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One of my fish isn’t swimming upright. What’s wrong?| Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: One of my fish isn’t swimming upright. What’s wrong?

Q: One of my fish isn’t swimming upright. What’s wrong?

Cherie – Englewood, CO

A: Unless you’ve taught your pond fish some pretty cool party tricks, it’s possible that they’re not getting enough oxygen due to a lack of aeration.

Fish will display some odd behaviors when they’re not getting enough oxygen, including gasping for air at the surface, hanging vertically in the water, and spending a lot of time around the waterfall or stream where oxygen levels are at their highest – at least for the few hours each day when the pump is running.

Some other telltale signs of insufficient aeration are:

  • The water in your pond appears to be stagnant in certain areas
  • You’ve noticed a growing mosquito problem
  • Algae growth always seems to be a battle you can’t win
  • Muck has accumulated at the bottom of the pond

Medical issues, like swim bladder problems, could be causing your fish to swim sideways, too. But, before you take your finned pal to the veterinarian, try adding or adjusting the aeration in your water feature. You can also check your ammonia and nitrite levels using a water test kit.

If your pond has a lot of fish for its size, or is a medium or large water garden or koi pond up to 16,000 gallons in size, consider adding an Airmax® KoiAir™ Aeration Kit. Its energy-efficient design includes a dual diaphragm pump that infuses oxygen into the pond while being virtually maintenance free.

If you have a handful of fish in a smaller pond that’s up to 2,000 gallons in size, check out the Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration Kits. It’s designed for decorative ponds and water gardens, and features an airflow control valve that allows you to adjust the aeration output with the turn of a dial.

Aeration should help your fish swim upright again. But if it’s still acting strange after you’ve pumped up the oxygen, you may want to check in with your veterinarian for medical advice. Good luck!

Pond Talk: What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen your pond fish do?

Water Testing System For Ponds - PondCare(r) Master Test Kit

Isn’t the Waterfall Enough? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Isn’t the Waterfall Enough?

Q: Isn’t the Waterfall Enough?

Staci – Bethel, VT

A: As your waterfall gurgles and churns gallons of water, it would certainly appear that your pond is getting plenty of aeration. All that action does, in fact, help with gas exchange and infuse oxygen into the water. But it isn’t always enough, especially if you run your waterfall pump for a short time during the day.

If a pond isn’t aerated enough, expect to see these telltale signs:

  • Algae Battles: Algae thrive in calm water that’s devoid of – and in need of – oxygen and beneficial bacteria. If you regularly fight algae blooms, that means your pond is out of balance and could use some additional oxygen and movement throughout the entire water column.
  • Oxygen-Starved Fish: Fish that need more O2 will hang out beneath your waterfall, where oxygen supplies are the densest. They may also be coming to the water surface, gulping and gasping for breaths of air because there’s not enough in their environment.
  • Too Many Fish: The general rule for a fish population in a pond is to allow 1 inch of adult fish per square foot of surface area. If you have too many fish, or your existing population has outgrown their space, aeration is critical to their health and well being.
  • Stagnant Water, Mosquito Boom: Is the water stagnant in certain areas of your pond? Are you suffering through a mosquito boom in your backyard? These little pests prefer to lay their eggs and raise their young in still water – so you might have created a perfect mosquito habitat!
  • Muck Accumulation: Decomposing plant matter and fish waste build up when the water is still and your biological filtration system – beneficial bacteria – breaks down. That muck feeds the algae blooms, which create more muck. It’s a vicious cycle that can be remedied with aeration.

Do any of these ring true? If so, your waterfall or stream is not providing enough aeration for your pond. One of our aeration systems can help. The Airmax® KoiAir™ Water Garden Aeration Kit is designed for medium and large water gardens and koi ponds that are up to 16,000 gallons. The Airmax® PondAir™ Water Garden Aeration Kit is designed for smaller water gardens up to 2,000 gallons. Both whisper-quiet systems can be run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing your finned pals and beneficial bacteria plenty of oxygen and water movement.

Pond Talk: When did you know it was time to upgrade your pond’s aeration system?

Breathe Life Into Your Water Garden - Airmax(r) KoiAir(t) Water Garden Aeration Kit

I just bought a plant package. What should I do now? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I just bought a plant package. What should I do now?

Q: I just bought a plant package. What should I do now?

Rick – Winchester, NH

A: Congratulations! For water garden enthusiasts like us, opening an aquatic plant package is like celebrating Christmas in spring. A box of colorful flower tubers, oxygenating plants and algae-eating snails arrives at your doorstep, and you get to look forward to a season of fun in your backyard playground.

Depending on the package size (small, medium or large) you received, you’ll get:

  • Water lilies
  • Floating plants, like water hyacinth, water lettuce and parrot’s feather
  • Bog plants, like blue flag iris and dwarf cattail
  • Pond snails

These pond plants work together to shade the pond, aerate and filtrate the water, provide habitat for wildlife and insects (and your snails), and beatify your landscape.

Ready to get growing? Here’s how to care for – and play with – your Christmas-in-spring present.

Pond Snails

After traveling all those agitating miles to your doorstep, the Black Japanese Trapdoor Pond Snails may appear lifeless or even dead, but don’t worry: They’re most likely hiding inside their shells. Wake them up and welcome them to your garden by filling the bag halfway with pond water, and then floating or holding it for a few minutes while the gastropods acclimate to the new environment. Then place the open bag in a shallow area and let them work their way out and into the deeper section of your pond.

Plant Care

Before your plant package arrives, purchase some planting containers (like baskets, bags or pots) and aquatic planting media. Use soil designed for water gardens; avoid using bagged potting mix and other lightweight soils from your local garden center, as they will float and cloud the water in your pond.

  • Water lilies: With your pots and plant media ready, take out your water lily tubers and place one inside a pot with the growing tip facing outward. Fill in around the tuber with the aquatic planting media, making sure the roots are well spread and the crown is sitting just below the soil surface. Place the planted pot in a shallow area of your pond to encourage faster growth. Once leaves have reached the surface, you can move the water lily to a deeper part of your pond.
  • Floating Plants: These plants are easy to propagate. Simply place in the water! They will float freely and take up nutrients from the water through their root systems.
  • Bog Plants: Like the water lilies, these around-the-edge plants require a pot and planting material. Position the tubers in the media so that the cut end of the tuber is against the side of the pot, not in the middle. Why? Because the roots need as much room as possible to spread through the soil and across the container. Once it’s planted, submerge the container on a shelf that’s up to 6 inches below the water surface.

Keep Them Growing

Like the plants growing in your vegetable garden, your aquatic plants will require fertilizer to help them grow healthy and strong. Spikes or tabs, like CrystalClear® Thrive™ tablets, can be pushed into the soil at planting time. They’ll slowly release into the media, feeding your lilies and irises the nutrients they need to thrive. From April through August, continue to feed your plants, following all manufacturers’ recommendations for fertilizer application rates.

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite aquatic plant?

Pot Your Plants with Beneficial Bacteria - Microbe-Lift(r) Aquatic Planting Media

Why is my water foamy? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Why is my water foamy?

Q: Why is my water foamy?

Luke- Belen, NM

A: Is foamy water making your pond look more like the inside of a washing machine than an aquatic oasis? All that bubbly white or gray buildup is likely being caused by an excess of organic material in the water.

Accumulation happens when too many fish are living in the pond, you’re overfeeding them, filtration is inadequate or there’s runoff seeping into your water garden. Then, as the water flows down your waterfall, air and water collide, causing the proteins and other organics to be trapped inside bubbles rather than turning into ammonia and nitrites. Air-water collision is why the foam forms, particularly the base of your waterfall.

What’s the solution?

Short-term, you can change out part of the pond’s water to remove the foam. When you do, be sure to add some Pond Logic® Stress Reducer PLUS to the fresh water, which will form a beneficial slime coat on your fish and make tap water safe for them. In addition, add Pond Logic® Defoam to your water. Safe for fish, plants and wildlife, you simply shake the can and pour its contents into the pond. The foam will disappear in no time.

Long-term, you have several options:

  • Increase Filtration: Boost your filtration by adding plants to your pond or increasing the capacity of your existing filtration system.
  • Relocate Fish: Too many fish will produce excess waste, which means more foam. The rule is to allow 1 inch of adult fish per square foot of surface area, so if you have too many koi or goldfish in your pond, you might want to think about finding new homes for some of them.
  • Cut Back on Meals: If you’re feeding your fish too much or too often, the excess food adds to the extra organic material in your pond’s water. Only feed your fish an amount they’ll eat in a few minutes.
  • Add Nutrient-Eating Bacteria: To help break down the nutrient load in the water, add beneficial bacteria in such as, LiquidClear™ to work. They digest the dead organics in the pond, making the water crystal clear and foam free.
  • Aerate the Water: Aeration will also help reduce the nutrient load by circulating the water column and feeding fresh oxygen to the busy bacteria.

Foamy water can be a nuisance, but once you achieve some balance in your pond’s ecosystem, those bubbles will disappear in no time.

Pond Talk: If you have to reduce the fish population in your pond, how do you find new homes for them?

Eliminate Unsightly Pond Foam - Pond Logic(r) Defoam(tm)

Why are water changes important? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Why are water changes important?

Q: Why are water changes important?

Shirley – Warr Acres, OK

A: It’s nice to open a window on a warm spring day and let the fresh air flow through your house, right? Well, a partial or complete water change in your koi pond or water garden is the same thing: It freshens your finned pals’ environment, making them happy and healthy.

Here are five reasons why water changes are so important to your fish, plants and other aquatic life:

  1. Nutrient Removal: Muck and debris buildup happens in just about every water feature. A water change manually removes any excess nutrients and chemicals like nitrates, phosphates and ammonia that can be harmful to fish and other underwater critters.
  2. Healthy Fish: Fresh, clean water means improved water quality, which ultimately promotes your fishes’ health. Just as you need oxygen to thrive, your fish need clean water to thrive. Their well being is directly related to the liquid environment in which they live.
  3. Algae Control: Pea soup and string algae feed on all that decomposing waste, which they use as fertilizer. By removing those excess nutrients in the water column with a water change, you can discourage the growth of algae.
  4. Fights Foam: Foam forms when excess organic material has accumulated in your water garden. When this nutrient-laden water pours down your waterfall, the air and water collide, causing the proteins and other organics to be trapped inside bubbles rather than turning into ammonia and nitrites. A water change will quickly reduce that foamy buildup.
  5. Clears Water, Stabilizes pH: A water change will also improve the appearance of cloudy water and maintain pH levels, resulting in a pristine pond filled with healthy fish, lush greenery and clean water.

To keep stress levels down among your fish, we recommend doing partial water changes as soon as water temperatures reach 50° F. In addition, be sure to add some Stress Reducer PLUS and LiquidClear™ to your water. The Stress Reducer PLUS forms a beneficial slime coat on your fish and makes tap water safe for them. The LiquidClear’s™ beneficial bacteria helps to digest dead organics in the water, making it crystal clear.

Pond Talk: How often do you do water changes in your koi pond or water garden?

Builds Protective Slime Coating - Pond Logic (r) Stress Reducer PLUS

Why does my water garden turn green and can I prevent it? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Why does my water garden turn green and can I prevent it?

Q: Why does my water garden turn green and can I prevent it?

Laurie- Bardstown, KY

A: Green water in fish ponds and water features are a common conundrum faced by hobbyists. What causes it, and how can it be fixed?

Algae Explosion
Green water is the result of an imbalance in your pond’s ecosystem. When too many nutrients – also known as decomposing plant material, fish waste and other debris – build up in your water garden, algae flourish because the nutrients act like fertilizer to those tiny plants. That thriving planktonic algae is what causes your water to resemble pea soup.

Finding Balance:
To achieve balance in your pond, you need to evaluate and correct the underlying problems that are causing your green water. Here’s a guide that can help you identify the problem and work toward a solution:

  • Problem: Too many fish.
    Solution: If your water garden is brimming with fish, it may be time to relocate some of them. Overcrowding is a common source for green water because your 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 one fish (5 inches long) for every 10 square feet of surface area.
  • Problem: debris buildup.
    Solution: After a long winter, waste and debris may have built up in your pond. A good spring cleanout will remove those excess nutrients that are feeding the algae. Here’s an easy step-by-step spring cleaning guide to follow that will help you through the process.
  • Problem: Inadequate mechanical filtration.
    Solution: Mechanical filtration helps to remove the excess nutrients from the water column. As the water passes through the filtration system, debris is removed and collected in the filter box or skimmer. Check to be sure your filtration system is adequate for your pond’s size and fish population. If it’s not, consider giving it a boost.
  • Problem: Lack of beneficial bacteria.
    Solution: Beneficial bacteria, like those found in DefensePAC®, are microorganisms that eat through detritus and other algae-feeding nutrients. With little or no nutrients to feed the algae, the green stuff will eventually die off. Learn more about DefensePAC’s components and how to use them here.
  • Problem: Inadequate aeration.
    Solution: Those beneficial bacteria – as well as your pond’s fish – need life-giving oxygen to thrive, and that’s where aeration comes into play. Air being pumped into the water via a diffuser or air stone will circulate the water column and infuse the water with oxygen. Learn more about the importance of aeration here.
  • Problem: Too much sunlight and not enough plants.
    Solution: Because algae are plants, sunlight is essential for growth. You can block that sunlight by covering your water’s surface with floating plants. We recommend shading 40 to 60 percent of your pond with water lilies or other floating plants.

Going Ultraviolet
Once you’ve cleaned out your pond, checked your filtration and aeration systems, added some beneficial bacteria, adjusted your fish load and added some plants, you should be well on your way to clearing up that pesky algae. A final remedy to try is an ultraviolet clarifier, like The Pond Guy’s® PowerUV™ Clarifier. It’s designed to clear water. As a result, the tiny particles of debris clump together and are removed by your mechanical filtration system.

Good luck keeping that green water at bay!

Pond Talk: What do you do to clear up algae in your koi pond or water garden?

Eliminate Discolored Water - Pond Logic (r) PowerUV (t)

I have a leak in my liner. How do I repair it? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I have a leak in my liner. How do I repair it?

Q: I have a leak in my liner. How do I repair it?

Catherine – Ballwin, MO

A: Dropping water levels and wet patches appearing around your pond indicate one thing: a leaky liner. Don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you need to rebuild your water garden from the ground up. You just have to patch the leak.

Your repair process starts with determining the size of the leak. Smaller holes can simply be patched; larger punctures or multiple tears need a bit more attention. Here’s what we recommend based on the leak size.

For Smaller Holes …

If you have a small hole in your liner that’s 5 inches or less, you can use the EPDM Pond Liner Patch Kit. It contains everything you’ll need to fix minor tears or holes, including a EPDM rubber patch, solvent wipe, a scrub sponge, seam roller and pair of disposable gloves.

To begin, make sure the surface is both clean and dry. If necessary, relocate your fish in a holding tank while prepping the liner and performing your repair. After the patch is in place, you can top off your pond’s water level, and acclimate and return your fish to their home.

For Tears or Punctures …

To repair smaller tears or punctures without draining your pond, you can use Underwater Pond Sealer. Remember, however, that it has to be beaded on, not smeared on, because it’s a sealer, not an adhesive. When used as directed, it’ll start to be tacky in two to three hours, and fully cured in 48 hours. The sealer performs best in water that’s 60° Fahrenheit.

For best results, clean the surface and make sure it’s free of grease and algae. If necessary, relocate your fish in a holding tank while allowing the repaired area to fully cure.

Then place sealer directly onto the surface you wish to bond/seal. Put two 5mm diameter beads of sealer 100mm apart on the overlap. Gently run your fingers over the line to make sure the sealer has connected both pieces of liner. Do not press it flat, and don’t be tempted to pull it apart to see if it has stuck! Allow the sealer to fully cure before returning your fish to the pond.

For Multiple Tears or Large Punctures …

Larger punctures of multiple tears will require some work. You’ll need to put your fish in a holding tank, drain the pond and adhere a new piece of liner to the existing one. Here’s what you’ll need and how the process should go:

First, you’ll need to purchase a liner seaming kit, a new piece of liner and have some protective gloves on hand. After you’ve repaired the tears and ensured that the adhesive had done its job, refill your pond, and acclimate and return your fish to their home.

Good luck repairing your leaky liner!

Pond Talk: Have you ever had to repair your leaky liner? Tell us about your experience!

Repair Leaky Liners Without Draining Pond - Gold Label Pond & Aquarium Sealer

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