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Should I clean my filter media or replace it? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Should I clean my filter media or replace it?

Q: Should I clean my filter media or replace it?

Cindy – Dover, DE

A: Those plastic pads, BioBalls™ and Bacti-Twist® that live in your waterfall box, skimmer box and filter unit play a very important role in your water feature. The filter media’s surface is home to millions of beneficial bacteria, which are the biological filtration system in your pond.

Here’s a quick guide that outlines how to care for your filter media – and those tiny microbes.

  1. Clean Infrequently: Once or twice a year, or when your water flow is significantly reduced, inspect and clean your filter media. Rather than scrubbing it spotless with soap or harsh abrasives, gently spray it down with your garden hose, being careful to maintain as much of the beneficial bacteria as possible while blasting away the gunk.
  2. Replace As Needed: If the filter media looks worn on the edges or has gaping holes in it, replace it with some new media, like Matala® Filter Media Pads for extended life and performance, or with our standard reusable 2-inch filter pads, which are perfect for waterfall filters and skimmer boxes.
  3. Seed Some Bacteria: If you need to replace your media, you’ll need to inoculate it with beneficial bacteria. First, test your pond’s water temperature. If the water temperature is 40-50° F, add Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense® to the pond or dump it right on top of the media in your waterfall box. If it’s more than 50° F, seed the filter media with PL Gel and let it set for one to two hours before putting it in your filter unit.

This spring, it’s a great idea to check your filter media and make sure it’s in good working order. Doing so will save you time, hassle and money by getting your pond off to a strong start so you can avoid dealing with insufficient filtration later in the season.

Pond Talk: How often do you replace your filter media?

Easy to Clean and Extremely Durable = Matala(r) Filter Media Pads

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

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

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

Christine – Mt. Clemens, MI

A: Filter media—or the stuff in your filter that holds beneficial bacteria—come in a range of shapes, sizes and densities. Some are plastic balls; some are fibrous mats and blocks; some are plastic spiral-shaped things that more resemble fusilli than pond products. With all the different types, it’s tough to decide which is best.

Well, we’ll make it easy for you: Try a little of each type. Just like plants, different filtration media provide different amounts of water filtration, so we recommend a healthy mix of media pads, like Matala® Filter Media Pads, and Filter Media Pads pre-cut and by-the-foot; ridged plastic balls, like Pond Logic® BioBalls™; and curly plastic strips, like Bacti-Twist® Biological/Mechanical Filter Media.

When choosing the filter media, regardless of type, look for these defining characteristics:

  • Durability: Your media should be able to withstand wear and tear. Pond Logic® BioBalls™ are more durable and longer lasting compared to similar products.
  • Density: Your media should be the right density for your specific needs. Matala® Filter Media Pads come in 4 densities to suit your particular pond.
  • Surface area: Your media should also have a lot of surface area, which will result in more places for beneficial bacteria to grow.

Your filter media’s density and surface area are particularly important because they determine how much beneficial bacteria grows and the rate at which water flows through the material. Dense material allows for more bacteria colonization, while less-dense material allows for more water flow. By using all different types of filter media, you’re encouraging optimal biological and mechanical filtration—and that’s always a good thing in an enclosed system.

Already have filter media in your system? You may be able to use it for another season or two, but first give it a visual inspection. Is it beginning to wear on the edges? Has it compacted over the last few seasons? Worn or compressed material should be replaced to give your pond top-quality filtration, but fresh, fluffy material can be reused.

Pond Talk: What’s your preferred filter media type—and why?

Keep Your Water Crystal Clear - Matala® Filter Media Pads

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

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

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

Should I use just one type of filter media or is 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 Pond Logic® 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 Fusion 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

Should I add submerged plants to my Water Garden? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Should I add submerged plants to my Water Garden?

Should I add submerged plants to my Water Garden?
Stacey – Grand Rapids, MI

Let’s face it: floating and surface plants, like lilies and hyacinths, are the rock stars of any water garden. They’re the show-offs, the preeners, the colorful ones that visitors “ooh” and “aah” over; the divas that pond owners proudly feature on center stage.

But, may we ask, where would the rock star be without his support crew – the techies, the roadies, the groupies? Still playing air guitar in front of his mirror, that’s where. Lilies, hyacinths and the like just happen to be the most visible and attractive feature of a supportive ecosystem that should include their plainer relatives – the Submerged plants, like Vallisneria, Red Ludwigia, Hornwort and Parrot’s Feather. These worker plants compete with algae for the nitrogen produced by decaying plants and fish waste,produce oxygen to help keep the pond properly aerated,andprovide shade and shelter for koi and other fish. Submerged plants may not be flashy, but they’re a critical component in maintaining water quality and general pond health.

The easiest way to add one of these workers to your water garden is to plant its stems in a Laguna Submersible Pond Planting Basket along with an ample supply of Microbe-Lift Aquatic Planting Media, and place it on the bottom of the pond. The baskets come in various sizes with mesh sides and bottoms – this allows the plant to seek nourishment outside the basket, without the risk of growing out of control.

Any performer will tell you that a well-fed support crew is a happy support crew. So to make sure your Submerged plants are getting the nutrition they need, we highly recommend the Laguna Temperature Activated Aquatic Fertilizer Spikes, a verbal mouthful that also delivers the goods. Simply push a spike into to the soil near the plant until the cap is just above the surface and you’re all set for a year.

So, by all means, add Submerged plants to your water garden and let your lilies rock on!

Pond Talk: Do you utilize submerged plants in your pond?

Submerged Plants for Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens

I like the idea of a pond but will it also bring more mosquitos? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I like the idea of a pond but will it also bring more mosquitos?

I like the idea of a pond but will it also bring more mosquitos?
Crystal – Baton Rouge, LA

If pondkeeping were a recipe for multiplying mosquitoes, it would be tough to justify having a pond at all. Fortunately, the same things that make a pond attractive to you make it an unwelcome spot for mosquitoes looking to settle down and start a family.

Mosquitoes, it seems, like prefer to lay their larva in stagnant water. As it turns out, ponds are much healthier and more attractive when they’re well aerated. The benefits of aeration are twofold. First, aeration helps gases produced by the breakdown of organic matter to dissipate naturally – which in turn eliminates the potential for unpleasant pond odor. Second – and very importantly – a well-aerated pond is a lousy place for mosquito larvae. That’s why so many of our customers turn to our PondLogic® PondAir™ and KoiAir™ Aeration Systems.

For pondkeepers who prefer a more dramatic display of mosquito-beating aeration, we recommend our All In One Filter Systems. In addition to the oxygenating benefits of aeration, these pumps double as fountains, sending up a spray of water to keep you entertained – while keeping mosquitoes at bay.

Under some circumstances, aeration isn’t a viable alternative. In those cases, our Mosquito Bits and Mosquito Dunks offer a safe, EPA-approved means to kill mosquito larva for up to 30 days.

So don’t let the threat of mosquitoes stand between you and your pond. Give them the fight of their lives – and we’ll do everything we can to make sure you come out ahead.

Pond Talk: Have you battled mosquitoes around your pond? How did you keep them away?

Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration Systems

How often do I need to replace the air filter on my (Airmax) Aeration system? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

How often do I need to replace the air filter on my (Airmax) Aeration system?

How often do I need to replace the air filter on my (Airmax) Aeration system?
Mike – Flat Rock, MI

First, for people strapped for time, we’ll go with the short answer. Under ordinary circumstances, we recommend filter replacements every six months. If you live in a dry, dusty environment, it’s best to change the filter every three to four months. For Airmax Filters, we strongly recommend Airmax Silent Air Black Air Filters (Complete), and Airmax Silent Air Replacement Air Filter Elements for routine replacement.

Now, for those who want the rest of the story, here’s the long answer, which, incidentally, also makes for fascinating cocktail party conversation. To make sense of our recommended filter replacement schedule, it’s important to understand why it’s even necessary at all.

First and foremost, regular filter changes will prevent the premature failure of your filter compressor pump. As it turns out, filter pumps are designed to perform best with clean filters. When filters become clogged, the compressor is forced to work harder. When it works harder, its wear parts are subject to greater wear and tear. And if a filter is left unchanged for too long, an overworked pump is likely to fail. Accordingly, given the cost of replacing a pump, regular filter changes are a much more economical alternative.

In addition to the stress they place on pumps, dirty filters won’t allow the compressor to do the job they’re intended to do, circulate pond water. As a result, the entire pond ecosystem feels the effects. With regular filter changes, pond water is safer for fish and plants, and clearer and more enjoyable for the people who care for them.

Occasionally, our customers ask whether filters can be cleaned and reused. While it seems like a logical option, filters can’t be effectively cleaned – and their performance is significantly compromised. We also strongly discourage the installation of a wet element in a filter system, given the potential to further stress the pump and to unintentionally introduce foreign contaminants into the pond.

As an economical alternative to filter cleaning, we recommend the use of Airmax Silent Air Replacement Air Filter Elements, rather than installing a complete filter unit. The savings are significant – and the filter system will be ready to perform flawlessly for another three to six months.

Happy aerating.

Pond Talk: Do you notice the performance of your aeration system begin to decline as the filter becomes clogged?

Airmax SilentAir Complete Air Filter

I’ve always been told to use lava rock in my waterfall filter, is this the best media to use? | Decorative Ponds & Watergardens Q&A

I’ve always been told to use lava rock in my waterfall filter, is this the best media to use?

I’ve always been told to use lava rock in my waterfall filter, is this the best media to use?
Tara – Bon Temps, LA

Lava rock was a common form of biological filtration media in waterfall boxes as its porous surface provides room for bacteria to reside. While it was popular years ago, pond supply companies have since produced better forms of secondary biological filtration media that are friendlier for both you and the pond itself.

Using lava rock as a source of filtration media has a list of distinctive drawbacks. The first of which is that it can prove to be extremely heavy and cumbersome. It is not exactly easy to lift a bag of rocks out of your pond, especially when it is full of water and debris.
While lava rock is porous and can initially provide a reasonable amount of additional surface area, the coarseness and small opening sizes tend to hold on to passing-by debris, blocking the waterways which greatly diminishes the stone’s performance. Once lava rock is loaded with debris you will have to remove it form your filter box and replace it with new media as it is near impossible to remove the debris from within each rock. For some pond owners this means they would need to replace their lava rock media multiple times each season for optimal performance. Furthermore lava rock tends to be brittle and can leave behind additional dust and debris in your pond.

Biological filtration media like Pond Logic® BioBalls™ filter media provides all of the surface area that your beneficial bacteria desire but implement it into a light-weight cost-effective design. One of the best qualities of secondary filtration media like the BioBalls™ is that you only have to buy them once. Pond Logic® BioBalls™ do not degrade over time and can simply be rinsed out at the end of the season and reused the next. BioBalls™ can placed into a mesh media bag and can be placed right into your waterfall filter box.

Pond Talk: Have you used lava rock as filter media in the past and switched to bio balls or another form of media? Did you notice a difference in filtration performance?

Pond Logic® BioBalls™

Should I add gravel to my pond?… even if it is preformed? | Decorative Ponds & Watergardens Q&A

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

Should I add gravel to my pond?… even if it is preformed?
Kandy – Racine, WI

Adding gravel to the bottom of your water garden can help create a more natural appearance than the plain black plastic or rubber liner you are looking at now. The small stones create an excellent source of surface area for beneficial bacteria such as Pond Logic® Muck Defense™ to colonize and filter your pond water. Aquatic plants can also benefit from the gravel base by anchoring themselves within the gravel and establish a root system beneath the rocks, safe from curious or hungry decorative pond fish.

A common question customers ask is if added gravel will actually cause more maintenance. This is not really the case. Adding gravel in your pond actually hides muck so it is not always visible, creates additional surface area for bacteria to accumulate in order to keep your pond muck free and provides a more natural landscape look actually brightening your pond’s bottom and helping to make your fish more visible.

Addition of gravel to your pond is a quick and easy transition. Ideally you will want to add a layer of stones that is 1-2 inches deep. Making the gravel any deeper will allow muck and debris to settle between the stones and out of reach from the natural bacteria. Choose stones that are smooth and rounded so there are no added risks of sharp edges which could puncture the liner. Also make sure the stones you add are not too small such as pea gravel which would get packed together trapping in debris or be picked up by pond vacuums or other maintenance tools. Ideally you will be looking for stones around 1” in diameter. Proper planning and installation will the key to successfully having gravel in your pond, and following the guidelines above will ensure your success.

Pond Talk: Do you have gravel in your pond? Why or why not?

Pond Logic Muck Defense

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

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