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Is there anything I should do for my pond/lake to prepare it for Spring? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

Dyed Pond

Q: Is there anything I should do for my pond/lake to prepare it for Spring? – Dan in Illinois

Breaking the Ice on Your Spring Pond Projects
With the sun shining brighter than ever and the snow finally disappearing, most of us pond guys and gals are itching to throw on our waders and dive into our ponds — figuratively of course.

As the Saying Goes, “An Ounce of Prevention…”
Ok, so none of us really want to spend our spring and summer in waders pulling weeds and tending to unruly ponds. So what can you do to ensure your Winter/Spring transition is smooth and enjoyable? As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is especially true in the months to come. Following some easy procedures will keep those waders in your closest and a smile on your face.

Do Your Pre-Spring Cleaning
Walk around your pond and pick up any debris that has made its way into your yard and around your shoreline. If left to sit, this clutter will turn into a food source for algae in the spring. Cut back any weeds or unwanted vegetation growing around the pond while it is still dormant, keeping it from taking over your pond as the temperatures rise. Now is also a great time to inspect and clean your aeration system cabinet and, if the ice has already melted in your pond, the plates as well. This would be a good opportunity to move the plates back to the deeper areas of your pond for summer aeration, if you happened to move them to shallower areas during the winter.

Shaken, Not Stirred
With all of the dye, beneficial bacteria, and occasional algaecide we’ve added to our ponds over the seasons, you just may be qualified to tend a tiki bar at your pond. While your PondClear™ and EcoBoost™ get the back shelf for the winter season, you should be adding dye to your pond year-round as algae can still grow under a layer of ice in the colder months. If you have not been doing so, add your dye now to reduce the amount of sunlight available. Preventing algae growth now will keep you from fighting an algae bloom in the spring. Your PondClear™ and EcoBoost™ treatments should continue once the water temperature is above 50º F. For those of us who suffer from Duckweed, as spring approaches, you will want to have your WhiteCap™ on hand and ready to apply come mid-April so it has a chance to go to work and prevent weeds from growing throughout the season.

Take Inventory
Kris Kringle is not the only one checking his list twice over the winter. Pond guys and gals everywhere should be checking their remaining ClearPAC® and necessary weed control products and replenishing these items for the upcoming season. Inspect your tools and decoys to make sure they are in working condition. With everything in working order and ready to use, you are now ready for anything spring sends your way. All that’s left to do now is enjoy your pond!

POND TALK: How do you break the ice on your Spring pond projects? What do you have planned for your pond or water garden this season?

What do I need to do to overwinter the fish in my farm pond? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Winter is coming, are your fish ready?

Pond & Lake Q & A

Recently, someone asked me a fantastic question regarding winter aeration and if it can “super-cool” your pond in the winter, possibly causing harm to your fish. I had one of our expert Fisheries Biologists, Justin McLeod, answer this question. Below are some easy solutions that he suggests to ensure a fish-safe winter for those of you in the colder climates. – Jason Blake, The Pond Guy®

Winter aeration (bubblers) can be very important in areas where ponds can freeze over. Along the Northern US border and into Canada, mid-winter temperatures dip well below freezing for prolonged amounts of time. This can put your fish into jeopardy if the pond freezes completely over. To answer your question regarding “Super-Cooling your pond, extremely cold surface temperatures cause ponds to stratify in the opposite way of the summer. Because water is most dense at 39 degrees Fahrenheit, the water beneath the winter thermocline stays around that 39 degree mark, while the water above the thermocline drops down near the 32 degree mark. This is a small difference, but it could mean life or death to a fish.

A “super-cooled” condition is created generally when surface aeration (fountains, High Volume Surface aerators, or really anything pump or pushing water into the atmosphere) is used during winter months. “Super-Cooling” happens when the colder water on the top is circulated to the bottom, leaving no warmer water refuge for the fish. Although it is uncommon to see “Super-Cooling” with sub-surface aeration (bottom bubblers), there have been instances when it has happened. With that said, I would never let this stop me from operating my aerator in the winter – my fish are just too important to me!

Here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your aeration system and possibly avoid the chance of “Super-Cooling”:

    1. If you have multiple diffuser plates, it is ok to run only 50% of your diffusers. Even though the mixing power of your system is decreased, it will still add oxygen to the pond and allow gases to escape out through the hole it creates in the ice. Note: You only need 10% of your water surface open in the winter for gas exchange.
    2. If your pond is extremely small (1/8 acre or less), you may want to move your plate(s) out from the deepest area into a shallower spot. This will leave room for fish to winter in the deeper water.

POND TALK: What do you do to prepare your lake fish for winter?

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?

    What’s the difference between PondClear and MuckAway? – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Pond clarity results with MuckAway and PondClear

    Pond & Lake Q & A

    Q: What’s the difference between PondClear and MuckAway? – Barry in Oklahoma

    A: We can summarize the difference between the two in one sentence: PondClear works to remove excess nutrients from the surface down; Muck Away works to remove excess nutrients from the bottom up. Seems simple – or is it?

    In general, water clarity problems occur when excess amounts of rotting vegetation, leaves, twigs and fish waste accumulate in the pond or lake. These tiny particles are either suspended in the water column, or they settle to the bottom of the pond.

    PondClear packets, which are made of beneficial bacteria, are designed to break down waste and suspended organics in the water column. Imagine thousands of hungry bacteria, which multiply every 20 to 40 minutes, swimming through your pond or lake and gobbling through the excess nutrients. After just a few weeks of use, chemical-free PondClear will begin to clear up your water and dissipate any lingering odors.

    PondClear comes in easy-to-use, pre-measured water-soluble packets that you simply toss into your pond or lake every two weeks. One pail of PondClear will treat a quarter-acre pond for up to six months. It’s safe for use around horses, livestock, birds, fish, pets and wildlife.

    MuckAway pellets, which are also made of beneficial bacteria, are designed to sink to the bottom of a pond or lake to digest the detritus, which are their natural food source. As the bacteria start to work, the muck will begin to break down, noxious odors will dissipate and the water clarity will improve. It’s great for spot-treating troublesome areas, like beaches and shorelines.

    When used as directed, MuckAway will break down up to 5 inches of muck per year. One pail of MuckAway will treat up to 16,000 square feet of pond. It’s safe for use around horses, livestock, birds, fish, pets and wildlife, too.

    Whether you use PondClear or MuckAway, be sure to use when water temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you use an algaecide or herbicide treatment, wait at least three days before adding the beneficial bacteria.

    POND TALK: What successes have you had with beneficial bacteria in your pond or lake?

    Season-Long Algae Control with the ClearPAC – Pond & Lake Q & A

    ClearPAC - Season-Long Pond Care in One Convenient Package

    Q: Is there any one product that I can use to get my pond cleared up? I have tried numerous products from my local feed store with little to no success. Please help! – Jason of Indiana

    A: One of the best ways to maintain your pond all year long is to get a ClearPAC. The ClearPAC is a collection of products that come in one package designed to make the maintenance of your pond as simple as possible. The following is a list of the products that are included within the ClearPAC and what their purposes are:

    Algae Defense – The Algae Killer*: Algae Defense is an algaecide that once sprayed onto algae, within hours the algae is dead. It is very fast acting. If algae is present in your pond, we recommend using Algae Defense to kill off the algae before starting the rest of the package.

    Pond-Clear – The Natural Bacteria: Pond-Clear is one of the best products used in the market today to help keep your pond clean and clear. These easy-to-use water soluble packets, once toss into the water, go to work immediately to breakdown muck, remove excess nutrients and eliminate noxious odors. Pond-Clear will naturally improve a pond’s water clarity by attacking suspended organic waste. This powerful bacteria can breakdown as much as 5 inches of muck per year! We recommend using Pond-Clear every two weeks throughout the season when water temperatures are above 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Nature’s Blue – The Pond Dye: This super concentrated pond dye works great at giving your pond a long lasting natural blue color as well as filtering out sunlight. This quart is so concentrated that it is equal to many other pond dye gallons out on the market.

    Nutri-Defense – The Eco-Enhancer: Nutri-Defense works to bind up excess nutrients and sinks them to the pond’s bottom to make them unavailable as a food source for algae. Nutri-Defense also helps stimulate the Pond-Clear natural bacteria. Once Nutri-Defense has settled the nutrients to the pond’s bottom, Pond-Clear goes to work to break them down further. Pond-Clear and Nutri-Defense are a fantastic “one-two punch” to keep your pond clean and clear.

    The ClearPAC is a great way to keep your pond clean, clear and healthy all season. We always recommend to add an aeration system to help further enhance the performance of the ClearPAC. (Click here to read more about aeration). The ClearPAC comes in two different sizes, the 1/4 Acre ClearPAC and the 1/2 Acre ClearPAC. There is enough product to treat the ponds for up to 6 months!

    *Algae Defense cannot be shipped to the following states: California, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, New York and Washington. Algae Defense will be omitted from orders going to these states.

    What is This Black Mucky Stuff on the Bottom of My Pond & How Do I Get Rid of It? – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Muck Boots Stepping in Muck

    Q: What is this black mucky stuff on the bottom of my pond and how do I get rid of it? - Several Customers

    A: Over time, organics such as leaves, aquatic weeds or twigs fall into the pond and settle on the bottom. These organics slowly begin to decay and will create a mucky layer on the bottom of your pond. As time passes, this muck layer will get thicker and thicker. Before you know it, you’ll step into your pond and sink a foot down in muck. Muck is also a food source for algae and pond weeds. As the muck layer grows, so will your problems with algae and pond weeds. So how do we combat muck? Below are a few suggestions:

    The best way to combat muck is to use a beneficial, natural bacteria called Pond-Clear. Pond-Clear is an aerobic bacteria that instantly activates when put into water and will eat away the muck at an accelerated rate. When used with aeration, you can see up to 3-5″ dissipate per year.

    Just remember, any organic matter that goes into your pond will create more muck. The more muck, the more food source for algae and pond weeds. Finding ways to reduce the amount of organics going into your pond is a must. For instance, cutting your grass away from the pond, instead of directly in it or removing twigs and tree branches that have fallen into the pond using a Pond & Beach Rake.

    One more way to reduce muck is to use a bottom bubbler aeration system. Aerobic bacteria, like Pond-Clear, will break down muck at an even faster rate when there is saturated oxygen levels in your pond’s water. Aeration also has many other benefits besides breaking down muck, such as clearing the water column of sediments, reducing the chances of fish kills or turnover and eliminating a pond’s thermocline. (Read more about the benefits of aeration here)

    Keeping Your Pond Clear – Pond & Lake Q & A

    Q: My pond is approximately 1.5 acres and shaped like a horeshoe with a pennisula in the middle. I have clay soil and my pond is always murky. It is 7 years old and I am frustrated that I have stocked the pond and do not catch many fish. I want a clear pond without killing my fish. -Scott of Carl Junction, MO

    A: Great question! There are many facets to this questions and also please note that a pond will never be as clear as a pool. If your pond is murky, the first question I would ask you is, “Do you have catfish or koi in your farm pond?” If the answer is “yes”, then thats the issue. Catfish and koi are known as “bottom dwellers” and will stir up the bottom of a pond and no matter how hard you try to settle it out, the catfish and koi will just keep stiring it up. If you do not have catfish or koi, then we have to dig a little deeper for find the answer. What I would do next is a glass jar test. Take a clear glass jar and fill it up with your pond’s water. Wait 24 hours and either two things will happen. One, the cloudiness settles and the water becomes clear or two, the water is green and nothing settles. If the water is green, than we have to treat for algae. See Algae Control. If the cloudiness settles at the bottom and the water is clear, then the cloudiness is caused by suspended particulates instead of algae. If this is the case, a double dose of Nutri-Defense will flocculate the particulates and a regular maintenance of Pond-Clear Packets will help maintain that clear water. Also, Nutri-Defense & Pond Clear are both Safe for people, pets, fish, livestock & Wildlife.

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