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Can you add too much beneficial bacteria to your pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Can you add too much beneficial bacteria to your pond?

Q: Can you add too much beneficial bacteria to your pond?

Michelle – Norman, OK

A: They say too much of anything is bad. In this case, too much beneficial bacteria isn’t necessarily bad – but your pocketbook might be getting a little lighter.

The Cycle of Life

Beneficial bacteria, those debris-gobbling microorganisms found in our Nature’s Defense®, Muck Defense® and Seasonal Defense®, lives just like other living things. They’re born (well, most bacteria come into the world via a kind of cellular division called binary fission), they eat food that’s available to them (organic debris in your pond), they divide to perpetuate the population, and they die when their life cycle is complete.

Survival of the Fittest

When too many bacteria live in your water feature, they battle and compete for resources rather than growing big and healthy and reproducing. A la Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, the weaker organisms ultimately starve and die. The overall bacteria populations drop, and the pond owner then needs to buy more to replace what he or she has lost to keep up on managing the nutrient load. Those repopulation costs could certainly add up over a while!

Too Much of a Good Thing

Having too much beneficial bacteria in your pond is safe for plants and fish in most cases. But if your pond has a lot of organic buildup, a lot of beneficial bacteria and inadequate aeration, could be a recipe for disaster for your fish. As those bacteria launch their full-scale attack against all that detritus, they deplete the water of oxygen – which the fish needs to survive. An aeration system, like the PondAir™ or KoiAir™Aeration Systems, can help in cases like that by supplying the oxygen and circulating the water column.

The Right Dose

Our advice: For routine maintenance, dose your pond according to the instructions on Nature’s Defense®, Muck Defense® and Seasonal Defense® labels. After clean-outs or treatments, you can use a double dose of bacteria to kick-start the repopulation process, but no more than that. And, if you don’t have one installed already, consider adding aeration to your pond. All your pond’s inhabitants – from microorganism to macro organisms – will appreciate it!

Pond Talk: Have you ever added too much beneficial bacteria to your pond? If so, what were the repercussions?

Maintain a Healthy Balanced Pond - Pond Logic (r) Nature's Defense (r)

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

How do I know how many gallons are in my pond?| Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How do I know how many gallons are in my pond?

Q: How do I know how many gallons are in my pond?

Jolene – New Rochelle, NY

A: Gallons matter. Knowing how much water your pond holds will help you determine the size of aeration and filtration systems you need. It will also help you properly dose your pond with commonly used pond products and determine how many fish your pond can house.

So how do you calculate this all-important figure? Put on your thinking cap, because we’re revisiting some high school geometry.

Rectangular Ponds

The easiest ponds to measure are those that resemble a rectangle. If you’ll recall from geometry class, you can calculate a rectangle’s volume by multiplying its length by its width by its height, so L x W x H.

First, to get your length and width, measure your pond at its longest point and its widest point. Figuring out its depth is a bit trickier, particularly if you have plant shelves or if the pond has a slope. If it is the same depth throughout, use that number in your formula. If you have a plant shelf or the depth varies, measure the maximum depth and cut it in half to create an average depth. For instance, let’s say the pond is four feet at its deepest but has some shallow areas for plants. Use half of that depth, or two feet, for your formula.

So let’s put this in real terms: If your pond is 15 feet long by 10 feet wide by 2 feet deep, your pond’s volume is 300 cubic feet. One cubic foot holds 7.48 gallons of water, so multiply 300 by 7.48 to get your total – which equals 2,244 gallons.

Circular Ponds

If your pond is round or oval, you’ll start by using the formula to find the surface area of a circle – which is Pi x Radius2 , or 3.14 x R x R. The radius of your pond is half the distance across, so if your pond is a 10 foot circle, the radius is 5 feet. Your formula will look like this: 3.14 x 5 x 5 = 78.5.

Next, figure out your pond’s depth, just like we did with the rectangular pond. If it’s 4 feet deep with plant shelves and sloped sides, use 2 feet. Then multiply that number by your surface area: 78.5 x 2 = 157 cubic feet.

Finally, convert that number into gallons. One cubic foot holds 7.48 gallons of water, so 157 x 7.48 = 1,174 gallons.

Irregular Shaped Ponds

The more irregular your pond’s shape, the less accurate your measurement will become – but it’s OK. In most cases, you don’t need to pinpoint its volume to the exact gallon. Use whichever formula best resembles your pond’s shape. For instance, if your pond is kidney shaped, use the rectangle formula and remember that the final figure will be slightly higher.

Playing with the Numbers

With your newfound numbers, head over to The Pond Guy’s® online calculator where you can plug in those figures and see how many boulders you need, how many fish your pond can hold, what pump size you need and more.

Now aren’t you glad you paid attention in geometry class?

Pond Talk: What kinds of improvements have you made to your pond or backyard this summer?

5 Easy Steps to Clear Pond Water - Pond Logic (r) DefensePAC 9r)

Someone told me I need to do the Jar Test. What is that? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Someone told me I need to do the Jar Test. What is that?

Q: Someone told me I need to do the Jar Test. What is that?

Margie – Clinton, ME

A: Let me guess: You have discolored or cloudy water, right?

Your friend gave some good advice. If you have green- or tea-colored water, or murky water in your pond, a jar test is an easy way to diagnose just what’s causing those clarity issues.

It’s simple to do. Take a clear glass jar, dunk it into your pond, fill it up with the water and let it sit for 24 hours. Overnight, the jar and its contents become a miniature version of your water garden – and it’ll reveal the source of your problem. Here’s how to read your jar:

Green Water

If your jar contains green-tined water or if the water has green particles in it, you most likely have algae. Planktonic algae – the source of algae blooms – are floating, microscopic plants that color pond water green, blue-green, brown or variations in between. Your jar is telling you to treat for algae with an algaecide like AlgaeFix®. It clears up all types of algae blooms fast.

Tea-Colored Water

Discolored or tea-colored water means you have some leaf tea brewing in your pond. As organic debris decomposes in your pond, the tannins and other byproducts mix into the water column, discoloring it. Your first remedy is to add a bag of Activated Carbon to the water. It will clear up the dissolved materials that are causing the problem. While the carbon is working, remove floating and decaying material with Collapsible Skimmer Net and ClearVac™ Pond Vacuum. Keep your pond clean by skimming it regularly and covering it with pond netting or a Pond Shelter™ during the fall months.

Water with Sediment

Does your jar have clear water with a layer of sediment on the bottom? If so, you have an abundance of organics in the pond, and your fish are constantly stirring them up and clouding the water. Your four-step solution: Remove large debris, perform a partial water change, add a Water Conditioner, and double down on the beneficial bacteria from the DefensePAC®.

A jar test can reveal a lot about the water in your pond. If you need some assistance in discerning what your jar is telling you, just email one of The Pond Guy® experts. They’re there to help!

Pond Talk: Have you ever been surprised by the results of a jar test in your pond?

Safely Clear Tea Colored Water - Pond Logic (r) Activated Carbon

Should I turn off my UV light when adding water treatments, like Nature’s Defense®, to my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Should I turn off my UV light when adding water treatments, like Nature’s Defense®, to my pond?

Q: Should I turn off my UV light when adding water treatments, like Nature’s Defense®, to my pond?

Olivia – Blissfield, MI

A: Great question! The answer all depends on the kind of ultraviolet light you’re talking about – so let’s quickly go through the differences between a UV sterilizer and a UV clarifier.

UV Sterilizer: Cleans It All- Good and Bad

A UV sterilizer completely sterilizes the water – which means it kills anything and everything that floats past its path, including beneficial bacteria found in some water treatments. These units are effective at killing floating algae and harmful pathogens like parasites, but they kill the good stuff, too. We don’t recommend adding bacteria to your pond while using a UV sterilizer.

UV Clarifier: Targets the Green Stuff

A UV clarifier is different. It targets just algae and leaves the bacteria alone (as long as the unit is sized right for the pond). The clarifier uses ultraviolet light to destroy the reproductive ability of suspended green stuff. Dead algae then clumps together into particles large enough to be removed by mechanical filtration, leaving the pond cleaner and clearer. If pea soup water is a recurring problem for you, add a UV clarifier to your pond.

Optimize the Flow

If you use a UV clarifier, you can leave the light on while you use bacteria-based treatments, like those found in the DefensePAC® Pond Care Package. But just be sure the bulb and pump are sized correctly.

Bright Enough Bulb: For a UV clarifier to be most effective, the bulb needs to have a high enough wattage for your pond’s volume. All UV clarifiers are rated based on pond size. The larger the wattage, the larger the pond size the UV clarifier can handle.

Power to the Pump: The water needs to flow pass the UV bulb at the just right speed, so the pump size is important. If the water moves too quickly, it won’t kill the algae and it could cause the seals on the unit to malfunction; if it moves too slowly, it will kill the algae and beneficial bacteria. A great rule of thumb is to push the water approximately half of what the UV is rated per hour.

A convenient option is to try out an all-in-one unit, like the AllClear™ & SolidFlo™ Combo Kits. The mechanical and biological filter system comes with a built-in UV clarifier. When used with the SolidFlo pump, you’ll be well on your way to clear water.

One last tip: Keep the water well-circulated by running an aeration system, like one of the Airmax® Aeration Kits. Its diaphragm compressors and air stones keep the beneficial bacteria supplied with oxygen, as well as ensure every drop of water and every algae cell float past that UV bulb.

Pond Talk: When have you used an UV clarifier in your pond?

All-Natural Pond Care System - Pond Logic (r) DefensePAC 9r)

How do I know if it’s a leak or evaporation loss?| Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How do I know if it’s a leak or evaporation loss?

Q: How do I know if it’s a leak or evaporation loss?

Dena – Albrightsville, PA

A: A little water loss in your water garden is normal – but when it disappears by the inches, you’ve got a mystery to solve. These step-by-step sleuthing tips, below, can help you deduce whether it’s summertime evaporation or a liner leak.

Step 1 – Look for Evaporation Clues

During the heat of the summertime, you can expect some all-natural water loss. Thanks to evaporation, up to an inch (give or take) of water will naturally disappear from the pond, and if you have a long stream bed with a lot of surface area or a large pond with few floating plants, even more water could transform from liquid to vapor. If you suspect evaporation, fill the pond back up and keep an eye on the water level.

Step 2 – Check for Dampness Around the Pond

If more than an inch of water is disappearing every day, you could be dealing with a leak. Walk around the pond and waterfall or stream, and carefully inspect the soil for signs of unexplained moisture. If you find some, take a closer look at that spot’s liner and construction. Leaking water has to go somewhere, and a patch of wet ground is clear indicator of a problem.

Step 3 – Finding Liner Rips

If you suspect a rip or hole in your liner, keep a close eye on the pond’s water level until it stops falling. When it does, that’s when you should look for the leak. Because the water level will stabilize once it lowers past the hole, you should be able to find the problem at or below the water level and fix it.

To repair the leak, you have two options: repair the hole with a patch found in the EPDM Pond Liner Patch Kit, or close it up with some underwater sealer, like Gold Label Pond and Aquarium Sealer. The patch kit comes with everything you need to fix minor tears in your pond liner, including an EPDM patch, solvent wipe, scrub sponge, seam roller and pair of disposable gloves. The underwater sealer, which works on wet or dry surfaces, instantly repairs leaks in rubber and vinyl liners.

Step 4 – Shore Up Your Stream

If you found moisture outside of your stream or waterfall, turn off your pump and inspect the rocks and liner around the wet spot. Is there a hole in the liner? Repair the leak with your liner patch kit. Is water pooling under rocks or splashing outside the stream? Redirect it back down to the pond with Black Waterfall Foam. Once you apply it, it’ll look like shadows between the rocks.

Step 5 – Inspect Your Fittings

Finally, if you’ve ruled out evaporation and there are no damp areas around the circumference of your pond to be found, the culprit could be your pressurized filter, tubing or connections. Inspect the plumbing on the pump or waterfall where pipe splits or loose fittings could be leaking, and repair it as necessary.

Good luck finding the cause of your pond’s water loss!

Pond Talk: How much water evaporates from your pond per day in the summertime?

Patch Leak Even Underwater - Gold Label Pond & Aquarium Sealer

The string algae seems to grow in just a few hours in my stream. What can I do? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: The string algae seems to grow in just a few hours in my stream. What can I do?

Q: The string algae seems to grow in just a few hours in my stream. What can I do?

Edith – Marion, IN

A: String algae. It seems to just grow and grow, leaving a tangled mess of green slimy stuff in your stream and water garden. Like other types of algae, string algae thrives on sunlight and excess nutrients like fish waste and decomposing organic matter in the water. If you want to get rid of it, check out this five-step plan designed to get your string algae problem under control.

  • Add Plants: Water lilies, water hyacinth, water lettuce and other floating aquatic plants look much nicer than algae, right? These ornamental plants will compete for the food source algae uses for growth, so plant away! A simple rule of thumb is to have 60 percent of your pond covered with submerged, floating and marginal plants.
  • Ration Fish Food: Those pellets and sticks are necessary to feed your finned friends, but keep in mind that fish food adds nutrients to the water in two ways: as wasted food that the fish don’t eat, and as waste after the fish digest it. Monitor how much your fish actually eat and cut back if possible.
  • Pump Up Filtration: If your filtration system isn’t powerful enough to handle your pond’s total fish load, you’ll wind up with burgeoning algae growth and, in worst-case scenarios, lethal levels of ammonia – neither of which you want. Many filters on the market are rated for ponds containing no fish or minimal fish, so get a filter that is rated for at least two times the water volume of your pond.
  • Turn Up Aeration: Beneficial bacteria, like those found in the DefensePAC®, naturally break down fish waste, but they need oxygen to thrive and reproduce. By adding a PondAir™ Aeration System, you’ll boost the oxygen in the water, increase your bacteria levels and reduce the nutrient load, thereby reducing algae growth.
  • Use Oxy-Lift™ Defense®: As needed throughout the season, use Oxy-Lift™ Defense® to lift string algae from waterfalls, streams and rocks. Simply shut down your waterfall, sprinkle the powder directly onto debris-covered areas and watch it instantly start foaming. In 24 hours, it will have removed the algae. Be sure to pull out any debris with a pond net.

String algae may seem like a never-ending battle, but you can manage it with these tried-and-true methods. Good luck!

Pond Talk: How often do you need to scrub string algae from your waterfall or stream?

Lift Debris From Waterfalls Instantly - Pond Logic (r) Oxy-Lift(t) Defense (r)

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