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When should I take the aerator out of my water garden? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

When should I take the aerator out of my water garden?

Q: When should I take the aerator out of my water garden?

Peter – Townsend, DE

A: You gotta love your aerator. This valuable wintertime tool not only keeps a hole in the ice for gas exchange, but it also circulates the water beneath the ice. Your Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration System keeps your fish happy and healthy through the icy winter months.

As springtime approaches and you notice that the ice covering your pond starts to recede, your fish may become more active. This indicates that your finned friends are no longer under threat from trapped gas—so it’s logical to assume you can remove the aerator, right?

Not so fast.

Mother Nature has a way of teasing us with spring sunshine, so don’t get too excited. In most places across the continent, it’s still cold and your pond’s ecosystem will remain dormant until water temperatures start hitting the 50-degree mark.

Your best bet is to keep the aerator running.

Chances are that you’re not quite ready to get the filtration system up and running in your pond, so your aerator will continue to circulate the water and saturate it with oxygen.

Even when the water warms up, your aerator’s added circulation is great for the pond and fish during the hot summer months. Plus, it helps stimulate filtration and beneficial bacteria. If you leave it running, you’ll see that the benefits outweigh the nominal amount it costs to run it.

Pond Talk: Has spring sprung in your part of the country?

Breathe Life Into Your Pond - Airmax® PondAir™ & TrueRock™ Combo

Should I add a de-icer to the aerator in my water garden? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Should I add a de-icer to the aerator in my water garden?

Q: Should I add a de-icer to the aerator in my water garden?

John – Ivoryton, CT

A: Before we broach this hot topic, let’s “break the ice” with a quick look at the differences between a de-icer and an aerator.

De-Icer: A de-icer’s simple purpose is to melt a hole in the ice that has formed on a container of water, whether a koi pond, water garden or livestock trough. Unlike a heater that actually warms the water, a de-icer melts through the ice sheet, thereby allowing harmful below-surface gases to escape and life-sustaining oxygen in.

Aerator: An aerator circulates the water below the sheet of ice that forms on a pond. In areas with relatively mild winters, that subsurface water movement will keep a hole in the ice that allows harmful gases out and oxygen in—but when temps really dip, an aerator may not be enough to maintain a vent hole.

Both a de-icer and an aerator help improve oxygen levels in your pond and, therefore, keep your fish healthy and happy.

If One is Good, are Both Better?

To answer your question: Yes, your aerated pond may appreciate some help from a de-icer, particularly if you live in a region with hard freezes.

Ponds that are already outfitted with an aerator, like one of the Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration Kits, benefit from its water circulation—but in areas with frigid winters, those systems may need a little help keeping a hole open in the inches-thick ice. So a de-icer paired with a nearby air stone will ensure the vent hole will remain open.

The opposite is also true. If you have a de-icer in place to keep a hole open in the ice, like the K&H™ Thermo-Pond 3.0 or K&H™ Perfect Climate Pond De-Icer, it’s a great idea to couple that with aeration system. The circulating action will help to encourage the gases forming under the ice at the bottom of the pond to reach the ventilation hole and escape.

If you’re in the market for a de-icer or aeration system, consider investing in a combo unit, such as the Airmax® PondAir™ and Thermo-Pond 3.0 De-Icer Combo. It’s the one-two punch your pond needs to keep breathing all winter long!

Pond Talk: With the recent arctic temperatures that have plagued folks in the Midwest and northern states, how have you kept a ventilation hole in your pond or water garden?

Eliminate Harmful Gases- Farm Innovators Floating 1250 Watt De-Icer

What should I do if I have a power outage over the winter and my aeration stops? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

What should I do if I have a power outage over the winter and my aeration stops?

Q: What should I do if I have a power outage over the winter and my aeration stops?

Johnny – Point Marion, PA

A: Power outages happen. Whether they’re caused by Mother Nature, like hurricane Sandy, or the result of an accident or a blown transformer, chances are pretty good that you’ll contend with at least one lights-out experience this winter—but your chandelier won’t be the only thing not electrified.

Out in your lake or water garden, your aeration system will also shut down when the electricity stops. No aeration for an extended period of time means your pond’s water quality could suffer and your fishes’ health could be compromised.

Don’t worry: If you’re prepared, a power outage won’t be a big deal at all. Here’s what you need to know.

Your Fish will be Fine …

As long as the water temperature remains cold and your pond is relatively free of dead or decomposing debris, your fish will survive the power outage without even blinking an eye.

Thanks to one of the many unique properties of water, cold water retains more dissolved oxygen than warm water. “Think about how much bubblier a cold soda is compared to a warm one,” describes the United States Geological Survey. “The cold soda can keep more of the carbon dioxide bubbles dissolved in the liquid than the warm one can, which makes it seem fizzier when you drink it.”

It’s the same thing with oxygen. Colder water molecules are more densely packed and can therefore hold more oxygen, which your fish and other pond inhabitants need to survive.

In addition, the pond should not have a lot of dead or decomposing materials, like leaves and plant matter. All that breaking-down vegetation depletes the water of oxygen while imbuing it with harmful toxic gases like ammonia.

Bottom line: If your water is cold and your pond is clean when the power goes out, your finned friends will be just fine, short-term.

Service & Protect Your Aerator

After the power is restored and the candles are blown out, plan to head out to your aeration system and assess the situation. Any built-up air pressure could prevent the aerator from turning back on, so you’ll need to relieve the air pressure by pulling the relief valve or disconnecting the airline before you turn the system back on again. In addition, condensation could form on the motor, which will need to be wiped down to prevent rust from forming.

To protect your aerator from the elements—which could cause an isolated power outage in your pond or lake—make sure it’s protected. Larger units, such as those for ponds and lakes, should be in a cabinet; smaller units, such as those for water gardens, should be hidden within a faux rock, like the Pond Logic® TruRock™ Small Boulder Cover. It’s designed to blend into the landscape while protecting pond equipment.

Pond Talk: In case of long-term power outage, would you ever use a generator to power your aerator? Why or why not?

Protect Your Aeration Units - Airmax® PondAir™ & TrueRock™ Combo

Can I continue to run my waterfall over the winter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can I continue to run my waterfall over the winter?

Q: Can I continue to run my waterfall over the winter?

Constance – Broomfield, CO

A: The short answer to your question: Sure! Many pond and water garden hobbyists keep their waterfalls running all year long—of course, those in warmer climates are probably more successful than those of us further north when the temperatures dip below freezing!

If you live in a colder region that freezes and you’re thinking about keeping your falls flowing through the wintertime, consider these important points:

  • Is your pump in a skimmer? If so, you may want to move it to a deeper area of your pond that doesn’t freeze.
  • Are you home to keep an eye on things? Ideally, someone should be home to periodically check on the waterfall and make sure it’s not freezing. If it does begin to freeze, the water may begin to divert out of the pond—leaving your fish high and dry.

Keeping your waterfall running during the wintertime has some definite benefits. Snow-covered and shimmering with crystals, a partially frozen waterfall can be a stunning attraction in your backyard. But that’s not all. You may also attract thirsty animals to your pond that decided to brave the winter elements!

Pond Talk: If you keep your waterfall running during the winter, why do you do so?

Protect Your Prized Fish - Airmax® KoiAir™ Aeration Kits

What if my pond is aerated but it still freezes over? Will my fish be OK? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

What if my pond is aerated but it still freezes over? Will my fish be OK?

Q: What if my pond is aerated but it still
freezes over? Will my fish be OK?

Kyle – Amelia, VA

A: Cold snaps happen—and when they do, that could mean big trouble for your fish.

When extra-frigid temperatures create a solid sheet of ice over your pond or water garden, your fish could be in danger because toxic gases, like ammonia, become trapped below the sealed surface. That ice also prevents fresh oxygen from mixing with the water, which your finned friends need to survive.

To allow for gas exchange at the water’s surface, you need a hole in the ice. And how do you do that? By cranking up your aeration with air stones.

Stones Near the Surface

An aeration system with air stones, like the Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration Kit, gently and quietly moves the water surface, and the action created by the moving water keeps a hole in the ice while infusing the pond with fresh oxygen for the fish.

You can position the air stones throughout your pond, but here’s a tip for when temps really dip: Suspend the stones closer to the surface to keep the water moving at the top of the pond but calm at the bottom for your fish.

Still Frozen Solid

What if your pond still freezes over? Short-term, your underwater inhabitants should be OK. As long as you’ve been properly maintaining your pond, there should be enough dissolved oxygen in the water to sustain them for a week or so.

Long-term, however, is another matter. If the warming sunshine and your aerators fail to outdo Mother Nature’s cold streak, you will need to create a hole in the ice. Though it’s tempting to bust through the ice with a drill, hammer or other blunt object, restrain yourself. All that smashing could create sub-surface vibrations that are harmful to your fish. Instead, fill a bucket with hot water and pour it on one area of the pond to melt open a hole, preferably near the edge.

If arctic temps continue to dominate the forecast, you may also consider heating things up with a de-icer, which is an electric device that keeps a hole open in the ice. When used in combination with your aerator, you’ll be able to beat the chill—and keep you fish happy and healthy. Purchase as a combo kit for extra savings.

Pond Talk: When your pond or water garden freezes over, what do you to do keep a hole melted in the ice?

Eliminate Harmful Gases - Airmax® PondAir™ & Thermo-Pond Combo

It is starting to get cold here; do I need to do anything special for my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

It is starting to get cold here; do I need to do anything special for my pond?

Q: It is starting to get cold here; do I need to do anything special for my pond?

William – Great Bend, KS

A: It’s September: The kids are back in school, and you’ve probably noticed a nip in the air, a flush of color in your trees and fewer hours of daylight. Fall is well on its way, which means you have some work to do after a relaxing summer lazing by your pond!

Here, we’ve listed five ways to prepare your pond for colder weather – and get a jump-start on your winter pond or water garden chores, too.

1. Switch to wheat germ food. Wheat germ-based food, like Pond Logic® Spring and Fall Fish Food, is much easier for fish to digest as their metabolisms naturally slow during the cooler months. The food contains a careful balance of nutrients like carbohydrates, vegetable proteins, amino acids and digestive enzymes that will keep your fish healthy and content as fall turns to winter.

2. Switch to cool-weather bacteria. Because different types of bacteria thrive at different temperatures, switch to a beneficial bacteria that’s formulated for colder weather, like Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense®. It works best in water that’s less than 50° Fahrenheit, and it accelerates the decomposition of leaves, scum and sediment that turns into pond muck during the fall and winter months.

3. Keep out the leaves. Blowing leaves and other debris will fall into your pond during the fall, and if you don’t get them out, they’ll decompose over the winter and create a mucky mess in the spring. Plan to put a net over the pond, like The Pond Guy® PondShelter™ Net Kit, to keep them out – or be prepared to empty your skimmer every day until the leaves stop dropping.

4. Start your aerator. Aerating your pond with an aerator, like the Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration Kit, helps to break up the water column in your pond and add essential oxygen to the water. If you skipped using your aerator during the summer, now is the time to get it going again so that it is well established when you shut down your pump and filter in the wintertime.

5. Cut back and remove dead plant vegetation. Just as you want to prevent those pesky leaves from falling into your pond, you should also hack away any dead plant material inside and around your water garden. Use a handy long-reach tool, like the Pond Scissors and Pliers combo, to remove water hyacinths or cut back water lilies and other aquatic plants.

Pond Talk: What other pond and water garden chores do you like to do in the fall?

Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food - Formulated For Cool Temperatures

Help! How do I get rid of green water? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Help! How do I get rid of green water?

Q: Help! How do I get rid of green water?

Linda – Gardnerville, NV

A: Nope, there’s nothing nice about a pea soup-colored pond. Just about every water gardener dreams of a clean, crystal-clear pond – not an algae-filled eyesore. During the warmer seasons, what do you do to prevent and get rid of that unsightly green water? By making sure your pond is in balance.

For a stable pond that inhibits algae growth, you have to strike a perfect balance (or close to perfect, anyway) between fishes, aeration and filtration. And to keep it that way, you have to keep it well maintained. Here’s what you need to know to get rid of that green water.

Watch Fish Load, Feeding

Yes, it’s tempting to take home a dozen or more of those tiny koi from your favorite water garden retailer. But remember: those fish will grow and excrete nutrients that feed the algae. The rule of thumb is to allow 1 inch of adult fish per square foot of surface area, so don’t max out your capacity with one impulse buy at the koi store.

Speaking of fish, take it easy with the food. Feed them a quality diet, like Pond Logic® Growth and Color Fish Food, once a day, and give them only what they can gobble down in a few minutes. Anything more than that just adds excess waste to the pond – which is food for the algae. You can feed your finned friends more often, but be prepared to do more partial water changes or add extra filtration to handle the job.

Add Some Aeration, Bacteria

When you circulate your pond’s water with an aeration system, like the Airmax® KoiAir™ Water Garden Aeration System, you deliver oxygen to the bottom where all the muck – a.k.a. algae chow – sits. This oxygen helps all the beneficial bacteria, like Muck Defense® that’s found in the Pond Logic® DefensePAC® Pond Care Package, break down and consume the material there and throughout the water column, resulting in cleaner, clearer water. Plus, the aeration is good for your fish’s health, too.

Filtration – the Bigger, the Better

Go big with your mechanical filtration system. Make sure it’s at least big enough to handle the amount of water in your pond. Manufacturers rate filters for minimal fish load, so if you intend to have a lot of fish, go even bigger.

Plants – floating, submerged, marginals and bog varieties – make excellent natural filtration systems that complement your mechanical and biological filtration. Plants also shade the pond, keeping temperatures cooler and sheltering your fish. So try to cover 40 to 60 percent of your water with plants.

If you still have a pea soup colored pond after getting your fish load right, your feeding routine in check, your aeration system in place and your filtration system humming and growing, it’s time for the big guns – an ultraviolet clarifier. A UV clarifier, like The Pond Guy® PowerUV™ Ultraviolet Clarifier, will help to bind the green water algae so it can be pulled out by your filter.

Keep It Clean, Kind Of

Normal maintenance, like regular partial water changes and debris removal, can go a long way to get rid of excess nutrient buildup. But don’t overdo the filter-cleaning chores. Too much – meaning daily or weekly – washing of the filter media will wear the material down faster and wipe out the beneficial bacteria that actually clean the water. If water is unable to pass through the filter, simply rinse it lightly with water.

And if you don’t already, it’s always a good idea to do an annual spring cleanout of your pond to get rid of organic materials that feed the algae.

Pond Talk: How can you tell when your pond or water garden is out of balance?

Pond Logic® DefensePAC® - 5 Simple Steps To Clear Water

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