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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 Pond Logic® PondClear™ Pond Logic® EcoBoost™ and Pond Logic® 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 Airmax® 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

I shut my aerator off for the winter, will I have to introduce it slowly again in the spring? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I shut my aerator off for the winter, will I have to introduce it slowly again in the spring?

I shut my aerator off for the winter, will I have to introduce it slowly again in the spring?

George – Albany, NY

As pond owners we buy aeration systems for our water bodies with the intentions of creating a cleaner and healthier environment for both ourselves and our fish. While aeration systems are great at eliminating water stratification and promoting the ideal environment for a healthy pond, the key to proper use is proper installation.

The surface of your pond reacts to the ambient air temperature and warmth from the sun considerably faster than deeper regions. As we head into spring the temperature will begin to rise as the sun shines down on your pond. The top layer of water in your pond will begin to warm up quickly while the bottom of your pond stays dark and cold. Furthermore, the surface of your pond is exposed to oxygen which is naturally wicked into the water column but remains only in the upper layers. This formation of warmer and cooler layers of water is known as stratification. Stratification can become a potential hazard as the two different layers of water will sometimes flip or “turnover” and mix together causing a sudden change in water temperature and dissolved oxygen levels which, depending on its severity, can make it difficult for your fish to adapt to the quickly changing environment.

Airmax Aeration Systems are designed to infuse oxygen into your water column from the bottom of the pond while continuously circulating the water. This constant action aids to prevent water stratification for occurring. However, when aeration is introduced suddenly and continuous to your pond you are, in essence, creating a man-made turnover by forcing all of the water at the bottom of your pond to the surface.

When installing an aeration system in your pond, or upon reintroduction of your system after winter removal, you will want to run your system in small increments that grow in duration over the course of a week. Think of this process as the same way you acclimate new fish to your pond. You wouldn’t just grab a new fish by the tail and toss them in your pond, you float their holding container in your pond and slowly mix some of the water together to give them time to adjust to the variations in each environment. By running your aeration system for only an hour the first day you install it and doubling the run time each day after, your aeration system will be running continuously by the end of the week while keeping your fish safe from pond turnovers.

Pond Talk: Have you ever experienced turnover in your pond? Share your stories with potential aeration newcomers and pond veterans alike.

Keep your pond healthy all year long!

Should I still be doing maintenance on my aeration system this time of year? | Pond & Lakes Q & A

Should I still be doing maintenance on my aeration system this time of year?

Should I still be doing maintenance on my aeration system this time of year?
Sharon – Farmington, MI

Your aeration system is a very important tool in keeping your pond clean and healthy throughout the entire year. Whether your are just starting your system up for the first time this season or have been aerating your pond all winter long there is never a bad time to do a quick maintenance check on your aeration equipment.

A lot of potential issues can be resolved just by visually inspecting your aeration unit. Regularly inspecting your aeration system’s pressure gauges, exposed airlines and cooling fans can help locate line blockages and worn or broken parts that could damage your aeration system if left unnoticed. If the airlines are blocked by ice or debris the pressure gauge on your aeration system will begin to climb. Once too much pressure builds up in the compressor a pressure relief valve will open to drain the air causing a loud “hissing” noise. No air is making it into your pond when this happens and your compressor will begin to overwork itself causing rapid wear and tear.
Your aeration system needs air to function properly. A clogged or dirty air filter will restrict the amount of air that enters your aeration system reducing performance. Furthermore, dust and debris that are allowed to pass through your air filter will travel into the compressor and wear out moving parts faster than usual reducing the life of your aerator. Check and clean your air filter regularly and replace the air filter element every 3 to 6 months.
When the ice completely thaws over your pond this spring it is a good idea to raise your aeration plates and inspect them for broken or missing parts. Airstones should be cleaned or replaced with membrane diffusers, and the connection between your airline and aeration plate should be checked and tightened if necessary. Compressor maintenance kits are available for Airmax® Aeration systems and should be installed every 3 to 5 years. These kits contain replacement parts for the wear and tear items in your compressor which break down and diminish performance over time. Each kit comes with instructions and images and is simple to install. If you do not feel up to the challenge or feel more comfortable having a professional install your maintenance kit you can contact a pond guy or gal toll free at 866-766-3710 to send your system in for maintenance.

Like a vehicle, your aeration system requires regular maintenance to keep it performing at its best. Keeping your aeration system clean and well maintained extends the lifespan of the unit and ensures your system is running as efficiently as possible.

Pond Talk: How often do you inspect and maintain your aeration systems. Have your regular inspections caught potential problems?

airmax® silentair™ air filter

I have an aeration system but the pond is frozen over, am I still getting aeration? | Pond & Lakes Q & A

I have an aeration system but the pond is frozen over, am I still getting aeration?

I have an aeration system but the pond is frozen over, am I still getting aeration?
Jenni – Monticello, NY

Even if you’ve been running your aeration system diligently throughout the winter to protect your fish, it is still possible for your pond freeze over. It is not uncommon for the cold weather to close up the holes created by your aeration system during a streak of particularly frigid winter days. Your pond is able to hold a substantial amount of oxygen which acts as a buffer for days where your pond is getting less than ideal air exchange. Even when frozen, your aeration system will continue to circulate and add oxygen to the water column. Typically a sunny or warmer day will provide the assistance your aeration system needs to re-establish ventilation holes in the ice and release any harmful gas that accumulated while the pond was frozen over.

If your pond stays frozen over for more than a week or two at a time you may want to consider using an ice auger to drill a couple holes in the ice around the perimeter of your pond. Do not venture out towards the center as your aeration system is constantly bubbling and weakening the ice. Never try to pound, crack or break through the ice to open a hole for air exchange as it will send pressure waves throughout the pond disrupting and possibly killing your fish. Positioning your aeration plates in shallower areas of your pond will make it easier for the surface water above the plate to remain open due to increased water movement reaching the pond’s surface.

If your pond still hasn’t thawed out with the help of warm weather, sunshine and shallow plate placement, your aeration system may be to blame. Inspect your aeration system to make it is properly functioning. If you are using an Airmax® Aeration System, make sure the air filter is clean and is being changed every 3 to 6 months. Check your pressure gauges and airlines for indications that the compressor is still producing adequate air flow. If your system is between 3 to 5 years old consider installing a maintenance kit which replaces all of the seals and wear and tear parts that lead to decreased system performance. If the pressure reads abnormally high it may indicate that your airlines are obstructed by ice or possibly pinched or crushed.

If your pond only stays frozen over for short periods of time there is no need to worry. The holes will open back up on their own and your pond will take care of the rest naturally. Continue to regularly inspect your aeration system for signs of trouble and ALWAYS exercise caution when venturing near the ice. Make sure there is a floatation device present at your pond both in the summer and winter.

Pond Talk: Does your pond freeze over during the winter, even with aeration?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

Are there any tips to making sure the ice on my pond is safe to stand on?

Are there any tips to making sure the ice on my pond is safe to stand on?

Are there any tips to making sure the ice on my pond is safe to stand on?
Nicki – Sandusky, OH

Winter brings not only cold weather and snow to your pond or lake but a perfect layer of ice for skating, ice fishing, snowmobiling and other fun as well. While you may be eager to get out on the ice this season, it is important that you know how to distinguish the difference between safe strong ice and a potential hazard.

There are a lot of different factors that determine the ice thickness on a water body. Temperature has a large part in ice formation of course but water currents, wind and snow coverage also play a role in how water freezes. You should see a satisfactory layer of ice form on your pond after two to three weeks of freezing temperatures. Once temperatures stabilize and the ice has time to thicken you can venture onto the surface and perform an inspection.

You can visually determine the quality of ice by looking for bubbles, trapped snow, cracks and color. A clear solid blue layer of ice is stronger than a white brittle formation caused by air pockets and other flaws. Keep in mind that a pond with a running aeration system will have air pockets and should not be used for recreation in the winter. Naturally new ice is stronger than old ice as there are less chances of warm weather thawing and re-freezing. Once you have inspected the surface of the ice you can drill or cut samples to verify thickness. Since a water body will not always freeze evenly you will want to take samples in multiple locations as you work your way out towards the center. A layer of ice less than 3 inches is unsatisfactory for most people to walk out onto. It may be able to hold up lighter people or small animals but can easily crack. If you plan on having a group of people on the pond or want to take your snowmobile out on your lake an ice formation of 6-8 inches minimum is ideal. Click over to our blog on Ice Formation for more information regarding ice thickness and formation.

Be patient this winter and exercise extreme caution when venturing onto the ice. Taking the extra time out to visually inspect your ice and take samples can mean all the difference between a fun day outdoors or potential injury. Always make sure there is a floatation device within reach in case of a fall-through and always use common sense when venturing out on the ice.

Pond Talk: How do you determine when it is safe to venture out onto your pond or lake in the winter?

keep your pond safe at all times with a life ring!

How does ice form on a pond?

How does ice form on a pond?

How does ice form on a pond?
Jonathan – Denver, CO

You look forward to and enjoy the ice formations that appear on your pond each winter but have you ever wondered how it begins? Why is it that the ice in your pond expands when it freezes instead of shrinking and why does ice float?

Unlike those horror flashbacks of falling asleep in science class we’ll keep this as simple and interesting as possible. As the air cools off outside your water looses heat and becomes heavier. This cool and heavy water sinks to the bottom of the pond as the lighter warmer water rises to the top to cool. This process continues until the pond water reaches about 4 degrees Celsius or 39 degrees Fahrenheit and the water cools enough to freeze. Water is unique in the fact that as is it freezes its molecules form crystals that are spaced farther apart causing ice to expand and take up more space. Once the water in your pond begins to form these crystals and expand it actually becomes lighter than warmer unfrozen water and once again begins to rise to the surface of your pond where it begins to form a sheet of ice. If this all seems a bit too wordy or confusing to you visualize a glass of water with ice cubes in it. The spaced out, crystallized, water molecules of the ice cubes make them lighter than the water in the glass and cause them to float at the surface of the water. The water in the glass that is cooled by the ice cube (but not cold enough to freeze) becomes more dense and sinks to the bottom of the glass and the warmest water rises to the top where it is cooled by the floating ice cubes.

The layer of ice formed by this crystallized frozen water can become fairly strong as it becomes thicker. An inch of ice can be strong enough to hold a small animal without cracking. 3 inches of ice typically is enough to bear the weight of the average person and once a pond freezes to 6 to 8 inches thick it is ready to play host to a hockey game or hold up a snowmobile. Some have even taken their cars out on the ice! While we don’t recommend you give it a try, 8 to 12 inches of ice can support a slowly moving vehicle.

Pond Talk: What do you use your pond for in the winter? Do you skate? Ice fish?

If I can’t use bacteria, how can I defend my pond while the water is cold? | Ponds & Lakes Q & A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

If I can’t use bacteria, how can I defend my pond while the water is cold?
Mary – Hudson, CO

It is not uncommon for ponds to get a little out of control as the temperatures begin to drop in the late fall and early spring. As water temperatures decrease, your pond crosses a balancing point where your bacteria and algaecides can no longer remain effective enough to fight off excess nutrients and cold temperature plant growth. Customers tend to let their guard down at the end of the season as they venture indoors for the winter.

Pond dye is an effective year-round treatment that works flawlessly in the winter giving your pond a unique look even as it ices over. Algae and plants can still grow at the bottom of the pond in cold temperatures and they are continually exposed to sunlight even if there is a layer of ice on the pond. There are multiple shades of dye available to pond owners. Pond Logic® offers pond dye in a decorative Nature’s Blue™, natural blue-green Twilight Blue™, or reflective Black DyeMond™, so you can achieve a unique color that fits your particular setting. You can learn more about choosing the best pond color in our Pond Dye Blog.

Organic matter will continue to decay during the winter, and run off from melting snow and rain will contribute to an increase in phosphate levels which encourages algae growth. Using a water conditioner like Pond Logic® EcoBoost™ will continue to bind these phosphates rendering them useless to weeds and algae as well as introduce trace minerals into the water column which promote a healthier fish population. EcoBoost™ also enhances the natural bacteria found in your pond increasing their productivity when they are active.

Both EcoBoost™ and pond dye are considered “proactive” pond care treatments as they are designed to create a balanced ecosystem and prevent problems like algae growth or turbid water. You can save yourself a lot of work and money on difficult spring start ups or late season algae blooms by continuing to use these types of pond care products throughout the year even after your bacteria and herbicides are packed away for the winter.

POND TALK: Pond owners sometimes use pond dye in the winter to create unique ice colorations. Share your winter pond art pictures and stories with other pond guys and gals.

Season Long Pond Care

If I have a spring running into my pond do I still need aeration? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

If I have a spring running into my pond do I still need aeration?

If I have a spring running into my pond do I still need aeration?
Scott – Ripon, WI

Natural springs are an excellent source of water to fill and maintain a farm pond or lake. The volume of water and the rate at which it flows into your pond varies depending on the magnitude of the spring. While a higher magnitude spring can provide a great deal of water exchange they do not do much to help boost the oxygen level in your pond.

Great deals of pond owners believe their water body is spring-fed because the pond water is cold in the deeper areas of the pond. Pockets of cold water are more often caused by a lack of adequate water circulation which leads to water stratification in the water body. This allows a top layer of water which is heated and oxygenated by the surrounding atmosphere to stay at the top of the pond while the water at the bottom of the pond stays trapped, cold and devoid of oxygen. A couple great indicators that your pond is spring fed are that the water level tends to stay the same regardless of rainfall or lack thereof in your area, or if your pond has an outlet and is constantly flowing. Since spring water tends to be colder you will notice that spring fed ponds are cooler even when properly aerated but the entire water body will be cool, not just random pockets of water.

Properly aerating a water body requires not only circulation but the addition of oxygen that can be absorbed into the water column. For this reason, a spring fed pond is not a direct substitute for a proper aeration system. Aeration systems are designed to not only move water around your pond but to boost the dissolved oxygen content of the water column. Bottom plate systems like the Airmax Aeration Systems utilize air compressors and membranes to pump oxygen to the bottom of your pond and then break it down in to small enough bubbles that are absorbed into the water column. This process also forces the water above the plate towards the surface of the pond causing a mushrooming effect that circulates the water body. These type of systems can be used year round. Fountains can also be used to aerate water bodies. Since they draw from the surface of the pond, fountains are usually better suited for ponds 6’ deep and shallower while bottom plates systems work well in deeper ponds. Fountains pump water from the pond and spray it into the air in fine droplets that absorb oxygen and then crash back into the pond. With this principle in mind you might be able to guess that a fountain that sprays a thicker or solid stream of water adds less oxygen to the pond than one that has a finer spray pattern. While effective in shallow water bodies, these systems are best used only for summer aeration.

Almost every pond can benefit from aeration as it not only provides oxygen for fish but also promotes faster muck digestion and an overall cleaner pond. If you have an aeration system in your pond but are unsure if it is properly aerated you can take temperature readings in multiple depths and areas of your pond and record any extreme variations which indicate a lack of circulation from your aeration system.

Pond Talk: Pond owners implement natural springs to create interesting water features in their ponds in the form of artesian wells and water leveling features which you can find online. Have you found a unique way to take advantage of your spring fed pond?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

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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