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My water turned brown about this time last year. How do I stop it from happening again? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: My water turned brown about this time last year. How do I stop it from happening again?

Q: My water turned brown about this time last year. How do I stop it from happening again?

Nick – Charlestown, WV

A: There’s only one thing worse than green water—and that’s brown water. In some ponds or water features, the end of summer or beginning of fall brings with it this discolored water. It’s caused by one of two reasons:

  • Debris Tea: When leaves or pine needles fall into your pond, the tannins in them create a type of all-natural debris tea, which turns the clean and clear water in your backyard feature a shade of brown. This is the most common cause of tea-colored water.
  • Sediment Stew: If you have a lot of floating particulates or sediment in your pond, playful fish, wind or some other action can sometimes disrupt it, mixing it into your water column via your pump or aeration system.

To determine what’s causing the brown water, grab a glass jar from your kitchen, dunk it in your pond and fill it with the water. Let it sit for 24 hours and take a close look at the results. Is the water still tea-colored? Then you have tannin-colored debris tea. Do you see sediment settled at the bottom of the glass? Then you have some sediment stew.

Once you pinpoint what’s causing the brown water, here’s how to treat the problem.

  1. Clean It Up: Because both causes start with an abundance of organics in the water, your first course of action is to clean the bottom of your pond to remove any muck, leaves and remaining debris with a pond vacuum or skimmer net.
  2. Water Change: Next, do a partial (10 to 25 percent) water change, which will freshen things up and clear the water. Don’t forget to add a water conditioner to treat the water for your finned pals.
  3. Add Beneficial Bacteria: If you have sediment stew, add some Nature’s Defense® (if water temps are above 50°F) or Seasonal Defense® (if water temps are below 50°F). The beneficial bacteria will digest any accumulated organic debris and eliminate the brown water.
  4. Use Activated Carbon: If you have debris tea, toss a media bag filled with Pond Logic® Activated Carbon into your pond. The carbon will absorb the tannins, leaving behind clear water.

To prevent the discoloration from happening again, keep the organics out of the pond. Clean up the muck regularly with a skimmer net or vacuum, and when the leaves or pine needles start falling, cover the water with pond netting, like the Pond Logic® PondShelter™ or The Pond Guy® Premium Pond Netting.

Pond Talk: Have the leaves started falling in your neck of the woods yet? If so, what do you do to keep them out of your water?

Remove Discoloration From Leaves & Debris - View Pond Logic® Activated Carbon

Do turtles burrow in the ground for winter? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Do turtles burrow in the ground for winter?

Q: Do turtles burrow in the ground for winter?

Lewis – Lincoln, VT

A: One of the oldest reptile groups on planet earth, cold-blooded turtles are distinguished by a bony shell that acts like a super-powerful shield to protect them from predators. Like birds and reptiles, turtles lay their eggs on land and breathe air—but they can spend long periods of time underwater, surfacing at regular intervals to fill their lungs with oxygen.

These terrapins do a great job taking care of themselves (and have been for the past 200 million years!), but if you have turtles in your pond or lake, you can be a gracious host by understanding some basic facts about them.

Wintertime Signs

They don’t use a calendar, but turtles know when it’s time to cozy down for the winter. They use the air and water temperature as a gauge, which triggers their instinctual behavioral and physiological hibernation. Typically, this happens when temperatures reach 50 degrees Fahrenheit or so.

Holing Up for the Season

Though they carry a home-sweet-home on their backs, certain types of turtles do hole up for the winter season—literally. Depending on the turtle type, some species, like box turtles, will burrow in the sediment in the bottom of your pond and hibernate for the winter, while others will swim to lower pond levels to escape ice cover. This innate behavior keeps them safe, in most cases, until temperatures warm again.

Slowed Metabolism, No Appetite

Like fishes and other cold-blooded critters, turtles’ metabolisms slow when temperatures get cold. This physiological change means that they require very little oxygen and food. In fact, their hearts will slow to just a few beats every few minutes! They are also able to take in miniscule amounts of oxygen through specialized skin cells.

Privacy, Please

To keep your turtles under cover and safe from predators during the long winter, you can add some pond dye, like Pond Logic® Pond Dye, to your pond. The blue or black coloring not only camouflages the turtles, but it also shades the pond, eliminates cloudy water, and cuts down on excess nutrients and odor.

Pond Talk: What do you do to support the turtle population in your lake or pond?

Shade & Protect Your Pond - Pond Logic® Pond Dye

Do I need to provide indoor shelter for my pond snails? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Do I need to provide indoor shelter for my pond snails?

Q: Do I need to provide indoor shelter for my pond snails?

Jerry – Kernersville, NC

A: Scientists have identified an estimated 4,000 species of freshwater snails, but one that you might find inhabiting your backyard pond or water garden is the Japanese Trapdoor Pond Snail, also known by its scientific name Viviparis malleatus.

These algae-eating gastropods have extra-special shells with a hinged fingernail-like plate that allows them to seal the shell’s opening, providing protection from drought and predation—hence their “Trapdoor Snail” nickname.

Though these hearty snails overwinter well in harsher northern climates, they do require some attention when temperatures dip. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Cool with Cold-Temperatures: These snails really do well in colder temperatures—in fact, some experts say they’ll do fine in sub-freezing weather, even down to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. When it gets really frigid, they’ll dive to the bottom of the pond, where the water is warmer.
  • Adequate Pond Depth Required: In order for them to be happy and healthy through those chilly winter spells, the snails need the water in your pond’s depth to ideally be 20 to 30 inches. Down there, they’ll happily groom the bottom of your pond, gobbling all the decaying matter like leaves, excess fish food and fish waste.
  • No Habitat Required: Because these little guys carry their homes on their back, you don’t need to provide shelter or food for them. If they feel endangered, they’ll disappear into their shells; if they’re hungry, they’ll nibble on algae that’s on your plants, underwater pots, rocks and walls.
  • Aeration Appreciated: Like any aquatic critter, Trapdoor Snails appreciate oxygen-rich water, and that’s where a subsurface aeration system, like the Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration Kit, will help. An adjustable unit like this will infuse your pond with oxygen while remaining whisper quiet.

If you have other types of snails in your pond or water garden, these rules may not apply—so be sure to learn their care requirements as they may need more attention than these hearty Trapdoor Snails.

Pond Talk: Do you have other types of snails in your pond? If so, what kind of care do they require?

Eliminate Harmful Gases - Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration Kits

Is it too cold to treat my pond with the ClearPAC®? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Is it too cold to treat my pond with the ClearPAC®?

Q: Is it too cold to treat my pond with the ClearPAC®?

Karen – Goshen, IN

A: Pond Logic® ClearPAC® combines PondClear™, Algae Defense®, EcoBoost™ and Nature’s Blue™ Pond Dye to combat algae and suspended debris in your lake or pond. Some components of this super-pack have temperature limitations while others can be used year-round. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

PondClear™

Beneficial bacteria that break down muck and suspended debris, such as those found in PondClear™ and MuckAway™, can be used until water temperatures drop to 50 degrees Fahrenheit or so. Though that temperature is not a definitive cut-off point, the bacteria will become less effective due to unfavorable conditions. Bottom line: When your thermometer dips below 50 degrees, hold off until the water warms again.

Algae Defense®

This algae-destroyer can be used to treat troublesome floating filamentous algae, bottom growing chara or the planktonic algae as long as it’s green and growing, and the water temperature in your pond or lake is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If it’s lower than that, hold off until spring.

EcoBoost™

EcoBoost™, which is a bacteria booster rather than an actual bacteria, has no temperature restrictions so it can be used year-round to bind phosphates that find their way into your pond or lake. You can use EcoBoost™ throughout the winter to give you a head start on next season.

Pond Dye

The final ingredient in Pond Logic® ClearPAC®, Pond Dye in blue, twilight or black is not temperature-sensitive, so it can be used year-round to give your pond or lake that aesthetic appeal throughout the winter months. And if it’s getting too chilly to stand by your pond pouring in a quart of dye, try Pond Dye Packets—all you do is toss the water-soluble packet into the water and head back to your warm and toasty home!

Pond Talk: Why do you use pond dye in your pond or lake?

Enhance Water Clarity - Pond Logic® EcoBoost™

I did a spring cleanout; do I need to do a fall one too? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

I did a spring cleanout; do I need to do a fall one too?

Q: I did a spring cleanout; do I need to do a fall one too?

Robert – Reston, VA

A: Whether it’s the spring or the fall, cleaning out your pond can be a chore. You have to pull out your gear, pull on your hip waders and gloves, and get dirty and wet. As much as you love your pond or water garden, it’s hard work!

The answer to your question depends on two factors: the condition of your pond, and your personal preference. Let’s take a closer look.

Condition of the Pond

Step outside and examine your pond and the area surrounding it. Have you, um, neglected it this summer? Perhaps the fish or algae have taken over the pond. Maybe leaves and dead plants are bunching up and decomposing along the water’s edge. Hey—don’t worry about it; it’s been a busy summer, right?

If your pond isn’t quite up to snuff, it’s a good idea to break out that pond vacuum and your Laguna Collapsible Pond Skimmer Net and do some cleaning. It’s also a good idea to add some beneficial bacteria, like Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense®, and maybe even do a partial water change to help remove excess debris before winter. Remember that debris left in the pond will continue to decompose and may pose a threat to your finned friends.

If your pond is looking good, however, and you’ve maintained it since the last cleanout, simply toss in some cool-weather bacteria, like Seasonal Defense®, to help remove any minor buildup that occurs until the pond starts to freeze over.

Personal Preference

Of course, personal preference matters, too. If you enjoy spending time pond-side as the trees do their color-changing thing, or if you plan to have some autumn soirees, Halloween haunted houses or other parties in your yard as the weather cools, then a clean-up is in order.

On the other hand, if you don’t really care how your pond looks during the fall and winter months, do a quick cleanout to remove excess debris and add some cool-weather bacteria, like Seasonal Defense®—but definitely plan to do a thorough cleanout come spring.

Pond Talk: Is it more important to you to regularly maintain your pond or do big seasonal cleanouts twice a year?

One Product, Three Seasons! - Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense®

How can I tell if my fish are ready for a lighter diet? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I tell if my fish are ready for a lighter diet?

Q: How can I tell if my fish are ready for a lighter diet?

Steve – Wallingford, PA

A: When feeding your koi and pond fish, a “lighter diet” doesn’t mean that your finned friends need to switch to low-cal, low-fat foods. Instead, it refers to an easy-to-digest wheat germ-based diet that’s formulated for the fishes’ slowed activity and metabolism during the transitional fall and spring months.

Wheat germ-based diets, such as Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Floating Fish Food, TetraPond® Floating Spring & Fall Fish Food and PondCare® Spring & Autumn Fish Food, are packed with vegetable protein, amino acids and digestive enzymes. These diets, which help them ease into and out of winter, are gentle on their digestive systems while keeping their constitutions strong to fight off disease.

How do you know when it’s time to switch diets? Here are three clues:

  • Temperature: When your water temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, you should feed your active, hungry fish protein- and carbohydrate-balanced foods, like Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food. But when water temperatures dip to between 40 to 50 degrees, they require the lighter, wheat germ-based foods. Use your Pond Logic® Floating Pond Thermometer to keep an eye on the water temperature as the days and nights get cooler.
  • Fish Mobility: Are your koi and goldfish moving a bit more slowly than they normally do? That’s another clue that it’s time to switch to a lighter food. Fish will naturally begin to slow down their activity in cooler water as their bodies begin to prepare for their annual “hibernation.”
  • Feeding Interest: As the fish slow their activity and require less food to fuel their metabolisms, they won’t be as interested in the tasty morsels as they are in the summer. So if your koi and goldfish seem to have turned into picky eaters, that’s your third clue that it’s time to switch to a lighter diet.

When water temperatures fall to below 40 degrees, that’s when it’s time to stop feeding your fish altogether. Don’t worry: They won’t starve! Their bodies, which need very few nutrients to sustain them during the cold months, have plenty of fat stored—but you can bet they’ll be ready for a nice, big meal when spring arrives.

Pond Talk: What changes do you see in your fishes’ behavior during the fall?

Specialized Cool Weather Diet - Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food

It is starting to get cold here; do I need to do anything special for my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

It is starting to get cold here; do I need to do anything special for my pond?

Q: It is starting to get cold here; do I need to do anything special for my pond?

William – Great Bend, KS

A: It’s September: The kids are back in school, and you’ve probably noticed a nip in the air, a flush of color in your trees and fewer hours of daylight. Fall is well on its way, which means you have some work to do after a relaxing summer lazing by your pond!

Here, we’ve listed five ways to prepare your pond for colder weather – and get a jump-start on your winter pond or water garden chores, too.

1. Switch to wheat germ food. Wheat germ-based food, like Pond Logic® Spring and Fall Fish Food, is much easier for fish to digest as their metabolisms naturally slow during the cooler months. The food contains a careful balance of nutrients like carbohydrates, vegetable proteins, amino acids and digestive enzymes that will keep your fish healthy and content as fall turns to winter.

2. Switch to cool-weather bacteria. Because different types of bacteria thrive at different temperatures, switch to a beneficial bacteria that’s formulated for colder weather, like Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense®. It works best in water that’s less than 50° Fahrenheit, and it accelerates the decomposition of leaves, scum and sediment that turns into pond muck during the fall and winter months.

3. Keep out the leaves. Blowing leaves and other debris will fall into your pond during the fall, and if you don’t get them out, they’ll decompose over the winter and create a mucky mess in the spring. Plan to put a net over the pond, like the Pond Logic® PondShelter™ Net Kit, to keep them out – or be prepared to empty your skimmer every day until the leaves stop dropping.

4. Start your aerator. Aerating your pond with an aerator, like the Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration Kit, helps to break up the water column in your pond and add essential oxygen to the water. If you skipped using your aerator during the summer, now is the time to get it going again so that it is well established when you shut down your pump and filter in the wintertime.

5. Cut back and remove dead plant vegetation. Just as you want to prevent those pesky leaves from falling into your pond, you should also hack away any dead plant material inside and around your water garden. Use a handy long-reach tool, like the Pond Scissors and Pliers combo, to remove water hyacinths or cut back water lilies and other aquatic plants.

Pond Talk: What other pond and water garden chores do you like to do in the fall?

Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food - Formulated For Cool Temperatures

When should I switch my fish food? | Decorative Pond & Water Garden Q&A

When should I switch my fish food?

When should I switch my fish food?

Jordyn – Milwaulkee, WI

If you’re eating fish food, you should probably consider switching it right away. I recommend pizza. Unless, of course, you’re a fish – which, for the purposes of this post, we’ll assume you are.

Fish, as you probably know, are extremely susceptible to seasonal cycles, and the environmental changes they bring. When gauging the best time to transition from one type of food to another, it’s vital to monitor water temperature – which, when you use our Pond Logic Floating Pond Thermometer, is a snap. The second, more subtle indicator is fish behavior. When water temperatures drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, fish movement become slower and more sluggish, or they’re eating significantly less, it’s time to switch to a wheat germ-based food like Pond Logic Spring & Fall Fish Food.

When fish ease toward their dormant months, wheat germ-based food provides easily-digestible nutrition, and ensures that your fish won’t go dormant with undigested food in their bellies. Because undigested food decomposes over time, it poses a serious health risk to fish, and can release toxins into their systems that can result in sickness – and even fish loss. When using our Spring & Fall Fish Food, you can continue to feed your fish safely, without exposing them to unnecessary risk of illness.

When water temperatures drop into the 40s or fish stop eating altogether, it’s time to stop feeding, allowing fish to settle in safely for their long winter’s nap.

Pond Talk: What signs do you fish give you to signal they are ready to relax for the winter?

Pond Logic Spring & Fall Fish Food

It’s been cold where I live. Should I stop with my bacteria now? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

It’s been cold where I live. Should I stop with my bacteria now?

It’s been cold where I live. Should I stop with my bacteria now?
Kevin – Saugatuck, MI

In bacteria paradise, the temperature in your backyard pond would never fall below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. When water temperatures drop below 50 for any sustained period of time, the bacteria call it quits for the season.

But just because you’ve been feeling the cold for a few days, remember: it takes water longer to respond to changing temperatures. Thus, when it’s below 50 degrees outside for a lengthy stretch, your pond water may not have fallen as far – and your bacteria may be doing just fine. To get the most accurate reading you can, consider buying our Pond Logic® Floating Pond Thermometer. It’ll give you up-to-the minute readings, making it easy to monitor the health of – and the need for – your favorite bacteria.

When your pond is still in the above-50 degree range, we strongly recommend the continued use of Pond Logic® PondClear™ Beneficial Bacteria, and Pond Logic® MuckAway™ Pond Muck Reducer. These two products help to maintain healthy bacteria levels in your pond, which will help to reduce organics, excess nutrients and noxious odors, while breaking down muck and keeping your pond water clear.

Once your pond water drops below 50 degrees, you can safely suspend bacteria treatments. But when the temperatures start to rise again in the spring, be prepared to start back up – and get your pond water in great shape for another season.

Pond Talk: Do you monitor your pond’s water temperature for optimum bacteria use?

Pond Logic® MuckAway™ Pond Muck Reducer

Are there any plants that are great in the fall? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Are there any plants that are great in the fall?

Are there any plants that are great in the fall?

Elija – Norfolk, VA

While we’d hate for our plants to think we’re playing favorites, we have to admit it: when it comes to fall plants, the Chameleon Plant is at the top of our list. Why? It’s a long list – but one well worth sharing. So here goes.

For starters, the Chameleon Plant is simply beautiful to look at. With just one plant, you’ll enjoy enormous color variation in the leaves alone – with touches of bold pink, red, white, green and yellow. As fall comes into full swing, the colors become even more pronounced. Add the contrast of their delicate white flower with its yellow center, and you have an autumnal tour de force – right in your backyard.

The plant also smells good. Really good. In fact, when you crush the leaves, the Chameleon Plant gives off a distinctive citrus aroma that adds a whole new dimension to their appeal.

In appearance, the Chameleon Plant resembles English Ivy. It’s an exceptionally hardy plant, and even those with spotty histories of horticultural success can grow it successfully. As ground cover, it’s extremely easy to grow, and thrives in both sun and light shade – and will spread freely if it’s not maintained. It likes moist soil, and grows to a height of approximately 15”. The Chameleon Plant also does well in our Planting Baskets – which makes them easy to move and maintain. And with the help of our Fertilizer Tabs, they’ll make big impression – all season long.

So add some color to fall this year. Try the Chameleon Plant. We’re positive you’ll like what you see.

Pond Talk: What are your favorite pond plants?

Chameleon Plant

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