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Now that it’s spring, when do I start using my DefensePAC? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Now that it’s spring, when do I start using my DefensePAC(r)?

Q: Now that it’s spring, when do I start using my DefensePAC®?

Jan – Avoca, NY

A: Containing everything you need to jump start your backyard pond or water garden in the spring, your DefensePAC®” package can be cracked open as soon as the ice melts and water temperatures are consistently above 40°F.

The first products in the pack you’ll use are Oxy-Lift™ Defense® and Seasonal Defense®. They’re perfect for cleaning out your pond and prepping it for spring.

  • Oxy-Lift™ Defense® lifts debris from waterfalls, streams, rocks and anywhere else muck collects in your pond. Simply shut down your waterfall and/or streams, sprinkle on the affected areas and watch the foam get to work breaking down that unsightly buildup. Use Oxy-Lift™ Defense® only when needed.
  • Seasonal Defense® contains hungry beneficial bacteria that will immediately get busy gobbling through leaves, scum and settlement that have collected over the winter. Spring applications should begin at pond startup or just after ice melts. Use Seasonal Defense® once a week for four weeks in the spring.

The other ingredients in DefensePAC®—including Nature’s Defense®, Clarity Defense® and Muck Defense®—all work to promote a healthy ecosystem, clean and clear the water column, and break down organics in your pond. They can be used on a routine basis throughout the spring and summer.

  • Nature’s Defense® contains natural bacteria that breaks down organics in your water garden. These organics, if left alone, are a food resource for algae—which is not something you want to feed. Because it works best when temperatures are above 50°F, check you water’s temperature with a Floating Pond Thermometer before dosing. Use Nature’s Defense® every two weeks throughout the season.
  • Clarity Defense® is designed to clarify ponds. It locks up excess nutrients, making them unavailable as a food source for algae, and settles suspended particulates that are in the water column. It also stimulates natural bacteria growth and buffers pH levels.
  • Muck Defense® also contains natural bacteria that accelerate the decomposition of organic matter caused by rotting leaves, algae and fish waste. This is great for water gardens that were constructed with rocks and gravel that are difficult to vacuum. We suggest using Muck Defense® every four weeks throughout the season when water temperatures are above 50°F.

DefensePAC® is a five-step solution to cleaning and clearing your pond—and keeping it that way all season long.

Pond Talk: What kinds of changes are you planning to make to your water garden this spring?

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

Should I clean my filter media or replace it? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Should I clean my filter media or replace it?

Q: Should I clean my filter media or replace it?

Cindy – Dover, DE

A: Those plastic pads, BioBalls™ and Bacti-Twist® that live in your waterfall box, skimmer box and filter unit play a very important role in your water feature. The filter media’s surface is home to millions of beneficial bacteria, which are the biological filtration system in your pond.

Here’s a quick guide that outlines how to care for your filter media – and those tiny microbes.

  1. Clean Infrequently: Once or twice a year, or when your water flow is significantly reduced, inspect and clean your filter media. Rather than scrubbing it spotless with soap or harsh abrasives, gently spray it down with your garden hose, being careful to maintain as much of the beneficial bacteria as possible while blasting away the gunk.
  2. Replace As Needed: If the filter media looks worn on the edges or has gaping holes in it, replace it with some new media, like Matala® Filter Media Pads for extended life and performance, or with our standard reusable 2-inch filter pads, which are perfect for waterfall filters and skimmer boxes.
  3. Seed Some Bacteria: If you need to replace your media, you’ll need to inoculate it with beneficial bacteria. First, test your pond’s water temperature. If the water temperature is 40-50° F, add Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense® to the pond or dump it right on top of the media in your waterfall box. If it’s more than 50° F, seed the filter media with PL Gel and let it set for one to two hours before putting it in your filter unit.

This spring, it’s a great idea to check your filter media and make sure it’s in good working order. Doing so will save you time, hassle and money by getting your pond off to a strong start so you can avoid dealing with insufficient filtration later in the season.

Pond Talk: How often do you replace your filter media?

Easy to Clean and Extremely Durable = Matala(r) Filter Media Pads

What steps should I do for a spring cleanout? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: What steps should I do for a spring cleanout?

Q: What steps should I do for a spring cleanout?

Carol – Beaverton, OR

A: Ice melting, sun shining, cabin fever driving you batty … yep, spring must be on its way. For water garden hobbyists, that means one thing: It’s time to head outside and prepare the pond for spring. With some basic planning and a handy-dandy cheat sheet (like this one below), you will have your outdoor oasis cleaned up and ready for fun in no time.

Gather your tools, pull on your hip waders and gloves, and let’s get cleaning!

  1. Evaluate the Pond. The first step is to take a look at the pond and determine what kind of work needs to be done. Did you do a great job cleaning out the pond last fall? Did you procrastinate too long and let those leaves build up? Is it time to give the water feature a top-to-bottom scrubbing?
  2. Minimal Work Required. If you adequately prepped the pond last fall and, after evaluating it this spring, discovered clear water and minimal debris, you’ll only need to do some light cleaning. Scrub the rocks with Oxy-Lift™ Defense®, replace filter pads in the waterfall filter or skimmer box, and perform a 20 percent water change.
  3. Drain Pond, Relocate Your Fish. If a complete cleanout is necessary, you’ll need to drain the pond. Siphon some of the water into a holding tank for the fish, and transport them safely to their temporary home with a pond net. Add some healthy oxygen to the water by submerging and turning on a bubbler or air stone in the tank.
  4. Check Tubing, Remove Debris. While you’re draining the pond, don’t forget to purge the water from the tubing and remove any large debris, like branches or dead foliage, by hand.
  5. Power Wash Away. To remove tough algae growth on rocks, liner and gravel, treat with Oxy-Lift™ Defense® and use a power washer to scrub away the debris if necessary.
  6. Skimmer, Waterfall Wash. Once the dirty water has been drained from the pond, clean out the skimmer and waterfall boxes using a garden hose, spraying away excess muck and buildup. If the filter media looks worn down, now’s the time to replace it.
  7. Check Lighting, Aerator. With the water drained from the pond, you have a perfect opportunity to inspect any underwater lighting fixtures, check the bulbs and clean the lenses – or, better yet, add some new Pond Lighting for dramatic backyard effect. It’s also a good time to check the aerator and make sure it’s working properly.
  8. Reconnect and Reinstall. If you removed and stowed the filter, pump and ultraviolet clarifier last fall, pull them back out and dust them off. Reconnect the plumbing and filters, and reinstall the pumps and UV clarifiers. While you’re at it, change the UV bulbs, too; they need to be replaced once a year for optimal algae-control effect.
  9. Refill, Prep the Pond. Once you’re done with the spring cleaning chores, refill the pond with some fresh water. In addition, be sure to add some Stress Reducer PLUS , which removes chlorine, chloramines and heavy metal from tap water. Then acclimate the fish to the new water and add them back into the pond.
  10. Boost Your Bacteria. Keep the water clean and clear by adding some beneficial bacteria to the pond. Test the water temperature to be sure it’s above 55 °F and add PL Gel to the filter media and Seasonal Defense® to the pond water to help jump start the growth of good bacteria.
  11. Add Aquatic Plants. Finally, be sure to add a variety of pond plants to the water feature. Bog plants beautify the circumference of the pond; floating plants, lilies and lotus provide shade and pops of color; and submerged plants release extra oxygen to the water. They all provide added all-natural filtration and habitat for all underwater pond dwellers.

A spring cleanout may seem like a daunting task, but the time and effort you put into it will pay off with a tranquil backyard oasis. Happy spring!

Pond Talk: How has this winter’s wacky weather affected your pond or water feature? Will you have major work to do in the spring?

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

Why does my pond sometimes turn green in the spring? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Why does my pond sometimes turn green in the spring?

Q: Why does my pond sometimes turn green in the spring?

Randy – Huntington, WV

A: After a long, dreary winter, the sight of spring’s green shoots and leaves are a welcome sign – but not in your pond. Green water means algae growth, and that’s not something you want to see flourish. Besides being unsightly, algae degrades your water quality and can actually harm your aquatic pets.

So what can you do to prevent your water garden from turning green?

Add Seasonal Defense®: As long as water temperatures are below 50° F, you can add Seasonal Defense® to your pond. It contains aerobic bacteria that are specially designed for cooler water. When used at this time of year, the waste-gobbling microorganisms will break down dead foliage, fish waste and other sediment that fuel algae growth in your pond.

Keep Up on Your Chores: Make sure you also keep up on your spring cleaning chores because all that decomposing debris feeds algae. Regularly check and clean out your skimmer basket, and remove any leaves or large pieces of debris that blow into the pond with your Collapsible Skimmer & Fish Net. This will encourage the beneficial bacteria in Seasonal Defense® to focus their energy on breaking down fine organic material and muck.

Add Barley Straw Extract: All-natural chemicals found in decomposing barley straw help keep your pond’s water crystal clear. If you add Barley Extract, you don’t have to wait for the straw to decompose. Simply add it to your water according to the label’s instructions and enjoy a clean and healthy water feature. For best results, use Barley Extract in conjunction with Seasonal Defense®.

Pond Talk: What upgrades will you be making to your pond or water garden this year?

Replenish Bacteria Loss This Spring- Pond Logic (r) Seasonal Defense(r)

When is the best time to install underwater pond lighting? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: When is the best time to install underwater pond lighting?

Q: When is the best time to install underwater pond lighting?

Lou – Winston, OR

A: Whether it’s illuminating a patio, a landscape or a water garden, outdoor lighting can have a dramatic impact on the area’s space. It creates a special mood and spotlights stunning features while adding ambient light to the environment.

Underwater lighting is best installed when your pond is empty, like while it’s being constructed or – in most cases – while you’re doing your annual spring cleanout. If you’re putting in lights this spring, here are four key tips to follow:

  1. Choose the Right Lights: Landscaping lights come in many different sizes and varieties, and so it can be hard to choose the best for your needs. Luckily, we offer three above- and underwater lights that will do the trick.
    • LEDPro™ 6-Watt LED Light Kit: These lights highlight your pond and landscaping with energy-efficient LED bulbs. It shines with the same intensity as a 50-watt halogen but with a longer life span and lower energy costs.
    • LEDPro™ 12-Watt Single Light: This spotlight also features an LED bulb, but it shines with the same intensity as a 70-watt halogen.
    • LEDPro™ Rock Lights: Featuring a realistic stone finish, these small warm-white LED lights illuminate 10 watts per light but use only 2 watts of power. They’re perfect for accenting special features in your garden.
  2. Point Lights to the Pond: Rather than directing your landscape lights toward the patio or other viewing area, shine the light on pond instead. Your goal is to illuminate your water feature – not blind yourself while viewing it.
  3. Cast an Underwater Glow: Beneath the water’s surface, install lights that will spotlight your waterfall or stream’s cascading water. And don’t forget to include some that will highlight landscaping around and pondscaping in your water feature, too.
  4. Stash Extra Power Cord: To give yourself easy accessibility to the underwater lights when you need to change their bulbs, wrap some excess power cord around the light. This will allow you to simply pull the light out of the water and change the bulb without having to drain the water or move a rock.

Over time, algae and other debris will build up on your lights – and so you’ll need to add a new to-do item on your spring cleanout checklist! Each year, plan to give those lenses a good scrubbing and replace any burned-out bulbs.

Pond Talk: How do you use lighting effects in your water feature?

Illuminate Your Pond for Night Viewing - The Pond Guy(r) LEDPro(tm) 6-Watt 3-Pack Light Kit

What should I do with my filter media during the winter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: What should I do with my filter media during the winter?

Q: What should I do with my filter media during the winter?

Barb – Sterling, CO

A: Your pond’s filter media—the Matala Filter Media Pads, Pond Logic® BioBalls™ or Bio-Ribbon that house your beneficial bacteria—will need a little attention going into the winter. You won’t need your filter media during the cold months, but you should inspect it, clean it and purchase replacements parts before you start your water feature up again in the spring. Here’s a rundown of what to do:

Filter Media Pads: Pull out your filter media pads from your pond’s filtration system, waterfall box and skimmer, thoroughly rinse off the debris with your garden hose, and look for frayed edges, holes, large deposits of solid debris or other signs of damage. Plan to replace worn pads as necessary in the spring. You can choose from specially coated Matala Filter Media Pads, which come in four different densities for your unique filtration needs, or cost-effective rolls of filter media that can be cut to fit and are ideal for waterfall boxes and skimmers.

BioBalls and Other Loose Filter Media: If you use secondary filtration, like Pond Logic® BioBalls™, Bio-Ribbon, blocks or other loose filtration media that’s kept in a mesh bag, remove it all from your filter or waterfall box after you shut down your waterfall, rinse the bag and its contents thoroughly, and check the bag for holes or worn areas. Replace the bag if necessary in the spring.

After your filter media is rinsed and inspected, you can store them for winter in the filter, waterfall box or skimmer. The filter pads, BioBalls and other media will survive just fine outside, even in freezing temperatures. If desired, you can also remove them and stow them inside a garage or basement.

Pond Talk: How do you store your filtration media in the winter?

Four Densities for Every Filtration Need - Matala Filter Media Pads

We just had our first freeze. How do I clean up my plants? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: We just had our first freeze. How do I clean up my plants?

Q: We just had our first freeze. How do I clean up my plants?

Barb – Sterling, CO

A: Brrr! It’s certainly getting cold outside! Your aquatic plants are feeling the chill too, so now is a perfect time to clean them up and put them in a warmer place for winter. So bundle up, pull on your hip waders and Aqua Gloves to keep dry and warm, dig out your easy-to-use Pond Scissors and Pliers—and let’s get busy!

Hardy Water Lilies

Hardy water lilies can tolerate cooler temperatures than your tropical varieties, but they need to be kept in a place that won’t freeze, like the deepest areas of your pond. Now that you’ve had your first frost, trim the lilies’ foliage back to just above the root ball and submerge the plants as low as they’ll go for the winter. Come spring, the greenery will reemerge healthy as ever from the plants’ crowns.

Tropical Water Lilies

Tropical water lilies prefer warm temperatures all year-long, so these plants will need to be completely removed from your pond and relocated to a protected indoor space for the winter, like an aquarium or large bucket inside your heated garage or workshop. Check out this article for a step-by-step guide to overwintering tropical plants.

Marginals and Bog Plants

As with hardy water lilies, your marginals’ and bog plants’ foliage will need to trimmed back to just above the soil with pond scissors. Then sink them lower into the deepest parts of your pond where the water remains unfrozen during the wintertime.

Floating Plants

Unless you live in a climate that doesn’t freeze, floating plants like hyacinth and water lettuce won’t survive the winter. Plan to remove them from your pond and toss them in your compost pile. If you leave them in the pond, the dead plants will decompose and cause water quality issues through the wintertime.

Pond Talk: If your aquatic plants are planted in the soil rather than a movable basket or pot, do you do anything special to them to prepare them for winter?

Trim & Remove Plants with Ease - Pond Pliers & Scissors

My pond is mostly clean but should I do a fall cleanout? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My pond is mostly clean but should I do a fall cleanout?

Q: My pond is mostly clean but should I do a fall cleanout?

Melanie – Ludlow, MA

A: Relax! Unless your pond really (and we mean really) needs it, we don’t recommend doing a total fall cleanout. Doing so would stress your fish out and compromise their health. Any amount of cleanliness you’ll achieve is just not worth the risk.

Instead, here’s a four-step to-do list to prepare your pond for fall:

  1. Get Your Plants in Shape: After the first frost, remove dead foliage from you aquatic plants, trim them back and sink them in the bottom of your pond to protect them from the cold temperatures. If you have tropical water lilies or other temperature-sensitive varieties, make room for them inside your garage or another place that will not freeze.
  2. Remove Algae: If you have a stream or waterfall in your pond, remove any algae or debris with CrystalClear® Algae-Off®, which vaporizes string algae, and Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense®, which foams up and lifts debris from surfaces. These oxygen-based products are safe for use around plants and fish.
  3. Clean Up Debris: Using a brush and net, like those included with The Pond Guy® 3-in-1 Pond Tool, scrub down your rocks and liner and net out as much decaying debris as possible. Then use a vacuum, like The Pond Guy® ClearVac™, to suck up whatever’s left. This will minimize the amount of algae-feeding muck decomposing in the pond throughout the winter.
  4. Treat with Beneficial Bacteria: Finally, continue to treat your water garden with muck-munching beneficial bacteria until water temperatures dip to 50° Fahrenheit. Once the water is below 50°F, switch to Seasonal Defense® to continue breaking down any remaining debris. It’s formulated for use during the cooler months.

With these chores completed, your pond will be in good shape going into winter. Until then, relax and enjoy the fall colors and changing season!

Pond Talk: What do you do to prepare your pond for winter?

Make Fall Maintenance Quick and Easy - The Pond Guy(r) ClearVac(tm) Pond Vacuum

My stream is already accumulating algae! Is there anything I can use to help clean it up? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

My stream is already accumulating algae! Is there anything I can use to help clean it up?

Q: My stream is already accumulating algae! Is there anything I can use to help clean it up?

Kate – Grove City, OH

A: Yep: It’s algae time! As the spring sunshine melts away ice and snow, the sun’s warmth and light reach underwater to give algae growth a little nudge along. When combined with all the extra leaves (also known as algae food!) that have blown in on windy days and a filtration system that isn’t up to snuff with bacteria, they create a perfect environment for algae accumulation.

So how do you get rid of it when water temps are too cold for bacteria and traditional algaecides?

Step 1: Spring Cleaning

If you haven’t already, consider doing a spring cleanout and starting fresh. Check out this blog post for step-by-step instructions for preparing for and giving your pond a thorough spring cleaning. If you’ve already gotten dirty this season, however, and have found that the algae is unwilling to give up its happy home, move on to step 2.

Step 2: Oxy-Lift™ Defense® to the Rescue

For controlling stubborn algae, pull out your Oxy-Lift™ Defense® pond cleaner. The product’s ingredients have no temperature restrictions, so you don’t have to wait for warmer weather to treat the green nuisance. Simply turn off your stream and, while the algae-covered rocks are still wet, sprinkle on the Oxy-Lift™ powder. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Before long, you’ll see the algae bubble and break free from the rock. Then turn the stream back on, and use a hand net to scoop out the debris or allow your filter to catch it.

Of course, don’t forget to stick to the basics—particularly as pond season kicks off! Keep your filter running and add the natural bacteria once temperatures are suitable to keep algae growth under control.

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite spring cleaning tool to use in the water garden?

Lift Debris Away In Seconds - Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense®

How do I know it is OK to put my fish back into the outdoor pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How do I know it is OK to put my fish back into the outdoor pond?

Q: How do I know it is OK to put my fish back into the outdoor pond?

Ronnie – Salt Lake City, UT

A: This time of year, most of us are suffering with some cabin fever—including your pond fish. After being cooped up all winter long in a temporary indoor aquarium or tub, they’re ready to swim back to their spacious outdoor home.

But before you relocate your fish, you have some work to do first. The best time to return them to the pond is several weeks after you’ve done all the necessary chores to prepare for their homecoming. To make things easy, check out our four-step checklist:

    1. Spring Cleaning: First, clean out your dormant pond. Remove any debris that has settled over the past few months, and perform a thorough spring cleanout to remove winter buildup. This will give your finned friends a nice place to come home to—and minimize algae growth in the spring.
    2. Jump Start Filtration: About a month before you plan to return your fish to the pond, start your filtration system and let it run without fish. Turn on your mechanical filter and seed your filter pads with beneficial bacteria, such as Microbe-Lift® PL Gel, to speed the colony’s growth (but first make sure the water temperature is above 55° Fahrenheit with your pond thermometer). Keep in mind that in the spring, a filter can take four to six weeks to become established, so adding fish without adequate filtration established can result in quick algae formation.
    3. Test Your Water: While your pond is cycling, periodically check your water chemistry with a PondCare® Master Test Kit to ensure the pond water is balanced and pH, ammonia and nitrate levels are safe for fish.
    4. Acclimate Fish: The final step before re-homing your fish is to help them get used to the pond’s water temperature, which will likely be colder than their winter housing. Carry your fish out in a bucket and slowly add water from the pond to the bucket at 10- to 15-minute intervals, using your pond thermometer to check the water temperature as you go. This shock-prevention technique will allow them to adjust slowly—and safely—to their outdoor digs.

Your fish may become stressed during the indoor-to-outdoor transition, but you can keep it to a minimum by preparing their home and making sure they’re as healthy as possible in advance of their relocation. Have fun moving!

Pond Talk: Do you notice a change in your fishes’ behavior when they transition from indoors to outdoors?

Protect Your Prized Fish - PondCare® Master Test Kit

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