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Are there any concerns using our pond if I fertilize the lawn? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Are there any concerns using our pond if I fertilize the lawn?

Q: Are there any concerns using our pond if I fertilize the lawn?

James – Augusta, GA

A: Lawn fertilizers can do beautiful things to your terrestrial landscape. They infuse the soil with nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. They make the grass green and lush. They’re sometimes mixed with pesticides and selective herbicides, creating a bug and weed-free lawn. When used as directed, fertilizers give you an easy way to feed your meadows.

They do, however, have their down side – particularly if they find their way into your pond or lake.

The phosphorous found in lawn fertilizers can help feed algae growth in your pond. That algae growth, when left unchecked, can create pea-soup colored water, deplete its life-sustaining oxygen and harm your fish. That’s not all. Some lawn fertilizers contain other chemicals that may not be friendly to humans and your aquatic environment.

So how can you limit or prevent fertilizers from entering your pond?

  1. Divert storm water away from your pond: Some runoff will inevitably flow into your pond but, if possible, fashion trenches and canals that steer that storm water into the sewer system or an unused field.
  2. Find a fertilizer with low or no phosphorous: Fertilizer labels include three numbers that refer to their nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) levels. In a 5-3-4 fertilizer analysis, for instance, the “3” represents the amount of phosphorous; the higher the number, the more phosphorous in the mix. When shopping for a lawn fertilizer, choose one with the least amount of phosphorous.
  3. When fertilizing, stay at least 25 feet away from the pond’s edge: This will create a fertilizer-free barrier around your pond, thereby preventing the chemicals from leeching into the water.
  4. Use natural products that help cleanse organics from pond water: If algae blooms do happen in your pond, use natural products that contain nutrient-eating beneficial bacteria. The microorganisms found in products like Pond Logic® PondClear™ will break down the suspended debris and muck, while Pond Logic® EcoBoost™ Bacteria Enhancer binds and eliminates phosphates and other toxins.

If the chemicals found in lawn fertilizers concern you, consider using a more natural approach. You can keep your lawn lush and green with grass clippings, aged compost and organic fertilizers. Treat weeds with vinegar/water/soap mixture or corn gluten. Think “green” when feeding your lawn – your pond and its residents will thank you for it!

Pond Talk: How do you fertilize the grass surrounding your pond or lake?

Bind Phosphates & Other Toxins - Pond Logic® EcoBoost™

We had a snapping turtle around our pond last year. Will he snap at us if we try to go swimming? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: We had a snapping turtle around our pond last year. Will he snap at us if we try to go swimming?

Q: We had a snapping turtle around our pond last year. Will he snap at us if we try to go swimming?

Greg – Chester, VT

A: Snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) are large freshwater turtles that make their homes in ponds and streams with plenty of room and food. When encountered in the water, they typically slip quietly away from any disturbance – but because they can have fierce dispositions, it’s a good idea to get to know these shelled reptiles and their habits a little better.

Identification
C. serpentina has a look all its own. Resembling a prehistoric dinosaur, the snapping turtle has a large, muscular build with a ridged carapace (hard shell) that can grow up to 18 inches. They usually weigh between 10 to 35 pounds. Its most defining features, however, are its long, flexible neck and beak-like mouth that it uses to snap prey and defend itself from predators.

On the Menu
The omnivore’s preferred meals include just about anything it can capture and swallow, including aquatic plants, invertebrates, fish, frogs, reptiles, birds and small mammals. It’ll even eat carrion. In a farm or swimming pond, a snapping turtle might snap up some undesirable visitors, like snakes.

Night Life
A snapping turtle is mostly active at night, but it does venture out during the day to bask on fallen logs and scavenge and hunt for food. When C. serpentina is walking the terra firma, it can be aggressive, particularly when it feels threatened – and this is when you should avoid contact at all costs. A snap from a snapping turtle can be painful!

Remove and Relocate
If a snapping turtle is causing problems in your pond, your best bet is to safely and humanely remove it. Grabbing its shell with your hands is a bad idea; it can easily stretch its neck back across its own shell to its hind feet and snap your fingers, and it can scratch you with its sharp claws.

Instead, trap it in a turtle trap, like one of our Tomahawk Live Traps. The 32-by-18-by-9-inch trap made with 12-gauge wire comes pre-assembled and ready to use. Simply place it in the water partially submerged and bait with fish or meat. When you capture the critter, relocate it to a place that has a water body, food and shelter.

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

Trap Unwanted Guests - Tomahawk Turtle Trap

I know bass are good predator fish to put in a pond, but does it matter if they are largemouth or smallmouth bass? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I know bass are good predator fish to put in a pond, but does it matter if they are largemouth or smallmouth bass?

Q: I know bass are good predator fish to put in a pond, but does it matter if they are largemouth or smallmouth bass?

Joe – Alhambra, IL

A: Bass – both largemouth and smallmouth – make excellent predator fish. These strong, scrappy guys keep your bluegill population in check. They chase frogs, eat crustaceans and snails, and even catch unsuspecting birds and rodents like small muskrats. They’re a definite asset in your pond or lake.

These two fish cousins, however, have their differences. Read on to learn which is better suited to your pond or lake.

Distinct Differences

Though they’re both species of fish in the sunfish family, largemouth and smallmouth bass have different physical characteristics. The largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, sports a big grin that extends way back beyond its eye, while the smallmouth bass, Micropterus dolomieu, has a smaller smile that reaches only to the middle of its eye. They also differ in their color and color patterns; the olive green largemouth has dark blotches of scales that run horizontally down its flank, and the brassy brown smallmouth has dark scales that run vertically.

Happy Habitats

These freshwater fishes both thrive in lakes, ponds and rivers, but each species has its preference. Largemouth bass favor crystal clear lakes with 2 to 6 feet of water, and sandy shallows and abundant rooted aquatic plants for spawning. They flourish in warmer water – even enjoying 80 to 90 degree temperatures in the summertime.

Smallmouth bass, however, are primarily river dwellers that like to hang out around pea-size to 1-inch-diameter gravel for spawning. They’ll tolerate lakes and ponds, but they like the steady current and higher rate of dissolved oxygen it provides. They also like water temperatures a bit cooler; anything warmer than 90 degrees F is lethal to smallmouth bass.

Food for Thought

These fishes also have different tastes in food. Largemouth bass aren’t too picky. They’ll gobble through a variety of foodstuffs, from Game Fish Grower Food to smaller fish like shad, perch, bluegill and sunfish. Smallmouth bass, however, stick to the bottom of the lake or river and nosh on crustaceans, insects and smaller fish.

Potential Pondmates?

Because both these guys are fun and challenging to fish, it would be fantastic to have both species in your pond or lake, wouldn’t it?

Large- and smallmouth bass can live together, but it takes the help of an attentive game fish manager to make that happen. The general consensus from most experts is that the largemouths will typically replace smallmouths in smaller pond settings unless subadult or adult smallies are introduced annually. Even if you provide an ideal spawning environment for them, the largemouths will still edge them out.

Bottom line: You’re better off with the largemouths. They’re easier to keep, and they adapt more readily to a pond- or lake-type environment.

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

Promote Rapid Fish Growth - The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower Fish Food

I see giant tadpoles and small black ones. Are these the same type of tadpoles at different stages? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I see giant tadpoles and small black ones. Are these the same type of tadpoles at different stages?

Q: I see giant tadpoles and small black ones. Are these the same type of tadpoles at different stages?

Roxanne – Summerfield, FL

A: From your description, it sounds like you have different types of tadpoles living in your pond. But to know for certain, let’s discuss how to distinguish bullfrog and toad tadpoles and understand how they develop into adults.

Egg-Citing Development

Both bullfrogs and toads reproduce by laying eggs in the water. Female bullfrogs deposit their eggs on the pond surface in large round clusters or masses protected by aquatic plants. One bullfrog can lay up to 20,000 eggs, which are then fertilized by the males. Toads create strands of dark-colored eggs that look like black pearls attached to foliage and leaves near the water’s edge.

After seven to 10 days, frog or toad tadpoles hatch from their eggs. Bullfrog tadpoles appear dark green to black in color and they’re big – much larger than other species of frog or toad. They also mature more slowly when compared to their toad counterparts. In fact, bullfrogs will stay in their tadpole stage for almost three years before transforming into adults.

From Adolescent to Adult

A toad’s and frog’s physical development from tadpole (or pollywog) to adult are similar. As tadpoles, they live exclusively in the water and nibble on aquatic plants for nourishment. At first, their bodies are long and narrow and include a tail where they store fat when food is in short supply during the winter months. Eventually, the tadpoles will start to grow back legs, followed by their front legs. And then their tails shorten and disappear, and they develop lungs. Before long they’re full-fledged adults.

Survive and Thrive

As with most critters in the wild, the strongest will survive – and tadpoles are no different. Out of the thousands of pollywogs that are born, only a percentage will make it to adulthood. They have, however, evolved some survival traits that protect them from predators, including their camouflage color that makes them excellent at hiding.

You can help boost their survival numbers by installing a decoy device, like an Owl Decoy or Nite Guard Solar®, designed to chase away rodents and snakes. With its timed head rotation powered by a built-in solar panel, the Owl Decoy will help repel nuisance birds and other small critters during the day. And the Nite Guard Solar® LED lights that resemble a predator’s glowing eyes will keep your pond – and your toads and frogs – safe at night.

Pond Talk: What kinds of frogs and toads live in your pond or lake?

Protect From Rodents &;amp Snakes - Scarecrow® SOL-R Action Owl

Do you really need to add EcoBoost? What is the best way to apply it? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Do you really need to add EcoBoost? What is the best way to apply it?

Q: Do you really need to add EcoBoost? What is the best way to apply it?

Becky – Easley, SC

A: If you want to get the most out of your beneficial bacteria, control excess amounts of nutrients and have a pond full of healthy fish, you need to add Pond Logic® EcoBoost™ to your maintenance routine. Think of it like a multivitamin for your pond; it enhances what you already do to create a clean, clear ecosystem.

Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of EcoBoost™ and how to effectively use it in your pond or lake.

Benefits Aplenty

EcoBoost™ has three main functions. It binds excess phosphates, enhances the growth of natural bacteria and adds trace minerals that fish need to thrive.

Phosphates – which enter a pond or lake via lawn fertilizer and storm drain runoff – can wreak havoc in an aquatic ecosystem. They act as algae and aquatic plant growth steroids, causing algae blooms, weed proliferation and muck buildup. If left untreated, the result is oxygen depletion and poor fish health.

EcoBoost™ helps to control those phosphates, and in doing so it acts as a boost for the natural bacteria living in your pond. As the beneficial microorganisms found in MuckAway™ and PondClear™ gobble through organic debris on the bottom of your pond and suspended in the water column, EcoBoost™ binds excess phosphates and removes them from the water.

In addition, more than 80 trace minerals found in EcoBoost™ promote fish health and fast growth. It’s also safe for other aquatic critters as well as horses, livestock, birds, pets and wildlife.

Easy to Apply

EcoBoost™ comes as a powder that you simply mix with 2 to 3 gallons water in a pail and pour along the shoreline of your lake. You can apply it every two weeks, or on a routine schedule along with MuckAway™ and PondClear™. It has no temperature restrictions, so you can use it all year long.

If you use chemical algaecides or herbicides, be sure to wait for three days before adding EcoBoost™ and your beneficial bacteria products.

This spring, try adding EcoBoost™ to your maintenance routine. You’ll enjoy clear water and healthier game fish.

Pond Talk: What plans do you have for your pond or lake once spring finally arrives?

Bind Excess Phosphates - Pond Logic® EcoBoost™

What is causing the bad odor coming from my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: What is causing the bad odor coming from my pond?

Q: What is causing the bad odor coming from my pond?

Keith – Cedar Bluff, AL

A: There’s nothing worse than that musty, rotten egg, sulfur-type smell that’s pungent enough to ruin spring strolls by the pond. What causes it and what can you do about it?

Common Causes

Those odors are common in ponds that aren’t aerated, particularly during certain times of year. In the summer and winter, non-aerated ponds stratify into layers of water with distinct temperature differences. This locks the bottom layer away for months.

While the water layer is trapped down there, the oxygen is used up quickly. It goes from an aerobic environment to an anaerobic environment – which is perfect for slow-moving anaerobic bacteria that use enzymes to ferment and digest the decaying muck on the bottom. Those microorganisms ultimately produce waste products, including carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide, which is that lovely rotten egg smell.

In the spring and during strong weather events, the water column turns over; the anaerobic layers on the bottom rise to the top, bringing with it all those foul-smelling odors. That’s likely what you’re experiencing with your pond, which could be made worse by melting ice releasing all those gases at once.

Stink-Stopping Solutions

So what can you do? At this point, first test your pH and water quality, as pond turn-overs could cause pH shifts, dissolved oxygen crashes and algae blooms that could harm or kill your fish (which could add to the odor problem …).

If the water temperatures in your pond are 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above, add some Pond Logic® MuckAway™ and Pond Logic® PondClear™. The beneficial bacteria in the products will help break down the decaying muck on the pond bottom as well as clearing up suspended particles in the water column.

As soon as you can, install an aeration system and crank it on. Our Airmax® Aeration System product line includes aerators suited for any size pond – from shallow water bodies to ponds up to 6 acres. They each include diffusers, a compressor, cabinet, airline and free mapping service that takes the guesswork out of diffuser placement.

Finally, cut and rake out dead and decaying organic material with a weed remover tool. The more you can eradicate, the better it’ll be for your pond’s water quality – and stink factor.

Pond Talk: How do you prevent or manage the odor coming from your pond?

Eliminate Noxious Pond Odors - Pond Logic® MuckAway™

The ice is finally melting and there are dead cattails and phragmites everywhere. Do I need to rake them out? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: The ice is finally melting and there are dead cattails and phragmites everywhere. Do I need to rake them out?

Q: The ice is finally melting and there are dead cattails and phragmites everywhere. Do I need to rake them out?

Ed – Adairsville, GA

A: What an eyesore. As the snow and ice melt, those brown, dried-up cattails and phragmites do little to enhance a landscape. They can, in fact, cause water quality and weed management problems, especially as spring approaches and those green shoots emerge from the dead growth. You need to do something about them, and here’s what we recommend.

Frosty Water

With water temperatures still on the chilly side, it’s likely too early to start treating your pond or lake with beneficial bacteria, like those found in Pond Logic® MuckAway™. Those little detritus-destroyers prefer water that’s at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit – and chances are good that it’s well below that mark (unless you’re in sunny Florida or California …). Besides, even with some oxygen-infusing aeration, it would take a long time before they would be able to decompose large cattail or phragmite stalks.

Winter Management

One option is to leave those dead weeds in the water until spring. They may attract wildlife and create an ideal home for insects, amphibians and birds – as well as small rodents and other possibly unwanted visitors that will hide out in the shoreline brush.

Right now, your best bet is to pull out your weed whacking tools and get to work.

We offer a range of cutters and rakes that’ll make the job easy. From a double-sided cutter with an 11-foot reach to a V-shaped cutter that sinks to the bottom and slices weeds at their base, these tools help you cut down those dead plants. And a rake, like one of our weed rakers, will help gather the cut stalks for easy pickup and removal.

Spring Solutions

In the spring when the water temperatures rise and the weeds start to grow again, treat them with an herbicide formulated to tackle the toughest weeds. Remember: those chemicals only work when they’re absorbed by a growing plant, so there’s no sense in using them when the cattails and phragmites are dried up and dormant.

Happy winter weeding!

Pond Talk: What features do you prefer in a weed cutter?

Cut Through Tough Weeds - The Pond Guy® 28 Inch Weed Cutter

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