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Fountain Basics – Spring Maintenance & Re-Installation | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Pond Season Has Begun!

Fountain Basics – Spring Maintenance & Re-Installation

When the weather warms and the ice on your lake melts, it’s time to kick off pond season! But before you dust off your boat and fishing pole, you need to do a little fountain maintenance and installation first.

If you didn’t perform regular upkeep on your fountain when you pulled it out last fall, now’s the time to do so. Here’s a quick list of to-do items before you put the fountain back in place:

  • Power wash the motor so built-up material doesn’t trap heat.
  • Inspect the cord for cuts.
  • If you have muskrats, protect the cord with ratcord.
  • Send the motor in for regular seal/oil maintenance if you haven’t done it in a few years.

Once it’s cleaned up an inspected, you can position your fountain. Be sure your mooring lines are snug enough to hold your fountain in place. If you’re anchoring it with blocks at the bottom of the pond, make sure they’re spread far enough apart so the fountain doesn’t spin from the force of the motor, which could cause the lines to get tangled.

Now is a great time to add that first dose of pond dye, too. Nature’s Blue™, Twilight Blue™ or Black DyeMond™ shade and protect the pond while enhancing its beauty. If you put the dye in at the same time as your fountain, the color will disperse evenly throughout the lake.

Pond Talk: What’s the first thing you plan to do once pond season begins?

Pond Logic® Pond Dye - Shade & Protect Your Pond

Is there anything I can do to prevent animals from chewing my fountain power cord? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Is there anything I can do to prevent animals from chewing my fountain power cord?

Q: Is there anything I can do to prevent animals from chewing my fountain power cord?

Barbara – Little Falls, NJ

A: Surprise, surprise! You’re doing your winter-prep chores and, lo and behold, you discover that a tiny interloper has been gnawing at your fountain’s power cord. Just about aquatic or semi-aquatic animal that can chew or break something open with its mouth could be the culprit—but most likely, your cord chewer is none other than the muskrat.

Muskrat Love

Muskrats, semi-aquatic rodents that are native to North America, live in wetlands over a wide range of climates and habitats (including your pond or lake). They measure 16 to 28 inches long—with almost half of that being their flattened, scale-covered tail—and weigh between 1½ to 4½ pounds. They’re double-coated in short, thick, medium to dark brown or black fur that insulates them from chilly water.

These furry little critters love to spend time submerged. Because they are less sensitive to carbon dioxide buildup that other mammals, they can stay under water for 12 to 17 minutes before they need to come up for air—giving them plenty of time to do damage to your power cords.

Born to Chew

As rodents, muskets must chew and gnaw on things to wear down their continuously growing incisors. In wild lakes and water bodies, they grind on cattails and other aquatic vegetation, along with the occasional crayfish, turtle and frog for sustenance.

In human-made lakes and ponds, however, muskrats also chew on cords, preferring the parts near a fountain’s motor or where it exits the pond. No one knows why muskrats like to sink their teeth into electrical cords, but they do. So what do you do?

Wrap It Up

To prevent muskrats and other water-dwelling chewers from damaging your fountain’s power cord, invest in some power cord wrapping (also called rat cord). This woven material limits or prevents animals from chewing through the cord’s plastic sheathing.

Now, while your fountain is pulled out of your lake or pond for the winter season, is the perfect time of year to cover your power cord in this protective material. A little maintenance and prevention will go a long way to stop those interlopers from damaging your equipment.

Pond Talk: What do you do to prevent muskrats and other semi-aquatic critters from moving into your pond or lake?

Remove Unwanted Guests - Tomahawk Live Traps

Do turtles burrow in the ground for winter? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Do turtles burrow in the ground for winter?

Q: Do turtles burrow in the ground for winter?

Lewis – Lincoln, VT

A: One of the oldest reptile groups on planet earth, cold-blooded turtles are distinguished by a bony shell that acts like a super-powerful shield to protect them from predators. Like birds and reptiles, turtles lay their eggs on land and breathe air—but they can spend long periods of time underwater, surfacing at regular intervals to fill their lungs with oxygen.

These terrapins do a great job taking care of themselves (and have been for the past 200 million years!), but if you have turtles in your pond or lake, you can be a gracious host by understanding some basic facts about them.

Wintertime Signs

They don’t use a calendar, but turtles know when it’s time to cozy down for the winter. They use the air and water temperature as a gauge, which triggers their instinctual behavioral and physiological hibernation. Typically, this happens when temperatures reach 50 degrees Fahrenheit or so.

Holing Up for the Season

Though they carry a home-sweet-home on their backs, certain types of turtles do hole up for the winter season—literally. Depending on the turtle type, some species, like box turtles, will burrow in the sediment in the bottom of your pond and hibernate for the winter, while others will swim to lower pond levels to escape ice cover. This innate behavior keeps them safe, in most cases, until temperatures warm again.

Slowed Metabolism, No Appetite

Like fishes and other cold-blooded critters, turtles’ metabolisms slow when temperatures get cold. This physiological change means that they require very little oxygen and food. In fact, their hearts will slow to just a few beats every few minutes! They are also able to take in miniscule amounts of oxygen through specialized skin cells.

Privacy, Please

To keep your turtles under cover and safe from predators during the long winter, you can add some pond dye, like Pond Logic® Pond Dye, to your pond. The blue or black coloring not only camouflages the turtles, but it also shades the pond, eliminates cloudy water, and cuts down on excess nutrients and odor.

Pond Talk: What do you do to support the turtle population in your lake or pond?

Shade & Protect Your Pond - Pond Logic® Pond Dye

Is it too cold to treat my pond with the ClearPAC®? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Is it too cold to treat my pond with the ClearPAC®?

Q: Is it too cold to treat my pond with the ClearPAC®?

Karen – Goshen, IN

A: Pond Logic® ClearPAC® combines PondClear™, Algae Defense®, EcoBoost™ and Nature’s Blue™ Pond Dye to combat algae and suspended debris in your lake or pond. Some components of this super-pack have temperature limitations while others can be used year-round. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

PondClear™

Beneficial bacteria that break down muck and suspended debris, such as those found in PondClear™ and MuckAway™, can be used until water temperatures drop to 50 degrees Fahrenheit or so. Though that temperature is not a definitive cut-off point, the bacteria will become less effective due to unfavorable conditions. Bottom line: When your thermometer dips below 50 degrees, hold off until the water warms again.

Algae Defense®

This algae-destroyer can be used to treat troublesome floating filamentous algae, bottom growing chara or the planktonic algae as long as it’s green and growing, and the water temperature in your pond or lake is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s lower than that, hold off until spring.

EcoBoost™

EcoBoost™, which is a bacteria booster rather than an actual bacteria, has no temperature restrictions so it can be used year-round to bind phosphates that find their way into your pond or lake. You can use EcoBoost™ throughout the winter to give you a head start on next season.

Pond Dye

The final ingredient in Pond Logic® ClearPAC®, Pond Dye in blue, twilight or black is not temperature-sensitive, so it can be used year-round to give your pond or lake that aesthetic appeal throughout the winter months. And if it’s getting too chilly to stand by your pond pouring in a quart of dye, try Pond Dye Packets—all you do is toss the water-soluble packet into the water and head back to your warm and toasty home!

Pond Talk: Why do you use pond dye in your pond or lake?

Enhance Water Clarity - Pond Logic® EcoBoost™

My pond is spring fed, so I don’t need an aerator, right? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

My pond is spring fed, so I don’t need an aerator, right?

Q: My pond is spring fed, so I don’t need an aerator, right?

Charles – Wadsworth, OH

A: Great question! First off, let’s tell the folks at home the differences between a catch basin pond and a spring-fed pond.

A catch basin pond is a reservoir filled with precipitation runoff—and pollution, in some cases—from the surrounding area. A spring-fed pond, however, is fed by a spring or ground water, which keeps the pond full. If you have cold areas of water in your pond, that could indicate that you have a spring-fed pond.

As the fresh water flows into the lake or pond from the underground aquifer, the water does move somewhat. But it doesn’t keep it agitated enough to naturally aerate it and maintain good water quality.

Preventing Thermocline

Whether you have a spring-fed or catch basin lake or pond, it’s critical to keep the water aerated. Why? Because doing so prevents thermocline, which is when the water forms layers, or stratifies, depending on the water temperature.

During the summer in a pond that’s not properly aerated, the water at the top is warmer and full of oxygen while the deeper water remains cooler and nutrient-rich. This phenomenon causes the fish to hang out at the pond’s surface. As the seasons change, however, the pond water does a “turnover,” which is where the warmer, oxygen-rich water sinks and the cooler, oxygen-depleted water to rise—leaving your fish gasping for breath.

Aerating Your Spring-Fed Pond

Obviously, you don’t want that to happen! So you should aerate your pond, even if it’s spring-fed. The action created by an aeration system, such as the Airmax® Pond Series™ Aeration System and the Airmax® Shallow Water Aeration System, effectively moves the water and causes the shallow and the deep water to mix. The Deep Water Aeration System is powerful enough to aerate ponds up to 3 acres and can be adapted to fit any shaped pond. The Shallow Water Aeration System is ideal for shallow lakes or ponds that require multiple aeration plates due to depth restrictions.

The result: oxygen is spread throughout the water column while dangerous gasses, like ammonia, are released at the water’s surface—and that means happy fish, good water quality and a healthy lake.

Pond Talk: Would you prefer to have a spring-fed or a catch-basin pond on your property?

Airmax® Aeration Systems - Create the perfect pond with aeration

I’m considering digging a pond but I hear they are a lot of work, is it worth it? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

I’m considering digging a pond but I hear they are a lot of work, is it worth it?

Q: I’m considering digging a pond but I hear they are a lot of work, is it worth it?

Peter – Stoughton, WI

A: Let’s be honest: pond maintenance can be a drag. Going out to your lake or pond over and over to clean up dead vegetation, fill the fish feeder, add your beneficial bacteria and check on your aeration system (not to mention all the seasonal chores) takes precious time and energy—so why bother?

Here’s some inspiration: Think about why you wanted a pond in the first place. Check out these four fabulous benefits of having a pond. They’ll remind you why all that maintenance is worth your effort.

A Cool Place to Relax

Your pond or lake is a scenic, peaceful place to snooze in a hammock or Adirondack chair, sip some cool lemonade, take in the views and just relax. It’s also a great place to hang out with family and friends and let the warm days of summer pass by. Enjoying the tranquil beauty of a pond—enhanced by Pond Logic® Pond Dye, which shades and protects the pond while adding to its color and beauty—is one of the top reasons why people have one in the first place, so it’s in your interest to keep it looking its best.

Sport Fishing

Having a lake stocked with game fish, like trout and bass, is another benefit to keeping and maintaining your pond. Any time you’d like, you can grab your fishing pole, head down to the lake and hook some tasty dinner. You can invite the kids (or grandkids) down for some catch-and-release fun. Maintaining you pond or lake—and feeding your finned friends some extra grub—will ensure a big catch every time.

Water Recreation

Do you enjoy swimming in your lake? How about boating or kayaking around—or even just floating on an inner tube? Your pond or lake is an ideal place to keep cool (and get away from your lengthy to-do list!) all summer long. When you keep your pond of lake in tip-top shape, it’ll be an inviting place to get wet, stay cool and forget about the outside world.

Support Local Wildlife

Deer, frogs, birds, dragonflies, raccoon, opossum—lots of critters (besides you and your family, of course!) make use of your pond or lake. They’ll visit for a drink of water. They’ll use it for shade and protection. They’ll even nibble at the bugs, plants and fish food, giving them sustenance throughout the year. By maintaining your pond, you’ll help support the local wildlife. And what land owner doesn’t want to do that?

Yes, maintenance can be a chore. But when you remember these four benefits to keeping a pond, you’ll (hopefully!) see those chores as a way of keeping and improving your property—and your peace of mind!

Pond Talk: What was the No. 1 reason why you decided to add (or restore) a lake or pond on your property?

Pond Logic® Pond Dye - Shade & Protect Your Pond

What Can I Do To Reduce Or Remove Cattails From My Pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: What can I do to reduce or remove cattails from my pond?

Ryan – Bradford, PA

A: Cattails, when left unchecked, can proliferate and take over a pond or lake in no time. These common aquatic plants grow from 3 to 10 feet tall in dense colonies around the margins of ponds and lakes. In the spring, the green strap-like foliage grows from large, creeping, below-the-ground rhizomes. As the seasons progress, the cattail’s leaves and spikes – or the plant’s brown cylindrical flower – grow. And when the flowers open and let loose their cottony seeds, the cattails spread and propagate new plants throughout the lake.

Cattails can indeed be a nuisance. Granted, a small, managed area of cattails will provide an ideal habitat for amphibians, insects, birds and fish, as well as helping to prevent erosion. But too many of these plants can create an unappealing look and begin to transform a healthy lake or pond into marshland.

Controlling cattails involves a simple three-step process: You’ll need to spray an herbicide to kill the plants themselves, cut the leaves and spikes down and remove them, and retreat as necessary.

Step 1: Treat the Plants

The most common way to control cattails is to apply an EPA-registered herbicide and surfactant product, like Shoreline Defense®, using a pressurized pond sprayer, such as the The Pond Guy® Pond Sprayer. Read the product labels for proper dosage rates for your size lake. To treat a 2,500-square-foot area of weeds, mix 8 ounces of Shoreline Defense® with 2 gallons of water and 4 ounces of Treatment Booster™ Plus, pour into pond sprayer and apply onto actively growing plants and at least 18 inches above the water surface where the cattails are growing. Allow the mixture to absorb into the plant and the root system, which is the most difficult part of the plant to kill, for one to two weeks.

Step 2: Cut, Remove the Stalks

Once the herbicide has had a chance to soak into the cattail’s root system, the plant will turn brown and become limp. At this point, you should remove the stalks. Doing so prevents muck accumulation, and it also makes it easier to treat and remove new cattails in the future as they will come up between the dead stalks. Cut the stalks using the Weed Cutter or the Jenlis Weed Razer™ Pro Aquatic Weed Cutter at the base of the plants, allowing for easier removal with your Rake.

Step 3: Retreat as Needed

To completely eradicate cattails in a pond, this process may need to be repeated – and repeated and repeated because not all cattail roots will be killed by one treatment. But once you have the plants under control, they can make a nice addition to your landscape and encourage wildlife to call your pond or lake home. Just don’t let the cattails take over again!

Pond Talk: How large of an area do you have in your lake or pond that’s devoted to cattails?

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