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My pond is 18 inches deep. Can I overwinter my fish in my water garden? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My pond is 18 inches deep. Can I overwinter my fish in my water garden?

Q: My pond is 18 inches deep. Can I overwinter my fish in my water garden?

Jessica – Hope Valley, RI

A: Great news! Unless you live in an extremely frigid climate, your pond is at the minimum depth required for overwintering fish in a pond. Though 24 inches or deeper is better, 18 inches should give your finned friends enough room to ride out the cold temperatures—as long as you keep a hole open in the ice.

Freezing winter temperatures will create a solid layer of ice on your pond’s surface. Below the ice sheet, decaying vegetation and organic matter release harmful gases, like ammonia, which can build up and kill your fish. A hole in the ice will allow for gas exchange. The oxygen will enter the pond, the gases will escape, and your fish will stay happy and healthy while they’re hibernating.

To keep that hole open, here’s what you’ll need based on your zone:

  • Occasional Below-Freezing Temps: For temperature zones that get the occasional below-freezing day or low nighttime temperatures, use an adjustable air stone aerator, like the Pond Logic® PondAir™ (up to 2,000 gallons) or Pond Logic® KoiAir™ (up to 16,000 gallons). One of these units will infuse your pond with oxygen while remaining quiet and cost-effective.
  • Long Stretches of Freezing Temps: For temperature zones that see long stretches of freezing temperatures, we recommend these options, below, based on how many gallons your pond holds. The aerator-deicer combo will give your smaller water garden the one-two punch it needs to vent harmful gases and keep your fish safe, while the more powerful KoiAir will sufficiently aerate larger ponds:

Is your pond not quite 18 inches deep? Be sure to check back next week for an article on bringing your pond fish inside for the winter!

Pond Talk: What do you do to ensure your finned pals stay happy through the winter?

Keep Your Fish Safe This Winter - Pond Logic(r) PondAir(tm) and Thermo-Pond Combos

My pond is mostly clean but should I do a fall cleanout? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My pond is mostly clean but should I do a fall cleanout?

Q: My pond is mostly clean but should I do a fall cleanout?

Melanie – Ludlow, MA

A: Relax! Unless your pond really (and we mean really) needs it, we don’t recommend doing a total fall cleanout. Doing so would stress your fish out and compromise their health. Any amount of cleanliness you’ll achieve is just not worth the risk.

Instead, here’s a four-step to-do list to prepare your pond for fall:

  1. Get Your Plants in Shape: After the first frost, remove dead foliage from you aquatic plants, trim them back and sink them in the bottom of your pond to protect them from the cold temperatures. If you have tropical water lilies or other temperature-sensitive varieties, make room for them inside your garage or another place that will not freeze.
  2. Remove Algae: If you have a stream or waterfall in your pond, remove any algae or debris with CrystalClear® Algae-Off®, which vaporizes string algae, and Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense®, which foams up and lifts debris from surfaces. These oxygen-based products are safe for use around plants and fish.
  3. Clean Up Debris: Using a brush and net, like those included with The Pond Guy® 3-in-1 Pond Tool, scrub down your rocks and liner and net out as much decaying debris as possible. Then use a vacuum, like The Pond Guy® ClearVac™, to suck up whatever’s left. This will minimize the amount of algae-feeding muck decomposing in the pond throughout the winter.
  4. Treat with Beneficial Bacteria: Finally, continue to treat your water garden with muck-munching beneficial bacteria until water temperatures dip to 50° Fahrenheit. Once the water is below 50°F, switch to Seasonal Defense® to continue breaking down any remaining debris. It’s formulated for use during the cooler months.

With these chores completed, your pond will be in good shape going into winter. Until then, relax and enjoy the fall colors and changing season!

Pond Talk: What do you do to prepare your pond for winter?

Make Fall Maintenance Quick and Easy - The Pond Guy(r) ClearVac(tm) Pond Vacuum

Do I need to put a net over my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Do I need to put a net over my pond?

Q: Do I need to put a net over my pond?

Fred – Chicago, IL

A: With fall approaching, we’ve been talking a lot about why and how you should cover your pond with a net. A net’s purpose—to prevent leaves and debris from landing in your water garden and decomposing into muck—is fairly obvious, but is it a requirement?

Nope. Just because you have a pond doesn’t mean you need to cover it with a net.

When considering whether you should add one to your fall prepping kit, first take a look around. Is your yard (or your neighbor’s) filled with deciduous trees or needle-dropping conifers?

If so, you will need to cover your pond with The Pond Guy® Fine Mesh Pond Netting or a Pond Logic® PondShelter™ to protect it from the falling leaves and needles.

  • Pond Netting: Made with clear, heavy-duty 1/8-inch mesh in a variety of sizes to fit most ponds, the Fine Mesh Pond Netting will keep your water garden protected from small, stubborn debris like pine needles while still allowing for sunlight penetration and aesthetic enjoyment. It comes with plastic stakes to keep it in place.
  • PondShelter: In addition to its 16-foot-by-11-foot swath of ¼-inch mesh netting, the PondShelter™ Kit includes a fully adjustable aluminum frame that easily adjusts to most landscapes, along with 30 metal stakes to keep it securely in place.

If your skies are clear from leaf- and needle-dropping trees, you don’t need pond netting—but you will need to pull out your 3-in-1 Pond Net to manually remove any leaves and debris that do land in your pond. Even if you have no trees in your yard, stragglers will inevitably blow in, and so you should be prepared to fish them out with this handy-dandy telescoping tool.

Whether you need a net to shelter your pond or a handheld net to manually remove debris, make sure you keep yourself covered by using Seasonal Defense®. The beneficial bacteria in this cool-water product will go to work breaking down any muck that does wind up building up.

Pond Talk: What tips do you have for new hobbyists fitting a net onto their pond for the first time?

Keep Leaves & Debris Out - The Pond Guy(r) Fine Mesh Pond Netting

Do I need a heater to overwinter my fish in the pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Do I need a heater to overwinter my fish in the pond?

Q: Do I need a heater to overwinter my fish in the pond?

Pat – Far Hills, NJ

A: Unless you house warm-water fish like Plecostomus in your water feature, you won’t need a heater to heat things up. Most pond fishes, including koi and goldfish, will overwinter just fine in their outdoor digs because they go into a pseudo-hibernation state when water temperatures fall. Their metabolisms slow and they’re able to tolerate cooler water—even water that’s frigid enough to freeze.

If you live in a climate that experience those freezing temperatures, what we recommend is a de-icer or aerator (rather than a heater) to keep a hole in the ice. This hole allows for gas exchange, through which necessary gases like oxygen enter and harmful gases like ammonia escape.

Which option is right for you?

  • De-Icer: A de-icer’s purpose is to float on the surface and melt a hole in ice that has formed on a container of water, whether a koi pond or water garden. Unlike a heater that actually warms the entire body of water, a de-icer like the K&H™ Thermo-Pond 3.0 Pond De-Icer simply melts an opening in the ice sheet, thereby allowing for gas exchange.
  • Aerator: Rather than create a hole in the ice from above, an aerator, like the PondAir™ Aeration Kit, circulates the water below the ice sheet. In areas with relatively mild winters, that subsurface water movement will keep a hole in the ice that allows for gas exchange—but when temps really dip, an aerator may not be enough to maintain a vent hole.
  • De-Icer, Aerator Combo: An excellent and convenient option to consider is the PondAir™ & Thermo-Pond Combo. It combines both the Thermo-Pond and PondAir™ Aeration Kit, providing your water feature the one-two punch it needs to stay well-vented throughout the winter.

If temperatures in your area vary between above- and below-freezing, consider installing a ThermoCube®. The thermostatically controlled outlet turns on when air temperatures drop below 35° Fahrenheit and turns off when air temps rise above 45°F. This handy-dandy device will save you money, which is something we can all appreciate!

Pond Talk: What do you do to keep your finned pals comfortable in the winter?

The Ultimate in Winter Pond Protection - View Pond Logic® PondAir™ & Thermo-Pond Combo

Fall is just around the corner. What kind of prep work should I be doing now? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Fall is just around the corner. What kind of prep work should I be doing now?

Q: Fall is just around the corner. What kind of prep work should I be doing now?

Karen – McHenry, IL

A: Though we all wish summer could linger on forever, the reality of fall—and its associated pond chores—is nearly upon us. Cooler temperatures, shorter days and those brightly colored (and falling) leaves means you need to take a break from summer fun and get to work.

Here’s a quick rundown of the prep work you should be doing now:

Add Bacteria

When temps start to fall (particularly below 50°F), it’s time to add some cool-water beneficial bacteria to your pond, like the tiny muck-eaters in Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense®. They go to work decomposing leaves, scum and sediment that will inevitably build up over the fall and winter, which will result in better water quality for your finned friends.

Clean Up Your Plants

Cut back and remove any dead plant vegetation that’s inside and around your water garden. Use a handy long-reach tool, like the Pond Scissors and Pliers, to cut back water lilies and clear away dead marginals. As the temperatures cool even more, you’ll need to remove floating plants like hyacinth and water lettuce, sink your hardy water lilies and marginals into the deeper areas of your pond to protect them from freezing, and make plans to overwinter your tropical lilies inside.

Cover Up

Blowing leaves and other debris will drop into your pond during the fall, and if you don’t get them out, they’ll decompose over the winter and create a mucky mess in the spring. Plan to put a net over the pond, like the Pond Logic® PondShelter™ Net Kit, to keep them out, and use a skimmer net to remove any stragglers.

Have Supplies Ready

While you’re thinking about fall, now is a great time to stock up on winter water garden supplies. Purchase a six-month supply of Seasonal Defense®. Buy some Spring & Fall Fish Food, which will help your fish transition from their regular diet to one that’s easier to digest in cooler temperatures. Make sure you have an aerator or deicer ready to keep a hole in the ice. Preparing ahead of time will prevent any last-minute scrambling.

Regular Maintenance

Finally, continue to perform regular maintenance chores, like keeping your filter clean and operating well, doing periodic water changes, and feeding and checking on your fish. Summer is nearly over, but don’t neglect your pond-keeping routine!

Pond Talk: What other fall chores do you do in and around your water garden?

Keep Leaves & Predators Out - Pond Logic(r) PondShelter(tm) Cover Net

My water turned brown about this time last year. How do I stop it from happening again? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My water turned brown about this time last year. How do I stop it from happening again?

Q: My water turned brown about this time last year. How do I stop it from happening again?

Nick – Charlestown, WV

A: 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.

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.

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.

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 Pond Logic® PondShelter™ or The Pond Guy® Premium Pond Netting.

Pond Talk: Have the leaves started falling in your neck of the woods yet? If so, what do you do to keep them out of your water?

Remove Discoloration From Leaves & Debris - View Pond Logic® Activated Carbon

Should I add a pressurized filter to my water garden? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Should I add a pressurized filter to my water garden?

Q: Should I add a pressurized filter to my water garden?

Sherri – Hilliard, FL

A: Whether you have an existing pond or are building a new one, just about any pond can benefit from a pressurized filter.

Able to be positioned anywhere outside your pond, these units hold water pressure so filtered water can be routed back to the pond or up to a waterfall. This allows you to create a flowing waterfall effect without taking space at the top of the falls.

But that’s not all. Here are some more reasons to add an AllClear™ PLUS Pressurized UV Filter to your water feature:

  • Remove Excess Fish Waste: Are your koi and goldfish getting bigger and adding to the waste load in your pond? Instead of parting with a few of your finned pals, just add another filter! It will help to reduce the added waste from the growing fish and allow you to keep them part of the family.
  • The Backflush Feature: Water changes can be a pain. Pulling out a pump and routing water out of the pond for your regular water changes take time and effort. But with the backflush feature on the AllClear models, the hard work is a snap! You simply turn a dial, and waste water and debris are rinsed from your filter via a discharge outlet.
  • Green Water Abated: In addition to featuring mechanical and biological filtration, the AllClear filters include an ultraviolet light, which destroys algae and clears up green water. If you experience algae blooms throughout the pond season, a UV light will help.

With some things in life, too much isn’t always a good thing—but that’s not the case with filtration. As long as you’re not filtering out your beneficial bacteria, more filtration will only make your water clearer and pond healthier.

PRO TIP: If temperatures dip below freezing where you live, the AllClear PLUS will need to be removed for the winter and stored in a frost-free area.

Pond Talk: How has your pond benefitted from a pressurized filter?

Three Types of Filtration, One Powerful Unit - View The Pond Guy® AllClear™ PLUS & SolidFlo™ Combo Kits

Besides koi, what are some other types of fish for my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Besides koi, what are some other types of fish for my pond?

Q: Besides koi, what are some other types of fish for my pond?

Judy – N Tonawada, NY

A: Koi may be the living jewels of the pond world, but you can choose from a variety of fish that are suitable for your water garden – most of which can be found at your local pet store. Some of our favorites include:

  • Comets/Sarasa: Colorful and active, these varieties of goldfish are distinguished from their aquarium cousins by their long, single and deeply forked tail fin. In optimal conditions, their tails can grow up to 2 feet in length! Comets typically have red and white coloration with red appearing on the tail and dorsal fin. The Sarasa’s color pattern, in fact, often resembles a kohaku’s, making it quite koi-like. These guys have a life span of 7 to 14 years or more.
  • Shubunkin: Another variety of goldfish, shubunkins sport opalescent red, white, grey, black and blue scales in a calico pattern – and the bluer, the better (according to fanciers). They have streamlined bodies with well-developed and even fins. Shubunkins, which hail from Japan, reach a length of 9 to 18 inches and live 7 to 14 years or more. They add a big splash of color to your pond.
  • Plecostomus: Why not put your fish to work for you! The plecos is an omnivorous fish that will actually eat your string algae (as well as leftover fish food and other scraps). In a pond, sucker fish can grow up to 2 feet long. Because he is a tropical fish, he will need to be overwintered inside when water temperatures dip below 60° Fahrenheit because he’ll die in temperatures below 55°F.

As temperatures start to dip in the fall, it’s a great time to add new fish. Just make sure you have the necessity on hand to acclimate them. You’ll need Pond Salt, which will reduce the fishes’ stress, improve their gill function and protect them against common pond toxins while adding essential electrolytes to the water. You’ll also need Stress Reducer PLUS, which forms a protective slime coat on your new fish, and removes chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals from tap water. For more tips for acclimating your new fish, check out our blog post here.

So many fishes, so little time … With all these fabulous finned friends to choose from, you’ll wish you had a bigger pond!

Pond Talk: How many varieties of fish do you have in your water garden? What’s your favorite?

Daily Summer Diet For All Fish Varieties - View Pond Logic® Ponstix Floating Fish Food

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

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