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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

My fish has something red on its side. What could it be? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My fish has something red on its side. What could it be?

Q: My fish has something red on its side. What could it be?

Ted – White Marsh, MD

A: It sounds like your finned pal has a parasite called anchor worm. And they’re no fun.

These copepod crustaceans from the genus Lernaea bury themselves into the muscles of fish where they live and grow for several months, transforming into an unsegmented worm-like protrusion. Once developed, they make their way out of the fish, leaving behind bad wounds – which is the red area you’re seeing on your fish. Right before anchor worms die, they release their eggs and the cycle repeats over and over again.

A fish suffering from an anchor worm infestation will show the following signs:

  • Frequent rubbing or ‘flashing,’ which is when it rubs its body up against objects attempting to dislodge the parasite
  • Localized redness
  • Inflammation on its body
  • Tiny white-green or red worms in wounds
  • Breathing difficulties
  • General lethargy

Parasites like anchor worms can be introduced into the pond when new aquatic critters or plants are added to the existing mix. Unbeknownst to water garden hobbyists, the anchor worms hitch rides on the other fish or in the soil and roots of plants and establish themselves in their new home.

The cure for anchor worms is a pond-wide treatment with an anti-parasitic medication like KnockOut™ PLUS. As soon as you see signs of anchor worm, pour the recommended amount in your pond daily for seven consecutive days. When the infection clears up, continue treatment for an additional three days to ensure the parasites are gone for good.

If you plan to add fish or plants to your pond this summer, you can also use KnockOut™ PLUS as a preventive. It treats a variety of other fish ailments, including ich, fungus and flukes. Simply add it to the water when you introduce the new pond inhabitants.

Good luck getting those anchor worms under control. We hope your fish feels better soon!

Pond Talk: Have your fish suffered from some sort of parasite? How did you get rid of it?

7 Day Fish Treatment for Anchor Worm - CrystalClear® KnockOut™ PLUS

One of my fish isn’t swimming upright. What’s wrong?| Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: One of my fish isn’t swimming upright. What’s wrong?

Q: One of my fish isn’t swimming upright. What’s wrong?

Cherie – Englewood, CO

A: Unless you’ve taught your pond fish some pretty cool party tricks, it’s possible that they’re not getting enough oxygen due to a lack of aeration.

Fish will display some odd behaviors when they’re not getting enough oxygen, including gasping for air at the surface, hanging vertically in the water, and spending a lot of time around the waterfall or stream where oxygen levels are at their highest – at least for the few hours each day when the pump is running.

Some other telltale signs of insufficient aeration are:

  • The water in your pond appears to be stagnant in certain areas
  • You’ve noticed a growing mosquito problem
  • Algae growth always seems to be a battle you can’t win
  • Muck has accumulated at the bottom of the pond

Medical issues, like swim bladder problems, could be causing your fish to swim sideways, too. But, before you take your finned pal to the veterinarian, try adding or adjusting the aeration in your water feature. You can also check your ammonia and nitrite levels using a water test kit.

If your pond has a lot of fish for its size, or is a medium or large water garden or koi pond up to 16,000 gallons in size, consider adding an Airmax® KoiAir™ Aeration Kit. Its energy-efficient design includes a dual diaphragm pump that infuses oxygen into the pond while being virtually maintenance free.

If you have a handful of fish in a smaller pond that’s up to 2,000 gallons in size, check out the Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration Kits. It’s designed for decorative ponds and water gardens, and features an airflow control valve that allows you to adjust the aeration output with the turn of a dial.

Aeration should help your fish swim upright again. But if it’s still acting strange after you’ve pumped up the oxygen, you may want to check in with your veterinarian for medical advice. Good luck!

Pond Talk: What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen your pond fish do?

Water Testing System For Ponds - PondCare(r) Master Test Kit

Why are water changes important? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Why are water changes important?

Q: Why are water changes important?

Shirley – Warr Acres, OK

A: It’s nice to open a window on a warm spring day and let the fresh air flow through your house, right? Well, a partial or complete water change in your koi pond or water garden is the same thing: It freshens your finned pals’ environment, making them happy and healthy.

Here are five reasons why water changes are so important to your fish, plants and other aquatic life:

  1. Nutrient Removal: Muck and debris buildup happens in just about every water feature. A water change manually removes any excess nutrients and chemicals like nitrates, phosphates and ammonia that can be harmful to fish and other underwater critters.
  2. Healthy Fish: Fresh, clean water means improved water quality, which ultimately promotes your fishes’ health. Just as you need oxygen to thrive, your fish need clean water to thrive. Their well being is directly related to the liquid environment in which they live.
  3. Algae Control: Pea soup and string algae feed on all that decomposing waste, which they use as fertilizer. By removing those excess nutrients in the water column with a water change, you can discourage the growth of algae.
  4. Fights Foam: Foam forms when excess organic material has accumulated in your water garden. When this nutrient-laden water pours down your waterfall, the air and water collide, causing the proteins and other organics to be trapped inside bubbles rather than turning into ammonia and nitrites. A water change will quickly reduce that foamy buildup.
  5. Clears Water, Stabilizes pH: A water change will also improve the appearance of cloudy water and maintain pH levels, resulting in a pristine pond filled with healthy fish, lush greenery and clean water.

To keep stress levels down among your fish, we recommend doing partial water changes as soon as water temperatures reach 50° F. In addition, be sure to add some Stress Reducer PLUS and LiquidClear™ to your water. The Stress Reducer PLUS forms a beneficial slime coat on your fish and makes tap water safe for them. The LiquidClear’s™ beneficial bacteria helps to digest dead organics in the water, making it crystal clear.

Pond Talk: How often do you do water changes in your koi pond or water garden?

Builds Protective Slime Coating - Pond Logic (r) Stress Reducer PLUS

I fill my pond with tap water. Should I be using water conditioner?| Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I fill my pond with tap water. Should I be using water conditioner?

Q: I fill my pond with tap water. Should I be using water conditioner?

Mary – Sioux City, SD

A: Yes. The water that flows from your hose may be “clean” enough for humans to drink and use for household purposes, but it actually contains a cornucopia of contaminants that can be deadly to fish.

What are some of those pollutants? Besides the naturally occurring ones, like heavy metals and nitrogen compounds in soil, water can contain human-originated contaminants, including bacteria and nitrates from human and animal waste, fertilizers and pesticides, industrial byproducts, and chemicals that actually disinfect and treat the water—like chlorine, chlorinates or chlorine dioxides, according to the EPA.

That’s where water conditioners come into play.

Pond Logic® Water Conditioner removes harmful chlorine and chloramines from your tap water and detoxifies contaminants and heavy metals that may harm your fish. But that’s not all. A conditioner also clears away ammonia generated by the nitrogen cycle and adds essential electrolytes to the water that increase oxygen uptake.

So every time you add city water or hard water to your pond, be sure to add a dose of water conditioner to eliminate those contaminants. In addition, add some Nature’s Defense® . The beneficial bacteria in the additive further reduce ammonia and digest dead organics in the pond, such as phosphates and nitrogen.

To ensure your water is safe for your finned pals, perform regular tests with a Master Test Kit. Designed for water garden and backyard ponds, the kit includes tests for pH, ammonia, nitrite and phosphate.

Pond Talk: Do you pay attention to the way tap water is chemically treated in your area?

Debris Lifts Away in Seconds - Pond Logic (r) Oxy-Lift™ Defense®

We had a heron last year. How do I stop it from coming back? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: We had a heron last year. How do I stop it from coming back?

Q: We had a heron last year. How do I stop it from coming back?

Vicki- Maryville, TN

A: The bad news is, once a heron knows food is served in your pond, it’ll be back for more. Chances are pretty good that it’ll stop by for a bite to eat when it flies through this year, so be prepared with these surefire heron-proofing devices to keep the sushi lover at bay.

  1. Use a Decoy – Your first plan of defense should be setting up a realistic Blue Heron Decoy. Heron are territorial by nature, and when one cruises overhead and sees that one of its feathered cousins (fake or real) has already claimed the area, it’ll keep going until it finds its own pond to fish. Move the decoy regularly to make it appear even more realistic. Another expert tip: Remove the decoy during mating season, which runs from March through late May or June.
  2. Shore Up the Perimeter – Heron refuse to land in water and hate stepping over wires, so we recommend Heron Stop as a second line of defense around the perimeter of your pond. The impassable barrier – made up of simply nylon line and stakes – prevents the bird from approaching and protects up to 40 feet of shoreline without blocking your view.
  3. Set Up a Motion Detector – For a final layer of protection, set up a ScareCrow® Motion-Activated Animal Deterrent. Thanks to a built-in infrared sensor that detects movement up to 35 feet in front of it and up to 45 feet wide, this heron-scaring tool chases off unwanted visitors with a surprise spray of water. It works both day and night to set boundaries around your water garden or koi pond. But be warned: It doesn’t know the difference between an animal and a human, so you might get wet!

Pond Talk: What tips do you have for keeping herons away from your pond?

Protect Your Prized Fish From Predators - Pond Logic(r) Blue Heron Decoy

My koi didn’t spawn last year. How can I get them to spawn? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My koi didn’t spawn last year. How can I get them to spawn?

Q: My koi didn’t spawn last year. How can I get them to spawn?

Judy – Springfield, MO

A: Sounds like your koi were being a bit coy last year! If you want your fish to get frisky this spring and produce a brood of colorful fry, break out the bubbly and try out these tips and techniques that will create the perfect mood for love.

  1. Create Ambiance – Your koi don’t need soft candlelight and rose petals for romance, but they do prefer an aquatic environment that’s as pristine as possible. Perform regular water changes – that’s changing out 10% to 20% of your water every two weeks – to help keep things clean and clear. Once water temperatures climb back up to 50°F, you can also begin adding the water-quality-boosting products found in DefensePAC®, like Seasonal Defense®, Nature’s Defense® and Clarity Defense®.
  2. Heat Things Up – Temperature and time of year matter when it comes to koi feeling amorous. The fish typically spawn when water temperatures are 65° to 70°F. In many ponds, this typically happens between May and June – in late spring and early summer, when the birds and bees start to get busy!
  3. Give Them a Love Nest – Like you and me, koi like their privacy when it’s time for them to mate. Before spring settles in, make sure you give them plenty of cozy spots and hiding places. Plants, tunnels, and Nycon Koi Kastle Fish Shelters will provide excellent coverage for them. In addition, give them a safe place to lay their eggs, like a fry mat or similar device.
  4. Know the Signs – When you see the male koi chasing after the females, you’ll know the game of love is on. Keep an eye on their behavior; however, because the males might try to run into the females, or push them into the rocks and the side of your pond to try to get them to release their eggs. Another telltale sign: Cloudy or foamy water accompanied by a distinct odor.
  5. Keep the Fry Safe – Once the fry emerge from their eggs, they can’t swim and will need a protected area that’s safe from natural predators, like tadpoles, frogs and koi. Make sure you give them plenty of coverage with water hyacinth, water lettuce and other aquatic plants. You might also consider using a fine mesh tent, like the Nycon Fish Spawning Incubator, to protect them and prevent them from getting sucked in and lost in your filtration system.

With a little staging and encouragement, it’s not too difficult to convince your koi to spawn. Follow these tips, keep the brood safe once they hatch and, before long, you’ll have a pond full of small fry! Good luck!

Pond Talk: Have you successfully spawned your koi? What worked – and what didn’t?

All-Natural, Complete Pond Care System - Pond Logic(r) DefensePAC(r)

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