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I heard salt is good for my pond. Can I run my water softener discharge into my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I heard salt is good for my pond. Can I run my water softener discharge into my pond?

Q: I heard salt is good for my pond. Can I run my water softener discharge into my pond?

Chris – Eureka, MO

A: No, that’s not a good idea. Resourceful, but it’s not safe for your fish. Water softening products often have additives in addition to the salt. Even at low doses, these additives can be harmful to your pond’s inhabitants.

Believe it or not, there’s a lot to know about salt. Here’s a quick primer about the different types of salt and what’s best for your fish.

Salt 101

Salt comes in several forms, including rock salt (halite), solar salt (sea salt), evaporated salt (refined salt), iodized salt and packaging salt. The first three are the kinds most commonly used in water softeners.

  • Rock Salt: The most popular salt used in softeners, rock salt, or halite, is mined from underground deposits by drilling and blasting. Being raw and unrefined, you can imagine the other kinds of minerals and impurities that hitchhike along with the sodium chloride.
  • Solar Salt: Commercial solar salt is produced by natural evaporation of seawater or brine in large, diked, earthen concentration ponds called condensers. Though the end product can be up to 99 percent pure sodium chloride and has become a favorite among food gourmands, the sea salt also contains minerals and other impurities.
  • Evaporated Salt: The purest grade of salt, evaporated salt is manufactured using a system of pans that boil away the water from salt brine. The brine, which can itself be purified, is crystallized under controlled conditions often in plants that resemble food processing plants. The process has two steps: obtaining the brine, usually from a solution mine, and then thermally reducing it to crystallized salt.

Salt for Your Fish

Pond Logic® Pond Salt, which is a special form of evaporated salt, is the purest form of sodium chloride and is created specifically for use in your pond.

Adding pond salt to the water reduces the stress on the fish by assisting the fish’s osmoregulation, making it easier for the fish to maintain itself physiologically in the water. It reduces fish stress, adds essential electrolytes, improves gill function and protects against common pond toxins. In fact, most diseases suffered by fish can be cured and prevented by simply adding pond salt.

Salt is a great addition to your pond, but careful to only apply as directed, particularly if you have plants in the water. Be sure to monitor your salt levels by using a salt tester, which will instantly measure your water’s salinity.

Pond Talk: How has pond salt helped your fish? Do you have a story to share?

Instantly Measure Salt Levels - Salt Level Tester

I’m upgrading my pump. Do I need new tubing as well? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I’m upgrading my pump. Do I need new tubing as well?

Q: I’m upgrading my pump. Do I need new tubing as well?

Roger – Cordova, TN

A: Congratulations on the purchase of your new toy! To get the maximum flow out of your pump, you’ll need to make sure your tubing size lines up with your flow rate.

Here’s what we recommend:

  • Up to 500 GPH: ½ inch tubing
  • 501 – 900 GPH: ¾ inch tubing
  • 901 – 1,500 GPH: 1 inch tubing
  • 1,501 – 2,700 GPH: 1¼ inch tubing
  • 2,701 – 3,600 GPH: 1½ inch tubing
  • 3,601 – 5,400 GPH: 2 inch tubing
  • 5,401 – 13,500 GPH: 3 inch tubing

When it comes to selecting a type of tubing, you can choose from three different types: flexible PVC tubing, flexible kink-free tubing and flexible black vinyl tubing. Each has its own unique features and uses. Here’s what you need to know:

Flexible PVC Tubing

Ideal for water features, flexible PVC tubing can have water in it year round without damage from freezing temperatures, and the pipes can be buried. To join the lengths of pipe and plumb your pump, you will need to use schedule 40 PVC fittings and PVC glue. Flexible PVC is the most expensive of the bunch, but it’s your best choice for high-flow pumps. It comes in 1½” to 4″ diameter.

Flexible Kink-Free Tubing

The most popular and widely used water feature tubing, flexible kink-free tubing makes plumbing jobs a breeze as it requires few pipe cuts and unions. The heavy-duty tubing can withstand freezing temperatures and being buried. Connect the tubing with barbed and insert fittings and hose clamps rather than messy glue. We have it in ½” to 1½” diameter.

Flexible Black Vinyl Tubing

Ideal for smaller pumps, fountains and statuary, flexible black vinyl tubing is connected with insert fittings and hose clamps. It’s not sturdy enough to withstand being buried or left out in freezing temperatures. We carry 3/8″ to 1″ diameter tubing.

Get the most out of your new pump with the right tubing in the right size. You’ll be glad you did!

Pond Talk: Have you re-plumbed your pump or pond recently? What plumbing tips can you share from your experience?

Make Your Plumbing Job Easy - Flexible Kink-Free Tubing

How do I treat my pond fish for ich and other diseases? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How do I treat my pond fish for ich and other diseases?

Q: How do I treat my pond fish for ich and other diseases?

Nadine – Okemos, MI

A: There’s nothing sadder than a sick fish—particularly when it’s your friendliest koi or most gregarious goldfish. If your underwater pal is looking a little under the weather, here’s what you need to do to nurse him back to health.

1. Water Change

Some clean, fresh water can make a big difference. It’s full of oxygen, and it’s devoid of pathogens that could be sapping his immune system and making him sick. So the first thing to do is complete a 25 percent water change to get some new wet stuff into the pond.

If only one or two fish seem to be affected, sequester them in an isolation tank. You can use an aquarium, a large plastic bin, a child-size swimming pool—whatever size is appropriate for your fish. Be sure to add pond salt to the water, which reduces fish stress, as well as an aerator and a net to cover the tank.

2. Inspect Your Fish

Next, you’ll need to get up close and personal with your finned friend. Examine him from head to tailfin. Do you see any signs of inflammation? Is there redness in his gills? Do you see cuts or scrapes? Strange parasites or spots? Make note of unusual findings to determine what illness your fish has. Some common diseases include:

  • Ich: Technically known as Ichthyophthirius multifiliis, ich is an ectoparasite that presents as white spots on the body, fins and gills. Symptoms include loss of appetite, rapid breathing, hiding, resting on the bottom of the pond or tank, flashing, rubbing and scratching against objects, and upside down swimming near the surface. If not treated, ich will kill your fish.
  • Anchor Worm: These copepod crustaceans from the genus Lernaea are parasites that latch onto fish and grow into an unsegmented worm-like protrusion. Visible with the naked eye, anchor worms cause localized skin redness and inflammation. A fish with anchor worm may frequently rub on objects or flash, have trouble breathing and appear lethargic.
  • Fungus: Unlike ich and anchor worms, fungal disease—scientific name Saprolegnia—is an actual fungus that grows on fish that are injured or sick. Appearing as a white coating or cotton-like growths on the skin or fins, the fungus will eat away on the fish if left untreated, ultimately killing the fish.

4. Treat the Disease

Once you’ve determined what ails your fish, treat him with an appropriate remedy. You can find a range of treatments on The Pond Guy® Fish Health page, but here are some popular choices:

  • MinnFinn™ is a natural, biodegradable, broad-spectrum treatment for parasites and fungal and bacterial infections. Many issues can be eliminated in as few as one to three treatments.
  • CrystalClear® ParaCid™ specifically attacks parasites, like anchor worms, fish lice and flukes, on goldfish and koi.
  • Aquatic Nutrition Medicated Fish Food is formulated with four antibiotics that combat bacterial infections and disease while providing nutrition to your pond inhabitants. The soft pellets sink to the bottom of the pond where sick fish tend to hide.
  • CrystalClear® KnockOut™ treats just about everything, including ich, parasites, protozoa, bacteria and fungi, that affect koi and goldfish.

4. Reevaluate Your Routine

You know the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure …” Well, when it comes to fish health, most times it’s true. Prevention is key to keeping your koi and goldfish healthy, and that prevention centers on your maintenance routines.

We recommend routine water changes, use of pond salt in low doses (don’t worry: it’s safe for your plants), filter clean-outs and removal of debris from the bottom of your pond. Doing so will keep your pond clean—and your fish happy and healthy.

Pond Talk: Have you ever nursed a fish back to health? If so, what did you do?

Treat A Broad Spectrum of Illnesses - MinnFinn™ Biodegradable Pond Treatment

My water garden has turned green. Will a UV light help my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My water garden has turned green. Will a UV light help my pond?

Q: My water garden has turned green. Will a UV light help my pond?

Al – Mount Holly, NJ

A: Ultraviolet bulbs can work wonders in an algae-filled pond, particularly one in full sunlight. As the green water passes by the light, concentrated UV rays damage the tiny plants, ultimately killing them.

UV clarifiers work well and can certainly help your pond, but they shouldn’t be your primary method of algae control. Before investing in a UV unit, check your mechanical and biological filtration first.

Mechanical Filtration

Did you perform a thorough spring cleanout of your pond? Is your filter overloaded with debris? Do you need to wash out or replace your filer pads? Is the system sized appropriately for your pond? You may need to make some filtration upgrades. The Pond Guy® AllClear™ Pressurized UV Filter adds mechanical and biological filtration as well as a UV clarifier, giving you three types of filtration in one unit.

Biological Filtration

In addition to checking your mechanical filtration system, you should also make sure you’re following a regular maintenance routine by adding Nature’s Defense® and Muck Defense® to your pond. A healthy population of beneficial bacteria—your biological filtration—will keep the nutrient load in check, which will starve the algae out of your pond.

UV Clarifier

If your mechanical and biological filtration are taken care of and your water is still too green to enjoy your koi and goldfish, consider a UV light. Here are some tricks for choosing the right one:

  • Wattage: The first trick to getting the best results is to pick a UV bulb that has a high enough wattage for your pond’s volume. All UV clarifiers are rated based on pond size. The larger the wattage, the larger the pond size the UV clarifier can handle.
  • Flow Rate: The second trick is to pump the water past the bulb at just the right flow rate. Pushing water past the UV light too fast can render it ineffective, while pushing the water too slow can cause the UV clarifier to act like a sterilizer, killing not only algae but your beneficial bacteria as well. A great rule of thumb is to push the water approximately half of what the UV is rated per hour. For example, The Pond Guy® 9-watt PowerUV™ Ultraviolet Clarifier is rated for ponds up to 1,200 gallons, so a 600 GPH pump would be ideal.

Another point to consider: Do you want an above-water UV clarifier, like the PowerUV™, or a submerged one? If you’re looking for a below-water model, check out the Pondmaster® Submersible UV Clarifier. It includes a Halo Ring that lights up to show you the unit is working.

Pond Talk: What kind of luck have you had luck using an ultraviolet clarifier?

Eliminate Discolored Water - The Pond Guy(r) PowerUV(tm)

I top off my pond for evaporation, so why do I need to do water changes? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I top off my pond for evaporation, so why do I need to do water changes?

Q: I top off my pond for evaporation, so why do I need to do water changes?

Joan – Bethesda, MD

A: Topping off your pond with fresh water isn’t quite the same thing as a water change. Think of it like the oil in your car: You may “top it off” when the lubricant gets low, but to keep your motor humming, you need to do a complete oil change every 3,000 miles or so to remove the dirty oil that’s full of sludge and combustion by-products.

It’s the same idea with the water in your pond.

Adding water every week or so to replenish any lost from evaporation is certainly important—but it does nothing to remove the sludge, or algae-feeding nutrients, in your pond. As the water evaporates, the gunk stays behind and concentrates. Your filter does a good job removing the pollutants, but unfortunately it’s not always enough.

So why do water changes?

  • Remove the buildup of nutrients, like nitrates and phosphates
  • Promote fish health, as their well-being is directly related to your water quality
  • Reduce algae blooms

To keep buildup under control, we recommend you change 10 percent of your water every week, or 20 percent of your water every two weeks. Many pond owners use a spare pump and hose to draw out the dirty water and send it down the drain. If you have a pressure filter, using its back flush feature is the perfect way to make the water change.

If your tap water has chlorine or other heavy metals, don’t forget to make it safe with Pond Logic® Water Conditioner. It removes chlorine, destroys chloramines and detoxifies heavy metals. One ounce treats 500 gallons.

In addition, make sure you add some beneficial bacteria to the mix, like Pond Logic® Nature’s Defense® or LiquidClear™, because when you change the water, some good stuff goes out with the bad! Both products contain microorganisms that instantly activate once they hit the water, multiplying every 20 to 40 minutes as they digest organics in your pond.

Make water changes a regular part of your pond-maintenance routine.

Pond Talk: What water-change routine has worked well in your water garden or koi pond?

Neutralize Harmful Water Contaminates - Pond Logic(r) Water Conditioner

I think there is a leak in my water garden, but how do I know? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I think there is a leak in my water garden, but how do I know?

Q: I think there is a leak in my water garden, but how do I know?

Abby – Pueblo, CO

A: What a conundrum! Determining whether you have a leak in your liner—and then finding and fixing it—can be a daunting task. But with a little detective work and these step-by-step instructions, your pond will be holding water again in no time.

A Leak or the Heat?

Let’s determine if you have a leaky pond in the first place. How much water are you losing per day? And what’s the temperature outside? On hot days, it’s common to lose up to an inch of volume from your water garden—but if it’s more than that, you may have a leak.

Finding the Leak

Common places for leaks to spring include around the pond’s perimeter, the area around your waterfall and pump, and your liner. When looking for the leak’s source, follow these steps:

Step 1 – Search for a Wet Spot: First, look for wet areas around the perimeter of your pond. Is water pooling somewhere? Are the weeds thicker or the grass lusher in one area than another? Check the low-lying areas where the liner may not be properly supported. If nothing looks amiss, head over to your waterfall pump.

Step 2 – Leak Check: The easiest way to determine whether the leak is in your liner or in your waterfall box is to turn off the waterfall pump (but keep your aeration going so the water stays aerated) and leave it alone for a few hours. When you come back:

  1. Is the water level the same? If so, your liner is not the culprit so you’ll need to check for problems with your waterfall box.
  2. Has the water level dropped? If so, you have a leaky liner. Jump to step 4.

Step 3 – Waterfall Worries: If your waterfall or waterfall box is the source of your leak, follow these steps to determine where the water could be escaping:

  1. Connections: First check the connections from the pump to the box. Are they loose and dripping, or are they tight?
  2. Cracks in the Box: Next, take a look at the waterfall box itself. Are there any cracks? Is the liner properly attached?
  3. Stream Leaks: Finally, inspect the rocks and liner around the waterfall and stream, making adjustments are needed. Try using some Waterfall Foam to stop water from flowing behind the rocks.

Step 4 – Your Leaky Liner: Finding a hole in a liner isn’t easy. But with a little perseverance, you can locate it and repair it. Here’s how:

  1. Track the Leak: Use Pond Logic® Pond Shade to visually track the leak. Simply add a few drops on the side and watch it as it finds its way to the leak. This will take some time, a few attempts—and patience.
  2. Let It Be: If you have trouble finding it with Pond Shade, let the water slowly go down. (Depending how low it goes, you may need to temporarily relocate your fish.) The water level should stabilize, which will allow you to visually inspect the first few inches of liner above the water surface for the hole.
  3. Repair the Leak: Once you find the hole, patch it up with self adhesive Liner Patch or use some Gold Label Pond Sealer.

Good luck with your search!

Pond Talk: Have you ever had a leak in your pond? How did you find out where it was coming from?

Control Water Flow - Atlantic® Waterfall Foam

Do I need submerged plants in my pond, and how do they help? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Do I need submerged plants in my pond, and how do they help?

Q: Do I need submerged plants in my pond, and how do they help?

Jennifer – McLean, VA

A: Sure, floating and surface plants, like water lilies and hyacinth, add pops of color and beauty to your water garden, but those underwater cultivars deserve some love, too! Just like a rock concert’s or theatrical production’s support crew, subsurface plants play a critical role in the health and wellbeing of your pond.

Here’s just a few things they do:

Supply Oxygen: Underwater plants are called “oxygenators” for a reason. They naturally produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis – and oxygen is one of the best things for your pond’s health and vitality. When submerged plants like the colorful and fast-growing Red Ludwigia are used in combination with a sub-surface aeration system, you’ll wind up with cleaner water that supports your pond’s inhabitants.

Protect Fish from Predators: Sub-surface plants, such as the lush Red Stemmed Parrot’s Feather, also give your fish and other pond critters places to hide when predators stalk or attack. Koi and goldfish will swim into the lush growth and hide out when a raccoon stops by the pond or a blue heron circles overhead. The greenery provides excellent camouflage for your finned friends.

Provide Spawning Areas: The leaves, stems and root systems of underwater plants give your pond life safe places to spawn and lay their eggs. And when those tiny fry hatch, the plants provide protection, food and a comfy place to call home. An excellent choice is the ribbon-like Vallisneria, which can create grassy meadows beneath your pond’s surface.

Submerged plants are easy to add to your water garden or fish pond. Simply fill planting baskets, like the Laguna Planting Baskets, with planting media, add some oxygenators, and place the planted basket on the bottom of your pond or on a plant shelf on the side of your pond. The planting baskets allow the plant’s roots to branch out and find nourishment while containing it and preventing fish from nibbling on its root system.

Don’t neglect your pond’s support staff. Add some plants to your pond today. You’ll be glad you did!

Pond Talk: What is your favorite submerged plant?

Give Your Fish Hiding Places & Oxygen - Submerged Pond Plantst

What is the optimum water temperature for my pond, and when should I worry that it’s too hot? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: What is the optimum water temperature for my pond, and when should I worry that it’s too hot?

Q: What is the optimum water temperature for my pond, and when should I worry that it’s too hot?

Gayle – Syracuse, NY

A: “Room temperature” isn’t just for humans. Fish and pond critters prefer particular underwater temperatures, too. In fact, and a high-temp living environment can even affect their health and well-being. Warm water holds less oxygen than cool water, so they’ll be literally gasping for breath if it gets too hot.

As the air temperature heats up this summer, the water temperature in your pond will increase, too, so it’s critical to keep an eye on it as the mercury rises. Use your Floating Pond Thermometer to test the waters. The best water temperature for your aquatic pals is between 68° and 74° Fahrenheit (pretty close to an ideal air temperature for humans).

If your thermometer tops 85°F, you’ll need to cool your water. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Add Aeration:Make sure you have your aeration system, like the Pond Logic® PondAir™ or KoiAir™ Aeration System, up and running. It’s like an underwater fan for your koi and goldfish. The moving, bubbling water is cooler and loaded with oxygen, making it easier for your fish to breathe.
  • Add Plants: Just as you seek out shady spots to shield yourself from the sun’s rays, fish will do the same to keep themselves cool. Make sure that about 60 percent of your pond’s surface is covered with floating plants, water lilies and other types of shade cover for your pond pets.
  • Add Water: Warmer temperatures mean increased evaporation rates, so make sure you top off your pond during hot weather. Doing so isn’t a substitute for a water change, but it will cool off the water and ensure your finned friends have enough wet stuff in their pond.

One last tip: Do not feed your fish when water temperatures are above 85°F. They probably won’t be hungry. And besides, the uneaten food will just ruin your water quality.

Pond Talk: What’s the hottest temperature you’ve recorded in your water garden?

Breathe Life Into Your Pond - Pond Logic(r) PondAir(tm) Aeration Kit

How many plants do I need in my pond, and do I need to fertilize them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How many plants do I need in my pond, and do I need to fertilize them?

Q: How many plants do I need in my pond, and do I need to fertilize them?

Cynthia – Bishop, CA

A: A good mix of aquatic plants does more than beautify your water garden. The marginal, floating and submerged plants, such as those found in our Aquatic Plant Packages, also absorb excess nutrients in the water and shade the pond’s surface, which can help prevent algae attacks and protect your finned friends from hungry herons and raccoons.

When planting aquatic plants in and around your pond, you should ideally have 40 to 60 percent of your water garden’s surface covered with floating aquatic plants, like hardy water lilies, water hyacinth and water lettuce. This allows for enough nutrient absorption and shading to prevent algae from gaining a foothold in your pond.

Just like the plants in your vegetable garden, those lilies and bog plants need some nutrients added to their soil to thrive. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Spikes: Fertilizer spikes, like Laguna Plant Grow Fertilizer Spikes, slowly release plant food, which makes them super easy to use. The balanced nutrients in the spikes encourage both foliage and root growth and flower production, while the low phosphorous and no copper formula ensure no adverse effects on water quality or fish and plant life. You simply push the spike into the soil (one for every 1 to 2 gallons of planting container space) and forget about it until next year.
  • Tabs: Tabs, like TetraPond® LilyGro™ Aquatic Plant Food, are formulated for use during your aquatic plants’ growing season. As with the spikes, the nutrients in the fertilizer encourage greenery and bloom production, but the tabs need to be added to the soil monthly for best results. Using one tablet per gallon of potted soil, push it deep into the soil 3 inches from the crown of the plant and pack the hole with dirt to prevent the fertilizer from being released into the water.

During the growing season, plan to fertilize your water lilies and marginal plants once per month. Floating and submerged plants should have plenty of nutrients in the water to feed them. Enjoy your blooms!

Pond Talk: What is your favorite aquatic plant?

Add Living Color To Your Pond - Aquatic Plant Packages

Are there different steps for treating a pondless waterfall versus a pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Are there different steps for treating a pondless waterfall versus a pond?

Q: Are there different steps for treating a pondless waterfall versus a pond?

Debbie – Johnston, RI

A: Easy care is one of the most attractive features of a pondless waterfall, particularly for those who have a penchant for ponds but no time to perform routine maintenance on them. You get all the benefits of a water feature—the sound of running water, the added aesthetics in your garden space, even the plants and wildlife that it attracts—but you don’t have to deal with those pesky seasonal chores.

As ideal as they are, pondless water features do require some attention. Here are three simple steps to keep your waterfall looking its best:

1. Keep Your Water Clean and Clear

With no body of water, your pondless feature may not require you to remove muck, fish waste, decomposing leaves or other collected pollutants, but you still should keep the water looking clean and clear. Plan to periodically add some beneficial bacteria, like those found in Liquid Clear™, to gobble through any fine debris that may discolor your water or feed algae blooms.

2. Remove Buildup from Your Rocks

Rocks and other surfaces in your pondless waterfall will no doubt become breeding grounds for string algae and other debris, so take time to remove any buildup with an algaecide, like Algae-Off® String Algae Remover or Oxy-Lift™ Defense®. These fast-acting solutions use the power of oxygen to lift and wash away accumulated algae and muck. For best results, plan to turn off your system’s pump to ensure the powder contacts every surface, restarting it after the product has time to work.

3. Check Your Water Levels

Because the water basin is hidden, you can’t always see how much water there actually is in your pondless waterfall. To prevent your pump from drying up, make sure you periodically check the reservoir — or, better yet, add an auto-fill valve, like the PondBuilder™ Automatic Water Fill Kit, that will refill any water lost to splashing or evaporation. It’s easy to install and can be adapted to any garden hose, ½-inch irrigation line or vinyl tubing.

If things have really headed south, try performing a partial or complete water change along with using some beneficial bacteria. They will get you—and your pondless waterfall—back on track and ready for summer enjoyment.

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite thing about your pondless waterfall or water feature?

Quickly Eliminate String Algae - CrystalClear® Algae-Off®

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