae, you can also skim it away with a pond skimmer. This mechanical removal will take some work, but they are chemical-free ways to manage weeds and algae.
  • Limit Sunlight: Weeds and algae use sunlight to flourish, so another chemical-free way to tamp down growth is to add pond dye to the water. Available in liquid concentrate and in convenient packet formulas, Pond Dye shades your pond, preventing foliage from thriving.
  • Limit Nutrients: Plants need nutrients to grow, so adding some all natural beneficial bacteria can help. The microorganisms will eat through decomposing organics, fish waste and other plant-feeding fodder. We recommend using ClearPAC® PLUS without Algae Defense®, which contains which contains PondClear™, MuckAway™ and EcoBoost™, along with some pond dye.
  • Aerate 24/7: If you don’t already, keep your Airmax® Pond Series™ Aeration System up and running 24/7. Doing so will circulate the water column and deliver oxygen to the beneficial bacteria as they gobble through the nutrients. Aeration will also promote the growth and reproduction of those beneficial microorganisms.
  • Hire a Professional: If you’ve tried the non-chemical methods and aren’t satisfied with the result, a final option is to hire a licensed applicator in your area that has the proper permits to purchase, transport and apply chemical herbicides and algaecides.

Like them or not, rules and regulations controlling the use of chemicals are in place for a reason. Use common sense and obey the federal, state and local edicts. You have non-chemical options available, so try them out. You have nothing to lose – except a hefty fine!

Pond Talk: What are some other ways to control weeds and algae naturally?

Remove Unwanted Weeds & Muck Build Up  - The Pond Guy(r) Pond and Beach Rake

My grandkids hate going into the water by our beach because of the muck. What can I do to get rid of it?– Ponds & Lakes Q & A

Q: My grandkids hate going into the water by our beach because of the muck. What can I do to get rid of it?

Q: My grandkids hate going into the water by our beach because of the muck. What can I do to get rid of it?

Gerhard – Dallas, TX

A: There are few things nastier than stepping into a cool, refreshing lake on a hot summer day – only to feel that slimy goo squish between your toes and suction off your favorite flip-flops.

Pond muck is gross, it’s smelly and it’s no fun. That yucky muck is made up of fish waste, decaying plants and other organic materials that accumulate at the bottom of your pond. Over time, the sludge can build to be inches or more thick. Don’t worry: Get rid of it with a one-two punch of beneficial bacteria and aeration.

Bacteria to the Rescue

Microorganisms are busy little critters. Billions of beneficial bacteria already live in your pond and work hard to break down pond muck, but it sounds like they’re overworked and outnumbered. You can boost their numbers with regular doses of MuckAway™. The pelleted product sinks to the bottom – where you need it most – and starts working to gobble through the muck. MuckAway™ works well in areas that experience high water flow, like canals, beaches and lakefront property.

When applied consistently once every two weeks when water temperatures are above 50º F and used with a bottom-diffused aeration system, MuckAway™ can break down up to 5 inches of pond muck per year. That’s some serious sludge digestion! It may not solve your grandkids’ yucky muck dilemma this year, but you’ll definitely see an improvement by this time next year.

Circulate and Aerate

Like every living creature on earth, the beneficial bacteria in your lake needs oxygen to thrive, and that’s where aeration and circulation come into play.

Aeration prevents thermocline, which is when the water column stagnates and forms layers. The upper portion of the body of water that’s exposed to air contains oxygen while the deeper areas lack oxygen – which is where your beneficial bacteria live (or are struggling to survive!). Implementing an Airmax® Aeration System will circulate the contents of your pond and infuse the entire water column with oxygen. This influx in oxygen helps beneficial bacteria flourish and feed on all that accumulated organic debris.

Short-Term Solution

For your grandkids’ enjoyment on the beach this summer, you can remove some of the pond muck with a Pond & Beach Rake and a bucket or wheelbarrow. But definitely make plans to treat your beach area with MuckAway™ and install an aeration system so you’re all ready for fun in the sun next year.

Pond Talk: If you’ve manually removed muck from your pond or lake, what do you do with it?

Naturally Eliminate Pond Muck - Pond Logic® MuckAway™

Isn’t my fountain enough aeration for my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Isn’t my fountain enough aeration for my pond?

Q: Isn’t my fountain enough aeration for my pond?

Kelly – Harrisville, WV

A: Fountains deserve a lot of love. As they launch water into the air, they add dramatic movement and visual appeal to the landscape. The sound of stirring water makes anyone within earshot relaxed and tranquil. Fountains add a good deal of oxygen to the pond as the tiny droplets make contact with the air and fall back into the pond. But do they provide enough aeration? It all depends on your pond’s depth.

More Than 6 Feet Deep…

If your pond is more than 6 feet deep, your fountain does not provide enough aeration. Why? The best way to aerate the pond is to circulate the entire body of water at the same time. Because a fountain draws water from the top of the water column only, the water deeper than the 6-foot mark remains untouched – and oxygen deprived.

An aeration system, like the Pond Series™ Aeration System, will pump air to the diffuser plate positioned at the bottom of the pond. The rising bubbles then lift and aerate the water from the bottom up, ensuring that the entire pond is circulated and oxygenated.

Less Than 6 Feet Deep…

If your pond is less than 6 feet deep, your fountain is good to go. Because enough oxygen is exchanged at the pond’s surface, you don’t need additional aeration – but you do need to worry about the fountain’s spray pattern and horsepower.

The most effective shape for aeration is the “V” shape or “Classic” pattern, like the one included in the AquaStream™ fountain. It does the job simply and effectively. The more decorative the spray pattern, the less likely it is to adequately aerate your pond because more energy is spent on creating the patterns than on moving the water.

As for horsepower, when using a fountain for aeration purposes, go with a 1.5 HP motor per acre. Remember that depending on your pond’s size and shape, you may need more than one fountain to properly aerate. If you’re using a fountain for decoration only, you can go with a 1 HP per acre motor instead.

Weighing the Cost

A fountain can be costly to operate, but an aeration system – which has lower operating costs when compared to a fountain running 24/7 – is an affordable alternative. Whichever method you choose, don’t go without aeration, because that could cost you more in the long run!

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite fountain? What makes it stand out to you?

For Optimal Aeration - Airmax® Pond Series™ Aeration Systems

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