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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

I would love to have ducks at my pond. Is there any harm, and how do I attract them? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I would love to have ducks at my pond. Is there any harm, and how do I attract them?

Q: I would love to have ducks at my pond. Is there any harm, and how do I attract them?

Jerry – Cass City, MI

A: Ducks certainly make an entertaining and colorful addition to a pond or lake. Various species of these plumed wetland visitors grace just about every continent and climate on planet earth – including sub-Antarctic islands like South Georgia and the Aucklands to oceanic locales like Hawaii and New Zealand.

Despite their worldwide distribution, getting ducks to call your pond home can be a challenge. But you can attract them if you understand their specific needs.

Pondside Open House

The duck types that frequent ponds include mallards and wood ducks, along with Muscovy ducks, black-bellied and whistling ducks. Ducks are omnivores and like to eat a wide range of foods, from small fish, eggs, snails, worms and bugs to grass, weeds, seeds and berries. In general, they require a lot of space and copious amounts of water in the form of marshes, lakes or large ponds. Aquatic plants, like reeds and water lilies, make them feel at home, as does concealed areas with tall marsh grass and shrubby cover for nesting and hiding.

Attracting the Flock

Providing a duck friendly habit is the best way to convince the feathered visitors to stop by, but here are some expert tricks to make your pond more appealing:

  • Create a Mess Hall: Set up feeding areas by clearing out an area or providing large, low platforms, and toss out some cracked corn, spilled birdseed and kitchen scraps. Don’t feed them by hand, but use goodies to pique their interest.
  • Plant a Duck Garden: Berry bushes can help draw ducks. And if you have a garden area near your pond, use mulch to attract tasty insects and earthworms.
  • Offer a Nest Box: Though ducks will nest in a variety of places, from ground nests in grassy areas near the pond to brush piles and hollow logs, provide them with nest boxes to help attract nesting ducks.
  • Install a Fountain: Ducks flock to the sound of splashing, so consider installing a fountain or waterfall in your pond.
  • Use Natural Décor: Add some half-submerged logs, overhanging shelves, marsh grasses and marginals, aquatic plants and brush piles to your landscape.
  • Add Some Decoys: A duck decoy pair floating quietly on your pond will attract the attention of the real-life things. They’ll swoop down to investigate and (hopefully!) decide to stay for a while.

Duck Dangers

Unlike a Great Blue Heron, ducks will leave your fish alone – but they can trigger other problems. If a lot of them are visiting, they can cause water quality issues (which can be remedied with the beneficial bacteria in Pond Logic® PondClear™). They could bring in unwanted weeds, like duckweed and water milfoil, that weren’t present before. The ducks, ducklings and eggs could also attract feral cats, raccoon, skunks and other predators.

Having these colorful beauties visit your pond, however, is worth the hassle. When they do stop by, observe them from a distance – and enjoy bird watching!

Pond Talk: Do ducks visit your pond regularly?

Help Attract Ducks To Your Pond - Flambeau® Storm Front™ Mallard Decoy Pair

I have an old sump pump. Can I use it to create a fountain for my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I have an old sump pump. Can I use it to create a fountain for my pond?

Q: I have an old sump pump. Can I use it to create a fountain for my pond?

Nick – Linwood, KS

A: Sounds like you want to do some “upcycling” and save a little money while making use of old equipment that’s sitting around. What a fun project, and something you can show off to your friends!

Yes, you can certainly transform that old sump pump into a fountain for your pond – but whether it works will depend on what you want to do with that fountain.

Sump Pump Fountain?

A sump pump is traditionally used to remove water that’s collected in a basement. It pumps the water away from the house to a place where it’s no longer problematic. It’s not really designed for long-term continuous use, and so using a sump pump to create a spraying fountain might decrease its life expectancy. Replacing it could be costly.

There are other factors to consider, too. A sump pump might cost more to operate. You’ll still need to create a way to anchor or suspend the motor and create a spray. And you’ll need to extend the power cord long enough to reach a power source safely – which will require trial and error or fancy engineering.

If you’re a build-it-yourselfer in search of a challenge and plan to not use it for long-term continuous use, go for it! If not, consider purchasing an actual fountain.

Out-of-the-Box Easy

For those who are looking for an easy, cost-effective and trouble-free way to add some splash to a pond, buying a pre-manufactured decorative fountain has its benefits, including:

  • They come with pumps that are designed to be used as a fountain, so they create much more water movement and a heavier spray that’s less affected by wind and pump-clogging floating debris.
  • They can be used as an aeration system in ponds less than 6 feet deep.
  • All the engineering work is done for you! After a quick installation, you’ll have a decorative spray and a power cord that’s long enough to reach the shore.
  • Some, like the AquaStream™ Fountain and Light Combo Kits, come with decorative options, like lights and different spray patterns.

Whichever you choose, it’s always a great idea to create movement and aerate the water. Your fish and plants will appreciate it, and you – and your guests – will, too!

Pond Talk: Have you ever made a decorative fountain with upcycled pieces and parts?

Enjoy the Sound of a Fountain - The Pond Guy® AquaStream™ 1/2 HP Fountain

What are some common types of baitfish used in ponds? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: What are some common types of baitfish used in ponds?

Q: What are some common types of baitfish used in ponds?

Steven – Johnstown, OH

A: If you stock game fish in your pond or lake, you better know your baitfish. Used as food for larger predatory game fish, these small swimmers are typically common species that breed rapidly. They’re easy to catch, easy to supply and easy to stock.

Freshwater baitfish include any fish of the minnow or carp family, sucker family, top minnow or killifish family, shad family, and some fish from the sculpin or sunfish family. Some common types that you’ll see in a recreational lake include fathead minnows, golden shiners, creek chub and white suckers. Let’s learn more about these specific types of fish and how to fatten them up for your bass and trout.

Fathead Minnow

The fathead minnow (Pimephales promelas) is a species of temperate freshwater fish whose natural geographic range extends throughout North America. The golden, or xanthic strain known as the rosy-red minnow, is a very common feeder fish sold in the United States. In the wild, the fathead appears dull olive-gray with a dusky stripe extending down its back and side. These guys will eat just about anything, and they prefer a water temperature of 50 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and a pH range of 7.0 to 7.5. Its main predator is the northern pike.

Golden Shiner

The golden shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas) is a cyprinid native to eastern North America. In the wild, these bait fish grow to 3 to 5 inches long and have dark green to olive body with a silvery white belly. They prefer quiet, weedy waters and are fairly tolerant of pollution, turbidity and low oxygen levels. They can tolerate temperatures as high as 104 degrees F – which is unusually high for a North American minnow – and they nosh on zooplankton, insects, plants and algae. Predators include trout and bass.

Creek Chub

The creek chub (Semotilus atromaculatus) is another type of minnow that’s found in the eastern United States and Canada. Growing up to 6 inches, they typically have a dark brown body, sometimes with brown spots, with a white lateral line. These hardy bait fish, which prefer water temperatures between 35 and 90 degrees F, gravitate toward weedy areas and prefer stream or river environments rather than lakes. They’ll gobble just about anything – including fish, insects, larvae and vegetation. Predators include trout and northern pike.

White Suckerfish

White suckerfish (Catostomus commersonii) are found in small streams, rivers and lakes in the Midwest and east coast of the United States. Reaching lengths between 12 and 20 inches, the white sucker has a dark green, gray, copper, brown or black-brown body with a light underbelly. They’re bottom feeders, and they’ll use their fleshy lips to suck up bottom sediment and other organisms that live there, including small invertebrates, algae and plant matter. Predators include walleye, trout, bass, northern pike and catfish.

Using Baitfish

When it comes to using bait fish, you have two options: stock your pond with them and keep a separate supply on hand to use when you do some fishing.

To stock your pond with bait fish, purchase a supply from your local sports shop or pet store and introduce them to your pond or lake after acclimating them. Be sure to provide a fish habitat for them, like one of the Honey Hole Attractor Logs, Shrubs or Trees, so they can safely reproduce (and fatten up!) and keep the population thriving.

In addition, grow bait fish in a separate tub or tank for use when you’re fishing. Be sure to keep the water cool and fresh to reduce stress, and keep the oxygen levels high with a bubbler. They might be able to tolerate less-than-ideal conditions, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be without their O2!

Pond Talk: How do you stock your pond with baitfish?

Create Habitat for Baitfish - Pond King Honey Hole Fish Attractor Log

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®

I know herons are a common pond problem, but I think I have a raccoon around. Will it eat my fish, too? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I know herons are a common pond problem, but I think I have a raccoon around. Will it eat my fish, too?

Q: I know herons are a common pond problem, but I think I have a raccoon around. Will it eat my fish, too?

Matt – Burton, MI

A: Bandit-masked raccoons are a familiar sight just about everywhere because they will eat just about anything, including your fish. Found in forests, marshes, prairies, suburbs and even cities, raccoons can be a nuisance around ponds and lakes. Here’s what you need to know to keep them away from your pond – and your garbage cans.

ID, Please

With the exception of 75-pound Bandit that holds the world record for “World’s Fattest Raccoon,” these nocturnal foragers are typically between 15 to 23 pounds and 30 to 37 inches long, or the size of a small dog. They sport heavy fur streaked in brown, black and gray, and have black eye stripes that resemble a mask. Raccoons have bushy ringed tails that grow up to a foot long, and their dexterous paws and long fingers make distinct prints in the mud or snow.

Sushi for Dinner

Though raccoons love to eat mice, insects, and tasty fruits and vegetables (particularly sweet corn) plucked from your garden and garbage can, the opportunistic water-loving critters will happily take a dive in your lake to hunt for crayfish, fish, turtles, frogs and worms. They’ll use their lightning-fast paws to grab both aquatic and terrestrial prey.

Tracking a Bandit

Raccoons aren’t exactly stealthy. If they’re prowling around, they’ll leave telltale signs around your home and property – like knocked-over garbage cans, overturned rocks and flower pots, rooted-through plants and disheveled yard decor. They’ll also leave tracks in the wet soil around the pond. And, if you’re lucky, you may even find a shelter or den made in a hollow tree, culvert, woodchuck burrow or under a building.

Evicting Raccoons

Mother Nature provides her own raccoon control in the form of coyotes, foxes, great horned owls and bobcats, but you can give her a hand in several different ways.

  • A live-animal trap baited with cat food or tuna will allow you to capture and relocate your problem raccoon.
  • The Nite Guard Solar® deterrent keeps raccoons away with its solar-powered LED lights. Activated at dusk, the red lights resemble a predator’s flashing eyes flash and cause the critter to run away.
  • Keep garbage cans securely sealed and manage other easy-access food sources, like cat food bowls and compost bins.

With hundreds of thousands of raccoons traipsing across the countryside, you’ll likely discover one or two (or an entire family!) living on your property near your lake. But if you use some wildlife management tactics like these, you can keep them under control. Good luck!

Pond Talk: How do you manage the raccoon population near your pond?

Protect Against Nighttime Predators - Nite Guard Solar®

I have scum on the surface of my pond like last year but I can’t scoop it out, is it algae? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I have scum on the surface of my pond like last year but I can’t scoop it out, is it algae?

Q: I have scum on the surface of my pond like last year but I can’t scoop it out, is it algae?

Clare – Westford, VT

A: It sounds like that strange stuff floating in your pond is pollen – particularly if you’ve had the same issue at about the same time in previous years. How do you identify it and get rid of it? Read on to learn more about fixing your pollen problem.

Just on the Surface

Looking like an oil slick floating on top of your pond, the pollen’s hue may vary in shade from white to yellow to green, particularly if there’s a little algae mixed in. The substance will break apart if you run your fingers through it, and it often forms a circle around aeration plates.

The tiny pieces of pollen stay on the surface thanks to something called surface tension. Pollen is light, and when it lands on still water that’s not moving it remains there. Unless something breaks the water tension, like rain or the splash from a fountain, the pollen will continue to float and coat the water surface.

Saying ‘Goodbye’ to Pollen

If you want to get rid of that unsightly pollen, here’s what we recommend:

  1. Add Aeration: Aeration, like our Airmax® Aeration Systems, churns and moves the water below the surface, and that action will help break down the surface tension from the bottom up. We offer a range of aerator sizes to fit any pond, from small ornamental features to large water gardens or fish ponds.
  2. Add Some Splash: While the aerator cycles the subsurface water, a decorative fountain like our AquaStream™ Fountains, or even a garden hose (in desperation!) will break the water tension and dissipate the pollen. Check out the different styles, sizes and spray patterns of our fountains – they look great and work hard!
  3. Wait It Out: Pollen will eventually dissipate with the changing of the season or after a heavy rain. If you’re patient and wait it out, the problem will resolve on its own.

Green Be Gone

Is the pollen in your pond a bit green? You could be battling an algae and pollen problem. In addition to resolving the situation with aeration and a decorative fountain, use Algae Defense®. It’s a fast-acting, algae-killing liquid formula that can be applied directly to your pond with a sprayer – so it’ll destroy the green stuff and dissipate the pollen.

Pond Talk: How has pollen been treating your pond (and your seasonal allergies!) this year?

Improve Your Pond's Appearance - The Pond Guy® AquaStream™ 1/2 HP Fountain


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