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When treating weeds and algae, why do I have to treat in sections? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: When treating weeds and algae, why do I have to treat in sections?

Q: When treating weeds and algae, why do I have to treat in sections?

Zahn- Cedar Rapids, IA

A: It’s all about the fish. Though it’s an inconvenience to you, treating your lake or pond’s weeds and algae in sections is critical for the health of your underwater inhabitants. Those herbicides and algaecides deplete the oxygen in the pond, creating a stressful environment for the fish. Partitioning the treatments keeps oxygen levels safe while minimizing the stress.

When combating weeds and algae in the summertime, remember these three things:

  • Warm Weather = Less Oxygen: In the hot summer months, the water column will naturally hold less oxygen as it warms up.
  • Chemical Treatments = Less Oxygen: When you treat the weeds and algae with Shoreline Defense® or Algae Defense®, the oxygen levels will decline in your pond.
  • Decaying Matter = Less Oxygen:As the herbicide and algaecide start to work, the decaying matter will begin to be consumed by microorganisms, which use up the oxygen in the water.

All of these things create a stressful situation for your fish. When that happens, their immune systems could suffer, and they could develop and succumb to disease – which is something you don’t want to happen.

So while treating your pond or lake, break it into quarter sections. Then treat one section and wait 10 to 14 days to allow the water time to rebalance its oxygen level before treating the next section. Some other things you can do to improve the oxygen levels in your pond:

  • Add Aeration: Aeration, like the Pond Series™ Aeration Systems, adds oxygen to the water below the surface. The oxygen is utilized by the fish as well as the beneficial bacteria and microorganisms, which break down the muck and detritus that feed the algae and weeds.
  • Rake Away the Debris: As the herbicide and algaecide go to work killing the pond pests, take time to rake out the dead debris before it becomes algae- and weed-feeding pond muck. The Pond & Beach Rake makes the chore quick and easy.

Pond Talk: What kinds of spring and summer maintenance chores have you been doing so far this year?

Create the Perfect Pond - Airmax(r) Pond Series(t) Aeration Systems

We’ve had a pretty hard winter. What can I expect when the ice finally melts? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: We’ve had a pretty hard winter. What can I expect when the ice finally melts?

Q: We’ve had a pretty hard winter. What can I expect when the ice finally melts?

Kevin – Downers Grove, IL

A: Yep, this has indeed been a long, cold winter for much of the country. We’ve shivered through frigid temperatures, shoveled and slogged through snow banks, and watched our ponds and lakes freeze over.

Unfortunately, that could mean trouble for your fish.

When the ice on your pond finally melts this spring, you might discover that your fish and other aquatic life haven’t survived the season. These winter fish kills occur when the ice prevents gas exchange and reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water.

Michigan DNR fish production manager Gary Whelan says that shallow lakes, ponds and streams are particularly vulnerable to winterkill.

“Winterkill begins with distressed fish gasping for air at holes in the ice and often ends with large numbers of dead fish that bloat as the water warms in early spring,” he explains. “Dead fish and other aquatic life may appear fuzzy because of secondary infection by fungus, but the fungus was not the cause of death. The fish actually suffocated from a lack of dissolved oxygen from decaying plants and other dead aquatic animals under the ice.”

You can’t bring your fish back to life, but you can prevent winterkill from happening in the future by aerating your pond year-round with an Airmax® Pond Series™ Aeration System. Here’s how it works:

  • It reduces the amount of decomposing debris in the pond, encouraging the colonization of beneficial aerobic bacteria, which prevents muck and nutrient accumulation and maintains clear water.
  • It keeps an air hole open in the ice, allowing harmful gases to escape while delivering fresh oxygen to your fish.
  • It pumps even more fresh oxygen into the water via diffusers that sit on the bottom of the pond.

A little pond preparation can go a long way, especially when it comes to unknown variables like weather. Let’s hope next winter is milder than this one was!

Pond Talk: Have you experienced a winterkill in your pond or lake before?

Airmax(r) Aeration is Easy to Install - Airmax(r) Pond Series(t)

What Is A Winter Fish Kill & Why Do They Happen? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

What Is A Winter Fish Kill & Why Do They Happen?I’ve heard the term “winter fish kill.” What is it and why does it happen?

Linda - Stockbridge, MI

A winter fish kill occurs when your pond or lake becomes uninhabitable for aquatic life and a large number of fish pass away. Winter is the most common time for a fish kill because the long, harsh conditions of the season deplete the oxygen content of the water.

Prolonged ice cover on your pond or lake seals off the water from the air and prevents oxygenation of the water. Ice and snow cover also prevent sunlight from reaching your pond plants. Pond plants normally produce extra oxygen for your pond via photosynthesis. Finally, decomposing organic matter in your pond releases toxic gases that can’t escape from under the ice.

Eventually the competition for the limited supply of oxygen in the pond becomes too great. The fish suffocate and a winter fish kill occurs.

The good news is that winter fish kills are preventable. There are many things you can do as a pond and lake owner to maintain proper oxygen levels in your pond. First and foremost, invest in a good Aeration System. Aeration is the process of circulating air through water and it’s critical for overall pond health.  A second option is to add beneficial bacteria products like MuckAway™ or PondClear™ to your pond or lake before the winter season. Beneficial bacteria digest accumulated decomposing organic matter in your pond and convert it to a harmless, odorless gas.

Pond Talk: What fish behavior may indicate low oxygen levels in your pond?

Airmax Aeration Systems

My pond looks like an oil slick. Why and how can I get rid of it? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

My pond looks like an oil slick. Why and how can I get rid of it?

My pond looks like an oil slick. Why and how can I get rid of it?
Brandy- Naples, FL

Every year, Mother Nature unleashes a mass of pollen into the air to facilitate the fertilization of seeds in flowering plants. It’s an effective design, but not terribly efficient. Pollen ends up everywhere – just ask anyone who suffers from hay fever – and the surface of your pond is no exception.

Once settled on the surface, the pollen often mixes with algae to form a film that can give your pond that greasy, greenish look. If you’re unsure that the slick is due to pollen, run your finger through it. If the slick breaks up, you know your pond’s wearing an unsightly coat of pollen. And ‘unsightly’ defeats one of the purposes of having a pond to begin with, right?

So, what’s a frustrated pondkeeper to do? If you’re patient, you could wait for a heavy rain to come along and sink the pollen to the bottom. Or, depending on the size of your pond, a touch of artificial rain – think garden hose, here – might provide a temporary fix. However, to both fix the problem and prevent its recurrence, many of our customers have found that the installation of an Airmax Aeration System is a great solution. Our Airmax systems – available in models to fit your pond’s dimensions and needs – keep pond water circulating, which prevents the pollen from coalescing into an unsightly slick. Aesthetics aside, an Airmax System is a great way to keep your pond – and the plants and fish living there – clean and healthy.

For a more elegant solution to the pollen slick problem, you may want to consider a Kasco Fountain, which sprays water up and over the pond’s surface, causing ripples that prevent the formation of pollen slicks completely. Kasco Fountains are offered with single or multiple pattern sprays, adding a dramatic element to your pond-scape.

So, if you find your pond wearing an ugly, pollen coat, let us help you take it off, and replace it with that fresh, shimmering surface it deserves.

Pond Talk: Do you ever notice a white or greenish slick look on your pond?

Pond & Lake Fountains

Help! There are a bunch of dead fish in my pond, what happened? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

Why do frogs/toads make so much noise?

Help! There are a bunch of dead fish in my pond, what happened?
Jason – Hastings, NE

The arrival of spring is an exciting time for pond owners. The weather is warming up, the sun is shining and the ice is melting away from the surface of your pond. Some pond owners however, find all of their fish floating dead at the water’s surface. While experiencing a winter fish kill is not the best way to start the season if you understand the cause you can prevent future occurrences.

Your pond is constantly absorbing and releasing air. As wind blows across the surface of the pond water ripples absorb oxygen into the water column. Decomposing organic debris at the bottom of the pond release a gas that floats to the surface of the pond where it is released into the atmosphere.

The layer of ice that forms over your pond blocks air exchange locking fresh oxygen out of the pond and harmful gas from decomposition in. Depending on the size of the pond and the amount of decomposing debris available, your fish can be overwhelmed and killed by the lack of fresh air.

Fish kills can also happen in the summer. Summer fish kills are typically caused by pond turnovers due to lack of proper aeration. The top layer of water in your pond carries more oxygen and reacts faster to temperature changes due to its exposure to the air. The bottom of your pond will tend to contain less oxygen, light and will be slower to warm up throughout the summer. These layers of water are referred to as stratification and are divided by thermoclines. If you have ever swam in your pond you may have noticed that your feet are colder than your chest as they break the thermocline in the water column. Your fish will find a happy medium in the water column where there is adequate oxygen and warmth.

Particular rainy or windy days can cause the thermocline in your pond to break. The bottom layer of water in your pond will mix together with the healthier top layer of water. As your fish have nowhere to flee to, they are trapped in the newly mixed pond water which can severely stress and even kill your fish.
Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to prevent winter and summer fish kills. An Bottom Diffused Aeration System like the Airmax® AM Series pumps fresh air to the bottom of your pond and breaks it into fine bubbles that can be absorbed into the water column. As the air bubbles rise through the water column they also circulate the water body making sure that your pond is evenly oxygenated and warmed. An abundance of oxygen promotes the presence of beneficial aerobic bacteria which will help break down organic waste faster and without the egg-like odor produced by the slow anaerobic bacteria in water that lacks oxygen. Running an aeration system in the winter can also eliminate your winter fish kills as the constant bubbling at the surface of your pond prevents ice formation and quickly breaks up layers of ice.

To further aid in your fish kill prevention, you will want to remove as much organic debris from the bottom of the pond as possible. Beneficial Bacteria products like PondClear™and MuckAway™ in tandem with EcoBoost™ will naturally digest gas and algae causing muck without having to chemically treat your pond. Cut down and drag away any dead cattail reeds and leaves with a Weed Cutter and Rake so that they are not left to decompose. The Pond Logic ClearPAC® Plus combines all the beneficial bacteria products you need along with pond dye and an option algaecide to eliminate the guesswork of selecting the proper pond care products.

Pond Talk: Did you find any surprises under the ice in your pond this spring? What are you doing to resolve the issue?

Aeration

I just installed a water garden, added fish and they died. What am I doing wrong? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

My Fish Are Nibbling At My Toes When I Swim. Why Is This Happening And How Can I Stop It?

I just installed a water garden, added fish and they died. What am I doing wrong? Jeff – Warrensburg, IL

Great Things Take Time

It feels great to finally stand back and take a look at your finished handy-work. A brand new beautifully decorated water feature full of crystal clear water. It looks so great you may even consider jumping in it yourself. So what wouldn’t your fish love about it? It is important to analyze both the construction of your water garden as well as the water quality before you introduce your precious pets into their new home.

An “ideal” pond set up places your pond at a minimum depth of 18”, in an area that is limited to a maximum of around 5-6 hours of sunlight a day and includes aeration, filtration and a bit of water circulation. This ensures that your fish will have adequate protection from harsh weather, and are being supplied clean oxygenated water. You will also want to make sure your new water feature provides enough of these amenities to accommodate all of your finned friends. So what if your pond makes the cut and passes your quality control inspection but your fish still didn’t pull through?

While we consider tap water healthy by our standards, your fish may tend to disagree. When filling a newly constructed pond for the first time, you will want to make sure you rinse off all of the materials you are using (your rocks and plants for example) to make sure they are free of any potentially harmful contaminants. Harmful materials can be added to the pond regardless of whether you fill your pond with city water or well water. Well water can sometimes contain heavy metals while city water contains chlorides and other chemicals that are harmful to fish. You can detoxify and remove these harmful materials by adding treatments like Pond & Fish Conditioner. The conditioner will not only neutralize the unwanted items from your water, it adds beneficial agents to the water body that improve the slime coat on your fish and increase their oxygen uptake resulting in happier, less stressed fish that are better protected against parasites and infections.

Once the pond is full and treated with conditioner you will still want to let the pond run on its own for a while to allow the water to commence its nitrogen cycle and balance. Without assistance the pond would take about 6 weeks to balance which, in our opinion, is too long. You can cut the wait down by adding PL Gel to your filtration media, using your Pond & Fish Conditioner, and using beneficial bacteria like Nature’s Defense. Purchasing a Test Kit will allow you an opportunity to watch the nitrogen cycle at work. You will be able to track the spikes in ammonia, nitrites, and pH, and make sure they settle down to acceptable levels. Read more about the nitrogen cycle in this blog. You can also introduce a couple small, inexpensive fish into the pond to help the pond balance faster and to test the water and see if it is ready for your more valuable fish. If your test fish do just fine then it is safe to add new ones to the mix. Try to add only 1 or 2 fish at a time to make sure your pond has time to gradually adjust to the increased nutrient load and to see if your filtration is up to the task of keeping the pond filtered and free of algae. Taking a little time when adding fish to your new pond will save you money and tears from lost pets. While you may be excited to stock your new pond, let patience prevail and provide you seasons of enjoyment with your new water garden.

Pond Talk: Did you have any complications when adding fish to your new pond? What did you do to remedy the issue?

Pond Logic Pond & Fish Conditioner

What are winter fish kills and how can I prevent them? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Dyed Pond


Q: What are winter fish kills and how can I prevent them? – Alison in Illinois

Winter Fish Kills, They Don’t Float With Us!
You’ve waited all Winter long for the ice to melt over your water garden so you can run your waterfalls and enjoy your finned friends. Instead, you find your fish floating at the ponds surface, victims of a winter fish kill. What is this phenomenon and how can you prevent it?

Make Some Holes
When a layer of ice forms over the surface of you water garden, it essentially eliminates any transfer of air to or from your pond’s water. What this means to you is that, as debris decompose and your fish consume oxygen, byproducts are produced in the form of gasses that are toxic to your pond’s inhabitants. These gases are trapped under the ice and cannot escape; fresh air from outside the pond cannot reach the water either and so begins the process of the winter fish kill. Keeping a hole in the ice will allow the bad air in the pond to be replenished with good air. Some pond guys and gals use pond De-Icers to maintain an open hole, but many more rely on their aeration systems to do the job.

Pass The Bubbly
We’ve discussed in our past blogs the many benefits of aeration in your water garden. It circulates the water in your pond, infusing it with oxygen which is beneficial to your bacteria and fish. The constant bubbling produced by an aeration system will also keep a hole open in your water garden in the winter months, ensuring the release of those harmful gasses.

Being Supercool is SO Uncool
You have all heard concerns expressed in our past blogs in regards to “supercooling”. While this is a rare occurrence, there are a couple steps you can take to ensure you don’t overdo your winter aeration. When the cold weather comes, move your aeration plates to a shallower part of your pond. This will maintain a warmer layer of water for your fish to retreat to if the water does get a little too chilly. Furthermore, if you have a multiple plate system, you can run your water garden on just one plate for the winter. This will ensure that you have an open hole in your ice and should provide sufficient air supply to your fish as they require less oxygen during these times of decreased activity.

POND TALK: What type of aeration do you use in your pond? How have your fish fared over the past winters?

How do I control floating and bottom-growing algae in my lake? – Pond & Lake Q & A

No Algae Here!

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: How do I control floating and bottom-growing algae in my lake? – Tom in New York

A: Whether it’s floating or submerged, algae can turn a lake into a green mess in no time. It’s unsightly, it’s sometimes stinky and in extreme cases, it can cause a fish kill. The good news is that algae can be controlled no matter what time of year. It starts with controlling the population and ends with a long-term management plan.

Before we dive in, it’s important to understand the difference between algae and weeds. The term “algae” refers to a wide range of single and multi-celled organisms that live in the water and metabolize carbon dioxide into oxygen via photosynthesis, just like plants. They differ from plants or weeds in that they don’t have true leaves, roots or stems.

In lakes and ponds, the most common varieties of algae include: Green floating algae that creates a “pea soup” appearance; Chara or Stonewort, which are a bottom-growing, seaweed-looking type that can be mistaken for weeds, and string or filamentous algae, which are actually long strings of algae connected together.

Sometimes, pond and lake owners may mistake duckweed for floating algae, but if you look very closely, you’ll find that it’s actually duckweed or watermeal. Check out this blog entry to learn more about controlling this invasive weed.

Population Check

If your pond is coated in pea soup or the bottom is carpeted in Chara or string algae, you can knock back the population with a chemical herbicide like Algae Defense®. It provides quick results and it’s formulated to get a pond under control – especially during the hot summer months. Do not use if your pond or lake is stocked with koi or goldfish. If your pond has trout, check your carbonate hardness with a water hardness test kit, like the Laguna® Quick Dip Multi-Test Strips, and make sure the carbonate hardness is above 50 parts per million (ppm) before using Algae Defense®.

Long-Term Strategy

Algae Defense® by Pond Logic® will solve a crisis, but to keep your pond or lake looking clean and clear, you’ll need to be proactive and develop a plan to manage the algae. The most successful approach centers on cutting off the algae’s food supply – nutrients.

Nutrients can come from a wide variety of sources, like grass clippings, twigs, trees, fish waste, yard and farm fertilizers and runoff. As these nutrients break down, they produce ammonia, which triggers the nitrogen cycle. Nitrifying bacteria surround the ammonia, turning it into nitrites and then into nitrates (nutrients) – which then feed the algae.

So, how do you reduce the nutrients in your pond?
Try these tips:

  • Buffer before fertilizing: To prevent inadvertently fertilizing the algae, leave a buffer area around the pond. You can also try using organic or low-phosphorus fertilizers.
  • Aerate, aerate, aerate: Because that muck at the bottom of the pond feeds the algae, you should prevent the buildup with proper aeration.
  • Reduce the muck: Use natural bacteria like MuckAway™ by Pond Logic® to breakdown up to 5-inches of organic muck per year. You can also rake your pond using a Pond & Beach Rake to remove dead vegetation, leaves and other organics that will eventually decompose on the bottom.
  • Reduce sunlight: Like all photosynthetic organisms, algae requires sunlight to thrive. Adding pond dye can help provide shade. If possible, consider adding some non-invasive aquatic plants to your pond. The plants, which also consume nitrates, will also be a source of competition for food.
  • Add beneficial bacteria: You may also consider adding some additional beneficial bacteria, like PondClear™ by Pond Logic®, to your pond or lake. The bacteria gobble through nitrates, breaking down fish waste, leaves and other organics that accumulate in the pond, naturally improving the water clarity.
  • That green gunk can be controlled in your pond or lake. It just takes a little planning and some proactive management. When you see the results, it’ll be worth it!

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

    Why Did My Fish Die Over the Winter? – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Illustration of No Aeration Versus with Airmax Aeration

    Pond & Lake Q & A

    Q: I lost all of my fish after the winter. We love to catch fish in the pond and now we have to start over! What happened? And is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening again? – Alfred of Michigan

    A: My first thought when I read this question was, “They don’t have an aeration system”. And after speaking with him, come to find out, he didn’t. This is usually always the case during a winter fish kill. Everything seems to be going just fine when all of a sudden one morning you wake up to discover a wave of fish floating on your pond’s surface. This is not a pretty sight, nor is it any fun to clean up. So what causes fish kill and what can you do to prevent it?

    What Causes Fish Kill?
    During the warmer months of the year a pond with no aeration will contain oxygen towards the surface of the pond. This is because there is an oxygen transfer from air to water at the pond’s surface. The bottom of the pond, however, will contain very little or no oxygen; Certainly not enough to support fish life. Also, the toxins associated with fish waste and other organic biodegradation tend to sink and stay at those lower depths of the pond, polluting the already oxygen-starved water. This unfortunately, condenses your fishes’ habitat area and forces them to live towards the surface of the pond.

    There is also a difference in temperature from the bottom of the pond to the surface. The bottom of the pond will be colder than the pond’s surface. The reason for this is because the sun will heat up the surface of the water and since cold water is denser than warmer water, the cold water will fall to the bottom. This difference in temperatures can be quite dramatic at times. Have you ever jumped into a pond and felt the brisk cold water towards your feet? This is the thermocline border. This dramatic change in temperature can cause your fish to stress as they travel from a warm temperature to a cold temperature and back to warm. This stress can lower their immune systems.

    During the colder months of the year, the oxygen as well as the thermocline will actually flip. All of a sudden the colder water containing no oxygen will mix with the warmer water with oxygen. As this mixing occurs, the fish are left with few places to go for oxygen and they will eventually suffocate.

    Another issue during the winter are toxic gasses. As bottom organics (grass clippings, leaves, trees, twigs, fish waste, etc.) decay, they will create toxic gasses. When ice covers the pond’s surface, these toxic gasses are trapped underneath the ice and will cause a fish kill.

    Preventing Fish Kills
    Using an Airmax Aeration System is the single most important way to help prevent winter fish kills. The reasons are simple: With an Airmax Aeration System, a compressor sits on shore and pumps air down to a diffuser on the pond’s bottom. This air forces the cold water containing no oxygen to the pond’s surface. This water, because it is denser, will fall back to the pond’s bottom. This cycle will repeat and create a convection or current within the water column. This will fill the whole water body with oxygen as well as maintain the same temperature level throughout the pond (see illustration on left).

    Also, during the winter months, when ice has covered the surface of the pond. An Airmax Aeration System will keep a small hole open in the ice to allow those toxic gases to escape.

    The Bottom Line: Having aeration will help reduce the chances of fish kill. Also, remember that this is one of many benefits of having an aeration system (Refer to this blog post for the other benefits of aeration).

    Prevent Fall Turnover & Fish Kills by Using Aeration – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Picture of a Fish Kill due to Fall Turnover

    Being Aware of Fall Turnover.

    Instead of a Q & A for Ponds & Lakes today, I wanted to make everyone aware of what Fall Turnover is and the steps you can take to protect your fish. Around this time of the year we receive quite a few phone calls from customers waking up to find a pond full of dead fish. Hopefully, I can shed some light on this subject that can help you prevent an event like this from happening.

    What is Turnover? With no aeration present, the pond’s water is stratified (aka has a thermocline). Meaning that the water at the top is warmer and full of oxygen while on the bottom the water is cooler, nutrient rich and contains no oxygen. This causes the fish to habitate towards the surface of the pond. As the seasons change from the hot summer to the cold winter, the pond goes through a process known as “turnover”. This is when the cooler,
    un-oxygenated water at the bottom of the pond, mixes with the warmer oxygenated water at the pond’s surface. Since the rising cooler water contains no oxygen, the fish lose the ability to breathe in a sufficient supply of oxygen. Shortly after, the fish begin to die.

    Aeration to the Rescue! You’ve probably heard me talk about aeration in many Q & A’s over the past couple months and are probably sick of hearing about it. But it really is that important and really is a solution to a majority of a pond’s problems.

    By properly aerating your pond, the oxygen will be saturated throughout the pond, thus eliminating the thermocline and eliminating the chance for future fish kills caused by “turnover”.

    You can also under-aerate a pond as well. Please read the following Q & A for more information.

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