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Are other fish like my plecostomus as hardy over the winter as my koi? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Are other fish like my plecostomus as hardy over the winter as my koi?

Are other fish like my plecostomus as hardy over the winter as my koi?
Chris – Cedar Rapids, IA

With all of our talk about koi and goldfish in our pond blogs you may feel that your fish are not being properly represented. That being said, we will speak less in generalities today and focus on some other, more specific, types of fish that need a little more wintertime TLC.

It has been mentioned in past blogs that your koi and goldfish fare surprisingly well over the winter. With a little help from wheat-germ based fish food like Pond Logic Spring and Fall and an aeration system or deicer, your fish will have a successful and trouble free winter rest and be ready for action come springtime. Common goldfish like Sarassa and Shubunkins are types of winter hardy fish that can be left outside with your koi.

Other types of fish like Plecostomus, Oranda, Telescope Goldfish and Black Moors do not fare as well and will most likely benefit from being over-wintered indoors. Refer to our past blog on how to bring your water garden inside for the winter, and for pointers on indoor ponding and relocating your pond hardware.

Depending on the layout of your pond and the average winter temperatures where you live, you may have to bring all of your fish in, or you may be spared from having to relocate them at all. Your pond should ideally be around 24” deep to protect your fish from exposure to the elements outside of their pond environment in cases of both extreme heat and cold. If you experience extremely cold winters in your area there is still a chance of the pond freezing through or the remaining water being too cold. Always keep a pond thermometer on hand and keep track of water temperatures when deciding to switch fish foods or to verify if it is time to bring your fish indoors. If you live in a warmer climate you may never experience ice on your pond or even frost and therefore have no need to worry about your fish becoming potential ice cubes.

Pond Talk: Do you keep fish in your pond that need special attention during the winter months?

Manage your pond's water temperature easlily

If I have a spring running into my pond do I still need aeration? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

If I have a spring running into my pond do I still need aeration?

If I have a spring running into my pond do I still need aeration?
Scott – Ripon, WI

Natural springs are an excellent source of water to fill and maintain a farm pond or lake. The volume of water and the rate at which it flows into your pond varies depending on the magnitude of the spring. While a higher magnitude spring can provide a great deal of water exchange they do not do much to help boost the oxygen level in your pond.

Great deals of pond owners believe their water body is spring-fed because the pond water is cold in the deeper areas of the pond. Pockets of cold water are more often caused by a lack of adequate water circulation which leads to water stratification in the water body. This allows a top layer of water which is heated and oxygenated by the surrounding atmosphere to stay at the top of the pond while the water at the bottom of the pond stays trapped, cold and devoid of oxygen. A couple great indicators that your pond is spring fed are that the water level tends to stay the same regardless of rainfall or lack thereof in your area, or if your pond has an outlet and is constantly flowing. Since spring water tends to be colder you will notice that spring fed ponds are cooler even when properly aerated but the entire water body will be cool, not just random pockets of water.

Properly aerating a water body requires not only circulation but the addition of oxygen that can be absorbed into the water column. For this reason, a spring fed pond is not a direct substitute for a proper aeration system. Aeration systems are designed to not only move water around your pond but to boost the dissolved oxygen content of the water column. Bottom plate systems like the Airmax Aeration Systems utilize air compressors and membranes to pump oxygen to the bottom of your pond and then break it down in to small enough bubbles that are absorbed into the water column. This process also forces the water above the plate towards the surface of the pond causing a mushrooming effect that circulates the water body. These type of systems can be used year round. Fountains can also be used to aerate water bodies. Since they draw from the surface of the pond, fountains are usually better suited for ponds 6’ deep and shallower while bottom plates systems work well in deeper ponds. Fountains pump water from the pond and spray it into the air in fine droplets that absorb oxygen and then crash back into the pond. With this principle in mind you might be able to guess that a fountain that sprays a thicker or solid stream of water adds less oxygen to the pond than one that has a finer spray pattern. While effective in shallow water bodies, these systems are best used only for summer aeration.

Almost every pond can benefit from aeration as it not only provides oxygen for fish but also promotes faster muck digestion and an overall cleaner pond. If you have an aeration system in your pond but are unsure if it is properly aerated you can take temperature readings in multiple depths and areas of your pond and record any extreme variations which indicate a lack of circulation from your aeration system.

Pond Talk: Pond owners implement natural springs to create interesting water features in their ponds in the form of artesian wells and water leveling features which you can find online. Have you found a unique way to take advantage of your spring fed pond?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

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!

I Just Bought Some New Fish, How Should I Introduce Them To My Pond? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Pond Fish & Koi Acclimation
I Just Bought Some New Fish, How Should I Introduce Them To My Pond? Paul – Baytown, TX

Best In Show

So you’ve made the decision to invite a few new friends to your home, but are you getting more than you bargained for? As is true with any purchase, you want to make sure you are getting quality before you hand over your hard-earned dollars. Inspect the fish you intend to purchase for symptoms of illness or poor health. Look over their fins, mouth, and gills for blemishes, discoloration, or signs of fin rot and check their body for growths, loose or missing scales, or other blemishes as they may be an early indicator of disease or parasites. Take a few moments to observe your prospect’s behavior to make sure they are active and having no mobility hindrances.

Prep The Pond

Your newly purchased fish are typically handed over to you in an oxygenated plastic bag or container to allow adequate time to transport them to their new home. While it may be tempting to just dump them into your water garden upon your return home, you will want to make sure your pond is ready to accommodate its new inhabitants before you begin their acclimation process. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the water in your pond is free from potential fatal heavy metals and chlorine by adding Pond & Fish Conditioner during your water changes.
  • To help prevent disease and reduce fish stress in your new tenants, add Pond Salt to the water between your water changes. To ensure the well being of your Aquatic Plants, only add 1 1/4 cups per 100 gallons of pond water.
  • You can purchase a Master Test Kit to verify acceptable pH and Nitrate levels in the pond.
  • You can prevent many potential health issues throughout your fish population by simply maintaining a clean and healthy pond. You can read more about pond maintenance here.

Well, You Better Get Used To It

Now that the pond is ready for the addition of fish, it is time to get your finned friends ready for the big show. You will want to gradually equalize the temperature of the water your fish are currently occupying with that of the water in your pond. If the container carrying your fish floats, go ahead and place it in your pond. As the bag bobbles around in your pond, the water inside will start balancing with the outside water temperature. This process should take no longer than 30 minutes. During this time frame, slowly add small amounts of water from the pond into the container which will allow your new fish time to acclimate to the chemistry of your pond water. Most of us have, at one time or another, jumped into a pool too early in the summer only to find that the water is unimaginably cold. Those of you who’ve been in that situation understand why you will want to take your time with the acclimation process. Now that the water on both sides of the container is the same and the fish have had time to try out the make up of the water in the pond, you are clear to release them into their new environment! Take a few moments throughout the day to check in on the pond and monitor the behavior of the newly introduced fish. Active and curious fish are happy and healthy fish.

POND TALK: Are there any tricks that you’ve done to acclimate your fish?

Remove Heavy Metals and Chlorine with Pond Logic® Pond & Fish Conditioner

Why are my koi chasing each other? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Why are my koi chasing each other?

Why are my koi chasing each other? Christie – Moline, IL

The Thrill of the Chase

Just like any other pet, Koi provide pond guys and gals everywhere with entertainment and companionship. So now your new found finned friends are chasing each other around and being rather aggressive towards each other. This violent activity may seem disturbing to us but for your Koi it is actually a natural process. No your fish have not transformed your water garden in their very own fight club; this is their way of courting each other.

With Friends Like You…

So nothing says love like bashing your partner into a few plants and rocks right? What you are seeing is the male Koi(s) chasing the female around the pond trying to push the eggs out of her by pinching her between rocks or other males. It is during this process that the eggs are released into the water and fertilized. While we may have been a little slow to realize love is in the air … or in your pond rather, there are still a few things you can do to help your Koi have a successful spawning season.

Bring On The Plants: Adding Aquatic Plants like Hornwort and Water Hyacinth in your pond will provide excellent surface area for freshly laid eggs to attach to and will also provide coverage for them.

Keep It Clean: It is important that you keep the water in your pond clean and free from disease while the fry are developing. Perform regular water changes and use Pond & Fish Conditioner when adding new water to remove any chlorine and toxic heavy metals from your tap or well water. Make sure you are adding Pond Salt to the water to keep fish stress down and also help prevent diseases.

Survival of the fittest…

After the fry hatch, you may not see the new additions until they become big enough to fend for themselves. Once they hatch they hide and fight for survival. Koi are not loving parents, they tend to eat their own eggs and fry. Out of thousands of eggs koi lay, only a select few will survive.

As your new additions began to grow, there will be added ammonia and nitrates in the pond. If you plan to keep these new Koi make sure you are providing adequate Filtration in your pond and you are not deviating from a practical fish load for your size pond. Having more fish in your pond than your filtration can handle will lead to additional more severe algae blooms and muck accumulation. It is important that you keep adding beneficial bacteria such as Nature’s Defense or Muck Defense to break this waste down.

Pond Talk: Have you seen baby koi in your water garden?

Pond Logic® Pond Salt

Michigan Residents Can Pre-order Fish to pick up In-store on Fish Day – May 8th

The Pond Guy presents Fish Day 2010 on May 8th

What is Fish Day?

Fish Day is a local semi-annual event located in Marine City, MI. Although Koi and Goldfish are offered all season at our location, game fish are reduced to only twice a year (Spring & Fall). Game fish require a much larger environment to survive they cannot be held in holding tanks for any extended period of time. Fish Day is a great opportunity to visit with other pond owners, get lots of free pond advice and save on some of our most popular items such as Airmax Aeration Systems, weed and algae treatments, Nature’s Blue Pond Dye and many other great items. Advanced orders are recommended and will be filled first. Extras will be available starting at 9 am on Fish Day, although they are subject to availability. No deposit is required. $25 minimum order.

This is not exclusive to Michigan residents. Fish bags have a limited oxygen supply (approximately 1-2 hours) for the fish. We’re locate at:

6135 King Road
Marine City, Michigan 48039
(888) 766-3520

You can order:
1/4 Acre Package $299.00 SAVE 5% (75 Hybrid Bluegills, 50 Redear Sunfish, 25 Perch, 50 Bass and 6 lbs. Minnows)
1/2 Acre Package $469.99 SAVE 10% (175 Hybrid Bluegills, 50 Redear Sunfish, 50 Perch, 75 Bass, 12 lbs. Minnows)
Customize or your Fish Day Package which is a $25 Minimum. We ask that the fish be ordered in increments of 5

Here are the fish available:
2″–4″ Hybrid Bluegills ($0.89 ea. or $79/100)
2″–4″ Redear Sunfish ($1.29 ea. or $119/100)
2″–4″ Yellow Perch ($1.49 ea. or $139/100)
3″–4″ Large Mouth Bass ($1.89 ea. or $179/100)
3″–5″ Channel Catfish ($0.99 ea. or $89/100)
Fathead Minnows up to 5 lbs ($10 per pound)
Fathead Minnows up to 6 lbs or more ($9 per pound)

Note: Price includes fish, bags and oxygen. Minimum fish order $25. Bring cooler or Rubbermaid tub. These containers will protect your bags during transportation. Each bag will be supplied with up to 3 hours of oxygen. Prices are subject to change without notice.

Largemouth Bass

Quick Links:

  • Fish Available
  • How to Order
  • Stocking Rates
  • Fish Habitat
  • Do I need to feed my fish?
  • Fish Day FAQ
  • Directions to get to Fish Day
  • Pond Talk: Have you participated in The Pond Guys Fish Day event?

    Pond & Lake Fish Day - May 8th

    Switching to High-Protein Fish Food – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

    Switching to Higher Protein Fish Food

    I’ve been feeding my fish a wheat-germ based fish food, when can I switch them to a higher-protein fish food? Jena – Tulsa, OK

    At this time of year, as the cold wind of winter gradually begins to soften into the warmer days of early spring, and we anxiously wait for the long, hot, blissful days of summer sunshine, your fish will start to stir and wake from their sullen winter respite at the bottom of your pond, slowly ascending their way up from its murky depths, basking at its gently sun-kissed surface, all the while poking and searching with their little mouths agape, longing for their much anticipated and greatly missed, daily feedings…

    Like most active “Ponders” I know, you’ve been cooped up indoors all winter long, spending your time reading every water garden article that you can get your hands on! And when you’re not busy reading, you’re spending your time talking with all of your other pond friends, either locally or online. Many of you have been asking the same question: when is the correct time to begin gradually switching over from a wheat germ-based Spring and Fall Fish Food, to one with a greater protein concentration?

    Here is the answer to that question, and a few more important things to keep in mind…

    Water Temperature is less than 39 degrees Fahrenheit: DO NOT feed them. When temperatures are this cold, a fish’s digestive system is shut down and anything they eat would not get properly digested. Since fish get their “body heat” from their outside environment, metabolic reactions (like digestion) take more time in colder water, which is why feeding can be dangerous to fish in lower water temperatures.

    Water Temperature is between 40 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit: It is important to feed your fish a low-protein, wheat germ-based fish food at this time. As fish begin to wake up from dormancy, you may begin to feed them a whet germ-based fish food, such as Pond Logic® Spring and Fall Fish Food. This type of food is more easily digestible by fish than their regular protein based fish food diet and will gently help reintroduce solid food into your fish’s diet.

    Water Temperature is above 55 degrees Fahrenheit: At this point, the fish are readily active and their digestive systems are fully up and running. You can choose between an assortment of balanced diet, protein-based fish foods, such as Pond Logic® Floating Ponstix or higher-protein diets such as Pond Logic® Growth and Color Fish Food.

    Hopefully this helpful information should keep things simple for everyone; that way we can all get back to more important things… like spring cleaning the pond!

    Pond Talk: What time of year do you normally switch from wheat germ-based fish food to a high-protein fish food?

    Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food

    Why Are My Fish Hiding? – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

    Why Are My Fish Hiding?

    Water Gardens & Features Q & A

    Q: Why are my fish hiding now when they didn’t before? Is something wrong with them? – Rob in California

    A: There’s nothing more frustrating than hiding or skittish fish. Part of the joy of having a water garden is to sit by the pond’s edge, feed your fish and relax while you watch them enjoy their underwater world. When they dash off and hide at the site of anything coming near them, or they hole up and never come out, it almost defeats the purpose of having koi or goldfish in your pond! Here are a few reasons why your fish may be hiding.

    New Digs

    It’s tough to move into a new pond. If you’ve recently added new koi or goldfish to your water garden, you can expect them to be a bit shy or skittish. They need to check out their new home, get used to having new roommates and adjust to a new way of life. The fish already living in the pond could turn tail and hide, too. The new fish could spook the old fish, causing them to retreat to their favorite hole.

    If this is the case in your pond, give the fish time to adjust. As soon as they’re used to their new home and used to one another, they’ll eventually come out of hiding. Encourage them to be social by tossing some floating food, like Pond Logic Floating Ponstix Fish Food, into the pond. That’ll bring them to the surface!

    A word of advice: Before adding new fish to your pond, remember to quarantine them for a week or two in a separate tub to be sure they don’t have any parasites or fungal infections that could infect the rest of your population.

    Water Changes

    Fish can also become skittish and hide after water changes. Any change to their environment – like the water quality, pH level, or oxygen level – can cause them to stress, and when they stress, they may retreat to their favorite hiding spots.

    To keep the water quality as even as possible, test your water’s pH, ammonia, nitrite and phosphate levels regularly using a commercial water testing kit. You’ll also want to keep your water well-aerated using a diffuser, like the Water Garden Professional Aeration Kit, to be sure the fish get an ample supply of oxygen. Also, be sure to check your filtration system regularly, cleaning or replacing filter media as needed.

    Predators

    Imagine looking up and seeing a clawed paw grab for you or a sharp beak slice through the water. Predators, like raccoons and herons, love a good sushi dinner – and that’s how they see your fish! If your pond and its inhabitants have been visited by hungry predators, your fish are hiding for their lives.

    To chase off unwanted visitors, you can try a range of deterrents, including motion-activated sprinklers, like the Motion Activated Scarecrow; decoys, like the Great Blue Heron Decoy or 3-D Coyote Decoy; pond netting, like the Atlantic Pond Protector Net Kit; or reflective tape hanging from trees. Having 40-60% surface coverage of aquatic plants such as water lilies, water hyacinth or water lettuce will give your fish a place to shelter themselves from predators.

    Under the Weather

    Stressed or sick fish will also hide. If they’re not feeling well, it’s normal for them to segregate themselves away from the crowds. If you think your fish may be sick, try taking a closer look at it. Using a net, like the 4 in 1 Interchangeable Pond Net, fish it out and put it in your quarantine tank. After you determine what the problem is, treat the fish and the pond accordingly.

    POND TALK: How have you coaxed shy fish out of their hiding places?

    How Many Fish Can I Have? – Water Garden Q & A

    Picture of a School of Fish

    Q: How many fish can I have in my water garden? -Several Customers

    A: There are many rules of thumbs out there regarding how many fish you can have in your water garden. Just remember, the old saying goes, “The more animals in the barn, the more doo doo to clean up.” With that said, if you have the number of fish that the picture to the left has…my guess is that you have algae! Below I am going to explain the 4-Key Factors in Maintaining a Clean, Clear & Healthy Pond Ecosystem. The way these factors work is this: If you plan to increase your fish load, then you must improve the other 3 to help compensate. Hopefully this helps!

    1. The DefensePAC®:
    The products included in the DefensePAC provides beneficial bacteria, trace minerals, and a fish and plant safe pond cleaner. The DefensePAC works to breakdown fish waste, leaves or other organics that accumulate in the pond. These are essential to maintain a clean, clear and healthy ecosystem.

    2. Fish Load:
    When calculating your fish load think of it in pounds of fish or total inches. For example, one 6” fish can weigh as much as four 4” fish. The number of fish will affect the overall fish load, although 10 small fish may only produce the waste of one large fish. With this said, remember that your fish are growing and in many cases multiplying. Always plan for the future and be careful not to overstock your pond.

    3. Proper Filtration:
    The size and type of your filtration system will depend on your total fish load. If your filter is not properly sized for max potential, your fish will outgrow the filter. In most cases filters on the market are rated for ponds containing no fish or a minimal fish load. It is always best to get a filter that is rated for at least 2x the water volume of your pond.

    4. Aquatic Plants:
    A simple rule of thumb is to have 60% plant coverage. This should consist of submerged, floating and marginal plants. Floating plants, such as Water Hyacinths, pull their nutrients directly from the water. Rooted plants, such as water lilies and marginal plants, create a great place for your fish to hide from predators. Please note when aquatic plants are not present, algae will take their place.

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