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Can my snails stay in my pond for the winter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

Can my snails stay in my pond for the winter?
Cody – Falling Spring, VA

While your fish and some of your aquatic plants remain safe and sound during their winter dormancy you may wonder if your snails will be as successful. Your pond snails are amazingly resilient in cold weather and will do just fine given their habitat is suitable.

Your pond depth will play a major role in the success of all of the living creatures in your pond. Your plants, fish and snails can survive in cold water but they won’t fair too well if frozen into a solid block of ice. The ice that forms on the top of your pond varies in thickness depending on where you live but the general rule of thumb is to build your pond to be around 20”-30” in depth. This ensures there is an ample layer of water at the bottom of the pond that is left unexposed to the elements which will provide a safe haven for all of your pets and plants.

You won’t have to worry too much about your snails finding a safe place to hide over the winter as they come equipped with a strong shell which provides adequate shelter. They can hide amongst the rocks and plant remains in the pond as well during the winter but as your fish are in dormancy there is not an overwhelming need for additional habitat. As water temperatures drop and bacteria begin to dwindle a lot of pond owners tend to rely on algaecides to keep their ponds free from algae. If you are using an algaecide in your water garden review the product label thoroughly to ensure it is safe to use with your snails. When your pond comes back to life in the spring your snails will flourish amongst the new plant growth.

Pond Talk: Do you do anything special to provide safety for your snails in the winter?

Can I water garden indoors for the winter? – Decorative Water Gardens Q & A

Can I water garden indoors for the winter?

Can I water garden indoors for the winter?
Tony – Chicago, IL

Your pond can be an outlet to be creative, a way to relax and a nice break from your day to day routine. Your life doesn’t take a break just because the weather cools down so why should your pond? Our blog on Bringing Your Fish and Plants Indoors may be the catalyst you need to start your first ever indoor pond. So what should you bring indoors with your plants and fish and what else can you do with your pond to beat the winter blues?

Some types of water features are easier to implement indoors than others. Water features like container type fountains or pot style water features can easily be carried inside and used to foster your plants and fish over the winter. Larger pre-formed ponds or rubber liner based ponds are more permanent but can be duplicated indoors using a plastic-preformed pond liner or large Rubbermaid tanks. If your outdoor water feature is over 18” deep and doesn’t freeze solid you can leave the bulk of your fish and plants outdoors to over winter and bring just a few inside to create an indoor feature that is sized to fit your home.

Use your ponds Outdoor Décor to compliment your indoor feature. Not only can you accent your indoor water feature with existing outdoor statues and ornaments but you will also be protecting them from harsh winter elements keeping them safe and intact for use next season.

Also, use this opportunity to experiment, learn and grow as a pond owner. Don’t be afraid to try new designs, plants and products to achieve the exact look and feel you want from your water feature. There is a wealth of knowledge available to you in both Pond Books and Blogs that can help you on your journey for the perfect pond. Furthermore, now is the time to take inventory of your consumable products such as Filter Media Pad, Bacteria and Fish Food. Inspect materials for signs of wear and replace them as necessary and make sure you have the products you need on hand for your spring start up. Take the time now to prepare for spring and make your water feature start up a breeze.

Pond Talk: Have you created an indoor water feature? What type did you build? What challenges did you encounter?

Get inspiration for your water garden from Water Gardening for Hobbyists Book!

I’d like to create a water garden or feature, how do I choose a size to suit me? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

I'd like to create a water garden or feature, how do I choose a size to suit me?

I’d like to create a water garden or feature, how do I choose a size to suit me? Maude – Frogsboro, NC

Water Features That Fit

Creating a water feature is a fun and exciting process consisting of endless designs and limited only by your imagination. Many people think they are have to have a large amount of land to create a great water feature. In reality, a beautiful water feature can be constructed in even the smallest yards or even indoors. Before you start purchasing materials for your pond project, sit down with a pen and paper and take some time to research and design the perfect water feature that fits your situation.

One of the more common ways people ease their way into pond building is by using a preformed pond basin. I am sure most of you have seen them when walking through your local home & garden stores. These plastic liners are available in a wide array of shapes, sizes and depths which appeals to customers looking to install a pond in a limited amount of space. These liners are great for people new to ponds as the shape and dimensions are already figured out for you. This does however limit your creative influence on your soon to be pond. It is for this reason that more and more brave newcomers opt to install Rubber EPDM liner instead. Using rubber liner allows you the freedom to create whatever size pond you desire, filled with curves, plant shelves and waterfall streams. The rubber liner is flexible and therefore is not prone to cracking like the harder plastic performed liners. Rubber EPDM liner can also be pieced together using a Seam Kit to accommodate a large array of designs. Pond Kits are packaged with 45Mil EPDM Rubber Liner to create ponds as small as 8’ x 11’ or as large as 21’ x 26’. You can also purchase rubber liner in 5’ increments for smaller or larger applications.

Those of us who enjoy the sounds and sights of flowing water but are not thrilled by the prospects of managing an entire pond, have other means of entertainment. Using a small basin and a pump, you can create a beautiful, streaming waterfall that disappears into a hidden reservoir underground. We call this a pondless waterfall. The great thing about pondless waterfalls is that they can adapt to smaller areas very easily because there is no standing water. For instance, if you don’t have much of a yard and would like to hear the sound of water, a pondless waterfall is for you. There are Pondless Waterfall Kits available that contain all of the parts you need to get started and are available in different sizes.

When planning to build your water feature, plan for a weekend, one preferably without rain of course. Most smaller Pond Kits and Pondless Kit usually need only a weekend to complete and right now is usually the most popular time to build. Just remember it is far easier (and cheaper) to work with your pen and paper in the planning stages than it is once you start building your water feature. Planning ahead helps prevent any unwanted surprises.

POND TALK: What type of water feature do you have?

Everything you need to build the perfect pond!

Can Koi get sunburns? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can Koi get sunburns?

Can Koi get sunburns? Dan – Bane, VA

Now that beach season here it is time to venture out into the great outdoors and soak in some of that summer sun. You can safely bet your Koi will be doing the same, as they love the sunshine and can be found sunning themselves in the shallows of your pond. Unlike us, however, they can’t lather on the sunscreen. So what can you do to make sure they don’t overindulge and end up with a sunburn?

Koi can get sunburnt? That’s right, your Koi can burn if overexposed to the sun. Some Koi will loiter close to the surface in your pond or in shallow areas that leave their backs very close to the surface of or, at times, partially out the water. This is the most common reason why your fish tend to experience sun damage. Another less common contributing factor is the lack of shade and cover from sun exposure. Some pond owners do not provide any Floating Plants, shaded areas, or recessed areas for fish to hide within in instances of intense sun which leaves them completely exposed. If your pond receives direct sunlight throughout the day, make sure you provide adequate habitat to protect your pets. You can also add some Pond Shade to limit the amount of UV light that is able to penetrate the surface of the pond. A great way to prevent burns, illness, and parasites in your pond is to dose the water with Pond Salt. Pond salt will improve the slime coat on your fish and improve their gill function which protects them from illness and exposure to the elements.

When your fish are over exposed to the sun and outside elements you will notice their slime coat will turn white and start to peel off. If caught in time they will regenerate their protective coating and the old damaged areas will start to break off and wash away. If no steps are taken to address the problem your fish can develop blisters, ulcers, and open wounds that can lead to pain or infection. If you do notice a bit of sun damage on your fish you should quickly asses your pond’s layout and investigate the possible causes of why your fish are being over exposed. Add shade where necessary or if you see that one or a couple of your fish keep surfacing in the shallower areas of your ponds, section them off in deeper areas that are abundant in shade until their protective coating heals. If blisters or sores develop, treat the effected fish with an Antifungal/Bacteria treatment like MelaFix, PimaFix, or TetraPond Fish Treatment.

Always take into consideration the environment your fish are exposed to and adjust as necessary to keep them comfortable. Your fish will enjoy the sunny warm weather quite readily which provides great opportunities to play and interact with your pets. Occasionally checking in on your finned friends and reacting to their needs will keep them healthy, happy, and safe this summer.

POND TALK: Has your koi ever had a sunburn?

Turn your water garden into an outdoor oasis!

Waterfall Foam – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Waterfall Foam

Foam Sweet Foam

The key to constructing a quality water garden, or anything for that matter, is to use the proper tools. While you may be able to fashion a lot of your own components or incorporate random on hand materials into your pond build you can miss out on potential benefits that result from years of product testing and development as well as functional design. While this holds true for anything from skimmers, filter media, and waterfall boxes, it is also true of small scale materials like waterfall foam.

Waterfall foam is primarily used to aid in the placement and retention of stone in your water garden and to seal gaps between these stones to manipulate the flow of water down the waterfall and along the streambed. Simply put, the foam expands between your rocks keeping the water from flowing behind them. As the foam dries it also holds the rocks firmly into place so you don’t have to worry about stones washing downstream with the flow of water, rock collapse from seasonal shifting or the displacement of loose perimeter rocks.

12oz cans are available for one time use and include an application tip. You simply place the tip between gaps and crevices and pull the trigger to release product to the desired area. You can also use it as an adhesive to hold stones in place. Any excess foam that protrudes from between the rocks can easily be trimmed away. Another great aspect of using waterfall foam is that if you mess up, or decide to change the location of some of your rocks, you can still cut away the foam and re-arrange them. The foam is black in color to blend in with the surroundings and is plant and fish safe. For contractors, or those of you who change your minds a lot, you can purchase a Foam Gun and use 24oz cans which can be used in more than one application. If you decide to use a foam gun you will want to maintain it by cleaning it with Foam Gun Cleaner between uses.

POND TALK: Have you used Black Waterfall Foam in your water garden? Have you used it to create any unique rock formations or incorporated other natural materials into your stream?

Hold rocks in place with ease!

Do fish drink? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

 Do fish drink?

Do fish drink? Kristie – Doglap, MS

You would think that your koi need a drink of water like the desert needs another grain of sand but just like us; they too need a little refreshment from time to time. Koi utilize water to maintain proper body functions the same as us but they just do it a little bit differently.

Koi don’t per say “drink” like we do. If we want a glass of water, we pour water in a glass and drink away through our mouths. Koi on the other hand absorb water through their gills and body in a process called osmosis. Osmosis is defined by dictionary.com as “the tendency of a fluid, usually water, to pass through a semipermeable membrane into a solution where the solvent concentration is higher, thus equalizing the concentrations of materials on either side of the membrane.“ In other words, koi have larger concentrations of water that contain salt in their body than does the surrounding water garden. Through osmosis water is constantly passing through koi’s semipermeable skin into their body to equalize these concentrations. Since water is constantly absorbing into their bodies they have to immediately excrete this water to prevent them from bursting. During the course of a day, they can excrete up to 10 times their weight.

Feed your fish with the best!

How can I keep my waterfall free of algae and buildup? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I keep my waterfall free of algae and buildup?

How can I keep my waterfall free of algae and buildup? Renee – Heber Springs, AR

While the warm sunny weather is great for enjoying the outdoors this summer, it can also create some headaches in your water garden. A lot of you may notice that your stream and waterfalls are growing a nice coat of green algae as we continue through the warmer summer months. In a lot of cases, especially if you are using beneficial bacteria such as Nature’s Defense your water is clear but algae and debris is attaching itself to your stream, waterfall and rocks. There is really simple fix to this green monster, in less then 15 minutes you can have amazing results.

It’s simple, use Pond Logic Oxy-Lift Defense direct to your waterfall, stream, or anywhere you have debris or algae accumulating. When used on damp areas, the Oxy-Lift Defense will lift stuck on debris and algae off their attached surface so they can be easily rinsed away avoiding the need for a pressure wash or tough manual labor. Simply shut down your waterfall and quickly remove any debris or algae with your hand, then sprinkle on the Oxy-Lift, you’ll be able to hear the Oxy-Lift working to break the debris off the rocks. After 10-15 min restart your waterfall. You can scoop the loose algae out of the pond or let your skimmer do the work. We recommend applying Oxy-Lift later in the day when you will not be viewing the pond as the pond may become a little cloudy or foamy for a short period of time. Regularly cleaning your waterfall will ensure that maintenance is short and sweet keeping you from having to spend hours trying to wrestle your stream and waterfalls into submission.

If you are having issues with algae not only on the stream but also in the pond itself you can also apply a dose of Tetra Pond Algae Control to quickly kill undesirable growth in the pond even if it contains fish and plants! Using the proper products to maintain your pond will save you time and money in the long run and ensure a faster turn around process should your pond find itself in an algae attack? While algae blooms can not always be prevented the duration and intensity of their visit can drastically be reduced when your pond is properly kept. For best results consider the DefensePAC it includes everything you need in one simple package such as Nature’s Defense, Oxy-Lift, Clarity Defense, Muck Defense, and Seasonal Defense.

Pond Talk: What is your favorite part of having a water garden?

Keep your Water Garden Clear!

How can I make my water garden more enjoyable for night time viewing? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How can I make my water garden more enjoyable for night time viewing?

How can I make my water garden more enjoyable for night time viewing? Mark – Schaumburg, IL

Tell Your Pond To Get A Night Life

Like so many other water gardeners out there, you’ve labored diligently throughout the seasons to build the perfect back yard oasis, but between work and errands you are never home early enough in the day to sit and enjoy the scenery! A few simple steps can make the difference between some night time relaxation or simply being stuck in the dark.

One of the best things about your pond is that it’s present both in the night and day. The soothing sound of flowing water is one of the most common and enjoyable products of your water feature. If you do not have a small fountain, waterfall, or stream, consider installing one to instantly up your pond’s enjoyment factor. For smaller ponds a pump like the Fish Mate 580 comes with both a fountain head attachment and a diverter to route water to a small waterfall making installation fast and simple.

With some soothing sounds added to your pond, we can now turn our focus over to the visual side of the spectrum. A somewhat obvious way to get some late night pond side time is to implement some cleverly placed lighting. Floating Solar Lights and a 10-Watt Waterfall Light can add soft subtle accents to the pond, drawing your attention to desired areas. 3-Pack Halogen and LED Kits can be used in or out of the pond to softly illuminate large areas of the pond. If you are looking for a little more power you can use a Multi-Color High Intensity LED to flood an area with light or a 50-Watt Warm Halogen light to spot light and accent a particular area or item.

Tip: When installing pond lighting underwater, make sure to wrap an appropriate amount of excess power cord around the light to allow the ability to replace the bulb if needed. This excess power cord will allow you to pull the light out of the water for a bulb change instead of having to either move rock or drain the water. Also make sure you point lighting away from where you will be viewing the pond.

Another less known but equally effective way to accent your pond in the twilight hours is to use night blooming plants. Night blooming lilies like the Trudy Slocum still possess the same shading and filtering properties as your other lilies; the only difference is the blooms open up in the evening and throughout the night so you can enjoy a little extra color when the lights go out.

Each pond is special and unique so there is never one specific layout when it comes to adding lights and plants. Select items that match the surrounding colors and landscaping of your pond and use lighting to accent them accordingly. With a little practice and experimentation you can achieve a beautiful and thoroughly enjoyable pond, even at night.

Pond Talk: What products do you use to make your water garden more enjoyable at night?

Light up your pond at night!

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

Why are my koi chasing each other? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Why are my koi chasing each other?

Why are my koi chasing each other? Christie – Moline, IL

The Thrill of the Chase

Just like any other pet, Koi provide pond guys and gals everywhere with entertainment and companionship. So now your new found finned friends are chasing each other around and being rather aggressive towards each other. This violent activity may seem disturbing to us but for your Koi it is actually a natural process. No your fish have not transformed your water garden in their very own fight club; this is their way of courting each other.

With Friends Like You…

So nothing says love like bashing your partner into a few plants and rocks right? What you are seeing is the male Koi(s) chasing the female around the pond trying to push the eggs out of her by pinching her between rocks or other males. It is during this process that the eggs are released into the water and fertilized. While we may have been a little slow to realize love is in the air … or in your pond rather, there are still a few things you can do to help your Koi have a successful spawning season.

Bring On The Plants: Adding Aquatic Plants like Hornwort and Water Hyacinth in your pond will provide excellent surface area for freshly laid eggs to attach to and will also provide coverage for them.

Keep It Clean: It is important that you keep the water in your pond clean and free from disease while the fry are developing. Perform regular water changes and use Pond & Fish Conditioner when adding new water to remove any chlorine and toxic heavy metals from your tap or well water. Make sure you are adding Pond Salt to the water to keep fish stress down and also help prevent diseases.

Survival of the fittest…

After the fry hatch, you may not see the new additions until they become big enough to fend for themselves. Once they hatch they hide and fight for survival. Koi are not loving parents, they tend to eat their own eggs and fry. Out of thousands of eggs koi lay, only a select few will survive.

As your new additions began to grow, there will be added ammonia and nitrates in the pond. If you plan to keep these new Koi make sure you are providing adequate Filtration in your pond and you are not deviating from a practical fish load for your size pond. Having more fish in your pond than your filtration can handle will lead to additional more severe algae blooms and muck accumulation. It is important that you keep adding beneficial bacteria such as Nature’s Defense or Muck Defense to break this waste down.

Pond Talk: Have you seen baby koi in your water garden?

Pond Logic® Pond Salt

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