## We just purchased a house and it has a backyard swimming pond. How do we measure it? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: We just purchased a house and it has a backyard swimming pond. How do we measure it?

Rob – Hawthorne, FL

A: Surface area and pond depth are important measurements to know. They’ll help you determine dosage rates with chemicals like algaecide. They’ll help you calculate the right-size aeration system for your pond. And they’ll help you figure out how many and what types of fish to stock.

Finding those magic numbers isn’t difficult – but it does require some tools, the right equation and a little bit of work. Before you head out to your pond, grab a rope marked at 1-foot increments, a weight that’s heavy enough to sink to the bottom, and something for notetaking.

Calculating Surface Area

The easiest ponds to measure are those that resemble a rectangle, but you can figure out the surface area of a circular, triangular or odd-shaped pond, too. First, you’ll need to measure (with your marked rope) or pace off (one step is about 3 feet) some specific distances, depending on the shape of your pond. Then, plug those numbers into one of these formulas:

• Square/rectangle: Calculate length and width; L x W = Surface Area
• Circle: Calculate radius; Pi x R2 , or 3.14 x R x R = Surface Area
• Triangle: Calculate base and height; (0.5 x B) x H = Surface Area
• Odd-shaped: Use a handy online tool like Bing Maps to measure the pond. Online tools may be easiest, especially for irregularly shaped ponds.

To determine how many acres your pond is, you’ll then divide that surface area figure by 43,560 (one acre).

Calculating Depth

Figuring out your pond’s depth is a bit trickier, particularly if you have plant shelves or if the pond has a slope. Grab your marked string, the weight, something to write with, and a boat or canoe. Then, head out to the pond and follow these directions:

1. Securely attach the weight to one end of your string.
2. Climb aboard your boat or canoe with your weighted 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.

Why They’re Important

Now that you know your pond’s size, why are those calculations important?

You’ll need the numbers to determine dosage rates on chemical products like those found in Pond Logic® ClearPAC® PLUS. If the pond has been around more than three to five years, chances are good that you’ll need to address problems like muck accumulation and string algae growth in the spring.

Those numbers will also help you select the right-size Aquastream™ Fountain and Airmax® Aeration System. For instance, if your pond is less than 6 feet deep, our Shallow Water Series™ Aeration System is a good choice; if your pond is greater than 6 feet deep, our Pond Series™ Aeration System is the one for you.

Since you’ll be able to calculate how many acres your pond is, you’ll also be able to determine what types of fish you can have and how many of them you can keep. Finally, because you’ll know the various depths of your pond, you’ll be able to stake out safe swimming areas for children – but don’t forget to put out your life ring!

Pond Talk: What swimming pond maintenance tips can you offer to this new homeowner?

## Can Aquatic Weeds Go Dormant? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Can Aquatic Weeds Go Dormant?

Jackie – Kalamazoo, MI

A: Yes, those insidious aquatic weeds can go dormant in the cold season, lying in wait in your lake’s muck and sediment, until spring when the hours of sunlight and temperatures increase. The good news is that you can battle them – even in their overwintering state. Here’s how.

Growth Patterns

When temperatures drop and the sun hovers lower in the sky, you’ll start to see those aquatic weeds retreat and hole up for the winter. The duration of their dormancy will depend on where you live (the weed growth patterns in a California pond, for instance, will differ from those in a Minnesota pond!). But, in general, you can expect to see different pond weeds disappear and reappear at different times of year based on environmental temperatures.

If your pond or lake freezes over, the perennial weeds will typically die back in the winter and re-emerge in the spring. Some plants, however, will continue to grow throughout the cold season, though at a much slower rate than you’d see in the warmer summer months.

Controlling Winter Weeds

Because you’ll probably see little to no greenery growing, it will be a challenge to control winter weeds. Methods that work in the spring and summer – like treating with temperature-sensitive herbicides and algaecides – won’t work in the colder temperatures. So what can you do? Here’s what we recommend:

• Remove Weeds: If there’s no ice on your pond, you can pull on your hip waders and manually remove the weeds with a Weed Raker. This go-to tool efficiently pulls out aquatic weeds by their roots, slowing their regrowth, and also removes decaying matter.
• Pond Dye: Pond Dye, available in convenient liquid quarts, will shade the water blue or black and reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the weeds and algae growing at the bottom of your lake. Less sunlight means fewer weeds, regardless of the temperature or time of year.
• Aerate the Water: If you’re not using your lake as an ice rink, crank on your Airmax® Aeration System. The action created by the aerator will circulate the water and reduce the muck buildup throughout the winter.
• Feeding Fish: Your fish will enter into a semi-dormant state when the water dips below 50 degrees, so there’s no need to feed them. Doing so will add to the lake’s nutrient load (i.e. weed fertilizer …), which is not what you want to do.

If wintertime weeds are taking over your pond, consider trying some of these time-tested tricks. They’ll minimize the nuisance growth during the cold season and reduce the amount of work you’ll need to do in the spring.

Pond Talk: How do you handle aquatic weeds in the wintertime?

## Isn’t my fountain enough aeration for my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Isn’t my fountain enough aeration for my pond?

Kelly – Harrisville, WV

A: Fountains deserve a lot of love. As they launch water into the air, they add dramatic movement and visual appeal to the landscape. The sound of stirring water makes anyone within earshot relaxed and tranquil. Fountains add a good deal of oxygen to the pond as the tiny droplets make contact with the air and fall back into the pond. But do they provide enough aeration? It all depends on your pond’s depth.

More Than 6 Feet Deep…

If your pond is more than 6 feet deep, your fountain does not provide enough aeration. Why? The best way to aerate the pond is to circulate the entire body of water at the same time. Because a fountain draws water from the top of the water column only, the water deeper than the 6-foot mark remains untouched – and oxygen deprived.

An aeration system, like the Pond Series™ Aeration System, will pump air to the diffuser plate positioned at the bottom of the pond. The rising bubbles then lift and aerate the water from the bottom up, ensuring that the entire pond is circulated and oxygenated.

Less Than 6 Feet Deep…

If your pond is less than 6 feet deep, your fountain is good to go. Because enough oxygen is exchanged at the pond’s surface, you don’t need additional aeration – but you do need to worry about the fountain’s spray pattern and horsepower.

The most effective shape for aeration is the “V” shape or “Classic” pattern, like the one included in the AquaStream™ fountain. It does the job simply and effectively. The more decorative the spray pattern, the less likely it is to adequately aerate your pond because more energy is spent on creating the patterns than on moving the water.

As for horsepower, when using a fountain for aeration purposes, go with a 1.5 HP motor per acre. Remember that depending on your pond’s size and shape, you may need more than one fountain to properly aerate. If you’re using a fountain for decoration only, you can go with a 1 HP per acre motor instead.

Weighing the Cost

A fountain can be costly to operate, but an aeration system – which has lower operating costs when compared to a fountain running 24/7 – is an affordable alternative. Whichever method you choose, don’t go without aeration, because that could cost you more in the long run!

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite fountain? What makes it stand out to you?

## 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?

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?

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

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?

## How do I start up my aeration system for the spring?| Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: How do I start up my aeration system for the spring?

Molly – Provo, UT

A: If your Airmax® Aeration System has been sitting idle for the past four months, it’s about time to get that thing cranking again. Here’s a seven-step checklist to follow when air and water temperatures start heating up this spring.

1. Change Your Air Filter: Your air filter, which prevents debris from entering your air compressor, can be cleaned periodically to remove light debris – but it should be replaced every three to six months for maximum system performance and longevity.
2. Check, Clean Side Intake Air Filters: Take a look at your side intake air filters on your cabinet, too, and make sure they’re clean and unobstructed.
3. Ensure Cabinet Fan Works: To make sure fresh air will tunnel evenly through your cabinet, flip on your fan and verify that it’s working properly.
4. Purge Membrane Diffuser Sticks: Though they’re virtually maintenance-free, these diffuser sticks, which deliver the air bubbles to the water, should be purged and inspected before they’re submerged.
5. Airlines Cleared: It could still be icy in your pond, so check your airlines for ice buildup. To clear them, pour 1 cup of isopropyl alcohol through the airline running out to each plate, turn on the compressor and push through the line to free any tiny icebergs.
6. Start Your Engines – Gradually: To prevent shocking your pond, follow your aeration system’s initial seven-day startup procedure. On Day 1, run the system for 30 minutes and then turn it off for the rest of the day. On each day following, double the time: Day 2, run for one hour; Day 3, run for two hours; Day 4, run for four hours; and so on. On Day 7, begin running it for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
7. Pressure Check: Once your system is up and running, make sure that its pressure gauge stays within the normal range of 5 to 10 psi. An easy way to do this to mark the gauge upon initial start up and check it regularly to verify pressure has not significantly risen above or dropped below your initial reading.

Following these simple steps will guarantee a smooth start to aerating your pond this spring. If you’re ever in doubt, check out your owner’s manual or contact one of the experts at The Pond Guy®.

Pond Talk: Are you planning to add any fish or plants to your pond this spring?

## I think my aeration airline is clogged or frozen. What should I do? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I think my aeration airline is clogged or frozen. What should I do?

Ben – Franklin, PA

A: We all know how important an aeration system is in your pond or lake – but it doesn’t do much good if your airline is clogged or frozen! If you don’t see bubbles at the surface and your compressor is running, here’s what we recommend to troubleshoot a closed line:

1. Gauge Check: First of all, check your air pressure gauge. Is it reading higher than normal? If so, your compressor is struggling to push the air through the blockage, which is creating increased pressure in the line.
2. System Check: Next, disconnect the airline at the compressor and check to see whether air is coming out. If it is, your compressor works just fine – but your airline might have ice blockages. To melt them and open the flow back up, pour 1 cup of isopropyl alcohol through each airline (or the airline you believe is clogged or frozen).
3. Maintenance Check: If no air is coming out of your compressor, you might need to do some maintenance on it. Over time, seals and moving parts will wear and break down, causing decreased system performance. The Airmax® SilentAir™ Piston Compressor Maintenance Kits include a range of washers, gaskets and hardware that will get your compressor humming again.
4. Air Filter Check: While you’re doing maintenance on your air compressor, it’s a good idea to check your air filter, too. If it’s full of gunk and debris, consider replacing it with the SilentAir™ RP Series Compressor Air Filters. They’re designed to be replaced every three to six months for maximum system performance and longevity.

Pond Talk: Have you had a lot of trouble with frozen airlines this winter?