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Do I really need to adjust my water’s pH level? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Do I really need to adjust my water's pH level?

Q: Do I really need to adjust my water’s pH level?

Terry – Bishopville, MD

A: Sure, you’ve seen those pH tests, like the Pondcare® Master Test Kit, online or at your local pond supply shop, and you’ve overheard veteran pond keepers talking about pH level adjustments. But what in the world is pH and why would want to monkey with it in your water garden or fish pond?

pH Defined

In super simple terms, pH, which stands for potential hydrogen, is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a water body is on a scale from 0 to 14. Pure water is neutral. It has a pH close to 7.0 at 77 degrees F. Blood is also close to neutral. Ammonia’s pH is ~11, which is high on the alkaline charts, while stomach acid’s pH is ~1, which acidic enough to burn through your chewed-up chow.

pH in Your Pond

So why is the pH level in a pond or water garden such a hot topic? Because pH affects the health of those things swimming around in the water. Fish love a liquid environment that strikes the right balance between acid and base. Your pond’s pH level affects their ability to reproduce, to fight disease, to metabolize their food – to do just about everything. The pH level also affects the health of your plants, frogs, turtles and any other living critters that call your pond home.

Adjusting to a Proper pH

Don’t worry: You don’t have to keep your pond at a perfect 7.0 pH all the time. In fact, an acceptable pH reading for a pond is 6.5 – 8.5. But you should use caution when adjusting it because doing so rapidly can harm your aquatic life. If you absolutely must adjust your pH using a pH Stabilizer like pH Lift or pH Drop, apply enough treatment to shift the levels 0.5 at a time, wait several hours before re-treating, and test the waters often with your Pondcare Master Test Kit.

Pond Talk: How often do you test the pH in your pond?

The Most Complete Test Kit For The Job - PondCare Master Test Kit

How Many Fish Should I Put In My Pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How many fish should I put in my pond?

Q: How many fish should I put in my pond?

Grady – Nevis, MN

A: The general rule for stocking your pond is 1” of fish for every one square foot of surface area, but of course there are exceptions to every rule. First and foremost, don’t forget to leave room for your pond fish to grow. Stocking your pond with 10 one-inch fish may be fine for now, but what about next year when your pond fish have doubled or tripled in size?

Additionally, larger pond fish produce exponentially more waste than smaller fish so you need to factor this into your plans. Look at the chart below for an example of what I mean. One 6” fish produces 3.3 times more waste than one 4” fish and 26 times more waste than one 2” fish. In general, it’s probably best not to stock your pond to the max right away. As your pond is more established and you add better aeration and filtration, your pond will be able to handle more fish.

There are a variety of koi fish packages to choose from when you are ready to get started.

Fish Length Fish Waste (Grams/24 Hours)
1″ .10
2″ .75
3″ 2.43
4″ 5.80
5″ 11.32
6″ 19.55

Pond Talk: Do you find that your fish are cozy or crowded?

Koi fish direct to your door. Premium koi packages

Can I Break A Hole Open In The Ice Over My Pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can sidewalk salt be used to melt the ice off my pond?

Can I Break A Hole Open In The Ice Over My Pond?

Liz – Carterville, IL

When maintaining a pond during the winter, it is important that the surface of your pond does not freeze over with ice. If you have an aeration kit running in your pond but the resulting hole in the ice is getting smaller, or has closed up altogether, don’t panic. Sporadic short-term ice coverage is not an issue if you’ve done regular maintenance to reduce organic debris throughout the season. If the pond remains iced-over for weeks at a time, consider giving your aeration system a boost.

If your pond has frozen over and you want to reopen the hole, simply rest a pan of hot water on the surface of your pond to melt the ice away. Do not use a blunt object to break the ice open as the shock-waves will stress your fish. Also, refrain from poking holes in the ice as you may accidentally puncture your liner or poke one of your fish.

Another way to maintain an open ventilation hole is by adding a pond heater/de-icer above your aeration diffuser stone. If you have multiple air stones, gather them into one area to make it more difficult for ice to form.

Pond Talk: Do you notice the ventilation hole getting smaller or freezing over for short period of time in the winter?

Pond Heaters

What Can I Do To Maintain My Pond This Season? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can sidewalk salt be used to melt the ice off my pond?

This will be our first full season with our pond. What should we do for proper maintenance?

Joe – Aurora, CO

The first season with your new pond can be an exciting and relatively hassle free endeavor, as long as you take the right precautions to maintain it properly. Lucky for you, you’ve come to the right place to learn exactly what you’ll need in order to successfully maintain your pond for the season.

Remember, a balanced ecosystem is key. Listed below are the main elements used to maintain a balanced pond.

Filtration – Whether you have a waterfall, pressurized or gravity type filter, make sure the included Filter Media is clean and in good condition. Mechanical filtration like skimmer filters should be cleaned regularly to prevent clogging. Biological filter media, like the pads in your waterfall or bio-media in your pressurized filter, should be cleaned sparingly to promote an accumulation of water-filtering beneficial bacteria.

Fish – The highlight of many ponds, fish add color and life to your decorative pond. They also, however, add waste and nutrients that can quickly accumulate and unbalance your pond. 1-inch of fish for every square foot of surface area is a rough guideline for maximum fish load. Keep in mind that your fish are continually growing. That means your 3 inch fish that were added last year are now 4-6 inch fish which more than doubles the waste that needs to be filtered. The more fish you have and the frequency at which you feed them plays a large role in how much filtration you will need to remove this additional waste.

PlantsAquatic Plants are an enormous natural boon to your water garden or fish pond. Not only do they provide habitat for your fish, maintaining 40-60% plant coverage shades your pond and prevents dramatic increases in water temperature on sunny days. Plants also provide additional natural filtration as they extract nutrients from the water added by organic debris and fish waste.

Aeration – Proper aeration is another key factor for pond maintenance. An aeration kit like the Pond Logic® PondAir™ or KoiAir™ will provide extra circulation to keep debris from accumulating at the bottom of the pond while increasing oxygen levels for your fish and water-filtering aerobic bacteria.

Natural Pond Treatments – Natural products like those contained in the Pond Logic® DefensePAC® will greatly increase water quality by boosting aerobic bacteria counts, binding up phosphates from organic material and eliminating organic debris.

Including each of these key pond elements in your water garden or fish pond greatly reduces stress and guesswork associated with a troublesome unbalanced pond. Simply put, a stable ecosystem means less work on your part. If a problem does arise, you can then pinpoint and adjust whichever element above that is throwing your pond out of balance.

Pond Talk: Is your pond balanced? If not, have you discovered which of the key elements is missing or lacking?

Pond Filtration Media

We’ve had a mild winter so far, does this affect the dormancy of my fish? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

We’ve had a mild winter so far, does this affect the dormancy of my fish?

We’ve had a mild winter so far, does this affect the dormancy of my fish? 

Ivy – Schaumburg, IL

We may be having a mild winter, but a mild winter for humans doesn’t really mean the same for your fish. During the winter months, fish living in outdoor ponds will go “dormant,” slowing down all their systems and responses in order to conserve energy during cold temperatures. Monitoring your pond’s temperature is easy – we recommend this handy Pond Logic® Floating Thermometer.

The signs your fish are ready for dormancy are relatively easy to pick out – colder temperatures will mean less food, to which your fish will react to naturally. Their metabolism and digestion will slow down, as will their movement in general, while they conserve energy. Don’t be alarmed if your fish appear “lazy” or don’t have any appetite – this is all normal. It’s also a good idea to wait until spring, or whenever it is consistently warm, to start feeding your fish again regularly. Do remember that your fish will require a couple days to digest their food and even if they become more active on a warm day you won’t want them returning to a dormant state while still digesting.

However, if Old Man Winter does sneak up on you, don’t wait until the first freeze to make sure your fish have enough oxygen and aeration to keep the water from freezing over. We recommend using these Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration Systems to keep your pond, and your fish, in good stable condition for the winter.

Some people like to leave their aeration system running year ‘round, so feel free to do so as well, we’re sure your fish won’t mind!

Pond Logic Floating Pond Thermometer

Can sidewalk salt be used to melt the ice off my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can sidewalk salt be used to melt the ice off my pond?

Can sidewalk salt be used to melt the ice off my pond?

Wayne – Independence, OH

Sidewalk salt is made for one simple purpose: to melt ice on your sidewalk. And while it theoretically could be used to melt pond ice, it’s most definitely not the right product for the job. While some sidewalk salt products are made up of pure rock salt, others contain additives like chloride – and neither substance is particularly fish- or plant-friendly. Because of the harm they can do to your aquatic environment, we strongly discourage the use of sidewalk melt products on your pond.

Fortunately, there are several good, chemical-free alternatives. The first – and arguably most effective – is the year-round use of a Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration System. Through the constant flow of air through the water, and the consequent movement of the water, ice can’t form, and a steady supply of life-sustaining oxygen is assured.

For a lower-tech solution, we also recommend our Pondmaster Floating Pond De-Icer/Heater and our Farm Innovators Floating Pond De-Icer/Heater. These two products are designed with heating elements that keep a vent hole clear in even the coldest weather, allowing hazardous decomposition gases to escape. Through the use of these elegantly simple devices, fish can weather the winter safely, and emerge from the ice ready to thrive for another season.

Pond Talk: Do you bring your fish in for the winter? How do you provide an indoor home for them?

Pond Logic Aeration Kits

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 Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration System and our Pond Logic® 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?

Pond Logic Pond Air Aeration System for Water Gardens

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