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I started feeding my game fish this summer, when do I stop feeding them? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I started feeding my game fish this summer, when do I stop feeding them?

Q: I started feeding my game fish this summer, when do I stop feeding them?

Carl – Cedarburg, WI

A: Though fish don’t go into hibernation like a bear, the bass and other game fish in your lake or pond do go into a period of decreased physiological activity, or torpor, when water temperatures fall below 40° Fahrenheit. Their metabolism slows, their movement slows, and their temperature falls, which allows them to save energy and survive the winter chill.

Because of this, they need very little food to sustain them. If they do get hungry or need a midnight (or mid-winter) snack, they can forage for meals on their own. In fact, they like to nibble on pond plants and small insects. Their natural instincts kick in, and they use their senses of smell and sight to track down needed nutrients , which give them plenty of energy to weather the winter until feeding season resumes.

So—to answer your question—when water temperatures drop to 45° or 50°F or so, you can totally stop feeding them.

Until then, however, keep giving them a tasty diet like The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower fish food. Scientifically balanced to suit the nutritional needs of bass, bluegill, trout and perch, the vitamin C-packed diet helps fuel and grow your healthy fish population, ensuring they’re in great shape for fishing season.

Pond Talk: What is your fish’s favorite all-natural snack?

Promote Rapid Growth With A Balanced Diet - The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower Fish Food

We love sitting by our pond, but the mosquitoes are active this year. How can we control them | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: We love sitting by our pond, but the mosquitoes are active this year. How can we control them

Q: We love sitting by our pond, but the mosquitoes are active this year. How can we control them

Scott – Tampa, FL

A: There’s nothing as irritating as a mosquito. They buzz, they bite, they feed on blood, they leave behind itchy welts and, in some cases, transmit dangerous diseases like malaria, dengue, yellow fever, West Nile virus, dog heartworm and equine encephalitis. No, they’re certainly not a welcome pondside guest!

Controlling these tiny bloodsuckers requires a four-pronged approach. Here’s what we recommend:

1. Move the Water: A female mosquito prefers to lay her eggs in stagnant water that’s full of algae, plankton, fungi and bacteria, so your first priority should be moving your water with an Airmax® Aeration System near the area where you sit. The agitated water will make her think twice about calling that part of your pond home.

2. Destroy Their Habitat: When the mosquito larvae—or wigglers—hatch, they nibble on all those tiny plants and microorganisms that are floating by as they develop into pupae—or tumblers—and, eventually, adults. So the second item on your to-do list is to cut down on all the debris around the edge of your pond, or at least in the area where you hang out the most, with a pond rake and weed cutter.

3. Put Mosquito Fish to Work: If you don’t already have a fish population living in your lake, consider adding some mosquito fish, which are small fish that gobble the wigglers and tumblers. The American Mosquito Control Association recommends adding predacious minnows or native fish to lakes and ponds for biological control of the insects.

4. Use Mosquito Dunks: If you find you’re still having problems with the vampire bugs, try some Summit® Mosquito Bits® & Dunks®. These handy-dandy little disks and crumbles contain Bt-israelensis (Bt-i), a specially formulated biological pesticide designed to destroy mosquitoes. You simply toss them in your pond or lake and they’ll provide relief for up to 30 days. Plus, they’re safe for use around fish and plants.

Unfortunately, mosquitoes are part of life with a lake or pond. But with a little aeration, physical control, biological control and, if necessary, chemical control, you can keep these irritating bloodsuckers managed so you can enjoy relaxing evenings by your pond.

Pond Talk: How do you manage mosquitoes by your lake or pond?

Eradicate Mosquitoes for 30 Days - Summit® Mosquito Bits® & Dunks®

After getting out of my swimming pond, I had a leech on my leg! How do I remove leeches from my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: After getting out of my swimming pond, I had a leech on my leg! How do I remove leeches from my pond?

Q: After getting out of my swimming pond, I had a leech on my leg! How do I remove leeches from my pond?

Dennis – Blythewood, SC

A: There’s nothing like climbing out of your pond and finding one (or more!) of these little blood suckers stuck to your leg. What are they, and how do you banish them from your pond?

Getting to Know Leeches

Leeches are 2-inch-long brownish-black segmented worms that are a distant cousin to the earthworm. They use their suction cup-like mouths and teeth to latch on to vertebrate and invertebrate animals, feeding on their blood. Of the 700 different leech species, the majority live in freshwater environments, like your swimming pond.

Leeches love to live in the debris at the bottom of your pond. In all that muck accumulation, they get comfortable, find food and hide from predators—also known as fish—swimming overhead.

Despite their bad reputation, leeches aren’t all bad. Up until the 18th and 19th centuries, these worms had been used medicinally on humans to improve and restore blood circulation. The practice waned for a time—likely a combination of the yuck factor and modern medicine—but it’s slowing coming back into favor. In fact, Emma Parker Bowles (daughter of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall) recently wrote about how leeches helped relieve her of debilitating migraines.

Kicking Leeches to the Curb

Unless you practice leech therapy, you probably want to evict those invertebrates from your pond. The best way to do that is to remove their preferred habitat—all the muck and debris covering the bottom of your pond. How do you do that? Here’s a four-step approach:

1. Pull Out the Debris: First, use a lake rake, like the Pond & Beach Rake, to remove weeds, accumulated debris, algae, decomposing plants and muck.

2. Add Beneficial Bacteria: Next, add some beneficial bacteria, like those found in MuckAway™. The bacteria will head to the bottom of the pond and digest whatever muck remains. Remember that it will take some time to break down all that debris, so be patient.

3. Let Your Fish Do the Work: With nowhere to hide, those leeches will become tasty meals for your fish. You may even consider adding some more leech-eating fish to your pond.

4. Trap and Destroy: For those leeches that elude your finned friends, you can trap and remove them with a baited trap. Punch leech-size holes in a coffee or aluminum can, bait it with raw chicken or fish heads, and position it in a shallow area of your pond. When the worms go for the grub, they can get in but not out because the burrs from the hole punches will prevent them from escaping. Remove the can once it’s full and repeat until the leeches are gone.

If a leech latches onto you, don’t worry. In most cases, it won’t do any harm. In fact, you might not even feel it as the tiny critter injects the spot with anesthetic-anticoagulant combo while attaching itself with its suckers. You can remove a leech by breaking its suction seal with your fingernail or another blunt object, causing the worm to detach its jaws.

Pond Talk: Do you have any leech-removal tips to share?

Reduce Mucky Pond & Lake Bottoms - Pond Logic® MuckAway™

My fish population is growing rapidly, but how do I know if my fish population is balanced? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

: My fish population is growing rapidly, but how do I know if my fish population is balanced?

Q: My fish population is growing rapidly, but how do I know if my fish population is balanced?

Dennis – Rock Island, IL

A: A balanced fish population in your pond is key for a healthy, thriving ecosystem. The best way to start figuring out your fish population is to know what you already have in your pond.

Start by sampling the population you already have by using a fish trap, or fishing out a sample population of fish and inspecting them for size and type.

Next, figure what might be needed to keep the population in check if something is out of balance. When sampling, if you notice you are only pulling out prey fish such as bluegill or perch, then your pond is either on the verge or already overpopulated with prey fish. To keep them in check, either fish out the prey fish or add more predators such as bass. Conversely, if you are only pulling out small bass, then your pond is in need of stocking prey fish.

If your pond is balanced, you should notice a population of fish relatively the same size, and the ideal ratio of about three prey fish to one predator fish.

When introducing the right balance, be sure there is a safe habitat for the fish, especially if you are introducing small fish with an already present population of larger fish. The Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres are perfect for this. Release feeder minnows at one end of the pond to attract larger fish and introduce new, small fish at the other end or near a habitat so they have a chance to hide in the pond. Feeder minnows should be stocked every season as they provide good stock food for larger fish, and they reproduce quickly to maintain a living food source.

Pond Talk: How often do you check your predator:prey ratio in your pond?

Provide Refuge And Attract Fish - Porcupine® Fish Attractors Spheres

I saved my Christmas tree. Can I use it for a fish habitat in my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

I saved my Christmas tree. Can I use it for a fish habitat in my pond?

Q: I saved my Christmas tree. Can I use it for a fish habitat in my pond?

Peter – Cedar Rapids, IA

A: Great question! Sure, after the holidays have come and gone, it makes complete sense to use your dried-up Christmas tree as a fish habitat. You’re benefitting the environment by repurposing the tree rather than sending it to the dump, and you’re saving money by providing your fish a free all-natural habitat.

Plus, your finned friends will love it. Though they probably won’t pile presents under a submerged Christmas tree, your fish can use it as a cozy place to hide from predators and a safe and effective spawning zone.

There are some drawbacks, however, to tossing a spent holiday tree in your lake or pond.

Because it is an organic object, a tree’s trunk, limbs and needles will break down and decompose over a long period of time. This all-natural process will contribute to the nutrient load in your lake’s water—and that means an increase in algae and weed growth.

Not only that, but the tree’s tight interwoven branches make a great hiding place from your fish hook, which means you’ll have a harder time catching them for dinner!

So rather than throw your Christmas tree into your lake or pond, you should use it as firewood to fuel a lakeside bonfire instead. And if you really want to give your fish a new habitat for Christmas, invest in one that befits the fish while keeping the pond clean, such as the Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres. When you outfit these 6-inch-diameter units with 26 lengths of ½-inch PVC pipe, they become ideal habitats that are effective without impeding fish catches or adding algae-loving nutrients to your water.

Pond Talk: What do you typically do with your Christmas tree after the holidays?

Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres - Provide Refuge & Attract Fish

Do I have to put fish in my pond? I won’t want them to nibble on my toes when I swim. | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Do I have to put fish in my pond? I won’t want them to nibble on my toes when I swim.

Q: Do I have to put fish in my pond? I won’t want them to nibble on my toes when I swim.

Scott – Ypsilanti, ND

A: When you’re enjoying a refreshing dip in your pond or lake, that tickling sensation of tiny mouths nibbling at your toes can be a bit, well, unsettling. (Cue the Jaws theme … )

If you swim in your pond or lake and don’t like the tiny sharks mistaking your feet for food, you don’t have to stock it with fish – but they’ll probably wind up there anyway. How? Pond visitors, like birds and other animals, will bring tiny fry and fish eggs with them, depositing them in the water where they grow and multiply.

The trouble (and nibbling!) happens when the population of these uninvited guests explodes out of control. Schools of tiny bluegill with no predator fish, like perch, pike, walleye or salmon, to control their numbers are looking for food – and they see your toes as something tasty to eat.

To maintain a healthy, balanced fish population in your pond, it needs some predator fish. Ideally, there should be a 3-to-1 ratio of prey to predator fish. That will keep those nibblers to a minimum, allowing you to enjoy your swim time in peace.

Keep the prey and predator fish population in your pond thriving, make sure they have safe places to spend their time, like in the Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres. The spheres, with their PVC-pipe barbs, provide a safe spawning habitat and a refuge for young fish.

Pond Talk: What kinds of game fish do you have in your lake or pond?

Porcupine® Fish Attractors - Create A Healthy Fish Population

How Can I Keep My Pond & Fish Healthy With All Of This Hot Weather? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: How can I keep my pond & fish healthy with all of this hot weather?

Cheryl – Cheshire, OH

A: If you’re feeling the heat, there’s a good chance the game fish in your pond are feeling it, too. Not only will they sense the temperature increase in the water, but they’ll also be affected by a decreased amount of dissolved oxygen in their environment.

So what can you do to keep the fish in your lake or pond cool and comfortable? Check out these four expert-recommended tips:

1. Provide a Cool Habitat: Like humans and other land-dwellers, fish like a place to hide to get out of the sun. They’ll slip under the shade of plants, swim inside logs and take advantage of spots like the Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres, which encourage plant growth and give them a place to feel safe, shaded and protected.

2. Keep the Water Moving: When the water moves and circulates with an aeration system like an Airmax® Shallow Water Aeration System or an above-surface fountain like a Kasco Decorative Fountain, it allows for greater gas exchange at the water’s surface, expelling dangerous ammonia and taking in healthy oxygen. This provides more “breathable” space for your fish to swim deeper in the pond – where it’s cooler.

3. Rake Out Dead Debris: To cut back on the dangerous gasses being produced in your lake or pond, remove dead debris and decomposing plant matter with a Weed Cutter and Rake. Less debris in your lake means less gas is being produced.

4. Be Cautious of Water Treatments: Dead or dying organic materials can reduce oxygen levels quickly, so be cautious when using algaecides or herbicides to treat algae and other weeds. Rather than dosing your entire pond or lake, treat one section at a time, waiting a week or two before treating another area. This allows the fish to remain in the unaffected areas.

With a little planning and a some regular maintenance, you can keep your recreational pond or lake healthy no matter the temperatures. Your fish will thank you for it!

Pond Talk: What do you do to keep cool during these scorching heat waves?

Kasco Fountains - Add Tranquility To Your Pond

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