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Why is my pond cloudy in the summer and clear in the winter? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Why is my pond cloudy in the summer and clear in the winter?

Q: Why is my pond cloudy in the summer and clear in the winter?

Mike – Baldwin, WI

A: Frustrating, isn’t it? During the summer when it’s warm and inviting outside by the pond, the water looks cloudy; when it’s too cold to enjoy the outdoor scenery, the water appears crystal clear. What’s the deal? Let’s look below the water’s surface to see what happens during the two seasons.

Murky Summer

A lot happens in your pond during the warmer months. Fish are actively feeding and creating waste. Pond critters, like turtles and frogs, are digging around in the mud and stirring up muck at the bottom of the pond. Rainstorms wash sediment into the pond along with fertilizer residue – which provides fuel to algae and pond weeds growing prolifically in the summer sun. With all that activity, it’s no wonder the water looks cloudy!

Clear Winter

During the winter, however, activity slows. As your fishes’ metabolism decreases, they fast and hibernate through the cold season. Turtles, frogs and other pond residents reduce their movement, too, which allows the muck and sediment to settle at the bottom. Ice and snow cover the pond, limiting water movement and blocking sunlight. Algae still grows, but at a much slower rate. As everything settles and slows down, the water clears.

Extending Winter

If you want that crystal clear water all year long, follow this three-step formula, particularly as the days get longer and spring warmth thaws the ice:

  1. Feed Your Bacteria: First, be sure to add some bacteria enhancer, like EcoBoost™, to the water. It binds suspended organics, provides trace minerals to fish and other pond dwellers, and helps break down fertilizers from rain runoff. It has no temperature restrictions, so you can use it throughout the seasons.
  2. Shield the Sun’s Rays: Next, pour some Pond Dye in the water. The color reduces the amount of rays that into the pond. Like EcoBoost, Pond Dye has no temperature restrictions, so you can use it throughout the season.
  3. Add Oxygen: Aeration is the final – and most important – step in maintaining clean, clear water. By aerating your pond from the bottom up, you will circulate the water, improve the dissolved oxygen levels in your water column, and allow for increased levels of beneficial bacteria to accumulate in your pond.

Pond Talk: How do you keep your pond clean and clear all year long?

Create Clearer Water in any Pond - Pond Logic® EcoBoost™ Bacteria Enhancer

I have a lot of leaves blowing into my pond. Will the bacteria still work this time of year? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I have a lot of leaves blowing into my pond. Will the bacteria still work this time of year?

Q: I have a lot of leaves blowing into my pond. Will the bacteria still work this time of year?

Austin – Breesport, NY

A: Leaves. There’s really no getting around them. Every fall, those deciduous trees drop their colorful foliage and leave behind a headache for those who have to clean them up.

Natural bacteria will do a great job breaking down the fallen leaves in your pond or lake – but only when water temperatures are above 50° F. Take your pond’s temperature with a pond thermometer; as long as your water is at or above that 50° F mark, keep using MuckAway™ and PondClear™. The microorganisms in those products will continue to work hard to break down organic debris.

Going into winter as temperatures dip below that number, however, the bacteria go on vacation. But there are some things you can do to keep your pond healthy as the cooler weather approaches. Here’s what we recommend.

  1. Rake Up the Leaves: As powerful as natural bacteria are, they will still take a long time to break down fresh leaves that blow into your pond. Help those microorganisms out by raking up and disposing of as many leaves as possible.
  2. Rake Out the Leaves: If they do float into your pond, use a Pond & Beach Rake or Weed Raker to skim and rake those leaves out of your pond. If an abundance of leaves remains in the pond as ice begins to form, this could lead to poor water quality. As the leaves continue to break down, they will release toxic gases that will edge out available oxygen – and if there is ice covering your pond, that’s bad news for your fish.
  3. Aerate All Winter: Unless you plan to use your pond or lake as an ice rink this winter, keep your aeration system running. This will help keep a hole in the ice, circulate the water and keep your oxygen levels higher.
  4. Maintain Your Landscape: In addition to raking up leaves around your pond, keep the foliage around your pond maintained. Prevent that organic debris from getting into the water and turning into algae and pond weed fertilizer.

Bottom line: Yes, bacteria will still work while temperatures are above 50° F, but help them out by removing as much leaf litter and organic debris as possible. There’s no way to fully prevent leaves from falling into your pond – but the fewer that do, the better.

Pond Talk: Have leaves started falling in your neck of the woods yet?

Remove Leaves & Debris - The Pond Guy® Pond & Beach Rake

My pond is about a quarter acre, and I have ducks so I don’t want to use chemicals. Can I use barley straw? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: My pond is about a quarter acre, and I have ducks so I don’t want to use chemicals. Can I use barley straw?

Q: My pond is about a quarter acre, and I have ducks so I don’t want to use chemicals. Can I use barley straw?

Katie – Johnson, VT

A: More and more people are using barley straw as an all-natural (and duck friendly) way to control pond scum—and for good reason. Barley straw is a safe, natural alternative to manufactured chemicals and one of the compounds produced by submerged, decomposing barley straw may actually help keep your pond clear.

You need a lot of it to be effective.

In your quarter-acre pond, you’d need between 25 and 50 pounds (1 to 2 standard bales) of barley straw, depending on your pond’s condition. That straw would then need to be broken up, divided among several permeable bags and placed around the perimeter of the pond with weights in water no deeper than 6 feet.

That’s a lot of work!

And if you don’t replace the barley straw as it decomposes, it just turns into more decaying organic debris in the pond.

So what are your options?

Focus on the health of your pond. Reduce the decomposing plant matter, fish waste and other nutrients by adding a stout aeration system and wildlife-safe beneficial bacteria.

Reconsider manufactured chemicals, like Algae Defense®. The algaecide has no water use restrictions, and it’s safe to use around ducks and other wildlife. And because it only needs to be used when algae growth is occurs, you could use it as a one-time algae bomb. Not all chemicals are bad!

But if you want to give barley straw a try, check out this “fact sheet,” provided by The Ohio State University Extension. It details everything you need to know about using barley straw.

Pond Talk: Have you ever used barley straw? How did it work in your pond or lake?

Promote A Healthy Ecosystem - Pond Logic® PondClear™ Natural Bacteria

Is it better to rake out as much of the weeds and algae as I can before treating? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Is it better to rake out as much of the weeds and algae as I can before treating?

Q: Is it better to rake out as much of the weeds and algae as I can before treating?

Sherry – Casselton, ND

A: It makes sense to want to remove as much of the plant nuisance as possible before spraying them with algaecides and herbicides. But, in general, it’s better to treat and kill the unwanted growth first – and then rake out the dead debris. Why? Let’s take a look at how weed and algae destroying chemicals work.

Contact Chemicals

A contact chemical, like Algae Defense®, needs to make contact with algae in order to kill it. If the chara, filamentous algae or planktonic algae are cut or broken into smaller pieces, it’s harder for the chemicals to make contact. Because algae grows by fragmentation rather than a defined root system, it’ll just keep on growing. So it’s better to leave the algae as-is before treating.

Systemic Chemicals

A systemic chemical, like Shoreline Defense®, works by being absorbed into the growth system of emergent shoreline weeds, like cattails, via their leaves and roots. As it does so, it kills the plants. Cutting the plants down stops the absorption process and prevents the chemical from getting into their system. As with contact chemicals, treat first.

Treat, Then Rake

After you’ve treated and killed the problem plants, then you should pull the dead debris from the pond with a weed cutter and rake. That will prevent all that decaying matter from becoming fertilizer for future algae blooms.

If you miss some of it, your aeration system and natural bacteria can do the work for you. An Airmax® Aeration system keeps the water oxygenated and moving, while the beneficial microorganisms in our natural bacteria products break down the debris.

Pond Talk: How have your algae blooms been this year? Better, worse or the same as last year?

Skim Dead Algae & Vegetation - The Pond Guy® Pond & Beach Rake

Does the type of algae and where it’s growing determine what chemical is needed? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Does the type of algae and where it’s growing determine what chemical is needed?

Q: Does the type of algae and where it’s growing determine what chemical is needed?

Pete – Addison, AL

A: When battling algae, you have the upper hand if you understand the enemy. What type of algae is it? How does it behave? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Before we get in to how to treat the green menace, let’s discuss the different varieties and where they live in an aquatic ecosystem.

Algae Explained

In a large pond or lake planktonic algae, filamentous algae and chara, are the most common types of algae you’ll come across.

  • Planktonic algae, the source of algae blooms, are floating, microscopic plants that color pond water shades of green, blue-green, brown or variations in between. In controlled amounts, this type of algae can actually be beneficial. It can shade the pond’s bottom, preventing subsurface nuisance plants from growing.
  • Filamentous algae are single-celled plants that form long, visible chain, threads or filaments. These threads, which start growing along the bottom of the lake in shallow water or on rocks or other aquatic plants, intertwine and form mats that resemble wet wool. When these mats rise to the surface, they’re commonly referred to as pond scum.
  • Chara is a gray-green branched multicellular algae that has 6 to 16 leaf-like branchlets that grow in spirals around the stem. Though bottom-growing chara superficially resembles terrestrial plants, it lacks flowers, true leaves and roots. It has a skunky, musty, garlicky-type smell and has a crunchy- or grit-type texture, thanks to calcium carbonate deposits on its surface.

In general, algae will grow just about anywhere sun penetrates the pond. Surprisingly, algae has some benefits: The tiny plants feed fish and make great homes for micro- and macro-invertebrates like bugs and worms. But algae has its definite drawbacks. Besides being unsightly and odorous, uncontrolled blooms can cause oxygen depletions, affect fish health and, in extreme circumstances, cause fish to die.

Vanquishing the Menace

The key to successfully treating algae – whether planktonic, filamentous or chara – is to make the most contact between it and the algaecide. Rather than dumping the chemical into one place in the pond, which will only kill algae in that small area, it needs to be evenly dispersed.

Floating mats of filamentous algae and suspended planktonic algae are best treated with liquid mixtures, like Algae Defense® and Clipper™, that are sprayed directly over the area with a pond sprayer. To treat extra thick mats, stick the top of the sprayer into the mat itself to get the chemical to the deeper portion of the problem.

For bottom-growing algae, use granular algaecide, like Cutrine®-Plus Granular and Hydrothol, and distribute it with a granular spreader. It’s the preferred choice because the granules will sink over the algae bed and make maximum contact with it.

Follow up by raking out any decaying or dead debris with the Pond & Beach Rake, setting up an aeration system and adding natural bacteria, such as the types found in ClearPAC® PLUS Pond Care Package.

Pond Talk: How much time do you spend battling algae in your pond or lake?

Spray Directly Onto Algae Blooms - Pond Logic® Algae Defense®

A friend suggested I use pond dye. I’m nervous because we swim in the pond. Is it safe, and which one do I use? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: A friend suggested I use pond dye. I’m nervous because we swim in the pond. Is it safe, and which one do I use?

Q: A friend suggested I use pond dye. I’m nervous because we swim in the pond. Is it safe, and which one do I use?

Wayne – Camden, NC

A: You have a wise friend! Pond Dye can provide some important benefits to your pond. It helps to shade the water from the sun’s rays, and create drama and aesthetic appeal in your landscape.

Safe and Non-Staining

If you’re worried about the dye coloring your skin when you swim, don’t worry: After 24 hours of being applied to the pond, the dye will not stain. The concentrated form, however, is a different story. It will turn your hands colors, so be sure to wear gloves and work clothes when adding dye to your pond.

Once mixed with the water in your pond, pond dye is completely safe for agriculture and irrigation purposes. Immediately after treatment, you can use your pond for recreation, fishing and other activities. It’s safe for swimming ponds, as well as watering horses, livestock, birds, pets, fish and wildlife.

Color Choices Aplenty

Pond dye color is really a matter of personal preference, but different shades are better suited to different situations. When selecting one, first consider your environment and what looks natural in your surroundings. Then ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have a decorative pond or lake? Try Nature’s Blue™ dye or The Pond Guy® PondShade™ Blue– our customers’ favorite choice. It’s the ideal color for large ponds that double as a view as it contrasts perfectly with lush green landscaping. Folks in the Great Lakes area may feel more at home with a natural blue color.
  • Do you prefer a more natural look? Try Twilight Blue™ dye. It maintains a neutral blackish-blue tint that shades and protects your pond without making drastic changes to its natural coloring.
  • Do you want to showcase your landscape? Consider using Black DyeMond™ dye. It creates a mirrored surface that reflects surrounding trees and natural rocky landscapes, making it perfect for natural ponds in wooded areas.

Application Process

Adding dye to your pond or lake is easy. Every four to six weeks (or as needed depending on rainfall and evaporation), simply pour the concentrated Pond Dye into the water in several spots along the pond’s edge, or drop the easy-to-use water-soluble Pond Dye Packets in the water. Easy peasy!

If you notice your pond is full of suspended debris, you may want to try Pond Dye PLUS. It contains both dye and the beneficial bacteria that’s found in PondClear™, so it will both shade your pond and help clear the water.

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite shade of pond dye?

Convenient Water Soluble Packets - The Pond Guy® PondShade™ Blue

Do I just throw MuckAway tablets into the pond from the shore? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Do I just throw MuckAway tablets into the pond from the shore?

Q: Do I just throw MuckAway tablets into the pond from the shore?

Rich – Callahan, FL

A: MuckAway™ Pond Muck Reducer does a number on muck. The special blend of aerobic beneficial bacteria digests organic debris (a.k.a. muck), improves water clarity and eliminates noxious odors. The precision-release pellets are easy to use, and they’re perfect for battling built-up sludge anywhere in your pond.

But there is a way to best apply MuckAway™. Here’s what we recommend.

  • Disburse Evenly: Whether you’re using MuckAway™ near the shoreline or across your entire pond, the pellets will need to be spread evenly across the treatment area. Plan to use one scoop per 1,000 square feet.
  • Use a Boat: If you are treating the entire pond or lake, consider using a boat for uniform MuckAway™ dispersal. Individual tablets that are spread very far apart (tossed from the shore) will not have as dramatic an impact on muck as those that are densely and evenly distributed.
  • Consider MuckAway™ TL: A large pond or lake may need the super sludge-busting power of MuckAway™ TL Pond Muck Reducer. When used as directed, it’s designed to break down up to 2″ of muck per month!
  • Combine Forces: Many customers choose to use a one-two punch when contending with water clarity issues. They’ll use PondClear™ Beneficial Bacteria water soluble packets to clean and clear the water column, and MuckAway™ or MuckAway™ TL to break down the sunken muck around often-used areas, like the pond perimeter and beach areas.

You can increase the effectiveness of MuckAway™ and MuckAway™ TL by raking out any large, long-to-decompose debris from the pond before you begin treatments. This allows those aerobic beneficial bacteria to target the fine debris that’s difficult to remove.

Airmax® Aeration is also key to helping your bacteria be more effective at battling muck. The moving, aerated water provides both oxygen and circulation, which creates an ideal environment for MuckAway™ or MuckAway™ TL to flourish. Looking for proof? Check out our Fox Lake Field Study. It shows the results of what happens to muck when MuckAway™ TL and aeration are used together.

Pond Talk: How do you use MuckAway™ in your pond or lake?

Remove Up To 5 Inches of Muck Per Year - Pond Logic® MuckAway™

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