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Do I just throw MuckAway tablets into the pond from the shore? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Do I just throw MuckAway tablets into the pond from the shore?

Q: Do I just throw MuckAway tablets into the pond from the shore?

Rich – Callahan, FL

A: MuckAway™ Pond Muck Reducer does a number on muck. The special blend of aerobic beneficial bacteria digests organic debris (a.k.a. muck), improves water clarity and eliminates noxious odors. The precision-release pellets are easy to use, and they’re perfect for battling built-up sludge anywhere in your pond.

But there is a way to best apply MuckAway™. Here’s what we recommend.

  • Disburse Evenly: Whether you’re using MuckAway™ near the shoreline or across your entire pond, the pellets will need to be spread evenly across the treatment area. Plan to use one scoop per 1,000 square feet.
  • Use a Boat: If you are treating the entire pond or lake, consider using a boat for uniform MuckAway™ dispersal. Individual tablets that are spread very far apart (tossed from the shore) will not have as dramatic an impact on muck as those that are densely and evenly distributed.
  • Consider MuckAway™ TL: A large pond or lake may need the super sludge-busting power of MuckAway™ TL Pond Muck Reducer. When used as directed, it’s designed to break down up to 2″ of muck per month!
  • Combine Forces: Many customers choose to use a one-two punch when contending with water clarity issues. They’ll use PondClear™ Beneficial Bacteria water soluble packets to clean and clear the water column, and MuckAway™ or MuckAway™ TL to break down the sunken muck around often-used areas, like the pond perimeter and beach areas.

You can increase the effectiveness of MuckAway™ and MuckAway™ TL by raking out any large, long-to-decompose debris from the pond before you begin treatments. This allows those aerobic beneficial bacteria to target the fine debris that’s difficult to remove.

Airmax® Aeration is also key to helping your bacteria be more effective at battling muck. The moving, aerated water provides both oxygen and circulation, which creates an ideal environment for MuckAway™ or MuckAway™ TL to flourish. Looking for proof? Check out our Fox Lake Field Study. It shows the results of what happens to muck when MuckAway™ TL and aeration are used together.

Pond Talk: How do you use MuckAway™ in your pond or lake?

Remove Up To 5 Inches of Muck Per Year - Pond Logic® MuckAway™

I think I have a muskrat visiting my pond. How can I know for sure? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I think I have a muskrat visiting my pond. How can I know for sure?

Q: I think I have a muskrat visiting my pond. How can I know for sure?

Elizabeth – Portland, IN

A: The muskrat, scientific name Ondatra Zibethica, is a common critter that’s widely distributed throughout North America. This furbearing rodent depends on habitats with water – including lakes, rivers, creeks, ponds and marshes – so your visitor could very well be a muskrat. Read on to learn how to identify them and how to prevent these troublemakers from damaging your pond.

IDing a Muskrat

Weighing only 2 to 4 pounds and measuring 22 to 25 inches (including its nearly hairless, scaly tail that it uses to propel through the water), the muskrat is covered in short, dense fur in shades of brown, grey and blonde. It has relatively small front feet with four major toes and small thumbs. Its hind feet are much larger and partially webbed to assist with swimming.

The small-eyed, small-eared muskrat is classified as a rodent because of its four incisor teeth in the front of its mouth. The two upper and two lower incisors overlap, allowing them to self-sharpen as they are used. Folds of skin behind the incisors allow a submerged muskrat to cut vegetation without getting water into its mouth.

The “musk” part of the critter’s moniker derives from musk glands that are predominant beneath the skin on the male’s lower abdomen. In the spring, the glands swell and produce a yellowish, musky-smelling fluid.

Home Sweet Home

So what do muskrats look for in a home? They like a spot that includes a plenty of food, a body of water and shoreline vegetation. These guys chow on a variety of greens and protein, including roots, stems and buds as well as frogs, snails and fish.

Besides eating cattails and other marginal aquatic plants, muskrats also use their honed teeth to cut down the plants and use them as building materials for their dome-shaped lodges located on stream or pond banks. Muskrat houses are smaller than beaver dens, but they do have one or more underwater entrances. They commonly house an entire family group, which can multiply in a short amount of time.

If you think your pond is home to a growing family of muskrats, look for lodges and burrows made from foliage and mud along the pond bank. Check for their distinctive tracks. And keep an eye out for them at dawn or dusk when they’re most active.

Damage Control

Uncontrolled muskrat populations can cause damage to private property and habitat. Their hole digging activities undermine earthen dams, dikes, irrigation canals and farm ponds. Their burrows and shelters may change the direction of water flow into or out of the pond.

The best way to discourage them from moving in is to keep shoreline vegetation – their food and shelter material – to a minimum. Use your rakes and cutters to chop down marginal plants and remove them from the pond area. In addition, try using a coyote decoy, muskrat live trap or motion-activated animal deterrent to scare them away.

Pond Talk: Have you ever contended with a muskrat colony? How did you convince them to move out?

Deter Pests From Your Pond - Bird-X 3D-Coyote Decoy

My pond was a mess, so I drained and refilled it. Now I have algae. What do I do? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My pond was a mess, so I drained and refilled it. Now I have algae. What do I do?

Q: My pond was a mess, so I drained and refilled it. Now I have algae. What do I do?

Beth – Benton, AR

A: Sometimes it’s just easier to start from scratch – particularly if you have a disaster in your pond.

A complete water change rids your water feature of excess organic waste, clears up murky water (briefly, as you’ve discovered) and gives you a chance to start over with a clean slate. Those are some worthy benefits!

The urge to purge, however, has its drawbacks. If you’ve completely drained the water from your pond and scrubbed everything clean, you’ve also stripped a lot of the beneficial bacteria that was working to help clean the pond in the first place! The algae that’s growing now is most likely due to fish waste and a lack of mature filtration.

To return your pond to its crystal-clear state, here’s what we recommend.

  1. Decide how bad it really is: Believe it or not, some algae in your pond is natural and beneficial as it helps filter the water. Make sure your expectations are in line with the reality of having a pond, and then let the pond take its natural course with a little help from you. But be patient! The Nitrogen Cycle will eventually help clear things up naturally – but it takes time. If your water quality begins to suffer a few weeks in, think about doing a partial water change and/or following these additional suggestions.
  2. Treat if necessary: If the algae is becoming excessive, treat the algae growth with an algaecide in the morning or evening when water temperatures are cooler. In addition, make sure you have adequate aeration to ensure oxygen levels stay high for your finned friends.
  3. Seed Your Filter Media: To kick-start the regrowth and reproduction of beneficial bacteria in your pond, add some DefensePAC® to your pond and filter. The package contains Nature’s Defense®, which instantly begins breaking down dead organics in the pond; Clarity Defense®, which helps clear debris suspended in the water column; and Muck Defense®, which attacks buildup on the liner, rocks and gravel.
  4. Condition the water: When you refill your pond with water, be sure to use Stress Reducer PLUS to condition the water and reduce fish stress. It helps your fish form a beneficial slime coat that’s lost from stress or handling, and it also makes tap water safe by working to remove chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals.
  5. Learn from the situation: Instead of letting your pond fall into its “mess” state again, figure out why it wound up in that situation in the first place. Are there too many fish living in your pond? Is your filter too small for your pond’s volume and fish load? Do you need more plants growing in and filtering the water? Does your pond receive too much sun or rain runoff? Dig down to the root cause of the problem and correct it!

In the future, if you find your pond’s water quality waning, consider doing a partial water change instead of a complete water change. A little fresh water will go far to clear things up without having to start completely over!

Pond Talk: Have you ever had to restart your pond from scratch?

Immediately Remove String Algae - CrystalClear® AlgaeOff®

How often are you really supposed to wash out your filter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How often are you really supposed to wash out your filter?

Q: How often are you really supposed to wash out your filter?

Al – Greenville, RI

A: The filtration system in your pond is made up of two parts: the mechanical filter and the biological filter. They both clean and clarify the water, but they do so in very different ways and require very different cleaning regimens to keep them optimally operating.

The Mechanical Filter

The skimmer or pump sock make up your mechanical filter. Able to function at all temperatures (as long as the water is liquid), their main purpose is to catch larger debris, like chunks of algae, leaves, foliage and other things that blow into your pond and settle on the water surface. These items are collected in a mat or debris net/basket as the water passes through the mechanical filter, which then protects the pump from clogging.

Cleaning the mechanical filter is easy. You simply remove the mat or debris net/basket, dump out the debris and rinse it with a garden hose. This can be done as often as you like or as needed when you see the water flow slow down. In fact, checking it often is a good idea, particularly in spring and fall when debris tends to collect in a pond.

The Biological Filter

Your waterfall box, pressurized filter and in-pond filter filled with beneficial bacteria-covered filter media make up your biological filter. Their main purpose is to break down tiny, suspended debris, resulting in crystal clear water.

Here’s how it works: Unlike a mechanical filter that physically removes debris, a biological filter works at a microscopic level. Aerobic beneficial bacteria colonize and flourish on the surface area of filter media – like BioBalls™, mats and the like. As the water passes through the filter media, the bacteria feed on the debris and remove it from the water. Because the beneficial bacteria are living microorganisms, they function best when water temperatures are near or above 50 degrees Fahrenheit when they’re alive and kicking.

You don’t really “clean” a biological filter at all because you want to retain as much of the beneficial bacteria as possible. In the early spring, perform a cleanout and seed with natural bacteria like Microbe-Lift® PL Gel or Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense® to give your filter a fresh start. Throughout the season, do a mild rinse in a bucket of pond water only when the water flow begins to decline. Each time to clean or rinse your filter media, add a dose of Microbe-lift® PL Gel or bacteria from the Pond Logic® DefensePAC® to re-seed the bacteria and replenish any bacteria loss.

Though it may be tempting, don’t power wash or swap out filter media mats. This strips the beneficial bacteria, which may take weeks to replenish! In the meantime, algae will feed on the unfiltered nutrients in the pond water, and you’ll see your water quality diminish as fish waste accumulates – which is something you don’t want!

Pond Talk: What’s your mechanical and biological filter cleaning routine?

Promote Healthy Filters - Pond Logic® DefensePAC®

I have water shield. What should I use, and will it hurt the lilies I want to keep? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I have water shield. What should I use, and will it hurt the lilies I want to keep?

Q: I have water shield. What should I use, and will it hurt the lilies I want to keep?

Gordon – Spring Mills, PA

A: Water shield, scientific name Brasenia schreberi, can be a tough enemy to battle one it is established in your pond – but with some effort and the right tools this invasive aquatic plant can be controlled. Here’s what you need to know.

Water Shield Identification

Water shield, also known as Dollar Bonnet, is a floating-leaved plant that produces a small, oval pad like a water lily but without its noticeable V-shaped cutout. The leaves appear green on top and reddish-purple on the bottom and stems, and they have a distinctive gelatinous slime on their undersides. The plant also produces small, dull purple or reddish flowers that rise above the surface and consist of three to four sepals and petals.

Like other invasive aquatic plants, water shield spreads via seeds and its root system – which makes it doubly difficult to control. Beneath the surface, the long leaf stems reach the bottom where they attach to long creeping root stalks that are anchored in the mud. To control the plant, you really need to destroy the entire plant, roots and all.

Battling Water Shield

You could try to control this problem plant mechanically by cutting and yanking it with razors and rakes, but that won’t be enough to get rid of it. The plant will just regrow from its remaining roots. And if you want to attempt biological control, you’re out of luck as one doesn’t exist.

Destroying this plant means bringing out the big guns: the chemicals. Active ingredients that have been proven successful in treating water shield which include glyphosate and diquat.

Pond Logic® Shoreline Defense® Aquatic Herbicide contains glyphosate, which is a systemic killer that will work all the way down to the plant’s roots after a single use. It has no water use or temperature restrictions, so you can safely use it in ponds used for drinking water, livestock and irrigation.

Another option is Pond Logic® Ultra PondWeed Defense® Aquatic Herbicide. It’s a quick-fix solution that will kill the floating water shield foliage and tackle some other nuisance weeds in your pond. However, it may not penetrate down to the roots so you’ll need to use it repeatedly, and it has some water use restrictions associated with it.

What About the Lilies?

Both Shoreline Defense® and Ultra PondWeed Defense® should be combined with Treatment Booster™ PLUS are applied via a tank sprayer to the foliage that’s on the water surface. If you carefully spray the herbicide onto the water shield leaves on a calm day and prevent any from landing on your water lilies, they’ll be just fine!

One word of caution: Chemical control brings with it a chance of oxygen depletion caused by the decomposition of dead plant materials. If your pond is heavily infested, treat the weeds in sections, and let each section decompose for about two weeks before treating another section. Be sure to keep your aeration system running.

Pond Talk: Have you battled water shield in your pond or lake? If so, how did you win the fight?

Control Persistent Aquatic Weeds - Pond Logic® Shoreline Defense®

I’m tired of fighting algae. Will a UV take care of all the algae growth? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I’m tired of fighting algae. Will a UV take care of all the algae growth?

Q: I’m tired of fighting algae. Will a UV take care of all the algae growth?

Cherice – Everett, GA

A: Who isn’t tired of battling algae!

Caused by excess fish waste and dead organics from leaves or previous algae blooms combined with excessive spring- and summertime sunlight, all that garish green growth looks horrible, ruins your water quality, and creates a headache for you and your fish.

Is an ultraviolet clarifier, like The Pond Guy® PowerUV™ Clarifiers or the AllClear™ PLUS Pressurized Filter the answer? It depends on the type of algae you’re trying to destroy.

Know Your Algae

The algae that forms in your pond comes in two basic flavors: planktonic and filamentous.

  • Planktonic algae, the source of pea soup algae blooms, are floating, microscopic plants that color pond water shades of green, blue-green, brown or variations in between. In controlled amounts, this type of algae can actually be beneficial. It’s considered the start of the pond food chain as the tiny plants feed fish inhabitants, and it can also shade the pond’s bottom, preventing subsurface nuisance plants from growing. In uncontrolled amounts, however, planktonic algae can cause oxygen depletions and fish kill.
  • Filamentous (string) algae are single-celled plants that form long, visible chain, threads or filaments. These threads, which start growing along the bottom of the pond in shallow water or on rocks or other aquatic plants, intertwine and form mats that resemble wet wool. When these mats rise to the surface, they’re commonly referred to as pond scum. These mats make great homes for micro- and macro-invertebrates, like bugs and worms, but they’re also unsightly.

UV clarifiers work by destroying the ultrafine planktonic algae – but, unfortunately, they do nothing to combat the filamentous algae. You’ll need a different strategy for the stringy stuff.

Battling Planktonic Algae

So how does ultraviolet light fight planktonic algae? When the algae cells are exposed to the bulb’s ultraviolet rays, radiation destroys the plants’ cellular walls. As a result, the tiny particles of dead algae clump together, and those clumps are then removed by your mechanical filtration system.

For the UV clarifier to work properly, however, follow these guidelines:

  • Replace bulbs yearly. Worn-out bulbs – even if they still light up – may not be as effective at controlling green water.
  • Watch your flow rate. Pushing water past the UV too fast can damage the unit and not allow enough contact time with the UV bulb for it to be effective.
  • Don’t flow too slow. Running a UV at too slow of a flow will act as a sterilizer and may also have a negative affect on natural bacteria meant to help decompose dead organics and fish waste.

Finding Balance

If you have an algae problem, be it planktonic or filamentous, it indicates your pond is out of balance. An ultraviolet clarifier should actually be one of your last tactics! Add some beneficial bacteria from the Pond Logic® DefensePAC® Pond Care Package to help reduce the amount of organics in your pond. Start aerating the water. Consider using pond dye. If you have a thriving fish population, think about finding a new home for them (but don’t release them into the wild!). Manage the nutrients, sunlight and oxygen levels, and your algae proliferation should naturally level out on its own.

Pond Talk: How dependent are you on your ultraviolet clarifier?

Eliminate Green Water - The Pond Guy® PowerUV™

What is the best way to keep herons from eating my fish? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: What is the best way to keep herons from eating my fish?

Q: What is the best way to keep herons from eating my fish?

Jim – Milford, MI

A: Herons are beautiful birds – but they see your fish as their own personal sushi bar. Because they’re intelligent creatures, you’ll need to get creative when it comes to keeping them at bay. Before we dive into scare-away strategies, let’s learn more about them.

IDing a Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Herons’ range covers the entire North American continent. They’re partial migrants; they summer in the upper Midwest and Canada, winter in Mexico and hang out all over the rest of the United States all year long.

Sporting blue-gray plumage with a black stripe over their eyes and a thick dagger-like beak – not to mention a 6-foot wing span and 4-foot-long body – these guys are easy to spot. They stand like statues or walk slowly on long legs as they stalk fish and other prey in freshwater ponds, saltwater wetlands, estuaries, grasslands and fields.

In the air, these big birds fly with slow wing beats, reaching 30 miles per hour and at an altitude of 80 to 90 feet as they scan the land below for reflections in fish ponds. When they find one that looks appetizing, they’ll quietly cruise in and wade like feathered ninjas, waiting for their next meal to hop, walk or swim by. They’ll eat anything within striking distance, from fish and amphibians to reptiles, small mammals, insects and even other birds.

Herons prefer hunting, foraging and dining alone. In fact, they’ll fiercely defend their territory, putting on dramatic displays of dominance should a competitor fly in. They’ll throw their heads back, point their bill skyward and outstretch their wings, chasing the other bird (or human!) away.

Protecting Your Fish

Because of the herons ninja-like skills, you might not know right away if one has been nabbing your fish – especially if you have a larger pond. If your fish were used to being fed in particular spot and tended to hang out around the edge but suddenly stay away or loiter at the bottom, that’s a sign that something’s amiss.

So how can you discourage the birds from seeing your pond as their dinner table? Here are some tricks to try:

  • Use a heron decoy. A decoy like the Pond Logic® Blue Heron Decoy, in your pond. Herons are territorial, and so if they see that another heron has claimed the pond, they’ll keep flying by. Pro tip: Avoid using heron decoys during mating season, which is generally April and May but may vary depending on your location. The decoy may actually attract birds looking for a mate …
  • Create obstacles around the pond. Herons land around the perimeter of a pond and walk up to the water. Obstacles, like clear fishing line strung around the pond perimeter make access difficult by creating an impassable barrier that they would need to step over. Don’t worry: It won’t obscure your view of the pond.
  • Startle them with water. For ponds smaller than 1200 sq. ft. a motion-activated sprayer, like the Contech ScareCrow®, detects movement up to 40 feet away and spritzes the predator with water. It’s designed to startle them and scare them away.
  • Provide hiding places for your fish. Just in case a heron does find its way into your pond, give your fish a place to hide. Portions of submerged large-diameter pipe or beds of weeds work well, as does the addition or other fish habitat.

Experts recommend using a variety of methods to chase away these hungry birds because they will eventually figure out the decoy, obstacles and sprays of water are harmless. But be vigilant! Your fish will appreciate the effort!

Pond Talk: How do you scare away heron from your pond or lake?

Protect Your Fish From Predators - Pond Logic® Blue Heron Decoy

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