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Do I need a UV Filtration system for my pond? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Do I need a UV Filtration system for my pond?

Do I need a UV Filtration system for my pond? Benjamin – Dover, DE

Make Your Green Water Head Towards The Light

Spring is in full effect, the sun is shining, trees everywhere are in bloom, but now your pond water is as green as the grass that surrounds it. The water in your pond may have started off crystal clear this season but was it too good to last? Here at The Pond Guy we think not! If you can’t seem to gain the upper hand in your fight against green water it may be time to break out your secret weapon, a UV clarifier.

Some of you may be scratching your head at the idea of exposing your pond to even more light, but the truth is, when properly implemented, a UV bulb can work wonders on improving your pond’s water quality. The principal behind UV clarification is simple; expose algae to concentrated UV rays to damage and ultimately kill the plant. The trick to getting the best results from your UV clarifier is to pick a bulb that has a high enough wattage for your ponds volume and to pump the water past the bulb at just the right flow rate. All UV clarifiers are rated based on pond size. The larger the wattage, the larger the pond size the UV clarifier can handle. The other factor to take note of is the pump size. 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 here is to push the water approximately half of what the UV is rated per hour. For the Tetra 9-Watt UV Clarifier that is rated for ponds up to 1,800 gallons a 900 GPH (gallons per hour) pump would be ideal.

The continued success of UV clarification has brought about many new styles of UV units; if you are currently building a pond consider purchasing a skimmer like the Savio Standard Skimmer which comes with optional built in UV. If your pond has been up and running for years you can use a Tetra Green Free UV Clarifier which installs in line with your plumbing, or the PondMaster Submersible UV Clarifier which can be plumbed in-line or submerged directly in the pond. There are even Pressurized Filters like the FishMate Pressure Filter 2,000 that come with a built in UV clarifier. Each type of UV is available in multiple wattages to best fit your specific needs.

While a UV clarifier can work wonders on your water garden it is only a patch to the real issue. Make sure you are properly maintaining your pond, using an adequate amount of filtration, and utilizing your bacteria products in your DefensePAC.

If you are unsure on How To Create A Balanced Environment for your water feature, or need to brush up on your Filtration Basics you can learn tons of tricks and tips on our Blog page.

Pond Talk: Which type of UV clarifier do you use in your pond? Has it made the difference between a pond full of “pea soup” and a crystal clear water garden?

UV Filtration

I have algae growing all over the place. I keep using chemicals but they don’t seem to last long. What else can I do? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

The best way to beat algae is with the Airmax® Ecosystem PROactive approach.
Pre-order For Fish Day Online…more info

I have algae growing all over the place. I keep using chemicals but it doesn’t seem to last long. What else can I do? Howard – Dallas/Ft Worth, TX

Beat Your Greens
As we approach our warmer spring and summer months, you may find yourself watching in awe as algae takes over your pond at an almost impossible rate. What is going on in your pond that is making it punish you so? Let’s take a look at the cause of algae and your approach on treating it.

Ready, Get Set, REact
Unless you find your new algae bloom a welcome addition to your pond, you will want to get rid of it as soon as possible. Algaecides like Algae Defense® and Cutrine Plus Granular are great products to eliminate existing algae blooms. If you have trout, Koi or goldfish in your pond, you will want to use a non-copper based product like Hyrdrothol 191 to do the job. While these products address the current outbreak in your pond, they will not treat the source of the issue or prevent future occurrences and they require repetitive treatments. Even after the algae bloom is killed, you will still have to do some legwork in terms of removing dead plant matter. Leaving dead algae in your pond will only hinder your quest for a clear pond by providing even more algae food in the form of decaying plant matter. For these reasons, using chemical applications to fight algae is referred to as a REactive approach.

Going PROactive
As the saying goes, “The way to algae’s heart is through its stomach”. While we might not be current with our sayings, this one still holds some truth. Eliminate the food sources available to algae and you will send it packing. Performing regular maintenance in your pond to prevent algae growth is a PROactive treatment. Algae can utilize both available sunlight and nutrients held in your pond to stage its backyard assault. By adopting a PROactive routine, you can keep your pond clean and clear all season long and save some money on repetitive chemical treatments.

The best step you can take in establishing a PROactive treatment plan is to implement aeration in your pond. Sub-surface aeration systems like our Airmax® series will circulate your pond’s water column and infuse it with dissolved oxygen, which on its own will promote the colonization of beneficial bacteria. These beneficial bacteria will break down that same nutrient load your algae utilizes, thereby discouraging continued growth. The bacteria in products like Pond Logic® PondClear™ and MuckAway™ will reinforce the natural bacteria in your pond, ensuring that your pond is able to break down nutrients faster than they are being introduced into the pond. Without an available nutrient load, algae will have to utilize sunlight to generate food. By adding pond dye, you can not only beautify your pond, but also limit the amount of light able to penetrate the water surface. Pond dyes like Pond Logic® Nature’s Blue™, Twilight Blue™, or Black DyeMond™ give you the option to choose the color that best suits your pond while still obtaining a natural look. If you would like more information on choosing the right shade for your pond, click HERE.

We have packaged a collection of products to take the guesswork out of completing your pond maintenance and appropriately named it the Pond Logic® ClearPAC®. The ClearPAC® contains PondClear™ Beneficial Bacterial, Nature’s Blue™ Pond Dye, EcoBoost™ Bacteria Enhancer and Algae Defense®. These products are designed to kill algae, clear water, reduce muck, and shade your pond combining the immediate results of REactive treatments with the economical preventative results of a balanced PROactive approach.

Pond Talk: Have you used MuckAway™ in you pond or lake? Were you happy with your results?

Pond Logic® ClearPAC® - DIY Complete Pond Care Program

What’s a Nitrogen Cycle? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

PondCare Master Test Kit - Complete System

Explaining the Nitrogen Cycle

We’ve Got Good Chemistry
Today we trade in our waders for lab coats as we discuss your pond’s nitrogen cycle. While many of us find it hard to stay awake for science lectures, we promise this one will save you time and money and give you the upper hand in the fight against algae and fish kills. The nitrogen cycle is present in all water gardens and is truly a great thing when in balance. As plant matter decays and fish produce waste, ammonia is released into the water. The bacteria in your pond naturally break this ammonia down into nitrites and then down into nitrates. Plants, including algae, feed off of these nitrates, which in turn die and decompose or are eaten by fish and the process repeats itself. Having too many fish in your water garden or an abundance of decomposing organic debris can dramatically increase the amount of ammonia in your pond and, in turn, can harm your fish or turn the water body into an all you can eat buffet for unwanted algae.

Put Your Water Garden to the Test
Different types of test kits are available for purchase that will allow you to measure nitrite levels and ammonia levels. Kits like our Pond Care Master Test Kit let you measure nitrites and ammonia and pH all in one package. Regularly testing the water quality of your pond will give you the ability to locate potential problems and adjust accordingly before they become a danger to your plants or fish. Your ammonia and nitrite levels should ideally be at 0 with a pH level between 6.5 and 8.5.

Are You Unbalanced!?
So you know why it is important to achieve balance in your pond, you know how to test for it, but how do you go about achieving balance? A great, natural way to combat high nitrate levels in your pond is by incorporating some aquatic plants. Plants like Water Hyacinth filter the contents of the water, helping to create a clean, clear pond. Furthermore, providing adequate filtration is key in maintaining a balanced water body. Pay attention to your fish load. The more fish available to produce waste, the more filtration will be needed to break down the resulting ammonia. A good rule of thumb is to figure one fish per ten square feet of water surface. Adding beneficial bacteria such as Nature’s Defense will further help to break down organic debris and fish waste. Using natural products and methods like those listed above will reduce your dependency on algaecides and other chemicals to fight algae blooms.

POND TALK: What products do you use to control your water gardens nitrate levels?

PondCare Master Test Kit - Complete System

What does filter media do for my water garden? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Savio Skimmer

Q. What does filter media do for my water garden? – Debbie in Illinois

Keep It Clean
With all of the pads, balls and nets in this blog you might think The Pond Guy has hung up his waders and opened a sporting goods store. Not to worry pond guys and gals, we are of course talking about filter media in your water garden.

Hey! Nice Pad!
When you look inside your filter, whether it’s a waterfall filter or pressurized filter, you may notice there are assortments of pads, balls, etc. These are called filter media. This filter media serves a vital purpose in any water garden.

Bio Blox Filter MediaFilter media are specifically designed to help colonize a ton of natural bacteria in a small area. As fish excrete waste, ammonia levels began to rise. Without enough natural bacteria, ammonia levels can become so high your fish will become stressed which can eventually to death. Natural bacteria will grow in a water garden without filter media, but unfortunately it is very minimal and never enough to keep up with high ammonia levels.

Less IS More
Many pond owners often think that a clean filter pad will lead to a cleaner pond. This is not the case. As it takes several weeks for nitrifying bacteria to colonize, many pond owners often clean their filter media as soon as it gets dirty. This unfortunately defeats the purpose of the biological functions of the filter media. Some of our readers have written in telling us that this buildup is even blocking or restricting water flow. It is most likely debris or algae being picked up from the water, not the bacteria causing this issue. If necessary, to clean filter media we highly suggest removing the filter media from the filter and placing into a bucket of “pond water” and gently swish the media back and forth. Do not scrub, or use tap water to clean the filter pads. Again, this will cause a loss in natural bacteria. If you accidentally do clean your filter pads, you can use PL Gel on your filter pads to colonize the bacteria faster. It is known throughout the pond industry to reduce colonization by up to 80%!

To prevent blockages to your biological filters use a pump pre filter or a skimmer which includes a net or debris basket along with its own filter pad. This will prevent large debris from getting to your filter. Vacuuming will pick up debris and muck from the pond floor also preventing clogs. Placing these “pre-filters” as buffers will ensure a shorter, easier cleaning time as well as make certain that your beneficial bacteria are left alone to flourish and protect your water garden.

POND TALK: How have you tackled filtration in your water garden? How often do you find yourself cleaning your filters?

Filter media is a must for healthy ponds!

Why are my goldfish changing colors? – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Why are my goldfish changing color?

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: Why are my goldfish changing colors? – Emily in New York

A: Whether you have a traditional goldfish in your pond or one of the many fancy varieties, you may notice their colors change over time – don’t worry. It doesn’t necessarily mean your fish have some sort of disease! In most cases, it’s normal for goldfish to change color. So before you start dumping antibiotics in your pond, first consider these possibilities:

Genetics

Goldfish naturally change color as they age. Though most do so during their first year or two of life, others change throughout their lifetime. Fish experts have identified two different types of color changes in fish: physiological and morphological.

Physiological changes occur when the pigments in the cells either spread out, which makes the colors more pronounced, or when the pigment clusters in the center, which makes the colors more muted. Morphological changes occur when the actual number of pigments in the cells increase or decrease. An example of a morphological change is when a black goldfish starts to turn orange or a young goldfish loses its black markings as it ages. In this case, as the fish matures, it’s losing its black pigment cells.

How and when their colors change really depends upon their individual genetic makeup. Inexpensive goldfish whose parents are unknown can change in unpredictable ways, while expensive show-quality fish will be a bit more predictable.

Color-Enhancing Foods

Certain types of food, like Pond Logic Growth & Color Fish Food, can accentuate subdued colors in goldfish, too. Sometimes, a dull orange goldfish can be made a deeper shade of red with these specially formulated diets, which contain natural color-enhancing supplements like spirulina, beta glucan, vitamin E and vitamin C.

Keep in mind, however, that some of these color-enhancers may affect other colors, too. White areas on calico orandas, for instance, may take on an orange hue – which may not be the look you’re going for.

Illness, Poor Water Quality

If your goldfish’s color becomes very dull or it starts to become inactive, that could be a sign of illness or poor water quality. Use a test kit, like the Pond Care Master Test Kit, to check your water quality, including your pH, ammonia and nitrite levels. Then, if necessary, add a broad-spectrum medication, like Pond Care’s MelaFix or PimaFix, to treat parasites or bacterial infections your fish may have.

POND TALK: Have your fish changed their “spots?”

The Science Behind Barley Straw – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of Barley Straw.

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: How does barley straw work to control algae? – Emma of Michigan

A: Barley straw is no magic bullet to rid your decorative pond of algae. But when used as a preventive measure, barley straw offers pond owners an attractive option to chemical products to manage those dreaded green blooms.

The Science Behind Barley: Barley straw has been widely used for decades to control algae blooms in many bodies of water, including large reservoirs and canals. Researchers have yet to precisely pinpoint how it works, but generally, it’s believed that the straw may alter the nutrient balance in the water, starving the algae to death, or the straw’s decomposition may be produce compounds toxic to algae.

Experts usually consider barley straw to be algistatic, or an algae preventive, rather than an algaecide, or an algae killer. It has not been found to harm fish, water fowl or pond inhabitants in any way and, in fact, some studies suggest the straw benefits fish health.

Using It In Your Pond: Science aside, what’s important to pond keepers is how to use it in their ponds. Currently, hobbyists can choose from three different types of barley products: barley straw in bale form, barley pellets and barley extract. When used correctly, each will work to suppress algae blooms in the pond.

Barley Straw Bales: Typically available loose in a mesh bag, bales of barley straw should be placed in the pond several months before bloom conditions are expected to occur (around March or April, depending on your climate) as the straw must start to decompose before it releases it’s algae-suppressing substances. One pound of barley straw will treat a 1,000-gallon pond for approximately three months. Be sure to keep the straw well-aerated, floating it near your water fall or stream or in shallow water, if possible. Besides the length of time it takes for bales to decompose another downside is that they can be counter productive if left in the pond for too long. They can eventually become a nutrient source for algae as well.

Barley Pellets: Compressed into a compact form, the barley pellets also contain all the beneficial algae-suppressing substances found in barley straw without the unsightly look of bales, pillows or pads. They’re designed to break down quickly, and produce phosphate-combating humic substances that suppress algae growth. The pellets may also buffer pH and control alkalinity in your pond. A 4.4-pound bag will treat a 150-gallon pond for up to one year or a 500-gallon pond for up to seven months; a 10.5-pound bag will treat a 1,000-gallon pond for up to nine months or a 2,500-gallon pond for up to four months.

Barley Extract PLUS: Offering the benefits of barley straw without the mess or unsightly bale floating in your pond, barley extract contains the algae-suppressing substances in liquid form. Because you don’t have to wait for the barley straw to decompose, it starts to work on contact. Another great benefit of Barley Extract PLUS is that it is enchanced with sludge-eating natural bacteria to also help reduce muck building on rocks, gravel and/or liner. An 8-ounce container treats up to 800 gallons for three months; a 16-ounce bottle treats up to 1,500 gallons for three months.

POND TALK: Have you found barley straw to effectively control algae in your decorative pond?

Reducing Foam Buildup On Your Water Garden’s Surface – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of Foam on the Water's Surface.

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: Foam seems to buildup on my water’s surface. What is causing this and can I get rid of it? – Tom of Ohio

A: Have you ever walked out towards your water garden and noticed a bunch of foam around where your waterfall comes into the pond? Sometimes this foam can get a little out of control and began to become unsightly.

Foam is the result of an excessive accumulation of organic waste in your pond caused by over population of fish, overfeeding, poor filtration, runoff and various other water quality issues. This foam will mostly occur in agitated water such as around your waterfall. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce this foam buildup. Some are quick fixes and others are more long-term solutions.

Quick Fix Solutions:

  • Use Shakedown Anti-Foamer - This anti-foamer works quickly to eliminate any foam building. Simply pour it in around foamy areas for immedate, but temporary control.
  • Surface Skimmer – If you have the pleasure of having a skimmer built into your water garden, usually the foam will be pulled right into it.
  • Partial Water Change – Replacing 10-25% of the water every few days until the problem is resolved is one way to dilute the excess organics to help reduce foam.

Long-Term Solutions:

  • Limit the amount of contributing organics by reducing fish feeding and making sure you don’t overload your water garden with fish.
  • Make sure your filtration is adequate for your sized water garden as well as your fish load.
  • Attack and reduce organic build-up an excess waste by using beneficial natural bacterias such as the DefensePAC.

Hopefully the above suggestions will help you if you are struggling with foam problem.

POND TALK: Do you have a foam problem in your water garden? What did you do to reduce the problem?

Foam is the result of an excessive accumulation of organic waste in your pond caused by over population of fish, overfeeding, poor filtration, runoff and various other water quality issues. This foam will mostly occur in agitated water such as around your waterfall. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce this foam buildup. Some are quick fixes and others are more long-term solutions.

Controlling Green Water Algae in a Water Garden – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of Green Water Algae in a Water Garden.

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: I am having a terrible time with green water in my water garden. What can I do? – Abby of California

A: It’s that time of year again when the fish are playing, flowers blooming and your backyard is once again becoming your peaceful retreat, except for that green water in your water garden. Like most of us water garden owners the highlight of our yard is our water feature but what fun are fish if you can’t see and enjoy them? Here are some considerations that may help you take back your water garden.

Filtration: Early in the season your filtration system may not be up to par with the amount of waste and debris left over from the winter months. A good spring clean out may be needed if there is an excessive amount of debris in the bottom of the water garden. If your water garden is relatively clean use a pond vacuum or application of natural bacteria may help get you on your way. This is the time of year to wash out or replace your filter pads to prepare for the coming season.

Fish Load: Have your fish been busy? If your spacious water garden is becoming a full house, it may be time to find a few friends and share the wealth.  Overcrowding is a common source for green water since the filtration system may not be large enough to handle the amount of waste being produced. A simple rule of thumb to ensure room for your fish is 1 fish for every 10 sq. ft. of surface area.

Plant Coverage or Shade: We recommend 40-60% plant coverage in your water garden. This adds to your filtration, since the plants are up taking their nutrients from the water. They also provide the added benefit of shade to help protect your fish from predators. A variety of plants should be used, including: bog(marginal), submerged, water lilies or floating plants. If your not sure what to get, you can check out our aquatic plant packages.

Help Mother Nature Out with Natural Bacteria: Once you’ve checked your filtration, fish load and plant load, it’s time to add some natural bacteria. We recommend the Pond Logic DefensePAC. The DefensePAC is an award winning water garden care system that comprises of 5 products known in the water garden industry as the 5-Steps to Clear Water. They are:

  1. Oxy-Lift Defense: The Pond Cleaner.
  2. Nature’s Defense: The Pond Balancer.
  3. Clarity Defense: The Pond Clarifier.
  4. Muck Defense: The Muck Reducer.
  5. Seasonal Defense: The Autumn, Winter Prep.

The DefensePAC is an all-in-one source for water garden maintenance and will keep your water sparking clear all season….guaranteed!

What about a UV filter?: You might be wondering why UV filtration wasn’t mentioned as a solution to green water. Indeed, it is a solution but…it is also can be a band-aid covering up a deeper problem. Always be sure that your filtration is adequate and you don’t have too many fish! You should also be using your test kit to make sure your water is safe for your fish. If everything checks
out ok a UV may be a good tool as long as it is not the only one. Just remember if everything mentioned above is in check the green water should take care of itself and you will have a healthier overall ecosystem.

POND TALK: What kind of green water problems have you had? And what did you do to fix them? Please comment and let me know.

How Do I Combat String Algae in my Water Feature? – Water Feature Q & A

Picture of String Algae

Water Feature Q & A

Q: I have a 1,000 gallon pond and already the string algae is starting. I am sick of constantly cleaning it. Any ideas? – Steve of New York

A: Like Steve many of you find yourselves in this same situation, where it seems like you are battling algae year after year with no end in sight. The thing I want you to know is that in order to fully understand how to control algae, you really have to understand how it develops in the first place.

The Key Ingredient:
One of the key ingredients for algae to grow is a food source (aka Nitrates). And I’ll have to say in almost every water feature that has a bad algae problem, it is the abundant fish load that is causing the issue. So why does an abundant fish load cause algae? When fish eat they over time, like every living creature, will have to excrete the waste (aka ammonia). This ammonia, when filtered properly, will breakdown into nitrates (aka food source). Make sense so far? This food source is then eaten by algae. From there some of the algae will be eaten by the fish and thus the cycle, the nitrogen cycle of life, begins again.

So the bottom line here is: If we have control of the food source (aka Nitrates), we have control of the algae. I have mentioned this before in the past, but it bears repeating.

Keep Fish Loads to a Minimum:
I know you love your fish and this is a touchy subject. But if you plan to have sixty 12″ koi in a 1,000 gallon pond, your going to have an algae problem and it won’t be inexpensive to get a hold of. When calculating your fish load think of it in pounds of fish or total inches. For example, one 6” fish can weigh as much as four 4” fish. The number of fish will affect the overall fish load, although 10 small fish may only produce the waste of one large fish. With this said, remember that your fish are growing and in many cases multiplying. Always plan for the future and be careful not to overstock your water feature.

Proper Filtration:
The size and type of your filtration system will depend on your total fish load. If your filter is not properly sized for max potential, your fish will outgrow the filter. When this happens, ammonia levels can reach to lethal levels. In most cases filters on the market are rated for ponds containing no fish or a minimal fish load. It is always best to get a filter that is rated for at least 2x the water volume of your pond.

Aquatic Plants:
Aquatic plants and algae will compete for the same food source in order to grow. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather see a few beautiful water liles then green slime. A simple rule of thumb is to have 60% plant coverage. This should consist of submerged, floating and marginal plants. Floating plants, such as Water Hyacinths & Water Lettuce, are fantastic at pulling nitrates from the water. I recommend putting a few into your waterfall filter box if you have one. Rooted plants, such as water lilies and marginal plants, create a great place for your fish to hide from predators. Please note when aquatic plants are not present, algae will take their place. See our selection of aquatic plants here.

Beneficial Natural Bacteria :
I’m sure you hear this a lot nowadays as to why you should be adding beneficial natural bacteria to your water feature. The reason is because it is another reducer of nitrates. One  product to check out for this is called the DefensePAC. It is a combination of five products that provide beneficial bacteria, trace minerals, and a fish and plant safe pond cleaner. The DefensePAC works to breakdown fish waste, leaves or other organics that accumulate in the pond. These are essential to maintain a clean, clear and healthy ecosystem. The best of all, one DefensePAC lasts up to 6 months for a 2,000 gallon water feature.

How Do I Get Rid of Brown Tea Colored Water? – Water Garden Q & A

Activated Carbon


Q: I have brown tea colored water and I can’t seem to get it cleared up. Is there something that will remove color from my water? – Karen of Oklahoma

A: Brown or tea-colored water is generally caused from “tannins” in the water. As leaves or other vegetation accumulate and decay in the water garden, they begin to leech these tannins dying the water a brown or tea-color.

The Solution:
Activated Carbon. Activated Carbon absorbs tannins and other toxins such as chlorine from city water. Place the activated carbon in a fine mesh bag and place in your skimmer or filter box. If you don’t have either of these, simply place it near your pump or in the area of your pond that receives the best circulation. The water must run “through” the carbon to work. Typically 4-6 lbs. will treat 1,000 gallons for 2-3 months.

Pond Netting

Use Pond Neting to stop leafs from discoloring your water and adding muck to the bottom of you pond this fall with a heavy duty leaf net.

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