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Do herons fly south for the winter? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Do herons fly south for the winter?

Do herons fly south for the winter?
Bobby – Milwaukee, WI

Herons are migratory birds, and they have no appreciation for cold weather. So if you’re located in the cooler northern climes – particularly where ponds tend to freeze during the winter months – you’ll usually notice their absence when temperatures start to drop. Like many of us would like to do during winter, herons that choose to migrate will head for Central America and northern South America to warm up and fill up on fish. If you live in warmer portions of the United States, however, you may see herons all year ‘round, provided there’s enough open water and food to keep them happy.

While they’re beautiful to watch, herons are often unpopular with pond keepers – particularly those who have stocked their pond well. Herons consider fish as their favorite snack, and a single bird will happily devour every available fish, leaving the pond empty, and the pond’s owner grumpy. Herons aren’t picky eaters, though, and they’ll also snack on feeder fish, frogs, salamanders, lizards, snakes, grasshoppers and even dragonflies.

Fortunately, herons don’t hunt in flocks. When they spot a pond that’s already been claimed by another enterprising heron, they’ll typically fly elsewhere. That’s why we strongly recommend our Great Blue Heron Decoy as a simple way to discourage hungry herons from settling in for an uninvited visit.

Without preventative measures – like a well-placed and regularly relocated decoy – a heron will settle in as long as food is available. Otherwise, only cold temperatures, which send fish to the warmer water layers at the bottom of the pond and other food sources to their winter lairs, will encourage a heron to move on.

Pond Talk: Do herons continue to visit your pond throughout the fall and winter or more on?

Pond Logic® Blue Heron Decoy

Do Cattails actually die in the winter or can I do something to prevent them from coming back? | Pond & Lake Q&A

Do Cattails actually die in the winter or can I do something to prevent them from coming back?

Do Cattails actually die in the winter or can I do something to prevent them from coming back?

Brian – Holland, MI

As grandfather used to say, “never trust a sleeping cattail.” Actually, grandfather never said that. But he should have – because it’s true.

During the winter months, cattail foliage dies off. Leaves and stems turn brown and dry up when the weather gets cold, and optimistic pond keepers dare to imagine their backyard water features without the scourge of unwanted cattails. But deep beneath the pond, cattail roots are alive and well in their dormant state, saving up their energy to come back strong in the spring.

Fortunately, cattails aren’t invincible. Depending on the season, enterprising pond owners can take steps to eliminate cattails, leaving their backyard water features in great shape to host more desirable aquatic plants and fish.

When winter rolls around, and cattails have dried up, it’s worthwhile to cut the dead foliage and remove it. Our Pond Rake and Weed Cutter is specifically designed to make this process quick and easy. While this won’t kill the cattails, it will lay the groundwork for a successful spring offensive.

In spring, summer and fall, when cattail foliage is thriving, it’s time to apply our Shoreline Defense® Aquatic Herbicide. This safe, powerful herbicide is applied directly to all above-water cattail foliage. Once applied, the herbicide attacks and kills the entire plant – including its root system. Once the plant is dead, you’ll want to resume the use of your Pond Rake and Weed Cutter to remove the dead plants and prevent their potential to spread.

While Shoreline Defense® is effective on spring growth, it’s most effective during late summer and fall, when foliage is at its peak.

Pond Talk: Do you clear out dead cattails in the fall to get a jump start on spring maintenance?

Lake Rake  and Weed Cutter

Is there an ideal temperature to treat algae? | Pond & Lake Q&A

Is there an ideal temperature to treat algae?

Is there an ideal temperature to treat algae?

Crystal – New Baltimore, MI

It depends what you mean by the word “treat.” If you’re looking to throw a party in its honor, pretty much any temperature will do – because algae grows all year ‘round, even during the winter months. But if you’re hoping to give it the kind of treatment that makes it feel extremely unwelcome, you’ll see the best results when water temperatures are at 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. When water is warmer, algae tends to thrive. Because it’s thriving, it’s feeding – making it much more susceptible to algaecides.

Because very few of our customers express interest in enhancing algae growth, we’ll assume most readers are in the latter category. And if you are, we have a variety of highly effective options to accomplish your objectives. Algae Defense® with Treatment Booster™ PLUS is among our safest, most effective weapons in the battle against algae. Algae Defense® is a fast-acting aquatic algaecide, and it’s highly effective at eliminating a broad spectrum of pond algae. By including Treatment Booster™ PLUS, which breaks down algae’s natural defenses, this combination packs a particularly effective double-whammy, and makes short work of offending algae blooms.

For spot-treatment of algae growth, we also recommend Cutrine®-Plus Granular . Formulated to make quick work of both surface and bottom-forming algae, this safe, powerful algaecide does double-duty by both killing existing algae, and inhibiting its future growth.

While some pond owners prefer to eschew algaecide and rake algae out manually, the raking-only approach requires much more maintenance and attention. Algae are extremely hearty, and raking leaves trace amounts in the pond, allowing for recurrent blooms. For longer-lasting impact, the ideal treatment includes the use of algaecides, followed by cutting with our weed cutter, raking with our Pond & Beach Rake, and follow-up treatment with natural bacteria to break down any remaining muck.

Give your algae the treatment they deserve before temperatures start to fall – and start next season with a leg up on their plans for next year’s invasion.

Pond Talk: What method of treatment have you used to maintain algae?

What causes fog to form on the pond during the fall? | Pond & Lake Q&A

What causes fog to form on the pond during the fall?

What causes fog to form on the pond during the fall?

Grayson – Three Rivers, MI

When you make the decision to add a water feature to your backyard, the positives are countless. They’re calming. They’re beautiful. They’re satisfying. They’re challenging. And sometimes, they’re downright educational. Today’s post falls in the latter category. And for the next couple of paragraphs, we’ll discuss your pond’s potential as a weathermaker.

As everyone knows, fog is nothing more than a concentration of water vapor in the air. When fall rolls around, air temperatures cool faster than the water in your pond. When a cold layer of still air settles over your pond – typically during overnight hours – warm water vapor from the pond enters the cool air above it. The cool air then traps the concentrated water vapor in place, and fog forms. As the day wears on, and air temperatures rise, the water vapor evaporates and dispels – clearing the air until night falls, and temperatures follow suit.

Some people, particularly those who wax nostalgic about the Pacific Northwest or Sherlock Holmes-ian London, love the subtle mystery of their pond’s morning fog. But others like things crystal clear. Fortunately, with the installation of a Kasco or Aqua Control Fountain, the fog fighters can have things their way – all year ‘round.

Fountains serve several purposes. They provide vital aeration, enriching pond waters with the oxygen fish and plants need to thrive. They also create air movement above the water, preventing cool air from settling in, and eliminating the potential for fogging. So, whether you’re for fog or against it, you can always have your pond, your way, each and every day of the year.

Pond Talk: Have you noticed fog on your pond yet this year?

Kasco Fountains

I’m going to use my pond for skating over the winter. What do I need to do to store my aeration system? I’m going to use my pond for skating over the winter. What do I need to do to store my aeration system? | Pond & Lake Q&A

I’m going to use my pond for skating over the winter. What do I need to do to store my aeration system?

I’m going to use my pond for skating over the winter. What do I need to do to store my aeration system?
Wayne – Pontiac, MI

One of the great joys of a backyard pond is its four-season versatility. After three seasons of aesthetic satisfaction, there’s nothing better than strapping on a pair of skates and hitting the water when it hardens up for the winter. But before the temperatures drop, your aeration system demands some seasonal attention.

As a rule, it’s okay to keep your aeration system in operation until ice begins to form. When that day arrives, it’s time to shut the aerator off. At that point, you’ll want to put the compressor and its housing in a cool, dry place to avoid exposure to the elements, where dramatic weather changes can cause condensation that may cause damage. To accomplish this step, first disconnect the compressor from the airline. Be sure to cap the exposed end of the airline, leaving the remaining line buried, and diffuser plates in the pond.

When the aeration season is over, it’s a great time to perform regular maintenance. Consider changing your air filter. Choose a high quality replacement, like our Airmax® SilentAir™ Complete Filter Assembly, and install new Airmax® SilentAir™ Replacement Air Filter Elements if your filter is in good enough shape for another season.

If you’ve noticed that your compressor is producing less air than it should, you may want to consider the use of a Maintenance Kit to boost the compressors performance or inspect the diffusers and replace any damaged diffuser membranes. If you’re still using air stones, it’s the perfect time to upgrade to Airmax® Membrane Diffuser Sticks, which are easy to install, and virtually maintenance free.

Happy skating.

Pond Talk: Do you run your aeration system throughout the winter or store it for the season?

Airmax® Aeration Air Filter

It’s been cold where I live. Should I stop with my bacteria now? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

It’s been cold where I live. Should I stop with my bacteria now?

It’s been cold where I live. Should I stop with my bacteria now?
Kevin – Saugatuck, MI

In bacteria paradise, the temperature in your backyard pond would never fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. When water temperatures drop below 50 for any sustained period of time, the bacteria call it quits for the season.

But just because you’ve been feeling the cold for a few days, remember: it takes water longer to respond to changing temperatures. Thus, when it’s below 50 degrees outside for a lengthy stretch, your pond water may not have fallen as far – and your bacteria may be doing just fine. To get the most accurate reading you can, consider buying our Pond Logic® Floating Pond Thermometer. It’ll give you up-to-the minute readings, making it easy to monitor the health of – and the need for – your favorite bacteria.

When your pond is still in the above-50 degree range, we strongly recommend the continued use of Pond Logic® PondClear™ Beneficial Bacteria, and Pond Logic® MuckAway™ Pond Muck Reducer. These two products help to maintain healthy bacteria levels in your pond, which will help to reduce organics, excess nutrients and noxious odors, while breaking down muck and keeping your pond water clear.

Once your pond water drops below 50 degrees, you can safely suspend bacteria treatments. But when the temperatures start to rise again in the spring, be prepared to start back up – and get your pond water in great shape for another season.

Pond Talk: Do you monitor your pond’s water temperature for optimum bacteria use?

Pond Logic® MuckAway™ Pond Muck Reducer

The leaves are just starting to fall..I see netting for water gardens to keep the leaves out, do they make anything like this for large ponds? | Pond & Lake Q&A

The leaves are just starting to fall..I see netting for water gardens to keep the leaves out, do they make anything like this for large ponds?

The leaves are just starting to fall..I see netting for water gardens to keep the leaves out, do they make anything like this for large ponds?

Bryan – Traverse City, MI

When fall comes around, leaves and ponds seem to have a magnetic attraction to one another. And while netting is available in essentially any size you might need, it’s a cumbersome solution for larger ponds. Simply spreading the netting over a large pond is a major undertaking – and the impracticality of installing posts throughout your pond to keep leaf-covered netting from sinking makes other solutions look much more attractive.

At The Pond Guy, we strongly recommend aeration and chemical treatments to address inevitable leaf buildup for customers with large ponds. When you browse our web site, you’ll notice a wide range of Airmax® Aeration products. These aeration systems enable the pond to break down leaves quickly and naturally by keeping pond water moving – and the entire pond well oxygenated. When coupled with the beneficial bacteria in PondClear™, EcoBoost™ and MuckAway™, fallen leaves break down in no time to keep water clear, and both fish and plants healthy.

As an added measure in the fight against falling leaves and debris, you should also consider the use of a pond rake. With the regular use of our Pond & Beach Rake, you can easily remove excessive leaves and debris in no time flat.

Pond Talk: How do you keep fall leaves from accumulating in your pond?

Airmax® Aeration

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