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If I can’t do a big spring cleanout on my pond, what is the best way to get the debris out of the pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: If I can’t do a big spring cleanout on my pond, what is the best way to get the debris out of the pond?

Q: If I can’t do a big spring cleanout on my pond, what is the best way to get the debris out of the pond?

Maggie – Amherst, OH

A: An annual spring cleanout is an important chore when you own a backyard pond. It’s when you remove all the decaying organics that collected over the winter, trim back dead foliage, kick on your filtration and aeration systems, and generally spruce things up around your water garden wonderland.

But what if your pond was well-sheltered and protected from leaves and debris, or you live in a temperate climate where a total pond shutdown was unnecessary? Or what if you simply don’t have time to dedicate to all that cleaning and maintenance?

Well we have some shortcuts for you. Though it may be better in the long run to do a thorough cleanout at the start of the season, these five tips will cut down the time it takes to do your spring chores.

  1. Do a Partial Water Change: To help remove some floating and suspended debris, do a partial water change. Let 10 to 20 percent of your water drain from the pond, and add fresh water along with some Pond Logic® Stress Reducer PLUS to remove heavy metals and prevent your fish from getting too stressed.
  2. Add Some Shine: Oxy-Lift™ Defense® will quickly shine up your waterfalls and shoreline rocks. It’s simple to use: As you’re doing your partial water change, sprinkle Oxy-Lift™ Defense® on scum-covered rocks, streams and liner before you refill your pond. In just 24 hours, you’ll see the gunk break free with no scrubbing at all!
  3. Vacuum Debris: Use your ClearVac™ Pond Vacuum to easily suck up gunk, sludge and decaying organics on the pond bottom. It has four different attachments – gravel, string algae, narrow and wide – along with extension tubes, so you can vacuum almost any surface. For debris larger than 3/8 inch, simply pull out your Collapsible Skimmer and Fish Net and scoop it out.
  4. Add Seasonal Defense®: To break down debris that your pond vacuum missed, add some Seasonal Defense® beneficial bacteria to the water. The microorganisms, which are designed to work in cooler temperatures, will break down leaves and sediment that have collected over the winter. It also kick-starts your pond’s biological filtration system, priming it for summer.
  5. Rinse Your Filter Media: Finally, remove your filter media and give it quick rinse with your garden hose to break up and wash away any accumulated gunk. No need to scrub it too thoroughly; the bacteria living in the pads or BioBalls™ will come back to life once temperatures rise.

Of course, for a truly healthy pond, we still recommend a complete cleanout. We’ll describe those chores in depth over the coming weeks. But for now, this quick fix will get the debris out of your pond, giving it a facelift for spring soirees.

Pond Talk: What shortcuts do you use to skirt spring chores?

Reduce Timely Pond Maintenance - The Pond Guy® ClearVac™ Pond Vacuum

I know bass are good predator fish to put in a pond, but does it matter if they are largemouth or smallmouth bass? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I know bass are good predator fish to put in a pond, but does it matter if they are largemouth or smallmouth bass?

Q: I know bass are good predator fish to put in a pond, but does it matter if they are largemouth or smallmouth bass?

Joe – Alhambra, IL

A: Bass – both largemouth and smallmouth – make excellent predator fish. These strong, scrappy guys keep your bluegill population in check. They chase frogs, eat crustaceans and snails, and even catch unsuspecting birds and rodents like small muskrats. They’re a definite asset in your pond or lake.

These two fish cousins, however, have their differences. Read on to learn which is better suited to your pond or lake.

Distinct Differences

Though they’re both species of fish in the sunfish family, largemouth and smallmouth bass have different physical characteristics. The largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, sports a big grin that extends way back beyond its eye, while the smallmouth bass, Micropterus dolomieu, has a smaller smile that reaches only to the middle of its eye. They also differ in their color and color patterns; the olive green largemouth has dark blotches of scales that run horizontally down its flank, and the brassy brown smallmouth has dark scales that run vertically.

Happy Habitats

These freshwater fishes both thrive in lakes, ponds and rivers, but each species has its preference. Largemouth bass favor crystal clear lakes with 2 to 6 feet of water, and sandy shallows and abundant rooted aquatic plants for spawning. They flourish in warmer water – even enjoying 80 to 90 degree temperatures in the summertime.

Smallmouth bass, however, are primarily river dwellers that like to hang out around pea-size to 1-inch-diameter gravel for spawning. They’ll tolerate lakes and ponds, but they like the steady current and higher rate of dissolved oxygen it provides. They also like water temperatures a bit cooler; anything warmer than 90 degrees F is lethal to smallmouth bass.

Food for Thought

These fishes also have different tastes in food. Largemouth bass aren’t too picky. They’ll gobble through a variety of foodstuffs, from Game Fish Grower Food to smaller fish like shad, perch, bluegill and sunfish. Smallmouth bass, however, stick to the bottom of the lake or river and nosh on crustaceans, insects and smaller fish.

Potential Pondmates?

Because both these guys are fun and challenging to fish, it would be fantastic to have both species in your pond or lake, wouldn’t it?

Large- and smallmouth bass can live together, but it takes the help of an attentive game fish manager to make that happen. The general consensus from most experts is that the largemouths will typically replace smallmouths in smaller pond settings unless subadult or adult smallies are introduced annually. Even if you provide an ideal spawning environment for them, the largemouths will still edge them out.

Bottom line: You’re better off with the largemouths. They’re easier to keep, and they adapt more readily to a pond- or lake-type environment.

Pond Talk: What types of game fish do you have in your pond or lake?

Promote Rapid Fish Growth - The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower Fish Food

Brown or Tea-Colored Water – How to remove brown or tea-colored water from your pond | Learning Center

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

How to Determine the Cause
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.

How to Treat the Problem
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.

Prevention
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™ Net Kit or The Pond Guy® Premium Pond Netting.

Fertilizing Aquatic Plants – Keeping your aquatic plant blooming at their best | Learning Center

Behind the scenes your Aquatic Plants are working hard to filter nutrients from the water in your pond, provide shelter for its residents, and keep algae blooms to a minimum. While this may seem impressive to some, it is hard for most pond owners to get excited about aquatic plants unless they can do all of this work while looking good. Whoever coined the phrase “Looks aren’t everything” obviously never owned a water garden.

Choosing a Fertilizer
If your aquatic plants are failing to impress you can use some plant fertilizer to give them the boost they need to ensure your pond has more buds and less duds this season. The type of fertilizer you use will depend on the type of plants in your pond and how they are implemented.

Liquid fertilizers like Microbe-Lift® Bloom & Grow™ are mixed directly into your pond water, providing a readily available food source throughout the entire pond. This type of application is great for ponds with an abundance of scattered plants, Floating Plants, and plants that are in areas lacking planting media.

Concentrated fertilizers like CrystalClear® Thrive™ and Laguna Plant Grow Fertilizer Spikes are used for potted plants or plants with roots planted in media. Simply push these fertilizers into the planting media and they will gradually release nutrients that your plants need. When you are using concentrated fertilizers in your pond, carefully read the directions for each individual product for specific application instructions and warnings. For example you will want to place them about 3” away from the crown of the plant to ensure the fertilizer does not burn the roots or stem.

Feed Regularly
The amount of fertilizer you need and intervals at which you re-apply them will depend on which type you are using and variable factors such as average water temperatures and how many plants are in the pond. Applications can range from once a season to every 2-4 weeks. Whichever type or brand of fertilizer you use in your pond make sure it is low in or completely free of phosphates which can encourage algae growth.

Watch Them Grow
Fertilizing your plants will encourage increased growth and color in healthy plants to push them to perform at their best. Fertilizers will not be effective substitutes for gardening know how. If your plants are constantly dyeing make sure they are being planted in the right Temperature Zone and are being used in the correct applications. Bog Plants like Dwarf Cattails for example should not be entirely submerged in your pond, tropical plants like Antares should not be planted in cold climates and so on. This may also indicate that it may be time to divide your aquatic plants.

Do some homework, read the descriptions and text included with your plants and fertilizers to ensure you select the correct products for you unique water gardening scenario. Once your aquatic plants are established and growing, you can then decide if you need to fertilize to keep them blooming at their best.

Types of Water Features – Finding the right type of water feature for your backyard landscape | Learning Center

Water Gardening has grown from the standard formal Koi pond into all type and shapes of water features. Rocks, fountains, statuary, waterfalls and streams can be combined with the pond to add visual interest or become its own feature. With so many types to choose from anyone can add a water feature to their backyard landscape.

Preformed Pond
Typical “Do It Yourself” beginner pond usually purchased as a kit at Lowe’s or Home Depot. A hole is dug into the ground with the same layout and the preform shell is inserted to hold the water. In-pond filtration systems are easy to install and can hold a few colorful fish and some aquatic plants. This pond type is where many customers begin before upgrading to a more custom pond design.

Liner Pond
Also a “Do It Yourself” Kit construction or an elaborate professional installation. These features use a flexible EPDM rubber liner. Rubber liners allow for more creativity when constructing the shape of your pond and are often decorated with rocks and waterfalls. These ponds are generally larger and utilize waterfalls, pressurized filters and bog filtration to provide circulation and filtration. These ponds can contain many colorful koi or goldfish as well as a variety of aquatic plants. With the flexibility of the liner these ponds tend to bland into the surrounding environment and look more natural.

Pondless Water Feature
Pondless features are just that, a feature such as a waterfall but without the pond. These features use a catch basin to gather water. These basins are filled fill rocks to allow water to pass through without seeing an open body of water. Customers concerned with safety, working with smaller areas or are on-the-go and don’t have time for a full pond love this option because of the ability to enhance their landscape with less maintenance.

Disappearing Fountain
This fountain feature also uses a catch basin to re-circulate water however instead of a waterfall a decorative fountain, pot or rock can function as the water feature focal point. This type of feature requires little room, provides the sound of running water and is less maintenance.

Container Water Garden
The smallest of water features this type of “pond” can make use of any type of decorative pot. Simply place a few potted aquatic plants, maybe a fish or two, and you are done. Great for decks and patios!

Selecting an Aeration System – How to select the right size system for your pond | Learning Center

Adding an aeration system is key for creating the perfect pond. The benefits provided by bottom diffused aeration will keep your pond clean and your fish happy all season long. By aerating your pond from the bottom up, you will circulate incredible amounts of water, drastically improving the dissolved oxygen levels in your water column. This in turn will allow for increased levels of beneficial bacteria to accumulate in your pond.

It can be tricky figuring out the right aeration system for a pond, particularly if it’s oddly shaped, but it’s important to get it right. If your aeration system is not sized correctly, you could risk reducing the oxygen levels and building up toxic gas in the water, resulting in an increased chance of fish kills, algae blooms and thick pond muck – not something you want in your pond.

We offer aeration options for ponds of all sizes and shapes. Choosing the best Airmax® Aeration System for your pond will depend on two basic factors: your pond’s size and its shape.

Pond Size
You need to know your pond’s size in order to select a unit that’s capable of circulating and oxygenating all the wet stuff in your pond. To calculate your pond’s size, you’ll need to measure its length, width and depth.

Of those numbers, depth is the most critical component when choosing an aeration system. The deeper your pond, the more efficiently and effectively a bottom diffuser plate will aerate it. If your pond is shallow or irregularly shaped, you’ll need more diffuser plates to adequately aerate the water.

We offer made-in-the-USA aerators for both shallow-water and deep-water ponds of various sizes, including:

  • Shallow Water Series™ Aeration System: We suggest this system for ponds up to ½ acre, up to 6 feet deep that require multiple aeration plates due to depth restrictions. It’s designed to provide maximum aeration and circulation in even the shallowest water bodies via its powerful dual-diaphragm compressor and weighted diffusers.
  • PondSeries™ Aeration System: We recommend this single-plate to four-plate system for ponds up to 4 acres, up to 21 feet deep. It can be easily adapted to fit small or odd-shaped ponds for maximum aeration and even circulation.
  • LakeSeries™ Aeration System: For ponds up to 6 acres, up to 50 feet deep, try this system that’s capable of aerating even the largest ponds and lakes. It features a more spacious Airmax® Composite Cabinet with enhanced cooling and minimal maintenance.

Pond Shape
Finally, pond shape plays an important role in ensuring proper aeration. For simple, contiguous shapes like circles and ovals, a standard aeration system like the Pond Series or Lake Series will fully circulate all of the water without the risk of stagnation. If you have an odd-shaped lake or one with interconnecting segments and angles, consider using a system with multiple aeration plates.

Now sure how to calculate your pond volume or choose the best aeration system for your pond or lake? Call us at 866-766-3435 for our free aerial mapping service, or use the Online Aeration Mapping Service for sizing. We’ll help you to make the right aeration decision – for you and your pond!

Pond Capacity – How to determine the water volume in your pond | Learning Center

Gallons matter. Knowing how much water your pond holds will help you determine the size of aeration and filtration systems you need. It will also help you properly dose your pond with commonly used pond products and determine how many fish your pond can house.

So how do you calculate this all-important figure? Put on your thinking cap, because we’re revisiting some high school geometry.

Rectangular Ponds
The easiest ponds to measure are those that resemble a rectangle. If you’ll recall from geometry class, you can calculate a rectangle’s volume by multiplying its length by its width by its height, so L x W x H.

First, to get your length and width, measure your pond at its longest point and its widest point. Figuring out its depth is a bit trickier, particularly if you have plant shelves or if the pond has a slope. If it is the same depth throughout, use that number in your formula. If you have a plant shelf or the depth varies, measure the maximum depth and cut it in half to create an average depth. For instance, let’s say the pond is four feet at its deepest but has some shallow areas for plants. Use half of that depth, or two feet, for your formula.

So let’s put this in real terms: If your pond is 15 feet long by 10 feet wide by 2 feet deep, your pond’s volume is 300 cubic feet. One cubic foot holds 7.48 gallons of water, so multiply 300 by 7.48 to get your total – which equals 2,244 gallons.

Circular Ponds
If your pond is round or oval, you’ll start by using the formula to find the surface area of a circle – which is Pi x Radius2 , or 3.14 x R x R. The radius of your pond is half the distance across, so if your pond is a 10 foot circle, the radius is 5 feet. Your formula will look like this: 3.14 x 5 x 5 = 78.5.

Next, figure out your pond’s depth, just like we did with the rectangular pond. If it’s 4 feet deep with plant shelves and sloped sides, use 2 feet. Then multiply that number by your surface area: 78.5 x 2 = 157 cubic feet.

Finally, convert that number into gallons. One cubic foot holds 7.48 gallons of water, so 157 x 7.48 = 1,174 gallons.

Irregular Shaped Ponds
The more irregular your pond’s shape, the less accurate your measurement will become – but it’s OK. In most cases, you don’t need to pinpoint its volume to the exact gallon. Use whichever formula best resembles your pond’s shape. For instance, if your pond is kidney shaped, use the rectangle formula and remember that the final figure will be slightly higher.

Playing with the Numbers
With your newfound numbers, head over to The Pond Guy’s® online calculator where you can plug in those figures and see how many boulders you need, how many fish your pond can hold, what pump size you need and more.

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