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My fish are looking for food. Can I feed them now? If so, what kind of food do I give them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

My fish are looking for food. Can I feed them now? If so, what kind of food do I give them?

Q: My fish are looking for food. Can I feed them now? If so, what kind of food do I give them?

Rick – Great Falls, MT

A: Fish sure seem know when spring is coming. This time of year, your koi and goldfish that have been hibernating over the winter are waking up—and they’re hungry.

Slow Eaters

When water temperatures dip below 45 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter months, your fishes’ metabolisms slows down. They enter into a hibernation-type state, during which time they require little or no food. They literally live off the fat stores in their body.

As the water temperature rises above 45 degrees in the spring, the fish start moving. Their metabolisms turn back on, and they need food to fuel their increased activity. To transition the fish from no food to daily food, fish experts recommend feeding a wheat germ-based diet when water temperatures are consistently between 45 and 55 degrees. A diet like Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food is quickly and easily digested by the fish.

Summertime Bounty

In the warmer months when your water temperature tops 55 degrees, you can continue to feed the wheat germ-based diets, or you can choose to gradually re-introduce protein-based diets that help the fish grow quickly and show off their colors. Here’s what we recommend:

Choose the diet that best fits in with your goals for the fish. If you’re not interested in growing your Kohaku into show-quality specimens, for instance, stick to the everyday or color enhancement diet.

Word of Warning

The weather may be warming up, but make sure the water temperatures are at a consistent 45 degrees before you start feeding your fish. Feeding them before they’re able to properly digest the food can lead to health issues.

Pond Talk: What’s your pond’s water temperature where you live?

Specialized Cool Weather Diet - Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food

What should I do if I have a power outage over the winter and my aeration stops? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

What should I do if I have a power outage over the winter and my aeration stops?

Q: What should I do if I have a power outage over the winter and my aeration stops?

Johnny – Point Marion, PA

A: Power outages happen. Whether they’re caused by Mother Nature, like hurricane Sandy, or the result of an accident or a blown transformer, chances are pretty good that you’ll contend with at least one lights-out experience this winter—but your chandelier won’t be the only thing not electrified.

Out in your lake or water garden, your aeration system will also shut down when the electricity stops. No aeration for an extended period of time means your pond’s water quality could suffer and your fishes’ health could be compromised.

Don’t worry: If you’re prepared, a power outage won’t be a big deal at all. Here’s what you need to know.

Your Fish will be Fine …

As long as the water temperature remains cold and your pond is relatively free of dead or decomposing debris, your fish will survive the power outage without even blinking an eye.

Thanks to one of the many unique properties of water, cold water retains more dissolved oxygen than warm water. “Think about how much bubblier a cold soda is compared to a warm one,” describes the United States Geological Survey. “The cold soda can keep more of the carbon dioxide bubbles dissolved in the liquid than the warm one can, which makes it seem fizzier when you drink it.”

It’s the same thing with oxygen. Colder water molecules are more densely packed and can therefore hold more oxygen, which your fish and other pond inhabitants need to survive.

In addition, the pond should not have a lot of dead or decomposing materials, like leaves and plant matter. All that breaking-down vegetation depletes the water of oxygen while imbuing it with harmful toxic gases like ammonia.

Bottom line: If your water is cold and your pond is clean when the power goes out, your finned friends will be just fine, short-term.

Service & Protect Your Aerator

After the power is restored and the candles are blown out, plan to head out to your aeration system and assess the situation. Any built-up air pressure could prevent the aerator from turning back on, so you’ll need to relieve the air pressure by pulling the relief valve or disconnecting the airline before you turn the system back on again. In addition, condensation could form on the motor, which will need to be wiped down to prevent rust from forming.

To protect your aerator from the elements—which could cause an isolated power outage in your pond or lake—make sure it’s protected. Larger units, such as those for ponds and lakes, should be in a cabinet; smaller units, such as those for water gardens, should be hidden within a faux rock, like the Pond Logic® TruRock™ Small Boulder Cover. It’s designed to blend into the landscape while protecting pond equipment.

Pond Talk: In case of long-term power outage, would you ever use a generator to power your aerator? Why or why not?

Protect Your Aeration Units - Pond Logic® PondAir™ & TrueRock™ Combo

How can I tell if my fish are ready for a lighter diet? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I tell if my fish are ready for a lighter diet?

Q: How can I tell if my fish are ready for a lighter diet?

Steve – Wallingford, PA

A: When feeding your koi and pond fish, a “lighter diet” doesn’t mean that your finned friends need to switch to low-cal, low-fat foods. Instead, it refers to an easy-to-digest wheat germ-based diet that’s formulated for the fishes’ slowed activity and metabolism during the transitional fall and spring months.

Wheat germ-based diets, such as Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Floating Fish Food, TetraPond® Floating Spring & Fall Fish Food and PondCare® Spring & Autumn Fish Food, are packed with vegetable protein, amino acids and digestive enzymes. These diets, which help them ease into and out of winter, are gentle on their digestive systems while keeping their constitutions strong to fight off disease.

How do you know when it’s time to switch diets? Here are three clues:

  • Temperature: When your water temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, you should feed your active, hungry fish protein- and carbohydrate-balanced foods, like Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food. But when water temperatures dip to between 40 to 50 degrees, they require the lighter, wheat germ-based foods. Use your Pond Logic® Floating Pond Thermometer to keep an eye on the water temperature as the days and nights get cooler.
  • Fish Mobility: Are your koi and goldfish moving a bit more slowly than they normally do? That’s another clue that it’s time to switch to a lighter food. Fish will naturally begin to slow down their activity in cooler water as their bodies begin to prepare for their annual “hibernation.”
  • Feeding Interest: As the fish slow their activity and require less food to fuel their metabolisms, they won’t be as interested in the tasty morsels as they are in the summer. So if your koi and goldfish seem to have turned into picky eaters, that’s your third clue that it’s time to switch to a lighter diet.

When water temperatures fall to below 40 degrees, that’s when it’s time to stop feeding your fish altogether. Don’t worry: They won’t starve! Their bodies, which need very few nutrients to sustain them during the cold months, have plenty of fat stored—but you can bet they’ll be ready for a nice, big meal when spring arrives.

Pond Talk: What changes do you see in your fishes’ behavior during the fall?

Specialized Cool Weather Diet - Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food

Is it normal for my koi to change color? Why does it happen? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Is it normal for my koi to change color? Why does it happen?

Q: Is it normal for my koi to change color? Why does it happen?

Judy – Southport, NC

A: They say a tiger can’t change its stripes – but did you know a koi can change its colors?

As you get to know each one of your koi personally (and you will if you haven’t already!), you may notice changes in the pigment, color depth and hue in the fish’s black, white and red scales. Don’t worry: It’s not necessarily a cause for panic. The color changes can be caused by several factors, including:

Sun Exposure: During the summer when the sun is shining, you get a tan; during the winter, you don’t. It’s the same thing with koi. Their scales can change color depending on their exposure to that bright orb in the sky. They won’t turn an Oompa-Loompa orange during the summer (though that may not be a bad thing to some koi keepers!), but you may notice a color change in some of your fish after their winter slumber.

Genetics: Koi experts will tell you how critical a role genetics plays in the coloration and patterning of koi. Dominant and recessive genes dictate how much hi (red), sumi (black), shiroji (white) and other colored markings appear. And, just like your hair color can change based on your genetic makeup, the koi’s scale color can change, too.

Stress: If your fish are stressed, they may show their unhealthiness in their coloring – just like when you take on a pallor-type tone when you’re under the weather. Make sure to keep your pond clean and well-oxygenated with an aeration system, like the Pond Logic® KoiAir™ Water Garden Aeration System. Also be sure to check your water quality with a water test kit, like the PondCare® Master Liquid Test Kit that measures ammonia and pH, and correct it if necessary.

Diet: A koi’s overall health – just like human’s – is affected by what it eats. Feed your fish food that has enough vitamins and nutrients to support vibrant color, like Pond Logic’s Growth and Color Fish Food. It contains top-quality ingredients, vitamins, natural color intensifiers and chelated minerals that enhance colors in koi and goldfish. To punch up your koi’s colors even more, add some oranges and watermelon to its diet.

Pond Talk: What kinds of color changes have you seen in your koi?

Pond Logic Growth & Color Fish Food - Enhance Fish Health & Beauty

Is There Anything I Can Do To Keep My Koi Safe From The Heat? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Is there anything I can do to keep my koi safe from the heat?

Q: Is there anything I can do to keep my koi safe from the heat?

Shalini – Brinkley, AR

A: Baby, it certainly is hot outside! As the temperatures rise, you might think the coolest place to be is in the pond with your fish. Surprisingly, however, pond fish can feel the heat, too. The warm water feels “stuffy” to them because it contains less oxygen than cooler water. Check out these four tips for keeping your koi and goldfish cool as finned cucumbers.

1. Check your Water Temperature: Ideally, your pond’s water temperature should be at a comfortable 70 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Use the Pond Logic® Floating Pond Thermometer to check the pond’s temp, and if it’s too warm, do a partial water change to give the fish some fresh, cool water.

2. Top Off the Pond: Even if your pond’s water temperature is hovering near that 70 degree zone, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your pond’s water level and add more when needed. When the mercury rises, remember that your water will evaporate more quickly into the atmosphere.

3. Create Shady Spots: Just as you seek out shady spots to shield yourself from the sun’s rays, fish will do the same to keep themselves cool – and prevent themselves from getting sunburned! Be sure to provide floating plants, water lilies and other types of shade cover for your pond pets. Have fun with it! Add some tropical lilies like the Panama Pacific, tropical bog plants like the Red Canna or other hot-weather plants that prefer the warmer weather.

4. Provide Aeration: Do you like sitting by the fan or swamp cooler during heat waves like this one? Well, an underwater bubbler or aeration system, such as the Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration System, is like a fan to fish. The cooler water that’s loaded with oxygen is easier for the fish to breathe.

While the heat waves persist this summer, follow these tips to ensure your fish stay cool and comfortable in their watery home. They’ll thank you for it!

Pond Talk: Where is your favorite place to chill out when the temperature soars?

Pond Logic PondAir - Protect Your Prized Fish

How Well Do You Know Your Koi? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How Well Do You Know Your Koi?

How Well Do You Know Your Koi?

Koi add color and movement to your pond. They’re relaxing to watch. And they’re likely the centerpiece of your water feature. But how much do you really know about your finned friends? Check out these five factoids about koi and impress your fish-keeping pals during your next pond-side shindig.

1. A Long Life Span: Have you heard of Hanako? He’s the fabled koi who lived for 226 years after being supposedly passed down through the generations and was aged by counting rings on his scales. To set the record straight, Hanako has been proven to be an urban myth. Koi typically live 25 to 35 years in a well-maintained fish pond – but that’s still not a bad life span, all things considered!

2. Growth Spurts: Koi, like most other fish, start out as teeny-tiny fingerlings and grow to their genetically determined adult size. But unlike many fish, koi will grow to fit their accommodations – which means they’ll develop into super-sized beasts in the right environment. In their first three to four years of life when housed in an adequately sized pond, a koi will reach about 18 inches long. Throughout its lifetime, it can grow to reach up to 3 feet and more. That’s some big fish!

3. Colorful Gastronomes: The ultimate underwater foodies, koi will eat just about anything, with the exception of meat. Though they love their commercial pelleted diet, like Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food, koi will happily gobble down lettuce, apples, oranges, watermelon, and even tiny shrimp. So why not treat your scaly pals to some healthy fruits and veggies now and then!

4. Feast and Famine: Koi love to eat and will chow whenever food is offered, but these guys can actually go more than 10 days without food during the warmer months – and fast even longer when temperatures drop and they go into their winter torpor, or hibernation, when they pass on meals for months at a time. Of course, if you feed your fish regularly, don’t suddenly stop as doing so can affect their health and happiness.

5. Koi Agility? No, koi unfortunately cannot be trained to jump through hoops like a dolphin or fetch a floating ball like a Labrador, but they can be conditioned to recognize your footsteps and come to the water’s edge for a visit. Simply feed your fish from the same place consistently and, before long, they’ll learn to go there for food and even learn to eat from your hand! Now that’s a cool party trick.

Pond Talk: What other interesting factoids have you heard about koi?

Pond Logic Growth & Color Fish Food - Optimum Fish Health & Beauty

Fish Acclimation In 4 Simple Steps | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

I Overwintered My Fish Indoors This Season. How Should I Go About Placing Them Back Into My Pond? I Overwintered My Fish Indoors This Season. How Should I Go About Placing Them Back Into My Pond?

Tamara – Rapid City, SD

Re-introducing your fish to their summer home can be a safe and simple process if you follow these 4 simple steps:

Perform A Pond Cleanout – Clean your rocks, waterfall, filters and pond equipment. If stuck-on debris are slowing you down, use some Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ to speed up the process. Be sure to clean out any bottom-dwelling muck and skim out floating debris. Most people drain their ponds for easier access to the entire pond. If you are not up to the task then perform at least a 20% water change.

Seed & Start Your Filers – Once you refill the pond, replace or clean filter media pads and secondary media like Pond Logic® BioBalls™. Use Microbe-Lift PL Gel to introduce beneficial bacteria and reduce filter seed time. Once everything is back in place, start your pumps and let the water flow.

Test The Water – Use a water test kit to ensure pond water is balanced and safe for your fish. A good test kit will include tests for ammonia, nitrite and pH levels as these directly impact the health of your fish. We always recommend adding Water Conditioner or Stress Reducer to your pond after water changes to detoxify harmful contaminates in well and city water.

Acclimate Your Fish – Water temperature and composition will be different than their winter housing, so it is important to slowly introduce them to their new home. Bring fish out in a bucket and periodically add a small amount of pond water every 5-10 minutes. This will give your fish time to adjust to the water variations and avoid shock. After 15-20 minutes it will be safe to gently release the fish back into their home.

Microbe-Lift PL Gel

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

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