• Archives

  • Categories

  • Pages

How does ice form on a pond?

How does ice form on a pond?

How does ice form on a pond?
Jonathan – Denver, CO

You look forward to and enjoy the ice formations that appear on your pond each winter but have you ever wondered how it begins? Why is it that the ice in your pond expands when it freezes instead of shrinking and why does ice float?

Unlike those horror flashbacks of falling asleep in science class we’ll keep this as simple and interesting as possible. As the air cools off outside your water looses heat and becomes heavier. This cool and heavy water sinks to the bottom of the pond as the lighter warmer water rises to the top to cool. This process continues until the pond water reaches about 4 degrees Celsius or 39 degrees Fahrenheit and the water cools enough to freeze. Water is unique in the fact that as is it freezes its molecules form crystals that are spaced farther apart causing ice to expand and take up more space. Once the water in your pond begins to form these crystals and expand it actually becomes lighter than warmer unfrozen water and once again begins to rise to the surface of your pond where it begins to form a sheet of ice. If this all seems a bit too wordy or confusing to you visualize a glass of water with ice cubes in it. The spaced out, crystallized, water molecules of the ice cubes make them lighter than the water in the glass and cause them to float at the surface of the water. The water in the glass that is cooled by the ice cube (but not cold enough to freeze) becomes more dense and sinks to the bottom of the glass and the warmest water rises to the top where it is cooled by the floating ice cubes.

The layer of ice formed by this crystallized frozen water can become fairly strong as it becomes thicker. An inch of ice can be strong enough to hold a small animal without cracking. 3 inches of ice typically is enough to bear the weight of the average person and once a pond freezes to 6 to 8 inches thick it is ready to play host to a hockey game or hold up a snowmobile. Some have even taken their cars out on the ice! While we don’t recommend you give it a try, 8 to 12 inches of ice can support a slowly moving vehicle.

Pond Talk: What do you use your pond for in the winter? Do you skate? Ice fish?

What causes fog to form on the pond during the fall? | Ponds & Lakes Q & A

Are other fish like my plecostomus as hardy over the winter as my koi?What causes fog to form on the pond during the fall?
Bella – Forks, WA

There are few better moments than when you look out at your pond early in the morning to be greeted by a shimmering frost covered landscape accented by that light silvery veil of mist floating just over the surface of your pond. While it may be getting too cold to go out and physically enjoy the water now, your pond has seemingly endless ways to keep you entertained and inspired. So, how is it that this fog comes to rest over your water body and is it a precursor to potential problems or is it all just smoke and mirrors?

As we all know, the air that surrounds us holds moisture in the form of water vapor. While it is not normally visible to the human eye you can definitely feel it on those sticky humid days. If you have ever left a cold drink out on one of those particular days you have seen how this water vapor gathers on the outside of the glass giving the appearance that the beverage is sweating. This gathering, or condensation, of water vapor creates the appearance of fog over your pond in colder temperatures. In the morning, while the ambient air is cold, the evaporated water wicked from the warmer surface your pond condenses in that cool pocket of air to the point that you can see it. As time progresses the sun rises and the ambient air temperatures begin to rise essentially eliminating the cold air above your pond and the fog it creates. Rest assured that the presence of fog above the surface of your pond is not an omen of bad pond health or trouble to come. Enjoy the beautiful scenery created by this mysterious looking mist and take comfort in the fact that even in the cold seasons your pond never fails to perform.

Pond Talk: Have you captured any breathtaking pond pictures involving fog? Share them with other bloggers or on our Facebook page.

If I have a spring running into my pond do I still need aeration? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

If I have a spring running into my pond do I still need aeration?

If I have a spring running into my pond do I still need aeration?
Scott – Ripon, WI

Natural springs are an excellent source of water to fill and maintain a farm pond or lake. The volume of water and the rate at which it flows into your pond varies depending on the magnitude of the spring. While a higher magnitude spring can provide a great deal of water exchange they do not do much to help boost the oxygen level in your pond.

Great deals of pond owners believe their water body is spring-fed because the pond water is cold in the deeper areas of the pond. Pockets of cold water are more often caused by a lack of adequate water circulation which leads to water stratification in the water body. This allows a top layer of water which is heated and oxygenated by the surrounding atmosphere to stay at the top of the pond while the water at the bottom of the pond stays trapped, cold and devoid of oxygen. A couple great indicators that your pond is spring fed are that the water level tends to stay the same regardless of rainfall or lack thereof in your area, or if your pond has an outlet and is constantly flowing. Since spring water tends to be colder you will notice that spring fed ponds are cooler even when properly aerated but the entire water body will be cool, not just random pockets of water.

Properly aerating a water body requires not only circulation but the addition of oxygen that can be absorbed into the water column. For this reason, a spring fed pond is not a direct substitute for a proper aeration system. Aeration systems are designed to not only move water around your pond but to boost the dissolved oxygen content of the water column. Bottom plate systems like the Airmax Aeration Systems utilize air compressors and membranes to pump oxygen to the bottom of your pond and then break it down in to small enough bubbles that are absorbed into the water column. This process also forces the water above the plate towards the surface of the pond causing a mushrooming effect that circulates the water body. These type of systems can be used year round. Fountains can also be used to aerate water bodies. Since they draw from the surface of the pond, fountains are usually better suited for ponds 6’ deep and shallower while bottom plates systems work well in deeper ponds. Fountains pump water from the pond and spray it into the air in fine droplets that absorb oxygen and then crash back into the pond. With this principle in mind you might be able to guess that a fountain that sprays a thicker or solid stream of water adds less oxygen to the pond than one that has a finer spray pattern. While effective in shallow water bodies, these systems are best used only for summer aeration.

Almost every pond can benefit from aeration as it not only provides oxygen for fish but also promotes faster muck digestion and an overall cleaner pond. If you have an aeration system in your pond but are unsure if it is properly aerated you can take temperature readings in multiple depths and areas of your pond and record any extreme variations which indicate a lack of circulation from your aeration system.

Pond Talk: Pond owners implement natural springs to create interesting water features in their ponds in the form of artesian wells and water leveling features which you can find online. Have you found a unique way to take advantage of your spring fed pond?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

What benefits are there for aeration during the winter? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

What benefits are there for aeration during the winter?

What benefits are there for aerating during the winter?
Drew – Galata, MT

One of the best features of an aeration system is its ability to perform all season long. Your aeration system will play a major role in breaking down the leaves and debris that made its way into the pond during the fall which will promote a healthier pond throughout the winter and easier maintenance come spring. You’ve seen the benefits of aeration all summer long but what does your aeration system have to offer in the winter?

Even in cooler temperatures an aeration system will continue to circulate the contents of your pond and infuse oxygen into the water column. The cooler water will be able to hold more oxygen which is great for the overall health of the pond and its inhabitants. As the surface water cools in the pond it will start to sink towards the ponds bottom. This shift in water can potentially break the thermocline in your pond and force harmful water from the bottom of the pond to mix into the water column trapping your fish. This is referred to as a turnover and they can happen both in warm and cold temperatures in ponds that are not being aerated. You’ve also learned from our previous blogs that running your aeration system in the winter will keep holes open in the ice that allow an escape for toxic gasses and a hole for fresh air to enter the pond. You can also move your plates closer to the shoreline of your pond to keep water open and available for wildlife to drink and birds to swim. Encouraging wildlife to visit your yard is always nice in a season where your yard can sometimes seem bland and uneventful.

Although aeration is a simple and effective way to maintain your pond throughout the winter there are a couple scenarios that warrant a winter break. If you use your pond to skate or ice fish you will not want to run your aeration system as the constant friction not only opens holes in the ice above the plates but will also thin the ice in other areas.

If you do not yet have an aeration system installed in your pond, but would like to install one before the winter, it is best to have your aerator introduced before the ice begins to form. If your pond is not already aerated it is important that you run the system in short increments at first to prevent your own man-made turnover. Start by running it for about 30 minutes the day you install it and double the run time each day after. If you follow this method you should be running your aerator 1 hour the 2nd day, 2 hours the next, 4 hours on the 4th day and should be running the aeration system continuously by the end of the week. Browse over to our Airmax Aeration page for help selecting an aeration system that fits your pond. If you need additional help or have questions you can also feel free to contact one of our Pond Guys or Gals or post a comment on our blog page.

Pond Talk: Do you notice a healthier pond in the spring as a result of running your aeration system in the winter?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

What happens to the frogs and toads during the winter? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

What happens to the frogs and toads during the winter?
Dustin – Huntsville, UT

As the temperatures continue to drop you will begin to notice that your pond, once full of life, is now starting to look like abandoned arctic tundra. Gone are the cool summer nights spent on your patio and deck watching fireflies tastefully illuminate your lawn while being serenaded by a choir of frogs and crickets.

While you are inside cuddled under blankets for the season where do your web-footed friends spend their winter? The winter retreat of choice will depend on the type of frog you have hanging around your pond. You will commonly find either some variety of frog frequenting the shallow areas or shoreline of your pond and toads farther inland rummaging about your gardens or front lawn. Both are very similar but can usually be identified by a few visual characteristics. Frogs tend to have smooth glossy skin that feels slimy to the touch while toads have dry lumpy skin. The eyes of a frog tend to protrude further from its head than those of a toad. A toad will usually have poison sacks located behind their eyes which help prevent them from becoming a snack for larger predators.

As frogs are cold blooded they will begin to slow down as their body temperatures drop. When winter arrives they will go into a state of dormancy and wait out the cold weather. The hibernation strategy varies between species of frogs. Toads tend to bury themselves in leaves or mud while frogs can pass the winter at the bottom of your pond below the ice. Frogs produce a type of glucose in their bodies that will allow them to freeze solid and still be able to survive. As the temperatures begin to rise in the spring their hearts will begin to beat again and they will begin to thaw. When they are once again mobile they will actively search for a place to mate.

Since frogs have an arsenal of survival skills to get them through the winter there is not much you have to do to help them survive the cooler months. Instead focus on keeping yourself warm and healthy and try your best to enjoy the snow and beautiful landscapes this winter brings

POND TALK: Do frogs frequent your pond? How do they adapt to the changing season in your area?

How do I know if I have proper aeration? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Don’t Under Aerate
How do I know if I have proper aeration? Felipe – Moscow, ID

The bigger the better when it comes to aeration.

When purchasing your aeration system you were told it will promote a clean, healthy pond with less algae and clear water. With more and more customers installing aeration systems in their ponds now may be a good time to discuss some of the assumptions and mistakes made when choosing an aeration system.

An aeration system can make the difference when it comes to your pond’s health, so selecting the right system can be very important.  In the long-run there is no free lunch.  If you try to “Make Do” with a smaller aeration system than what is recommend, it may come back to haunt you.  When an aeration system is sized correctly it will eliminate any thermoclines (thermoclines are a separation of water based on temperature). Have you ever swam in your pond and felt very cold water at your feet? Most pond owners believe this is a spring, when in reality, it’s caused by a thermocline. Proper aeration improves water quality, breaks down organic debris (muck) and improves the overall ecosystem in your pond.  Aeration works by circulating the entire pond’s water column from top to bottom.  The tiny bubbles created by the diffuser forces cool oxygen deprived water from the bottom depths all the way to the pond’s surface. This circulation drives oxygen to the bottom of the pond allowing “good” bacteria to digest muck, reducing nutrients and increase the overall dissolved oxygen in the pond.  If the system is undersized it will not create uniform circulation and simply pump small amounts of the cool nutrient-rich water from the bottom of your pond to the top.  This is the equivalent of adding fertilizer to your pond.  This can result in additional algae growth, odors and even fish kills.  This can all be especially true during the warmer months of the year.

If you currently have an aeration system running and you are not sure if it is sized correctly, there is an easy way to tell with a thermometer and long string.  You will use the string to extend the reach of the thermometer taking temperature readings every 24 inches, letting the thermometer rest long enough to get the true temperature reading at your desired depth.  Take readings every 24 inches until you reach the bottom of your pond. If there is more then a few degrees difference in any of your temperature readings you are more then likely under aerating your pond.

If you haven’t purchased an aeration system yet take advantage of The Pond Guys and Gals, we offer free aeration mapping and technical support.

Don’t Under Aerate

Do I Need To Treat My Pond Before Swimming? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Do I Need To Treat My Pond Before Swimming?
Do I Need To Treat My Pond Before Swimming? Alex – McCrory, AR

Stink or Swim

With summer quickly approaching pond guys and gals everywhere are getting ready to take the plunge into their ponds to beat the heat. Now that your water temps are on the rise it is a great time to whip your pond into shape for the swimming season to make sure you’re not stuck in the muck all season long.

Fans of our blogs already know, the best way to keep your pond clear and healthy all season long is to use beneficial bacteria like PondClear, Pond Dye, and EcoBoost in tandem with an Aeration System. If you are a new pond owner, or have just found our blog page, click HERE to learn more about these products and how they improve the quality of your pond.

There is nothing worse than diving into your pond only to land in a layer of muck. If you have an accumulation of muck around your beach areas or by your dock, use some MuckAway bacteria tablets to spot treat these troublesome areas. Keeping your pond clean not only prevents you from turning into a human lawn dart, it will help prevent unflattering skin irritations and illnesses. Conditions, like swimmer’s itch, are caused by flatworms larvae typically introduced into your pond by waterfowl. Swimmer’s ear is an irritation of the inner ear that occurs when water gets trapped inside your ear. While these conditions occasionally occur, they are avoidable. Keep the number of ducks and birds that frequent your pond to a minimum by using Decoys, especially when it gets closer to swimming season and try to rinse off thoroughly after a nice swim in your pond.

If you are worried about the overall quality of your pond water, you can get it tested through your local health department, where they can check for e-coli and other contaminants. There is no reason to feel uncomfortable in your own pond. While regular maintenance typically results in a perfectly swim-able pond, it never hurts to get a second opinion. Regardless, use your bacteria, aerate the pond, and enjoy another great summer at home in your back yard.

Pond Talk: Which products do you use to keep your pond clean and clear throughout the summer? Have you ever tested your pond water?

Got Muck? Use Muck Away® - Eats up to 5 inches of muck per year!

Why it’s so special to own a large pond or lake – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of a Large Pond

Pond & Lake Q & A

Why it’s so special to own a pond or lake.

A: Lakes and farm ponds make wonderful additions to any property. If you have the space and the resources, a large body of water creates an instant habitat for wildlife, and a fun place for you and your family! Here are just a few benefits of digging a large pond or lake:

Gives you a nice place to sit and relax: Imagine lounging in a hammock alongside your pond, swaying in the cool breeze. Picture yourself enjoying a cool glass of lemonade while sitting on your dock and watching your fountain cast rainbows against a blue sky.There is a reason why folks vacation at their favorite lake house! You could have one of your own in your back yard.

Creates a wildlife habitat: If you like the great outdoors and all the critters in it, you’ll appreciate the variety of wildlife a lake or large pond will bring. Animals of all sorts gravitate toward water. Depending on where you live, you can expect to see wild birds and water fowl, raccoons, turtles, frogs, butterflies and dragonflies, not to mention all the underwater life. These animals will call the pond and your property home, making it an entertaining ecosystem for your family and friends.

Becomes your own fishing pond: If you’re a fishing enthusiast, you probably know that there are few things better than fishing your own stocked pond. You’d be able to set up habitats for them, feed them and monitor their behavior. Rather than getting up before dawn and driving to a favorite fishing hole, you can pull on your waders and head out to your own pond whenever the fish are biting!

Provides water fun for everyone: From paddle boating and swimming in the summer to ice skating and ice fishing in the winter, a pond or lake will be sure to satisfy just about any outdoor adventure. But remember to always play safe, making sure you supervise children at all times and have a life ring and rope nearby.

Stores water for farm animals, irrigation: A more practical benefit, some property owners keep a pond to water their horses, sheep, goats and cattle. It’s an accessible watering hole for them, as well as a habitat for wild animals. Others may use the lake or pond to hold water for crop or garden irrigation during the dry months of the year.

Small lakes or farms ponds make a useful and fun addition to any property. They benefit the local ecosystem, they provide a fun and relaxing place to gather with family and friends, and they offer practical benefits, too. It’s definitely something to consider!

POND TALK: What are your favorite things about your pond or lake?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 123 other followers