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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 water turned brown about this time last year. How do I stop it from happening again? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My water turned brown about this time last year. How do I stop it from happening again?

Q: My water turned brown about this time last year. How do I stop it from happening again?

Nick – Charlestown, WV

A: There’s only one thing worse than green water—and that’s brown water. In some ponds or water features, the end of summer or beginning of fall brings with it this discolored water. It’s caused by one of two reasons:

  • Debris Tea: When leaves or pine needles fall into your pond, the tannins in them create a type of all-natural debris tea, which turns the clean and clear water in your backyard feature a shade of brown. This is the most common cause of tea-colored water.
  • Sediment Stew: If you have a lot of floating particulates or sediment in your pond, playful fish, wind or some other action can sometimes disrupt it, mixing it into your water column via your pump or aeration system.

To determine what’s causing the brown water, grab a glass jar from your kitchen, dunk it in your pond and fill it with the water. Let it sit for 24 hours and take a close look at the results. Is the water still tea-colored? Then you have tannin-colored debris tea. Do you see sediment settled at the bottom of the glass? Then you have some sediment stew.

Once you pinpoint what’s causing the brown water, here’s how to treat the problem.

  1. Clean It Up: Because both causes start with an abundance of organics in the water, your first course of action is to clean the bottom of your pond to remove any muck, leaves and remaining debris with a pond vacuum or skimmer net.
  2. Water Change: Next, do a partial (10 to 25 percent) water change, which will freshen things up and clear the water. Don’t forget to add a water conditioner to treat the water for your finned pals.
  3. Add Beneficial Bacteria: If you have sediment stew, add some Nature’s Defense® (if water temps are above 50°F) or Seasonal Defense® (if water temps are below 50°F). The beneficial bacteria will digest any accumulated organic debris and eliminate the brown water.
  4. Use Activated Carbon: If you have debris tea, toss a media bag filled with Pond Logic® Activated Carbon into your pond. The carbon will absorb the tannins, leaving behind clear water.

To prevent the discoloration from happening again, keep the organics out of the pond. Clean up the muck regularly with a skimmer net or vacuum, and when the leaves or pine needles start falling, cover the water with pond netting, like the The Pond Guy® PondShelter™ or The Pond Guy® Premium Pond Netting.

Pond Talk: Have the leaves started falling in your neck of the woods yet? If so, what do you do to keep them out of your water?

Remove Discoloration From Leaves & Debris - View Pond Logic® Activated Carbon

Should I add a pressurized filter to my water garden? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Should I add a pressurized filter to my water garden?

Q: Should I add a pressurized filter to my water garden?

Sherri – Hilliard, FL

A: Whether you have an existing pond or are building a new one, just about any pond can benefit from a pressurized filter.

Able to be positioned anywhere outside your pond, these units hold water pressure so filtered water can be routed back to the pond or up to a waterfall. This allows you to create a flowing waterfall effect without taking space at the top of the falls.

But that’s not all. Here are some more reasons to add an AllClear™ PLUS Pressurized UV Filter to your water feature:

  • Remove Excess Fish Waste: Are your koi and goldfish getting bigger and adding to the waste load in your pond? Instead of parting with a few of your finned pals, just add another filter! It will help to reduce the added waste from the growing fish and allow you to keep them part of the family.
  • The Backflush Feature: Water changes can be a pain. Pulling out a pump and routing water out of the pond for your regular water changes take time and effort. But with the backflush feature on the AllClear models, the hard work is a snap! You simply turn a dial, and waste water and debris are rinsed from your filter via a discharge outlet.
  • Green Water Abated: In addition to featuring mechanical and biological filtration, the AllClear™ filters include an ultraviolet light, which destroys algae and clears up green water. If you experience algae blooms throughout the pond season, a UV light will help.

With some things in life, too much isn’t always a good thing—but that’s not the case with filtration. As long as you’re not filtering out your beneficial bacteria, more filtration will only make your water clearer and pond healthier.

PRO TIP: If temperatures dip below freezing where you live, the AllClear™ PLUS will need to be removed for the winter and stored in a frost-free area.

Pond Talk: How has your pond benefitted from a pressurized filter?

Three Types of Filtration, One Powerful Unit - View The Pond Guy® AllClear™ PLUS & SolidFlo™ Combo Kits

Besides koi, what are some other types of fish for my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Besides koi, what are some other types of fish for my pond?

Q: Besides koi, what are some other types of fish for my pond?

Judy – N Tonawada, NY

A: Koi may be the living jewels of the pond world, but you can choose from a variety of fish that are suitable for your water garden – most of which can be found at your local pet store. Some of our favorites include:

  • Comets/Sarasa: Colorful and active, these varieties of goldfish are distinguished from their aquarium cousins by their long, single and deeply forked tail fin. In optimal conditions, their tails can grow up to 2 feet in length! Comets typically have red and white coloration with red appearing on the tail and dorsal fin. The Sarasa’s color pattern, in fact, often resembles a kohaku’s, making it quite koi-like. These guys have a life span of 7 to 14 years or more.
  • Shubunkin: Another variety of goldfish, shubunkins sport opalescent red, white, grey, black and blue scales in a calico pattern – and the bluer, the better (according to fanciers). They have streamlined bodies with well-developed and even fins. Shubunkins, which hail from Japan, reach a length of 9 to 18 inches and live 7 to 14 years or more. They add a big splash of color to your pond.
  • Plecostomus: Why not put your fish to work for you! The plecos is an omnivorous fish that will actually eat your string algae (as well as leftover fish food and other scraps). In a pond, sucker fish can grow up to 2 feet long. Because he is a tropical fish, he will need to be overwintered inside when water temperatures dip below 60° Fahrenheit because he’ll die in temperatures below 55°F.

As temperatures start to dip in the fall, it’s a great time to add new fish. Just make sure you have the necessity on hand to acclimate them. You’ll need Pond Salt, which will reduce the fishes’ stress, improve their gill function and protect them against common pond toxins while adding essential electrolytes to the water. You’ll also need Stress Reducer PLUS, which forms a protective slime coat on your new fish, and removes chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals from tap water. For more tips for acclimating your new fish, check out our blog post here.

So many fishes, so little time … With all these fabulous finned friends to choose from, you’ll wish you had a bigger pond!

Pond Talk: How many varieties of fish do you have in your water garden? What’s your favorite?

Daily Summer Diet For All Fish Varieties - View Pond Logic® Ponstix Floating Fish Food

How do I treat my pond fish for ich and other diseases? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How do I treat my pond fish for ich and other diseases?

Q: How do I treat my pond fish for ich and other diseases?

Nadine – Okemos, MI

A: There’s nothing sadder than a sick fish—particularly when it’s your friendliest koi or most gregarious goldfish. If your underwater pal is looking a little under the weather, here’s what you need to do to nurse him back to health.

1. Water Change

Some clean, fresh water can make a big difference. It’s full of oxygen, and it’s devoid of pathogens that could be sapping his immune system and making him sick. So the first thing to do is complete a 25 percent water change to get some new wet stuff into the pond.

If only one or two fish seem to be affected, sequester them in an isolation tank. You can use an aquarium, a large plastic bin, a child-size swimming pool—whatever size is appropriate for your fish. Be sure to add pond salt to the water, which reduces fish stress, as well as an aerator and a net to cover the tank.

2. Inspect Your Fish

Next, you’ll need to get up close and personal with your finned friend. Examine him from head to tailfin. Do you see any signs of inflammation? Is there redness in his gills? Do you see cuts or scrapes? Strange parasites or spots? Make note of unusual findings to determine what illness your fish has. Some common diseases include:

  • Ich: Technically known as Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, ich is an ectoparasite that presents as white spots on the body, fins and gills. Symptoms include loss of appetite, rapid breathing, hiding, resting on the bottom of the pond or tank, flashing, rubbing and scratching against objects, and upside down swimming near the surface. If not treated, ich will kill your fish.
  • Anchor Worm: These copepod crustaceans from the genus Lernaea are parasites that latch onto fish and grow into an unsegmented worm-like protrusion. Visible with the naked eye, anchor worms cause localized skin redness and inflammation. A fish with anchor worm may frequently rub on objects or flash, have trouble breathing and appear lethargic.
  • Fungus: Unlike ich and anchor worms, fungal disease—scientific name Saprolegnia—is an actual fungus that grows on fish that are injured or sick. Appearing as a white coating or cotton-like growths on the skin or fins, the fungus will eat away on the fish if left untreated, ultimately killing the fish.

4. Treat the Disease

Once you’ve determined what ails your fish, treat him with an appropriate remedy. You can find a range of treatments on The Pond Guy® Fish Health page, but here are some popular choices:

  • MinnFinn™ is a natural, biodegradable, broad-spectrum treatment for parasites and fungal and bacterial infections. Many issues can be eliminated in as few as one to three treatments.
  • Microbe-Lift® Parazoryne specifically attacks parasites, like anchor worms, fish lice and flukes, on goldfish and koi.
  • Aquatic Nutrition Medicated Fish Food is formulated with four antibiotics that combat bacterial infections and disease while providing nutrition to your pond inhabitants. The soft pellets sink to the bottom of the pond where sick fish tend to hide.
  • CrystalClear® KnockOut™ PLUS treats just about everything, including ich, parasites, protozoa, bacteria and fungi, that affect koi and goldfish.

4. Reevaluate Your Routine

You know the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure …” Well, when it comes to fish health, most times it’s true. Prevention is key to keeping your koi and goldfish healthy, and that prevention centers on your maintenance routines.

We recommend routine water changes, use of pond salt in low doses (don’t worry: it’s safe for your plants), filter clean-outs and removal of debris from the bottom of your pond. Doing so will keep your pond clean—and your fish happy and healthy.

Pond Talk: Have you ever nursed a fish back to health? If so, what did you do?

Treat A Broad Spectrum of Illnesses - MinnFinn™ Biodegradable Pond Treatment

My water garden has turned green. Will a UV light help my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My water garden has turned green. Will a UV light help my pond?

Q: My water garden has turned green. Will a UV light help my pond?

Al – Mount Holly, NJ

A: Ultraviolet bulbs can work wonders in an algae-filled pond, particularly one in full sunlight. As the green water passes by the light, concentrated UV rays damage the tiny plants, ultimately killing them.

UV clarifiers work well and can certainly help your pond, but they shouldn’t be your primary method of algae control. Before investing in a UV unit, check your mechanical and biological filtration first.

Mechanical Filtration

Did you perform a thorough spring cleanout of your pond? Is your filter overloaded with debris? Do you need to wash out or replace your filer pads? Is the system sized appropriately for your pond? You may need to make some filtration upgrades. The Pond Guy® AllClear™ Pressurized UV Filter adds mechanical and biological filtration as well as a UV clarifier, giving you three types of filtration in one unit.

Biological Filtration

In addition to checking your mechanical filtration system, you should also make sure you’re following a regular maintenance routine by adding Nature’s Defense® and Muck Defense® to your pond. A healthy population of beneficial bacteria—your biological filtration—will keep the nutrient load in check, which will starve the algae out of your pond.

UV Clarifier

If your mechanical and biological filtration are taken care of and your water is still too green to enjoy your koi and goldfish, consider a UV light. Here are some tricks for choosing the right one:

  • Wattage: The first trick to getting the best results is to pick a UV bulb that has a high enough wattage for your pond’s volume. All UV clarifiers are rated based on pond size. The larger the wattage, the larger the pond size the UV clarifier can handle.
  • Flow Rate: The second trick is to pump the water past the bulb at just the right flow rate. Pushing water past the UV light too fast can render it ineffective, while pushing the water too slow can cause the UV clarifier to act like a sterilizer, killing not only algae but your beneficial bacteria as well. A great rule of thumb is to push the water approximately half of what the UV is rated per hour. For example, The Pond Guy® 9-watt PowerUV™ Ultraviolet Clarifier is rated for ponds up to 1,200 gallons, so a 600 GPH pump would be ideal.

Another point to consider: Do you want an above-water UV clarifier, like the PowerUV™, or a submerged one? If you’re looking for a below-water model, check out the Pondmaster® Submersible UV Clarifier. It includes a Halo Ring that lights up to show you the unit is working.

Pond Talk: What kind of luck have you had luck using an ultraviolet clarifier?

Eliminate Discolored Water - The Pond Guy(r) PowerUV(tm)

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