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We’ve decided to shut down the pond this winter. Do we just need to take out the pump? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: We’ve decided to shut down the pond this winter. Do we just need to take out the pump?

Q: We’ve decided to shut down the pond this winter. Do we just need to take out the pump?

Tina – DuBois, PA

A:  Oh, if it were only that easy. Even though you plan to shut down the pond for the season, you still need to complete some winterizing chores. Put on your Aqua Gloves and hip waders. Here is your step-by-step guide for closing down shop and storing your pond equipment for the winter.

Step 1: Remove Pond Netting

Do you have a leaf-collecting net covering your pond? Once the colorful foliage has stopped falling, remove the net, shake off the leaves and store it until next fall. If you leave it on the pond, heavy snowfall and ice could collect on it and weigh it down—possibly endangering your fish.

Step 2: Disconnect Filters and Pumps, Lower Water Level

Next, protect your pumps, filters and hardware from the freezing temperatures. Disconnect the plumbing and drain the water from the tubing to prevent them from freezing, expanding and cracking. If your filtration system has built-in ultraviolet filter or if you have a UV clarifier, disconnect it and take it indoors to prevent ice damage. Remove your pump and store it in a bucket of water to keep the seals moist so they don’t dry out and crack. And lower your water level below the opening of skimmers to protect it from expanding and cracking during freezing temperatures.

Step 3: Clean Filters and Media

Natural bacteria that have been thriving in your pond will become dormant and die through the winter, so you can remove your filter media and store it indoors for safe keeping. Be sure to wash the pads or BioBalls with a strong stream of water while they’re still wet; it’s much easier to clean UVs and media when they’re wet versus trying to scrub off dried debris in the spring.

Step 4: Trim Back Aquatic Plants and Remove Excess Debris

Do you have plants in your pond? Tropical varieties—like tropical lilies—must be removed and stored inside if you hope to keep them thriving until spring. Check out this blog post that details how to remove and store them. Hardy varieties can stay in the pond; take some time to trim away dead or dying foliage after the first frost. While you’re at it, pull out your ClearVac pond vacuum and suck up as much detritus as possible. The less rotting debris in the pond, the more available oxygen for fish.

Step 5: Install De-Icer and Aeration
Your fish will take a winter nap through the cold season, but they’ll still need oxygen to survive. If you live in an area that freezes, be sure to install a de-icer, aeration or both (as we feature in our PondAir & Thermo-Pond De-Icer Combo) to help maintain a hole in the ice. That will allow the toxic gases to vent and oxygen to enter while circulating the water.

Step 6: Switch to Wheatgerm Fish Food
If you haven’t already switched to wheatgerm fish food, do so now. Our Spring and Fall Fish Food is easier for your finned pals to digest—which is what they need when temperatures start to fall. As the water reaches 40 to 50 degrees F, slow down and stop feeding them for winter. Remember that with no filtration system running, any waste they produce won’t be sufficiently removed.

Step 7: Add Seasonal Defense
Finally, if temperatures still permit, continue to add natural bacteria designed for cooler temperatures, like Seasonal Defense. The little microbes will continue to break down organic waste that wasn’t easily cleaned from the pond.

As you prepare to shut your pond down for the winter, take time to check off these chores. It’ll make next year’s spring pond season one to look forward to!

Pond Talk: Do you have a dedicated spot in your garage or basement for pond supplies and equipment?

Make Your Fall Cleanout Quick & Easy - The Pond Guy(r) ClearVac(rm) Pond Vacuum

I try to keep my pond clean, but is there anything else I should do to prevent my fish from getting sick? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I try to keep my pond clean, but is there anything else I should do to prevent my fish from getting sick?

Q: I try to keep my pond clean, but is there anything else I should do to prevent my fish from getting sick?

April – Colorado Springs, CO

A:  Prevention really is the best medicine—and that’s true for humans as well as fish. Keeping your pond clean, filtered and well aerated is a great start at preventing disease, but there’s more you can do to ensure your finned friends stay happy and healthy. Here’s what we prescribe:

  • Vacuum Debris: Decomposing organic matter gathered at the bottom of your pond can be home to all sorts of parasites, fungus and bacteria. It’ll affect water quality and fish health, so use a ClearVac™ pond vacuum as needed to suck up all that sludge, debris and algae.
  • Add Natural Bacteria: In addition to vacuuming up debris, use the all-natural beneficial bacteria found in the DefensePAC® to help clear the water column, and break down and remove muck and organic waste.
  • Don’t Stress: When you do water changes in your pond, be sure to add some Stress Reducer PLUS to the pond to keep your fish stress-free. The water conditioner detoxifies heavy metals, chlorine and chloramines, and it promotes a healthy slime coat—which will keep your fish’s immune system functioning swimmingly.
  • Toss Them Some Salt: Pond salt, at low concentrations, will help soothe your fish, build their slime coats and improve their gill function. Here’s how to determine how much pond salt to add to your pond.
  • Add Aeration: Fish need fresh oxygen just like humans, and the best way to do that is with an aeration kit. It pumps O2 into the water and keeps the water moving—two things that ensure a healthy environment for your fish.
  • Quarantine Newbies: Before you add new fish to your pond, keep them in a quarantine tank for two to four weeks to be sure they have no infectious (or contagious!) diseases.
  • Knock It Out: Fish fungus, parasites and ick can be treated with KnockOut™ PLUS as a 7 day treatment or as a preventative measure.

If your fish are showing signs of illness, chances are good that it’s due to stress or water quality. Unless you see visible signs of a disease, test your water quality with a test kit and then do a partial water change (25 percent or so) to help relieve your fish’s stress.

If you do see visible signs of disease, like red patches, sores, white spots, odd behavior or anything else out of the ordinary, identify the problem using our Common Fish Diseases and Treatments chart and treat accordingly.

After you’ve identified any disease and begun treatment, take some time to reevaluate your pond routine. Did something change that caused (or led to) the illness? Sick fish are no fun. Do what you can to keep them healthy—but know what to do when they’re under the weather.

Pond Talk: Have you ever nursed a sick fish back to health?

Prevent Infection & Heal Tissue - Pond Logic® Stress Reducer PLUS

If I can’t do a big spring cleanout on my pond, what is the best way to get the debris out of the pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: If I can’t do a big spring cleanout on my pond, what is the best way to get the debris out of the pond?

Q: If I can’t do a big spring cleanout on my pond, what is the best way to get the debris out of the pond?

Maggie – Amherst, OH

A: An annual spring cleanout is an important chore when you own a backyard pond. It’s when you remove all the decaying organics that collected over the winter, trim back dead foliage, kick on your filtration and aeration systems, and generally spruce things up around your water garden wonderland.

But what if your pond was well-sheltered and protected from leaves and debris, or you live in a temperate climate where a total pond shutdown was unnecessary? Or what if you simply don’t have time to dedicate to all that cleaning and maintenance?

Well we have some shortcuts for you. Though it may be better in the long run to do a thorough cleanout at the start of the season, these five tips will cut down the time it takes to do your spring chores.

  1. Do a Partial Water Change: To help remove some floating and suspended debris, do a partial water change. Let 10 to 20 percent of your water drain from the pond, and add fresh water along with some Pond Logic® Stress Reducer PLUS to remove heavy metals and prevent your fish from getting too stressed.
  2. Add Some Shine: Oxy-Lift™ Defense® will quickly shine up your waterfalls and shoreline rocks. It’s simple to use: As you’re doing your partial water change, sprinkle Oxy-Lift™ Defense® on scum-covered rocks, streams and liner before you refill your pond. In just 24 hours, you’ll see the gunk break free with no scrubbing at all!
  3. Vacuum Debris: Use your ClearVac™ Pond Vacuum to easily suck up gunk, sludge and decaying organics on the pond bottom. It has four different attachments – gravel, string algae, narrow and wide – along with extension tubes, so you can vacuum almost any surface. For debris larger than 3/8 inch, simply pull out your Collapsible Skimmer and Fish Net and scoop it out.
  4. Add Seasonal Defense®: To break down debris that your pond vacuum missed, add some Seasonal Defense® beneficial bacteria to the water. The microorganisms, which are designed to work in cooler temperatures, will break down leaves and sediment that have collected over the winter. It also kick-starts your pond’s biological filtration system, priming it for summer.
  5. Rinse Your Filter Media: Finally, remove your filter media and give it quick rinse with your garden hose to break up and wash away any accumulated gunk. No need to scrub it too thoroughly; the bacteria living in the pads or BioBalls™ will come back to life once temperatures rise.

Of course, for a truly healthy pond, we still recommend a complete cleanout. We’ll describe those chores in depth over the coming weeks. But for now, this quick fix will get the debris out of your pond, giving it a facelift for spring soirees.

Pond Talk: What shortcuts do you use to skirt spring chores?

Reduce Timely Pond Maintenance - The Pond Guy® ClearVac™ Pond Vacuum

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 water is brown! What should I do? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

My water is brown! What should I do?

Q: My water is brown! What should I do?

Dale – Anselmo, NE

A: In the spring and summer, many pond owners complain of green water caused by algae blooms—but in the late summer and fall, brown water causes headaches. If your pond or water garden has taken on a tea-colored hue, follow these simple steps to get your water back to its crystal-clear self.

An Optical Illusion?

First of all, take a closer look at the water and determine whether it’s really brown or just reflecting dead debris in the pond. Grab a clear glass, dip it in the water and hold it up to the light. Is it clear? Then it’s reflecting pond debris. Is it brown? Then the water has been colored by tannins released by dead leaves, similar to what happens when you steep your breakfast tea.

Clear Water: Add Bacteria

If your water is clear, you can minimize the brown-water optical illusion by using a natural bacteria, like Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense®, to help decompose the muck and accumulated debris on the bottom of your pond. The beneficial microorganisms found in this cooler-weather additive break down the organic materials, leaving your water looking clean and clear.

Brown Water: Add Carbon

If your water is brown, you can use Pond Logic® Activated Carbon to absorb and correct the tea-colored discoloration. To use the carbon, pour the granules in a mesh bag and place it in an area of fast-flowing water, such as in your skimmer or waterfall. Leave it there until the carbon absorbs the dissolved organics. Typically, 4 to 6 pounds will treat 1,000 gallons of water for two to three months.

Remove Dead Debris

In addition to either adding beneficial bacteria or using activated carbon, you should also remove any accumulated dead or decomposing debris in your pond with a vacuum like the ClearVac™. If leaves or other blown-in debris continue to be a problem during the fall months, consider covering your water feature with netting, like the The Pond Guy® PondShelter™ Net Kit.

Pond Talk: Have you had success using activated carbon in your water feature?

Pond Logic® Activated Carbon - From Brown To Clear Water...FAST!

I empty my skimmer every day. Is there a better way to keep leaves out of my pond? | Decorative Pond & Water Garden Q&A

I empty my skimmer every day. Is there a better way to keep leaves out of my pond?

I empty my skimmer every day. Is there a better way to keep leaves out of my pond?
Joseph – San Francisco, CA

Leaves are notoriously difficult to train. Try as you might, they simply fall wherever they please. And when their drop zone of choice is your pond, the task of cleaning them out quickly loses its novelty. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to keep even the most determined leaves out – and cleaning your skimmer on a regular basis is just the beginning.

For those who experience limited leaf drop in their pond, a skimmer may do the lion’s share of the work by gathering up the majority of floating leaves and debris. For any surplus, and for leaves and debris that sink to the bottom of the pond, hand nets and vacuums may be sufficient to keep your water clean and clear.

But not everyone enjoys the satisfying sense of accomplishment that comes with manual leaf removal. If you’re one of those who don’t, we strongly recommend the use of pond netting to stop leaves before they reach the water. At The Pond Guy®, you’ll find plenty of options. For economical, single-season purposes, try our Dewitt Economy Pond Netting. For a more durable option that stops leaves and debris, keeps predators at bay and allows abundant light penetration, consider our Clear Fine Mesh Pond Netting. For durable protection that will provide years of use, the nylon mesh construction of our Premium Pond Netting is an exceptional value.

For the ultimate in pond protection, though, our Nycon Big Top Pond Cover is a natural choice. Designed to prevent penetration by even the smallest debris – while keeping predators out – this durable cover forms a tent over your pond, and will provide years of seasonal service.

However you choose to preserve your pond’s pristine appearance, timing is of the essence. As soon as leaves start to fall, it’s time to take action. And whether you’re skimming, cleaning or covering, we have everything you need to make the job a breeze.

Pond Talk: Do you use netting over your pond?

Premium Pond Netting

I have a pondless water with some algae on the rocks, do I need a filter to clean it or is there something else I can use? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I have a pondless water with some algae on the rocks..do I need a filter to clean it or is there something else I can use?

I have a pondless water with some algae on the rocks, do I need a filter to clean it or is there something else I can use?

Matt – Howell, MI

For pond enthusiasts who are short on free time, we’re big fans of pondless waterfalls. Since they typically don’t have fish and don’t involve open bodies of water, there’s very little to maintain. Without fish waste, debris or muck to contend with, these beautiful features can add a lot to your yard – and require very little in return.

Occasionally, though, algae can form on rocks in in a waterfall. And unless you have a fondness for the green stuff, you’ll want to dispatch with it as quickly and efficiently as possible.

For some, biological filtration is a viable option. Since most pondless waterfalls rely on a basin for circulation, the installation of an appropriately-sized filter – and some filter media – will generally resolve any algae issues. But under the circumstances, filtration is rarely the simplest solution. At the Pond Guy®, we strongly recommend the use of PondLogic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense® Pond Debris Remover. Oxy Lift™ is designed to break debris off rocks quickly and easily – without a lot of effort.

In fact, process couldn’t be much easier. Simply turn off the waterfall, sprinkle on Oxy-Lift™ (be sure to avoid direct contact with any plants), and let it sit for ten minutes. If the algae are particularly well-established, light brushing can help to loosen things up. Once those steps are complete, simply turn the waterfall back on – and get the instant gratification of immediate results.

As an added measure to prevent recurrence of algae, a partial water change and an occasional basin cleaning goes a long way. So enjoy the limited free time you have. Your waterfall is waiting.

Pond Talk: How do you limit algae and debris build up on your waterfall?

Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense® Pond Debris Remover


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