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Do I need a UV Filtration system for my pond? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Do I need a UV Filtration system for my pond?

Do I need a UV Filtration system for my pond? Benjamin – Dover, DE

Make Your Green Water Head Towards The Light

Spring is in full effect, the sun is shining, trees everywhere are in bloom, but now your pond water is as green as the grass that surrounds it. The water in your pond may have started off crystal clear this season but was it too good to last? Here at The Pond Guy we think not! If you can’t seem to gain the upper hand in your fight against green water it may be time to break out your secret weapon, a UV clarifier.

Some of you may be scratching your head at the idea of exposing your pond to even more light, but the truth is, when properly implemented, a UV bulb can work wonders on improving your pond’s water quality. The principal behind UV clarification is simple; expose algae to concentrated UV rays to damage and ultimately kill the plant. The trick to getting the best results from your UV clarifier is to pick a bulb that has a high enough wattage for your ponds volume and to pump the water past the bulb at just the right flow rate. All UV clarifiers are rated based on pond size. The larger the wattage, the larger the pond size the UV clarifier can handle. The other factor to take note of is the pump size. Pushing water past the UV light too fast can render it ineffective while pushing the water too slow can cause the UV Clarifier to act like a sterilizer, killing not only algae, but your beneficial bacteria as well. A great rule of thumb here is to push the water approximately half of what the UV is rated per hour. For the Tetra 9-Watt UV Clarifier that is rated for ponds up to 1,800 gallons a 900 GPH (gallons per hour) pump would be ideal.

The continued success of UV clarification has brought about many new styles of UV units; if you are currently building a pond consider purchasing a skimmer like the Savio Standard Skimmer which comes with optional built in UV. If your pond has been up and running for years you can use a Tetra Green Free UV Clarifier which installs in line with your plumbing, or the PondMaster Submersible UV Clarifier which can be plumbed in-line or submerged directly in the pond. There are even Pressurized Filters like the FishMate Pressure Filter 2,000 that come with a built in UV clarifier. Each type of UV is available in multiple wattages to best fit your specific needs.

While a UV clarifier can work wonders on your water garden it is only a patch to the real issue. Make sure you are properly maintaining your pond, using an adequate amount of filtration, and utilizing your bacteria products in your DefensePAC.

If you are unsure on How To Create A Balanced Environment for your water feature, or need to brush up on your Filtration Basics you can learn tons of tricks and tips on our Blog page.

Pond Talk: Which type of UV clarifier do you use in your pond? Has it made the difference between a pond full of “pea soup” and a crystal clear water garden?

UV Filtration

How do I control algae in my decorative pond, both long term and short term? – Water Garden & Features Q & A

All Rest, No Algae.

Water Garden & Features Q & A

Q: How do I control algae in my decorative pond, both long term and short term?
- Stefanie in Michigan

A: Algae blooms are the bane of most pond owners. All summer, they rear their green heads and turn a beautiful pond or water feature into a soupy or stringy mess. But with some planning, both the floating (pea-soup algae) and filamentous (string algae) species can be controlled in the short term and prevented in the long term. Here’s how:

Short-Term Solution

To get your decorative pond looking clean and clear right away, you’ll need to knock down the algae population by using a chemical herbicide, like AlgaeFix or TetraPond’s Algae Control. These algae-busters are safe for use in ponds with fish, but because they destroy algae so quickly, they can cause a drop in oxygen levels in your pond, especially during the warm summer months. Be sure that your pond is adequately aerated with a fountain, waterfall or underwater air diffuser.

Long-Term Prevention

To prevent that green goo from surfacing again, you need to limit its food source: Nutrients. Algae thrive on nutrients, which are the end product of the nitrogen cycle. The nitrogen cycle begins with ammonia released from fish waste and detritus. Nitrifying bacteria turn the ammonia into nitrites and then into nitrates (nutrients). The algae grow, the fish eat it and excrete it, and the cycle begins again.

So, how do you control the algae’s food source?
Try these approaches:

  • Keep your fish load to a minimum. Most pond owners love their fish, but if they plan to have 60 12-inch koi in a 1,000-gallon pond, they’re going to have an algae problem – which can be expensive to manage. So, when calculating your fish load, think of it in pounds of fish or total inches per gallon. Remember that your fish are growing and possibly multiplying, so plan for the future and remember: Less is best. Be careful not to overstock your decorative pond.
  • Increase the number of aquatic plants. Whether they’re submerged plants like hornwort, marginals like dwarf bamboo, or floating plants like water lilies and water hyacinth, aquatic plants consume the same food that algae does – nutrients. The more plants, the more the algae have to compete for those nutrients. Floating plants also shade the pond, which filters the sunlight and can slow the growth of sun-loving algae. You should try to cover 40 to 60 percent of your pond’s surface with floaters.
  • Check the filtration. The size and type of filtration system on a pond will depend on the fish load. If the filter is not properly sized for maximum potential, the fish will outgrow the filter and produce unhealthy amounts of ammonia, which could prove lethal to the fish. An inappropriately sized filter can also cause an algae bloom from the copious amounts of nutrients in the water. In most cases, filters on the market are rated for ponds containing no fish or a minimal fish load, so you should consider a filter that is rated for at least two times the water volume of your pond.
  • Toss in some beneficial bacteria. In addition to ensuring the proper mechanical filtration, you may also consider adding some additional biological filtration – beneficial bacteria – to your pond. These hungry creatures gobble through nutrients, breaking down fish waste, leaves and other organics that accumulate in the pond. One product to try is called DefensePAC® by Pond Logic®. It’s a combination of five products that provide beneficial bacteria, trace minerals, and a fish and plant-safe pond cleaner.
  • No pond will ever be completely algae-free, but the key to keeping the green stuff under control is to limit its food supply. Like any other living thing, if it can’t eat, it can’t survive!

    POND TALK: When was your worst algae bloom, and how did you correct it?

    Controlling Green Water Algae in a Water Garden – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

    Picture of Green Water Algae in a Water Garden.

    Water Gardens & Features Q & A

    Q: I am having a terrible time with green water in my water garden. What can I do? – Abby of California

    A: It’s that time of year again when the fish are playing, flowers blooming and your backyard is once again becoming your peaceful retreat, except for that green water in your water garden. Like most of us water garden owners the highlight of our yard is our water feature but what fun are fish if you can’t see and enjoy them? Here are some considerations that may help you take back your water garden.

    Filtration: Early in the season your filtration system may not be up to par with the amount of waste and debris left over from the winter months. A good spring clean out may be needed if there is an excessive amount of debris in the bottom of the water garden. If your water garden is relatively clean use a pond vacuum or application of natural bacteria may help get you on your way. This is the time of year to wash out or replace your filter pads to prepare for the coming season.

    Fish Load: Have your fish been busy? If your spacious water garden is becoming a full house, it may be time to find a few friends and share the wealth.  Overcrowding is a common source for green water since the filtration system may not be large enough to handle the amount of waste being produced. A simple rule of thumb to ensure room for your fish is 1 fish for every 10 sq. ft. of surface area.

    Plant Coverage or Shade: We recommend 40-60% plant coverage in your water garden. This adds to your filtration, since the plants are up taking their nutrients from the water. They also provide the added benefit of shade to help protect your fish from predators. A variety of plants should be used, including: bog(marginal), submerged, water lilies or floating plants. If your not sure what to get, you can check out our aquatic plant packages.

    Help Mother Nature Out with Natural Bacteria: Once you’ve checked your filtration, fish load and plant load, it’s time to add some natural bacteria. We recommend the Pond Logic DefensePAC. The DefensePAC is an award winning water garden care system that comprises of 5 products known in the water garden industry as the 5-Steps to Clear Water. They are:

    1. Oxy-Lift Defense: The Pond Cleaner.
    2. Nature’s Defense: The Pond Balancer.
    3. Clarity Defense: The Pond Clarifier.
    4. Muck Defense: The Muck Reducer.
    5. Seasonal Defense: The Autumn, Winter Prep.

    The DefensePAC is an all-in-one source for water garden maintenance and will keep your water sparking clear all season….guaranteed!

    What about a UV filter?: You might be wondering why UV filtration wasn’t mentioned as a solution to green water. Indeed, it is a solution but…it is also can be a band-aid covering up a deeper problem. Always be sure that your filtration is adequate and you don’t have too many fish! You should also be using your test kit to make sure your water is safe for your fish. If everything checks
    out ok a UV may be a good tool as long as it is not the only one. Just remember if everything mentioned above is in check the green water should take care of itself and you will have a healthier overall ecosystem.

    POND TALK: What kind of green water problems have you had? And what did you do to fix them? Please comment and let me know.

    How Do I Combat String Algae in my Water Feature? – Water Feature Q & A

    Picture of String Algae

    Water Feature Q & A

    Q: I have a 1,000 gallon pond and already the string algae is starting. I am sick of constantly cleaning it. Any ideas? – Steve of New York

    A: Like Steve many of you find yourselves in this same situation, where it seems like you are battling algae year after year with no end in sight. The thing I want you to know is that in order to fully understand how to control algae, you really have to understand how it develops in the first place.

    The Key Ingredient:
    One of the key ingredients for algae to grow is a food source (aka Nitrates). And I’ll have to say in almost every water feature that has a bad algae problem, it is the abundant fish load that is causing the issue. So why does an abundant fish load cause algae? When fish eat they over time, like every living creature, will have to excrete the waste (aka ammonia). This ammonia, when filtered properly, will breakdown into nitrates (aka food source). Make sense so far? This food source is then eaten by algae. From there some of the algae will be eaten by the fish and thus the cycle, the nitrogen cycle of life, begins again.

    So the bottom line here is: If we have control of the food source (aka Nitrates), we have control of the algae. I have mentioned this before in the past, but it bears repeating.

    Keep Fish Loads to a Minimum:
    I know you love your fish and this is a touchy subject. But if you plan to have sixty 12″ koi in a 1,000 gallon pond, your going to have an algae problem and it won’t be inexpensive to get a hold of. 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 water feature.

    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. When this happens, ammonia levels can reach to lethal levels. 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.

    Aquatic Plants:
    Aquatic plants and algae will compete for the same food source in order to grow. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather see a few beautiful water liles then green slime. 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 & Water Lettuce, are fantastic at pulling nitrates from the water. I recommend putting a few into your waterfall filter box if you have one. 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. See our selection of aquatic plants here.

    Beneficial Natural Bacteria :
    I’m sure you hear this a lot nowadays as to why you should be adding beneficial natural bacteria to your water feature. The reason is because it is another reducer of nitrates. One  product to check out for this is called the DefensePAC. It is a combination of five products that provide 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. The best of all, one DefensePAC lasts up to 6 months for a 2,000 gallon water feature.

    My Koi & Goldfish Were Gasping for Air After I Treated for Algae. What Went Wrong? – Water Garden Q & A

    Picture of String Algae of a Water Garden.

    Q: My water garden looked like pea soup so I treated it with AlgaeFix. The product worked great although it took its toll on my fish. My koi and goldfish began gasping at the surface. I immediately did a water change and only lost one small goldfish. I have used AlgaeFix for years and never had this problem. What went wrong? – Lisa of Georgia

    A: Oxygen. Oxygen. Oxygen. You must be careful when treating for algae, especially pea green water or planktonic algae. AlgaeFix along with most algaecides on the market work very quickly. When the algae die, they begin to decompose immediately, robbing oxygen from your fish.

    How to reduce your chance of fish loss:

    #1 – Proper Aeration: Make sure you have an abundance of aeration before you treat for algae. Waterfalls, spitters and fountains all provide aeration. Although, the best source of aeration is generally an aeration system.

    #2 – If treating for string algae, remove as much by hand as possible before any treatments. In the case of Lisa’s pea green water, I would have recommend that she do a 10-20% water change approximately 24 hours before her application.

    #3 – Get to the root of your problems: Generally ,excessive algae blooms are caused by one or more realistically, a combination of the following: poor filtration, TOO MANY FISH or not enough aquatic plants.

    #4 – Use natural products to provide clear water: Although chemicals, when used properly, are a helpful tool they should not be your only solution. For a healthy eco-system and more consistent clear water, turn to a natural remedy such as the DefensePAC and / or Barley Straw Extract.

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