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My fish always seem hungry. How much should I really be feeding them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

My fish always seem hungry. How much should I really be feeding them?

My fish always seem hungry. How much should I really be feeding them?
Tony – Richmond, VA

Proper fish feeding is one of the great balancing acts of pond ownership – and there’s precious little in the way of definitive, measurable guidelines. With a little observation, though, you’ll have it down to a science in no time.

As a rule, it’s best to feed your fish once a day, and preferably at the same time. An established routine trains them to be on the alert when mealtime rolls around, which in turn makes each feeding more efficient and effective. Try not to feed them any more than they can consume comfortably in five minutes – and be sure to remove any food left over after five minutes is up.

The five-minute rule serves a couple of important purposes. Unlike land borne creatures, fish have to share their environment with their leftovers. With some fish (and lots of humans), this can lead to overeating, bulging midsections, and compromised health. If excess food goes uneaten, it adversely affects water quality, leads to increased algae growth, and requires significantly more maintenance. Finding the five-minute sweet spot keeps both you and your fish happy.

But quantity is only the first half of the equation. The quality of the food you choose is every bit as important. Like the food we eat, fish food is comprised of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Protein is of particular importance when choosing the proper fish food, because it leads to rapid growth. Too much protein, however, can cause too much growth too quickly, leading to unhealthy fish. It also leads to increased waste, accelerated algae growth, and – you guessed it – more maintenance.

Our Pond Logic feed line takes the guesswork out of proper nutritional proportions. With added citrus and natural color intensifiers, the protein-balanced Pond Logic Growth & Color Fish Food is a fish favorite that consistently wins rave reviews from satisfied pond owners. Pond Logic PonStix provides a convenient, well-balanced and low-waste alternative to traditional foods. And Pond Logic Professional delivers an extra protein punch, with the added benefits of immune system-boosting Beta Glucan to enhance the health of both your fish – and their habitat.

Pond appetit.

Pond Talk: How often are you feeding your fish?

Pond Logic® Growth & Color™

I’ve always been told to use lava rock in my waterfall filter, is this the best media to use? | Decorative Ponds & Watergardens Q&A

I’ve always been told to use lava rock in my waterfall filter, is this the best media to use?

I’ve always been told to use lava rock in my waterfall filter, is this the best media to use?
Tara – Bon Temps, LA

Lava rock was a common form of biological filtration media in waterfall boxes as its porous surface provides room for bacteria to reside. While it was popular years ago, pond supply companies have since produced better forms of secondary biological filtration media that are friendlier for both you and the pond itself.

Using lava rock as a source of filtration media has a list of distinctive drawbacks. The first of which is that it can prove to be extremely heavy and cumbersome. It is not exactly easy to lift a bag of rocks out of your pond, especially when it is full of water and debris.
While lava rock is porous and can initially provide a reasonable amount of additional surface area, the coarseness and small opening sizes tend to hold on to passing-by debris, blocking the waterways which greatly diminishes the stone’s performance. Once lava rock is loaded with debris you will have to remove it form your filter box and replace it with new media as it is near impossible to remove the debris from within each rock. For some pond owners this means they would need to replace their lava rock media multiple times each season for optimal performance. Furthermore lava rock tends to be brittle and can leave behind additional dust and debris in your pond.

Biological filtration media like Pond Logic® BioBalls™ filter media provides all of the surface area that your beneficial bacteria desire but implement it into a light-weight cost-effective design. One of the best qualities of secondary filtration media like the BioBalls™ is that you only have to buy them once. Pond Logic® BioBalls™ do not degrade over time and can simply be rinsed out at the end of the season and reused the next. BioBalls™ can placed into a mesh media bag and can be placed right into your waterfall filter box.

Pond Talk: Have you used lava rock as filter media in the past and switched to bio balls or another form of media? Did you notice a difference in filtration performance?

Pond Logic® BioBalls™

What’s the best way to introduce new fish to my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

What's the best way to introduce new fish to my pond?

What’s the best way to introduce new fish to my pond?
Chelsea – Eagan, MN

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.

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 and replenish the protective slime coating of your fish by adding Pond Logic Stress Reducer Plus 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.

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: What rituals do you use to ensure safe transport of fish into your new pond environment?

Pond Logic Stress Reducer Plus

What do I do to clean out my water garden now that the snow melted? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

What do I do to clean out my water garden now that the snow melted?

What do I do to clean out my water garden now that the snow melted?
Brett – Delta, IA

Spring is the perfect time to perform a clean out on your water garden or decorative water feature and remove accumulated growth and debris from the winter months. Not only does this result in a cleaner better looking pond, it also promotes a smoother transition into the warm summer months where a unbalanced pond can easily be overrun with green water and string algae.

Once the ice melts from the surface of your pond you can begin your cleaning regimen. Start by pulling out as much muck and debris as possible. You can use a Interchangeable Pond Tool to safely remove your decorative pond fish and sweep debris away from the sides of the pond. Pond Vacuums are a great way to siphon muck and debris from hard to reach areas of your pond without the hassle of bending and scrubbing. Sprinkle Oxy-Lift Defense™ on your waterfall rocks and stream bed to lift stuck on debris without having to scrape at your rocks and liner.

After the majority of debris are cleaned from the pond you can perform a partial water change by removing around 20% of the ponds volume and replacing it with fresh water. Not only does this refresh the pond water, removing water from the pond with a pump or bucket will also eliminate some of the floating debris you kicked up during the cleaning process. While the pond is refilling mix in some Water Conditioner to remove the harmful metals and chloramines found in well and tap water.

Remove your Filter Media Pads from your waterfall filter, skimmer and pressurized filters. Inspect them for signs of wear and tear and replace accordingly. Thoroughly rinse your filtration media to remove built up debris. Apply PL-Gel to your new or cleaned filter media to seed them with beneficial bacteria and place them back into position.

Now that the pond is cleaned up and topped off you can start up your pumps and begin circulating the contents of the pond. Inspect the pumps, plumbing and power cords for signs of wear, cuts or leakage. Check your waterfall and streams for out of place rocks, splash-outs, and misdirected water. Black Waterfall Foam can be used to keep rocks firmly in place and route water where you want it. Inspect your pond liner for leaks and check the perimeter of your pond for damp areas or puddles.

If the water is still below 55 degrees apply your Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense® to balance the pond water and introduce beneficial bacteria to the water column. If the water warmer than 55 degrees you can apply your Nature’s Defense® instead. The Pond Logic® DefensePAC® bundles the water treatment and maintenance products you will need for the season while providing a price break compared to purchasing products individually.

Let the pond water circulate for a couple days before re-introducing your decorative pond fish back into the pond. This will give the pond water some time to balance without putting unnecessary stress on your fish. Add some Stress Reducer Plus to the water before you start acclimating your decorative pond fish back into the pond as it will help supplement their slime coat and reduce exposure to stress and harmful residual water contaminates.

While it requires a little elbow grease up front, a thorough spring clean out will save you time, money and hassles later in the season so you can spend more time enjoying your pond while the weather is nice.

Pond Talk:What are you tips for getting your water garden ready for the season?

DefensePAC®

I took my fish out for the winter… when it is best to put them back? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I took my fish out for the winter…when it is best to put them back?

I took my fish out for the winter… when it is best to put them back?
Kathie – St. Cloud, MN

It is about time to get your pond up and running for the season. Your decorative pond fish may be even more excited than you are if they’ve been stuck inside for the winter. Before you re-introduce them to their pond you will want to give it thorough once-over to make sure the pond is healthy, clean and ready for spring.

You may choose to perform a complete pond cleanout and start from scratch, or if you prefer you can leave the pond in tack and just do some minor preparations. If this is the case, start by removing debris and algae from the water column, stream, rocks and pond bottom. Dusting Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense® on your rocks and waterfall will lift hard to remove debris and save you the time and energy of having to scrub them clean. You can don a pair of Aquatic Gloves or use a Pond Vaccum and go to work removing the muck and debris that have sunk to the bottom of your pond.

Once you have removed as much solid debris as possible you can perform a partial water change of around 25%. Include a dose of Pond Logic® Stress Reducer Plus or Water Conditioner to neutralize harmful water contaminates. Inspect your filter media for signs of wear and tear and replace as necessary. Thoroughly rinse off soiled filters and seed them with PL Gel Bacteria so they are ready to work as soon as you reinstall them in your filters. If you brought your Pressurized Filters, UV Clarifiers and Water Pumps inside for the winter you begin to bring them out and install them now. With your pond cleaned out and filtration system in place you are ready to fire up your pumps and circulate the water in your pond. Add your seasonal cool-weather bacteria like Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense to further establish beneficial bacteria in your filtration media and pond.
Let the pond circulate over the course of a few weeks if possible before adding your fish. This will ensure your fish don’t suffer from peaks in pH or ammonia while your water finds a happy balance. Ideally temperatures over 50 degrees are more easily adaptable for your fish but be sure you acclimate them to the pond slowly following the same process you would to introduce a few fish. Using Pond Logic® Stress Reducer Plus will aid in this process.

A good spring clean out will set the pace for your ponding season and prevent future headaches and stressed fish. Be patient and thorough using the proper tools so you can make your pond even more enjoyable this coming season.

Pond Talk: Have you performed your spring clean up yet? Any new ideas for your pond this season?

Pond Logic Stress Reducer Plus

My fish are looking for food, can I feed them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

My fish are looking for food, can I feed them?

My fish are looking for food, can I feed them?
Arlette, Arlington, VA

Now that the rain and warmer weather has melted the ice away from your water garden you can see your decorative pond fish moving about the pond. After a long winters rest you would think they are hungry and ready to eat but it may still be too soon to feed your fish.

Temperature is a major determining factor in whether or not it is time to feed your fish and what type of food you should feed them. Install a floating pond thermometer within reach of the pond’s edge so you can readily check water temperatures throughout the day. Once the weather warms up enough to keep the pond water continually over 40°F you can start feeding your fish a wheat-germ based food like Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food. As your fish are still a bit chilly their digestive tracks are working at a decreased rate. Foods designed for cooler weather consist of easy-to-digest ingredients that can be broken down faster so they don’t sit inside your fish and cause problems.

Once water temperatures rise above 50°F you can switch over to your growth and color enhancing foods like Pond Logic® Growth & Color or Pond Logic® Professional fish foods. As your fish will be warm and fully active, they will have no trouble breaking down these denser high-protein foods.

Your decorative pond fish will naturally want to eat at any chance they get whether they are hungry or not. They commonly fool their owners into thinking they are starving as they splash around at the surface of the pond and fight for every last pellet you throw to them. Be sure to wait for the temperatures to rise before you give them food and rest assured that a small handful of food each day is all they need to maintain healthy diet.

Pond Talk: Is your pond free and clear of ice yet? Are you fish actively swimming around your pond?

Pond Logic Spring and Fall Fish Food

What are the differences between a true Koi pond and a water garden? | Decorative Ponds & Watergardens Q&A

What are the differences between a true Koi pond and a water garden?

What are the differences between a true Koi pond and a water garden?
Natalie _ San Francisco, CA

When it comes to backyard ponds you may hear multiple names thrown out like water garden, Koi pond, decorative pond or other, more creative, titles. While these names are used loosely and interchangeably by many-a-pond owner there are considerable differences between a water garden and a Koi pond used for spawning and raising Koi.

So what draws the line in the sand between Koi ponds and water gardens? Water gardens are geared more towards the every-day pond owner as they are tailored to be easier to construct and maintain while having a higher aesthetic appeal and yard friendly design. Decorated with spitters, plants, lighting and other outdoor décor, water gardens can contain can contain all types of fish with goldfish and Koi being the most popular. Koi ponds tend to be sought after by pond owners that plan raising an abundance of Koi for selling or showing in fish clubs or competitions. With this goal in mind these ponds discourage the presence of species like goldfish as they breed prolifically and take up valuable space for their prize winning koi.

Another distinguishing factor is the design of the pond itself. Water gardens are typically less than 2 ft. in depth and contain plant shelves around the outside perimeter to hold a wide variety of aquatic habitat and visual stimulation. While a koi pond may also include plants for filtration or aesthetic appeal the design of this type of pond is all about the koi. These ponds do not contain plant shelves and are usually 4 ft. in depth or more. One reason for this is to discourage predators and increase useable area for their fish to roam and grow. Koi ponds also utilize bottom drains and large amounts of water flow to create ideal breeding conditions. As Koi breeders want to fit as many fish as they can into their ponds they rely on complex heavy duty filtration systems, and UV sterilizers to keep pond water clean. These systems are much more complex then the pond skimmers, pressurized filters and waterfall boxes water gardeners use.

Have the pond already but need help getting it established? Check out our fish and plant packages. Also, for more information on koi breeding click over to our blog on Fish Reproduction. Need help deciding? There are also a wide array of informational books and videos for those of you who are just looking to get started in the watergarden or koi pond hobby.

Pond Talk: What type of pond do you have?

Live Fish

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

Can my snails stay in my pond for the winter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

Can my snails stay in my pond for the winter?
Cody – Falling Spring, VA

While your fish and some of your aquatic plants remain safe and sound during their winter dormancy you may wonder if your snails will be as successful. Your pond snails are amazingly resilient in cold weather and will do just fine given their habitat is suitable.

Your pond depth will play a major role in the success of all of the living creatures in your pond. Your plants, fish and snails can survive in cold water but they won’t fair too well if frozen into a solid block of ice. The ice that forms on the top of your pond varies in thickness depending on where you live but the general rule of thumb is to build your pond to be around 20”-30” in depth. This ensures there is an ample layer of water at the bottom of the pond that is left unexposed to the elements which will provide a safe haven for all of your pets and plants.

You won’t have to worry too much about your snails finding a safe place to hide over the winter as they come equipped with a strong shell which provides adequate shelter. They can hide amongst the rocks and plant remains in the pond as well during the winter but as your fish are in dormancy there is not an overwhelming need for additional habitat. As water temperatures drop and bacteria begin to dwindle a lot of pond owners tend to rely on algaecides to keep their ponds free from algae. If you are using an algaecide in your water garden review the product label thoroughly to ensure it is safe to use with your snails. When your pond comes back to life in the spring your snails will flourish amongst the new plant growth.

Pond Talk: Do you do anything special to provide safety for your snails in the winter?

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!

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