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What causes pond odor? | Farm Ponds & Lakes Q&A

.What causes pond odor?

What causes pond odor?
Andy – Seattle, WA

When your pond starts to smell like old socks, there’s a very good chance that (a) it’s not well aerated; and (b) it’s full of decaying debris. The third alternative – that your pond is filled with dirty socks – is a long shot, so we won’t even bother to address it. But stagnant, debris filled ponds? We’ve got the answers you need.

First, and most importantly, we’ll turn to aeration. With the properly sized aeration system – our Airmax Aeration Systems are available in a range of options – the water in your pond circulates several times a day. The process of circulation helps to remove the gases produced by decomposing debris. Because those gases are responsible for the vast majority of the foul odors associated with stagnant ponds, this first step is vitally important – and extremely effective.

To complete the job, however, you’ll need to remove and/or break down the odor-producing debris. To accomplish that job, nothing is more effective than our PondLogic® PondClear and PondLogic® MuckAway. Comprised of beneficial, environmentally friendly bacteria, PondClear removes organics and excess nutrients from pond water, helping to stop foul odors before they start. As an added benefit, PondClear improves water clarity and enhances your pond’s overall health.

Like PondClear, MuckAway introduces environmentally friendly bacteria to your pond. The bacteria then gets to work on the muck at the bottom of your pond or lakefront, reducing it by as much as 5” per year. In the process of breaking muck down, MuckAway also eliminates odor-causing gases to keep your pond looking – and smelling – the way it should.

Pond Talk: Do you have issues with pond odor in your pond?

Pond Logic® PondClear™

Help! There are a bunch of dead fish in my pond, what happened? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

Why do frogs/toads make so much noise?

Help! There are a bunch of dead fish in my pond, what happened?
Jason – Hastings, NE

The arrival of spring is an exciting time for pond owners. The weather is warming up, the sun is shining and the ice is melting away from the surface of your pond. Some pond owners however, find all of their fish floating dead at the water’s surface. While experiencing a winter fish kill is not the best way to start the season if you understand the cause you can prevent future occurrences.

Your pond is constantly absorbing and releasing air. As wind blows across the surface of the pond water ripples absorb oxygen into the water column. Decomposing organic debris at the bottom of the pond release a gas that floats to the surface of the pond where it is released into the atmosphere.

The layer of ice that forms over your pond blocks air exchange locking fresh oxygen out of the pond and harmful gas from decomposition in. Depending on the size of the pond and the amount of decomposing debris available, your fish can be overwhelmed and killed by the lack of fresh air.

Fish kills can also happen in the summer. Summer fish kills are typically caused by pond turnovers due to lack of proper aeration. The top layer of water in your pond carries more oxygen and reacts faster to temperature changes due to its exposure to the air. The bottom of your pond will tend to contain less oxygen, light and will be slower to warm up throughout the summer. These layers of water are referred to as stratification and are divided by thermoclines. If you have ever swam in your pond you may have noticed that your feet are colder than your chest as they break the thermocline in the water column. Your fish will find a happy medium in the water column where there is adequate oxygen and warmth.

Particular rainy or windy days can cause the thermocline in your pond to break. The bottom layer of water in your pond will mix together with the healthier top layer of water. As your fish have nowhere to flee to, they are trapped in the newly mixed pond water which can severely stress and even kill your fish.
Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to prevent winter and summer fish kills. An Bottom Diffused Aeration System like the Airmax® AM Series pumps fresh air to the bottom of your pond and breaks it into fine bubbles that can be absorbed into the water column. As the air bubbles rise through the water column they also circulate the water body making sure that your pond is evenly oxygenated and warmed. An abundance of oxygen promotes the presence of beneficial aerobic bacteria which will help break down organic waste faster and without the egg-like odor produced by the slow anaerobic bacteria in water that lacks oxygen. Running an aeration system in the winter can also eliminate your winter fish kills as the constant bubbling at the surface of your pond prevents ice formation and quickly breaks up layers of ice.

To further aid in your fish kill prevention, you will want to remove as much organic debris from the bottom of the pond as possible. Beneficial Bacteria products like PondClear™and MuckAway™ in tandem with EcoBoost™ will naturally digest gas and algae causing muck without having to chemically treat your pond. Cut down and drag away any dead cattail reeds and leaves with a Weed Cutter and Rake so that they are not left to decompose. The Pond Logic ClearPAC® Plus combines all the beneficial bacteria products you need along with pond dye and an option algaecide to eliminate the guesswork of selecting the proper pond care products.

Pond Talk: Did you find any surprises under the ice in your pond this spring? What are you doing to resolve the issue?

Aeration

I have an aeration system but the pond is frozen over, am I still getting aeration? | Pond & Lakes Q & A

I have an aeration system but the pond is frozen over, am I still getting aeration?

I have an aeration system but the pond is frozen over, am I still getting aeration?
Jenni – Monticello, NY

Even if you’ve been running your aeration system diligently throughout the winter to protect your fish, it is still possible for your pond freeze over. It is not uncommon for the cold weather to close up the holes created by your aeration system during a streak of particularly frigid winter days. Your pond is able to hold a substantial amount of oxygen which acts as a buffer for days where your pond is getting less than ideal air exchange. Even when frozen, your aeration system will continue to circulate and add oxygen to the water column. Typically a sunny or warmer day will provide the assistance your aeration system needs to re-establish ventilation holes in the ice and release any harmful gas that accumulated while the pond was frozen over.

If your pond stays frozen over for more than a week or two at a time you may want to consider using an ice auger to drill a couple holes in the ice around the perimeter of your pond. Do not venture out towards the center as your aeration system is constantly bubbling and weakening the ice. Never try to pound, crack or break through the ice to open a hole for air exchange as it will send pressure waves throughout the pond disrupting and possibly killing your fish. Positioning your aeration plates in shallower areas of your pond will make it easier for the surface water above the plate to remain open due to increased water movement reaching the pond’s surface.

If your pond still hasn’t thawed out with the help of warm weather, sunshine and shallow plate placement, your aeration system may be to blame. Inspect your aeration system to make it is properly functioning. If you are using an Airmax® Aeration System, make sure the air filter is clean and is being changed every 3 to 6 months. Check your pressure gauges and airlines for indications that the compressor is still producing adequate air flow. If your system is between 3 to 5 years old consider installing a maintenance kit which replaces all of the seals and wear and tear parts that lead to decreased system performance. If the pressure reads abnormally high it may indicate that your airlines are obstructed by ice or possibly pinched or crushed.

If your pond only stays frozen over for short periods of time there is no need to worry. The holes will open back up on their own and your pond will take care of the rest naturally. Continue to regularly inspect your aeration system for signs of trouble and ALWAYS exercise caution when venturing near the ice. Make sure there is a floatation device present at your pond both in the summer and winter.

Pond Talk: Does your pond freeze over during the winter, even with aeration?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

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!

I have algae growing all over the place. I keep using chemicals but they don’t seem to last long. What else can I do? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

The best way to beat algae is with the Airmax® Ecosystem PROactive approach.
Pre-order For Fish Day Online…more info

I have algae growing all over the place. I keep using chemicals but it doesn’t seem to last long. What else can I do? Howard – Dallas/Ft Worth, TX

Beat Your Greens
As we approach our warmer spring and summer months, you may find yourself watching in awe as algae takes over your pond at an almost impossible rate. What is going on in your pond that is making it punish you so? Let’s take a look at the cause of algae and your approach on treating it.

Ready, Get Set, REact
Unless you find your new algae bloom a welcome addition to your pond, you will want to get rid of it as soon as possible. Algaecides like Algae Defense® and Cutrine Plus Granular are great products to eliminate existing algae blooms. If you have trout, Koi or goldfish in your pond, you will want to use a non-copper based product like Hyrdrothol 191 to do the job. While these products address the current outbreak in your pond, they will not treat the source of the issue or prevent future occurrences and they require repetitive treatments. Even after the algae bloom is killed, you will still have to do some legwork in terms of removing dead plant matter. Leaving dead algae in your pond will only hinder your quest for a clear pond by providing even more algae food in the form of decaying plant matter. For these reasons, using chemical applications to fight algae is referred to as a REactive approach.

Going PROactive
As the saying goes, “The way to algae’s heart is through its stomach”. While we might not be current with our sayings, this one still holds some truth. Eliminate the food sources available to algae and you will send it packing. Performing regular maintenance in your pond to prevent algae growth is a PROactive treatment. Algae can utilize both available sunlight and nutrients held in your pond to stage its backyard assault. By adopting a PROactive routine, you can keep your pond clean and clear all season long and save some money on repetitive chemical treatments.

The best step you can take in establishing a PROactive treatment plan is to implement aeration in your pond. Sub-surface aeration systems like our Airmax® series will circulate your pond’s water column and infuse it with dissolved oxygen, which on its own will promote the colonization of beneficial bacteria. These beneficial bacteria will break down that same nutrient load your algae utilizes, thereby discouraging continued growth. The bacteria in products like Pond Logic® PondClear™ and MuckAway™ will reinforce the natural bacteria in your pond, ensuring that your pond is able to break down nutrients faster than they are being introduced into the pond. Without an available nutrient load, algae will have to utilize sunlight to generate food. By adding pond dye, you can not only beautify your pond, but also limit the amount of light able to penetrate the water surface. Pond dyes like Pond Logic® Nature’s Blue™, Twilight Blue™, or Black DyeMond™ give you the option to choose the color that best suits your pond while still obtaining a natural look. If you would like more information on choosing the right shade for your pond, click HERE.

We have packaged a collection of products to take the guesswork out of completing your pond maintenance and appropriately named it the Pond Logic® ClearPAC®. The ClearPAC® contains PondClear™ Beneficial Bacterial, Nature’s Blue™ Pond Dye, EcoBoost™ Bacteria Enhancer and Algae Defense®. These products are designed to kill algae, clear water, reduce muck, and shade your pond combining the immediate results of REactive treatments with the economical preventative results of a balanced PROactive approach.

Pond Talk: Have you used MuckAway™ in you pond or lake? Were you happy with your results?

Pond Logic® ClearPAC® - DIY Complete Pond Care Program

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 Did My Fish Die Over the Winter? – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Illustration of No Aeration Versus with Airmax Aeration

    Pond & Lake Q & A

    Q: I lost all of my fish after the winter. We love to catch fish in the pond and now we have to start over! What happened? And is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening again? – Alfred of Michigan

    A: My first thought when I read this question was, “They don’t have an aeration system”. And after speaking with him, come to find out, he didn’t. This is usually always the case during a winter fish kill. Everything seems to be going just fine when all of a sudden one morning you wake up to discover a wave of fish floating on your pond’s surface. This is not a pretty sight, nor is it any fun to clean up. So what causes fish kill and what can you do to prevent it?

    What Causes Fish Kill?
    During the warmer months of the year a pond with no aeration will contain oxygen towards the surface of the pond. This is because there is an oxygen transfer from air to water at the pond’s surface. The bottom of the pond, however, will contain very little or no oxygen; Certainly not enough to support fish life. Also, the toxins associated with fish waste and other organic biodegradation tend to sink and stay at those lower depths of the pond, polluting the already oxygen-starved water. This unfortunately, condenses your fishes’ habitat area and forces them to live towards the surface of the pond.

    There is also a difference in temperature from the bottom of the pond to the surface. The bottom of the pond will be colder than the pond’s surface. The reason for this is because the sun will heat up the surface of the water and since cold water is denser than warmer water, the cold water will fall to the bottom. This difference in temperatures can be quite dramatic at times. Have you ever jumped into a pond and felt the brisk cold water towards your feet? This is the thermocline border. This dramatic change in temperature can cause your fish to stress as they travel from a warm temperature to a cold temperature and back to warm. This stress can lower their immune systems.

    During the colder months of the year, the oxygen as well as the thermocline will actually flip. All of a sudden the colder water containing no oxygen will mix with the warmer water with oxygen. As this mixing occurs, the fish are left with few places to go for oxygen and they will eventually suffocate.

    Another issue during the winter are toxic gasses. As bottom organics (grass clippings, leaves, trees, twigs, fish waste, etc.) decay, they will create toxic gasses. When ice covers the pond’s surface, these toxic gasses are trapped underneath the ice and will cause a fish kill.

    Preventing Fish Kills
    Using an Airmax Aeration System is the single most important way to help prevent winter fish kills. The reasons are simple: With an Airmax Aeration System, a compressor sits on shore and pumps air down to a diffuser on the pond’s bottom. This air forces the cold water containing no oxygen to the pond’s surface. This water, because it is denser, will fall back to the pond’s bottom. This cycle will repeat and create a convection or current within the water column. This will fill the whole water body with oxygen as well as maintain the same temperature level throughout the pond (see illustration on left).

    Also, during the winter months, when ice has covered the surface of the pond. An Airmax Aeration System will keep a small hole open in the ice to allow those toxic gases to escape.

    The Bottom Line: Having aeration will help reduce the chances of fish kill. Also, remember that this is one of many benefits of having an aeration system (Refer to this blog post for the other benefits of aeration).

    Prevent Fall Turnover & Fish Kills by Using Aeration – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Picture of a Fish Kill due to Fall Turnover

    Being Aware of Fall Turnover.

    Instead of a Q & A for Ponds & Lakes today, I wanted to make everyone aware of what Fall Turnover is and the steps you can take to protect your fish. Around this time of the year we receive quite a few phone calls from customers waking up to find a pond full of dead fish. Hopefully, I can shed some light on this subject that can help you prevent an event like this from happening.

    What is Turnover? With no aeration present, the pond’s water is stratified (aka has a thermocline). Meaning that the water at the top is warmer and full of oxygen while on the bottom the water is cooler, nutrient rich and contains no oxygen. This causes the fish to habitate towards the surface of the pond. As the seasons change from the hot summer to the cold winter, the pond goes through a process known as “turnover”. This is when the cooler,
    un-oxygenated water at the bottom of the pond, mixes with the warmer oxygenated water at the pond’s surface. Since the rising cooler water contains no oxygen, the fish lose the ability to breathe in a sufficient supply of oxygen. Shortly after, the fish begin to die.

    Aeration to the Rescue! You’ve probably heard me talk about aeration in many Q & A’s over the past couple months and are probably sick of hearing about it. But it really is that important and really is a solution to a majority of a pond’s problems.

    By properly aerating your pond, the oxygen will be saturated throughout the pond, thus eliminating the thermocline and eliminating the chance for future fish kills caused by “turnover”.

    You can also under-aerate a pond as well. Please read the following Q & A for more information.

    Be Aware of Oxygen Levels When Treating for an Abundance of Algae – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Picture of Filamentous Algae in a Pond

    Q: My pond was almost completely covered in algae earlier this month. With the advice of a local store, I treated my pond with an algaecide. Needless to say I suffered a terrible loss! What killed all of my fish? – Marie of Florida

    A: More then likely your fish loss was due to oxygen depletion. It is very rare that an EPA registered “Aquatic Approved” chemical will cause a fish kill.

    What causes oxygen depletion?
    After a chemical application, algae and aquatic vegetation start to die and begin to decompose. The decomposition process requires great amounts of oxygen and can sometimes, like in Marie’s case, be harmful to fish. The chance of oxygen depletion is much greater when a pond is not maintained on a regular basis or when water temperatures are at their warmest such as the dog days of Summer. The warmer the water, the less oxygen it can retain.

    How to treat your pond and keep your fish safe:
    We recommend that you treat your pond in sections. The generally rule of the thumb is to split your treatment in to 3 parts or thirds. Treat 1/3 of your pond starting from shoreline working your way towards the middle. Allowing 5-7 days between treatments will greatly reduce, if not completely eliminate the chance of fish kill.

    NOTE: Always follow the label rates on the container!

    Reduce Oxygen Demand with an AIRMAX AERATION SYSTEM! Airmax Aeration adds oxygen to your pond reducing fish kills, while improving the overall health of your pond and fish.

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