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I heard fish can get swim bladder disease this time of year, but what is it? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I heard fish can get swim bladder disease this time of year, but what is it?

Q: I heard fish can get swim bladder disease this time of year, but what is it?

Becky- Trumbell, CT

A: Many bony fish, like the fancy goldfish found in ornamental ponds, have an organ called a swim bladder. This gas-filled sack has two main purposes: It helps the fish control its buoyancy and remain at a particular depth without having to waste energy on swimming, and it keeps the fish in an upright position. When a fish is unable to control its depth, or starts swimming sideways, upside side down, or head or tail down, it may have “swim bladder disease.”

A fish with swim bladder disease can be a troubling sight to see, but it can be treated. Here’s what you need to know about what causes it and how to get your fish swimming the right way again.

Your Gluttonous Goldfish

Although intestinal parasites and microorganisms can cause swim bladder disease, it mainly stems from overeating, eating too quickly or gulping too much air during feeding time. The fish gobbles mouthfuls of pellets, which expand like sponges as they soak up water in the mouth and digestive tract leading to constipation. Enough pressure on the swim bladder will cause the fish to swim any which way but up.

Time for a Diet Change

Water temperatures dip – sometimes precipitously – in the fall, and that change can slow your fishes’ digestive processes. They have a harder time digesting protein when it’s cold, and it can build up in their gut and result in an enlarged intestine.

To prevent this from happening, switch your fish food during the fall (and spring). Using a pond thermometer, periodically check your water temperature. Once temperatures are consistently between 40°F and 50°F, change over to a lower-protein, higher-carbohydrate diet like Pond Logic® Spring and Fall Fish Food, which is packed with easier-to-digest wheat germ. Feed them two to three times a week and only give them an amount that they will eat within 5 minutes. When temperatures drop below 40°F, stop feeding them entirely.

Peas to the Rescue

The best treatment for swim bladder disease is found in your refrigerator or freezer. Frozen or cooked peas, will blast through the impaction and reduce the pressure on the fish’s swim bladder. If your fish starts floating sideways, we recommend you stop feeding them for a few days and then hand feed peas to help clear up any blockages.

Medicating fish in outdoor ponds with cooler temperatures really is not an option, as the medications won’t work – so stick with the fasting-plus-peas remedy.

If one of your fish is really stressed, a salt bath could help – but you will need to dissolve the salt in an indoor holding tank filled with warm 78 to 80ºF water. Keep in mind that when you transfer your fish from the cooler 40°-50°F outdoor water to the warmer treatment tank, that temperature change can easily shock the fish. It should be avoided.

Pond Talk: Have you ever had to treat one of your pond fish for swim bladder disease? If so, what did you do?

Easy To Digest In Low Temperatures  - Pond Logic (r) Spring & Fall Fish Food

Do I need to do anything else to prep my pond for winter besides moving my air stones? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Do I need to do anything else to prep my pond for winter besides moving my air stones?

Q: Do I need to do anything else to prep my pond for winter besides moving my air stones?

Melinda – Novi, MI

A: Your to-do list of fall- and winter-prep chores isn’t as extensive as your spring to-do list, but you will need to do some housekeeping items before the cold weather settles in. Here is a checklist to help you complete your chores.

  • Move Your Air Stones: To keep oxygen bubbling in your pond through the freezing temperatures, move your air stones into an area that’s half the depth of the pond. For example, if your pond is two feet deep, position your air stones on a ledge or step that’s one foot deep.
  • Remove Glass: Drain, remove and store anything that has glass inside, such as your ultraviolet clarifier, pressurized filter and all-in-one filter. Keep them in a heated garage, basement or other indoor areas that won’t freeze.
  • Remove Ion Clarifiers: Ion clarifiers release copper, silver and zinc ions into the water to control string algae. Because copper levels are naturally higher in the winter, you can remove the ion clarifier and store it for the winter.
  • Pump Protection: Whether your pump feeds a waterfall, fountain or some other decorative feature, remove it and drain all the water from the tubing. Store your pump submerged in a bucket of water inside to keep the seals lubricated.
  • Nix the Netting: Before the first heavy snowfall of the season, remove your pond netting and store it until next spring.
  • Quick Pick Up: Clean up decomposing debris that can cause excessive toxic gas if your pond freezes over with helpful tools such as the Collapsible Skimmer and Fish Net or ClearVac™ pond vacuum. For smaller particles, rely on Seasonal Defense® which has beneficial bacteria with barley and is designed to work in cooler temperatures.
  • Switch Food: Help your fish transition to cooler temperatures by switching their diet to a wheat germ-based food like Pond Logic’s® Spring & Fall Fish Food. When temperatures reach below 40°F, stop feeding them entirely. Their metabolisms will slow down and they’ll hibernate for the winter
  • Get Your Plants in Shape: After the first frost, remove dead foliage from your aquatic plants. Trim hardy lilies and bog plants back and move them in the bottom of your pond to protect them from the cold temperatures. If you have tropical water lilies or other temperature-sensitive varieties, make room for them inside your home to regulate the required temperature.

Not too bad for a weekend’s worth of work! As soon as these chores are done, your pond will be ready for winter.

Pond Talk: What else do you do to prepare your pond for winter?

Make Fall Clean-Up A Breeze - The Pond Guy (r) ClearVac(t) Pond Vacuum

I went to clean my filters and found worms! What are they doing there? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I went to clean my filters and found worms! What are they doing there?

Q: I went to clean my filters and found worms! What are they doing there?

Gene – Tehachapi, CA

A: They’re weird looking, they’re tiny, and they’re blood-red – or at least a creamy pink color. What are they? They’re non-biting midge fly larvae, also known as bloodworms. Though they’re an unsettling infestation to see in your filter, they’re actually a sign that your pond is happy and healthy.

What’s In a Name

Midge flies hail from the family Chironomidae, which includes more than 10,000 different species worldwide. Some varieties appear bright red in color thanks to a hemoglobin-type substance that helps them live with oxygen-depleted water, giving them their “bloodworm” nickname.

As adults, midge flies resemble mosquitoes, but they have fluffy antennae and no blood-sucking proboscis. Large numbers of them can be a nuisance as their droppings can cause damage to paint, brick and other surfaces. And when their tiny corpses pile up, they can cause a stink.

Feasting in Your Filter

These insects thrive in freshwater aquatic and semi-aquatic environments. In their larval stages, they live in tree holes, plants, rotting vegetation, soil and artificial containers – including filtration systems, infesting media pads where there’s an abundance of organics from debris and fish waste. They spend their time attached to the container’s solid surface and eat as food floats by.

Midge flies lay their eggs in water, preferring it to be still, clear, dark and safe from critters like fish and frogs that nosh on the larvae when they emerge. To protect themselves, the bloodworms actually create and live in tiny half-inch tubes they build from mud, algae and other naturally occurring resources. Look closely in your filter, and you’ll probably see some of these worm-sized mud huts.

A Tasty Fish Treat

Don’t worry: These little guys won’t harm your pond or your fish. In fact, if one wriggles its way into your pond, it will be a welcome treat for your fish. Goldfish and other smaller fish will gobble them and their little mud homes; koi and other larger fish will treat them as tasty hors d’oeuvres.

Bloodworms are quite nutritious for fish. In fact, the insects are about 55 percent protein – which is a key nutrient fish need to grow, reproduce and maintain their health. So rather than balk at the tiny worms, scoop them out of your filter and give them to your pond dwellers. They’ll thank you for them!

Pond Talk: What kinds of treats do you feed your pond fish?

Four Densities for Every Filtration Need - Matala(r) Filter Media Pads

Now that water temperatures are warmer, what should I feed my fish? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Now that water temperatures are warmer, what should I feed my fish?

Q: Now that water temperatures are warmer, what should I feed my fish?

Martha – Clifton Forge, VA

A: After their long winter nap, just imagine how ravenous your pond fish must be! Now that water temperatures have climbed to a relatively toasty 55 degrees Fahrenheit, your koi and goldfish are wide awake and ready for some serious grub packed with muscle-building protein and energizing carbohydrates and fats.

When choosing a food for your finned pals, you have several options:

FOR GOOD OVERALL NUTRITION …

Looking for an all-purpose pond food? Check out Pond Logic® Ponstix. It is nutritionally dense and well-balanced fish diets that contain digestive enzymes and amino acids for optimal fish health. Both are economical choices to feed to your fish every day.

FOR VIVID COLOR ENHANCEMENT …

Do you want your koi’s rich reds, pearly whites and deep blacks to shine? Pond Logic® Growth & Color, TetraPond® Koi Vibrance® and CrystalClear® Koi Food are enhanced with vitamins, natural color intensifiers and chelated minerals to transform your koi into the most colorful swimming jewels they can be.

FOR THE SMALL FRY …

Spring brings spawning, which is something your koi and goldfish might be doing right about now—especially with the nutritious food you’re feeding them. Though the little guys will gobble algae and underwater plants when they’re very young, they’ll quickly graduate to fish food like TetraPond® Variety Blend Fish Food by summertime, so be sure to have some handy.

In the meantime, make sure the fry have safe spots to hide while they grow, like a Spawning Incubator. Made with polyester fur and fine mesh, the incubator protects them from being consumed or lost in your filtration system.

Pond Talk: What are your fishes’ favorite summertime treats?

Optimum Nutrition For Health & Color - Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food

My fish are looking for food. Can I feed them now? If so, what kind of food do I give them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

My fish are looking for food. Can I feed them now? If so, what kind of food do I give them?

Q: My fish are looking for food. Can I feed them now? If so, what kind of food do I give them?

Rick – Great Falls, MT

A: Fish sure seem know when spring is coming. This time of year, your koi and goldfish that have been hibernating over the winter are waking up—and they’re hungry.

Slow Eaters

When water temperatures dip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter months, your fishes’ metabolisms slows down. They enter into a hibernation-type state, during which time they require little or no food. They literally live off the fat stores in their body.

As the water temperature rises above 45 degrees in the spring, the fish start moving. Their metabolisms turn back on, and they need food to fuel their increased activity. To transition the fish from no food to daily food, fish experts recommend feeding a wheat germ-based diet when water temperatures are consistently between 45 and 55 degrees. A diet like Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food is quickly and easily digested by the fish.

Summertime Bounty

In the warmer months when your water temperature tops 55 degrees, you can continue to feed the wheat germ-based diets, or you can choose to gradually re-introduce protein-based diets that help the fish grow quickly and show off their colors. Here’s what we recommend:

Choose the diet that best fits in with your goals for the fish. If you’re not interested in growing your Kohaku into show-quality specimens, for instance, stick to the everyday or color enhancement diet.

Word of Warning

The weather may be warming up, but make sure the water temperatures are at a consistent 45 degrees before you start feeding your fish. Feeding them before they’re able to properly digest the food can lead to health issues.

Pond Talk: What’s your pond’s water temperature where you live?

Specialized Cool Weather Diet - Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food

How can I tell if my fish are ready for a lighter diet? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I tell if my fish are ready for a lighter diet?

Q: How can I tell if my fish are ready for a lighter diet?

Steve – Wallingford, PA

A: When feeding your koi and pond fish, a “lighter diet” doesn’t mean that your finned friends need to switch to low-cal, low-fat foods. Instead, it refers to an easy-to-digest wheat germ-based diet that’s formulated for the fishes’ slowed activity and metabolism during the transitional fall and spring months.

Wheat germ-based diets, such as Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Floating Fish Food and TetraPond® Spring & Fall Diet Fish Food, are packed with vegetable protein, amino acids and digestive enzymes. These diets, which help them ease into and out of winter, are gentle on their digestive systems while keeping their constitutions strong to fight off disease.

How do you know when it’s time to switch diets? Here are three clues:

  • Temperature: When your water temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, you should feed your active, hungry fish protein- and carbohydrate-balanced foods, like Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food. But when water temperatures dip to between 40 to 50 degrees, they require the lighter, wheat germ-based foods. Use your Pond Logic® Floating Pond Thermometer to keep an eye on the water temperature as the days and nights get cooler.
  • Fish Mobility: Are your koi and goldfish moving a bit more slowly than they normally do? That’s another clue that it’s time to switch to a lighter food. Fish will naturally begin to slow down their activity in cooler water as their bodies begin to prepare for their annual “hibernation.”
  • Feeding Interest: As the fish slow their activity and require less food to fuel their metabolisms, they won’t be as interested in the tasty morsels as they are in the summer. So if your koi and goldfish seem to have turned into picky eaters, that’s your third clue that it’s time to switch to a lighter diet.

When water temperatures fall to below 40 degrees, that’s when it’s time to stop feeding your fish altogether. Don’t worry: They won’t starve! Their bodies, which need very few nutrients to sustain them during the cold months, have plenty of fat stored—but you can bet they’ll be ready for a nice, big meal when spring arrives.

Pond Talk: What changes do you see in your fishes’ behavior during the fall?

Specialized Cool Weather Diet - Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food

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

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