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My pond looks like an oil slick. Why and how can I get rid of it? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

My pond looks like an oil slick. Why and how can I get rid of it?

My pond looks like an oil slick. Why and how can I get rid of it?
Brandy- Naples, FL

Every year, Mother Nature unleashes a mass of pollen into the air to facilitate the fertilization of seeds in flowering plants. It’s an effective design, but not terribly efficient. Pollen ends up everywhere – just ask anyone who suffers from hay fever – and the surface of your pond is no exception.

Once settled on the surface, the pollen often mixes with algae to form a film that can give your pond that greasy, greenish look. If you’re unsure that the slick is due to pollen, run your finger through it. If the slick breaks up, you know your pond’s wearing an unsightly coat of pollen. And ‘unsightly’ defeats one of the purposes of having a pond to begin with, right?

So, what’s a frustrated pondkeeper to do? If you’re patient, you could wait for a heavy rain to come along and sink the pollen to the bottom. Or, depending on the size of your pond, a touch of artificial rain – think garden hose, here – might provide a temporary fix. However, to both fix the problem and prevent its recurrence, many of our customers have found that the installation of an Airmax Aeration System is a great solution. Our Airmax systems – available in models to fit your pond’s dimensions and needs – keep pond water circulating, which prevents the pollen from coalescing into an unsightly slick. Aesthetics aside, an Airmax System is a great way to keep your pond – and the plants and fish living there – clean and healthy.

For a more elegant solution to the pollen slick problem, you may want to consider a Kasco Fountain, which sprays water up and over the pond’s surface, causing ripples that prevent the formation of pollen slicks completely. Kasco Fountains are offered with single or multiple pattern sprays, adding a dramatic element to your pond-scape.

So, if you find your pond wearing an ugly, pollen coat, let us help you take it off, and replace it with that fresh, shimmering surface it deserves.

Pond Talk: Do you ever notice a white or greenish slick look on your pond?

Pond & Lake Fountains

What type of aeration is best for you? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

What type of aeration is best for you?

What type of aeration is best for you?
Britney – St. Louis, MO

When you call a pond home, it’s the little touches – like sufficient oxygen – that make life worth living. In fact, you might say they make life possible in the first place. No wonder we hear from so many fish singing the praises of our Airmax Aeration Systems.

Okay. We don’t actually hear from fish. But we do hear from customers. And they’re unequivocal in their appreciation of our versatile range of aeration systems, which leads to the critical question: how do you decide on the proper type of aeration for your pond?

Choosing the proper aeration system depends on a number of factors. First and foremost is the matter of pond volume. In order to ensure proper aeration, it’s important to choose an aeration system capable of circulating and oxygenating all of the water in your pond. With a system that’s too small, you’ll run the risk of both oxygen depletion and toxic gas buildup, resulting in the increased likelihood of fish kills, algae blooms and thickening pond muck.

Pond volume is determined a couple of key factors: pond depth and pond area. A third factor – pond shape – also plays into proper filtration. To address the issue of pond depth, we offer both deep water and shallow water aeration systems.

For deep water ponds, Airmax Deep Water Aeration models AM30 through AM 100 provide economical aeration designed to eliminate stratification, increase dissolved oxygen levels, decrease toxic gases, and prevent fish kills. By cycling water, these systems also help to fight algae blooms, while reducing bottom muck.

For shallow ponds, our Airmax Shallow Water Aeration models AM10 and AM20 provide effective, efficient aeration, using energy efficient dual diaphragm pumps to eliminate fish kills, reduce muck accumulation and inhibit weed growth.

The final consideration – pond shape – also plays an important role in ensuring proper aeration. For simple, contiguous shapes like circles and ovals, a properly-sized aeration system will fully circulate all water without the risk of stagnation. In circumstances where multiple ponds are interconnected, full circulation may require additional pumps. When in doubt, we strongly encourage you to give us a call. We’ll help you to make the right aeration decision – for you and your pond.

Pond Talk: Have you been looking for aeration for your pond?

Airmax Shallow Water Aeration Systems

I shut my aerator off for the winter, will I have to introduce it slowly again in the spring? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I shut my aerator off for the winter, will I have to introduce it slowly again in the spring?

I shut my aerator off for the winter, will I have to introduce it slowly again in the spring?

George – Albany, NY

As pond owners we buy aeration systems for our water bodies with the intentions of creating a cleaner and healthier environment for both ourselves and our fish. While aeration systems are great at eliminating water stratification and promoting the ideal environment for a healthy pond, the key to proper use is proper installation.

The surface of your pond reacts to the ambient air temperature and warmth from the sun considerably faster than deeper regions. As we head into spring the temperature will begin to rise as the sun shines down on your pond. The top layer of water in your pond will begin to warm up quickly while the bottom of your pond stays dark and cold. Furthermore, the surface of your pond is exposed to oxygen which is naturally wicked into the water column but remains only in the upper layers. This formation of warmer and cooler layers of water is known as stratification. Stratification can become a potential hazard as the two different layers of water will sometimes flip or “turnover” and mix together causing a sudden change in water temperature and dissolved oxygen levels which, depending on its severity, can make it difficult for your fish to adapt to the quickly changing environment.

Airmax Aeration Systems are designed to infuse oxygen into your water column from the bottom of the pond while continuously circulating the water. This constant action aids to prevent water stratification for occurring. However, when aeration is introduced suddenly and continuous to your pond you are, in essence, creating a man-made turnover by forcing all of the water at the bottom of your pond to the surface.

When installing an aeration system in your pond, or upon reintroduction of your system after winter removal, you will want to run your system in small increments that grow in duration over the course of a week. Think of this process as the same way you acclimate new fish to your pond. You wouldn’t just grab a new fish by the tail and toss them in your pond, you float their holding container in your pond and slowly mix some of the water together to give them time to adjust to the variations in each environment. By running your aeration system for only an hour the first day you install it and doubling the run time each day after, your aeration system will be running continuously by the end of the week while keeping your fish safe from pond turnovers.

Pond Talk: Have you ever experienced turnover in your pond? Share your stories with potential aeration newcomers and pond veterans alike.

Keep your pond healthy all year long!

I have an aeration system but the pond is frozen over, am I still getting aeration? | Pond & Lakes Q & A

I have an aeration system but the pond is frozen over, am I still getting aeration?

I have an aeration system but the pond is frozen over, am I still getting aeration?
Jenni – Monticello, NY

Even if you’ve been running your aeration system diligently throughout the winter to protect your fish, it is still possible for your pond freeze over. It is not uncommon for the cold weather to close up the holes created by your aeration system during a streak of particularly frigid winter days. Your pond is able to hold a substantial amount of oxygen which acts as a buffer for days where your pond is getting less than ideal air exchange. Even when frozen, your aeration system will continue to circulate and add oxygen to the water column. Typically a sunny or warmer day will provide the assistance your aeration system needs to re-establish ventilation holes in the ice and release any harmful gas that accumulated while the pond was frozen over.

If your pond stays frozen over for more than a week or two at a time you may want to consider using an ice auger to drill a couple holes in the ice around the perimeter of your pond. Do not venture out towards the center as your aeration system is constantly bubbling and weakening the ice. Never try to pound, crack or break through the ice to open a hole for air exchange as it will send pressure waves throughout the pond disrupting and possibly killing your fish. Positioning your aeration plates in shallower areas of your pond will make it easier for the surface water above the plate to remain open due to increased water movement reaching the pond’s surface.

If your pond still hasn’t thawed out with the help of warm weather, sunshine and shallow plate placement, your aeration system may be to blame. Inspect your aeration system to make it is properly functioning. If you are using an Airmax® Aeration System, make sure the air filter is clean and is being changed every 3 to 6 months. Check your pressure gauges and airlines for indications that the compressor is still producing adequate air flow. If your system is between 3 to 5 years old consider installing a maintenance kit which replaces all of the seals and wear and tear parts that lead to decreased system performance. If the pressure reads abnormally high it may indicate that your airlines are obstructed by ice or possibly pinched or crushed.

If your pond only stays frozen over for short periods of time there is no need to worry. The holes will open back up on their own and your pond will take care of the rest naturally. Continue to regularly inspect your aeration system for signs of trouble and ALWAYS exercise caution when venturing near the ice. Make sure there is a floatation device present at your pond both in the summer and winter.

Pond Talk: Does your pond freeze over during the winter, even with aeration?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

What benefits are there for aeration during the winter? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

What benefits are there for aeration during the winter?

What benefits are there for aerating during the winter?
Drew – Galata, MT

One of the best features of an aeration system is its ability to perform all season long. Your aeration system will play a major role in breaking down the leaves and debris that made its way into the pond during the fall which will promote a healthier pond throughout the winter and easier maintenance come spring. You’ve seen the benefits of aeration all summer long but what does your aeration system have to offer in the winter?

Even in cooler temperatures an aeration system will continue to circulate the contents of your pond and infuse oxygen into the water column. The cooler water will be able to hold more oxygen which is great for the overall health of the pond and its inhabitants. As the surface water cools in the pond it will start to sink towards the ponds bottom. This shift in water can potentially break the thermocline in your pond and force harmful water from the bottom of the pond to mix into the water column trapping your fish. This is referred to as a turnover and they can happen both in warm and cold temperatures in ponds that are not being aerated. You’ve also learned from our previous blogs that running your aeration system in the winter will keep holes open in the ice that allow an escape for toxic gasses and a hole for fresh air to enter the pond. You can also move your plates closer to the shoreline of your pond to keep water open and available for wildlife to drink and birds to swim. Encouraging wildlife to visit your yard is always nice in a season where your yard can sometimes seem bland and uneventful.

Although aeration is a simple and effective way to maintain your pond throughout the winter there are a couple scenarios that warrant a winter break. If you use your pond to skate or ice fish you will not want to run your aeration system as the constant friction not only opens holes in the ice above the plates but will also thin the ice in other areas.

If you do not yet have an aeration system installed in your pond, but would like to install one before the winter, it is best to have your aerator introduced before the ice begins to form. If your pond is not already aerated it is important that you run the system in short increments at first to prevent your own man-made turnover. Start by running it for about 30 minutes the day you install it and double the run time each day after. If you follow this method you should be running your aerator 1 hour the 2nd day, 2 hours the next, 4 hours on the 4th day and should be running the aeration system continuously by the end of the week. Browse over to our Airmax Aeration page for help selecting an aeration system that fits your pond. If you need additional help or have questions you can also feel free to contact one of our Pond Guys or Gals or post a comment on our blog page.

Pond Talk: Do you notice a healthier pond in the spring as a result of running your aeration system in the winter?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

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

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

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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