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My grandkids hate going into the water by our beach because of the muck. What can I do to get rid of it?– Ponds & Lakes Q & A

Q: My grandkids hate going into the water by our beach because of the muck. What can I do to get rid of it?

Q: My grandkids hate going into the water by our beach because of the muck. What can I do to get rid of it?

Gerhard – Dallas, TX

A: There are few things nastier than stepping into a cool, refreshing lake on a hot summer day – only to feel that slimy goo squish between your toes and suction off your favorite flip-flops.

Pond muck is gross, it’s smelly and it’s no fun. That yucky muck is made up of fish waste, decaying plants and other organic materials that accumulate at the bottom of your pond. Over time, the sludge can build to be inches or more thick. Don’t worry: Get rid of it with a one-two punch of beneficial bacteria and aeration.

Bacteria to the Rescue

Microorganisms are busy little critters. Billions of beneficial bacteria already live in your pond and work hard to break down pond muck, but it sounds like they’re overworked and outnumbered. You can boost their numbers with regular doses of MuckAway™. The pelleted product sinks to the bottom – where you need it most – and starts working to gobble through the muck. MuckAway™ works well in areas that experience high water flow, like canals, beaches and lakefront property.

When applied consistently once every two weeks when water temperatures are above 50º F and used with a bottom-diffused aeration system, MuckAway™ can break down up to 5 inches of pond muck per year. That’s some serious sludge digestion! It may not solve your grandkids’ yucky muck dilemma this year, but you’ll definitely see an improvement by this time next year.

Circulate and Aerate

Like every living creature on earth, the beneficial bacteria in your lake needs oxygen to thrive, and that’s where aeration and circulation come into play.

Aeration prevents thermocline, which is when the water column stagnates and forms layers. The upper portion of the body of water that’s exposed to air contains oxygen while the deeper areas lack oxygen – which is where your beneficial bacteria live (or are struggling to survive!). Implementing an Airmax® Aeration System will circulate the contents of your pond and infuse the entire water column with oxygen. This influx in oxygen helps beneficial bacteria flourish and feed on all that accumulated organic debris.

Short-Term Solution

For your grandkids’ enjoyment on the beach this summer, you can remove some of the pond muck with a Pond & Beach Rake and a bucket or wheelbarrow. But definitely make plans to treat your beach area with MuckAway™ and install an aeration system so you’re all ready for fun in the sun next year.

Pond Talk: If you’ve manually removed muck from your pond or lake, what do you do with it?

Naturally Eliminate Pond Muck - Pond Logic® MuckAway™

We just bought a house with a half-acre pond. Where do we start?| Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: We just bought a house with a half-acre pond. Where do we start?

Q: We just bought a house with a half-acre pond. Where do we start?

Hans – Brandon, MS

A: Some home buyers look for granite countertops or in-house movie theaters – but a half-acre pond is an amenity that makes us giddy! Because you likely don’t know the history of the pond, how it was built or how it was maintained, it’s best to give that new pond a complete rehab from the bottom up so you can use it to its full potential.

Here’s a five-step process that will make the job easy:

  1. Assess the Pond’s Condition. Before you begin rehabbing your pond, take some time to examine it, including measuring its size and depth, identifying weeds and beneficial aquatic plants, checking for fish, and inspecting pre-existing structures like a dock or an aeration system. These details will help you as you get your new pond back into shape.
  2. Give It an Oxygen Boost. Your real work begins with installing a bottom-diffused aeration system, like one of the Airmax® Aeration Systems. The units, which include a diffuser, compressor and airline, circulate oxygen throughout the water column so that it’s readily utilized by critters living in your pond, including fish, frogs and beneficial bacteria. It also helps remove harmful gases from the water. If your pond already has an aeration system, thoroughly inspect all its parts and tune them up as necessary.
  3. Control Weed Growth. Treat prolific growth of aquatic weeds and algae. Invasive plants like cattails, chara, phragmites, bulrush, watermilfoil and even out-of-control water lilies can become real problems in a closed ecosystem. Depending on your situation, you may need to use an herbicide and/or algaecide to get them under control before they take over and negatively impact your water quality. For help, check out our Weed Control Guide, which can help you ID and choose the right remedy for the weed.
  4. Remove Unwanted Vegetation. Before and after you treat the weeds and algae, mechanically remove growing and dead vegetation with a Weed Razer™ and Weed Raker™. If you don’t pull that growth out of the water, it will break down into detritus and pond muck, which will actually fertilize the weeds and algae you’re trying to eliminate!
  5. Do Your Maintenance Chores. Now that your pond is on its way to being clean, clear and usable, keep it that way by maintaining it with beneficial bacteria and pond dye. Beneficial bacteria, like those found in ClearPAC® PLUS Pond Care Package, will break down any residual pond muck buildup and keep the water clear. Pond dye will tint the water blue or black, preventing ultraviolet rays from reaching problem plants like algae while adding beauty to your waterscape.

With a little work, you can transform your new pond into a dramatic part of your landscape – particularly if you decide to add a decorative fountain or other feature to it. Have fun with your new aquatic playground!

Pond Talk: What advice can you share with this new pond owner?

Keep Your Pond Clean All Year - Pond Logic(r) ClearPAC(r) Plus

When treating weeds and algae, why do I have to treat in sections? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: When treating weeds and algae, why do I have to treat in sections?

Q: When treating weeds and algae, why do I have to treat in sections?

Zahn- Cedar Rapids, IA

A: It’s all about the fish. Though it’s an inconvenience to you, treating your lake or pond’s weeds and algae in sections is critical for the health of your underwater inhabitants. Those herbicides and algaecides deplete the oxygen in the pond, creating a stressful environment for the fish. Partitioning the treatments keeps oxygen levels safe while minimizing the stress.

When combating weeds and algae in the summertime, remember these three things:

  • Warm Weather = Less Oxygen: In the hot summer months, the water column will naturally hold less oxygen as it warms up.
  • Chemical Treatments = Less Oxygen: When you treat the weeds and algae with Shoreline Defense® or Algae Defense®, the oxygen levels will decline in your pond.
  • Decaying Matter = Less Oxygen:As the herbicide and algaecide start to work, the decaying matter will begin to be consumed by microorganisms, which use up the oxygen in the water.

All of these things create a stressful situation for your fish. When that happens, their immune systems could suffer, and they could develop and succumb to disease – which is something you don’t want to happen.

So while treating your pond or lake, break it into quarter sections. Then treat one section and wait 10 to 14 days to allow the water time to rebalance its oxygen level before treating the next section. Some other things you can do to improve the oxygen levels in your pond:

  • Add Aeration: Aeration, like the Pond Series™ Aeration Systems, adds oxygen to the water below the surface. The oxygen is utilized by the fish as well as the beneficial bacteria and microorganisms, which break down the muck and detritus that feed the algae and weeds.
  • Rake Away the Debris: As the herbicide and algaecide go to work killing the pond pests, take time to rake out the dead debris before it becomes algae- and weed-feeding pond muck. The Pond & Beach Rake makes the chore quick and easy.

Pond Talk: What kinds of spring and summer maintenance chores have you been doing so far this year?

Create the Perfect Pond - Airmax(r) Pond Series(t) Aeration Systems

I’m thinking about getting an aeration system, but how do I measure my pond’s depth? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I’m thinking about getting an aeration system, but how do I measure my pond’s depth?

Q: I’m thinking about getting an aeration system, but how do I measure my pond’s depth?

Lester – Muscantine, LA

A: Measuring the depth of your pond is kind of like measuring the square footage of an unfamiliar living room in the pitch black darkness. You can’t really see what you’re doing and you don’t know what shape it is, so all you can do is follow the walls and hope for the best, right?

Same thing with measuring the depth of a pond. Unless you’ve dug it yourself, there’s no real way of knowing what underwater undulations exist along your pond’s floor. Is the bottom flat? Sloped on one side and really deep in the middle? Are there shallow nooks along the perimeter? All these factors matter. You need to calculate an accurate number that will help you choose the right-sized aeration system for your pond – because its health depends on it.

It’s not difficult to determine how deep your pond is. First, you’ll need some tools, including a tape measure, some string or chain, a weight, something to write with, and a boat or canoe. Here’s what you do with them:

  1. Using your tape measure, mark a chain or knot a string in 1-foot intervals. Securely attach the weight to one end.
  2. Climb aboard your boat or canoe with your weighted chain or string and note-taking materials in hand.
  3. Travel to at least five points in various areas your pond, more if your pond is particularly large.
  4. Drop the weight into the water and note where you feel it hit the bottom. Repeat until you’ve gone to all the different spots and gathered a good sampling of your pond’s depth.

When you’re done, write down the maximum depth and calculate the average of the measurements you took. If the maximum depth is less than 8 feet deep, the Shallow Water Series™ Aeration System is a good choice. It features an energy-efficient, dual-diaphragm compressor that delivers oxygen to the water via two self-weighted membrane diffusers.

If the maximum depth of the pond is greater than 8 feet deep, the Pond Series™ Aeration System is the one for you. It’s powerful enough to aerate ponds up to 4 acres and can be easily adapted to fit uniquely shaped ponds, thanks to its multi-plate design.

Don’t forget: If you’re not sure which Airmax® Aeration System is right for you, we can help! After you do your depth measurements, we can do an aerial mapping to determine which system is best for your pond. Call today to speak to one of our aeration experts: 866-POND-HELP (866-766-3435) or use the Web Aeration Mapping Form.

Pond Talk: Do your Father’s Day plans include some rest and relaxation by your pond or lake?

Keep Your Pond Healthy All Year - Airmax(r) Shallow Water Series(tm) Aeration Systems

One of my fish isn’t swimming upright. What’s wrong?| Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: One of my fish isn’t swimming upright. What’s wrong?

Q: One of my fish isn’t swimming upright. What’s wrong?

Cherie – Englewood, CO

A: Unless you’ve taught your pond fish some pretty cool party tricks, it’s possible that they’re not getting enough oxygen due to a lack of aeration.

Fish will display some odd behaviors when they’re not getting enough oxygen, including gasping for air at the surface, hanging vertically in the water, and spending a lot of time around the waterfall or stream where oxygen levels are at their highest – at least for the few hours each day when the pump is running.

Some other telltale signs of insufficient aeration are:

  • The water in your pond appears to be stagnant in certain areas
  • You’ve noticed a growing mosquito problem
  • Algae growth always seems to be a battle you can’t win
  • Muck has accumulated at the bottom of the pond

Medical issues, like swim bladder problems, could be causing your fish to swim sideways, too. But, before you take your finned pal to the veterinarian, try adding or adjusting the aeration in your water feature. You can also check your ammonia and nitrite levels using a water test kit.

If your pond has a lot of fish for its size, or is a medium or large water garden or koi pond up to 16,000 gallons in size, consider adding an Airmax® KoiAir™ Aeration Kit. Its energy-efficient design includes a dual diaphragm pump that infuses oxygen into the pond while being virtually maintenance free.

If you have a handful of fish in a smaller pond that’s up to 2,000 gallons in size, check out the Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration Kits. It’s designed for decorative ponds and water gardens, and features an airflow control valve that allows you to adjust the aeration output with the turn of a dial.

Aeration should help your fish swim upright again. But if it’s still acting strange after you’ve pumped up the oxygen, you may want to check in with your veterinarian for medical advice. Good luck!

Pond Talk: What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen your pond fish do?

Water Testing System For Ponds - PondCare(r) Master Test Kit

Isn’t the Waterfall Enough? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Isn’t the Waterfall Enough?

Q: Isn’t the Waterfall Enough?

Staci – Bethel, VT

A: As your waterfall gurgles and churns gallons of water, it would certainly appear that your pond is getting plenty of aeration. All that action does, in fact, help with gas exchange and infuse oxygen into the water. But it isn’t always enough, especially if you run your waterfall pump for a short time during the day.

If a pond isn’t aerated enough, expect to see these telltale signs:

  • Algae Battles: Algae thrive in calm water that’s devoid of – and in need of – oxygen and beneficial bacteria. If you regularly fight algae blooms, that means your pond is out of balance and could use some additional oxygen and movement throughout the entire water column.
  • Oxygen-Starved Fish: Fish that need more O2 will hang out beneath your waterfall, where oxygen supplies are the densest. They may also be coming to the water surface, gulping and gasping for breaths of air because there’s not enough in their environment.
  • Too Many Fish: The general rule for a fish population in a pond is to allow 1 inch of adult fish per square foot of surface area. If you have too many fish, or your existing population has outgrown their space, aeration is critical to their health and well being.
  • Stagnant Water, Mosquito Boom: Is the water stagnant in certain areas of your pond? Are you suffering through a mosquito boom in your backyard? These little pests prefer to lay their eggs and raise their young in still water – so you might have created a perfect mosquito habitat!
  • Muck Accumulation: Decomposing plant matter and fish waste build up when the water is still and your biological filtration system – beneficial bacteria – breaks down. That muck feeds the algae blooms, which create more muck. It’s a vicious cycle that can be remedied with aeration.

Do any of these ring true? If so, your waterfall or stream is not providing enough aeration for your pond. One of our aeration systems can help. The Airmax® KoiAir™ Water Garden Aeration Kit is designed for medium and large water gardens and koi ponds that are up to 16,000 gallons. The Airmax® PondAir™ Water Garden Aeration Kit is designed for smaller water gardens up to 2,000 gallons. Both whisper-quiet systems can be run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, providing your finned pals and beneficial bacteria plenty of oxygen and water movement.

Pond Talk: When did you know it was time to upgrade your pond’s aeration system?

Breathe Life Into Your Water Garden - Airmax(r) KoiAir(t) Water Garden Aeration Kit

Why should I aerate my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Why should I aerate my pond?

Q: Why should I aerate my pond?

Marty – Crivitz, WI

A: We talk a lot about the importance of aeration in this blog – and for good reason. Aeration with the Airmax® Aeration System, which involves diffusing oxygen into the water below the surface, benefits the quality of your farm pond or lake in myriad ways, including these top five reasons:

  1. Reduces Pond Muck: Aeration cuts the nutrient load, like pond muck and other decomposing debris, in your pond. How? The increased oxygen and water movement provided by aeration helps to encourage the colonization of beneficial aerobic bacteria. These bacteria are responsible for digesting and preventing muck and nutrient accumulation.
  2. Boosts Oxygen Levels: Aeration also increases the amount of oxygen in your lake’s water. Beneath the water surface, the diffuser plates release tiny bubbles of oxygen. They disperse and circulate throughout the water column, providing life-sustaining O2 to beneficial bacteria, fish and submerged plants.
  3. Eliminates Thermocline: Aeration circulates the water and eliminates thermocline, which is a stratified layer of water between the warmer, surface zone and the colder, deep-water zone. Bottom diffuser aeration churns and mixes those temperature layers. The tiny air bubbles force the cooler oxygen-starved water to the pond’s surface where it becomes infused up with O2. The warmer, oxygen-rich water then drops down, fueling the beneficial bacteria.
  4. Improves Water Quality: By reducing the pond muck, increasing oxygen and circulating the water column, your water quality will improve. You’ll see reduced algae growth, clearer water, and happier, healthier fish.
  5. Reduces Winter Fishkill: Aeration also protects your game fish in the winter. As organic debris decomposes in your pond, gases are released into the water column. These gases become trapped when your pond freezes over, which reduces the amount of clean oxygen. If enough oxygen is displaced, your fish will suffocate. Running an aerator pumps fresh O2 in the water while maintaining a hole in the ice for gas exchange.

Pond Talk: What benefits have you seen in your pond or lake after adding an aeration system?

Keep Your Pond Healthy All Year - Airmax(r) Pond Series(tm) Aeration Systems

What kind of aeration maintenance should I be doing this season? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: What kind of aeration maintenance should I be doing this season?

Q: What kind of aeration maintenance should I be doing this season?

Bill- Cannon Falls, MN

A: With spring in full bloom, now is the time to tune up your aeration system. It doesn’t matter if you’re turning it back on after the long winter or if it has been running since last year – your aeration system is a very important in keeping your pond healthy, so keep it humming.

Spring Start Up
If you’re turning your aeration system back on in the spring, the airlines traveling from the air compressor to the diffuser plates may contain ice. Those frozen blockages will prevent oxygen from flowing into your pond. To break up the ice, follow these three steps:

  1. Measure 1 cup of isopropyl alcohol for each airline that runs out a plate.
  2. Turn on your compressor to push the alcohol through line and free any ice blockages.
  3. Follow initial startup procedure to avoid “shocking” in the pond.

Weekly Chores
Every week throughout the pond season, check the side cabinet’s air filter for debris, particularly if you live in a dry, dusty environment. Clean your air filter as needed because when it becomes clogged, your compressor and pump are forced to work harder – which means more wear and tear on those moving parts. When you clean the filter, make sure it’s completely dry before placing it back inside the cabinet.

Every 3 to 6 Months
Several times a year, block out some weekend time to perform these maintenance tasks:

  • Replace the air filter. Although you’ve been cleaning your air filter regularly, you will need to replace it every three to six months. We recommend Airmax® SilentAir™ RP Series Compressor Air Filter for Pond and Lake Series Systems. While you’re in the cabinet, make sure the aeration unit’s cooling fan is operating properly.
  • Check your pressure gauge. For Pond and Lake Series Aeration Systems, mark pressure gauge upon initial start up and check it every few months. Normal operation will range between 5 to 10 psi.

Every 12 to 24 Months
In addition to cleaning your aerator’s membrane sticks, you should also plan to do the following tasks depending on what aeration system you have installed in your lake or pond:

Your aeration system requires regular maintenance to keep it performing at its best. Doing so will extend the lifespan of the unit and ensure your system is running as efficiently as possible.

Pond Talk: What else do you do to make sure your aeration system is working well when you start it back up in the spring?

Kill Water Lilies and Other Emergent Weeds - Airmax(r) SilentAir(t) Piston Compressor Maintenance Kit

We’ve had a pretty hard winter. What can I expect when the ice finally melts? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: We’ve had a pretty hard winter. What can I expect when the ice finally melts?

Q: We’ve had a pretty hard winter. What can I expect when the ice finally melts?

Kevin – Downers Grove, IL

A: Yep, this has indeed been a long, cold winter for much of the country. We’ve shivered through frigid temperatures, shoveled and slogged through snow banks, and watched our ponds and lakes freeze over.

Unfortunately, that could mean trouble for your fish.

When the ice on your pond finally melts this spring, you might discover that your fish and other aquatic life haven’t survived the season. These winter fish kills occur when the ice prevents gas exchange and reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water.

Michigan DNR fish production manager Gary Whelan says that shallow lakes, ponds and streams are particularly vulnerable to winterkill.

“Winterkill begins with distressed fish gasping for air at holes in the ice and often ends with large numbers of dead fish that bloat as the water warms in early spring,” he explains. “Dead fish and other aquatic life may appear fuzzy because of secondary infection by fungus, but the fungus was not the cause of death. The fish actually suffocated from a lack of dissolved oxygen from decaying plants and other dead aquatic animals under the ice.”

You can’t bring your fish back to life, but you can prevent winterkill from happening in the future by aerating your pond year-round with an Airmax® Pond Series™ Aeration System. Here’s how it works:

  • It reduces the amount of decomposing debris in the pond, encouraging the colonization of beneficial aerobic bacteria, which prevents muck and nutrient accumulation and maintains clear water.
  • It keeps an air hole open in the ice, allowing harmful gases to escape while delivering fresh oxygen to your fish.
  • It pumps even more fresh oxygen into the water via diffusers that sit on the bottom of the pond.

A little pond preparation can go a long way, especially when it comes to unknown variables like weather. Let’s hope next winter is milder than this one was!

Pond Talk: Have you experienced a winterkill in your pond or lake before?

Airmax(r) Aeration is Easy to Install - Airmax(r) Pond Series(t)

I know a net won’t fit on my pond, so how do I keep the leaves out? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I know a net won’t fit on my pond, so how do I keep the leaves out?

Q: I know a net won’t fit on my pond, so how do I keep the leaves out?

Jack – Fairport, NY

A: Big lake? Blowing leaves? No problem! Though it might seem an impossible task to keep those drifting fall leaves from landing in your pond or lake, it is possible to manage them with this three-step solution. Here’s what we recommend.

Step 1: Continue to Aerate

No, your aerator won’t blow away debris like your leaf blower, but it will help to circulate oxygen throughout the water column. An Airmax® Deep Water Aeration System will keep your pond or lake healthy by removing dangerous gases like ammonia while delivering O2 to your fish and muck-eating beneficial bacteria. Speaking of which …

Step 2: Put Bacteria to Work

Continual use of some beneficial bacteria like those found in Pond Logic® MuckAway™ throughout the fall will help decompose the leaves that have landed in your lake or pond. The bacteria-packed pellets sink below the water’s surface and instantly begin to digest muck, gobbling through leaves and improving water clarity.

Step 3: Manually Remove Debris

Because a net won’t fit over your lake, you should plan to manually remove fallen leaves and debris in addition to aerating and adding bacteria. Doing so will lessen the workload—and give you some good stuff to add to your compost pile. Tools that will make the job easy include:

    • Pond Rake: Perfect for mechanical control of weeds, algae, muck and debris, this 3-foot-wide aluminum rake comes with an 11-foot two-piece rust-proof powder-coated aluminum handle, detachable polyethylene float and a 20 feet length of polypropylene rope.
    • 2-in-1 Pond Net: This heavy-duty handheld net includes a 4-foot aluminum neoprene-grip handle that extends to more than 11 feet. It also comes with a 14-inch interchangeable net frame that supports both a durable ¼-inch mesh fish net and ultra-fine skimmer net.
    • PondSkim™: Remove floating debris quickly by dragging this skimmer across the surface of the water. It measures 5 feet wide and is constructed with a tough collection screen, a buoyant float, a sturdy abrasion-resistant lower crossbar and a 24-foot pull line.

It can be a challenge to prevent leaves from settling in a large pond or lake, but with a little planning and hard work, it can be done. Good luck!

Pond Talk: If you have a large pond or lake, what do you do to prevent copious amounts of leaves from landing in it and turning into muck?

Remove Leaves, Debris & Weeds - Pond Logic® Pond & Beach Rake

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