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How do I calculate my pond size? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How do I calculate my pond size?

How do I calculate my pond size? Pete – Steele, AL

If someone were to ask you how big your water garden is, how would you respond? Most pond owners have an idea of how many gallons their pond my hold or how many square feet their water feature occupies, but have you ever really measured to see how close your guesstimates comes to the actual numbers?

Knowing how large your pond is down to the square foot or the nearest gallon is not realistic nor is it, by any means, necessary. You will just want to verify that what you “think” is a 15’ x 20’ is not actually 30’ x 40’. People tend to associate size with common everyday items they see around their home. It is not uncommon to hear someone tell us that their pond is about “half of a horse trailer long” or “up to my knees deep”. This may seem like a reasonable answer at the time, but when trying to break down how many gallons are in your pond, or how many square feet of surface area we are dealing with, we, unfortunately, aren’t sure how long your trailer is or how tall you are. =) To keep everyone on the same page and make sure we are all dealing with the same units of measure, we suggest you break out a tape measure and break the pond down into feet and inches.

You may be wondering to yourself why you even need to really know how much water your pond holds or what it matters if you don’t know its surface area. Bacteria products like Nature’s Defense or Liquid Clear are added to the pond based on the number of gallons you are treating. The same holds true with algae killing products like Tetra Algae Control and even Barley Straw Extract. Other products require an estimate of the pond’s surface area for proper application. Aquatic Plant Packages and Pond Netting are examples of such products. Knowing the size of your pond can also help you determine how many fish your pond should typically hold or what size Pond Vacuum is best suited for your particular application.

Now that you know the whys of sizing your pond, let’s get down to business and measure your pond out. The easiest ponds to measure are those that are shaped as simple circles and rectangles, the more irregular the shape, the less accurate our measurements become.

Length x Width x Height

This is the formula used to find the volume of a rectangular shape. It can still be used to get you in the neighborhood if you are measuring a kidney shaped pond, the numbers you get on paper however will be slightly higher than what your pond actually consists of. Measure your pond at its longest point and then its widest point. To demonstrate, lets say the length came to 15 feet and the width 10 feet. You can then measure the depth of the pond. If it is the same depth throughout use this number in our formula. If you have a plant shelf or the depth varies, measure the maximum depth and cut it in half to create an average depth. Let’s say the pond is 4 feet at its deepest but has some shallow areas for plants. We will use half of that depth, 2 feet, for our formula. If you are just looking for surface area, multiply the length and width (15 x 10) to get 150 square feet. If you are looking to find how many gallons the pond holds then multiply the length by width by height (15 x 10 x 2) to get 300 cubic feet. A cubic foot can hold 7.48 gallons of water so to find out how much 300 cubic feet can hold just multiply the two (300 x 7.48) to get 2,244 gallons. If you are also running a waterfall take into account that there is also some water being held in the stream, use the length and width of the stream to calculate a rough volume on it as well. Just like that you now have the volume of your pond.

Easy As Pi

If your pond is round in shape we will use the formula Surface Area = Pi x R² or in other words Surface Area = 3.14 times radius times radius. The radius of your pond is simply half of the distance across. If the pond is a 10 foot circle then the radius is 5 feet. Multiply 3.14 by 5 and then multiply by 5 once more (3.14x5x5) to get 78.5 square feet of surface area. To find your volume you multiply this number by the depth and convert to gallons just like we did with the rectangular pond.

If you want to know exactly how many gallons are in your pond you can use a meter to physically measure the amount of water it takes to fill their pond using a garden hose. If you are constructing a new water garden or pondless waterfall don’t forget to take into account that some of the water from your pond will be held in the stream bed. Give yourself a little wiggle room when digging the basin pond to hold the extra water if you have to shut off the waterfall for any reason.

We have a few helpful Calculators on our site that can help you find your recommended fish capacity, select the proper pump, and if anything, play with your new found pond dimensions.

POND TALK: Now that you have a better understanding of how to measure your pond compare your results with what you originally estimated. Were you close?

How do I calculate my pond size?

How do I know if I have proper aeration? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Don’t Under Aerate
How do I know if I have proper aeration? Felipe – Moscow, ID

The bigger the better when it comes to aeration.

When purchasing your aeration system you were told it will promote a clean, healthy pond with less algae and clear water. With more and more customers installing aeration systems in their ponds now may be a good time to discuss some of the assumptions and mistakes made when choosing an aeration system.

An aeration system can make the difference when it comes to your pond’s health, so selecting the right system can be very important.  In the long-run there is no free lunch.  If you try to “Make Do” with a smaller aeration system than what is recommend, it may come back to haunt you.  When an aeration system is sized correctly it will eliminate any thermoclines (thermoclines are a separation of water based on temperature). Have you ever swam in your pond and felt very cold water at your feet? Most pond owners believe this is a spring, when in reality, it’s caused by a thermocline. Proper aeration improves water quality, breaks down organic debris (muck) and improves the overall ecosystem in your pond.  Aeration works by circulating the entire pond’s water column from top to bottom.  The tiny bubbles created by the diffuser forces cool oxygen deprived water from the bottom depths all the way to the pond’s surface. This circulation drives oxygen to the bottom of the pond allowing “good” bacteria to digest muck, reducing nutrients and increase the overall dissolved oxygen in the pond.  If the system is undersized it will not create uniform circulation and simply pump small amounts of the cool nutrient-rich water from the bottom of your pond to the top.  This is the equivalent of adding fertilizer to your pond.  This can result in additional algae growth, odors and even fish kills.  This can all be especially true during the warmer months of the year.

If you currently have an aeration system running and you are not sure if it is sized correctly, there is an easy way to tell with a thermometer and long string.  You will use the string to extend the reach of the thermometer taking temperature readings every 24 inches, letting the thermometer rest long enough to get the true temperature reading at your desired depth.  Take readings every 24 inches until you reach the bottom of your pond. If there is more then a few degrees difference in any of your temperature readings you are more then likely under aerating your pond.

If you haven’t purchased an aeration system yet take advantage of The Pond Guys and Gals, we offer free aeration mapping and technical support.

Don’t Under Aerate

I have muskrats, what do I do? – Pond & Lake Q & A

I have muskrats, what do I do?

I have muskrats, what do I do? Geoff – Star Junction, PA

Rats!

When people tell you that digging a farm pond will coax Mother Nature into your backyard you can’t help but get glassy eyed and daydream of giant bucks wandering by to drink from the pond and cute rabbits frolicking by the water’s edge. Now that the pond is in place it seems as if Mother Nature gave you the old “Bait and Switch” as you trip over collapsed trenches in your yard and patch leaky dams caused by muskrats.

Muskrats, at times, can actually be a cool addition to your pond. They will eat some of the weeds that grow around your pond and it is fun to watch them sunbathe and swim around in your pond. However, if it seems like you are spending more time fixing your pond after they wreak havoc on fountain and pump power cords or collapse the perimeter of your pond, then it is time to ask them to move on.

Sometimes ridding your pond of muskrats is a simple as disrupting or removing their habitat. Running an Aeration System in the pond will create a subtle wake that muskrats sometimes find annoying. One of the benefits of aeration is that is also helps reduce and prevent weed growth. If you go around and treat the weeds in your pond this season you will successfully remove some of their habitat and your aeration will help prevent it from growing back next season. There are many tools available to aid in your quest for a weed free pond that range from Aquatic Algaecides and Herbicides, to Lake Rakes and Weed Razers. When possible, fill in or collapse any holes they dig as this can deter them from sticking around as well.

If your resident muskrats are not to keen on picking up subtle hints, then it’s time to get physical. Purchase a Muskrat Trap or two, place them near their tunnels with some bait (apples work well) and wait for them to investigate. Once you have them under lock and key it is time to take them for a long trip to relocate them to a distant pond or lake.

For more information on ridding your pond of muskrats and a couple extra cool facts read back to our previous Blog on the topic.

POND TALK: Do you enjoy seeing muskrats in your pond? If not how did you get them to call someone else’s pond home?

Get rid of muskrats fast!

Are there any tips for treating my pond in the hot summer months? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Are there any tips for treating my pond in the hot summer months?

Are there any tips for treating my pond in the hot summer months? George – Horace, ND

A lot of our summer activities revolve around our pond. The warm sunny seasons see us hosting parties, swimming, fishing, or just unwinding at the end of the day lounging around outside. Regardless of how you enjoy your down time, you expect your pond to be in pristine condition when having guests at your home or before you decide jump in for a swim. Frustratingly enough, it is the warmer seasons that encourage weed and algae growth that can throw the proverbial wrench in the works. By laying out a few key points on pond maintenance you should be able to keep your pond in excellent condition by knowing what to expect when things go a bit south.

Know It’s Role
When you start to notice growth in your pond, properly identifying it will be the first step to effective treatment. We offer a great Weed ID Guide online that can help you pinpoint exactly what is trying to invade your space. If you are still unsure you can always e-mail pictures to us at mrwig@thepondguy.com or mail us a sample of the weed.

Plan Ahead
Having a party? Keep in mind that it may take up to a week or more to receive full results from a pond treatment depending on what you are treating. Waiting until the day before could result in swimming restrictions or floating growth that has yet to die off. Always read the labels on aquatic algaecides and herbicides for application instructions, dosage rates, and any water use restrictions that they may carry. You don’t want to buy a product that carries a 30 day irrigation restriction of you plan on watering your garden and lawn with your pond water.

Use Aeration Ahead of Time and Keep it Going
Customers who use Bottom Plate Aeration Systems typically run them all day every day to keep the pond circulating and infused with oxygen. Those of you who use a fountain or surface aerator may only run it when you are home and leave it off at night or when you are away. When treating with algaecides and herbicides make sure you keep your aeration running continuously for at least a few days after application regardless. This allows an influx of oxygen during this crucial time when the kill off process robs the water column of the majority of its dissolved oxygen. No aeration yet? If you are going to install an aeration system you will want to introduce it at least a week before you treat, running it in gradually extended increments as to avoid manually turning over your pond by rapidly mixing the bottom oxygen deficient water with the upper oxygen rich layers.

Treat in Sections
In the hot summer months as the water column warms up it will naturally hold less oxygen. In addition to water temperature, dying algae and weeds will also reduce oxygen content. This could potentially add stress to your fish. Treat the pond in quarter sections and wait 10 to 14 days in between sections to allow the pond time to maintain an adequate oxygen level.

Keeping your pond properly maintained with Dye, Beneficial Bacteria and Aeration will give you the upper hand at keeping unwanted growth out of your pond and will drastically reduce the time, effort, and cost of combating weeds when they do decide to make an appearance. With this extra bit of knowledge you can skip out on some stress and effectively treat your pond by choosing the correct products and having a better understanding of the conditions you want to work within.

POND TALK: Are there any other tips you’ve found to help out when treating your pond?

Breathe life back into your pond and lake!

What is the real difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic bacteria? – Pond & Lake Q & A

What is the real difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic bacteria?

What is the real difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic bacteria? Bill – Mount Orab, OH

Know Their Role

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that you have bacteria in your pond? You probably think that your pond is dirty, or it may cause disease or get you sick. The truth is while some bacteria are associated with negative effects, bacteria are present in any functioning ecosystem diligently working behind the scenes to maintain a healthy and balanced environment. If you properly maintain your pond you will create an environment that promotes the presence of beneficial bacteria.

There are two different types of bacteria to focus on; aerobic and anaerobic. Your anaerobic bacteria are those that exist in areas of your pond that lack oxygen. These bacteria work slowly to digest organic debris and release a smelly gas as a byproduct. Aerobic bacteria thrive in oxygen rich environments and digest debris at an accelerated rate in comparison to their anaerobic counterparts that results in the expulsion of an odorless gas. In a self contained pond with little to no aeration you would expect to find aerobic bacteria near the surface where there is a higher level of dissolved oxygen and a lot more anaerobic bacteria at the bottom of the pond where there is a very low amount, if any, oxygen. Due to the fact that these anaerobic bacteria are slow to digest debris, any leaves, plants, and fish waste that gather at the bottom faster than they can be decomposed, hence the accumulation of muck.

To help break down organic debris at a rapid rate and keep your pond clean and healthy you will want to ensure that your pond is populated with aerobic bacteria throughout. To do this you want to circulate the contents you your pond while infusing oxygen into the water column. If your pond is 6 feet or shallower this can be accomplished with a Fountain. Ponds deeper than 6 feet will see better results with a Bottom Plate Aeration System. With these units in place you now have an oxygen rich playground just waiting to be filled with beneficial (aerobic) bacteria. PondClear and MuckAway are perfect types of bacteria products you can implement into your pond. PondClear is in a water soluble packet that will release at the surface of the pond and travel throughout to find and digest any organic debris before they have a chance to settle to the bottom. MuckAway is a pellet that will sink directly to the bottom of the pond to help speed up the decomposition of any debris that have accumulated over time. The fact that you can directly place MuckAway pellets in specific areas that need a little extra attention makes them the perfect solution for treating sections of lake front property and beach areas.

Aerating your pond provides the perfect environment for “good” bacteria and will keep the “bad” bacteria at bay. Cleaning out or preventing mass amounts of organic debris from your pond will help keep your bacteria ahead of schedule and keep the pond cleaner for your recreational use. If you take care of your bacteria they will take care of your pond… and you.

Pond Talk: What do you do to encourage the “good” bacteria growth in your pond?

Pondclear

Should I leave my bubble aeration system running in my farm pond all winter long? – Pond & Lake Q & A

To aerate all winter long or not to aerate, that is the question.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: Should I leave my bubble aeration system running in my farm pond all winter long? – Steve in Minnesota

A: The short answer: Yes, you should keep your aeration system running all winter long. No matter the season, for the health of your fish, you want to breathe that life-giving oxygen into your pond or lake. A bubble aeration system, like the Airmax® Aeration System, keeps the oxygen well-dispersed throughout the water column and prevents the water from stratifying; it also keeps a hole in the ice to allow harmful gasses to escape.

Stir Up the Strata

As the summer cools to winter, a shift happens below your pond’s surface. If the water is not circulated, it naturally separates by temperature: In the summer, the warm oxygen-rich water sits on the top while the cool water, thick with toxic gasses, sits at the bottom. As winter approaches, those different pools of water will flip. The cool water – and all the gasses – rises to the top while the warm water sinks. The pools of water mix – and in extreme cases – this stratification, seasonal shift, and toxic gas distribution can cause a winter fish kill.

A bubbler aeration system prevents that. If the water is churned and moved all year long, it will not stratify. The water at the top and bottom will remain the same temperature, oxygen will be saturated throughout the entire water column, and the gasses will not build up. That makes for an ideal environment for the fish.

Keeps a Hole in the Ice

If your pond freezes over completely and there is no hole in the ice, the decaying matter in your pond (all the fish waste and detritus that naturally break down beneath the surface) releases deadly gasses that are trapped underneath the ice. Prolonged, this will cause a winter fish kill. A bubbler aeration system stops this from happening. The moving and cycling water creates a hole in the ice, allowing the harmful gasses to escape while allowing healthy oxygen in.

A word of caution: If you want to ice skate on your pond and you’re not concerned about fish throughout the winter, we recommend you turn off your aeration system completely. That way, the pond will freeze solid and you’ll be safe while you have some winter fun.

POND TALK: Do you keep your aeration system on all winter long?

What do I need to do to overwinter the fish in my farm pond? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Winter is coming, are your fish ready?

Pond & Lake Q & A

Recently, someone asked me a fantastic question regarding winter aeration and if it can “super-cool” your pond in the winter, possibly causing harm to your fish. I had one of our expert Fisheries Biologists, Justin McLeod, answer this question. Below are some easy solutions that he suggests to ensure a fish-safe winter for those of you in the colder climates. – Jason Blake, The Pond Guy®

Winter aeration (bubblers) can be very important in areas where ponds can freeze over. Along the Northern US border and into Canada, mid-winter temperatures dip well below freezing for prolonged amounts of time. This can put your fish into jeopardy if the pond freezes completely over. To answer your question regarding “Super-Cooling your pond, extremely cold surface temperatures cause ponds to stratify in the opposite way of the summer. Because water is most dense at 39 degrees Fahrenheit, the water beneath the winter thermocline stays around that 39 degree mark, while the water above the thermocline drops down near the 32 degree mark. This is a small difference, but it could mean life or death to a fish.

A “super-cooled” condition is created generally when surface aeration (fountains, High Volume Surface aerators, or really anything pump or pushing water into the atmosphere) is used during winter months. “Super-Cooling” happens when the colder water on the top is circulated to the bottom, leaving no warmer water refuge for the fish. Although it is uncommon to see “Super-Cooling” with sub-surface aeration (bottom bubblers), there have been instances when it has happened. With that said, I would never let this stop me from operating my aerator in the winter – my fish are just too important to me!

Here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your aeration system and possibly avoid the chance of “Super-Cooling”:

    1. If you have multiple diffuser plates, it is ok to run only 50% of your diffusers. Even though the mixing power of your system is decreased, it will still add oxygen to the pond and allow gases to escape out through the hole it creates in the ice. Note: You only need 10% of your water surface open in the winter for gas exchange.
    2. If your pond is extremely small (1/8 acre or less), you may want to move your plate(s) out from the deepest area into a shallower spot. This will leave room for fish to winter in the deeper water.

POND TALK: What do you do to prepare your lake fish for winter?

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