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What is the difference between algae and Chara and how should I treat them? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

What is the difference between algae and Chara and how should I treat them?

What is the difference between algae and Chara and how should I treat them?
Veronica – Savannah, GA

To an entomologist, the differences between a cockroach and a termite may be a subject of profound fascination. However, to a homeowner, they’re both insect problems. If you have them, you sure as heck want to get rid of them – and the sooner the better.

Likewise, when the seasoned water biologist sees filamentous algae floating on the surface of a pond, he can probably identify the strain — Spirogyra, Oscillatoria, Pithophora, Anabaena or perhaps some combination thereof. Just beneath the surface, he might point out the gray-green, cylindrical branches of Chara, another form of algae that is often mistaken for a submerged flowering plant, except it has no flower and no defined root system.

Most of you would probably find this at least mildly interesting, unless, of course, the biologist is talking about your pond. Where he sees variations of filamentous algae, you see ‘pond scum’:what he identifies as Chara, you know as ‘skunkweed’ or ‘muskgrass.’ Suddenly, what it is, matters a whole lot less to you than how to get rid of it.

Well, fortunately, we’ve got some great options for you. One gallon of Algae Defense, mixed with water and Cide-Kick, can treat up to 8,000 square feet of pond surface. It’s best applied with an Airmax Pond Sprayer. It should come as no surprise that the sooner you address an algae issue with Algae Defense, the quicker and more effective the results. Algae Defense is best used to eliminate algae on or just below the surface of your pond. For bottom forming algae, like Chara, we suggest Cutrine Granular – 12 pounds can treat 8,700 square feet.

If you find that the algae in your pond has graduated from ‘issue’ to ‘problem,’ you may find that multiple applications of Algae Defense and Cutrine Granular are necessary. Make sure you treat your pond in small sections waiting a week between treatments, and have sufficient aeration when treating during the hot summer months. We also recommend following up treatments with the use of PondLogic PondClear and PondLogic MuckAway, which use environmentally friendly bacteria to break down the dead algae.

When it comes to the health of your pond, knowing what goes on is important, but knowing how to deal with it is essential.

Pond Talk: Have you learned any tips or tricks to treating algae in you pond?

Pond Logic Algae Defense Algaecide

There are rakes, razors, cutters…skimmers…is there a difference and which works best to clean the pond? | Pond & Lake Q&A

There are rakes, razors, cutters…skimmers…is there a difference and which works best to clean the pond?

There are rakes, razors, cutters…skimmers…is there a difference and which works best to clean the pond?

Bryan – Pasadena, TX

Yes. You could sweep your garage with a toothbrush. It’s possible. Some people – who have a much lower tolerance for dirt than most – might even do it. But when the time comes to do the job, you’re much more likely to choose a push broom, or better still, a shop vac. Why? Because they’re the right tools for the job. The same principles apply when you’re cleaning your pond. If you pick the proper tool, the job will be a lot easier – and much more effective.

So what, then, is the right tool for the job? It all depends on the conditions of your pond – and on what you hope to accomplish. The following list gives a brief breakdown of the tools we recommend, and describes their respective strengths:

Airmax Weed Cutter. The perfect weapon in the fight against submerged, marginal and terrestrial weeds. Tackle everything from lily pads and pond weeds to cattails and phragmites with this double-sized, 28” wide weed cutter, featuring a two-piece, 11’ long aluminum handle for extended reach.
Weed Razor and Weed Razor Pro. This unique, v-shaped aquatic weed cutter features razor-sharp blades designed to shear almost any type of rooted aquatic vegetation, including milfoil, lily pads, pond weeds and cattails. It’s designed for maximum impact, and clears a 48” swath with each throw and retrieval. The Weed Razor Pro offers the added benefit of an adjustable cut from 12” to 62”, and makes it easy to cut nearly any aquatic vegetation in its path in no time flat.
Airmax Pond & Beach Rake. Whether you’re skimming floating aquatic vegetation from the water or looking for an effective way to remove weeds, algae, muck and debris from the pond bottom or beach, this versatile 36”-wide rake is indispensable. It comes with an 11’, two-piece aluminum handle for reach and a detachable float with 20’ of polypropylene rope, making it perfect for throwing and easy retrieval. As an added benefit, simply shorten the handle, and you have a professional-grade landscaping rake for dressing beach sand.

Weed Raker. One of the longest and deepest-digging lake rakes in the industry, this rake easily removes submerged lake and pond weeds right down to the root. It’s also superb for removing dead, decaying matter at the pond bottom to make short work of muck.

In smaller ponds and water features, pond skimmers can also help to remove debris – but they’re ineffective at large-scale debris removal in larger ponds, where water levels fluctuate and surface area is too large to allow all debris to reach the skimmer.

When you’re through cutting and raking aquatic growth from your pond, it’s also important to remove the results. If left in the water, cuttings will sink to the bottom, where they accumulate, form muck, and provide a natural growing environment for — you guessed it – more weeds.

Pond Talk: Which tools work best to keep your pond clean?

Lake Rake/Weed Eradicator Combo

We just purchased a house that had a pond, it hasn’t been taken care of, where do we start? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

We just purchased a house that had a pond, it hasn't been taken care of, where do we start?

We just purchased a house that had a pond, it hasn’t been taken care of, where do we start?
Tony – Romeo, MI

If you’ve ever adopted a stray pet, you already have a general sense of what it’s like to become the keeper of a long-neglected pond. Like the stray, the pond probably looks like it’s been reclaimed by nature: rough around the edges, none too attractive, and probably a bit more of a commitment than you’d ordinarily take on without a lot of advance planning.

But like a scrawny stray, a neglected pond is often a diamond in the rough – waiting for the loving attention of a caring keeper to really show its true colors. And with the right products from The Pond Guy, the transformation from primeval bog to backyard showplace is much easier than you’ve imagined.

The first step in reclaiming your pond is to evaluate the status quo. With a quick inventory, you’ll determine if it’s full of weeds, if there’s any aeration, and if there are any fish who call it home.

For maximum initial impact, proper aeration is critical. If it’s missing, weeds thrive, algae blooms, and both fish and healthy plants struggle for survival. At The Pond Guy, you’ll find exactly what your pond needs with one of our Airmax Aeration Systems. Designed to suit the size and depth characteristics of your pond, the right system will begin the process of making your pond a safe, healthy habitat for the fish and plants that make ponds a pleasure.

Once the aeration is up and running, you’ll need to tackle the weeds and algae with our safe, powerful herbicides and algaecides. Our most powerful weapon in the fight to restore a pond’s health is our ClearPAC and ClearPAC Plus products, which combine the benefits of beautiful, Nature’s Blue dye and Algae Defense algaecide, the muck reducing power of our PondClear natural bacteria and our beneficial EcoBoost phosphate binder, which reduces phosphate levels to make water clear and healthy for fish, wildlife and anyone else wanting to use the pond.

ClearPac Plus also includes MuckAway to eliminate the muck that accumulates at the bottom after long periods without proper pond care. By following the simple steps included with ClearPac, you’ll see marked improvement in no time, with steady improvement over the course of several weeks of treatment.

For ponds that haven’t suffered long-term neglect, our Algae Defense and PondWeed Defense tackle specific problem areas quickly and effectively.

Pond Talk: Have you taken on the task of reviving an old pond?

Pond Logic ClearPAC

What’s the difference between MuckAway and PondClear? What’s the difference between Muck Away and Pond Clear? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

What’s the difference between Muck Away and Pond Clear?

What’s the difference between MuckAway and PondClear?
Missy – Birmingham, MI

Walk into a teenage boy’s room and, as often as not, you’ll be met by piles of dirty clothes, smelly sneakers, pizza crusts, apple cores, and other detritus of teenage life — an unsightly, smelly mess. A thorough clean-up usually involves several steps: first, you pick-up stuff until you find the floor; second, you put the stuff away; and finally, you dust, polish and vacuum. Let two weeks pass (or whatever your mess threshold happens to be). Repeat.

As pond owners know, there is a bit of the teenage boy in Mother Nature. She thinks nothing of dumping leaves, pollen, sticks and other organic material in your ponds, clouding the water and mucking up the bottom. Like the boy’s room, cleaning up your pond often involves a multi-pronged approach. Fortunately, we have the perfect products – MuckAway and PondClear — to meet your needs.

Both products release aerobic bacteria that digest organic debris, removing excess nutrients and leaving a clearer, cleaner pond. Both products are eco-friendly and easy to apply. Where they differ is the target area. MuckAway (as you, the saavy reader, might infer) is designed to remove the ‘pond muck’, organic debris that accumulates at the bottom of your pond. One scoop of MuckAway pellets, spread evenly, can treat 1,000 square feet of shoreline, beach area or anywhere muck has gathered on the bottom of your pond. Use every two to four weeks after water temperatures have climbed above 50 degrees until desired results are achieved.

Pond Logic© PondClear is intended to digest the floating organic debris that can cloud up your pond. Available in liquid or water soluble packets, PondClear goes immediately to work clearing up your pond water without ever impeding your pond use. Like MuckAway, PondClear is NOT a chemical and has no water use restrictions on swimming or irrigation.

Like all great pairings – Rodgers and Hammerstein, Stockton and Malone, hydrogen and oxygen, peanut butter and jelly – MuckAway and PondClear are terrific on their own, but together they make an unbeatable team when it comes to promotion and maintenance of a clear, healthy, fresh-smelling pond.

Pond Talk: Have you used either Muck Away or Pond Clear in the past and noticed increase in results from using both?

Pond Logic MuckAway

My pond looks like an oil slick. Why and how can I get rid of it? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

My pond looks like an oil slick. Why and how can I get rid of it?

My pond looks like an oil slick. Why and how can I get rid of it?
Brandy- Naples, FL

Every year, Mother Nature unleashes a mass of pollen into the air to facilitate the fertilization of seeds in flowering plants. It’s an effective design, but not terribly efficient. Pollen ends up everywhere – just ask anyone who suffers from hay fever – and the surface of your pond is no exception.

Once settled on the surface, the pollen often mixes with algae to form a film that can give your pond that greasy, greenish look. If you’re unsure that the slick is due to pollen, run your finger through it. If the slick breaks up, you know your pond’s wearing an unsightly coat of pollen. And ‘unsightly’ defeats one of the purposes of having a pond to begin with, right?

So, what’s a frustrated pondkeeper to do? If you’re patient, you could wait for a heavy rain to come along and sink the pollen to the bottom. Or, depending on the size of your pond, a touch of artificial rain – think garden hose, here – might provide a temporary fix. However, to both fix the problem and prevent its recurrence, many of our customers have found that the installation of an Airmax Aeration System is a great solution. Our Airmax systems – available in models to fit your pond’s dimensions and needs – keep pond water circulating, which prevents the pollen from coalescing into an unsightly slick. Aesthetics aside, an Airmax System is a great way to keep your pond – and the plants and fish living there – clean and healthy.

For a more elegant solution to the pollen slick problem, you may want to consider a Kasco Fountain, which sprays water up and over the pond’s surface, causing ripples that prevent the formation of pollen slicks completely. Kasco Fountains are offered with single or multiple pattern sprays, adding a dramatic element to your pond-scape.

So, if you find your pond wearing an ugly, pollen coat, let us help you take it off, and replace it with that fresh, shimmering surface it deserves.

Pond Talk: Do you ever notice a white or greenish slick look on your pond?

Pond & Lake Fountains

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do?

I have phragmites in my pond, and they are so aggressive they even outgrow the cattails. What should I do?
Kandy – Portland, OR

Phragmites are the worst kind of uninvited guest: once it makes its appearance, it’s too late to give it the slip. For those who have experienced phragmites, they’ll attest to its tenacity. They’ll also attest to its heartiness. Unlike the plants you’re actually trying to grow in your pond, phragmites requires no care and feeding at all – and it’s remarkably adept at withstanding any effort to slow it down. .

Characterized by a green stalk with purple/tan plumes in late July, the majority of each phragmites plant is underground. As a result, by the time you actually see a phragmites plant in your pond, its root system is well established – laying the groundwork to take over the entire body of water. In fact, phragmites plants continue to spread throughout their life, sending stalks skyward at a blistering pace. And once the stalks reach maturity – typically from early to late summer – the plants double their efforts at pond domination by distributing seeds throughout the watershed. Phragmites, it seems, is quite capable at taking care of itself.

When taken alone, phragmites might actually be considered attractive. Unfortunately, it has no interest in sharing its turf. Through its aggressive growth, phragmites chokes out native plant species in short order, and can transform an entire pond’s flora over the course of a single season. And while it’s nearly impossible to eliminate phragmites once it’s established, our Kraken Aquatic Herbicide and Cide-Kick Combo – carefully and regularly applied with our Airmax Specialty Pressurized Pond Chemical Tank-Sprayer or our 4-Gallon Backpack Pond Sprayer – can significantly impair root system growth, while leaving room for the plants you’d like to keep around.

After herbicides are applied, many pond owners are eager to eliminate both existing growth and dead stalks left over from the previous season. Our Aquatic Weed Cutter makes short work of offending plants. Once the cutting is done, our Aquatic Weed Rake helps to remove mess. In some instances, pond users also use controlled burns – after herbicide application – to remove standing plants. While this can be effective, it should never be practiced apart from herbicide use. Some evidence suggests that burning alone – without the use of herbicides – can actually increase the density of phragmites plants.

Good luck with your battle against phragmites. Stay vigilant, stay focused, and act quickly to curb new growth. The fight may last a long time – but the results will be worth the effort.

Pond Talk: Have you battled phragmites in your pond?

Kraken and Cide-Kick Combo

I have a small floating weed in my pond. I think it is duckweed, how do I know and how do I treat it? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I have a small floating weed in my pond. I think it is duckweed, how do I know and how do I treat it?

I have a small floating weed in my pond. I think it is duckweed, how do I know and how do I treat it?
Jason – Raleigh, NC

Duckweed can be a real nuisance if not identified and treated correctly. As it is a prolific grower it can quickly make your pond or lake look more like a golf course in a relatively short period of time. Duckweed is a small floating weed with a single root hair extending from the bottom of each individual leaf. Each green leaflet is about 1/8” of an inch in size and you should be able to fit about 5 to 10 on the tip of your finger. Duckweed can sometimes be confused with watermeal which is also a small green floating weed. Watermeal differs from duckweed in that it is much smaller and has a grainy or almost sandy feel to it if you hold it in your hands.

You can treat duckweed with two different methods. The first method is by spraying contact herbicides like Pond Logic® Pondweed Defense™ or Redwing™ directly onto the floating masses with a pressurized tank sprayer. This method typically yields fast results but tends to be a quick fix that ends up resulting in new growth reforming over just a few weeks. If you need to whip your pond into shape for a planned day or two event, then spraying your pond with a contact herbicide may be an appropriate treatment for you.

For longer lasting control of duckweed you can treat the pond with WhiteCap™ aquatic herbicide. This product works by inhibiting the plants ability to produce carotene and as a result chlorophyll is degraded by the sunlight and the weed dies. There are however a few things you will need to check before adding it to your pond to ensure a successful treatment. Most importantly, WhiteCap™ has a 30 day irrigation restriction meaning that if you water your plants or grass with your pond water you will not be able to do so for at least 30 days. Secondly, Whitecap needs to maintain a high concentration in the pond for up to 90 days. If your pond is prone to overflow or has an inlet/outlet chances are that the WhiteCap™ will rinse out of your pond to quickly making the treatment less effective. A good way to visually check your water loss is to color the water body with pond dye. Dye will typically remain in your pond for 2-4 weeks in normal conditions. If your pond looses color sooner then it is a great indicator that too much water is exiting the pond.
As WhiteCap™ is degraded by sunlight it is important that you dye your pond while you are chemically treating the water body. When applying WhiteCap™ use a pressurized tank sprayer and submerge the spray nozzle to apply the herbicide beneath the surface of the pond where it is safe from evaporation and sun exposure.

The best time to use WhiteCap™ is early in the spring a couple of weeks before you normally see duckweed forming in your pond. This will give the herbicide a chance to establish itself in the pond and discourage plant growth before it gets out of control.

Pond Talk: Have you experienced Duckweed in your pond?

WhiteCap

Why do frogs/toads make so much noise? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

Why do frogs/toads make so much noise?

Why do frogs/toads make so much noise?
Stephanie – Pasadena, TX

With the official start of spring come and gone we are not the only ones excited about the rising temperatures. You will soon be serenaded by the assembly of frogs and toads that set up camp at your pond and lake. These frogs and toads can get quite boisterous as they let out calls that can be heard from miles away.

It is not the warm weather or a particularly good day that makes frogs and toads sing however. When toads and frogs call out they are actually trying to attract a mate. Both frogs and toads are capable of croaking but calls vary between each species allowing their mates to distinguish who’s who amongst the gathering of suitors. It is the male who calls out to potential female mates in an attempt to present itself as the best possible option as it is competing against a long line of bachelors. The size and health of each particular frog or toad, along with temperature can dictate the strength, pitch and carry of its call.

While most people enjoy the ambience provided by these calls, the impressive noise a chorus of frogs can produce can become problematic. If you find the noise troublesome you can try to encourage frogs and toads to move elsewhere by discouraging their habitat. Using tools like a Pond Rake and Weed Cutter you can cut and pull away plant debris and growth from around the shoreline of the pond. Without the protection from predators these frogs and toads will not be as inclined to call your pond home.

Pond Talk: Do frogs and toads tend to use your pond as a serenading staging ground? Have you taken steps to eliminate the noise or do you enjoy it?

Lake Rake/Weed Cutter

I still have dead cattails standing from last year. Should I cut them down? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I still have dead cattails standing from last year. Should I cut them down?

I still have dead cattails standing from last year. Should I cut them down?

Josh – Canton, OH

It seems not even the harsh winter winds and giant piles of snow are a match for cattails growing around your pond. After a much awaited spring thaw you may still see dead cattail reeds standing tall for all to see. Nobody wants an abundance of aquatic weeds overtaking their pond so will managing those existing cattails help you maintain your pond this season?

Cattails left in your pond throughout the season will begin to go into a state of dormancy as we head into winter. While the reed or stalk of the cattail browns out and dies the rhizome, or roots, will become inactive underground until next season. At this time the dead stalks remaining above ground will begin to decompose and add muck to the pond if not removed. To remove these dead cattails from your pond you will want to use management tools like the Weed Eradicator to cut through tough cattail reeds with ease and then use the pond rake to rake them away from the pond. Raking this debris out of the pond before it decays and turns into muck will save you the hassle of rampant algae blooms and weed growth later in the season. If you do notice an abundance of submerged debris and muck in your pond you can start using MuckAway™ or PondClear™ bacteria to help clean the pond once your water temperatures are stably around 50 degrees.

With old stalks cleared from the pond it will be easier to address any new growth that may begin in the spring. Once the cattails begin to show signs of new growth of at least 18” you can begin further treatment. To control active cattails use products like Avocet® PLX as it is absorbed by the cattail reed and delivered directly to the rhizome killing the entire plant. Once the cattail reed has become inactive and brown it will no longer act like a transport system for chemical treatments rendering them ineffective and these stalks can be cut down as well.

Not all cattail growth is bad and many pond owners use cattails to provide shade for their pond, privacy, prevent soil erosion, create fish habitat and some people even cook and eat them. If you choose to leave areas of your pond more natural make sure you mark boundaries along your shoreline to ensure you can monitor the spread of your cattails and control them as necessary.

Pond Talk: Do you leave some cattails in your pond? What do you use them for?

Clean your shorline with the weed raker and weed eradicator

How do weeds like Cattails and Phragmites survive the winter? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

How do weeds like Cattails and Phragmites survive the winter?

How do weeds like Cattails and Phragmites survive the winter?
Bryce – Grand Rapids, MN

Your gamefish and frogs aren’t the only ones hiding from the cold winter weather. Even your emergent weeds have developed a defense mechanism to survive over the winter. Being perennial plants, they may appear to die when the weather cools down but they are really just buying time until the spring thaw when they will return in all of their glory. Whether or not this is good news depends on how you feel about the presence of these particular plants in your pond.

Plants like Cattails tend to disperse their seeds as fall approaches. As the weather continues to cool the leaves and the stalk of the plant wilt and die only to decompose and become fertilizer for the roots, or rhizomes, of the plant come spring. While the exposed areas of the plant are dying off, the roots of the plant begin pulling in nutrients to store before going into dormancy for the winter. As these roots can be considered the heart of the plant, cutting down Cattail and Phragmite reeds will not discourage new plant growth in the spring.

If you like having Cattails or Phragmites around your pond then nothing is needed to help them through the winter as they are naturally prepared to make a comeback. If you are not a fan of these emergent plants you can make it harder for them to grow back by physically removing the plant roots or by using pond care products to remove their food source and kill the plants including the roots. Applying aquatic herbicides like Avocet PLX while Cattails and Phragmites are still active is infinitely easier than trying to pull their extensive root system from the pond. Avocet PLX is absorbed by the plant and carried to its roots effectively killing the entire weed. Since you don’t want to encourage new growth you will want to remove any potential “fertilizers” in the form of plant decay and muck. Once dead cut and drag any dead reeds and leaves away from the pond and burn or compost them. Using a Rake and Weed Cutter will make short work of these shoreline cleanups and give you the advantage for next season.

Pond Talk: How do your emergent plants react to the cold winter weather?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

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