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Do I need to hire someone to install lighting in my pond, or is that something I can do? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Do I need to hire someone to install lighting in my pond, or is that something I can do?

Q: Do I need to hire someone to install lighting in my pond, or is that something I can do?

Tiffany – Savannah, TN

A: Unless you’re planning a Bellagio-esque display in your backyard, you can most certainly install some show-stopping lighting. It’s perfect for the do-it-yourselfer: A simple transformer and some quick connections allow any homeowner to take their water feature to the next level.

Layout Lighting Goals

Before you dive in, however, brainstorm what you’d like the lighting to do. What are your goals?

  • If you’d like a few lights to mark the pond at night, check out our Floating Solar Lights. They’re a great way to add nighttime illumination to any pond or water garden. The LED lights, which shift between pink, yellow and blue, are solar-powered and maintenance-free – making them an energy-efficient choice that will last for years.
  • If you’d like to illuminate a waterfall or accent a small water feature, take a look at our waterfall lights and three-pack halogen mini lights. The Pond Guy® Waterfall Light highlights waterfalls via its submersible 10-watt halogen light. It’s waterproof and includes a low-voltage transformer. The LEDPro™ Rock Lights feature a realistic stone finish, allowing them the blend naturally with your landscape.
  • If you’d like to light up your entire pond, try our LEDPro™ High Output Lights. They can be used in or out of water and shine with the same intensity as a 50-watt halogen bulb but with a longer life span and lower energy cost.

Easy Installation

Installing these lighting systems is easy. If you’re considering the LEDPro Rock Lights or High Output lights, there’s virtually no work at all. They contain a photocell, so the light will automatically turn on when it’s dark and turn off when the sun rises.

Most other pond lights we offer have standard plugs, so there’s no need for additional control panels or wiring. Before installing them, check out these pro tips:

  • To give you better access, partially drain the pond when installing the lights.
  • Leave extra power cord wrapped around the light so you can easily access it for maintenance or cleaning without draining the pond.
  • Position the lights so they shine out into the pond rather than facing you.

Pond Talk: What kinds of lights do you have illuminating your pond?

Great For Small Ponds & Gardens - The Pond Guy® 3 Watt, LEDPro™ Lights

A friend suggested I use pond dye. I’m nervous because we swim in the pond. Is it safe, and which one do I use? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: A friend suggested I use pond dye. I’m nervous because we swim in the pond. Is it safe, and which one do I use?

Q: A friend suggested I use pond dye. I’m nervous because we swim in the pond. Is it safe, and which one do I use?

Wayne – Camden, NC

A: You have a wise friend! Pond Dye can provide some important benefits to your pond. It helps to shade the water from the sun’s rays, and create drama and aesthetic appeal in your landscape.

Safe and Non-Staining

If you’re worried about the dye coloring your skin when you swim, don’t worry: After 24 hours of being applied to the pond, the dye will not stain. The concentrated form, however, is a different story. It will turn your hands colors, so be sure to wear gloves and work clothes when adding dye to your pond.

Once mixed with the water in your pond, pond dye is completely safe for agriculture and irrigation purposes. Immediately after treatment, you can use your pond for recreation, fishing and other activities. It’s safe for swimming ponds, as well as watering horses, livestock, birds, pets, fish and wildlife.

Color Choices Aplenty

Pond dye color is really a matter of personal preference, but different shades are better suited to different situations. When selecting one, first consider your environment and what looks natural in your surroundings. Then ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have a decorative pond or lake? Try Nature’s Blue™ dye or The Pond Guy® PondShade™ Blue– our customers’ favorite choice. It’s the ideal color for large ponds that double as a view as it contrasts perfectly with lush green landscaping. Folks in the Great Lakes area may feel more at home with a natural blue color.
  • Do you prefer a more natural look? Try Twilight Blue™ dye. It maintains a neutral blackish-blue tint that shades and protects your pond without making drastic changes to its natural coloring.
  • Do you want to showcase your landscape? Consider using Black DyeMond™ dye. It creates a mirrored surface that reflects surrounding trees and natural rocky landscapes, making it perfect for natural ponds in wooded areas.

Application Process

Adding dye to your pond or lake is easy. Every four to six weeks (or as needed depending on rainfall and evaporation), simply pour the concentrated Pond Dye into the water in several spots along the pond’s edge, or drop the easy-to-use water-soluble Pond Dye Packets in the water. Easy peasy!

If you notice your pond is full of suspended debris, you may want to try Pond Dye PLUS. It contains both dye and the beneficial bacteria that’s found in PondClear™, so it will both shade your pond and help clear the water.

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite shade of pond dye?

Convenient Water Soluble Packets - The Pond Guy® PondShade™ Blue

How do I know how many fish I can have in my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How do I know how many fish I can have in my pond?

Q: How do I know how many fish I can have in my pond?

Lynn – Leitchfield, KY

A: Fish are like potato chips: It’s hard to have just one. When you visit your local pet retailer or water garden center and see those goldfish and koi staring up at you through the water, how can you not take them home!

Too many fish in a pond, however, can create an unhealthy environment for your fish and a breeding ground for algae. The more fish you have, the more waste they produce – and that waste can turn into algae fertilizer unless you have the filtration power to pump it out.

Before you start buying bucket-loads of finned friends, figure out how many you can comfortably keep in your pond. Here’s how in five simple steps.

1. Calculate Pond Size

First, determine the square footage of your pond’s surface area by measuring its length and its width, and multiplying the two numbers. We recommend no more than 1 inch of fish for every square foot of surface area, so if your pond is 250 square feet, that’s a maximum of 250 inches of adult, fully grown fish. If you need help with the math, use our online calculator. You’ll just need to know your pond’s length, width and average depth.

2. Allow Room to Grow

If you’re starting with young or adolescent fish, don’t max out your fish volume right from the start. Remember that those little guys will grow – a 2 inch fry will turn into a 10 inch adult in no time – and they’ll produce more waste as they develop. Skip the guessing game of growing fish by stocking adults, such as those included in our koi packages. You’ll enjoy instant gratification and a pond full of colorful fish!

3. Add More Slowly

Whether you’re starting with young fish or adults, add just a handful at a time. Your pond will need time to “season,” or build up its biological filtration system (a.k.a. beneficial bacteria), to handle the new influx of fish waste. Introduce a few fish, and then wait several weeks before adding more. While you’re waiting, give your biological filter a boost with DefensePAC® Pond Care Package. It contains Nature’s Defense®, Clarity Defense® and Muck Defense® – all of which promote the growth of those beneficial microorganisms.

4. Keep Up with Routine Maintenance

Once your fish have moved in, help them feel right at home. Use natural bacteria to break down fish waste, uneaten food and other debris. Provide shade, habitat and safety with floating and submerged aquatic plants. Feed them a healthy diet, like The Pond Guy® Staple Fish Food, which has the right amount of protein to keep them healthy without producing a lot of excess waste. Provide a healthy ecosystem and tasty food, and you’ll have a pond full of happy fish!

5. Share – or Upgrade!

If your pond is overpopulated already, you have two options: Share some of your fish with a friend (or two!), or do some upgrades in either your filtration system or your pond itself.

A external pressurized filter like the AllClear™ PLUS can handle excess waste, thanks to its powerful combination of biological, mechanical and ultraviolet filters. Its backflush option makes it easy to clean, and it’s easy to install in an existing pond because the plumbing doesn’t need to be run through the liner.

Or if you want to upgrade your entire water feature, check out one of our all-inclusive Pond Kits. Available in several different sizes, they contain a pump, pressurized filter or waterfall filter, pond liner, underlayment, plumbing, foam, hardware and beneficial bacteria to jump-start your biological filtration. All you’ll need to add is fish!

Pond Talk: What’s your most memorable experience with a fish overpopulation problem?

Balanced Diet For Everyday Feeding - Pond Logic® DefensePAC®

I think I have either milfoil or coontail. How do I tell the difference, and what chemical should I use? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I think I have either milfoil or coontail. How do I tell the difference, and what chemical should I use?

Q: I think I have either milfoil or coontail. How do I tell the difference, and what chemical should I use?

Paul – Greenfield, OH

A: Invasive aquatic plants like milfoil and coontail can cause trouble in your pond or lake. Though they provide food and shelter for birds, insects, fish and other pond critters, they can form dense colonies, reducing access to open water, limiting fishing access, and interfering with boating and swimming.

Milfoil and coontail look similar and – thankfully – can be treated with similar chemicals. Here’s what you need to know about identifying and managing these nuisance plants.

Milfoil Identification

When you think milfoil, think feather-like.

Many different species of milfoil and watermilfoil exist in North America. In general, milfoil is found in water that’s less than 20 feet (6 meters) deep. In water less than 15 feet (4½ meters) deep, it can form dense mats over the surface. The plant is comprised of long stems with air canals and flat, feather-like, whorled leaves that are pinnately divided.

Milfoil is an important food source for waterfowl, but these nuisance plants can aggressively invade lakes, ponds and waterways. Once they’re established, they’re almost impossible to eradicate, and so periodic maintenance is necessary to keep them under control.

Coontail Identification

When coontail comes to mind, think of a Christmas tree.

Also known as hornwort, coontail also thrives in water less than 20 feet deep. The rootless invasive plant grows below the surface, and it has a central hollow stem and dark green leaves that are spiny, forked and bushy near the tip, giving it its “coontail” or Christmas tree appearance.

Like milfoil, coontail provides food for waterfowl and cover for young bluegills, perch, largemouth bass and northern pike, but it needs to be managed to prevent it from taking over your pond or lake.

Keeping Them Under Control

Many of the submerged weed chemicals available treat both milfoil and coontail. Depending how you use your pond, the best choices are:

  • Ultra PondWeed Defense®: This liquid herbicide has short-term drinking (three days for human consumption; one day for animal consumption) and irrigation restrictions (five days).
  • Navigate: A granular herbicide, Navigate is great for spot-treating problem areas. It has longer consumption and irrigation restrictions (21 days) than the others.
  • Fluridone (Sonar™): If your entire pond is infested, try Sonar™. It can kill the invaders down to their roots, but expect slower results (it can take up to 90 days for full protection) and longer irrigation restrictions (30 days). Note: Sonar™ should only be used in ponds with little to no flow.
  • Clipper™: To use Clipper™, you’ll need to mix the quick-dissolve granules with water – but you can start using the water again for irrigation in just five days.

Regardless which one you choose, the best time to apply it is when the weeds are actively growing.

Help from the Experts

If you can’t figure out which aquatic weed is growing in your pond, pull one (or more!) from the pond, snap a picture of it and send it to weedid@thepondguy.com or mail us a sample in a dry paper towel. We can help you identify the invader and suggest the best chemical to control it.

Pond Talk: What’s your go-to herbicide to treat invasive aquatic plants?

Broad Spectrum Pondweed Control - Pond Logic® Ultra PondWeed Defense®

My friend talks about her fish coming up to eat from her hand. How can I get my fish to do the same? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My friend talks about her fish coming up to eat from her hand. How can I get my fish to do the same?

Q: My friend talks about her fish coming up to eat from her hand. How can I get my fish to do the same?

Donna – Chesterfield, MO

A: Talk about a cool party trick! Feeding by hand is not only a fun way to show your friends how well-trained your fish are, but it also gives you an opportunity to bond with your finned pals.

Teaching your fish how to eat from your hand starts with understanding the temperament of the fish themselves. Are your fish friendly? Do they swim up and say “Glub, glub, hi!” when you visit your pond? Or do they scatter when you approach and your shadow falls on the water?

Friendly fish are easier to train. They already associate you as an approachable face that brings them tasty food every day. Sketchy fish, however, can be more of a challenge. They might be newbies that don’t recognize you or your feeding routine, or they might be spooked from predators visiting your pond.

If you’ve ruled out the possibility of predators (or put up some predator-control measures), follow these steps to help teach your fish to eat from the palm of your hand:

    1. Set a Routine: Fish are creatures of habit. They’re more likely to respond to something that happens the same way every day (or frequently, at least). To set a mealtime routine, visit your pond at the same location, at the same time of day, on a regular basis. They’ll get to know your patterns and learn to recognize you – and feeding time.
    2. Make Them Work: Throwing a handful of Growth & Vibrance Fish Food into the water and walking away teaches your fish an easy snatch-and-run feeding style. Instead, toss them a few pellets at a time and wait for the fish to eat them. They’ll rush to get the food first! Even the shy koi will get in on the action. This toss-and-wait style reminds them that you are hanging out and something exciting is happening.
    3. Get Brave – and Get Wet: Once your fish are used to your feeding routine and race to the pond’s edge to greet you, take the plunge! Hold a few pellets loosely in your hand just at the water surface without making any sudden or quick movements. It takes only one fish to act bravely and let the others know it’ll be OK. Before you know it, they’ll be racing to your hand to be fed!

Once your fish are trained to eat from your hand, you’ll be tempted to keep offering them food. Prevent overfeeding them by measuring out a predetermined amount of food – and stop when it’s all gone. If you can’t help yourself (or you’re sharing this cool new party trick with your friends), at least be sure to have some natural bacteria, like Nature’s Defense®, on hand to help clean up the leftovers after dinner.

Pond Talk: Have you trained your fish to eat from your hand? What tips can you share with this fish keeper?

Complete Koi & Goldfish Diet - The Pond Guy® Growth & Vibrance Fish Food

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

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