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I took my fish out for the winter… when it is best to put them back? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I took my fish out for the winter…when it is best to put them back?

I took my fish out for the winter… when it is best to put them back?
Kathie – St. Cloud, MN

It is about time to get your pond up and running for the season. Your decorative pond fish may be even more excited than you are if they’ve been stuck inside for the winter. Before you re-introduce them to their pond you will want to give it thorough once-over to make sure the pond is healthy, clean and ready for spring.

You may choose to perform a complete pond cleanout and start from scratch, or if you prefer you can leave the pond in tack and just do some minor preparations. If this is the case, start by removing debris and algae from the water column, stream, rocks and pond bottom. Dusting Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense® on your rocks and waterfall will lift hard to remove debris and save you the time and energy of having to scrub them clean. You can don a pair of Aquatic Gloves or use a Pond Vaccum and go to work removing the muck and debris that have sunk to the bottom of your pond.

Once you have removed as much solid debris as possible you can perform a partial water change of around 25%. Include a dose of Pond Logic® Stress Reducer Plus or Water Conditioner to neutralize harmful water contaminates. Inspect your filter media for signs of wear and tear and replace as necessary. Thoroughly rinse off soiled filters and seed them with PL Gel Bacteria so they are ready to work as soon as you reinstall them in your filters. If you brought your Pressurized Filters, UV Clarifiers and Water Pumps inside for the winter you begin to bring them out and install them now. With your pond cleaned out and filtration system in place you are ready to fire up your pumps and circulate the water in your pond. Add your seasonal cool-weather bacteria like Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense to further establish beneficial bacteria in your filtration media and pond.
Let the pond circulate over the course of a few weeks if possible before adding your fish. This will ensure your fish don’t suffer from peaks in pH or ammonia while your water finds a happy balance. Ideally temperatures over 50 degrees are more easily adaptable for your fish but be sure you acclimate them to the pond slowly following the same process you would to introduce a few fish. Using Pond Logic® Stress Reducer Plus will aid in this process.

A good spring clean out will set the pace for your ponding season and prevent future headaches and stressed fish. Be patient and thorough using the proper tools so you can make your pond even more enjoyable this coming season.

Pond Talk: Have you performed your spring clean up yet? Any new ideas for your pond this season?

Pond Logic Stress Reducer Plus

My fish are looking for food, can I feed them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

My fish are looking for food, can I feed them?

My fish are looking for food, can I feed them?
Arlette, Arlington, VA

Now that the rain and warmer weather has melted the ice away from your water garden you can see your decorative pond fish moving about the pond. After a long winters rest you would think they are hungry and ready to eat but it may still be too soon to feed your fish.

Temperature is a major determining factor in whether or not it is time to feed your fish and what type of food you should feed them. Install a floating pond thermometer within reach of the pond’s edge so you can readily check water temperatures throughout the day. Once the weather warms up enough to keep the pond water continually over 40°F you can start feeding your fish a wheat-germ based food like Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food. As your fish are still a bit chilly their digestive tracks are working at a decreased rate. Foods designed for cooler weather consist of easy-to-digest ingredients that can be broken down faster so they don’t sit inside your fish and cause problems.

Once water temperatures rise above 50°F you can switch over to your growth and color enhancing foods like Pond Logic® Growth & Color or Pond Logic® Professional fish foods. As your fish will be warm and fully active, they will have no trouble breaking down these denser high-protein foods.

Your decorative pond fish will naturally want to eat at any chance they get whether they are hungry or not. They commonly fool their owners into thinking they are starving as they splash around at the surface of the pond and fight for every last pellet you throw to them. Be sure to wait for the temperatures to rise before you give them food and rest assured that a small handful of food each day is all they need to maintain healthy diet.

Pond Talk: Is your pond free and clear of ice yet? Are you fish actively swimming around your pond?

Pond Logic Spring and Fall Fish Food

What are the differences between a true Koi pond and a water garden? | Decorative Ponds & Watergardens Q&A

What are the differences between a true Koi pond and a water garden?

What are the differences between a true Koi pond and a water garden?
Natalie _ San Francisco, CA

When it comes to backyard ponds you may hear multiple names thrown out like water garden, Koi pond, decorative pond or other, more creative, titles. While these names are used loosely and interchangeably by many-a-pond owner there are considerable differences between a water garden and a Koi pond used for spawning and raising Koi.

So what draws the line in the sand between Koi ponds and water gardens? Water gardens are geared more towards the every-day pond owner as they are tailored to be easier to construct and maintain while having a higher aesthetic appeal and yard friendly design. Decorated with spitters, plants, lighting and other outdoor décor, water gardens can contain can contain all types of fish with goldfish and Koi being the most popular. Koi ponds tend to be sought after by pond owners that plan raising an abundance of Koi for selling or showing in fish clubs or competitions. With this goal in mind these ponds discourage the presence of species like goldfish as they breed prolifically and take up valuable space for their prize winning koi.

Another distinguishing factor is the design of the pond itself. Water gardens are typically less than 2 ft. in depth and contain plant shelves around the outside perimeter to hold a wide variety of aquatic habitat and visual stimulation. While a koi pond may also include plants for filtration or aesthetic appeal the design of this type of pond is all about the koi. These ponds do not contain plant shelves and are usually 4 ft. in depth or more. One reason for this is to discourage predators and increase useable area for their fish to roam and grow. Koi ponds also utilize bottom drains and large amounts of water flow to create ideal breeding conditions. As Koi breeders want to fit as many fish as they can into their ponds they rely on complex heavy duty filtration systems, and UV sterilizers to keep pond water clean. These systems are much more complex then the pond skimmers, pressurized filters and waterfall boxes water gardeners use.

Have the pond already but need help getting it established? Check out our fish and plant packages. Also, for more information on koi breeding click over to our blog on Fish Reproduction. Need help deciding? There are also a wide array of informational books and videos for those of you who are just looking to get started in the watergarden or koi pond hobby.

Pond Talk: What type of pond do you have?

Live Fish

How do pine needles affect my water garden? I’ve heard everything from poor water quality to no change at all. – Decorative Water Gardens Q & A

How do pine needles affect my water garden? I’ve heard everything from poor water quality to no change at all.

How do pine needles affect my water garden? I’ve heard everything from poor water quality to no change at all.
Betsy – Hinesburg, VT

Your evergreens may hold on to their color during the winter but they will have no trouble shedding a few pine needles. If your pond is pine tree adjacent you most likely have been dealing with the presence of pine needles in your water. Your pine trees can provide an excellent source of shade and privacy but do the negative effects of loose pine needles put your pond or fish in harms way?

As you already know, an abundance of organic debris in your pond can lead to algae blooms, turbid water and unbalanced water chemistry. Organic matter like grass clippings or leaves from nearby trees will eventually turn into an intimidating layer of muck if left at the bottom of your pond. Unlike leaves pine needles are not a huge contributor of tea colored water however, pine needles are acidic and can lower the pH of your pond water to an unhealthy level if left to accumulate. Because of their size, shape and density pine needles are a bit trickier to catch and clean out of your pond. They can easily fall through netting with larger openings and they tend to clog up pond vacuum hoses. To better protect your pond from fallen pond needles use Pond Nettinghttp://www.thepondguy.com/category/water-gardens-and-features-pond-netting with smaller mesh holes. As pine needles tend to float for a while make sure your Skimmer is active and running to help catch as much debris as possible. Your skimmer may require more frequent cleaning to prevent loss of water flow. Any needles that venture to the bottom of the pond can be rounded up with a Skimmer Net and your Pond Vac or you can don a pair of Aquatic Gloves and scoop up any large deposits that form. While pine needles decompose a bit slower than leaves beneficial bacteria products like Seasonal Defense will help break them down and remove any strays you might have missed.

To be fair to all of the evergreens out there, pine needles are not any more harmful than leaves; they just come with their own unique set of challenges. At the end of the day you treat them just like you would any other form of unwanted excess organic material. Keep your pond clean and it will keep you happy, whether you have pine trees, oak trees or no trees at all!

Pond Talk: What kinds of trees do you have around your pond? What methods have you found to be effective against debris from leaves and needles.

Keep your water garden healthy all winter long!

How do fish go dormant? Are they really asleep? – Decorative Water Gardens Q & A

How do fish go dormant? Are they really asleep?

How do fish go dormant? Are they
really asleep?

Ryan – Falston, MD

With the warm days of summer now a distant memory and fall following in its footsteps your Koi are left with a few months of cold weather with nothing to do but relax. Since they don’t have miniature submerged Koi calendars to check what is it that tells your fish it is time to hibernate?

Koi are cold blooded creatures which means their body temperatures and activity levels are directly correlated with the ambient temperature. Koi are active and alert when their environment is warm and will start to slow down as the water temperature decreases. Once the water temperatures start to dip below 46°F your fish tend to stop eating and will retreat to the bottom of the pond. Your fish use the decrease in temperature along with the shortening day lengths as a trigger to prepare for winter. As the water begins to cool your fish will become less active as their bodily functions slow down. Less activity means a slower digestive process, less demand for food. It is this decrease in food digestion that warrants the use of wheat germ based foods like Pond Logic Spring & Fall Fish Food. These types of food are easier to digest that regular food reducing the risk of leaving undigested food to rot inside a dormant fish which can potentially be fatal.

As the temperatures continue to decline towards 40°F, the blood flow and respiratory rate of the fish will drop to an extremely low rate where their body is hardly functioning. You may hear people say that your Koi are sleeping in the winter and while fish do sleep this goes way beyond the standard drop in bodily functions associated with some much needed shut-eye. This extreme internal slow down ensure survival with even the most limited resources with cases of dormant fish lasting 150 days without food.

The whole over-wintering scenario sounds a little extreme to us but it is truly a natural and normal process for your fish. They do not require much attention in the winter but there are a few things you can do to ensure their winter break is a success. When a layer of ice begins to form over the pond, maintain an opening for gas exchange using your aerator or a de-icer. Also, make sure you feed with a cold weather formulated fish food as water temperatures approach 50° so your fish are able to safely digest it before hibernation begins. You can use a pond thermometer to keep track of the water temperature in your water garden.

Pond Talk: What do you do to help your fish through the winter season?

Get your fish ready for wither with Pond Logic Spring and Fall Fish Food!

Can I water garden indoors for the winter? – Decorative Water Gardens Q & A

Can I water garden indoors for the winter?

Can I water garden indoors for the winter?
Tony – Chicago, IL

Your pond can be an outlet to be creative, a way to relax and a nice break from your day to day routine. Your life doesn’t take a break just because the weather cools down so why should your pond? Our blog on Bringing Your Fish and Plants Indoors may be the catalyst you need to start your first ever indoor pond. So what should you bring indoors with your plants and fish and what else can you do with your pond to beat the winter blues?

Some types of water features are easier to implement indoors than others. Water features like container type fountains or pot style water features can easily be carried inside and used to foster your plants and fish over the winter. Larger pre-formed ponds or rubber liner based ponds are more permanent but can be duplicated indoors using a plastic-preformed pond liner or large Rubbermaid tanks. If your outdoor water feature is over 18” deep and doesn’t freeze solid you can leave the bulk of your fish and plants outdoors to over winter and bring just a few inside to create an indoor feature that is sized to fit your home.

Use your ponds Outdoor Décor to compliment your indoor feature. Not only can you accent your indoor water feature with existing outdoor statues and ornaments but you will also be protecting them from harsh winter elements keeping them safe and intact for use next season.

Also, use this opportunity to experiment, learn and grow as a pond owner. Don’t be afraid to try new designs, plants and products to achieve the exact look and feel you want from your water feature. There is a wealth of knowledge available to you in both Pond Books and Blogs that can help you on your journey for the perfect pond. Furthermore, now is the time to take inventory of your consumable products such as Filter Media Pad, Bacteria and Fish Food. Inspect materials for signs of wear and replace them as necessary and make sure you have the products you need on hand for your spring start up. Take the time now to prepare for spring and make your water feature start up a breeze.

Pond Talk: Have you created an indoor water feature? What type did you build? What challenges did you encounter?

Get inspiration for your water garden from Water Gardening for Hobbyists Book!

When should I switch my fish food and what should I use? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

When should I switch my fish food and what should I use?

When should I switch my fish food and what should I use? Millie – Mayday, GA

Better Pack a Cold Lunch

As the temperatures begin to cool down at the end of the year you will notice a change in the behavior of your Koi and Goldfish. Your fish will start to slow down and become less active as the water gets colder as they prepare for a winter of dormancy. You will still want to feed your fish in these cooler fall temperatures. A change in diet will help maintain happy and healthy fish and prevent potential fish kills going into the winter.

A decrease in activity means that your fish are slowing down and this is not just in regards to the energy level but to their bodily functions as well. Your fish will still be hungry and want to eat but because their digestive system slows down they will require less food and will take longer to digest what you’re feeding them. This can be problematic if you continue feeding your fish heavy high-protein foods in the cooler seasons. Excess food that has not been digested can begin to rot inside the fish before they can excrete it as waste causing illness and even death.

Fish food containing wheat germ like Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food are designed for colder weather feeding. Your fish have an easier time digesting these types of food at low temperatures which will keep them full and happy without putting them at risk. Knowing what types of food to use in colder temperatures is important but when do you make the switch? When your water temperatures fall between 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit you will want to start feeding with your Spring & Fall food. The best way to monitor the temperature of your pond is to use a Floating Thermometer and watch your fish for decreased activity. If they tend to just stay at the bottom of the pond and are not interested in eating before the water temps dip below 40 degrees then you can stop feeding early. Food that is left to sink to the bottom of the pond will turn into muck and aid in algae blooms come early Spring. If your fish are still active and eating you can feed them Spring & Fall food until the water temps fall below 40 degrees. During the winter your fish will just relax at the bottom of the pond in a state of dormancy until the water temperatures warm back up in the Spring.

POND TALK: What signs do your fish give that tell you they are getting ready for winter?

Get your fish ready for winter!

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