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I’ve always been told to use lava rock in my waterfall filter, is this the best media to use? | Decorative Ponds & Watergardens Q&A

I’ve always been told to use lava rock in my waterfall filter, is this the best media to use?

I’ve always been told to use lava rock in my waterfall filter, is this the best media to use?
Tara – Bon Temps, LA

Lava rock was a common form of biological filtration media in waterfall boxes as its porous surface provides room for bacteria to reside. While it was popular years ago, pond supply companies have since produced better forms of secondary biological filtration media that are friendlier for both you and the pond itself.

Using lava rock as a source of filtration media has a list of distinctive drawbacks. The first of which is that it can prove to be extremely heavy and cumbersome. It is not exactly easy to lift a bag of rocks out of your pond, especially when it is full of water and debris.
While lava rock is porous and can initially provide a reasonable amount of additional surface area, the coarseness and small opening sizes tend to hold on to passing-by debris, blocking the waterways which greatly diminishes the stone’s performance. Once lava rock is loaded with debris you will have to remove it form your filter box and replace it with new media as it is near impossible to remove the debris from within each rock. For some pond owners this means they would need to replace their lava rock media multiple times each season for optimal performance. Furthermore lava rock tends to be brittle and can leave behind additional dust and debris in your pond.

Biological filtration media like Pond Logic® BioBalls™ filter media provides all of the surface area that your beneficial bacteria desire but implement it into a light-weight cost-effective design. One of the best qualities of secondary filtration media like the BioBalls™ is that you only have to buy them once. Pond Logic® BioBalls™ do not degrade over time and can simply be rinsed out at the end of the season and reused the next. BioBalls™ can placed into a mesh media bag and can be placed right into your waterfall filter box.

Pond Talk: Have you used lava rock as filter media in the past and switched to bio balls or another form of media? Did you notice a difference in filtration performance?

Pond Logic® BioBalls™

How can I reduce algae growth in my pond? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

How can I reduce algae growth in my pond?

How can I reduce algae growth in my pond?
Ryan – Dallas, TX

As we progress through spring and into summer, it is important that you know how to treat algae growth should you experience an algae bloom. Persistent algae blooms will still flex their muscles even if you maintain a clean pond. There are really two approaches, a reactive approach-treating growth, and a proactive approach-treating the source.

Reactive Approach-Treating the Growth
You can provide a temporary relief from algae by treating these algae break-outs with an algaecide like Pond Logic Algae Defense or Cutrine Plus Granular. It is best to treat the algae first, making contact between the chemical and the target algae as much as possible and then raking out the debris once dead. If the algae mat is more then an inch or two thick, you may want to rake out some of the algae before treating. To apply use a Tank Sprayer or Hand Spreader to kill off the remaining algae particulate. Once the treated algae dies and browns out, remove the debris with an Airmax Lake Rake so it does not sink the bottom of the pond and decay, encouraging new growth.

When selecting the type algaecide to use you will want to observe any use restrictions the product may carry. Algae Defense and Cutrine Plus granular are a popular choice as they do not carry any water use restrictions. . These products do however contain chelated copper which will not harm the pond or most common gamefish but are not as friendly to koi, goldfish or trout if carbonate hardness is less than 50ppm. You can test your carbonate hardness before treatment with a carbonate hardness test kit. If these types of fish inhabit your pond and you are looking for another option you may want to consider using Hydrothol 191. This product does carry some water use restrictions however it does not contain copper.

Proactive Approach-Treating the Source
Proactively treating your pond before you actually experience algae blooms can save you time and money in the long run. Algae blooms tend to be a symptom of a much larger problem – a dirty pond. By using only algaecides for pond maintenance you allow your pond to continue to accumulate organic debris and fuel for bigger and more stubborn outbreaks.
If your water temperatures are already around 50 degrees or above you can enlist the help of beneficial bacteria and natural water treatments to reduce organic debris and bind phosphates. Pond Logic PondClear can be used to treat your entire water column and attack floating suspended organics that cause turbid water. Pond Logic MuckAway sinks to the bottom of your pond to eliminate pond muck. Pond Logic EcoBoost naturally binds the phosphates helps sink floating particulates to increase water clarity. EcoBoost also introduces trace minerals into your pond which improves the health of your game fish. Remember to also run your Airmax Aeration System. Aerating your pond will ensure a healthy and well balanced pond for your fish during times of added stress while treating for algae, as well as to promote beneficial bacteria like PondClear to continue to breakdown any debris you may have missed while raking.

Pond Talk: Have you already experienced an algae bloom in your pond this season?

Pond Logic Algae Defense

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

Should I add gravel to my pond?… even if it is preformed? | Decorative Ponds & Watergardens Q&A

I took my fish out for the winter…when it is best to put them back?

Should I add gravel to my pond?… even if it is preformed?
Kandy – Racine, WI

Adding gravel to the bottom of your water garden can help create a more natural appearance than the plain black plastic or rubber liner you are looking at now. The small stones create an excellent source of surface area for beneficial bacteria such as Pond Logic® Muck Defense™ to colonize and filter your pond water. Aquatic plants can also benefit from the gravel base by anchoring themselves within the gravel and establish a root system beneath the rocks, safe from curious or hungry decorative pond fish.

A common question customers ask is if added gravel will actually cause more maintenance. This is not really the case. Adding gravel in your pond actually hides muck so it is not always visible, creates additional surface area for bacteria to accumulate in order to keep your pond muck free and provides a more natural landscape look actually brightening your pond’s bottom and helping to make your fish more visible.

Addition of gravel to your pond is a quick and easy transition. Ideally you will want to add a layer of stones that is 1-2 inches deep. Making the gravel any deeper will allow muck and debris to settle between the stones and out of reach from the natural bacteria. Choose stones that are smooth and rounded so there are no added risks of sharp edges which could puncture the liner. Also make sure the stones you add are not too small such as pea gravel which would get packed together trapping in debris or be picked up by pond vacuums or other maintenance tools. Ideally you will be looking for stones around 1” in diameter. Proper planning and installation will the key to successfully having gravel in your pond, and following the guidelines above will ensure your success.

Pond Talk: Do you have gravel in your pond? Why or why not?

Pond Logic Muck Defense

I took my fish out for the winter… when it is best to put them back? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I took my fish out for the winter…when it is best to put them back?

I took my fish out for the winter… when it is best to put them back?
Kathie – St. Cloud, MN

It is about time to get your pond up and running for the season. Your decorative pond fish may be even more excited than you are if they’ve been stuck inside for the winter. Before you re-introduce them to their pond you will want to give it thorough once-over to make sure the pond is healthy, clean and ready for spring.

You may choose to perform a complete pond cleanout and start from scratch, or if you prefer you can leave the pond in tack and just do some minor preparations. If this is the case, start by removing debris and algae from the water column, stream, rocks and pond bottom. Dusting Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense® on your rocks and waterfall will lift hard to remove debris and save you the time and energy of having to scrub them clean. You can don a pair of Aquatic Gloves or use a Pond Vaccum and go to work removing the muck and debris that have sunk to the bottom of your pond.

Once you have removed as much solid debris as possible you can perform a partial water change of around 25%. Include a dose of Pond Logic® Stress Reducer Plus or Water Conditioner to neutralize harmful water contaminates. Inspect your filter media for signs of wear and tear and replace as necessary. Thoroughly rinse off soiled filters and seed them with PL Gel Bacteria so they are ready to work as soon as you reinstall them in your filters. If you brought your Pressurized Filters, UV Clarifiers and Water Pumps inside for the winter you begin to bring them out and install them now. With your pond cleaned out and filtration system in place you are ready to fire up your pumps and circulate the water in your pond. Add your seasonal cool-weather bacteria like Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense to further establish beneficial bacteria in your filtration media and pond.
Let the pond circulate over the course of a few weeks if possible before adding your fish. This will ensure your fish don’t suffer from peaks in pH or ammonia while your water finds a happy balance. Ideally temperatures over 50 degrees are more easily adaptable for your fish but be sure you acclimate them to the pond slowly following the same process you would to introduce a few fish. Using Pond Logic® Stress Reducer Plus will aid in this process.

A good spring clean out will set the pace for your ponding season and prevent future headaches and stressed fish. Be patient and thorough using the proper tools so you can make your pond even more enjoyable this coming season.

Pond Talk: Have you performed your spring clean up yet? Any new ideas for your pond this season?

Pond Logic Stress Reducer Plus

What are the differences between a true Koi pond and a water garden? | Decorative Ponds & Watergardens Q&A

What are the differences between a true Koi pond and a water garden?

What are the differences between a true Koi pond and a water garden?
Natalie _ San Francisco, CA

When it comes to backyard ponds you may hear multiple names thrown out like water garden, Koi pond, decorative pond or other, more creative, titles. While these names are used loosely and interchangeably by many-a-pond owner there are considerable differences between a water garden and a Koi pond used for spawning and raising Koi.

So what draws the line in the sand between Koi ponds and water gardens? Water gardens are geared more towards the every-day pond owner as they are tailored to be easier to construct and maintain while having a higher aesthetic appeal and yard friendly design. Decorated with spitters, plants, lighting and other outdoor décor, water gardens can contain can contain all types of fish with goldfish and Koi being the most popular. Koi ponds tend to be sought after by pond owners that plan raising an abundance of Koi for selling or showing in fish clubs or competitions. With this goal in mind these ponds discourage the presence of species like goldfish as they breed prolifically and take up valuable space for their prize winning koi.

Another distinguishing factor is the design of the pond itself. Water gardens are typically less than 2 ft. in depth and contain plant shelves around the outside perimeter to hold a wide variety of aquatic habitat and visual stimulation. While a koi pond may also include plants for filtration or aesthetic appeal the design of this type of pond is all about the koi. These ponds do not contain plant shelves and are usually 4 ft. in depth or more. One reason for this is to discourage predators and increase useable area for their fish to roam and grow. Koi ponds also utilize bottom drains and large amounts of water flow to create ideal breeding conditions. As Koi breeders want to fit as many fish as they can into their ponds they rely on complex heavy duty filtration systems, and UV sterilizers to keep pond water clean. These systems are much more complex then the pond skimmers, pressurized filters and waterfall boxes water gardeners use.

Have the pond already but need help getting it established? Check out our fish and plant packages. Also, for more information on koi breeding click over to our blog on Fish Reproduction. Need help deciding? There are also a wide array of informational books and videos for those of you who are just looking to get started in the watergarden or koi pond hobby.

Pond Talk: What type of pond do you have?

Live Fish

I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think?

I’ve heard a lot about barley, some good and some bad. What do you think?
Jessica – Jackson, MI

Pond owners are intrigued by the prospect of being able to ditch chemical treatments for a natural means of algae control. While it is true that barley straw is capable of helping your pond fend off algae it still comes with advantages and disadvantages.

Studies have shown that as barley straw decomposes it releases agents that inhibit algae growth with no adverse effects on your water garden plants or decorative pond fish. Originally customers would place bales of Barley Straw in their waterfall filter boxes, skimmers or waterfall areas where they would decompose over time. As barley straw treatments continue to grow in popularity new types of barley products have been made available. Barley Straw Pellets are available for a cleaner and easier way to implement barley treatments into your pond or for even faster results, Barley Straw Extract. Barley Straw Extract is basically barley straw already broken down into its beneficial byproducts.

While barley straw can help keep your pond less green this season it is not 100% effective on all algae that may form in your pond. One of the biggest issues with using barley straw and pellets is that you have to put them in your pond early in the season as they will need time to start decomposing before providing any benefits. Some may also argue that you are also adding muck and nutrients to your pond in the process. You will gain some speed by using barley straw extract but it then becomes less convenient because you will have to continuously add it to the pond. Barley also does not directly kill algae so chemical treatments may still eventually be required.

Your best defense against algae has always been a good offense. Keeping your pond clean and balanced with adequate filtration, bacteria treatments, minimal fish loads and sun exposure you will reduce your dependence and need for algae treatments in general. It is when your pond is balanced and just needs a little extra kick to keep algae at bay that your barley treatments really begin to shine as their gradual release of anti-algae agents will help maintain clear water throughout the season with minimal or no additional chemical treatment.

Pond Talk: Do you use barley straw as a part of your pond maintenance? Have you noticed a cleaner pond while using barley straw?

All the benefits of barley straw without the mess!

I shut my aerator off for the winter, will I have to introduce it slowly again in the spring? | Pond & Lakes Q&A

I shut my aerator off for the winter, will I have to introduce it slowly again in the spring?

I shut my aerator off for the winter, will I have to introduce it slowly again in the spring?

George – Albany, NY

As pond owners we buy aeration systems for our water bodies with the intentions of creating a cleaner and healthier environment for both ourselves and our fish. While aeration systems are great at eliminating water stratification and promoting the ideal environment for a healthy pond, the key to proper use is proper installation.

The surface of your pond reacts to the ambient air temperature and warmth from the sun considerably faster than deeper regions. As we head into spring the temperature will begin to rise as the sun shines down on your pond. The top layer of water in your pond will begin to warm up quickly while the bottom of your pond stays dark and cold. Furthermore, the surface of your pond is exposed to oxygen which is naturally wicked into the water column but remains only in the upper layers. This formation of warmer and cooler layers of water is known as stratification. Stratification can become a potential hazard as the two different layers of water will sometimes flip or “turnover” and mix together causing a sudden change in water temperature and dissolved oxygen levels which, depending on its severity, can make it difficult for your fish to adapt to the quickly changing environment.

Airmax Aeration Systems are designed to infuse oxygen into your water column from the bottom of the pond while continuously circulating the water. This constant action aids to prevent water stratification for occurring. However, when aeration is introduced suddenly and continuous to your pond you are, in essence, creating a man-made turnover by forcing all of the water at the bottom of your pond to the surface.

When installing an aeration system in your pond, or upon reintroduction of your system after winter removal, you will want to run your system in small increments that grow in duration over the course of a week. Think of this process as the same way you acclimate new fish to your pond. You wouldn’t just grab a new fish by the tail and toss them in your pond, you float their holding container in your pond and slowly mix some of the water together to give them time to adjust to the variations in each environment. By running your aeration system for only an hour the first day you install it and doubling the run time each day after, your aeration system will be running continuously by the end of the week while keeping your fish safe from pond turnovers.

Pond Talk: Have you ever experienced turnover in your pond? Share your stories with potential aeration newcomers and pond veterans alike.

Keep your pond healthy all year long!

Do I need to replace my filter media? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

If I Order My Plants Now Can I Keep Them Inside Until It’s Warm Enough To Move Them Outside?
Do I need to replace my filter media?
Alvin – Canton, OH

The filters in your water garden are one the best lines of defense against dirty pond water, algae blooms and poor fish health. Since they play such a big role in keeping your pond healthy, you will want to make sure your filter media is up to snuff for the season.

If you’ve stored your existing pond filters over the winter and want to reuse them this season, you will want to start by cleaning and inspecting the filtration media. Check the filter media pads in your waterfall box, skimmer and pressurized filters for frayed edges, deposits of solid debris, holes and other signs of damage. Replace pads that are a bit worse for wear with a new filter media pad. A wide array of filter media pads are available starting with the cost effective “cut your own” rolls to special coated Matala Filter Pads for extended life and performance. The foam media that comes in your pressurized or in-pond filter is usually unique to your particular make and model and can be purchased specifically for your unit. Regardless of whether your filter media pads are new or old you should seed them with PL Gel beneficial bacteria so that your filters are ready and able to biologically filter your pond from the moment you install them.

Secondary filtration media such as filter media blocks or bio-ribbon should be inspected and replaced as necessary as well. An advantage to using bio-balls is that they only require a thorough rinse before you reuse them for the season, as they virtually do not wear or degrade. Don’t forget to also inspect or replace filter media bags for your secondary filtration media if needed.

Keeping your filter media in working order can save you time, hassle and money by getting your pond off to a good start, so you can avoid dealing with insufficient filtration later in the season. Inspect your filter media with this in mind and purchase replacement media accordingly.

Pond Talk: What types of filtration media do you use in your water garden? Which types perform the best for you?

keep your pond clean with matala filer pads

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!

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