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How do I know if my filtration system is adequate for my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How do I know if my filtration system is adequate for my pond?

Q: How do I know if my filtration system is adequate for my pond?

Roger – Grayson, GA

A: Clean, clear water is a must-have in any water feature. It allows you to see those gorgeous koi and goldfish swimming below the surface. It shows that you have excellent water quality, with plenty of oxygen for your pond’s inhabitants—including the microscopic ones, like beneficial bacteria. And it puts off no offensive odors, which means you can host shindigs by your water garden without scaring off your friends.

When your water quality is suffering, your pond is telling you that your filtration isn’t up to par. Here are four clear signs that say you need to kick it up a notch.

  1. Algae Blooms, Clarity Concerns: If you have a filtration system in place but you still have water clarity issues and algae blooms, that’s an obvious indicator that you need an upgrade. When selecting a more powerful filtration system, like our AllClear™ PLUS Pressurized Filters with a built-in ultraviolet clarifier, make sure it’s sized appropriately for your pond and its nutrient load.
  2. Fish Frenzy: If your pond’s resident fish have multiplied and grown over the years, then you’re likely overdue for a more powerful filter system. Most filter systems are marketed for a minimal fish load, so too many fish producing waste will overload the system. Remember: The rule is to allow 1 inch of adult fish per square foot of surface area. If you have too many koi or goldfish in your pond, you should think about finding new homes for some of your finned friends or increasing your filtration.
  3. Toxic Test Results: Test your pond’s water with one of our Master Test Kits to find out what your ammonia, nitrite and phosphate levels are. If you see high ammonia levels or if your fishes’ health has been suffering, the pond lacks proper filtration.
  4. Foamy Falls: Have you seen foam build up at the base of your waterfall or stream? All that frothiness, which is caused by excess protein and oil excreted by fish and other pond dwellers, can be a sign of excessive nutrient levels caused by inadequate filtration. A higher-powered filter system can help remove and dissipate that foam.

If you have a waterfall filter box, you can easily boost your filtration system’s water-cleaning power by adding Matala® Filter Pads. With four different densities—low, medium, high and super high—you can mix and match them to suit your pond’s unique needs.

Pond Talk: What telltale sign told you that it was time to increase your filtration system?

3 Types of Filtration, 1 Powerful Unit - Pond Logic (r) AllClear(t) PLUS Pressurized Filters

Why do I have foam on my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Why do I have foam on my pond?

Q: Why do I have foam on my pond?

Dom – Bellingham, WA

A: Foamy pond? No, the neighborhood kid (hopefully!) hasn’t dumped dish soap into your water garden or fish pond. The bubbly white or gray stuff you’re seeing on your pond’s surface is actually being caused by high levels of organic material in your pond. It’s natural – but it indicates an out-of-balance problem in your pond.

Question Your Water Quality

Foam forms when excess organic material has accumulated in your water garden. This happens when too many fish are living in the pond, you’re overfeeding them, you have inadequate filtration or there’s runoff flowing into the water.

When this nutrient-laden water pours down your waterfall, the air and water collide, causing the proteins and other organics to be trapped inside bubbles rather than turning into ammonia and nitrites. That air-water collision is why the foam seems to form at the base of your waterfall.

Tips for Removing Foam

So how do you get rid of the white frothy stuff? You can remove the foam in several different ways:

1. Use a defoaming product: A temporary solution is to dissolve the foam with a fish- and plant-safe defoamer, like Pond Logic® Defoam™. You simply shake the can and pour its contents into the water. The foam will disappear in no time.

2. Do a partial water change: To reduce the overall amount of organic material in your pond, you should drain the pond halfway or so and add fresh water and the defoamer. This will remove some of the organic material, dilute what remains and prevent foam from forming.

3. Reduce your fish population: Too many fish will produce excess waste, which means more foam. Remember that the rule is to allow 1 inch of adult fish per square foot of surface area – so if you have too many koi or goldfish in your pond, you might want to think about finding new homes for some of your finned friends.

4. Feed the right amount: If you’re feeding your fish too much, the excess food adds to the extra organic material in your pond’s water. Only feed your fish an amount they’ll gobble down in a few minutes.

5. Beef up your filtration system: A more powerful filtration system will remove those excess organics, so if you really want to erase foam, think about going bigger with your filter.

If you do suspect the neighborhood kids have dumped soap into your pond, your fish could be in danger. Do a water 90 percent water change before chasing the perpetrators down.

Pond Talk: Do you notice whether foam forms more often during certain times of year?

Pond Logic Defoam - Eliminate Unsightly Pond Foam

Help! How do I get rid of green water? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Help! How do I get rid of green water?

Q: Help! How do I get rid of green water?

Linda – Gardnerville, NV

A: Nope, there’s nothing nice about a pea soup-colored pond. Just about every water gardener dreams of a clean, crystal-clear pond – not an algae-filled eyesore. During the warmer seasons, what do you do to prevent and get rid of that unsightly green water? By making sure your pond is in balance.

For a stable pond that inhibits algae growth, you have to strike a perfect balance (or close to perfect, anyway) between fishes, aeration and filtration. And to keep it that way, you have to keep it well maintained. Here’s what you need to know to get rid of that green water.

Watch Fish Load, Feeding

Yes, it’s tempting to take home a dozen or more of those tiny koi from your favorite water garden retailer. But remember: those fish will grow and excrete nutrients that feed the algae. The rule of thumb is to allow 1 inch of adult fish per square foot of surface area, so don’t max out your capacity with one impulse buy at the koi store.

Speaking of fish, take it easy with the food. Feed them a quality diet, like Pond Logic® Growth and Color Fish Food, once a day, and give them only what they can gobble down in a few minutes. Anything more than that just adds excess waste to the pond – which is food for the algae. You can feed your finned friends more often, but be prepared to do more partial water changes or add extra filtration to handle the job.

Add Some Aeration, Bacteria

When you circulate your pond’s water with an aeration system, like the Pond Logic® KoiAir™ Water Garden Aeration System, you deliver oxygen to the bottom where all the muck – a.k.a. algae chow – sits. This oxygen helps all the beneficial bacteria, like Muck Defense® that’s found in the Pond Logic® DefensePAC® Pond Care Package, break down and consume the material there and throughout the water column, resulting in cleaner, clearer water. Plus, the aeration is good for your fish’s health, too.

Filtration – the Bigger, the Better

Go big with your mechanical filtration system. Make sure it’s at least big enough to handle the amount of water in your pond. Manufacturers rate filters for minimal fish load, so if you intend to have a lot of fish, go even bigger.

Plants – floating, submerged, marginals and bog varieties – make excellent natural filtration systems that complement your mechanical and biological filtration. Plants also shade the pond, keeping temperatures cooler and sheltering your fish. So try to cover 40 to 60 percent of your water with plants.

If you still have a pea soup colored pond after getting your fish load right, your feeding routine in check, your aeration system in place and your filtration system humming and growing, it’s time for the big guns – an ultraviolet clarifier. A UV clarifier, like The Pond Guy® PowerUV™ Ultraviolet Clarifier, will help to bind the green water algae so it can be pulled out by your filter.

Keep It Clean, Kind Of

Normal maintenance, like regular partial water changes and debris removal, can go a long way to get rid of excess nutrient buildup. But don’t overdo the filter-cleaning chores. Too much – meaning daily or weekly – washing of the filter media will wear the material down faster and wipe out the beneficial bacteria that actually clean the water. If water is unable to pass through the filter, simply rinse it lightly with water.

And if you don’t already, it’s always a good idea to do an annual spring cleanout of your pond to get rid of organic materials that feed the algae.

Pond Talk: How can you tell when your pond or water garden is out of balance?

Pond Logic® DefensePAC® - 5 Simple Steps To Clear Water

Is It Safe To Shut My Pump Off Overnight To Save On Electricity Costs? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Is It Safe To Shut My Pump Off Overnight To Save On Electricity Costs?

Q: Is it safe to shut my pump off overnight to save on electricity costs?

Melissa – Telford, PA

A: Just about everyone is looking for ways to save money on their monthly bills – and you might think that turning off your pond’s pump every night is one way to stretch some of your hard-earned cash.

Think again!

Though most pumps do cost a nominal amount of money to run 24/7, if you shut yours down each night, you could be affecting your pond’s water quality and your fishes’ health, and that could cost you even more in the long run.

Check out these top four reasons why you should keep your pump pumping:

1. Efficiency: Pond pump manufacturers understand that water gardeners are concerned about operating costs, so many of the designs on the market today are energy efficient and consume relatively little electricity. Pumps that used to cost $100 a month or more to run have been replaced by models that cost as little as $12 a month. Now that’s some serious savings!

2. Filtration: In order for your filtration system to function properly, it needs moving water flowing through it – so if your pump is off, your water’s not moving or being filtered, and that could do some damage to your pond’s inhabitants. Plus, if all the water drains out of your filter, you could wind up with a loss of the beneficial bacteria that live on the media inside.

3. Settled Debris: Moving water helps to keep debris suspended in the water column and pulled through the skimmer and filter for efficient removal. But if the pump is turned off, that debris will settle to the bottom of the pond and build up, creating a dense food source for nuisances like algae.

4. Oxygen Depletion: Still, quiet water – even just during the overnight hours – means that fewer water molecules are circulating and making contact with oxygen-rich air at the pond’s surface. The stagnant water will be unable to release dangerous gases, like ammonia, and absorb life-giving oxygen. Moving water, however, ensures those molecules keep churning and exchanging bad gases for good.

If you still feel like you should shut down your pump each night, at least keep an aerator, like the Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration System, running to keep the water circulating. The PondAir™ systems consume even less electricity than pumps – costing only pennies per month.

Pond Talk: Do you keep your pump running 24/7? Why or why not?

Pond Logic PondAir - Breathe Life Into Your Pond

I Know That Floating Plants Help Shade My Pond, But What Do Submerged Plants Do? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

I know that floating plants help shade my pond, but what do submerged plants do?

Q: I know that floating plants help shade my pond, but what do submerged plants do?

Donnita – Palos Park, IL

A: Got plants? If you’re like most pond hobbyists, you probably have plenty of growing and blooming greenery surrounding your water garden – but what about sub-surface varieties? Underwater plants, like hornwort, and red stemmed parrots feather, offer great benefits to your water feature and its inhabitants, including:

Filtration: Underwater plants naturally filter your water. How? Plants, with their copious amounts of surface area on their leaves, stems and roots, absorb nitrates and fish waste – which is actually fertilizer to them. The result is a body of water that’s cleaner and clearer, thanks to Mother Nature’s nitrogen cycle.

Predator Protection: Sub-surface plants also give your fish and other pond critters places to hide when predators stalk or attack. Koi and goldfish will swim into the lush growth and hide out when a raccoon stops by the pond or a blue heron circles overhead. The greenery provides excellent camouflage for your finned friends.

Aesthetic Appeal: As popular as they may be, gravel-bottom ponds are boring. And they’re not very natural-looking either. Have you ever seen a wild pond or lake with no plants beneath the surface? Nope, didn’t think so. Ponds planted with below-the-waterline foliage create a more realistic-looking – and aesthetically pleasing – water feature, which is something most (if not all!) hobbyists hope to achieve.

Oxygen: Underwater plants are called “oxygenators” for a reason. They naturally produce oxygen as a byproduct of photosynthesis – and oxygen is one of the best things for your pond’s health and vitality. When submerged plants are used in combination with a sub-surface aeration system, you’ll wind up with cleaner water that truly supports your pond’s inhabitants.

Spawning Areas: The leaves, stems and root systems of underwater plants give your pond life safe places to spawn and lay their eggs. And when those tiny fry hatch, the plants provide protection, food and a comfy place to call home.

Submerged plants are easy to add to your water garden or fish pond. Simply fill planting baskets, like the Laguna Submersible Pond Planting Baskets, with planting media, add some oxygenators, and place the planted basket on the bottom of your pond or on a plant shelf on the side of your pond. The planting baskets allow the plant’s roots to branch out and find nourishment while containing it and preventing fish from nibbling on its root system.

Add some plants to your pond today. Your fish will thank you for them!

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

Create Oxygen For Your Plants - Hornwort Submerged Plants

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 bio-balls. 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 bio-balls. 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

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™

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!

How do I control algae in my decorative pond, both long term and short term? – Water Garden & Features Q & A

All Rest, No Algae.

Water Garden & Features Q & A

Q: How do I control algae in my decorative pond, both long term and short term?
- Stefanie in Michigan

A: Algae blooms are the bane of most pond owners. All summer, they rear their green heads and turn a beautiful pond or water feature into a soupy or stringy mess. But with some planning, both the floating (pea-soup algae) and filamentous (string algae) species can be controlled in the short term and prevented in the long term. Here’s how:

Short-Term Solution

To get your decorative pond looking clean and clear right away, you’ll need to knock down the algae population by using a chemical herbicide, like AlgaeFix or TetraPond’s Algae Control. These algae-busters are safe for use in ponds with fish, but because they destroy algae so quickly, they can cause a drop in oxygen levels in your pond, especially during the warm summer months. Be sure that your pond is adequately aerated with a fountain, waterfall or underwater air diffuser.

Long-Term Prevention

To prevent that green goo from surfacing again, you need to limit its food source: Nutrients. Algae thrive on nutrients, which are the end product of the nitrogen cycle. The nitrogen cycle begins with ammonia released from fish waste and detritus. Nitrifying bacteria turn the ammonia into nitrites and then into nitrates (nutrients). The algae grow, the fish eat it and excrete it, and the cycle begins again.

So, how do you control the algae’s food source?
Try these approaches:

  • Keep your fish load to a minimum. Most pond owners love their fish, but if they plan to have 60 12-inch koi in a 1,000-gallon pond, they’re going to have an algae problem – which can be expensive to manage. So, when calculating your fish load, think of it in pounds of fish or total inches per gallon. Remember that your fish are growing and possibly multiplying, so plan for the future and remember: Less is best. Be careful not to overstock your decorative pond.
  • Increase the number of aquatic plants. Whether they’re submerged plants like hornwort, marginals like dwarf bamboo, or floating plants like water lilies and water hyacinth, aquatic plants consume the same food that algae does – nutrients. The more plants, the more the algae have to compete for those nutrients. Floating plants also shade the pond, which filters the sunlight and can slow the growth of sun-loving algae. You should try to cover 40 to 60 percent of your pond’s surface with floaters.
  • Check the filtration. The size and type of filtration system on a pond will depend on the fish load. If the filter is not properly sized for maximum potential, the fish will outgrow the filter and produce unhealthy amounts of ammonia, which could prove lethal to the fish. An inappropriately sized filter can also cause an algae bloom from the copious amounts of nutrients in the water. In most cases, filters on the market are rated for ponds containing no fish or a minimal fish load, so you should consider a filter that is rated for at least two times the water volume of your pond.
  • Toss in some beneficial bacteria. In addition to ensuring the proper mechanical filtration, you may also consider adding some additional biological filtration – beneficial bacteria – to your pond. These hungry creatures gobble through nutrients, breaking down fish waste, leaves and other organics that accumulate in the pond. One product to try is called DefensePAC® by Pond Logic®. It’s a combination of five products that provide beneficial bacteria, trace minerals, and a fish and plant-safe pond cleaner.
  • No pond will ever be completely algae-free, but the key to keeping the green stuff under control is to limit its food supply. Like any other living thing, if it can’t eat, it can’t survive!

    POND TALK: When was your worst algae bloom, and how did you correct it?

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