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How does carbonate hardness affect my pond and fish? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

How does carbonate hardness affect my pond and fish?

Q: How does carbonate hardness affect my pond and fish?

Bob – Underhill, VT

A: Hard water, soft water – you’re probably familiar with these terms as they relate to the water flowing through your home’s plumbing. But the water in your pond or lake can be hard or soft, too, and it matters to your fish, particularly if you’re using algaecides or herbicides.

A Natural Buffer

The technical term for hard or soft water is “carbonate hardness” and, simply put, it refers to the amount of calcium and magnesium present in the water. The greater the water’s alkalizing mineral content, the harder the water is. Those microscopic minerals actually act as a buffer that offsets swings or dramatic changes in your pond or lake’s pH level caused by chemicals found in algaecides and herbicides.

Fish Friendly

The beneficiaries of the hard water’s buffering calcium and magnesium are your fish. Carbonate hardness in your pond or lake affects the sensitivity of certain fish—mainly trout, koi and goldfish—to the acidifying chemicals found in algaecides and herbicides. If you have high carbonate hardness, or hard water that contains more than 50 ppm of the minerals, the fish are less likely be affected compared to those fish in that are in soft water.

Measuring Minerals

If you’re curious about your water’s carbonate hardness level, or you plan to use an algaecide or herbicide in your lake that requires hardness to be at about 50 ppm, test your water with a Carbonate Hardness Test Strip.

The strips are easy to use. Simply open the pouch and dip it into the water for three seconds, remove it from the water, wait 20 seconds for the water to mix with the solution in the pouch, and remove the strip. To see what your water’s carbonate hardness is, match the color on the strip to the color block on the package.

Remember to perform this test each time before you treat your pond with herbicides or algaecides as the levels of calcium and magnesium in the water may fluctuate.

Pond Talk: How often do you test your lake for carbonate hardness?

Carbonate Hardness Test Strips - Test Your Water Hardness With Ease

I’m going to use my pond for skating over the winter. What do I need to do to store my aeration system? I’m going to use my pond for skating over the winter. What do I need to do to store my aeration system? | Pond & Lake Q&A

I’m going to use my pond for skating over the winter. What do I need to do to store my aeration system?

I’m going to use my pond for skating over the winter. What do I need to do to store my aeration system?
Wayne – Pontiac, MI

One of the great joys of a backyard pond is its four-season versatility. After three seasons of aesthetic satisfaction, there’s nothing better than strapping on a pair of skates and hitting the water when it hardens up for the winter. But before the temperatures drop, your aeration system demands some seasonal attention.

As a rule, it’s okay to keep your aeration system in operation until ice begins to form. When that day arrives, it’s time to shut the aerator off. At that point, you’ll want to put the compressor and its housing in a cool, dry place to avoid exposure to the elements, where dramatic weather changes can cause condensation that may cause damage. To accomplish this step, first disconnect the compressor from the airline. Be sure to cap the exposed end of the airline, leaving the remaining line buried, and diffuser plates in the pond.

When the aeration season is over, it’s a great time to perform regular maintenance. Consider changing your air filter. Choose a high quality replacement, like our Airmax® Silent Black Air Filter, and install new Airmax® Silent Air Replacement Air Filter Elements if your filter is in good enough shape for another season.

If you’ve noticed that your compressor is producing less air than it should, you may want to consider the use of a Maintenance Kit to boost the compressors performance or inspect the diffusers and replace any damaged diffuser membranes. If you’re still using air stones, it’s the perfect time to upgrade to Airmax® Membrane Diffuser Sticks, which are easy to install, and virtually maintenance free.

Happy skating.

Pond Talk: Do you run your aeration system throughout the winter or store it for the season?

Airmax® Aeration Air Filter

What is carbonate hardness and why does it matter? | Pond & Lake Q&A

What is carbonate hardness and why does it matter?

What is carbonate hardness and why does it matter?

Marlena – Richmond, MI

Carbonate hardness is a measure of the amount of calcium and magnesium present in water. As it turns out, these elements are vital to the health and well-being of certain fish – including trout, koi and goldfish – because of their ability to neutralize acids in water and stabilize healthy pH levels.

But why, you might logically ask, are acids a concern? You’ve just asked the sixty-four thousand dollar question. In the course of regular pond maintenance, it’s common to apply algaecides and herbicides. Often, those products contain chemicals that are acidic, and when they’re applied, they can cause pH fluctuations that certain fish are ill-equipped to handle. Thus, water that’s “hard” – or rich in calcium and magnesium – helps to minimize those fluctuations, protecting fish from harm. Other environmental factors, including runoff from fertilized lawns, can have a similar effect on pH, making it all the more important to ensure that your water maintains a safe level of carbonate hardness.

As a rule, algaecides and herbicides indicate a recommended level of carbonate hardness in pond water to ensure that their effects won’t harm fish. Low carbonate hardness is generally indicated when calcium and magnesium levels are below 50 parts per million (ppm). And fortunately, it’s easy to test your water to determine its carbonate hardness levels. With our Carbonate Hardness Test Strips, you can test your water prior to each application of algaecides and herbicides. If levels are above the range indicated on the product you’re planning to use, the pH of the water will be safe for fish even after application.

Pond Talk: Is water hardness a concern where your pond is located?

Carbonate Hardness Test Strips

How can I reduce algae growth in my pond? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

How can I reduce algae growth in my pond?

How can I reduce algae growth in my pond?
Ryan – Dallas, TX

As we progress through spring and into summer, it is important that you know how to treat algae growth should you experience an algae bloom. Persistent algae blooms will still flex their muscles even if you maintain a clean pond. There are really two approaches, a reactive approach-treating growth, and a proactive approach-treating the source.

Reactive Approach-Treating the Growth
You can provide a temporary relief from algae by treating these algae break-outs with an algaecide like Pond Logic Algae Defense or Cutrine Plus Granular. It is best to treat the algae first, making contact between the chemical and the target algae as much as possible and then raking out the debris once dead. If the algae mat is more then an inch or two thick, you may want to rake out some of the algae before treating. To apply use a Tank Sprayer or Hand Spreader to kill off the remaining algae particulate. Once the treated algae dies and browns out, remove the debris with an Airmax Lake Rake so it does not sink the bottom of the pond and decay, encouraging new growth.

When selecting the type algaecide to use you will want to observe any use restrictions the product may carry. Algae Defense and Cutrine Plus granular are a popular choice as they do not carry any water use restrictions. . These products do however contain chelated copper which will not harm the pond or most common gamefish but are not as friendly to koi, goldfish or trout if carbonate hardness is less than 50ppm. You can test your carbonate hardness before treatment with a carbonate hardness test kit. If these types of fish inhabit your pond and you are looking for another option you may want to consider using Hydrothol 191. This product does carry some water use restrictions however it does not contain copper.

Proactive Approach-Treating the Source
Proactively treating your pond before you actually experience algae blooms can save you time and money in the long run. Algae blooms tend to be a symptom of a much larger problem – a dirty pond. By using only algaecides for pond maintenance you allow your pond to continue to accumulate organic debris and fuel for bigger and more stubborn outbreaks.
If your water temperatures are already around 50 degrees or above you can enlist the help of beneficial bacteria and natural water treatments to reduce organic debris and bind phosphates. Pond Logic PondClear can be used to treat your entire water column and attack floating suspended organics that cause turbid water. Pond Logic MuckAway sinks to the bottom of your pond to eliminate pond muck. Pond Logic EcoBoost naturally binds the phosphates helps sink floating particulates to increase water clarity. EcoBoost also introduces trace minerals into your pond which improves the health of your game fish. Remember to also run your Airmax Aeration System. Aerating your pond will ensure a healthy and well balanced pond for your fish during times of added stress while treating for algae, as well as to promote beneficial bacteria like PondClear to continue to breakdown any debris you may have missed while raking.

Pond Talk: Have you already experienced an algae bloom in your pond this season?

Pond Logic Algae Defense

How do I control floating and bottom-growing algae in my lake? – Pond & Lake Q & A

No Algae Here!

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: How do I control floating and bottom-growing algae in my lake? – Tom in New York

A: Whether it’s floating or submerged, algae can turn a lake into a green mess in no time. It’s unsightly, it’s sometimes stinky and in extreme cases, it can cause a fish kill. The good news is that algae can be controlled no matter what time of year. It starts with controlling the population and ends with a long-term management plan.

Before we dive in, it’s important to understand the difference between algae and weeds. The term “algae” refers to a wide range of single and multi-celled organisms that live in the water and metabolize carbon dioxide into oxygen via photosynthesis, just like plants. They differ from plants or weeds in that they don’t have true leaves, roots or stems.

In lakes and ponds, the most common varieties of algae include: Green floating algae that creates a “pea soup” appearance; Chara or Stonewort, which are a bottom-growing, seaweed-looking type that can be mistaken for weeds, and string or filamentous algae, which are actually long strings of algae connected together.

Sometimes, pond and lake owners may mistake duckweed for floating algae, but if you look very closely, you’ll find that it’s actually duckweed or watermeal. Check out this blog entry to learn more about controlling this invasive weed.

Population Check

If your pond is coated in pea soup or the bottom is carpeted in Chara or string algae, you can knock back the population with a chemical herbicide like Algae Defense®. It provides quick results and it’s formulated to get a pond under control – especially during the hot summer months. Do not use if your pond or lake is stocked with koi or goldfish. If your pond has trout, check your carbonate hardness with a water hardness test kit, like the Laguna® Quick Dip Multi-Test Strips, and make sure the carbonate hardness is above 50 parts per million (ppm) before using Algae Defense®.

Long-Term Strategy

Algae Defense® by Pond Logic® will solve a crisis, but to keep your pond or lake looking clean and clear, you’ll need to be proactive and develop a plan to manage the algae. The most successful approach centers on cutting off the algae’s food supply – nutrients.

Nutrients can come from a wide variety of sources, like grass clippings, twigs, trees, fish waste, yard and farm fertilizers and runoff. As these nutrients break down, they produce ammonia, which triggers the nitrogen cycle. Nitrifying bacteria surround the ammonia, turning it into nitrites and then into nitrates (nutrients) – which then feed the algae.

So, how do you reduce the nutrients in your pond?
Try these tips:

  • Buffer before fertilizing: To prevent inadvertently fertilizing the algae, leave a buffer area around the pond. You can also try using organic or low-phosphorus fertilizers.
  • Aerate, aerate, aerate: Because that muck at the bottom of the pond feeds the algae, you should prevent the buildup with proper aeration.
  • Reduce the muck: Use natural bacteria like MuckAway™ by Pond Logic® to breakdown up to 5-inches of organic muck per year. You can also rake your pond using a Pond & Beach Rake to remove dead vegetation, leaves and other organics that will eventually decompose on the bottom.
  • Reduce sunlight: Like all photosynthetic organisms, algae requires sunlight to thrive. Adding pond dye can help provide shade. If possible, consider adding some non-invasive aquatic plants to your pond. The plants, which also consume nitrates, will also be a source of competition for food.
  • Add beneficial bacteria: You may also consider adding some additional beneficial bacteria, like PondClear™ by Pond Logic®, to your pond or lake. The bacteria gobble through nitrates, breaking down fish waste, leaves and other organics that accumulate in the pond, naturally improving the water clarity.
  • That green gunk can be controlled in your pond or lake. It just takes a little planning and some proactive management. When you see the results, it’ll be worth it!

    POND TALK: When was your worst algae bloom and how did you control it?

    Why do I need to test for carbonate hardness in my lake or pond? – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Testing for Carbonate Hardness

    Pond & Lake Q & A

    Q: Why do I need to test for carbonate hardness in my lake or pond? – Jose in Michigan

    A: A number of pond treatments, including some algae-control formulas and other herbicides, contain copper. In certain conditions, the copper chelate may break down and release copper ions, which could cause your pond or lake’s alkalinity to rise.

    If you use these treatments in a pond or lake stocked with trout, koi or goldfish that are sensitive to high alkalinity levels, you need to test your hardness regularly to ensure the health of your fish population.

    What is Carbonate Hardness?

    Carbonate hardness, or alkalinity, is the measure of carbonate and bicarbonate concentrations in your pond or lake’s water. Alkalinity is a measure of the ability of a solution to neutralize acid without changing the pH. It both controls and maintains water pH.

    Alkalinity is related to the amount of dissolved calcium, magnesium and other compounds in the water, so alkalinity tends to be higher in harder water. It naturally decreases over time through bacterial action that produces acidic compounds that combine with and reduce the alkalinity components.

    In a pond or lake, the alkalinity of the water is critical to the health of the fish – especially for trout, koi and goldfish. For these fish, the carbonate hardness of your pond or lake must exceed 50 ppm for the fish to survive, ideally falling between 50 ppm and 200 ppm.

    Testing 1, 2, 3

    When you’re treating your pond with a product like Pond Logic Algae Defense, be sure to use a water hardness test kit, like Laguna Quick Dip Multi-Test Strips.

    Carbonate hardness is measured in degrees (KH) or in parts per million (ppm). Because the water hardness test kit will give its results in degrees, you’ll need to convert your findings from KH to ppm to determine whether the levels in your lake are safe for your fish. Use this formula to figure it out: 1 KH = 17.848 ppm. So if your test kit reads 5 KH, you would multiply 5 times 17.848, which equals 89.24 ppm.

    POND TALK: How often do you test your pond or lake’s carbonate hardness level?

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