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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

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

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