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How Can I Keep My Pond & Fish Healthy With All Of This Hot Weather? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: How can I keep my pond & fish healthy with all of this hot weather?

Cheryl – Cheshire, OH

A: If you’re feeling the heat, there’s a good chance the game fish in your pond are feeling it, too. Not only will they sense the temperature increase in the water, but they’ll also be affected by a decreased amount of dissolved oxygen in their environment.

So what can you do to keep the fish in your lake or pond cool and comfortable? Check out these four expert-recommended tips:

1. Provide a Cool Habitat: Like humans and other land-dwellers, fish like a place to hide to get out of the sun. They’ll slip under the shade of plants, swim inside logs and take advantage of spots like the Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres, which encourage plant growth and give them a place to feel safe, shaded and protected.

2. Keep the Water Moving: When the water moves and circulates with an aeration system like an Airmax® Shallow Water Aeration System or an above-surface fountain like a Kasco Decorative Fountain, it allows for greater gas exchange at the water’s surface, expelling dangerous ammonia and taking in healthy oxygen. This provides more “breathable” space for your fish to swim deeper in the pond – where it’s cooler.

3. Rake Out Dead Debris: To cut back on the dangerous gasses being produced in your lake or pond, remove dead debris and decomposing plant matter with a pond cutter and rake, like the Pond Logic® Pond Rake & Weed Cutter Combo. Less debris in your lake means less gas is being produced.

4. Be Cautious of Water Treatments: Dead or dying organic materials can reduce oxygen levels quickly, so be cautious when using algaecides or herbicides to treat algae and other weeds. Rather than dosing your entire pond or lake, treat one section at a time, waiting a week or two before treating another area. This allows the fish to remain in the unaffected areas.

With a little planning and a some regular maintenance, you can keep your recreational pond or lake healthy no matter the temperatures. Your fish will thank you for it!

Pond Talk: What do you do to keep cool during these scorching heat waves?

Kasco Fountains - Add Tranquility To Your Pond

Should I put catfish in my pond? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Should I put catfish in my pond?

Should I put catfish in my pond?
Steven – Middlebrook, VA

Catfish are some of the most diverse fish on the planet, both in behavior and appearance, and inhabit just about every continent except Antarctica. They live in shallow, freshwater environments, which can make them ideal for pond life here in North America. We generally only recommend channel catfish for ponds since they are the most common, but it will largely depend on your pond type and temperature. Catfish generally prefer warmer water (60-70 degrees Fahrenheit) with little to no currents, and since they are bottom feeders, they are drawn to darker areas.

They are also known to make for good fishing, and in warm environments they can be easy to farm and/or eat, and are very tasty if cooked properly. Fisherman and pond owners alike can use these Porcupine Fish Attractors to help improve fishing conditions and to provide an adequate habitat for Catfish to spawn and grow. In addition we also recommend using this Game Grower Fish Food to guarantee your fish have food and to increase their overall size.

Catfish have little effect on the predator-prey relationship in freshwater environments comparative to predators like bass or prey like bluegills. They also pose no threat to humans, unless you’re planning on doing any swimming in eastern Europe, where there have been rare instances of large catfish (the 6 foot, 200 pound kind) attacking humans. Their only relative drawback is that they tend to kick up a lot of bottom debris, which can lead to cloudy, murky pond water.

In the end, putting catfish in your pond comes down to personal preference, rather than something that should or should not be done. They are well suited for pond life and will have little (if any) negative impact on the ecosystem already in place. It also doesn’t hurt that they can be pretty good to eat and easy to farm.

Porcupine Fish Attractor Spheres

Can fish get sunburned? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Can fish get sunburned?

Q: Can fish get sunburned?
Dustin – Jacksonville, FL

At some point in everyone’s childhood, a kindhearted teacher, seeking to encourage unrestrained curiosity, makes this simple pronouncement: “there’s no such thing as a silly question.” As adults, we know that silly questions do, in fact, exist. As a result, we tend to stop asking questions like “can fish get sunburned?” It’s just too silly to even consider. Sunburned fish? Ha! Hilarious! Except for one small detail: fish can get sunburned. The moral of the story? Your teacher was right. Keep on asking – and we’ll keep right on answering.

As it turns out, Koi fish in backyard ponds and water gardens are particularly susceptible to sunburn. Combine a shallow body of water, limited shade, and long hours of hot, summer sun, and Koi fish suffer from the aquatic equivalent of sunburn.

Like all other fish, Koi fish rely on a natural protective layer – otherwise known as a “slime coat” – that fends off everything from disease to injury. When Koi fish are exposed to too much direct sunlight, their slime coats are compromised, and sickness and lethargy follow quickly. Left unresolved, long-term exposure to sunlight will actually cause a Koi’s untimely demise. Fortunately, it’s a simple problem to fix – and we have the right supplies to do it.

To prevent aquatic “sunburn,” we strongly recommend the use of our Koi Shelter, which allows fish to take refuge from the sun before it causes damage. Like the Koi Shelter, our Aquatic Plants also provide excellent natural protection – along with the added benefit of aesthetic beauty. In addition to those solutions, creative pondkeepers also use rocks to create protective underwater caves, where fish can take a break from the sun’s rays.

Once you’ve taken care to provide adequate shelter for your Koi, the next critical step is to help your fish to restore its slime coat. For a simple solution, we recommend adding an appropriate quantity of salt to the pond. In cases where fish seem particularly lethargic, we strongly encourage the use of Fish Stress Reducer Plus to resolve the problem quickly – and bring your Koi back to health in short order.

Keep up the questions. We take them all very seriously.

Pond Talk: Have you ever seen a fish get sunburn?

Koi Shelter

When is the best time to stock fish in my pond? | Pond & Lake Q&A

When is the best time to stock fish in my pond?

When is the best time to stock fish in my pond?
Jan – Raleigh, NC

Pond owners looking to replenish their fish populations this season should grab their buckets and nets; spring is here and it is the perfect time to stock your pond with new game fish.

Spring and fall are the best times to add new fish to your pond as the temperatures are not as harsh making it easier for you to transport your newcomers and acclimate them to their new home. You can still introduce fish into your pond during the summer months but you will want to take extra precautions to make sure you can quickly transport the fish to your pond and take a little extra time during the acclimation process.

Deciding how many fish to add to your pond will predominately depend on the surface area of the water body. You can take a look at a few examples of stocking rates on our website. You will want to stick to a ratio of 3 prey fish (sunfish, bluegill, or perch) to 1 predator fish (bass) when choosing species to promote a healthy and balance fish population. Click over to our Fish Stocking Blog for some more information.

You can purchase fish from your local fish hatchery or catch and transport fish from a friend’s pond. Wherever the source, inspect the fish for signs of illness or disease before adding them to your pond. Our local customers can take advantage of The Pond Guy semi-annual Fish Day which takes place on the 7th of May. Fish day is a great opportunity to meet with other pond owners, speak with the friendly and knowledgeable The Pond Guy staff, and browse our wide selection of pond products from Pond Dye to 10’ Windmills. Customers can place orders online or over the phone until May 7th which will be available for payment and pick-up on the 8th between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. There will be a wide selection of both predator and prey fish available for purchase including Hybrid Bluegill, Perch, Catfish and Bass. Walk-ins are welcome but selection will be limited by availability.

Make sure there is adequate habitat for your smaller fish to hide, grow and reproduce. Weeds, grasses and other debris already in your pond will provide some cover but you can introduce man made habitats to protect your fish without dealing with weeds and plants. Check out our Fish Habitat blog for some more insight into creating comfortable living spaces for your fish.

Pond Talk: What fish have you found in your pond?

Fish Trap

I know there’s fish in my pond, how can I identify them? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

I know there’s fish in my pond, how can I identify them?

I know there’s fish in my pond, how can I identify them? Dustin – Vortex, KY

Which Fish?

So you’ve seen some fish swimming beneath the surface of your pond. Maybe they’ve even taken a nibble or two at your toes while you are swimming. Regardless of how you use your pond you would still probably like to know what types of fish are swimming beneath the surface. For all of you curious pond guys and gals out there who want to be better acquainted with their fish we present to you a blog on getting to know your fish. While there are many fish in the sea, there tends to be a slightly small selection in your pond. Let’s review the characteristics of some of the most common:

Bluegill

Bluegill / Hybrid Bluegill – Bluegill are one of the most common types of game fish introduced into lakes and backyard ponds. The body of a Bluegill is deep, robust, and cichlid-like. The mouth is small and the front of the dorsal fin is spiny. Bluegill are typically olive-green in color with five to seven dark vertical bands which fade as they approach the middle of the fish. Their belly is a creamy color and the pectoral and pelvic fins are often pigmented with white. There is a black opercular spot just behind the top of the gill and another on the back of the dorsal fin. The typical Bluegill will grow to a maximum of 10” in length and weigh in at around 1 pound, the largest caught weighing just under 5 pounds. Bluegill are a relatively hardy fish that thrive in water temperatures ranging from 39 to 72 degrees, feeding off of vegetation, insects and worms. Bluegill will spawn in water temperatures between 67 to 80 degrees in saucer shaped nests located in the sandy or gravel covered shallow areas of water. While people enjoy fishing and eating Bluegill they are also great food source for larger predator fish like Bass.

Bass

Bass – The Largemouth Bass is considered to be one of the most prized game fish in North America. Largemouth Bass are similar to the spotted bass and small-mouth bass but can be distinguished by the deep curvature of its dorsal fin and an upper jaw that extends past its eye. They are a rather slender and streamlined fish with colors that range from dark green on top, silvery green to yellow flanks, to a yellowish-white belly. Their sides are commonly accented with a dark and irregular strip. The average Bass will grow to around 16” in length and weigh in at or below 10 pounds with the worlds largest weighing a little over 22 pounds. Largemouth Bass are best suited for temperate or warmer water flourishing in temperatures around 80 degrees. Though tolerant of turbid water, Largemouth Bass favor clear water, sandy shallows, and abundant rooted aquatic weeds or slow moving rivers and streams with soft bottoms. Many species of pondweeds, water lilies, coontail, elodea, cattails, and bulrushes provide excellent cover. It has a widely varied diet that emphasizes on bluegill, minnows and other small fish as well as frogs and smaller animals like birds or young muskrats. Its predatory nature helps to keep bluegill from overpopulating. Bass spawn in early May and into June in firm sandy areas 2’ to 6’ deep when water temps are in the 60 degree range.

Perch

Perch – While they don’t grow large enough to be considered a prize game fish, the Yellow Perch is most sought after for its excellent table fare. Yellow Perch have bright yellow or yellow/green oval shaped bodies with a back ranging from a bright green to a golden brown. They are accented by seven dark, tapering, vertical bars, running from their back down to their grayish belly. Yellow Perch range from 6 to 12 inches in length and weigh in between 6 to 16 ounces with the largest catch weighing 4 pounds 3 ounces. Perch prefer cool clear water and should be stocked in lakes where the water temperatures remain below 80 degrees year-round. Yellow perch feed on zooplankton, insects, snails, and other small fish and are considered a prey fish rather than a predator. Yellow Perch become sexually mature at 5 to 7 inches and spawn in the early Spring when the water temperatures are between 45 to 55 degrees. The yellow perch makes an excellent forage fish for cool-water predators such as walleye, smallmouth bass, and northern pike.

Catfish

Catfish – Channel Catfish are growing in popularity among sport fishermen due to its large size, hard fighting ability, and tasty flesh. Catfish are characterized by scale-less skin and barbells, better known as whiskers, about their mouth. Channel Catfish can be distinguished from other catfish by the presence of dark spots on its body and a deeply forked tail. Channel Catfish have awesome growth potential reaching lengths of 4 feet, the world record catch in South Carolina weighing in at 58 pounds. Channel Catfish prefer clear slow moving water but can also tolerate muddy water. Channel Catfish are scavengers and will eat just about anything it can find including live fish and game fish food. They are sensitive to light and will typically reside at the bottom of ponds and lakes. Channel Catfish usually become sexually mature when they reach at least 11” but do not generally reproduce in ponds due to the absence of an adequate spawning structure. A suitable structure can be installed by placing buckets or drain tile in depths of 3 to 4 feet of water along the pond bottom. They tend to spawn from May to July when water temperatures reach 75 degrees.

Walleye

Walleye – One of the most popular game fish in North America, the Walleye is second only to the Largemouth Bass. While it is not the most spectacular fighter, Walleye are quite tasty on the table. Walleye sport an elongated torpedo shaped body with highly variable coloring. Their bodies can range from olive green to brown to yellowish gold often marked with brassy flecks. They have no distinct markings or bars but instead an overall mottling of brown or black and a white belly. Walleye grow to be anywhere from 13” to 25” in length and weigh in between 13 and 22 pounds. The maximum recorded Walleye measured 42 inches in length and weighed 25 pounds. Walleye are considered a cool water fish preferring warmer water than Trout but cooler water than Bass and Bluegill. They enjoy water bodies with sand or gravel bottoms near vegetation though they don’t reside within it. Walleye have a special reflective layer of pigment in their eyes to help increase visibility in their favored dark and turbid waters. Yellow Perch, Whitefish and minnows are the food of choice for Walleye but they will also eat insects, frogs and small mammals. Walleye will spawn in early Spring when water temperatures are around 42 to 50 degrees. They tend to choose locations with rocky or gravel coated substrate in 1’ to 6’ depths where moving water is present. Neither parent cares for their eggs in any way.

Crappie

Crappie – Another popular sunfish behind the Bluegill, the Crappie is considered an excellent game fish when taken on light tackle and its flaky white flesh is considered very tasty. Crappie are similar in body shape to other sunfish but can be differentiated by connected dorsal fins that lack a notch and contain seven or eight spines. They also have a large anal fin consisting of 6 spines that is nearly as large as their dorsal fin. Their bodies range from dark olive or brown to a metallic green with a silver or blue cast with black mottling throughout. Crappie grow close to a foot in length and can weigh between 2 to 4 pounds. The largest Crappie caught weighed in at just over 5 pounds. Crappie prefer clear water with plenty of aquatic vegetation and mucky or sandy bottoms. They are highly intolerant of turbid water. Crappie eat insects and their larva as a primary food source but will also eat small fish and minnows as well. Like Bluegill, Crappie nest in sandy areas or places with fine gravel in depths of 3 to 8 feet of water. They typically spawn in May to June when water temperatures are within the 58 to 64 degree range.

Trout

Trout – One of the largest of the freshwater fish, it is endowed with a flesh of superb eating quality and is eagerly sought by commercial, sport, and subsistence fishermen. Trout typically grow to be around 27” in length and weight between 3 to 9 pounds but are known to grow to lengths exceeding 4’ and weigh over 100 pounds. The largest on record weighs 102 pounds and measures 49.6 inches in length. Lake Trout are the least colorful of all Trout with a light green, grey, brown or blackish torpedo shaped body covered with irregular lighter colored spots. Lake Trout sport a deeply forked tail and reddish-orange pectoral, pelvic and anal fins. Lake Trout are truly a cold water fish preferring water temperatures around 50 degrees. Most anglers fish for Trout in the cooler early seasons via fly or spin fishing and have to resort to long lines and heavy lures in the warmer months as the fish retreat to cooler waters. Lake Trout feed mostly off of other fish, insects and small mammals. It takes around eight years for Lake Trout to sexually mature, meaning heavy fishing demand can dramatically deplete the Trout population. They do not build nests or beds by simply scatter eggs among large cobble or boulder substrates in depths of up to 40’ in late autumn.

You may have a harder time finding Trout or Bass in your pond in comparison to Bluegill as they tend to be a bit less social. You can take inventory of the fish in your pond by trying to fish them out or by using a Fish Trap. When stocking or manipulating your fish population be sure to provide adequate habitat for smaller prey fish to hide from predators and grow. You can achieve this by installing Fish Attractor Spheres or by providing aquatic plants. Take a look at our Pond Stocking Blog and Fish Habitat Blog to learn more about predator/prey ratios and implementing habitat.

POND TALK: Which types of fish are present in your pond? Which do you feel are the best to fish or eat?

Attract tons of gamefish to your pond!

I Just Bought Some New Fish, How Should I Introduce Them To My Pond? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Pond Fish & Koi Acclimation
I Just Bought Some New Fish, How Should I Introduce Them To My Pond? Paul – Baytown, TX

Best In Show

So you’ve made the decision to invite a few new friends to your home, but are you getting more than you bargained for? As is true with any purchase, you want to make sure you are getting quality before you hand over your hard-earned dollars. Inspect the fish you intend to purchase for symptoms of illness or poor health. Look over their fins, mouth, and gills for blemishes, discoloration, or signs of fin rot and check their body for growths, loose or missing scales, or other blemishes as they may be an early indicator of disease or parasites. Take a few moments to observe your prospect’s behavior to make sure they are active and having no mobility hindrances.

Prep The Pond

Your newly purchased fish are typically handed over to you in an oxygenated plastic bag or container to allow adequate time to transport them to their new home. While it may be tempting to just dump them into your water garden upon your return home, you will want to make sure your pond is ready to accommodate its new inhabitants before you begin their acclimation process. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the water in your pond is free from potential fatal heavy metals and chlorine by adding Pond & Fish Conditioner during your water changes.
  • To help prevent disease and reduce fish stress in your new tenants, add Pond Salt to the water between your water changes. To ensure the well being of your Aquatic Plants, only add 1 1/4 cups per 100 gallons of pond water.
  • You can purchase a Master Test Kit to verify acceptable pH and Nitrate levels in the pond.
  • You can prevent many potential health issues throughout your fish population by simply maintaining a clean and healthy pond. You can read more about pond maintenance here.

Well, You Better Get Used To It

Now that the pond is ready for the addition of fish, it is time to get your finned friends ready for the big show. You will want to gradually equalize the temperature of the water your fish are currently occupying with that of the water in your pond. If the container carrying your fish floats, go ahead and place it in your pond. As the bag bobbles around in your pond, the water inside will start balancing with the outside water temperature. This process should take no longer than 30 minutes. During this time frame, slowly add small amounts of water from the pond into the container which will allow your new fish time to acclimate to the chemistry of your pond water. Most of us have, at one time or another, jumped into a pool too early in the summer only to find that the water is unimaginably cold. Those of you who’ve been in that situation understand why you will want to take your time with the acclimation process. Now that the water on both sides of the container is the same and the fish have had time to try out the make up of the water in the pond, you are clear to release them into their new environment! Take a few moments throughout the day to check in on the pond and monitor the behavior of the newly introduced fish. Active and curious fish are happy and healthy fish.

POND TALK: Are there any tricks that you’ve done to acclimate your fish?

Remove Heavy Metals and Chlorine with Pond Logic® Pond & Fish Conditioner

Building Fish Habitat for Ponds – Pond & Lake Q & A

Picture of a Porcupine Fish Attractor Fish Habitat.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: What types of things can you put in your pond to create more fish habitats for a better population of fish? – Jacob of Texas

A: Fish habitats offer more than just a cozy home for schools of bass in your pond or lake. They also create an ideal spawning habitat, a spot of refuge and shade for young fry, a safe haven from swooping predators, and a breeding ground for algae and plankton to attract bait fish and lure larger fish to favorite fishing spots.

Though fish habitats range from inexpensive (or free!) items laying around the yard to high-tech store-bought devices, here are just a few artificial and natural underwater structures you can use:

Artificial Reefs: Artificial habitats have been shown to attract just as much plankton and provide just as much protection from prey as evergreen alternatives. Some come manufactured and ready to install, like the Porcupine Fish Attractor. Others, like bundled pipes, can be put together yourself by bundling lengths of 10- to 12-inch pipe (PVC, clay or concrete) with or without one end plugged, anchoring with cinder block and submerging. You could also drop a barrel and turn it on its side. Regardless of your artificial reef type, simply place them in lines extending out from the shore in depths of 6 to 25 feet; the steeper the slope, the less structure is needed.

Boulder Clusters and Rock Piles: Piles of boulders or concrete blocks placed individually or in clusters can attract a variety of fish, not to mention providing a healthy medium for beneficial bacteria and tasty string algae to flourish. Use large boulders (more than 2 feet in diameter) and place them away from the shoreline. Boulders can be useful if you have small streams or rivers leading to your lake or pond, too, as they can break fast-moving currents and provide a resting place for fish.

Root Wads, Brush Bundles and Submerged Logs: Stumps, lengthwise-sawed logs, root wads, brush bundles — and even last year’s Christmas tree — can provide important habitat. Simply gather the materials, attach a weight (like a cinder block), and sink them in the shallow waters of streams or in the near-shore areas of lakes and ponds. Create three or four groups of these bundles per acre, and place them in 6 to 10 feet of water, no farther than 30 feet from shore. Keep in mind that these “natural” habitats will introduce nutrients to the lake and cause unsightly algae blooms, which can be controlled using Algae Defense.

POND TALK: What do you use to create fish habitats in your pond or lake?

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