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What are winter fish kills and how can I prevent them? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Dyed Pond


Q: What are winter fish kills and how can I prevent them? – Alison in Illinois

Winter Fish Kills, They Don’t Float With Us!
You’ve waited all Winter long for the ice to melt over your water garden so you can run your waterfalls and enjoy your finned friends. Instead, you find your fish floating at the ponds surface, victims of a winter fish kill. What is this phenomenon and how can you prevent it?

Make Some Holes
When a layer of ice forms over the surface of you water garden, it essentially eliminates any transfer of air to or from your pond’s water. What this means to you is that, as debris decompose and your fish consume oxygen, byproducts are produced in the form of gasses that are toxic to your pond’s inhabitants. These gases are trapped under the ice and cannot escape; fresh air from outside the pond cannot reach the water either and so begins the process of the winter fish kill. Keeping a hole in the ice will allow the bad air in the pond to be replenished with good air. Some pond guys and gals use pond De-Icers to maintain an open hole, but many more rely on their aeration systems to do the job.

Pass The Bubbly
We’ve discussed in our past blogs the many benefits of aeration in your water garden. It circulates the water in your pond, infusing it with oxygen which is beneficial to your bacteria and fish. The constant bubbling produced by an aeration system will also keep a hole open in your water garden in the winter months, ensuring the release of those harmful gasses.

Being Supercool is SO Uncool
You have all heard concerns expressed in our past blogs in regards to “supercooling”. While this is a rare occurrence, there are a couple steps you can take to ensure you don’t overdo your winter aeration. When the cold weather comes, move your aeration plates to a shallower part of your pond. This will maintain a warmer layer of water for your fish to retreat to if the water does get a little too chilly. Furthermore, if you have a multiple plate system, you can run your water garden on just one plate for the winter. This will ensure that you have an open hole in your ice and should provide sufficient air supply to your fish as they require less oxygen during these times of decreased activity.

POND TALK: What type of aeration do you use in your pond? How have your fish fared over the past winters?

When should I start using my DefensePAC®? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Dyed Pond

When should I start using my DefensePAC®? – Sherry in Ohio

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your… Barley?
You’ve bought the products; you’ve read the blogs; now it’s time to get your feet wet. Whether you are starting your water garden up for the first time this season or your pond is operating through the Winter/Spring transition, it’s time to break out the barley.

Some Like It Hot, Some Like It Cold
For those of you pond guys and gals who experience freezing temperatures, you are probably waiting for the ice to melt to start up the pumps and filters in your water garden. When that glorious day comes, take some time and install new filter media, vacuum the bottom of the pond, and clean up the rocks and walls with you Oxy-Lift™ Defense®. Now that your water garden is up and running, it is time for some Seasonal Defense®, a natural bacteria that incorporates barley and is designed to work in cooler temperatures. This bacteria will jump start your biological filters and devour organic debris, allowing you to gain control of your pond earlier in the season. As we progress into late spring and the water temperatures begin to rise above 50ºF, you can switch over to your Nature’s Defense®.

Don’t Get Lost In The Mix
So, now we know Nature’s Defense® performs best in warmer temperatures, while Seasonal Defense® goes to work for you when it’s cold. When do you break out the Muck Defense® and Clarity Defense® to really get the party started? Clarity Defense® should be used whenever your water garden is open. It will work in any temperature, locking up suspended nutrients, resulting in clearer water and increasing the effectiveness of all natural bacteria. You can start using your Muck Defense® the same time you begin applications of Nature’s Defense®. While Nature’s Defense® is working on the organics floating in the water column, Muck Defense® will be at the bottom of the pond, eating away at sunken debris.

POND TALK: How do you use your DefensePAC® to kick off the season? Which DefensePAC® products do you feel go to work the best for you?

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.

10 Springtime Start-Up Tips for Your Water Feature – Water Feature Q & A

Picture of a Pond O Matic XL Pond Vacuum.

Water Feature Q & A

Q: I have a water garden that I built last year. Is there anything I should be doing in the Springtime to get it ready? – Maggie of Indiana

A: Great question Maggie! With the onset of warm weather, now is the time to get outside and begin enjoying the water feature season. Your pond has been dormant all winter and needs a little care to make it beautiful. Follow these ten simple steps to prepare your water feature for success.

1. Inspect your pond. Check to see what affect the winter weather has had on the pond liner, skimmer or biological filter. Make repairs as needed.

2. Make a water change and clean-up winter waste build-up. Use the 4 in 1 Interchangable Pond Net or Pond Vacuum to remove dead leaves, debris and muck that have accumulated in the bottom of the pond over the winter. Pond Logic Oxy-Lift Defense works great for lifting debris off rocks and bringing debris to the surface for easy removal. Water changes are also helpful in eliminating dissolved organics that have built up over the winter. You should make a 15 to 25 percent water change over several consecutive days to reduce stress to your fish.

3. Condition your tap water. When doing a spring start-up water change, don’t forget that you need to eliminate chorine and chloramines found in municipal water. Even small traces of chlorine will irritate fish and damage their gill tissue, and large amounts can be lethal. Use Pond & Fish Conditioner to accomplish this.

4. Start the biological filter. Clean or replace filter pads, seed them quickly with PL Gel and begin adding Pond Logic’s Seasonal Defense Natural Bacteria to boost biological activity. For longer life span filter pads, try using Matala Filter Pads.

5. Test pond water. It is not possible to know the condition of your pond water without testing. Using the Master Test Kit offers a quick and accurate way to evaluate pond water quality and stop problems before they occur.

6. Inspect your fish. If you see torn fins, blood streaks and/or ulcers, Pond Fish Treatment is a great all-in-one product for both koi and goldfish treating bacterial infections and parasites.

7. Feed your fish a low-protein food. As the temperature of your pond water approaches 40° F, your fish will start looking for food. Pond Logic Spring & Fall Fish Food is recommended as a good low protein, high carbohydrate, vitamin-enriched diet, specially formulated for all pond fish when water temperatures are between 40-50° F.

8. Provide your fish with essential electrolytes. Pond Logic Pond Salt provides all the essential electrolytes fish need to stay healthy and vibrant. Pond Salt can also help to reduce
algae blooms.

9. Care for pond plants. Root bound plants should be divided and re-potted. Fertilize plants with Lily Tabs to provide the essential nutrients for strong growth and early spring blooms. Adding floating plants such as Water Hyacinths or Water Lettuce will provide your pond with shade and remove excess nutrients reducing algae growth. It is also a great time to add Pond Snails to begin consuming algae keeping your pond clean. Don’t have any plants yet? Consider one of our Complete Plant Packages.

10. Keep your water feature clean, clear and healthy all season. Digest sludge, reduce dissolved organics and keep you pond filter working its best with the all-in-one awarding winning package, the Pond Logic DefensePAC.

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