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

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

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

Judy – Southport, NC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do I really need to adjust my water’s pH level? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Do I really need to adjust my water's pH level?

Q: Do I really need to adjust my water’s pH level?

Terry – Bishopville, MD

A: Sure, you’ve seen those pH tests, like the Pondcare® Master Test Kit, online or at your local pond supply shop, and you’ve overheard veteran pond keepers talking about pH level adjustments. But what in the world is pH and why would want to monkey with it in your water garden or fish pond?

pH Defined

In super simple terms, pH, which stands for potential hydrogen, is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a water body is on a scale from 0 to 14. Pure water is neutral. It has a pH close to 7.0 at 77 degrees F. Blood is also close to neutral. Ammonia’s pH is ~11, which is high on the alkaline charts, while stomach acid’s pH is ~1, which acidic enough to burn through your chewed-up chow.

pH in Your Pond

So why is the pH level in a pond or water garden such a hot topic? Because pH affects the health of those things swimming around in the water. Fish love a liquid environment that strikes the right balance between acid and base. Your pond’s pH level affects their ability to reproduce, to fight disease, to metabolize their food – to do just about everything. The pH level also affects the health of your plants, frogs, turtles and any other living critters that call your pond home.

Adjusting to a Proper pH

Don’t worry: You don’t have to keep your pond at a perfect 7.0 pH all the time. In fact, an acceptable pH reading for a pond is 6.5 – 8.5. But you should use caution when adjusting it because doing so rapidly can harm your aquatic life. If you absolutely must adjust your pH using a pH Stabilizer like pH Lift or pH Drop, apply enough treatment to shift the levels 0.5 at a time, wait several hours before re-treating, and test the waters often with your Pondcare Master Test Kit.

Pond Talk: How often do you test the pH in your pond?

The Most Complete Test Kit For The Job - PondCare Master Test Kit

We just constructed out pond, how long should we wait to add fish? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

We just constructed out pond, how long should we wait to add fish?

We just constructed out pond, how long should we wait to add fish?

Jay – Phoenix, AZ

When you create a new pond, you’re effectively building a new ecosystem from scratch. At the beginning, your pond’s waters might look clean, clear and inviting, but nature’s just getting started. Until the initial nitrogen cycle is complete, there’s still work to be done before fish can safely take up residence.

At its early stages, any new body of water – whether an indoor aquarium or a backyard pond – goes through the nitrogen cycle. This cycle begins when living organisms break down nitrogen through their natural digestive processes. Until that cycle is complete, concentrations of ammonia naturally build up in the water – and too much ammonia is extremely harmful to fish. Fortunately, with the introduction of natural bacteria in products like ourPond Logic® DefensePAC® to your pond, you can speed up the nitrogen cycle, making the pond safe for new fish in four to six weeks or less.

In addition to DefensePAC, other products like Pond Logic® Stress Reducer Plus and Pond Logic® Water Conditioner go a long way toward making new pond water inhabitable. Stress Reducer Plus helps fish to restore their natural protective slime coats, making them less vulnerable to illness. Water Conditioner helps to neutralize chlorine and other chemicals in the water that can lead to stress.

But simply adding DefensePAC, Stress Reducer and Water Conditioner won’t tell you when your water is ready to support piscine life. For that, you’ll want to use our PondCare Master Liquid Test Kit, which tests water for pH, ammonia, and nitrite. When readings are consistently within healthy ranges – as clearly explained in the Master Liquid Test Kit’s documentation – you’re ready to welcome your new fish to their new home.

Pond Talk: Have you recently built a pond and are waiting to add fish?

DefensePAC

I’ve always been curious to know just what really lives down in my pond. – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

I've always been curious to know just what really lives down in my pond.

I’ve always been curious to know just what really lives down in my pond. Holly – Girdler, KY

The Company You Keep

Your pond is a beautiful and enjoyable addition to your back yard and just as it is full of water, it is also full of mysteries. Since we have at one time or another used our ponds for swimming, fishing, or maybe irrigation we can only wonder, “What really lives beneath the surface of my pond?”

While you won’t find any man-eating sharks or lost cities like Atlantis at the bottom of the pond, there is a surprisingly diverse selection of living creatures cozying up in your water. In your average back yard farm pond you can expect to find large creatures such as fish, frogs and turtles, snakes and muskrats. In regards to the smaller inhabitants in your pond you have tadpoles, a variety of insects, and don’t forget your microscopic bacteria in both aerobic and anaerobic flavors. Your pond also plays host to aquatic plants like Cattails, Algae, and submersed weeds like American Pondweed, Hydrilla, and Naiad. It is only natural that since your pond is choc-full of life, it will draw additional wildlife to its shores like birds and deer. The physical location of your pond will directly influence what kinds of creatures you will find frequenting the water as certain animal species are located in select regions in the US.

Now that you are certain you are not alone in your pond, rest assured that the majority of what is living in your pond actually helps create a balanced ecosystem at best and is a minor inconvenience to people at worst. Having a healthy and balanced fish population will help keep your pond clear of insects and leeches. Creating an ideal environment for beneficial aerobic bacteria like those in PondClear and MuckAway to thrive will improve your water clarity and reduce muck accumulation and weed growth. Click over to our Bacteria Blog to learn more about these microscopic maids.

With all of these animals in your pond who is responsible for room assignments? If you are not aerating your pond, then your pond is most likely broken up into layers or thermoclines. You may have experienced this when swimming in your pond. Your chest is nice and warm but the water your feet occupy is cold. Many customers confuse this stratification with their pond being spring fed. Oxygen and light can only travel so far beneath the surface of the pond without assistance. This means that the top layer of your pond is typically a warm, oxygen rich environment which is prime real estate for the ponds inhabitants. The lower layers of the pond are darker, cooler and have considerably less oxygen. Gasses released by decomposing plants and fish waste (thanks to anaerobic bacteria) are trapped in this bottom layer creating a toxic environment that is not a very ideal living space. Installing an Aeration System, you can infuse oxygen and circulate the entire water column allowing your fish and their roommates to utilize the entire pond. Aerating the pond will also cut down on those smelly toxic gases and encourage a cleaner healthier pond which makes it more enjoyable for not only the wildlife but for you as well.

POND TALK: What types of creatures have you found in your pond?

Get clear water naturally!

How do I calculate my pond size? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How do I calculate my pond size?

How do I calculate my pond size? Pete – Steele, AL

If someone were to ask you how big your water garden is, how would you respond? Most pond owners have an idea of how many gallons their pond my hold or how many square feet their water feature occupies, but have you ever really measured to see how close your guesstimates comes to the actual numbers?

Knowing how large your pond is down to the square foot or the nearest gallon is not realistic nor is it, by any means, necessary. You will just want to verify that what you “think” is a 15’ x 20’ is not actually 30’ x 40’. People tend to associate size with common everyday items they see around their home. It is not uncommon to hear someone tell us that their pond is about “half of a horse trailer long” or “up to my knees deep”. This may seem like a reasonable answer at the time, but when trying to break down how many gallons are in your pond, or how many square feet of surface area we are dealing with, we, unfortunately, aren’t sure how long your trailer is or how tall you are. =) To keep everyone on the same page and make sure we are all dealing with the same units of measure, we suggest you break out a tape measure and break the pond down into feet and inches.

You may be wondering to yourself why you even need to really know how much water your pond holds or what it matters if you don’t know its surface area. Bacteria products like Nature’s Defense or Liquid Clear are added to the pond based on the number of gallons you are treating. The same holds true with algae killing products like Tetra Algae Control and even Barley Straw Extract. Other products require an estimate of the pond’s surface area for proper application. Aquatic Plant Packages and Pond Netting are examples of such products. Knowing the size of your pond can also help you determine how many fish your pond should typically hold or what size Pond Vacuum is best suited for your particular application.

Now that you know the whys of sizing your pond, let’s get down to business and measure your pond out. The easiest ponds to measure are those that are shaped as simple circles and rectangles, the more irregular the shape, the less accurate our measurements become.

Length x Width x Height

This is the formula used to find the volume of a rectangular shape. It can still be used to get you in the neighborhood if you are measuring a kidney shaped pond, the numbers you get on paper however will be slightly higher than what your pond actually consists of. Measure your pond at its longest point and then its widest point. To demonstrate, lets say the length came to 15 feet and the width 10 feet. You can then measure the depth of the pond. If it is the same depth throughout use this number in our formula. If you have a plant shelf or the depth varies, measure the maximum depth and cut it in half to create an average depth. Let’s say the pond is 4 feet at its deepest but has some shallow areas for plants. We will use half of that depth, 2 feet, for our formula. If you are just looking for surface area, multiply the length and width (15 x 10) to get 150 square feet. If you are looking to find how many gallons the pond holds then multiply the length by width by height (15 x 10 x 2) to get 300 cubic feet. A cubic foot can hold 7.48 gallons of water so to find out how much 300 cubic feet can hold just multiply the two (300 x 7.48) to get 2,244 gallons. If you are also running a waterfall take into account that there is also some water being held in the stream, use the length and width of the stream to calculate a rough volume on it as well. Just like that you now have the volume of your pond.

Easy As Pi

If your pond is round in shape we will use the formula Surface Area = Pi x R² or in other words Surface Area = 3.14 times radius times radius. The radius of your pond is simply half of the distance across. If the pond is a 10 foot circle then the radius is 5 feet. Multiply 3.14 by 5 and then multiply by 5 once more (3.14x5x5) to get 78.5 square feet of surface area. To find your volume you multiply this number by the depth and convert to gallons just like we did with the rectangular pond.

If you want to know exactly how many gallons are in your pond you can use a meter to physically measure the amount of water it takes to fill their pond using a garden hose. If you are constructing a new water garden or pondless waterfall don’t forget to take into account that some of the water from your pond will be held in the stream bed. Give yourself a little wiggle room when digging the basin pond to hold the extra water if you have to shut off the waterfall for any reason.

We have a few helpful Calculators on our site that can help you find your recommended fish capacity, select the proper pump, and if anything, play with your new found pond dimensions.

POND TALK: Now that you have a better understanding of how to measure your pond compare your results with what you originally estimated. Were you close?

How do I calculate my pond size?

How do I know if I have proper aeration? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Don’t Under Aerate
How do I know if I have proper aeration? Felipe – Moscow, ID

The bigger the better when it comes to aeration.

When purchasing your aeration system you were told it will promote a clean, healthy pond with less algae and clear water. With more and more customers installing aeration systems in their ponds now may be a good time to discuss some of the assumptions and mistakes made when choosing an aeration system.

An aeration system can make the difference when it comes to your pond’s health, so selecting the right system can be very important.  In the long-run there is no free lunch.  If you try to “Make Do” with a smaller aeration system than what is recommend, it may come back to haunt you.  When an aeration system is sized correctly it will eliminate any thermoclines (thermoclines are a separation of water based on temperature). Have you ever swam in your pond and felt very cold water at your feet? Most pond owners believe this is a spring, when in reality, it’s caused by a thermocline. Proper aeration improves water quality, breaks down organic debris (muck) and improves the overall ecosystem in your pond.  Aeration works by circulating the entire pond’s water column from top to bottom.  The tiny bubbles created by the diffuser forces cool oxygen deprived water from the bottom depths all the way to the pond’s surface. This circulation drives oxygen to the bottom of the pond allowing “good” bacteria to digest muck, reducing nutrients and increase the overall dissolved oxygen in the pond.  If the system is undersized it will not create uniform circulation and simply pump small amounts of the cool nutrient-rich water from the bottom of your pond to the top.  This is the equivalent of adding fertilizer to your pond.  This can result in additional algae growth, odors and even fish kills.  This can all be especially true during the warmer months of the year.

If you currently have an aeration system running and you are not sure if it is sized correctly, there is an easy way to tell with a thermometer and long string.  You will use the string to extend the reach of the thermometer taking temperature readings every 24 inches, letting the thermometer rest long enough to get the true temperature reading at your desired depth.  Take readings every 24 inches until you reach the bottom of your pond. If there is more then a few degrees difference in any of your temperature readings you are more then likely under aerating your pond.

If you haven’t purchased an aeration system yet take advantage of The Pond Guys and Gals, we offer free aeration mapping and technical support.

Don’t Under Aerate

What is the real difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic bacteria? – Pond & Lake Q & A

What is the real difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic bacteria?

What is the real difference between Aerobic and Anaerobic bacteria? Bill – Mount Orab, OH

Know Their Role

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear that you have bacteria in your pond? You probably think that your pond is dirty, or it may cause disease or get you sick. The truth is while some bacteria are associated with negative effects, bacteria are present in any functioning ecosystem diligently working behind the scenes to maintain a healthy and balanced environment. If you properly maintain your pond you will create an environment that promotes the presence of beneficial bacteria.

There are two different types of bacteria to focus on; aerobic and anaerobic. Your anaerobic bacteria are those that exist in areas of your pond that lack oxygen. These bacteria work slowly to digest organic debris and release a smelly gas as a byproduct. Aerobic bacteria thrive in oxygen rich environments and digest debris at an accelerated rate in comparison to their anaerobic counterparts that results in the expulsion of an odorless gas. In a self contained pond with little to no aeration you would expect to find aerobic bacteria near the surface where there is a higher level of dissolved oxygen and a lot more anaerobic bacteria at the bottom of the pond where there is a very low amount, if any, oxygen. Due to the fact that these anaerobic bacteria are slow to digest debris, any leaves, plants, and fish waste that gather at the bottom faster than they can be decomposed, hence the accumulation of muck.

To help break down organic debris at a rapid rate and keep your pond clean and healthy you will want to ensure that your pond is populated with aerobic bacteria throughout. To do this you want to circulate the contents you your pond while infusing oxygen into the water column. If your pond is 6 feet or shallower this can be accomplished with a Fountain. Ponds deeper than 6 feet will see better results with a Bottom Plate Aeration System. With these units in place you now have an oxygen rich playground just waiting to be filled with beneficial (aerobic) bacteria. PondClear and MuckAway are perfect types of bacteria products you can implement into your pond. PondClear is in a water soluble packet that will release at the surface of the pond and travel throughout to find and digest any organic debris before they have a chance to settle to the bottom. MuckAway is a pellet that will sink directly to the bottom of the pond to help speed up the decomposition of any debris that have accumulated over time. The fact that you can directly place MuckAway pellets in specific areas that need a little extra attention makes them the perfect solution for treating sections of lake front property and beach areas.

Aerating your pond provides the perfect environment for “good” bacteria and will keep the “bad” bacteria at bay. Cleaning out or preventing mass amounts of organic debris from your pond will help keep your bacteria ahead of schedule and keep the pond cleaner for your recreational use. If you take care of your bacteria they will take care of your pond… and you.

Pond Talk: What do you do to encourage the “good” bacteria growth in your pond?

Pondclear

What does EcoBoost do for my pond and how often should I use it? – Pond & Lake Q & A

What does EcoBoost do for my pond and how often should I use it?

What does EcoBoost do for my pond and how often should I use it? Clyde – Willisburg, KY

Give Your Bacteria A Boost

Those of our pond guys and gals using PondClear and MuckAway have seen the drastic improvements beneficial bacteria can make throughout the course of the season. Using bacteria products regularly yields a cleaner pond with crystal clear water. In their strive for perfection pond owners everywhere demand better results in shorter time spans, so what if there was a product they could use to bulk up their bacteria, increase their water quality, and further ensure water clarity without having to sacrifice the usability of their pond water due to pesky chemical restrictions?

EcoBoost is a bacteria enhancer designed to stimulate beneficial bacteria, bind phosphates, sink suspended organic debris, and introduce over 80 trace minerals to your ecosystem to increase water quality and promote healthy fish. EcoBoost should be applied in combination with your PondClear and MuckAway bacteria for maximum results. Your bacteria will feed on the EcoBoost, giving them a boost in productivity, while other ingredients are binding phosphates, sinking them to the bottom of the pond. The organic waste can then be conveniently broken down at the pond’s bottom. EcoBoost can also be used to reduce the turbidity associated with the use of chemical treatments. Simply apply it 3 days after you apply your aquatic algaecide or herbicide.

The best part of using EcoBoost is the fact that it is completely eco friendly and has no water use restrictions. While it is not imperative that you use EcoBoost, it will enable you to stretch your dollar even more by making your bacteria more effective and keeping chemical treatments far and few between. If you are one of the many pond owners that demands even more performance out of your natural bacteria products or you are looking to further increase your water clarity, EcoBoost is definitely a product that should be on your must have list. For those of you looking to save even more money, and who isn’t, EcoBoost is bundled together with PondClear, Nature’s Blue Pond Dye, and Algae Defense in the Pond Logic ClearPAC.

Pond Talk: Have you tried EcoBoost in your pond? How has it helped the appearance of your pond?

UV Filtration

What does filter media do for my water garden? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Savio Skimmer

Q. What does filter media do for my water garden? – Debbie in Illinois

Keep It Clean
With all of the pads, balls and nets in this blog you might think The Pond Guy has hung up his waders and opened a sporting goods store. Not to worry pond guys and gals, we are of course talking about filter media in your water garden.

Hey! Nice Pad!
When you look inside your filter, whether it’s a waterfall filter or pressurized filter, you may notice there are assortments of pads, balls, etc. These are called filter media. This filter media serves a vital purpose in any water garden.

Bio Blox Filter MediaFilter media are specifically designed to help colonize a ton of natural bacteria in a small area. As fish excrete waste, ammonia levels began to rise. Without enough natural bacteria, ammonia levels can become so high your fish will become stressed which can eventually to death. Natural bacteria will grow in a water garden without filter media, but unfortunately it is very minimal and never enough to keep up with high ammonia levels.

Less IS More
Many pond owners often think that a clean filter pad will lead to a cleaner pond. This is not the case. As it takes several weeks for nitrifying bacteria to colonize, many pond owners often clean their filter media as soon as it gets dirty. This unfortunately defeats the purpose of the biological functions of the filter media. Some of our readers have written in telling us that this buildup is even blocking or restricting water flow. It is most likely debris or algae being picked up from the water, not the bacteria causing this issue. If necessary, to clean filter media we highly suggest removing the filter media from the filter and placing into a bucket of “pond water” and gently swish the media back and forth. Do not scrub, or use tap water to clean the filter pads. Again, this will cause a loss in natural bacteria. If you accidentally do clean your filter pads, you can use PL Gel on your filter pads to colonize the bacteria faster. It is known throughout the pond industry to reduce colonization by up to 80%!

To prevent blockages to your biological filters use a pump pre filter or a skimmer which includes a net or debris basket along with its own filter pad. This will prevent large debris from getting to your filter. Vacuuming will pick up debris and muck from the pond floor also preventing clogs. Placing these “pre-filters” as buffers will ensure a shorter, easier cleaning time as well as make certain that your beneficial bacteria are left alone to flourish and protect your water garden.

POND TALK: How have you tackled filtration in your water garden? How often do you find yourself cleaning your filters?

Filter media is a must for healthy ponds!

Why are my goldfish changing colors? – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Why are my goldfish changing color?

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: Why are my goldfish changing colors? – Emily in New York

A: Whether you have a traditional goldfish in your pond or one of the many fancy varieties, you may notice their colors change over time – don’t worry. It doesn’t necessarily mean your fish have some sort of disease! In most cases, it’s normal for goldfish to change color. So before you start dumping antibiotics in your pond, first consider these possibilities:

Genetics

Goldfish naturally change color as they age. Though most do so during their first year or two of life, others change throughout their lifetime. Fish experts have identified two different types of color changes in fish: physiological and morphological.

Physiological changes occur when the pigments in the cells either spread out, which makes the colors more pronounced, or when the pigment clusters in the center, which makes the colors more muted. Morphological changes occur when the actual number of pigments in the cells increase or decrease. An example of a morphological change is when a black goldfish starts to turn orange or a young goldfish loses its black markings as it ages. In this case, as the fish matures, it’s losing its black pigment cells.

How and when their colors change really depends upon their individual genetic makeup. Inexpensive goldfish whose parents are unknown can change in unpredictable ways, while expensive show-quality fish will be a bit more predictable.

Color-Enhancing Foods

Certain types of food, like Pond Logic Growth & Color Fish Food, can accentuate subdued colors in goldfish, too. Sometimes, a dull orange goldfish can be made a deeper shade of red with these specially formulated diets, which contain natural color-enhancing supplements like spirulina, beta glucan, vitamin E and vitamin C.

Keep in mind, however, that some of these color-enhancers may affect other colors, too. White areas on calico orandas, for instance, may take on an orange hue – which may not be the look you’re going for.

Illness, Poor Water Quality

If your goldfish’s color becomes very dull or it starts to become inactive, that could be a sign of illness or poor water quality. Use a test kit, like the Pond Care Master Test Kit, to check your water quality, including your pH, ammonia and nitrite levels. Then, if necessary, add a broad-spectrum medication, like Pond Care’s MelaFix or PimaFix, to treat parasites or bacterial infections your fish may have.

POND TALK: Have your fish changed their “spots?”

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