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What is carbonate hardness and why does it matter? | Pond & Lake Q&A

What is carbonate hardness and why does it matter?

What is carbonate hardness and why does it matter?

Marlena – Richmond, MI

Carbonate hardness is a measure of the amount of calcium and magnesium present in water. As it turns out, these elements are vital to the health and well-being of certain fish – including trout, koi and goldfish – because of their ability to neutralize acids in water and stabilize healthy pH levels.

But why, you might logically ask, are acids a concern? You’ve just asked the sixty-four thousand dollar question. In the course of regular pond maintenance, it’s common to apply algaecides and herbicides. Often, those products contain chemicals that are acidic, and when they’re applied, they can cause pH fluctuations that certain fish are ill-equipped to handle. Thus, water that’s “hard” – or rich in calcium and magnesium – helps to minimize those fluctuations, protecting fish from harm. Other environmental factors, including runoff from fertilized lawns, can have a similar effect on pH, making it all the more important to ensure that your water maintains a safe level of carbonate hardness.

As a rule, algaecides and herbicides indicate a recommended level of carbonate hardness in pond water to ensure that their effects won’t harm fish. Low carbonate hardness is generally indicated when calcium and magnesium levels are below 50 parts per million (ppm). And fortunately, it’s easy to test your water to determine its carbonate hardness levels. With our Carbonate Hardness Test Strips, you can test your water prior to each application of algaecides and herbicides. If levels are above the range indicated on the product you’re planning to use, the pH of the water will be safe for fish even after application.

Pond Talk: Is water hardness a concern where your pond is located?

Carbonate Hardness Test Strips

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this? | Decorative Pond & Water Garden Q&A

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this?

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this?

Frank – Queens, NY

Just as variety spices up life, interesting shapes give a boost to the appeal of any backyard water garden. Because the kidney shape curves conveniently to form a perfect vantage point – where the entire pond is visible – it’s especially popular. It’s also a simple feature to install, starting with our custom cut Firestone 45 Mil Pond Liner. Using this 45 mil EDPM liner and some careful preparation, you can have your own custom-shaped water feature up and running in no time.

During your planning and preparation, you’ll want to consider the kidney shape, which allows much more than a convenient point to view your water garden. It also adds a touch of style without sacrificing function – while keeping the pond healthy by ensuring a generalized flow of moving water. That flow, of course, is best achieved by the use of pumps, skimmers and filters, which draw water from one end of the water feature to the other.

For maximum circulation – an immediate boost of visual interest – we strongly recommend the installation of a waterfall at one end of your water feature, with a skimmer and pump at the other. With the use of our Atlantic™ Pro Waterfall Filter Falls Box, your waterfall with double as an efficient filter designed to establish and maintain a balanced ecosystem for both fish and plants alike.

Pond Talk: What shape is your water garden?

Waterfall Filter Box

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

I have a pondless water with some algae on the rocks, do I need a filter to clean it or is there something else I can use? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I have a pondless water with some algae on the rocks..do I need a filter to clean it or is there something else I can use?

I have a pondless water with some algae on the rocks, do I need a filter to clean it or is there something else I can use?

Matt – Howell, MI

For pond enthusiasts who are short on free time, we’re big fans of pondless waterfalls. Since they typically don’t have fish and don’t involve open bodies of water, there’s very little to maintain. Without fish waste, debris or muck to contend with, these beautiful features can add a lot to your yard – and require very little in return.

Occasionally, though, algae can form on rocks in in a waterfall. And unless you have a fondness for the green stuff, you’ll want to dispatch with it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

For some, biological filtration is a viable option. Since most pondless waterfalls rely on a basin for circulation, the installation of an appropriately-sized filter – and some filter media – will generally resolve any algae issues. But under the circumstances, filtration is rarely the simplest solution. At the Pond Guy®, we strongly recommend the use of PondLogic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense® Pond Debris Remover. Oxy Lift™ is designed to break debris off rocks quickly and easily – without a lot of effort.

In fact, process couldn’t be much easier. Simply turn off the waterfall, sprinkle on Oxy-Lift™ (be sure to avoid direct contact with any plants), and let it sit for ten minutes. If the algae are particularly well-established, light brushing can help to loosen things up. Once those steps are complete, simply turn the waterfall back on – and get the instant gratification of immediate results.

As an added measure to prevent recurrence of algae, a partial water change and an occasional basin cleaning goes a long way. So enjoy the limited free time you have. Your waterfall is waiting.

Pond Talk: How do you limit algae and debris build up on your waterfall?

Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense® Pond Debris Remover

Should I cut cattails before I treat them? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Should I cut cattails before I treat them?

Should I cut cattails before I treat them?

Kevin – Boise, ID

At first blush, it seems pretty logical to cut cattails before treating them. But when you understand how the treatment works, it’s immediately clear: cutting first is the wrong way to go.

Here at The Pond Guy®, we’re big fans of Shoreline Defense® Aquatic Herbicide. When it comes to eradicating cattails and other grassy plants, nothing does a better job. Shoreline Defense® works best when use with a powerful surfactant that breaks down the waxy cuticle of the plant, allowing the herbicide to penetrate the stalks of cattails. The cattails then do the rest of the work, carrying the chemical treatment throughout the root system to kill the plant at its source.

Because cattails only use a small portion of their root system at one time, a single application of Shoreline Defense® should be allowed to work for a week or two before cutting the plants down with our Jenlis Weed Razer™ or Jenlis Weed Razer™ Pro Aquatic Weed Cutter. Occasionally, some roots will survive and send up new growth. When that happens, simply reapply Shoreline Defense®, wait an additional week or two, and repeat the process.

So, while it might be tempting to take out your frustrations and cut down offending cattails to remove the blight before treatment, take your time. The results will be worth the wait.

Pond Talk: Have you used Shoreline Defense® to treat your cat tails?

Should I add submerged plants to my Water Garden? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Should I add submerged plants to my Water Garden?

Should I add submerged plants to my Water Garden?
Stacey – Grand Rapids, MI

Let’s face it: floating and surface plants, like lilies and hyacinths, are the rock stars of any water garden. They’re the show-offs, the preeners, the colorful ones that visitors “ooh” and “aah” over; the divas that pond owners proudly feature on center stage.

But, may we ask, where would the rock star be without his support crew – the techies, the roadies, the groupies? Still playing air guitar in front of his mirror, that’s where. Lilies, hyacinths and the like just happen to be the most visible and attractive feature of a supportive ecosystem that should include their plainer relatives – the Submerged plants, like Vallisneria, Red Ludwigia, Hornwort and Parrot’s Feather. These worker plants compete with algae for the nitrogen produced by decaying plants and fish waste,produce oxygen to help keep the pond properly aerated,andprovide shade and shelter for koi and other fish. Submerged plants may not be flashy, but they’re a critical component in maintaining water quality and general pond health.

The easiest way to add one of these workers to your water garden is to plant its stems in a Laguna Submersible Pond Planting Basket along with an ample supply of Microbe-Lift® Aquatic Planting Media, and place it on the bottom of the pond. The baskets come in various sizes with mesh sides and bottoms – this allows the plant to seek nourishment outside the basket, without the risk of growing out of control.

Any performer will tell you that a well-fed support crew is a happy support crew. So to make sure your Submerged plants are getting the nutrition they need, we highly recommend the Laguna Temperature Activated Aquatic Fertilizer Spikes, a verbal mouthful that also delivers the goods. Simply push a spike into to the soil near the plant until the cap is just above the surface and you’re all set for a year.

So, by all means, add Submerged plants to your water garden and let your lilies rock on!

Pond Talk: Do you utilize submerged plants in your pond?

Submerged Plants for Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens

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 Treatment Booster™ PLUS , can treat up to 8,000 square feet of pond surface. It’s best applied with an 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®-Plus 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®-Plus 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?

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