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I recently installed a small pondless water feature. How do I maintain it? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I recently installed a small pondless water feature. How do I maintain it?

Q: I recently installed a small pondless water feature. How do I maintain it?

Paul- Moab, UT

A: I recently installed a small pondless water feature. How do I maintain it?

As you’ve likely discovered, a pondless water feature makes a fantastic addition to a landscape. Whether it’s a bubbling fountain, a colorful birdbath or a disappearing waterfall, pondless features deliver the tranquil sound of running water without the hassle.

Small water features are easy to keep, but you will need to do some simple chores. Here’s a quick checklist to follow:

  1. Remove the Debris: Dust will dirty the water feature, and debris may collect and start to break down, leaving behind a slimy mess. As needed, manually remove large debris and then add a dose of FeatureFix™ to the water as a cleaner. The highly concentrated product will safely eliminate accumulated debris and clear unsightly discoloration and stuck-on organic materials, often within 48 hours. (FeatureFix™ is not safe for use in features with fish, invertebrates or crustaceans, so use with caution.)
  2. Clear the Water: To keep your fountain flowing with clean, clear water, treat it regularly with FeatureClear™. The bacteria in this all-natural clarifier will digest organic debris to keep water crystal clear. Use every two weeks when water temperatures are above 50°F. Simply add one ounce for every 100 gallons of water for sparkling clean water without harmful chemicals. (FeatureClear™ is safe for use around fish, plants, pets and wildlife.)
  3. Top Off As Needed: In addition to keeping things clean and clear, also keep an eye on the water level in your pondless feature’s basin and top it off as needed.
  4. Inspect Mechanics, Connections: Periodically inspect your feature’s pump, tubing and connections to ensure that they are sound and functioning correctly.

With winter approaching, be cautious about running your pondless fountain. It will sure look cool, flowing or bubbling away in the frosty air, but freezing temperatures and ice formations can do some serious damage. If you decide to shut it down until spring, remove the pump from the basin, place it in a bucket with water and store it in a place that will not freeze. Be sure to leave water in the basin so the ground won’t shift.

Pond Talk: How do you winterize your pondless water feature?

Keep Water Features Clean - Pond Logic(r) FeatureClear(t) & FeatureFix(t) Combo

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

Now that it’s spring, when do I start using my DefensePAC? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Now that it’s spring, when do I start using my DefensePAC(r)?

Q: Now that it’s spring, when do I start using my DefensePAC®?

Jan – Avoca, NY

A: Containing everything you need to jump start your backyard pond or water garden in the spring, your DefensePAC®” package can be cracked open as soon as the ice melts and water temperatures are consistently above 40°F.

The first products in the pack you’ll use are Oxy-Lift™ Defense® and Seasonal Defense®. They’re perfect for cleaning out your pond and prepping it for spring.

  • Oxy-Lift™ Defense® lifts debris from waterfalls, streams, rocks and anywhere else muck collects in your pond. Simply shut down your waterfall and/or streams, sprinkle on the affected areas and watch the foam get to work breaking down that unsightly buildup. Use Oxy-Lift™ Defense® only when needed.
  • Seasonal Defense® contains hungry beneficial bacteria that will immediately get busy gobbling through leaves, scum and settlement that have collected over the winter. Spring applications should begin at pond startup or just after ice melts. Use Seasonal Defense® once a week for four weeks in the spring.

The other ingredients in DefensePAC®—including Nature’s Defense®, Clarity Defense® and Muck Defense®—all work to promote a healthy ecosystem, clean and clear the water column, and break down organics in your pond. They can be used on a routine basis throughout the spring and summer.

  • Nature’s Defense® contains natural bacteria that breaks down organics in your water garden. These organics, if left alone, are a food resource for algae—which is not something you want to feed. Because it works best when temperatures are above 50°F, check you water’s temperature with a Floating Pond Thermometer before dosing. Use Nature’s Defense® every two weeks throughout the season.
  • Clarity Defense® is designed to clarify ponds. It locks up excess nutrients, making them unavailable as a food source for algae, and settles suspended particulates that are in the water column. It also stimulates natural bacteria growth and buffers pH levels.
  • Muck Defense® also contains natural bacteria that accelerate the decomposition of organic matter caused by rotting leaves, algae and fish waste. This is great for water gardens that were constructed with rocks and gravel that are difficult to vacuum. We suggest using Muck Defense® every four weeks throughout the season when water temperatures are above 50°F.

DefensePAC® is a five-step solution to cleaning and clearing your pond—and keeping it that way all season long.

Pond Talk: What kinds of changes are you planning to make to your water garden this spring?

All Natural, Pond Care System - Pond Logic® DefensePAC®

Will the snails I added last year still be in my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Will the snails I added last year still be in my pond?

Q: Will the snails I added last year still be in my pond?

Phoebe – Amherst, NH

A: Snails are a pond keeper’s best friend – especially when it comes to gobbling through algae.

The type that you probably have in your backyard water garden is the Japanese Trapdoor Snail. They get their name from their fancy shells, which have a hinged fingernail-like plate that allows them to seal the shell’s opening, providing protection from drought and predators.

Cold-Weather Friendly
These little guys are hardy enough to weather cold temperatures, like the ones we had all winter. Unlike other aquatic snails, Japanese Trapdoor Snails lack a lung, which means they don’t need to surface to suck in frigid (and potentially deadly) oxygen in the winter. They’re ideal for harsher northern climates.

Hiding Places
When the spring and summer sunshine warms the water, you might not see your snails. They like to hang out on the bottom of ponds, and they blend in incredibly well with rocks, gravel and plants. But they’re hard at work doing what they do best – eating algae and the detritus that feeds it. They also do a great job grooming plants and keeping your rocks and plant pots algae-free.

Strength in Numbers
For maximum algae-eating benefit, we recommend housing a minimum of 10 snails per 50 square feet of pond. If you have a farm pond or larger water feature, you’ll need at least 200 snails to have any effect at all. Remember that they will reproduce a few times a year, and tiny newborn snails are hungry!

Aerated Water, Happy Snails: Keep those helpful gastropods happy all year-long by providing plenty of oxygen-rich water. The best way to do that is by aerating your pond with a subsurface aeration system, like the PondAir™ Aeration Kit. Featuring two air stones and flexible black vinyl air tubing, an adjustable unit like this will infuse your pond with oxygen while remaining whisper quiet.

Pond Talk: Have you had success controlling algae in your water feature with snails?

Breathe Life Into Your Pond - Airmax® PondAir™ Aeration Kits

I don’t know if I have chara or another weed. How do I tell? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I don’t know if I have chara or another weed. How do I tell?

Q: I don’t know if I have chara or another weed. How do I tell?

Dan – W Jefferson, OH

A: Though it resembles a pond weed, chara—also called muskgrass or skunkweed—is actually a type of bottom-growing algae that can efficiently take over your pond or lake.

Can’t tell the difference between the two? Here are some tips to help identify and treat the chara.

IDing Chara

Pull out some of the plant in question and take a close look at it. Does it have these characteristics?

  • No Roots: Unlike pond weeds with traditional leaves and well-established root systems, chara is a gray-green branched multicellular algae that lacks flowers, true leaves and roots. Instead, it has six to 16 leaf-like branchlets that grow in spirals around the stem.
  • Distinct Odor: Next, smell it. Does it have a skunky, musty, garlicky-type smell? If so, it’s probably chara. Simply walking close to or around your pond will tell you right away if you have a chara problem, particularly late in the pond season.
  • Crunchy Texture: When you rub the plant between your fingers, what does it feel like? Chara has a crunchy or gritty-type texture that’s different than pond weeds.
  • Quickly Disintegrates: Finally, when you leave it on the dock, what happens to it after a few hours? If it almost disintegrates after a few hours, you’ve got chara.

Treating Chara

Once you determine it’s chara and not a pond weed, you’ll need to treat it with an algaecide rather than an herbicide. We prefer to use Pond Logic® Algae Defense® Algaecide, a fast-acting liquid formula, but use Cutrine®-Plus Granular as for chara growing in water deeper than 3 feet.

About two weeks after treating the chara, we suggest to use a Pond Rake to rake out as much as you can Doing this will help you gain control relatively quickly. (Important tip: Do not rake out chara before treating it because it will spread).

Pond Talk: What kinds of problems do you have with pond weeds or algae?

Eliminate Bottom Growing Chara - Cutrine®-Plus Granular

What Are The Benefits Of Using Barley Straw In My Pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

What Are The Benefits Of Using Barley Straw In My Pond? What Are The Benefits Of Using Barley Straw In My Pond?

David – Mullica Hill, NJ

Whoever thought of adding barley straw to a pond must’ve discovered its advantages either by accident or because they were very clever. Because barley straw breaks down, it releases a byproduct and this byproduct is known to make the water conditions unfavorable for new algae growth without affecting any other aquatic life. Barley straw has been used in larger ponds and lakes for several decades and it was only natural for this method of preventing algae to spillover (pun intended) to water gardens.

When applying the bales to your pond, it’s best to leave it in the mesh bag so that the straw doesn’t float around everywhere. Also keep in mind that it will take roughly four to six weeks for the barley to start having an effect on your pond, so just add it early in the season and don’t become impatient if you don’t notice results right away. Remember, perfection takes time! Make sure as well to place the bales in an area that receives a good amount flow so all the pond water comes in contact with the barley. A waterfall filter box is a great choice to help spread the water.

Barley Straw is also available in a pellet form and a liquid extract.

POND TALK: Which barley form do you find that works the best: bales, pellets, or liquid?

The Pond Guy® Barley Straw

Is there an ideal temperature to treat algae? | Pond & Lake Q&A

Is there an ideal temperature to treat algae?

Is there an ideal temperature to treat algae?

Crystal – New Baltimore, MI

It depends what you mean by the word “treat.” If you’re looking to throw a party in its honor, pretty much any temperature will do – because algae grows all year ‘round, even during the winter months. But if you’re hoping to give it the kind of treatment that makes it feel extremely unwelcome, you’ll see the best results when water temperatures are at 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. When water is warmer, algae tends to thrive. Because it’s thriving, it’s feeding – making it much more susceptible to algaecides.

Because very few of our customers express interest in enhancing algae growth, we’ll assume most readers are in the latter category. And if you are, we have a variety of highly effective options to accomplish your objectives. Algae Defense® with Treatment Booster™ PLUS is among our safest, most effective weapons in the battle against algae. Algae Defense® is a fast-acting aquatic algaecide, and it’s highly effective at eliminating a broad spectrum of pond algae. By including Treatment Booster™ PLUS, which breaks down algae’s natural defenses, this combination packs a particularly effective double-whammy, and makes short work of offending algae blooms.

For spot-treatment of algae growth, we also recommend Cutrine®-Plus Granular . Formulated to make quick work of both surface and bottom-forming algae, this safe, powerful algaecide does double-duty by both killing existing algae, and inhibiting its future growth.

While some pond owners prefer to eschew algaecide and rake algae out manually, the raking-only approach requires much more maintenance and attention. Algae are extremely hearty, and raking leaves trace amounts in the pond, allowing for recurrent blooms. For longer-lasting impact, the ideal treatment includes the use of algaecides, followed by cutting with our weed cutter, raking with our Pond & Beach Rake, and follow-up treatment with natural bacteria to break down any remaining muck.

Give your algae the treatment they deserve before temperatures start to fall – and start next season with a leg up on their plans for next year’s invasion.

Pond Talk: What method of treatment have you used to maintain algae?

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