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What Are Those Tiny Red Worms In My Filter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

What Are Those Tiny Red Worms In My Filter?

Q: What are those tiny red worms in my filter?

Jose – Highland Park, IL

A: They’re tiny, they’re wriggly, and they’re blood-red – or at least a creamy pink color. What are they? They’re non-biting midge fly larvae, also known as bloodworms. Though they’re an unsettling infestation to see in your filter, they’re actually harmless to your fish.

Know Your Chironomidae

Midge flies hail from the family Chironomidae, which includes more than 10,000 different species worldwide. Some varieties appear bright red in color thanks to a hemoglobin-type substance that helps them live with oxygen-depleted water, giving them their “bloodworm” nickname.

As adults, midge flies resemble mosquitoes, but they have fluffy antennae and no blood-sucking proboscis. Large numbers of them can be a nuisance as their droppings can cause damage to paint, brick and other surfaces. And when their tiny corpses pile up, they can cause a stink.

Home Sweet Home

These insects thrive in freshwater aquatic and semi-aquatic environments. In their larval stages, they live in tree holes, bromeliads, rotting vegetation, soil and artificial containers – including filtration systems, infesting media pads. They spend their time attached to the container’s solid surface and taking in tasty food as it floats by.

Midge flies lay their eggs in water, preferring it to be still, clear, dark and safe from critters like fish and frogs that nosh on the larvae when they emerge. To protect themselves, the bloodworms actually create and live in tiny half-inch tubes they build from mud, algae and other naturally occurring resources. Look closely in your filter, and you’ll probably see some of these worm-sized mud huts.

A Tasty Fish Treat

Don’t worry: These little guys won’t harm your pond or your fish. In fact, if one wriggles its way into your pond, it will be a welcome treat for your fish! Goldfish and other smaller fish will gobble them and their little mud homes; koi and other larger fish will treat them as tasty hors d’oeuvres.

Bloodworms are quite nutritious for fish. In fact, the insects are about 55 percent protein – which is a key nutrient fishes need to grow, reproduce and maintain their health. So rather than balk at the tiny worms, scoop them out of your filter and give them to your pond dwellers. They’ll thank you for them!

Pond Talk: What’s the weirdest (or coolest!) insect you’ve seen in or around your pond?

Filtration Made Affordable

Does Filter Media Need To Be Replaced Each Year? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Does Filter Media Need To Be Replaced Each Year? Does Filter Media Need To Be Replaced Each Year?

Sandra – Granger, IN

There is an assortment of filter media out there in the pond world from filter pads to bio-ribbon to BioBalls™. Knowing when to replace it or clean it is critical to keeping your pond in tip-top shape. Spring is the perfect time to inspect and, if necessary, replace filter media in the following 4 areas.

Skimmers: Your skimmer is the first line of defense in collecting debris and protecting your pump. Most skimmers have a filter pad to remove finer debris. Check the media for frayed edges or tears and replace it needed. Most skimmer manufacturers offer replace filter pads but if you’re like me and like to save a little money, it’s much easier and economical to cut your own. Check out our 1” and 2” filter media pads that you can purchase by the foot.

Waterfall Filters: If you have a waterfall filter, this is the main filtration area of the pond. Most standard filter media pads in the waterfall filter should be replaced once each year. You can get a little more life out of filter pads by going with Matala® Filter Pads. These filter pads are built to last and can last usually 2 to 3 seasons. Also, the waterfall filter is a great place to add additional media such as bio-ribbon or BioBalls™. These types of media rarely need replacing.

In-Pond Filters: If you have an In-Pond Filter, such as a Pondmaster® Pond Filter or ClearSolution™, have their own types of media. For instance the Pondmaster® Pond Filter contains not only a filter pad, but also a carbon pad that should be replaced each season. The ClearSolution™ contains bio-media rocks that should be inspected and replaced every couple of seasons.

Pressurized Filter: This is similar to the In-Pond Filter, Pressurized Filter Media should be replaced each season to ensure the best possible filtration.

If you are unsure which media to purchase, simply give us a call, we are glad to help.

Matala® Filter Media Pads

Should I use just one type of filter media or are multiple types better? | Decorative Pond & Water Garden Q&A

Should I use just one type of filter media or are multiple types better?

Should I use just one type of filter media or are multiple types better?

Jason – Brooklyn, NY

When it comes to filter media, your pond – and the fish and plants that call it home – benefit from variety. Because each type of filter media provides different benefits to your pond’s water quality, each one plays a vital role, and none should be overlooked.

The characteristics of different filter media say a lot about the roles they play. For sheer durability, you’ll appreciate the performance of our Matala® Filter Media Pads and our The Pond Guy® BioBalls™ Filter Media. Our Matala® Pads are available in multiple densities – from porous to fine – and they’re designed for easy cutting to fit the dimensions of your filter. These filters perform well for the long haul, with the most porous Black Matala® Filters designed to remove larger particulate, ranging to our Grey Matala® Filter Pads, which filter small particles. With a careful mix of Matala® Filter Pads, you’ll achieve both mechanical and biological filtration, and your pond water will be cleaner, clearer, and healthier for all of your pond’s inhabitants.

Our BioBalls™ provide excellent secondary filtration by providing a home for beneficial bacteria. These bacteria perform vital biological filtration functions, and their unique design is well suited to fit filter boxes. They’re easy to clean, and they last virtually forever.

Our ReUsable Filter Media Pads, which are available for purchase by the foot, allow for maximum water pass-through without sacrificing durability. Because of their unique design, they’re exceptionally clog-resistant, and they’re easy to cut to suit the needs of your filter.

Finally, our Bacti-Twist® Bio Ribbon Filtration Media does the twin tasks of biological and mechanical filtration. This distinctive media provides a large surface area to house beneficial bacteria, and fits easily into any filter container.

With a carefully-selected mix of filtration media – of varying densities to allow for water flow and the establishment of beneficial bacteria, both you and your pond will see the short- and long-term benefits, making your water feature a picture of health and cleanliness, with minimal effort.

Pond Talk: What type of filter media do you use for your pond?

Matala® Filter Media

I took my fish out for the winter… when it is best to put them back? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I took my fish out for the winter…when it is best to put them back?

I took my fish out for the winter… when it is best to put them back?
Kathie – St. Cloud, MN

It is about time to get your pond up and running for the season. Your decorative pond fish may be even more excited than you are if they’ve been stuck inside for the winter. Before you re-introduce them to their pond you will want to give it thorough once-over to make sure the pond is healthy, clean and ready for spring.

You may choose to perform a complete pond cleanout and start from scratch, or if you prefer you can leave the pond in tack and just do some minor preparations. If this is the case, start by removing debris and algae from the water column, stream, rocks and pond bottom. Dusting Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense® on your rocks and waterfall will lift hard to remove debris and save you the time and energy of having to scrub them clean. You can don a pair of Aquatic Gloves or use a Pond Vaccum and go to work removing the muck and debris that have sunk to the bottom of your pond.

Once you have removed as much solid debris as possible you can perform a partial water change of around 25%. Include a dose of Pond Logic® Stress Reducer PLUS or Water Conditioner to neutralize harmful water contaminates. Inspect your filter media for signs of wear and tear and replace as necessary. Thoroughly rinse off soiled filters and seed them with PL Gel Bacteria so they are ready to work as soon as you reinstall them in your filters. If you brought your Pressurized Filters, UV Clarifiers and Water Pumps inside for the winter you begin to bring them out and install them now. With your pond cleaned out and filtration system in place you are ready to fire up your pumps and circulate the water in your pond. Add your seasonal cool-weather bacteria like Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense® to further establish beneficial bacteria in your filtration media and pond.
Let the pond circulate over the course of a few weeks if possible before adding your fish. This will ensure your fish don’t suffer from peaks in pH or ammonia while your water finds a happy balance. Ideally temperatures over 50 degrees are more easily adaptable for your fish but be sure you acclimate them to the pond slowly following the same process you would to introduce a few fish. Using Pond Logic® Stress Reducer PLUS will aid in this process.

A good spring clean out will set the pace for your ponding season and prevent future headaches and stressed fish. Be patient and thorough using the proper tools so you can make your pond even more enjoyable this coming season.

Pond Talk: Have you performed your spring clean up yet? Any new ideas for your pond this season?

Pond Logic® Stress Reducer PLUS

What does filter media do for my water garden? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Savio Skimmer

Q. What does filter media do for my water garden? – Debbie in Illinois

Keep It Clean
With all of the pads, balls and nets in this blog you might think The Pond Guy has hung up his waders and opened a sporting goods store. Not to worry pond guys and gals, we are of course talking about filter media in your water garden.

Hey! Nice Pad!
When you look inside your filter, whether it’s a waterfall filter or pressurized filter, you may notice there are assortments of pads, balls, etc. These are called filter media. This filter media serves a vital purpose in any water garden.

Bio Blox Filter MediaFilter media are specifically designed to help colonize a ton of natural bacteria in a small area. As fish excrete waste, ammonia levels began to rise. Without enough natural bacteria, ammonia levels can become so high your fish will become stressed which can eventually to death. Natural bacteria will grow in a water garden without filter media, but unfortunately it is very minimal and never enough to keep up with high ammonia levels.

Less IS More
Many pond owners often think that a clean filter pad will lead to a cleaner pond. This is not the case. As it takes several weeks for nitrifying bacteria to colonize, many pond owners often clean their filter media as soon as it gets dirty. This unfortunately defeats the purpose of the biological functions of the filter media. Some of our readers have written in telling us that this buildup is even blocking or restricting water flow. It is most likely debris or algae being picked up from the water, not the bacteria causing this issue. If necessary, to clean filter media we highly suggest removing the filter media from the filter and placing into a bucket of “pond water” and gently swish the media back and forth. Do not scrub, or use tap water to clean the filter pads. Again, this will cause a loss in natural bacteria. If you accidentally do clean your filter pads, you can use PL Gel on your filter pads to colonize the bacteria faster. It is known throughout the pond industry to reduce colonization by up to 80%!

To prevent blockages to your biological filters use a pump pre filter or a skimmer which includes a net or debris basket along with its own filter pad. This will prevent large debris from getting to your filter. Vacuuming will pick up debris and muck from the pond floor also preventing clogs. Placing these “pre-filters” as buffers will ensure a shorter, easier cleaning time as well as make certain that your beneficial bacteria are left alone to flourish and protect your water garden.

POND TALK: How have you tackled filtration in your water garden? How often do you find yourself cleaning your filters?

Filter media is a must for healthy ponds!

Properly Cleaning Filter Pads – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of Matala Filter Pads.

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: I have been cleaning my filter pads once a week with a garden hose because they are filled with gunk all the time. This doesn’t seem normal. How often should I be cleaning my filter pads? – Tonie of Massachusetts

A: There are quite a few customers that I talk with that don’t know why their filter pads build up with “gunk” so fast. I didn’t understand it either when I first stepped foot into water gardens, but filter pads provide a very important role in your water garden’s ecosystem and in reality should not be cleaned very often.

The Purpose of Filter Pads
Filter pads (or other filter media) contain a large amount of surface area. This surface area within time will grow increasing amounts of beneficial bacteria. This beneficial bacteria (also called nitrifying bacteria) will break down ammonia from fish waste into nitrates. Also, some customers mistakenly believe this beneficial bacteria is “gunk” and will unfortunately clean it off having to have the beneficial bacteria start over again!

The Proper Way to Clean Filter Pads
If the “gunk” on your filter pads becomes over abundant and restricts water flow from your pump, only then would it be necessary to clean them. Usually when this is the case, it has a buildup of other debris besides beneficial bacteria. To properly clean the filter pads I suggest to take a bucket of water from your water garden and dip the filter pad into the bucket knocking off any debris and leaving the “gunk”. I DO NOT recommend using tap water from your garden hose to do this because the water contains heavy metals or chlorine that will kill off the beneficial bacteria on your filter pads. After cleaning your filter pads or if you accidentally used tap water to clean them, you can use PL Gel. PL Gel is like injecting beneficial bacteria directly into your filter pad. PL Gel will reduce bacteria start-up time by up to 80%. I have found it to be very successful.

Yearly Maintenance & Replacement
You should really only have to clean your filter pads a couple times a year. Once during spring startup and again during fall shutdown. Most filter pads will last up to a year before you should have to replace them. If you are looking for longer lasting filter pads we highly suggest the Matala Filter Pads. They will last several years.

POND TALK: Tell us how often you clean your filter pads?

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