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How do I treat my pond fish for ich and other diseases? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How do I treat my pond fish for ich and other diseases?

Q: How do I treat my pond fish for ich and other diseases?

Nadine – Okemos, MI

A: There’s nothing sadder than a sick fish—particularly when it’s your friendliest koi or most gregarious goldfish. If your underwater pal is looking a little under the weather, here’s what you need to do to nurse him back to health.

1. Water Change

Some clean, fresh water can make a big difference. It’s full of oxygen, and it’s devoid of pathogens that could be sapping his immune system and making him sick. So the first thing to do is complete a 25 percent water change to get some new wet stuff into the pond.

If only one or two fish seem to be affected, sequester them in an isolation tank. You can use an aquarium, a large plastic bin, a child-size swimming pool—whatever size is appropriate for your fish. Be sure to add pond salt to the water, which reduces fish stress, as well as an aerator and a net to cover the tank.

2. Inspect Your Fish

Next, you’ll need to get up close and personal with your finned friend. Examine him from head to tailfin. Do you see any signs of inflammation? Is there redness in his gills? Do you see cuts or scrapes? Strange parasites or spots? Make note of unusual findings to determine what illness your fish has. Some common diseases include:

  • Ich: Technically known as Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, ich is an ectoparasite that presents as white spots on the body, fins and gills. Symptoms include loss of appetite, rapid breathing, hiding, resting on the bottom of the pond or tank, flashing, rubbing and scratching against objects, and upside down swimming near the surface. If not treated, ich will kill your fish.
  • Anchor Worm: These copepod crustaceans from the genus Lernaea are parasites that latch onto fish and grow into an unsegmented worm-like protrusion. Visible with the naked eye, anchor worms cause localized skin redness and inflammation. A fish with anchor worm may frequently rub on objects or flash, have trouble breathing and appear lethargic.
  • Fungus: Unlike ich and anchor worms, fungal disease—scientific name Saprolegnia—is an actual fungus that grows on fish that are injured or sick. Appearing as a white coating or cotton-like growths on the skin or fins, the fungus will eat away on the fish if left untreated, ultimately killing the fish.

4. Treat the Disease

Once you’ve determined what ails your fish, treat him with an appropriate remedy. You can find a range of treatments on The Pond Guy® Fish Health page, but here are some popular choices:

  • MinnFinn™ is a natural, biodegradable, broad-spectrum treatment for parasites and fungal and bacterial infections. Many issues can be eliminated in as few as one to three treatments.
  • Microbe-Lift® Parazoryne specifically attacks parasites, like anchor worms, fish lice and flukes, on goldfish and koi.
  • Aquatic Nutrition Medicated Fish Food is formulated with four antibiotics that combat bacterial infections and disease while providing nutrition to your pond inhabitants. The soft pellets sink to the bottom of the pond where sick fish tend to hide.
  • CrystalClear® KnockOut™ PLUS treats just about everything, including ich, parasites, protozoa, bacteria and fungi, that affect koi and goldfish.

4. Reevaluate Your Routine

You know the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure …” Well, when it comes to fish health, most times it’s true. Prevention is key to keeping your koi and goldfish healthy, and that prevention centers on your maintenance routines.

We recommend routine water changes, use of pond salt in low doses (don’t worry: it’s safe for your plants), filter clean-outs and removal of debris from the bottom of your pond. Doing so will keep your pond clean—and your fish happy and healthy.

Pond Talk: Have you ever nursed a fish back to health? If so, what did you do?

Treat A Broad Spectrum of Illnesses - MinnFinn™ Biodegradable Pond Treatment

What if my pond has aeration and it still freezes over? Will my fish be okay? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

What if my pond has aeration and it still freezes over? Will my fish be okay?

What if my pond has aeration and it still freezes over? Will my fish be okay?
Sue – Boston, MA

The reasons for aeration during the winter months are largely the same as they are during warmer weather. The oxygen provided by aeration is vital to the health of fish – all year ‘round. In the winter, aeration does double duty, both by introducing sufficient oxygen to the water, and by preventing the formation of ice that could contain harmful gases produced by leaves and other decaying material on the pond’s bottom. As long as the aerators keep some of the water from freezing, the fish in the pond will have sufficient oxygen to weather the cold.

If your aerator can’t keep up with the impact of a long cold snap, and the pond freezes entirely for a short time, your fish should be fine. Short term freezes shouldn’t pose a threat to a well maintained pond – and fish will have sufficient oxygen to survive the temporary freeze. During longer cold snaps, however, harmful gases can accumulate, and you may need to take measures to open the ice. To accomplish that task, it’s important to avoid the use of hammers, drills or other percussive tools. The effects of violent vibration can be harmful to fish. Instead, try applying buckets of hot water to melt vent holes.

To prevent freezing, we recommend the use of our Airmax® Aeration Systems. With the system installed, it’s wise to prepare for winter by situating stones throughout the pond. For an added measure of assurance, you may also want to suspend some stones closer to the surface to generate more surface-level water movement, while leaving the bottom of the pond still for fish.

Pond Talk: Have you had your pond freeze over even with the help of an aerator?

Airmax® Water Garden Aerations

Do I need to remove the UV in my pond for the winter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Do I need to remove the UV in my pond for the winter?

Do I need to remove the UV in my pond for the winter?
Andrew – Memphis, TN

Like a lot of people, UV components don’t tolerate cold very well. Unlike people (most people, anyhow), those components tend to crack when frozen. So, in the interest of avoiding unnecessary expense when you bring your pond back online in the spring, removing your UV for the winter months is a wise course of action.

In ponds where the UV is a component of the filter system, the same rule applies: it’s worthwhile to take the entire filter out for the winter. Fortunately, the task is pretty straightforward. When the time comes to shut the pond down for the year, the first step is to drain the water from the UV/filter and give them a thorough cleaning. Next, be sure to cap off the tubing ends with a plastic bag or a snug-fitting cap to keep debris from entering the system. Finally, place your filter components in dry storage to keep them in good shape for next season.

But wait! What about your fish? Even though you’re done with your pond for the season, they’re not going anywhere – and they’ll still need an adequate supply of oxygen to survive the winter. And nothing provides oxygen more reliably than our Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration System and our Airmax® KoiAir™ Aeration System. With the addition of one of these systems, you’ll ensure winter water circulation – and keep your pond water well oxygenated for the fish that make your water feature a three-season sight to behold.

Pond Talk: Do you have a UV filter in your pond that needs to be removed?

Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration System for Water Gardens

When should I switch my fish food? | Decorative Pond & Water Garden Q&A

When should I switch my fish food?

When should I switch my fish food?

Jordyn – Milwaulkee, WI

If you’re eating fish food, you should probably consider switching it right away. I recommend pizza. Unless, of course, you’re a fish – which, for the purposes of this post, we’ll assume you are.

Fish, as you probably know, are extremely susceptible to seasonal cycles, and the environmental changes they bring. When gauging the best time to transition from one type of food to another, it’s vital to monitor water temperature – which, when you use our Pond Logic® Floating Pond Thermometer, is a snap. The second, more subtle indicator is fish behavior. When water temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, fish movement become slower and more sluggish, or they’re eating significantly less, it’s time to switch to a wheat germ-based food like Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food.

When fish ease toward their dormant months, wheat germ-based food provides easily-digestible nutrition, and ensures that your fish won’t go dormant with undigested food in their bellies. Because undigested food decomposes over time, it poses a serious health risk to fish, and can release toxins into their systems that can result in sickness – and even fish loss. When using our Spring & Fall Fish Food, you can continue to feed your fish safely, without exposing them to unnecessary risk of illness.

When water temperatures drop into the 40s or fish stop eating altogether, it’s time to stop feeding, allowing fish to settle in safely for their long winter’s nap.

Pond Talk: What signs do you fish give you to signal they are ready to relax for the winter?

Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food

I purchased a bright yellow-colored koi. Several months later, the colors began to fade. Why? I purchased a bright yellow-colored koi. Several months later, the colors began to fade. Why? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I purchased a bright yellow-colored koi. Several months later, the colors began to fade. Why?

I purchased a bright yellow-colored koi. Several months later, the colors began to fade. Why?
Crystal – Menomonee Falls, WI

Think about the things that make you feel healthy and happy. Like good food. Low stress. And enough sunshine every day to keep the blues away. With that simple recipe, you’ve described the perfect balance. And if you don’t stay true to it, everything suffers. Including your complexion. Just ask your koi.

Okay. Asking your koi probably won’t help. But if its color is starting to fade, the odds are good it’s not in peak health. Fortunately, with a few changes to your regular koi-keeping routine, you can restore its vibrant color – and put the spring back in its…um…swim.

One of the first culprits for a fading koi is the lack of consistent sun exposure. So take a look at your water feature. Are there too many water plants? Is the feature in a shady spot? While it’s important to provide protection from predators and constant direct sunlight, your koi needs natural light to thrive. Make sure to clear out excess vegetation – and brighten its day.

Stress can also take a toll on your koi – and its color. Unlike humans, though, koi stress doesn’t come from bill collectors and overzealous bosses. It comes from predators, parasites and poor water quality. In order to give your koi the ability to keep stress at bay, our Pond Logic® Stress Reducer PLUS helps to restore its natural slime coat – while removing chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals ordinarily found in tap water. While Stress Reducer PLUS is great for new ponds, regular treatments will help to keep your koi in peak health.

Food is another critical ingredient to a bright, happy koi’s existence. Koi, like people, can’t thrive on junk food. With a regular diet of PondLogic® Growth & Color Fish Food or PondLogic® Professional Fish Food, your koi will have the nutrients it needs to retain its vibrant colors – and thrive.

Finally, it’s important to consider genetics. Coloration is a fundamentally genetic trait – and over time, dominant and recessive traits can become more or less pronounced. So, while it’s critical to provide the right environment and food for your koi, diminished color may be the result of natural changes. So do what you can – and leave the rest to nature.

Pond Talk: Have any of your koi changes colors?

Pond Logic® Growth and Color Fish Food

I have a waterfall in my pond, is that enough aeration? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I have a waterfall in my pond, is that enough aeration?

I have a waterfall in my pond, is that enough aeration?
Robert – Racine, WI

Waterfalls are one of nature’s greatest creations. In addition to providing breathtaking beauty and places for daredevils to kayak and – for some inexplicable reason – ride over in padded barrels, they serve as massive aeration systems, introducing fresh oxygen into the ecosystem that fish and plants need to thrive. In backyard ponds, waterfalls serve many of the same functions – but their scale is often inadequate to provide sufficient aeration. They also fall a bit short as places for kayakers and barrel riders to strut their stuff.

So, while your backyard waterfall definitely helps to keep water oxygenated, additional aeration is always helpful – especially when algae begins to grow, and fish are faced with warming water and reduced oxygen levels. To provide the aeration any backyard pond needs, we strongly recommend our KoiAir™ and PondAir™ Aeration Systems. With a wide variety of options available for ponds of every size and depth, these systems help to increase circulation and reduce stratification to provide the healthiest possible environment for fish and decorative plants.

For signs that your pond’s aeration is insufficient, look for increases in muck and debris at the pond bottom. When properly aerated, muck is broken up naturally, leaving the bottom clean and the water clear. If you have fish, and they surface regularly or gather beneath a waterfall, your aeration may be inadequate. If that’s the case, you’ll give your fish cause for celebration by installing additional aeration – and you’ll have the satisfaction of a clean, clear pond that makes your backyard the perfect sanctuary.

Pond Talk: Do you run a separate aeration system in your pond?

Airmax® PondAir™

How many and what type of plants should I have in my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

How many and what type of plants should I have in my pond?

Q: How many and what type of plants should I have in my pond?
Bryce – Myrtle Beach, SC

If you’re a person – and we’re going out on a limb here to assume you are – you understand the importance of eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. Variety, it seems, is more than just the spice of life. Like you, your water garden thrives on variety – in the form of a carefully selected mix of aquatic plants. But just as overeating is harmful to you, over-planting spells trouble for your pond. So, whether you’re dining or planting, it pays to be prudent.

Ideal plant coverage is around 60% of your featured surface – this allows for enough nutrient absorption to help prevent algae from gaining a foothold in your pond. There are many types of water plants to choose from – bog plants, marginal plants, lilies, floating and submerged plants – and frankly, we recommend that you try and use them all because each type of plant brings a little something different to the water table if you get our drift.

For instance, submerged plants, like Hornwort or Anacharis, are oxygenators, providing critical support to a pond’s eco-system by supplementing the water with oxygen, while floating plants, like the water hyacinth, provide shade that cools the water and cover under which fish can hide.

Our customers have found The Pond Guy® Choice Hardy Water Lilies, make lovely additions to their ponds. Position the root of the plant in a container of Microbe-Lift® Aquatic Planting Media, and locate the water lily so that its floating leaves are away from any splashing water for best results.

Blue Flag Iris, Water Hibiscus and Bog Bean are all lovely examples of bog plants that can be placed around the shallow edges of your pond for both aesthetic and ecological reasons. To keep your water garden in healthy, we suggest you treat your plants once a year to such products as the Laguna Temperature Activated Aquatic Plant Fertilizer Spikes or the nitrate and phosphate free supplement Bloom & Grow™, formulated specifically for aquatic plants.

There’s no doubt about it: variety is the spice of life. It’s also the sign of a healthy, well-cared for pond.

Pond Talk: What types of plants do you have in your pond?

The Pond Guy® Choice Hardy Water Lilies

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