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I want to upgrade my filtration system. What are my options? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I want to upgrade my filtration system. What are my options?

Q: I want to upgrade my filtration system. What are my options?

Brock – Baton Rouge, LA

A: In just about every pond keeper’s life, the time comes when they want (or need) to upgrade their filtration system. Whether they’re looking for a filter that will handle a higher fish load, a three-in-one system that has UV light built right in, or one that’ll efficiently skim out leaves falling from that overgrown maple tree, a new filtration system can improve water quality – and give hobbyists a fun new water garden gadget to play with.

Ready to check out some options? Below, we’ve outlined several upgrade choices for your pond filtration system.

  • In-Pond Filtration Systems: The ClearSolution™ 4-in-1 Pond Filtration System is an ideal upgrade for ponds 1,200 gallons or less, particularly if the existing filter is a waterfall filter box. This unit uses mechanical and biological filtration media to remove large debris and dissolved organics, while a powerful ultraviolet clarifier clears discolored water. The system also features a compact energy-efficient mag-drive pump, which circulates water through the filtration system and discharges it through a fountain head attachment or a diverter valve. You can upgrade your filter and add a fountain!
  • External Pressurized Filters: For those with larger ponds up to 4,800 gallons, the AllClear™ PLUS & SolidFlo™ Combo Kits offer mechanical, biological and ultraviolet filtration in an efficient, economical filtration unit – but it also includes a back-flush system that allows you to clean the filter with the turn of a dial and rinse away waste water and debris via a discharge outlet. The AllClear™ PLUS system with SolidFlo™ Solid Handling Pump is great upgrade for existing ponds with high fish populations.
  • Waterfall Filter Boxes: Add a water feature to your pond while stepping up your filtration with a waterfall filter box, like the ClearSpring™ Waterfall Filter. The unit houses Bio-Balls and two filter pads of varying density for maximum filtration. For the waterfall pattern, you can choose between two included weir options – a traditional smooth sheet-like surface and a ribbed pattern. You can even plumb multiple boxes together via FPT inlets located on both sides of the waterfall box.
  • Skimmer Boxes: A skimmer is a practical upgrade in ponds with a lot of leaves. If your pond requires a high-volume pump that you want to hide, or if you want to add some extra mechanical filtration, check out the TetraPond® In-Pond Skimmer. This unit includes a large removable debris basket and an automatically adjustable weir door for maximum surface cleaning. And it’s easy to install: Place the skimmer on the bottom of your pond, weigh it down with gravel, connect it to your pump and let the skimming begin!

A new filtration system is a great investment in your hobby. Whichever you choose, have fun and enjoy the upgrade!

Pond Talk: What kinds of upgrades have you done to your filtration system?

Create a Beautiful Waterfall - The Pond Guy (r) ClearSpring(t) Waterfall Filter

Do I need to cut the cattails before I spray them? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Do I need to cut the cattails before I spray them?

Q: Do I need to cut the cattails before I spray them?

Charlene- Brandon, VT

A: Slashing through cattails would certainly be cathartic, wouldn’t it? Well, we don’t recommend it – at least not yet. The best way to rid your pond or lake of those nuisance plants is to use a systemic herbicide with a surfactant, like Shoreline Defense® and Treatment Booster™ PLUS. Apply the mixture on the plant’s leaves with a sprayer. The herbicide then kills the entire plant, rhizome and all.

Destroying that rhizome is critical to controlling cattails. Along with cottony seeds that explode from their brown, conical flowers, cattails propagate via their rhizomes, or root systems, which produce shoots in the fall that sprout in the spring. When you stop their underground spread, you can manage their footprint in your pond or lake.

If you’re new at removing cattails from your pond, here are some tips to make it hassle free.

  1. Treat the cattails between late July and first frost, when the plant is actively growing.
  2. Use a tank sprayer, like the Specialty Pond Sprayer, to apply the herbicide to the leaves that are growing above the pond or lake’s surface. Make sure they’re at least 12 to 18 inches out of the water.
  3. Completely wet the foliage for maximum results when rain is not in the forecast for 24 hours.
  4. Once the plants have completely died and turned brown, you can get out your Weed Cutter and slash through those dead stalks. Aim for the base of the plants, which will allow for easier removal with your Pond & Beach Rake.

Cattails aren’t all bad. Besides adding to the aesthetic value of your landscape, they also make a good home for a variety of birds, insects, amphibians and underwater inhabitants. Consider leaving a few of the cattails around for those critters – but keep the plant carefully controlled with Shoreline Defense®.

Pond Talk: Various parts of the cattail are edible, including its rhizome, young shoots and green flower spike. Would you ever consider harvesting and eating your cattails?

Treats Shoreline Weeds & Cattails - Pond Logic(r) Shoreline Defense (r)

Can you add too much beneficial bacteria to your pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Can you add too much beneficial bacteria to your pond?

Q: Can you add too much beneficial bacteria to your pond?

Michelle – Norman, OK

A: They say too much of anything is bad. In this case, too much beneficial bacteria isn’t necessarily bad – but your pocketbook might be getting a little lighter.

The Cycle of Life

Beneficial bacteria, those debris-gobbling microorganisms found in our Nature’s Defense®, Muck Defense® and Seasonal Defense®, lives just like other living things. They’re born (well, most bacteria come into the world via a kind of cellular division called binary fission), they eat food that’s available to them (organic debris in your pond), they divide to perpetuate the population, and they die when their life cycle is complete.

Survival of the Fittest

When too many bacteria live in your water feature, they battle and compete for resources rather than growing big and healthy and reproducing. A la Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, the weaker organisms ultimately starve and die. The overall bacteria populations drop, and the pond owner then needs to buy more to replace what he or she has lost to keep up on managing the nutrient load. Those repopulation costs could certainly add up over a while!

Too Much of a Good Thing

Having too much beneficial bacteria in your pond is safe for plants and fish in most cases. But if your pond has a lot of organic buildup, a lot of beneficial bacteria and inadequate aeration, could be a recipe for disaster for your fish. As those bacteria launch their full-scale attack against all that detritus, they deplete the water of oxygen – which the fish needs to survive. An aeration system, like the PondAir™ or KoiAir™Aeration Systems, can help in cases like that by supplying the oxygen and circulating the water column.

The Right Dose

Our advice: For routine maintenance, dose your pond according to the instructions on Nature’s Defense®, Muck Defense® and Seasonal Defense® labels. After clean-outs or treatments, you can use a double dose of bacteria to kick-start the repopulation process, but no more than that. And, if you don’t have one installed already, consider adding aeration to your pond. All your pond’s inhabitants – from microorganism to macro organisms – will appreciate it!

Pond Talk: Have you ever added too much beneficial bacteria to your pond? If so, what were the repercussions?

Maintain a Healthy Balanced Pond - Pond Logic (r) Nature's Defense (r)

I’d like to build a pond but my soil doesn’t hold water. What types of liners are there? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I’d like to build a pond but my soil doesn’t hold water. What types of liners are there?

Q: I’d like to build a pond but my soil doesn’t hold water. What types of liners are there?

Jasper- Colrain, MA

A: If you have a natural- or clay bottom pond that doesn’t hold much – if any – water, a pond liner may be your only leak-proof option. But before we outline the different types of liners you can use, let’s first discuss what’s currently in your pond.

Many ponds will contain some water. If your pond is more than 25 percent full and you want to install a liner, we recommend you either drain the pond before laying the liner or plan to put two feet or more sand or soil on top of the liner once its installed.

If your pond is less than 25 percent full, you have several liner options, which we’ve outlined below.

Liner Types

Two types of liners are used in pond and reservoir applications: poly vinyl chloride (PVC) and reinforced polyethylene (RPE).

  • PVC is widely used in irrigation reservoirs, detention ponds and golf course ponds. PVC liner is very flexible and cost effective. When installing this type of liner, we recommend your pond’s slope to be 3:1 for cover soil to stay in place, and we suggest you cover the liner with 12 inches of sand or clean soil to protect it from degrading in the sun.
  • RPE is widely used for more durable applications for water activities or in areas that get a lot of wildlife visitors, like agriculture ponds, irrigation reservoirs and golf course ponds. As with the PVC, we suggest you cover the liner with one foot of sand or clean soil where liner could be exposed to sunlight.

Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) liners are mainly used in small water gardens. The synthetic rubber isn’t durable enough to handle large applications like your half-acre pond. Stick with PVC or RPE instead.

Liner Thickness

In addition to coming in different material types, liners come in different thicknesses. PVC comes in 20 and 30 millimeter thicknesses; RPE comes in 30, 36 and 45 millimeter thicknesses. The higher the number, the more durable and puncture-resistant the liner.

If you have livestock, deer or other wildlife coming in the pond, you’ll need at least a 30 millimeter PVC or RPE liner to withstand those hooves and claws.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

When you’re ready to order your liner, get the measurements of your pond, including its length, width and maximum depth. Plug those numbers into an online calculator, and you’ll find out what size liner you require.

Pond Talk: What are some tips you can share with readers for installing a large pond liner?

Eliminate The Guess Work - Pond Logic(r) ClearPAC(r) PLUS

I can’t get chemicals in my state, so how do I get rid of my weeds? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I can’t get chemicals in my state, so how do I get rid of my weeds?

Q: I can’t get chemicals in my state, so how do I get rid of my weeds?

Wayne- Ocean Shores, WA

A: Some states – like California, Washington, Maine, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, among others – regulate the use of chemicals more so than others. If you live in one of these places, and need to control weeds or algae growth around your lake or pond, your choices are limited if you want to avoid fines and protect your local ecosystem.

But don’t worry. You still have options! Here are some ways you can manage pesky weeds and algae while keeping the regulators (and the environment) happy.

  • Mechanical Removal: Use a variety of pond tools to control the growth in your pond or lake. Cut down weeds with a Weed Cutter or Razer™ and rake them out with a weed rake, like the Jenlis Weed Raker™. If you have floating algae, you can also skim it away with a pond skimmer. This mechanical removal will take some work, but they are chemical-free ways to manage weeds and algae.
  • Limit Sunlight: Weeds and algae use sunlight to flourish, so another chemical-free way to tamp down growth is to add pond dye to the water. Available in liquid concentrate and in convenient packet formulas, Pond Dye shades your pond, preventing foliage from thriving.
  • Limit Nutrients: Plants need nutrients to grow, so adding some all natural beneficial bacteria can help. The microorganisms will eat through decomposing organics, fish waste and other plant-feeding fodder. We recommend using ClearPAC® PLUS without Algae Defense®, which contains which contains PondClear™, MuckAway™ and EcoBoost™, along with some pond dye.
  • Aerate 24/7: If you don’t already, keep your Airmax® Pond Series™ Aeration System up and running 24/7. Doing so will circulate the water column and deliver oxygen to the beneficial bacteria as they gobble through the nutrients. Aeration will also promote the growth and reproduction of those beneficial microorganisms.
  • Hire a Professional: If you’ve tried the non-chemical methods and aren’t satisfied with the result, a final option is to hire a licensed applicator in your area that has the proper permits to purchase, transport and apply chemical herbicides and algaecides.

Like them or not, rules and regulations controlling the use of chemicals are in place for a reason. Use common sense and obey the federal, state and local edicts. You have non-chemical options available, so try them out. You have nothing to lose – except a hefty fine!

Pond Talk: What are some other ways to control weeds and algae naturally?

Remove Unwanted Weeds & Muck Build Up  - The Pond Guy(r) Pond and Beach Rake

I went to clean my filters and found worms! What are they doing there? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I went to clean my filters and found worms! What are they doing there?

Q: I went to clean my filters and found worms! What are they doing there?

Gene – Tehachapi, CA

A: They’re weird looking, they’re tiny, and they’re blood-red – or at least a creamy pink color. What are they? They’re non-biting midge fly larvae, also known as bloodworms. Though they’re an unsettling infestation to see in your filter, they’re actually a sign that your pond is happy and healthy.

What’s In a Name

Midge flies hail from the family Chironomidae, which includes more than 10,000 different species worldwide. Some varieties appear bright red in color thanks to a hemoglobin-type substance that helps them live with oxygen-depleted water, giving them their “bloodworm” nickname.

As adults, midge flies resemble mosquitoes, but they have fluffy antennae and no blood-sucking proboscis. Large numbers of them can be a nuisance as their droppings can cause damage to paint, brick and other surfaces. And when their tiny corpses pile up, they can cause a stink.

Feasting in Your Filter

These insects thrive in freshwater aquatic and semi-aquatic environments. In their larval stages, they live in tree holes, plants, rotting vegetation, soil and artificial containers – including filtration systems, infesting media pads where there’s an abundance of organics from debris and fish waste. They spend their time attached to the container’s solid surface and eat as food floats by.

Midge flies lay their eggs in water, preferring it to be still, clear, dark and safe from critters like fish and frogs that nosh on the larvae when they emerge. To protect themselves, the bloodworms actually create and live in tiny half-inch tubes they build from mud, algae and other naturally occurring resources. Look closely in your filter, and you’ll probably see some of these worm-sized mud huts.

A Tasty Fish Treat

Don’t worry: These little guys won’t harm your pond or your fish. In fact, if one wriggles its way into your pond, it will be a welcome treat for your fish. Goldfish and other smaller fish will gobble them and their little mud homes; koi and other larger fish will treat them as tasty hors d’oeuvres.

Bloodworms are quite nutritious for fish. In fact, the insects are about 55 percent protein – which is a key nutrient fish need to grow, reproduce and maintain their health. So rather than balk at the tiny worms, scoop them out of your filter and give them to your pond dwellers. They’ll thank you for them!

Pond Talk: What kinds of treats do you feed your pond fish?

Four Densities for Every Filtration Need - Matala(r) Filter Media Pads

What can I do to get rid of mosquitoes near my pond?| Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: What can I do to get rid of mosquitoes near my pond?

Q: What can I do to get rid of mosquitoes near my pond?

Richard – Benkelman, NE

A: It’s twilight. You’re relaxing pond side, enjoying a cold beverage and conversation with your pals, when the buzzing and biting starts. The mosquitoes have crashed your party, and they send you scurrying for insect repellent, long sleeves and – at the peak of swarm season – the safety of the indoors.

Mosquitoes are not fun. They feed on blood, leave behind itchy welts and, in some cases, transmit dangerous diseases like malaria, dengue, yellow fever, West Nile virus, dog heartworm and equine encephalitis. So how do you control the evil little vampires?

Clean House

Your first course of action is to destroy their home. Adult mosquitoes live among the debris surrounding your pond, so pull out your Weed Cutter or Pond & Beach Rake and cut down and rake out the dead plants, overgrowth and other potential hiding spots – at least in the area where you hang out most often.

Stop Stagnant Water

A female mosquito prefers to lay her eggs in stagnant water that’s full of algae, plankton, fungi and bacteria, so your next plan of attack should be to churn the water with an Airmax® Aeration System near the area where you sit. The waves will make her think twice about calling that part of your pond home.

Bring In the Troops

If you don’t already have a fish population living in your lake, consider adding some mosquito fish, which are small fish that gobble the mosquito larvae. The American Mosquito Control Association recommends adding predacious minnows or native fish to lakes and ponds for biological control of the insects.

Use Mosquito Dunks

If you find you’re still having problems with the vampire bugs, try some Summit® Mosquito Bits® & Dunks®. These handy-dandy little disks and crumbles contain Bt-israelensis (Bt-i), a specially formulated biological pesticide designed to mosquito larvae. You simply toss them in your pond or lake and they’ll provide relief for up to 30 days. Plus, they’re safe for use around wildlife, pets and humans.

Don’t put away the insect repellent because, unfortunately, mosquitoes are part of life with a lake or pond. But you can keep the population of those irritating bloodsuckers down with aeration, physical control, biological control and, if necessary, chemical control so you can enjoy relaxing evenings without being chased inside.

Pond Talk: How do you manage mosquitoes by your pond or lake?

Eradicate Mosquitoes for 30 Days - Summit® Mosquito Bits® & Dunks®

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