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What Can I Do To Maintain My Pond This Season? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can sidewalk salt be used to melt the ice off my pond?

This will be our first full season with our pond. What should we do for proper maintenance?

Joe – Aurora, CO

The first season with your new pond can be an exciting and relatively hassle free endeavor, as long as you take the right precautions to maintain it properly. Lucky for you, you’ve come to the right place to learn exactly what you’ll need in order to successfully maintain your pond for the season.

Remember, a balanced ecosystem is key. Listed below are the main elements used to maintain a balanced pond.

Filtration – Whether you have a waterfall, pressurized or gravity type filter, make sure the included Filter Media is clean and in good condition. Mechanical filtration like skimmer filters should be cleaned regularly to prevent clogging. Biological filter media, like the pads in your waterfall or bio-media in your pressurized filter, should be cleaned sparingly to promote an accumulation of water-filtering beneficial bacteria.

Fish – The highlight of many ponds, fish add color and life to your decorative pond. They also, however, add waste and nutrients that can quickly accumulate and unbalance your pond. 1-inch of fish for every square foot of surface area is a rough guideline for maximum fish load. Keep in mind that your fish are continually growing. That means your 3 inch fish that were added last year are now 4-6 inch fish which more than doubles the waste that needs to be filtered. The more fish you have and the frequency at which you feed them plays a large role in how much filtration you will need to remove this additional waste.

PlantsAquatic Plants are an enormous natural boon to your water garden or fish pond. Not only do they provide habitat for your fish, maintaining 40-60% plant coverage shades your pond and prevents dramatic increases in water temperature on sunny days. Plants also provide additional natural filtration as they extract nutrients from the water added by organic debris and fish waste.

Aeration – Proper aeration is another key factor for pond maintenance. An aeration kit like the Pond Logic® PondAir™ or KoiAir™ will provide extra circulation to keep debris from accumulating at the bottom of the pond while increasing oxygen levels for your fish and water-filtering aerobic bacteria.

Natural Pond Treatments – Natural products like those contained in the Pond Logic® DefensePAC® will greatly increase water quality by boosting aerobic bacteria counts, binding up phosphates from organic material and eliminating organic debris.

Including each of these key pond elements in your water garden or fish pond greatly reduces stress and guesswork associated with a troublesome unbalanced pond. Simply put, a stable ecosystem means less work on your part. If a problem does arise, you can then pinpoint and adjust whichever element above that is throwing your pond out of balance.

Pond Talk: Is your pond balanced? If not, have you discovered which of the key elements is missing or lacking?

Pond Filtration Media

How many and what type of plants should I have in my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

How many and what type of plants should I have in my pond?

Q: How many and what type of plants should I have in my pond?
Bryce – Myrtle Beach, SC

If you’re a person – and we’re going out on a limb here to assume you are – you understand the importance of eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. Variety, it seems, is more than just the spice of life. Like you, your water garden thrives on variety – in the form of a carefully selected mix of aquatic plants. But just as overeating is harmful to you, over-planting spells trouble for your pond. So, whether you’re dining or planting, it pays to be prudent.

Ideal plant coverage is around 60% of your featured surface – this allows for enough nutrient absorption to help prevent algae from gaining a foothold in your pond. There are many types of water plants to choose from – bog plants, marginal plants, lilies, floating and submerged plants – and frankly, we recommend that you try and use them all because each type of plant brings a little something different to the water table if you get our drift.

For instance, submerged plants, like Hornwort or Anacharis, are oxygenators, providing critical support to a pond’s eco-system by supplementing the water with oxygen, while floating plants, like the water hyacinth, provide shade that cools the water and cover under which fish can hide.

Our customers have found The Pond Guy Choice Hardy Water Lilies, make lovely additions to their ponds. Position the root of the plant in a container of Microbe-Lift Concentrated Aquatic Planting Media, and locate the water lily so that its floating leaves are away from any splashing water for best results.

Blue Flag Iris, Water Hibiscus and Bog Bean are all lovely examples of bog plants that can be placed around the shallow edges of your pond for both aesthetic and ecological reasons. To keep your water garden in healthy, we suggest you treat your plants once a year to such products as the Laguna Temperature Activated Aquatic Plant Fertilizer Spikes or the nitrate and phosphate free supplement Bloom and Grow, formulated specifically for aquatic plants.

There’s no doubt about it: variety is the spice of life. It’s also the sign of a healthy, well-cared for pond.

Pond Talk: What types of plants do you have in your pond?

The Pond Guy® Choice Hardy Water Lilies

I think I spotted some eggs in my pond, do I need to do anything with them? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I think I spotted some eggs in my pond, do I need to do anything with them?

I think I spotted some eggs in my pond, do I need to do anything with them?
Kathie- Walnut, CA

If you have koi fish in your pond, there’s a distinct possibility you may be right. If you don’t, we may have a mystery on our hands.

For the purposes of identification, koi eggs are about the size of small beads – or small pinheads. Their color can range from milky white to greenish brown, and you’ll often be able to see black dots – which are developing koi eyes – inside them.

Fortunately, by the time you’ve identified the eggs, Mother Nature is already on the job. But, as a good steward to the future koi of America, you might consider adding some Aquatic Plants to the pond to provide good hiding spots for the fry. With everything from floating plants to pond flowers to submerged oxygenating plants, we have plenty of choices to keep your kiddie koi safe from predators – until they’re ready to make it on their own. For an added measure of protection, consider our Koi Shelters, which provide safe havens for koi of all sizes.

Koi eggs generally hatch within a week. So, within a few days from your first sighting, you’ll be graced with an abundance of koi fry. When they’re first hatched, koi fry can’t swim – so they attach themselves to the sides of the pond to grow. Within three or four days, your koi fry will begin to swim.

While it might be tempting to give your fry a welcome feast, there’s no need. During the first stages of their development, your koi will find sufficient natural food in the pond. By the time they’re approximately three to four weeks old, the koi fry should be between ¼” and ½’ long – and they’ll still be capable of finding sufficient natural food in the pond.

After two to three months, your fry will have reached between 2” and 3” in length. They’ll continue to grow until they’re between fifteen and twenty years old – so they’re just getting started. And with an average lifespan of approximately fifty years, you’ll have plenty of time to appreciate your koi, and the generations of offspring they’re sure to produce.

Pond Talk: Have you had the opportunity to see new koi in your pond?

Aquatic Plants

Are there any unique plants I can add to my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Are there any unique plants I can add to my pond?

Are there any unique plants I can add to my pond?

Brad – Phoenix, AZ

Pond owners looking to flex their green thumbs this spring are already planning their aquatic plant purchases. Including plants in your water garden or decorative water feature can help add shade and filtration to the water body while painting the landscape with beautiful colors and accents.

The Ann Chowning Iris is an excellent selection for ponds that are exposed to constant sunlight. The Ann Chowning has intense red flowers with deep yellow accents. The flowers have a velvety texture and the iris produces beautiful evergreen foliage growing to a height of 36” and a width of 18-24”. Blooming in the spring and into summer, the Ann Chowning iris prefers full sun but will tolerate some late hour shade. The brilliant contrasting colors make this iris a great cut flower that can be used in centerpieces and indoor decoration. For pond owners in more remote locations the Ann Chowning is a great choice as it is resistant to deer which love to frequent ponds for a quick snack and drink.

As with other aquatic plants the Ann Chowning can be planted in media baskets with planting media and placed in and around your pond or water feature. As the Ann Chowning prefers moist, well drained soil you will want to keep this iris contained to the shallow regions and edges of your pond. Be sure to fertilize your plants with pond-safe plant fertilizer to achieve even brighter and bolder colors.

Pond Talk: What unique plants have you incorporated into your pond?

Ann Chowning Iris

Can I enjoy my plants indoors for the cooler months? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can I enjoy my plants indoors for the cooler months?

Can I enjoy my plants indoors for the cooler months? Josh – Speed, KS

With winter on the way, you are probably starting to wonder how to go about protecting your plants through the colder months. Just as each plant is unique in looks and application, different types of plants require different means of protection to survive winter. You will want to properly identify which types of plants are present in your pond and proceed accordingly. If you are willing to go the extra mile and care for your plants indoors you will be able to enjoy them all season long and dodge the expense of re-buying plants to garnish your pond next Spring.

Plants are typically categorized by hardiness which gauges their survivability in specific temperature ranges. Some plants, like Bog Bean are rated from zones 3 to 10 which means they can withstand very cold temperatures but can also thrive in warm weather. Tropical plants like the Antares Lily are hardy only in zones 10 and 11. For help, see our Plant Hardiness Zone Map which breaks down temperature lows in each zone. With this being said you will now understand that some plants may need to be stored earlier and longer than others and may require a little more attention depending on their warmth and light requirements and if you maintaining the entire plant or only storing tubers.

Hardy Lilies and Lotus can be trimmed back to about an inch` away from the top of the planter as they brown. To over winter these plants you simply sink the baskets to a depth in your pond that will not freeze solid, normally at least 12” in water depth. As the temperatures warm back up you can move the basket closer to the surface and let nature take its course. If your lilies aren’t potted, they are more than likely planted into lily pockets that are already 12-18” in depth and simply trimming them back will suffice. Any tropical plant, however, will have to come inside for the winter. These plants can be maintained if placed in a warm and sunny area or under a full spectrum light and the root of the plant is kept submerged.

Submerged Plants that are hardy in colder climates can just be sunk to deeper regions of your pond that will not freeze solid in the winter. If they require warmer temperatures you can bring them in and store them in an aquarium with full spectrum lighting.

Floating Plants like Water Hyacinths and Water Lettuce are sensitive to colder weather and are a little more difficult to over winter. If you choose to bring them in for the winter, they require a warm sunny location or under full spectrum lighting. You will also want to add some liquid fertilizer like Microbe-Lift Bloom & Grow to keep them healthy.

POND TALK: Tell us how you over winter your aquatic plants.

Easily maintain your plants!

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

Can Koi get sunburns? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can Koi get sunburns?

Can Koi get sunburns? Dan – Bane, VA

Now that beach season here it is time to venture out into the great outdoors and soak in some of that summer sun. You can safely bet your Koi will be doing the same, as they love the sunshine and can be found sunning themselves in the shallows of your pond. Unlike us, however, they can’t lather on the sunscreen. So what can you do to make sure they don’t overindulge and end up with a sunburn?

Koi can get sunburnt? That’s right, your Koi can burn if overexposed to the sun. Some Koi will loiter close to the surface in your pond or in shallow areas that leave their backs very close to the surface of or, at times, partially out the water. This is the most common reason why your fish tend to experience sun damage. Another less common contributing factor is the lack of shade and cover from sun exposure. Some pond owners do not provide any Floating Plants, shaded areas, or recessed areas for fish to hide within in instances of intense sun which leaves them completely exposed. If your pond receives direct sunlight throughout the day, make sure you provide adequate habitat to protect your pets. You can also add some Pond Shade to limit the amount of UV light that is able to penetrate the surface of the pond. A great way to prevent burns, illness, and parasites in your pond is to dose the water with Pond Salt. Pond salt will improve the slime coat on your fish and improve their gill function which protects them from illness and exposure to the elements.

When your fish are over exposed to the sun and outside elements you will notice their slime coat will turn white and start to peel off. If caught in time they will regenerate their protective coating and the old damaged areas will start to break off and wash away. If no steps are taken to address the problem your fish can develop blisters, ulcers, and open wounds that can lead to pain or infection. If you do notice a bit of sun damage on your fish you should quickly asses your pond’s layout and investigate the possible causes of why your fish are being over exposed. Add shade where necessary or if you see that one or a couple of your fish keep surfacing in the shallower areas of your ponds, section them off in deeper areas that are abundant in shade until their protective coating heals. If blisters or sores develop, treat the effected fish with an Antifungal/Bacteria treatment like MelaFix, PimaFix, or TetraPond Fish Treatment.

Always take into consideration the environment your fish are exposed to and adjust as necessary to keep them comfortable. Your fish will enjoy the sunny warm weather quite readily which provides great opportunities to play and interact with your pets. Occasionally checking in on your finned friends and reacting to their needs will keep them healthy, happy, and safe this summer.

POND TALK: Has your koi ever had a sunburn?

Turn your water garden into an outdoor oasis!

How can I make my water garden more enjoyable for night time viewing? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I make my water garden more enjoyable for night time viewing?

How can I make my water garden more enjoyable for night time viewing? Mark – Schaumburg, IL

Tell Your Pond To Get A Night Life

Like so many other water gardeners out there, you’ve labored diligently throughout the seasons to build the perfect back yard oasis, but between work and errands you are never home early enough in the day to sit and enjoy the scenery! A few simple steps can make the difference between some night time relaxation or simply being stuck in the dark.

One of the best things about your pond is that it’s present both in the night and day. The soothing sound of flowing water is one of the most common and enjoyable products of your water feature. If you do not have a small fountain, waterfall, or stream, consider installing one to instantly up your pond’s enjoyment factor. For smaller ponds a pump like the Fish Mate 580 comes with both a fountain head attachment and a diverter to route water to a small waterfall making installation fast and simple.

With some soothing sounds added to your pond, we can now turn our focus over to the visual side of the spectrum. A somewhat obvious way to get some late night pond side time is to implement some cleverly placed lighting. Floating Solar Lights and a 10-Watt Waterfall Light can add soft subtle accents to the pond, drawing your attention to desired areas. 3-Pack Halogen and LED Kits can be used in or out of the pond to softly illuminate large areas of the pond. If you are looking for a little more power you can use a Multi-Color High Intensity LED to flood an area with light or a 50-Watt Warm Halogen light to spot light and accent a particular area or item.

Tip: When installing pond lighting underwater, make sure to wrap an appropriate amount of excess power cord around the light to allow the ability to replace the bulb if needed. This excess power cord will allow you to pull the light out of the water for a bulb change instead of having to either move rock or drain the water. Also make sure you point lighting away from where you will be viewing the pond.

Another less known but equally effective way to accent your pond in the twilight hours is to use night blooming plants. Night blooming lilies like the Trudy Slocum still possess the same shading and filtering properties as your other lilies; the only difference is the blooms open up in the evening and throughout the night so you can enjoy a little extra color when the lights go out.

Each pond is special and unique so there is never one specific layout when it comes to adding lights and plants. Select items that match the surrounding colors and landscaping of your pond and use lighting to accent them accordingly. With a little practice and experimentation you can achieve a beautiful and thoroughly enjoyable pond, even at night.

Pond Talk: What products do you use to make your water garden more enjoyable at night?

Light up your pond at night!

I Just Bought Some New Fish, How Should I Introduce Them To My Pond? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Pond Fish & Koi Acclimation
I Just Bought Some New Fish, How Should I Introduce Them To My Pond? Paul – Baytown, TX

Best In Show

So you’ve made the decision to invite a few new friends to your home, but are you getting more than you bargained for? As is true with any purchase, you want to make sure you are getting quality before you hand over your hard-earned dollars. Inspect the fish you intend to purchase for symptoms of illness or poor health. Look over their fins, mouth, and gills for blemishes, discoloration, or signs of fin rot and check their body for growths, loose or missing scales, or other blemishes as they may be an early indicator of disease or parasites. Take a few moments to observe your prospect’s behavior to make sure they are active and having no mobility hindrances.

Prep The Pond

Your newly purchased fish are typically handed over to you in an oxygenated plastic bag or container to allow adequate time to transport them to their new home. While it may be tempting to just dump them into your water garden upon your return home, you will want to make sure your pond is ready to accommodate its new inhabitants before you begin their acclimation process. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the water in your pond is free from potential fatal heavy metals and chlorine by adding Pond & Fish Conditioner during your water changes.
  • To help prevent disease and reduce fish stress in your new tenants, add Pond Salt to the water between your water changes. To ensure the well being of your Aquatic Plants, only add 1 1/4 cups per 100 gallons of pond water.
  • You can purchase a Master Test Kit to verify acceptable pH and Nitrate levels in the pond.
  • You can prevent many potential health issues throughout your fish population by simply maintaining a clean and healthy pond. You can read more about pond maintenance here.

Well, You Better Get Used To It

Now that the pond is ready for the addition of fish, it is time to get your finned friends ready for the big show. You will want to gradually equalize the temperature of the water your fish are currently occupying with that of the water in your pond. If the container carrying your fish floats, go ahead and place it in your pond. As the bag bobbles around in your pond, the water inside will start balancing with the outside water temperature. This process should take no longer than 30 minutes. During this time frame, slowly add small amounts of water from the pond into the container which will allow your new fish time to acclimate to the chemistry of your pond water. Most of us have, at one time or another, jumped into a pool too early in the summer only to find that the water is unimaginably cold. Those of you who’ve been in that situation understand why you will want to take your time with the acclimation process. Now that the water on both sides of the container is the same and the fish have had time to try out the make up of the water in the pond, you are clear to release them into their new environment! Take a few moments throughout the day to check in on the pond and monitor the behavior of the newly introduced fish. Active and curious fish are happy and healthy fish.

POND TALK: Are there any tricks that you’ve done to acclimate your fish?

Remove Heavy Metals and Chlorine with Pond Logic® Pond & Fish Conditioner

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