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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)

My koi didn’t spawn last year. How can I get them to spawn? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My koi didn’t spawn last year. How can I get them to spawn?

Q: My koi didn’t spawn last year. How can I get them to spawn?

Judy – Springfield, MO

A: Sounds like your koi were being a bit coy last year! If you want your fish to get frisky this spring and produce a brood of colorful fry, break out the bubbly and try out these tips and techniques that will create the perfect mood for love.

  1. Create Ambiance – Your koi don’t need soft candlelight and rose petals for romance, but they do prefer an aquatic environment that’s as pristine as possible. Perform regular water changes – that’s changing out 10% to 20% of your water every two weeks – to help keep things clean and clear. Once water temperatures climb back up to 50°F, you can also begin adding the water-quality-boosting products found in DefensePAC®, like Seasonal Defense®, Nature’s Defense® and Clarity Defense®.
  2. Heat Things Up – Temperature and time of year matter when it comes to koi feeling amorous. The fish typically spawn when water temperatures are 65° to 70°F. In many ponds, this typically happens between May and June – in late spring and early summer, when the birds and bees start to get busy!
  3. Give Them a Love Nest – Like you and me, koi like their privacy when it’s time for them to mate. Before spring settles in, make sure you give them plenty of cozy spots and hiding places. Plants, tunnels, and Nycon Koi Kastle Fish Shelters will provide excellent coverage for them. In addition, give them a safe place to lay their eggs, like a fry mat or similar device.
  4. Know the Signs – When you see the male koi chasing after the females, you’ll know the game of love is on. Keep an eye on their behavior; however, because the males might try to run into the females, or push them into the rocks and the side of your pond to try to get them to release their eggs. Another telltale sign: Cloudy or foamy water accompanied by a distinct odor.
  5. Keep the Fry Safe – Once the fry emerge from their eggs, they can’t swim and will need a protected area that’s safe from natural predators, like tadpoles, frogs and koi. Make sure you give them plenty of coverage with water hyacinth, water lettuce and other aquatic plants. You might also consider using a fine mesh tent, like the Nycon Fish Spawning Incubator, to protect them and prevent them from getting sucked in and lost in your filtration system.

With a little staging and encouragement, it’s not too difficult to convince your koi to spawn. Follow these tips, keep the brood safe once they hatch and, before long, you’ll have a pond full of small fry! Good luck!

Pond Talk: Have you successfully spawned your koi? What worked – and what didn’t?

All-Natural, Complete Pond Care System - Pond Logic(r) DefensePAC(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

I have a deicer but my pond totally froze over. Help! What do I do? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I have a de-icer but my pond totally froze over. Help! What do I do?

Q: I have a de-icer but my pond totally froze over. Help! What do I do?

Maggie – Carlisle, PA

A: Sounds like your pond fell victim to the 2014 Polar Vortex! When frigid weather persists for days on end – like those way-below-zero temperatures endured by a large swath of the country earlier this month – a pond can completely freeze over, even if a higher-watt de-icer and aerator are used. The ice-melting combination works great in most scenarios, but it just can’t keep up in extreme conditions.

If your pond has been totally frozen over for a day or so, your fish will be fine. But if it has been more than a few days, your pond pals could be at risk of oxygen deprivation or overexposure to dangerous gases trapped beneath the ice.

So what do you do?

Let’s start with what not to do – and that’s to try to smash the ice with a chisel or blunt object. The sound and vibration of that pounding on the ice amplify underwater, which can stress out your fish. They’re already unhappy, and so you certainly don’t want to make them endure more trauma!

Instead, use a pot of hot water to melt away the ice. If it’s particularly thick, you might need to repeat the process several times to open a complete hole in the frozen stuff. While the temperatures remain frigid, check on the pond every few days to make sure the hole is still open; if it freezes over again, use hot water to open the hole back up.

With another two-plus months of winter ahead of us, it’s not too late to add a de-icer to your pond if you don’t already have one. Simply place a unit, like the K&H Thermo-Pond De-Icer, on the ice and turn it on. It will heat up and melt through the ice – as long as temperatures aren’t too extreme!

Pond Talk: How did your pond fare during these extreme frigid January temperatures?

The Ultimate in Winter Pond Protection - PondAir™ & Thermo-Pond Combo

We’re expecting a big snow storm. Can I keep the net on my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: We’re expecting a big snow storm. Can I keep the net on my pond?

Q: We’re expecting a big snow storm. Can I keep the net on my pond?

Dale – Rapid City, SD

A: If Jack Frost is blowing in a doozy of a blizzard, you should definitely take the net off your pond. As they accumulate, snow and ice can get heavy enough to collapse the net into your water feature—and that could endanger your dormant fish if they get tangled in the sunken net.

Before the storm passes through, remove your net and store it in your garage or shed, and add a K&H™ Perfect Climate™ De-Icer to your pond. The thermostatically controlled unit, which works above or below the water surface, will melt ice that forms around it, keeping a small hole open for gas exchange.

What About Debris?

If you’re worried about leaves and other organic material landing in your pond, keep your 3-in-1 Pond Net handy and remove anything that blows in during the storm. The telescoping aluminum handle, which extends 5 feet, will allow you to easily remove that muck-causing debris.

What About Predators?

If you’re concerned that raccoons, blue herons or other predators will battle the snowy elements to grab a sushi dinner from your pond, submerge some Nycon Koi Kastle Fish Shelters in your pond. These molded black plastic or fiberglass mesh shelters, which come in multiple sizes including lengths of 7 ½, 13, 18, 21½ and 24 inches, provide safe refuge for your koi and other fish. Simply position them in the deepest areas of your pond.

Depending on where you live, you can re-install your net again once the snow storm blows by. But if you expect a prolonged period of snow and ice, leave the net off for the season. Good luck, and stay warm and dry!

Pond Talk: What pond toys do you hope Santa brings for you this holiday season?

Vent Harmful Gases All Winter Long - K&H(tm) Perfect Climate(tm) De-Icer

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