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I heard fish can get swim bladder disease this time of year, but what is it? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I heard fish can get swim bladder disease this time of year, but what is it?

Q: I heard fish can get swim bladder disease this time of year, but what is it?

Becky- Trumbell, CT

A: Many bony fish, like the fancy goldfish found in ornamental ponds, have an organ called a swim bladder. This gas-filled sack has two main purposes: It helps the fish control its buoyancy and remain at a particular depth without having to waste energy on swimming, and it keeps the fish in an upright position. When a fish is unable to control its depth, or starts swimming sideways, upside side down, or head or tail down, it may have “swim bladder disease.”

A fish with swim bladder disease can be a troubling sight to see, but it can be treated. Here’s what you need to know about what causes it and how to get your fish swimming the right way again.

Your Gluttonous Goldfish

Although intestinal parasites and microorganisms can cause swim bladder disease, it mainly stems from overeating, eating too quickly or gulping too much air during feeding time. The fish gobbles mouthfuls of pellets, which expand like sponges as they soak up water in the mouth and digestive tract leading to constipation. Enough pressure on the swim bladder will cause the fish to swim any which way but up.

Time for a Diet Change

Water temperatures dip – sometimes precipitously – in the fall, and that change can slow your fishes’ digestive processes. They have a harder time digesting protein when it’s cold, and it can build up in their gut and result in an enlarged intestine.

To prevent this from happening, switch your fish food during the fall (and spring). Using a pond thermometer, periodically check your water temperature. Once temperatures are consistently between 40°F and 50°F, change over to a lower-protein, higher-carbohydrate diet like Pond Logic® Spring and Fall Fish Food, which is packed with easier-to-digest wheat germ. Feed them two to three times a week and only give them an amount that they will eat within 5 minutes. When temperatures drop below 40°F, stop feeding them entirely.

Peas to the Rescue

The best treatment for swim bladder disease is found in your refrigerator or freezer. Frozen or cooked peas, will blast through the impaction and reduce the pressure on the fish’s swim bladder. If your fish starts floating sideways, we recommend you stop feeding them for a few days and then hand feed peas to help clear up any blockages.

Medicating fish in outdoor ponds with cooler temperatures really is not an option, as the medications won’t work – so stick with the fasting-plus-peas remedy.

If one of your fish is really stressed, a salt bath could help – but you will need to dissolve the salt in an indoor holding tank filled with warm 78 to 80ºF water. Keep in mind that when you transfer your fish from the cooler 40°-50°F outdoor water to the warmer treatment tank, that temperature change can easily shock the fish. It should be avoided.

Pond Talk: Have you ever had to treat one of your pond fish for swim bladder disease? If so, what did you do?

Easy To Digest In Low Temperatures  - Pond Logic (r) Spring & Fall Fish Food

Now that water temperatures are warmer, what should I feed my fish? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: Now that water temperatures are warmer, what should I feed my fish?

Q: Now that water temperatures are warmer, what should I feed my fish?

Martha – Clifton Forge, VA

A: After their long winter nap, just imagine how ravenous your pond fish must be! Now that water temperatures have climbed to a relatively toasty 55 degrees Fahrenheit, your koi and goldfish are wide awake and ready for some serious grub packed with muscle-building protein and energizing carbohydrates and fats.

When choosing a food for your finned pals, you have several options:

FOR GOOD OVERALL NUTRITION …

Looking for an all-purpose pond food? Check out Pond Logic® Ponstix. It is nutritionally dense and well-balanced fish diets that contain digestive enzymes and amino acids for optimal fish health. Both are economical choices to feed to your fish every day.

FOR VIVID COLOR ENHANCEMENT …

Do you want your koi’s rich reds, pearly whites and deep blacks to shine? Pond Logic® Growth & Color, TetraPond® Koi Vibrance® and CrystalClear® Koi Food are enhanced with vitamins, natural color intensifiers and chelated minerals to transform your koi into the most colorful swimming jewels they can be.

FOR THE SMALL FRY …

Spring brings spawning, which is something your koi and goldfish might be doing right about now—especially with the nutritious food you’re feeding them. Though the little guys will gobble algae and underwater plants when they’re very young, they’ll quickly graduate to fish food like TetraPond® Variety Blend Fish Food by summertime, so be sure to have some handy.

In the meantime, make sure the fry have safe spots to hide while they grow, like a Spawning Incubator. Made with polyester fur and fine mesh, the incubator protects them from being consumed or lost in your filtration system.

Pond Talk: What are your fishes’ favorite summertime treats?

Optimum Nutrition For Health & Color - Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food

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 and TetraPond® Spring & Fall Diet 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

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 Airmax® 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 normal for my koi to change color? Why does it happen? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Is it normal for my koi to change color? Why does it happen?

Q: Is it normal for my koi to change color? Why does it happen?

Judy – Southport, NC

A: They say a tiger can’t change its stripes – but did you know a koi can change its colors?

As you get to know each one of your koi personally (and you will if you haven’t already!), you may notice changes in the pigment, color depth and hue in the fish’s black, white and red scales. Don’t worry: It’s not necessarily a cause for panic. The color changes can be caused by several factors, including:

Sun Exposure: During the summer when the sun is shining, you get a tan; during the winter, you don’t. It’s the same thing with koi. Their scales can change color depending on their exposure to that bright orb in the sky. They won’t turn an Oompa-Loompa orange during the summer (though that may not be a bad thing to some koi keepers!), but you may notice a color change in some of your fish after their winter slumber.

Genetics: Koi experts will tell you how critical a role genetics plays in the coloration and patterning of koi. Dominant and recessive genes dictate how much hi (red), sumi (black), shiroji (white) and other colored markings appear. And, just like your hair color can change based on your genetic makeup, the koi’s scale color can change, too.

Stress: If your fish are stressed, they may show their unhealthiness in their coloring – just like when you take on a pallor-type tone when you’re under the weather. Make sure to keep your pond clean and well-oxygenated with an aeration system, like the Airmax® KoiAir™ Water Garden Aeration System. Also be sure to check your water quality with a water test kit, like the PondCare® Master Liquid Test Kit that measures ammonia and pH, and correct it if necessary.

Diet: A koi’s overall health – just like human’s – is affected by what it eats. Feed your fish food that has enough vitamins and nutrients to support vibrant color, like Pond Logic’s Growth and Color Fish Food. It contains top-quality ingredients, vitamins, natural color intensifiers and chelated minerals that enhance colors in koi and goldfish. To punch up your koi’s colors even more, add some oranges and watermelon to its diet.

Pond Talk: What kinds of color changes have you seen in your koi?

Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food - Enhance Fish Health & Beauty

What Should I Feed My Game Fish? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: What should I feed my game fish?

Beth – Richmond, VA

A: Sure, your bass, trout and other game fish nibble on nature’s all-natural bounty of algae, weeds, insects and worms. However, they also need supplemental nourishment, particularly if you’re growing them for sport. That’s where commercial fish food, like The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower Fish Food, comes into play.

The Ingredient List

When choosing an over-the-counter food for your game fish, look for three vital ingredients on its label: protein, vitamin C and fish meal.

• The protein gives your fish amino acids that their bodies use to grow and repair muscles and other tissues, and reproduce and lay eggs. The protein quality and digestibility matters, as any that’s unused is excreted as waste.

• Vitamin C delivers essential antioxidants that help to fend off sickness and disease commonly found in game fish. Vitamin C also helps fish form collagen, which helps build strong bones and skin. Because fish don’t manufacture vitamin C on their own, they need it in their diets.

• Adding supplemental nutrients like vitamins, minerals, protein and fat, highly digestible fish meal helps your lake inhabitants grow to whopper size.

Don’t think we’ve forgotten about carbohydrates! While ingredients like grains do their part to bind the food’s ingredients together, they’re not essential in a fish’s diet. Most fish will get their daily dose of plant-based carbohydrates when they nosh on algae or other sub-surface vegetable matter.

Portion Control

Seeing those fish swim to the surface for food is certainly entertaining – and that enjoyment (coupled with dreams of giant fish!) might tempt you to overfeed. However, you should feed your fish an amount that they’ll consume in about 5 minutes. Any more than that turns into waste, which means more nutrients for algae.

If your pond or lake is stocked with small fish or growing fry, crush a few of the pellets into tiny bite-size pieces for them.

Along with the commercial food and foodstuffs found in the pond itself, you can also offer your fish human treats like torn-up chunks of stale bread, chopped up fruits and tiny minnows. They’ll add much-welcome variety to their diets – and help you clean out your refrigerator!

Pond Talk: What special treats do you feed to your game fish?

Promote Rapid Fish Growth - The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower Fish Food

How Well Do You Know Your Koi? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How Well Do You Know Your Koi?

How Well Do You Know Your Koi?

Koi add color and movement to your pond. They’re relaxing to watch. And they’re likely the centerpiece of your water feature. But how much do you really know about your finned friends? Check out these five factoids about koi and impress your fish-keeping pals during your next pond-side shindig.

1. A Long Life Span: Have you heard of Hanako? He’s the fabled koi who lived for 226 years after being supposedly passed down through the generations and was aged by counting rings on his scales. To set the record straight, Hanako has been proven to be an urban myth. Koi typically live 25 to 35 years in a well-maintained fish pond – but that’s still not a bad life span, all things considered!

2. Growth Spurts: Koi, like most other fish, start out as teeny-tiny fingerlings and grow to their genetically determined adult size. But unlike many fish, koi will grow to fit their accommodations – which means they’ll develop into super-sized beasts in the right environment. In their first three to four years of life when housed in an adequately sized pond, a koi will reach about 18 inches long. Throughout its lifetime, it can grow to reach up to 3 feet and more. That’s some big fish!

3. Colorful Gastronomes: The ultimate underwater foodies, koi will eat just about anything, with the exception of meat. Though they love their commercial pelleted diet, like Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food, koi will happily gobble down lettuce, apples, oranges, watermelon, and even tiny shrimp. So why not treat your scaly pals to some healthy fruits and veggies now and then!

4. Feast and Famine: Koi love to eat and will chow whenever food is offered, but these guys can actually go more than 10 days without food during the warmer months – and fast even longer when temperatures drop and they go into their winter torpor, or hibernation, when they pass on meals for months at a time. Of course, if you feed your fish regularly, don’t suddenly stop as doing so can affect their health and happiness.

5. Koi Agility? No, koi unfortunately cannot be trained to jump through hoops like a dolphin or fetch a floating ball like a Labrador, but they can be conditioned to recognize your footsteps and come to the water’s edge for a visit. Simply feed your fish from the same place consistently and, before long, they’ll learn to go there for food and even learn to eat from your hand! Now that’s a cool party trick.

Pond Talk: What other interesting factoids have you heard about koi?

Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food - Optimum Fish Health & Beauty

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