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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

How can I get rid of the discoloration in my pond? It looks like a tea pot. – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I get rid of the discoloration in my pond? It looks like a tea pot.

How can I get rid of the discoloration in my pond? It looks like a tea pot. Esther, Eureka, VA

Tea colored water is a common issue that typically comes up later in the year as the weather cools and the trees start to drop their leaves. The ponding season may be coming to an end in a couple of months but you still want your pond looking its very best. Where is this tea colored water coming from and how can you make it go away?

Water discoloration can occur for a couple of reasons both pertaining to organic debris having a significant presence in your pond. If you have a lot of floating organic particulates in your water they will cause turbid or colored water and is usually stirred into the water column via your pump or aeration system. The other cause of water discoloration, and the most common cause of tea colored water, is the presence of an abundance of organic debris. Leaves are the main contributor to the problem as they release tannins into the water which, like you said, leaves your pond looking like a tea kettle. The best way to determine if your pond suffers from floating particulate or an abundance of tannins is by filling a clear jar with pond water and placing it in a still area. Floating debris will eventually sink to the bottom of the jar leaving the water clear looking. If the water is tinted by tannins the water will remain discolored. Once you pinpoint the culprit you can effectively treat the problem.

Since an abundance of organics is to blame in either scenario you will want to start by cleaning the bottom of the pond to remove any muck, leaves and any other remaining debris. The easiest way to do so is to use a Pond Vacuum but if you do not have one yet a Skimmer Net, Gloves and elbow grease will do the trick. Once you have the majority of debris cleaned out of the pond you will want to do a partial water change. Physically scoop or pump out 10 to 25% of the contents of your pond and fill it with clean fresh water. If you have fish in the pond you will want to add Pond & Fish Conditioner to detoxify the harmful components of tap and well water. If you are fortunate enough to be enjoying warmer weather still and your water temps are above 50° add Beneficial Bacteria to digest remaining organic debris and to keep them from accumulating again. Using Muck Defense goes a long way in removing hard to reach bottom dwelling muck from between your rocks as well. If your water temps are below 50° substitute your beneficial bacteria products with Seasonal Defense. To remove tannins from the water place a media bag filled with Activated Carbon in your biological filter. While the bacteria and activated carbon are going to work you may want to consider covering your water garden with a Pond Protector Net Kit or some Pond Netting to keep new leaves and debris from making their way into to pond. A cleaner pond going into the Winter is much easier to maintain come Spring time so a little work now will go a long way later.

POND TALK: How did you chase away tea colored water in your pond? Do you use a pond net in the Fall?

Get rid of tea colored water fast!

Should I vacuum my pond? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Should I vacuum my pond?

Should I vacuum my pond? Heather – Landfall, MN

Regular pond maintenance throughout the ponding season ensures clean clear water. An extremely lucky few may find themselves in a scenario where their pond is perfectly balanced with no debris blowing into the pond and no layer of muck developing at the bottom of their water feature. Then there are the rest of us who deal with slimy gravel or decomposing leaves and fish waste yucking up our ponds. Pond vacuums are a handy tool to make pond cleaning manageable and easy by physically removing hard to reach muck and debris from within the pond without bending or scrubbing.

While there are a number of vacuums available for purchase, the best type for you will depend on the size and type of pond you are trying to clean and what you are trying to clean out of it. If you have a small pre-formed pond or a fountain that you need to remove debris from then a small water-driven vacuum may be the perfect fit. An example of this type of vacuum is the Laguna Pond Vacuum Kit which consists of a water-driven vacuum head and hydro brush attachment. Water-driven pond vacuums attach to your garden hose and use the water flow to create suction. A mesh net placed behind the vacuum is used to catch debris.

If you are looking to clean out fine silt-like debris or have a large water feature you would be better suited with a motor driven Pond-O-Vac IV or Pond-O-Matic XL. These pond vacuums plug into a standard 110 volt power outlet and use a motor to create suction. These types of pond vacuums carry water and debris through the vacuum hose and into a reservoir which can then be discharged outside of the pond through a drain hose. Both vacuums come with extension handles and a full arsenal of attachments to clean hard to reach areas of the pond. The Pond-O-Vac IV’s dual chamber system, rugged wheels, and powerful motor make it the ideal vacuum for those of you with large water features as it is easier to maneuver than the Pond-O-Matic. The dual collection chambers cut your cleaning time as the vacuum never has to shut off to discharge. Once one collection chamber fills the vacuum switches to the empty chamber and continues to work, emptying the filled chamber in the process. If you have gravel or stones at the bottom of your water feature using one of the vacuums smaller attachments will keep you from sucking up stones along with your muck. If the bottom of your pond consists of dirt or fine pea gravel you will find yourself spending more time cleaning dirt and gravel from your pond than muck and debris. You may want to consider implementing a different substrate material or just focus on using Muck Defense bacteria to help digest bottom dwelling debris.

POND TALK: Do you use a pond vacuum to maintain your pond? Which one did you decide to use?

Get your water garden ready for winter!

How do you spot a sick fish? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How do you spot a sick fish?

How do you spot a sick fish? Sharon – Romeo, MI

You treat your pets like children so it is easy to understand how upsetting it can be when one of them falls ill or does not feel well. While your children are able to tell you where it hurts, it is a bit more difficult to figure out what ales your fish. For this reason alone it is a great idea to focus on prevention instead of waiting to cure. What can you do to prevent fish illness and how can you tell if your fish may be coming down with something?

Keep your pond clean and healthy by providing adequate filtration, aeration, and regularly cleaning and adding beneficial bacteria to the pond. A DefensePAC is a great tool to help maintain water quality and a Pond Vac cleaning your pond easier and more enjoyable. When performing water changes use Pond and Fish Conditioner to detoxify any chemical or heavy metal contaminates in the water as well as reduce fish stress and improve their slime coat which makes them less susceptible to disease. Dosing your pond with Pond Salt will also help improve their slime coat and gill functions further ensuring healthy and happy fish.

If your fish still manage to fall under the weather the will almost always show some inconsistency in their behavior that will give you a clue as to what is going on. When fish are stressed or ill they will tend to be lethargic and less social, often just floating in one area away from your other fish. If they have anchor worm you will see them rubbing on rocks or the wall of the pond which is known as flashing. You can also visually inspect your fish for signs of illness. Deterioration of their fins, mouth or gills can indicate poor water quality or parasites. Look for loose or odd looking scale formations and sores on the body of the fish.

There are three steps to follow to nurture your sick fish back to health. First, since most illness is due to stress or water quality in their environment you will want to provide some temporary relief from the source. Start by performing a 25% water change in the pond to get some fresh water into the system. If only a few fish seem to be affected you may also choose to set up an isolation tank and treat just the affected fish. Next add salt and be sure both the pond or isolation tank has adequate aeration.

Step two is to identify the fish sickness based on their symptoms. Take pictures, examine the fish for and cuts, redness or inflammation in the gills and record their habits. Once you’ve identified the symptoms you can choose the next course of action which may involve additional medications or treatments.

The final step is to reevaluate your normal pond routines. Go back to see if there is anything you should change to prevent illness in the future. When dealing with sick fish it is always important to focus on preventing issues before they have a chance to ruin your ponding season so you can spend the majority of your season playing with your pets instead of playing doctor.

Pond Talk: What have your experiences been playing doctor? Have you avoided sick pets? How?

Pond Logic Pond & Fish Conditioner

Spring Accessories – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens

Dyed Pond


Behind The Springs
It is truly an enjoyable experience taking in the sights and sounds of a water garden. Crystal clear water, brilliantly colored fish and lush green plants all meld together to create a picture perfect landscape. While water gardens are a wonder to behold, pond guys and gals everywhere are working hard to keep them looking their best all season long. Let’s take a behind-the-scenes look at some of the accessories that make that work a little less… well… hard!

What’s Your Net Worth?
Having a pond net handy for regular maintenance is a surefire way to add some ease into your cleaning regimens. Purchasing a tool like our 4-in-1 Interchangeable Pond Net not only allows you the ability to skim floating debris from your water gardens surface, but also gives you accessories you can use to round up and relocate your fish for large scale clean ups and to clean seasonal build up from hard to reach surfaces. The added benefit of a telescoping handle ensures that the areas you need to clean are within reach. Remember, the objective of using tools is to make work easier on you. Purchase items that perform for you and work best for your specific situations.

Sayonara Sludge!
Giving your water garden a thorough cleaning in the Spring will help reduce the chances of dealing with excess algae growth and overall improving the quality of the water in your pond. Simplifying the cleaning process using the correct tools encourages us to perform our cleanings a bit more enthusiastically. While Spring cleaning is not the most enjoyable pastime for water gardeners, it can be way more convenient (and way less painful) with a pond vacuum. Vacuums like the Pond-O-Vac IV clean the built up muck from your ponds bottom while eliminating time spent bent over scooping and scrubbing. Adding beneficial bacteria like Pond Logic® Nature’s Defense® & Muck Defense® when your water temperatures reach 50 degrees or higher will naturally break down organic debris that eventually turn into muck at your ponds bottom. Preventing sludge build up will result in easier and less frequent cleanouts throughout the season.

Using Some Colorful Expressions
So maybe this is your first season, or you are looking to add a special touch to your water garden. Implementing a variety of aquatic plants and shoreline grasses will add some color to the landscape and will have a positive impact on the water quality in your pond. Floating plants like Water Hyacinths or Water Lettuce will consume the same nutrients as algae that are present in the water column, reducing the amount of food available for potential algae blooms. Submerged plants like Hornwort give your fish an excellent place to hide. Try to include a diverse selection of plants to boost your water garden’s visual appeal and promote a balanced ecosystem.

Another great way to accent your water feature is to install pond lighting. When it comes to shedding some light on your project, it can be as simple as adding a couple Solar Floating Lights to set the tone, or installing a series of Waterfall Lights and some 50-Watt Pro Lights to highlight the surrounding landscape. With a wide assortment of lighting styles to choose from including Halogen, LED, and colored bulbs, you can achieve a unique look that fits exclusively to your pond!

POND TALK: What approach have you taken to eliminate the hassle of water garden maintenance? Show us some pictures of your unique lighting displays.

Using Pond Vacuums to Clean Your Water Garden – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Cleanout Out the Water Garden by Draining and Power Washing.

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: Muck and leaves have built up on the bottom of my water garden and I have been climbing in and out of my water garden trying to remove as much as I can. Is there an easier way to do this without all the hard work and having to get wet? – Rick of South Carolina

A: Cleaning and maintaining a beautiful water garden takes time. We’ve all done it. We’ve all drained the water garden to try and clean out the pond. We’ve all fallen in one time or another to try and get those leaves and muck out. So what can you do? Well, if you haven’t used a Pond Vacuum yet, I highly recommend it.

Cleaning Your Water Garden with Ease with a Pond Vacuum.

“You mean you can actually vacuum your pond”?: I’ve heard that statement many times while talking to some of you on the phone or in person, and fortunately, you can! Having a pond vacuum for your water garden is similar to having a regular vacuum for your home. Think about it. Would you have carpet in your home and NOT have a vacuum? Probably not. This is similar to having a pond vacuum for your water garden. Simply one doesn’t go without the other.

First, lets consider why we need to vacuum our ponds: As time passes by, our ponds accumulate “muck” from leaves, fish waste, uneaten fish food, lily pads, etc. This “muck” is very high in nutrients and a great food source for algae! Although we do suggest a complete cleanout each and every spring, this is sometimes not an option, especially every year. So having the ability to remove waste without removing all the water is a huge advantage. In general, you will only lose about 10-15% of your water after a complete vacuuming, which is just the right amount for a small water change to freshen up the pond.

Which vacuum is right for you?
The real decision when choosing between the Pond-O-Matic XL or the Pond-O-Vac III really only comes down to a couple of questions. How large your pond is and how often you will need to vacuum?

If you have a smaller pond (less then 300 sq. ft) then a Pond-O-Matic XL will be sufficient: The Pond-O-Matic XL features a automatic fill-and-drain system that senses when the vacuum basin is full and automatically shuts off, drains and then turns back on. You will get a good 30-45 seconds of cleaning time between each drain with the drain time approximately the same. So 45 seconds of cleaning could take you up to 90 seconds.

Larger ponds (over 300 sq. ft.) and ponds that receive an excessive amount of debris would be great candidates for the Pond-O-Vac III. The biggest advantage of this “Cadillac” of pond vacuums is its ability to drain a pump at the same time. This is a real time-saving operation because it does not have to stop and drain before continuing.

Other advantages of the Pond-O-Vac III:

  • 5-year warranty compared to the 2-year warranty of the Pond-O-Matic XL.
  • Clear vacuum extension for monitoring operation.
  • Built-in rack for to conveniently store and organize accessories.
  • Built-in wheels for greater mobility.

Pond Vacuums Will Make Cleaning Out Your Water Garden Easy – Water Garden Q & A

Q: I have leaves and muck on the bottom of my water garden. I was looking at your pond vacuums. Why is there such a difference in the price between the two models? Is either of them worth the money? – Vicki of California

A: The question really should be “how do you own a pond without owning a vacuum”? Would you put carpet in your house and not have a vacuum? Well, this may be a little extreme but there is some truth to the statement.

First, let consider why we need to vacuum our ponds:

As time passes by, our ponds accumulate “muck” from leaves, fish waste, uneaten fish food, lily pads,etc. This “muck” is very high in nutrients and a great food source for algae! Although we do suggest a complete cleanout each and every spring, this is sometimes not an option, especially every year. So having the ability to remove waste without removing all the water is a huge advantage. In general, you will only lose about 10-15% of your water after a complete vacuuming, which is just the right amount for a small water change to freshen up the pond.

Which vacuum is right for you?

The real decision when choosing between the Pond-O-Matic XL or the Pond-O-Vac  III really only comes down to a couple of questions. How large your pond is and how often you will need to vacuum?

If you have a smaller pond (less then 300 sq. ft) then a Pond-O-Matic XL will be sufficient: The Pond-O-Matic XL features a automatic fill-and-drain system that senses when the vacuum basin is full and automatically shuts off, drains and then turns back on. You will get a good 30-45 seconds of cleaning time between each drain with the drain time approximately the same. So 45 seconds of cleaning could take you up to 90 seconds.

Larger ponds (over 300 sq. ft.) and ponds that receive an excessive amount of debris would be great candidates for the Pond-O-Vac III. The biggest advantage of this “Cadillac” of pond vacuums is its ability to drain a pump at the same time. This is a real time-saving operation because it does not have to stop and drain before continuing.

Other advantages of the Pond-O-Vac III:

  • 5-year warranty compared to the 2-year warranty of the Pond-O-Matic XL.
  • Clear vacuum extension for monitoring operation.
  • Build in rack for to conveniently store and organize accessories.
  • Build-in wheels for greater mobility.
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