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What Can I Do To Maintain My Pond This Season? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can sidewalk salt be used to melt the ice off my pond?

This will be our first full season with our pond. What should we do for proper maintenance?

Joe – Aurora, CO

The first season with your new pond can be an exciting and relatively hassle free endeavor, as long as you take the right precautions to maintain it properly. Lucky for you, you’ve come to the right place to learn exactly what you’ll need in order to successfully maintain your pond for the season.

Remember, a balanced ecosystem is key. Listed below are the main elements used to maintain a balanced pond.

Filtration – Whether you have a waterfall, pressurized or gravity type filter, make sure the included Filter Media is clean and in good condition. Mechanical filtration like skimmer filters should be cleaned regularly to prevent clogging. Biological filter media, like the pads in your waterfall or bio-media in your pressurized filter, should be cleaned sparingly to promote an accumulation of water-filtering beneficial bacteria.

Fish – The highlight of many ponds, fish add color and life to your decorative pond. They also, however, add waste and nutrients that can quickly accumulate and unbalance your pond. 1-inch of fish for every square foot of surface area is a rough guideline for maximum fish load. Keep in mind that your fish are continually growing. That means your 3 inch fish that were added last year are now 4-6 inch fish which more than doubles the waste that needs to be filtered. The more fish you have and the frequency at which you feed them plays a large role in how much filtration you will need to remove this additional waste.

PlantsAquatic Plants are an enormous natural boon to your water garden or fish pond. Not only do they provide habitat for your fish, maintaining 40-60% plant coverage shades your pond and prevents dramatic increases in water temperature on sunny days. Plants also provide additional natural filtration as they extract nutrients from the water added by organic debris and fish waste.

Aeration – Proper aeration is another key factor for pond maintenance. An aeration kit like the Pond Logic® PondAir™ or KoiAir™ will provide extra circulation to keep debris from accumulating at the bottom of the pond while increasing oxygen levels for your fish and water-filtering aerobic bacteria.

Natural Pond Treatments – Natural products like those contained in the Pond Logic® DefensePAC® will greatly increase water quality by boosting aerobic bacteria counts, binding up phosphates from organic material and eliminating organic debris.

Including each of these key pond elements in your water garden or fish pond greatly reduces stress and guesswork associated with a troublesome unbalanced pond. Simply put, a stable ecosystem means less work on your part. If a problem does arise, you can then pinpoint and adjust whichever element above that is throwing your pond out of balance.

Pond Talk: Is your pond balanced? If not, have you discovered which of the key elements is missing or lacking?

Pond Filtration Media

Should I use a heater or aerator in my water garden? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

Should I use a heater or aerator in my water garden?
Lindsay – Pittsfield, ME

So you already know that it is important to keep a hole open in the ice that forms over your water garden during the winter months. This provides an outlet for harmful gases and an inlet for new oxygen-rich air. The question now is which device do you choose to get the job done. The good news is if you have already made your purchase for the season either one will perform excellently. Both a heater and aerator will maintain a hole in the ice but unlike a pond heater, this is only one of many tasks an aeration system performs for your water garden.

When we talk about pond heaters we are referencing units like the Pondmaster Floating Pond De-Icer which does not heat the water in the pond but instead keeps a ring of water open allowing gas to escape through the vent in the top of the unit. Since most ponds deeper than 18” do not freeze solid this is all that is needed to allow oxygen exchange while the fish are dormant. When running a pond heater periodically check in on the pond to make sure ice does not form over the vent hole. To reduce electrical expense most pond heaters are thermostatically controlled to run only during a given temperature range, but they are measuring water temperature instead of air temperature. This means it is unlikely that the water temperature will raise enough to ever shut off the heater. To save some extra money on energy bills use a Thermo Cube in tandem with your pond heater as it will determine when your pond heater should run based on the ambient air temperature.

Aeration keeps a hole in the ice during the winter by producing bubbles and water motion to slow the ice from forming. This allows for the same gas exchange created by a pond heater, however your Aeration System will circulate the entire pond volume and infuse it with dissolved oxygen making it more efficient at oxygen/gas transfer. People will sometimes run pumps beneath the ice trying to create this same effect but it is the tiny air bubbles that boost dissolved oxygen levels and create the friction that prevents ice from forming. Your pond benefits from aeration year round making an aeration system a helpful and highly functional tool regardless of the season. The installation process is simple and straightforward and aeration systems are available in various sizes and shapes allowing you to select a system that best fits your pond. When selecting a system make sure you purchase a unit that is rated for your ponds volume in order to provide enough outlet for proper gas exchange.

The performance of both pond heaters and aeration systems vary depending on how cold it gets in your area. Even when vented properly, layers of ice appear may over when temperatures dip well below freezing. If this only occurs temporarily, and is short in duration while the coldest temperatures and wind are present, there should not be any cause for concern, as a calm or sunny day will give the pond the help it needs to re-open the hole in the ice. If it is necessary to manually reopen the air vent do not try to break through it by hitting it with hammers or heavy objects as this creates vibrations that can harm your fish. If necessary pour a bucket of warm water over the vent hole to melt it back open.

Whichever unit you choose to use will perform to keep your fish safe for the winter months and ensure that they will be healthy, happy and ready to go in the spring.

POND TALK: Which type of system have you found to work better in your pond? Do you still notice some ice formation?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

I don’t have a pond, just a disappearing fountain is there something I can use for maintenance other then products designed for big ponds? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I don’t have a pond, just a disappearing fountain is there something I can use for maintenance other then products designed for big ponds?

I don’t have a pond, just a disappearing fountain is there something I can use for maintenance other then products designed for big ponds?

Monica – Chicago, Il

In the world of water features, disappearing fountains are in a category of their own. Because they don’t involve fish and plants – and typically don’t have filter systems – many people assume they’re maintenance free. But like all backyard water features, disappearing fountains do get dirty, and often gather debris that aren’t eliminated through simple recirculation.

As a result, disappearing fountains are susceptible to water discoloration caused by debris buildup. Fortunately, Pond Logic® FeatureFix™ Water Feature Cleaner is formulated specifically to safely eliminate accumulated debris and clear unsightly discoloration – often in as little as 48 hours.

To prevent ongoing buildup problems, a disappearing fountain is a prime candidate for regular maintenance. We recommend the regular application of Pond Logic® FeatureClear™ Bacterial Water Feature Cleaner, which contains natural, beneficial bacteria that digests organic debris to keep water crystal clear. It’s true. Disappearing fountains do require regular maintenance. But with FeatureFix and FeatureClear, it’s one item on your “to do” list that’s downright easy to check off.

Pond Talk: Do you have a disappearing fountain that requires regular maintenance?

Pond Logic FeatureFix

What is waterfall foam? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

What is waterfall foam?

What is waterfall foam?
Krystal – Howell, MI

When you build a backyard waterfall, it’s important to remember that, unlike a natural waterfall, every drop of water that cascades down the face of your mini-Niagara is delivered by a pump. In order to make that limited supply of pumped water – and your waterfall – look as dramatic and beautiful as possible, it helps to seal up the nooks and crannies behind and between rocks. And that’s just one of the places where Waterfall Foam comes in handy.

When applied carefully, Waterfall Foam seals the areas beneath and around rocks where water naturally flows. When those areas are sealed, water is diverted over the tops of the rocks, making the waterfall look fuller and more beautiful. In addition to its aesthetic benefits, Waterfall Foam also helps to secure and stabilize larger rocks, which in turn reduces maintenance.

But why use Waterfall Foam instead of hardware store spray-foam insulation? First and foremost, hardware store foams are formulated as insulation – and their chemical ingredients can be harmful or fatal to fish and plant life. Waterfall Foam is carefully formulated to be fish and plant safe. Second, hardware store foam simply isn’t designed to blend in – where Waterfall Foam looks natural, and works wonders to enhance the look and longevity of your waterfall.

Pond Talk: Have you used waterfall foam in your pond?

Waterfall Foam

My pond water is green. Do UVs really work? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

My pond water is green, do UV’s really work?

My pond water is green, do UV’s really work?
Summer – Baton Rouge, LA

The short answer? Yes. While it might seem like smoke and mirrors, UVs help to consolidate algae particles, which are then removed through regular filtration. And because planktonic algae particles are typically responsible for green pond water, products like our all-in-one ClearSolution Filter and AllClear systems – which include UVs within their filters – and our Power UV™ Clarifiers – which can be added inline with your existing plumbing – are terrific resources to help keep pond water clear and clean. Bear in mind, though, that UV can’t work miracles, and has no impact on string algae.

Now that we’ve established the fact that UVs really do work, there’s an even bigger issue to consider. The presence of planktonic algae is, after all, a symptom of a larger issue – and UVs are simply a means to treat it. In order to reduce reliance on UVs and filtration, it’s important to consider the cause of the bloom.

Planktonic algae bloom in nutrient-rich water. Nutrients can come in a variety of forms. There are many culprits – including excessive fish food, an overabundance of fish (and the waste they produce), bird droppings, and even runoff from fertilized lawns. When too many of those nutrients are in your pond, algae – which are present in all water – multiply quickly to take advantage of what they see as a free lunch. When algae multiplies, a cycle begins which depletes oxygen, and can harm or kill both fish and beneficial aquatic plants. So take stock of your pond. Evaluate the number of fish you have – and adjust your feeding levels accordingly. If your pond is overpopulated, consider reducing the number of fish, and the corresponding waste they produce.

Finally, consider using our PondLogic® DefensePac®, which helps to improve water quality, eliminate muck and built-up debris, and to enhance fish health. With quick and easy application, you’ll see noticeable results in no time – and with minimal effort.

Pond Talk: Have you encountered green water in your pond? How did you remedy the situation?

The Pond Guy Clear Solution 4-in-1 Pond Filtration System

How many and what type of plants should I have in my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

How many and what type of plants should I have in my pond?

Q: How many and what type of plants should I have in my pond?
Bryce – Myrtle Beach, SC

If you’re a person – and we’re going out on a limb here to assume you are – you understand the importance of eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. Variety, it seems, is more than just the spice of life. Like you, your water garden thrives on variety – in the form of a carefully selected mix of aquatic plants. But just as overeating is harmful to you, over-planting spells trouble for your pond. So, whether you’re dining or planting, it pays to be prudent.

Ideal plant coverage is around 60% of your featured surface – this allows for enough nutrient absorption to help prevent algae from gaining a foothold in your pond. There are many types of water plants to choose from – bog plants, marginal plants, lilies, floating and submerged plants – and frankly, we recommend that you try and use them all because each type of plant brings a little something different to the water table if you get our drift.

For instance, submerged plants, like Hornwort or Anacharis, are oxygenators, providing critical support to a pond’s eco-system by supplementing the water with oxygen, while floating plants, like the water hyacinth, provide shade that cools the water and cover under which fish can hide.

Our customers have found The Pond Guy Choice Hardy Water Lilies, make lovely additions to their ponds. Position the root of the plant in a container of Microbe-Lift Concentrated Aquatic Planting Media, and locate the water lily so that its floating leaves are away from any splashing water for best results.

Blue Flag Iris, Water Hibiscus and Bog Bean are all lovely examples of bog plants that can be placed around the shallow edges of your pond for both aesthetic and ecological reasons. To keep your water garden in healthy, we suggest you treat your plants once a year to such products as the Laguna Temperature Activated Aquatic Plant Fertilizer Spikes or the nitrate and phosphate free supplement Bloom and Grow, formulated specifically for aquatic plants.

There’s no doubt about it: variety is the spice of life. It’s also the sign of a healthy, well-cared for pond.

Pond Talk: What types of plants do you have in your pond?

The Pond Guy® Choice Hardy Water Lilies

I like the idea of a pond but will it also bring more mosquitos? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I like the idea of a pond but will it also bring more mosquitos?

I like the idea of a pond but will it also bring more mosquitos?
Crystal – Baton Rouge, LA

If pondkeeping were a recipe for multiplying mosquitoes, it would be tough to justify having a pond at all. Fortunately, the same things that make a pond attractive to you make it an unwelcome spot for mosquitoes looking to settle down and start a family.

Mosquitoes, it seems, like prefer to lay their larva in stagnant water. As it turns out, ponds are much healthier and more attractive when they’re well aerated. The benefits of aeration are twofold. First, aeration helps gases produced by the breakdown of organic matter to dissipate naturally – which in turn eliminates the potential for unpleasant pond odor. Second – and very importantly – a well-aerated pond is a lousy place for mosquito larvae. That’s why so many of our customers turn to our PondLogic® PondAir™ and KoiAir™ Aeration Systems.

For pondkeepers who prefer a more dramatic display of mosquito-beating aeration, we recommend our All In One Filter Systems. In addition to the oxygenating benefits of aeration, these pumps double as fountains, sending up a spray of water to keep you entertained – while keeping mosquitoes at bay.

Under some circumstances, aeration isn’t a viable alternative. In those cases, our Mosquito Bits and Mosquito Dunks offer a safe, EPA-approved means to kill mosquito larva for up to 30 days.

So don’t let the threat of mosquitoes stand between you and your pond. Give them the fight of their lives – and we’ll do everything we can to make sure you come out ahead.

Pond Talk: Have you battled mosquitoes around your pond? How did you keep them away?

Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration Systems

What do I do to clean out my water garden now that the snow melted? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

What do I do to clean out my water garden now that the snow melted?

What do I do to clean out my water garden now that the snow melted?
Brett – Delta, IA

Spring is the perfect time to perform a clean out on your water garden or decorative water feature and remove accumulated growth and debris from the winter months. Not only does this result in a cleaner better looking pond, it also promotes a smoother transition into the warm summer months where a unbalanced pond can easily be overrun with green water and string algae.

Once the ice melts from the surface of your pond you can begin your cleaning regimen. Start by pulling out as much muck and debris as possible. You can use a Interchangeable Pond Tool to safely remove your decorative pond fish and sweep debris away from the sides of the pond. Pond Vacuums are a great way to siphon muck and debris from hard to reach areas of your pond without the hassle of bending and scrubbing. Sprinkle Oxy-Lift Defense™ on your waterfall rocks and stream bed to lift stuck on debris without having to scrape at your rocks and liner.

After the majority of debris are cleaned from the pond you can perform a partial water change by removing around 20% of the ponds volume and replacing it with fresh water. Not only does this refresh the pond water, removing water from the pond with a pump or bucket will also eliminate some of the floating debris you kicked up during the cleaning process. While the pond is refilling mix in some Water Conditioner to remove the harmful metals and chloramines found in well and tap water.

Remove your Filter Media Pads from your waterfall filter, skimmer and pressurized filters. Inspect them for signs of wear and tear and replace accordingly. Thoroughly rinse your filtration media to remove built up debris. Apply PL-Gel to your new or cleaned filter media to seed them with beneficial bacteria and place them back into position.

Now that the pond is cleaned up and topped off you can start up your pumps and begin circulating the contents of the pond. Inspect the pumps, plumbing and power cords for signs of wear, cuts or leakage. Check your waterfall and streams for out of place rocks, splash-outs, and misdirected water. Black Waterfall Foam can be used to keep rocks firmly in place and route water where you want it. Inspect your pond liner for leaks and check the perimeter of your pond for damp areas or puddles.

If the water is still below 55 degrees apply your Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense® to balance the pond water and introduce beneficial bacteria to the water column. If the water warmer than 55 degrees you can apply your Nature’s Defense® instead. The Pond Logic® DefensePAC® bundles the water treatment and maintenance products you will need for the season while providing a price break compared to purchasing products individually.

Let the pond water circulate for a couple days before re-introducing your decorative pond fish back into the pond. This will give the pond water some time to balance without putting unnecessary stress on your fish. Add some Stress Reducer Plus to the water before you start acclimating your decorative pond fish back into the pond as it will help supplement their slime coat and reduce exposure to stress and harmful residual water contaminates.

While it requires a little elbow grease up front, a thorough spring clean out will save you time, money and hassles later in the season so you can spend more time enjoying your pond while the weather is nice.

Pond Talk:What are you tips for getting your water garden ready for the season?

DefensePAC®

I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think?

I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think?
Jessica – Jackson, MI

Pond owners are intrigued by the prospect of being able to ditch chemical treatments for a natural means of algae control. While it is true that barley straw is capable of helping your pond fend off algae it still comes with advantages and disadvantages.

Studies have shown that as barley straw decomposes it releases agents that inhibit algae growth with no adverse effects on your water garden plants or decorative pond fish. Originally customers would place bales of Barley Straw in their waterfall filter boxes, skimmers or waterfall areas where they would decompose over time. As barley straw treatments continue to grow in popularity new types of barley products have been made available. Barley Straw Pellets are available for a cleaner and easier way to implement barley treatments into your pond or for even faster results, Barley Straw Extract. Barley Straw Extract is basically barley straw already broken down into its beneficial byproducts.

While barley straw can help keep your pond less green this season it is not 100% effective on all algae that may form in your pond. One of the biggest issues with using barley straw and pellets is that you have to put them in your pond early in the season as they will need time to start decomposing before providing any benefits. Some may also argue that you are also adding muck and nutrients to your pond in the process. You will gain some speed by using barley straw extract but it then becomes less convenient because you will have to continuously add it to the pond. Barley also does not directly kill algae so chemical treatments may still eventually be required.

Your best defense against algae has always been a good offense. Keeping your pond clean and balanced with adequate filtration, bacteria treatments, minimal fish loads and sun exposure you will reduce your dependence and need for algae treatments in general. It is when your pond is balanced and just needs a little extra kick to keep algae at bay that your barley treatments really begin to shine as their gradual release of anti-algae agents will help maintain clear water throughout the season with minimal or no additional chemical treatment.

Pond Talk: Do you use barley straw as a part of your pond maintenance? Have you noticed a cleaner pond while using barley straw?

All the benefits of barley straw without the mess!

Will sidewalk salt hurt my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

Will sidewalk salt hurt my pond?
Ian – Auburn, KS

Nobody wants to worry about slipping and falling on icy driveways and walkways but is the salt you are using to keep you safe actually hurting your pond?

You have probably heard that salt is great for both your pond and the fish that dwell within. It is true that salt is an important part of maintaining a healthy pond but the type of salt you use and how much of it is in your pond is even more significant.

Quality salt designed for use in ponds like Pond Logic® Pond Salt consist of all-natural evaporated sea salt and are the safest bet for maintaining a balanced pond with healthy fish. Other salts have additives that are not intended to be put in your pond. Table salt for example can contain iodine and anti-caking agents, and common sidewalk salt can include materials such as chloride which can be harmful to your finned friends. An abundance of runoff into your pond from this salt may also be less than ideal. Take caution when using salt around your pond avoiding banks of snow and salt nearby which will eventually melt and drain into your pond. If you suspect this to be happening you may want to consider a partial water change or pond cleanout once your pond has thawed to give your finned friends a more ideal environment.

Pond Talk: Is your pond located near any salted sidewalks? Do you notice any affects of the salt on your pond?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

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