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My Fish Are Nibbling At My Toes When I Swim. Why Is This Happening And How Can I Stop It? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

My Fish Are Nibbling At My Toes When I Swim. Why Is This Happening And How Can I Stop It?

My Fish Are Nibbling At My Toes When I Swim. Why Is This Happening And How Can I Stop It?

Holly – Wiggins, CO

While we love hand feeding our fish from time to time, nothing ruins your day faster than taking a dip in your cool refreshing pond water only to be reduced to an overgrown chew toy. No one wants to swim in a pond where they feel they may be next one the menu, so how do you stop your touchy feely finned friends from taste testing you and your friends?

It is common to have the smaller prey fish in your pond try to make a quick meal out of your fingers and toes than their larger predator counterparts. It is a sign that your pond may be imbalanced, creating a shortage of food for your smaller fish. They are simply trying to find a snack wherever possible and that includes your precious phalanges. Keep tabs on your fish population to make sure you have a balanced ratio of 3 prey fish to every predator.

If you have an abundance of smaller fish in the pond you may want to introduce some minnows into the water to give them a quick and easy meal that can be replenished over time. If your pond does have an unbalanced population, investigate why this may be. Make sure you have adequate habitat in the pond for your small fish to hide and mature and if you feel your fish are having trouble finding enough food consider manually feeding them using a quality fish food like Game Grower Fish Food.

If you are not quite sure what or how to feed your fish read our Fish Food Blog. Also for some great tips on adding habitat to your pond click over to our Creating Habitat Blog.

Pond Talk: Do your fish nibble at you when you swim in your pond?

The Pond Guy Game Fish Grower Fish Food

What is the difference between regular Bluegill and Hybrid Bluegill? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

What is the difference between regular Bluegill and Hybrid Bluegill?

What is the difference between regular Bluegill and Hybrid Bluegill?

Dan – Toldeo, OH

Ask any thoroughbred Bluegill, and they’ll tell you there’s a huge difference. But the truth is, a Hybrid Bluegill is simply a cross between a Male Bluegill and a Female Sunfish. As it turns out, that combination produces a population that’s between 80% and 90% male.

There are effects of a predominantly male population. First – and most important – it slows down reproduction, which in turn prevents overpopulation. If left to their own devices, regular, non-hybrid Bluegills reproduce very quickly. Left unchecked, this means overcrowding – and all the negative ramifications that come with it. Also, with a predominantly male population, there’s also a natural tendency for fish not to ask directions. Fortunately, in a small, backyard pond, there’s really nowhere to get lost.

There are, however, some drawbacks to stocking your pond with hybrid Bluegills alone. Because reproduction is slower, natural cycles and predator fish may result in dwindling fish populations over time. In those situations, restocking with additional Bluegills and/or other feeder fish like minnows may be required every few years.

But for many ponds, hybrid Bluegills are an exceptional choice. Once they arrive, however, it’s important to make them feel welcome. We strongly recommend the use of Game Fish Food to satisfy hearty appetites. And for both predator protection and shade from the summer sun, our Fish Attractor Spheres are the perfect complement to your pond’s natural habitat.

Pond Talk: What type of bluegill do you stock in your pond?

Fish Attractor Spheres

Why do fish swim in schools? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Why do fish swim in schools?

Why do fish swim in schools?
Chris – Akron, OH

Most people are well aware that fish – most of them, anyhow – swim in tightly-knit groups known as schools. But when pressed for a rationale, few people know exactly why fish are so intent on sticking together. As it turns out, school is just as smart for fish as it is for people – but for some very different reasons. So, in no particular order, here they are.

There’s safety in numbers. When pond and lake predators look for a meal, they look for easy targets. And while a school of fish might seem like a logical choice, it’s actually easier to identify a single target – and track it down. Schools of fish, on the other hand, present multiple targets. And when a predator goes in for a snack, the school scatters, making it difficult to keep track of a single individual long enough to catch it.

But when survival’s at stake, group behavior can always use a helping hand. That’s why we recommend Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres. When placed in your pond, fish will enjoy improved spawning habitat, and young fish will have a great place to hide when predators are on the hunt. Using our Fish Attractor Spheres, you’ll see improved fish survival rates, healthier stocks, and, if you’re so inclined, better fishing.

The buddy system makes life easier. When a fish goes solo, he faces currents and resistance all alone. And when you have to fight resistance on your own, you have to work hard just to get where you’re going. In schools, however, a lazy fish can draft off the fish around him, significantly reducing resistance. By reducing the energy they need to expend, they can expend even less energy looking for food.

For a good paradigm, think of the Tour de France. During each stage of the race, a few aggressive riders typically break from the tightly-packed peloton. Those lead riders are often overtaken late in the race by riders who stuck with the peloton for the majority of the race to enjoy the benefit of riding behind and among other riders whose bodies reduced wind resistance and made the ride less fatiguing. The breakaway riders, on the other hand, are forced to work harder, making it tougher to maintain the lead. Migratory birds often employ the same tactic, flying in v-formations to reduce drag and conserve energy.

While schooling helps to preserve energy, it’s still important that your fish have the proper food to stay healthy, active, and capable of successful reproduction. We strongly recommend a scientifically-balanced food like Pond Logic Game Fish Grower Fish Food. Designed to promote optimal growth of game fish like bass, bluegill, trout and perch, the large pellets are high in protein, which helps to promote a strong, healthy fish population for more satisfying game fishing.

Having walked our way through fish that do school, it’s worthwhile to note that some simply don’t. In most cases, those fish have evolved with a different set of survival techniques – from hiding to aggression – that works just fine for them.

Pond Talk: Do you often see your fish swimming in a school in your pond?

Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres - 3 Pack

My fish always seem hungry. How much should I really be feeding them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

My fish always seem hungry. How much should I really be feeding them?

My fish always seem hungry. How much should I really be feeding them?
Tony – Richmond, VA

Proper fish feeding is one of the great balancing acts of pond ownership – and there’s precious little in the way of definitive, measurable guidelines. With a little observation, though, you’ll have it down to a science in no time.

As a rule, it’s best to feed your fish once a day, and preferably at the same time. An established routine trains them to be on the alert when mealtime rolls around, which in turn makes each feeding more efficient and effective. Try not to feed them any more than they can consume comfortably in five minutes – and be sure to remove any food left over after five minutes is up.

The five-minute rule serves a couple of important purposes. Unlike land borne creatures, fish have to share their environment with their leftovers. With some fish (and lots of humans), this can lead to overeating, bulging midsections, and compromised health. If excess food goes uneaten, it adversely affects water quality, leads to increased algae growth, and requires significantly more maintenance. Finding the five-minute sweet spot keeps both you and your fish happy.

But quantity is only the first half of the equation. The quality of the food you choose is every bit as important. Like the food we eat, fish food is comprised of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Protein is of particular importance when choosing the proper fish food, because it leads to rapid growth. Too much protein, however, can cause too much growth too quickly, leading to unhealthy fish. It also leads to increased waste, accelerated algae growth, and – you guessed it – more maintenance.

Our Pond Logic feed line takes the guesswork out of proper nutritional proportions. With added citrus and natural color intensifiers, the protein-balanced Pond Logic Growth & Color Fish Food is a fish favorite that consistently wins rave reviews from satisfied pond owners. Pond Logic PonStix provides a convenient, well-balanced and low-waste alternative to traditional foods. And Pond Logic Professional delivers an extra protein punch, with the added benefits of immune system-boosting Beta Glucan to enhance the health of both your fish – and their habitat.

Pond appetit.

Pond Talk: How often are you feeding your fish?

Pond Logic® Growth & Color™

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 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

Switching to High-Protein Fish Food – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Switching to Higher Protein Fish Food

I’ve been feeding my fish a wheat-germ based fish food, when can I switch them to a higher-protein fish food? Jena – Tulsa, OK

At this time of year, as the cold wind of winter gradually begins to soften into the warmer days of early spring, and we anxiously wait for the long, hot, blissful days of summer sunshine, your fish will start to stir and wake from their sullen winter respite at the bottom of your pond, slowly ascending their way up from its murky depths, basking at its gently sun-kissed surface, all the while poking and searching with their little mouths agape, longing for their much anticipated and greatly missed, daily feedings…

Like most active “Ponders” I know, you’ve been cooped up indoors all winter long, spending your time reading every water garden article that you can get your hands on! And when you’re not busy reading, you’re spending your time talking with all of your other pond friends, either locally or online. Many of you have been asking the same question: when is the correct time to begin gradually switching over from a wheat germ-based Spring and Fall Fish Food, to one with a greater protein concentration?

Here is the answer to that question, and a few more important things to keep in mind…

Water Temperature is less than 39 degrees Fahrenheit: DO NOT feed them. When temperatures are this cold, a fish’s digestive system is shut down and anything they eat would not get properly digested. Since fish get their “body heat” from their outside environment, metabolic reactions (like digestion) take more time in colder water, which is why feeding can be dangerous to fish in lower water temperatures.

Water Temperature is between 40 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit: It is important to feed your fish a low-protein, wheat germ-based fish food at this time. As fish begin to wake up from dormancy, you may begin to feed them a whet germ-based fish food, such as Pond Logic® Spring and Fall Fish Food. This type of food is more easily digestible by fish than their regular protein based fish food diet and will gently help reintroduce solid food into your fish’s diet.

Water Temperature is above 55 degrees Fahrenheit: At this point, the fish are readily active and their digestive systems are fully up and running. You can choose between an assortment of balanced diet, protein-based fish foods, such as Pond Logic® Floating Ponstix or higher-protein diets such as Pond Logic® Growth and Color Fish Food.

Hopefully this helpful information should keep things simple for everyone; that way we can all get back to more important things… like spring cleaning the pond!

Pond Talk: What time of year do you normally switch from wheat germ-based fish food to a high-protein fish food?

Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food

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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