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The leaves are just starting to fall..I see netting for water gardens to keep the leaves out, do they make anything like this for large ponds? | Pond & Lake Q&A

The leaves are just starting to fall..I see netting for water gardens to keep the leaves out, do they make anything like this for large ponds?

The leaves are just starting to fall..I see netting for water gardens to keep the leaves out, do they make anything like this for large ponds?

Bryan – Traverse City, MI

When fall comes around, leaves and ponds seem to have a magnetic attraction to one another. And while netting is available in essentially any size you might need, it’s a cumbersome solution for larger ponds. Simply spreading the netting over a large pond is a major undertaking – and the impracticality of installing posts throughout your pond to keep leaf-covered netting from sinking makes other solutions look much more attractive.

At The Pond Guy, we strongly recommend aeration and chemical treatments to address inevitable leaf buildup for customers with large ponds. When you browse our web site, you’ll notice a wide range of Airmax® Aeration products. These aeration systems enable the pond to break down leaves quickly and naturally by keeping pond water moving – and the entire pond well oxygenated. When coupled with the beneficial bacteria in PondClear™, EcoBoost™ and MuckAway™, fallen leaves break down in no time to keep water clear, and both fish and plants healthy.

As an added measure in the fight against falling leaves and debris, you should also consider the use of a pond rake. With the regular use of our Pond & Beach Rake, you can easily remove excessive leaves and debris in no time flat.

Pond Talk: How do you keep fall leaves from accumulating in your pond?

Airmax® Aeration

If I can’t use bacteria, how can I defend my pond while the water is cold? | Ponds & Lakes Q & A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

If I can’t use bacteria, how can I defend my pond while the water is cold?
Mary – Hudson, CO

It is not uncommon for ponds to get a little out of control as the temperatures begin to drop in the late fall and early spring. As water temperatures decrease, your pond crosses a balancing point where your bacteria and algaecides can no longer remain effective enough to fight off excess nutrients and cold temperature plant growth. Customers tend to let their guard down at the end of the season as they venture indoors for the winter.

Pond dye is an effective year-round treatment that works flawlessly in the winter giving your pond a unique look even as it ices over. Algae and plants can still grow at the bottom of the pond in cold temperatures and they are continually exposed to sunlight even if there is a layer of ice on the pond. There are multiple shades of dye available to pond owners. Pond Logic® offers pond dye in a decorative Nature’s Blue™, natural blue-green Twilight Blue™, or reflective Black DyeMond™, so you can achieve a unique color that fits your particular setting. You can learn more about choosing the best pond color in our Pond Dye Blog.

Organic matter will continue to decay during the winter, and run off from melting snow and rain will contribute to an increase in phosphate levels which encourages algae growth. Using a water conditioner like Pond Logic® EcoBoost™ will continue to bind these phosphates rendering them useless to weeds and algae as well as introduce trace minerals into the water column which promote a healthier fish population. EcoBoost™ also enhances the natural bacteria found in your pond increasing their productivity when they are active.

Both EcoBoost™ and pond dye are considered “proactive” pond care treatments as they are designed to create a balanced ecosystem and prevent problems like algae growth or turbid water. You can save yourself a lot of work and money on difficult spring start ups or late season algae blooms by continuing to use these types of pond care products throughout the year even after your bacteria and herbicides are packed away for the winter.

POND TALK: Pond owners sometimes use pond dye in the winter to create unique ice colorations. Share your winter pond art pictures and stories with other pond guys and gals.

Season Long Pond Care

How do weeds like Cattails and Phragmites survive the winter? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

How do weeds like Cattails and Phragmites survive the winter?

How do weeds like Cattails and Phragmites survive the winter?
Bryce – Grand Rapids, MN

Your gamefish and frogs aren’t the only ones hiding from the cold winter weather. Even your emergent weeds have developed a defense mechanism to survive over the winter. Being perennial plants, they may appear to die when the weather cools down but they are really just buying time until the spring thaw when they will return in all of their glory. Whether or not this is good news depends on how you feel about the presence of these particular plants in your pond.

Plants like Cattails tend to disperse their seeds as fall approaches. As the weather continues to cool the leaves and the stalk of the plant wilt and die only to decompose and become fertilizer for the roots, or rhizomes, of the plant come spring. While the exposed areas of the plant are dying off, the roots of the plant begin pulling in nutrients to store before going into dormancy for the winter. As these roots can be considered the heart of the plant, cutting down Cattail and Phragmite reeds will not discourage new plant growth in the spring.

If you like having Cattails or Phragmites around your pond then nothing is needed to help them through the winter as they are naturally prepared to make a comeback. If you are not a fan of these emergent plants you can make it harder for them to grow back by physically removing the plant roots or by using pond care products to remove their food source and kill the plants including the roots. Applying aquatic herbicides like Shoreline Defense® while Cattails and Phragmites are still active is infinitely easier than trying to pull their extensive root system from the pond. Shoreline Defense® is absorbed by the plant and carried to its roots effectively killing the entire weed. Since you don’t want to encourage new growth you will want to remove any potential “fertilizers” in the form of plant decay and muck. Once dead cut and drag any dead reeds and leaves away from the pond and burn or compost them. Using a Rake and Weed Cutter will make short work of these shoreline cleanups and give you the advantage for next season.

Pond Talk: How do your emergent plants react to the cold winter weather?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

How do fish go dormant? Are they really asleep? – Decorative Water Gardens Q & A

How do fish go dormant? Are they really asleep?

How do fish go dormant? Are they
really asleep?

Ryan – Falston, MD

With the warm days of summer now a distant memory and fall following in its footsteps your Koi are left with a few months of cold weather with nothing to do but relax. Since they don’t have miniature submerged Koi calendars to check what is it that tells your fish it is time to hibernate?

Koi are cold blooded creatures which means their body temperatures and activity levels are directly correlated with the ambient temperature. Koi are active and alert when their environment is warm and will start to slow down as the water temperature decreases. Once the water temperatures start to dip below 46°F your fish tend to stop eating and will retreat to the bottom of the pond. Your fish use the decrease in temperature along with the shortening day lengths as a trigger to prepare for winter. As the water begins to cool your fish will become less active as their bodily functions slow down. Less activity means a slower digestive process, less demand for food. It is this decrease in food digestion that warrants the use of wheat germ based foods like Pond Logic® Spring & Fall Fish Food. These types of food are easier to digest that regular food reducing the risk of leaving undigested food to rot inside a dormant fish which can potentially be fatal.

As the temperatures continue to decline towards 40°F, the blood flow and respiratory rate of the fish will drop to an extremely low rate where their body is hardly functioning. You may hear people say that your Koi are sleeping in the winter and while fish do sleep this goes way beyond the standard drop in bodily functions associated with some much needed shut-eye. This extreme internal slow down ensure survival with even the most limited resources with cases of dormant fish lasting 150 days without food.

The whole over-wintering scenario sounds a little extreme to us but it is truly a natural and normal process for your fish. They do not require much attention in the winter but there are a few things you can do to ensure their winter break is a success. When a layer of ice begins to form over the pond, maintain an opening for gas exchange using your aerator or a de-icer. Also, make sure you feed with a cold weather formulated fish food as water temperatures approach 50° so your fish are able to safely digest it before hibernation begins. You can use a pond thermometer to keep track of the water temperature in your water garden.

Pond Talk: What do you do to help your fish through the winter season?

Get your fish ready for wither with Pond Logic® Spring and Fall Fish Food!

What benefits are there for aeration during the winter? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

What benefits are there for aeration during the winter?

What benefits are there for aerating during the winter?
Drew – Galata, MT

One of the best features of an aeration system is its ability to perform all season long. Your aeration system will play a major role in breaking down the leaves and debris that made its way into the pond during the fall which will promote a healthier pond throughout the winter and easier maintenance come spring. You’ve seen the benefits of aeration all summer long but what does your aeration system have to offer in the winter?

Even in cooler temperatures an aeration system will continue to circulate the contents of your pond and infuse oxygen into the water column. The cooler water will be able to hold more oxygen which is great for the overall health of the pond and its inhabitants. As the surface water cools in the pond it will start to sink towards the ponds bottom. This shift in water can potentially break the thermocline in your pond and force harmful water from the bottom of the pond to mix into the water column trapping your fish. This is referred to as a turnover and they can happen both in warm and cold temperatures in ponds that are not being aerated. You’ve also learned from our previous blogs that running your aeration system in the winter will keep holes open in the ice that allow an escape for toxic gasses and a hole for fresh air to enter the pond. You can also move your plates closer to the shoreline of your pond to keep water open and available for wildlife to drink and birds to swim. Encouraging wildlife to visit your yard is always nice in a season where your yard can sometimes seem bland and uneventful.

Although aeration is a simple and effective way to maintain your pond throughout the winter there are a couple scenarios that warrant a winter break. If you use your pond to skate or ice fish you will not want to run your aeration system as the constant friction not only opens holes in the ice above the plates but will also thin the ice in other areas.

If you do not yet have an aeration system installed in your pond, but would like to install one before the winter, it is best to have your aerator introduced before the ice begins to form. If your pond is not already aerated it is important that you run the system in short increments at first to prevent your own man-made turnover. Start by running it for about 30 minutes the day you install it and double the run time each day after. If you follow this method you should be running your aerator 1 hour the 2nd day, 2 hours the next, 4 hours on the 4th day and should be running the aeration system continuously by the end of the week. Browse over to our Airmax® Aeration page for help selecting an aeration system that fits your pond. If you need additional help or have questions you can also feel free to contact one of our Pond Guys or Gals or post a comment on our blog page.

Pond Talk: Do you notice a healthier pond in the spring as a result of running your aeration system in the winter?

Keep your pond healthy all winter long!

What happens to the frogs and toads during the winter? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

What happens to the frogs and toads during the winter?
Dustin – Huntsville, UT

As the temperatures continue to drop you will begin to notice that your pond, once full of life, is now starting to look like abandoned arctic tundra. Gone are the cool summer nights spent on your patio and deck watching fireflies tastefully illuminate your lawn while being serenaded by a choir of frogs and crickets.

While you are inside cuddled under blankets for the season where do your web-footed friends spend their winter? The winter retreat of choice will depend on the type of frog you have hanging around your pond. You will commonly find either some variety of frog frequenting the shallow areas or shoreline of your pond and toads farther inland rummaging about your gardens or front lawn. Both are very similar but can usually be identified by a few visual characteristics. Frogs tend to have smooth glossy skin that feels slimy to the touch while toads have dry lumpy skin. The eyes of a frog tend to protrude further from its head than those of a toad. A toad will usually have poison sacks located behind their eyes which help prevent them from becoming a snack for larger predators.

As frogs are cold blooded they will begin to slow down as their body temperatures drop. When winter arrives they will go into a state of dormancy and wait out the cold weather. The hibernation strategy varies between species of frogs. Toads tend to bury themselves in leaves or mud while frogs can pass the winter at the bottom of your pond below the ice. Frogs produce a type of glucose in their bodies that will allow them to freeze solid and still be able to survive. As the temperatures begin to rise in the spring their hearts will begin to beat again and they will begin to thaw. When they are once again mobile they will actively search for a place to mate.

Since frogs have an arsenal of survival skills to get them through the winter there is not much you have to do to help them survive the cooler months. Instead focus on keeping yourself warm and healthy and try your best to enjoy the snow and beautiful landscapes this winter brings

POND TALK: Do frogs frequent your pond? How do they adapt to the changing season in your area?

Should I use a heater or aerator in my water garden? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

Should I use a heater or aerator in my water garden?
Lindsay – Pittsfield, ME

So you already know that it is important to keep a hole open in the ice that forms over your water garden during the winter months. This provides an outlet for harmful gases and an inlet for new oxygen-rich air. The question now is which device do you choose to get the job done. The good news is if you have already made your purchase for the season either one will perform excellently. Both a heater and aerator will maintain a hole in the ice but unlike a pond heater, this is only one of many tasks an aeration system performs for your water garden.

When we talk about pond heaters we are referencing units like the Thermo-Pond De-Icer 3.0 which does not heat the water in the pond but instead keeps a ring of water open allowing gas to escape through the vent in the top of the unit. Since most ponds deeper than 18” do not freeze solid this is all that is needed to allow oxygen exchange while the fish are dormant. When running a pond heater periodically check in on the pond to make sure ice does not form over the vent hole. To reduce electrical expense most pond heaters are thermostatically controlled to run only during a given temperature range, but they are measuring water temperature instead of air temperature. This means it is unlikely that the water temperature will raise enough to ever shut off the heater. To save some extra money on energy bills use a Thermo Cube® in tandem with your pond heater as it will determine when your pond heater should run based on the ambient air temperature.

Aeration keeps a hole in the ice during the winter by producing bubbles and water motion to slow the ice from forming. This allows for the same gas exchange created by a pond heater, however your Aeration System will circulate the entire pond volume and infuse it with dissolved oxygen making it more efficient at oxygen/gas transfer. People will sometimes run pumps beneath the ice trying to create this same effect but it is the tiny air bubbles that boost dissolved oxygen levels and create the friction that prevents ice from forming. Your pond benefits from aeration year round making an aeration system a helpful and highly functional tool regardless of the season. The installation process is simple and straightforward and aeration systems are available in various sizes and shapes allowing you to select a system that best fits your pond. When selecting a system make sure you purchase a unit that is rated for your ponds volume in order to provide enough outlet for proper gas exchange.

The performance of both pond heaters and aeration systems vary depending on how cold it gets in your area. Even when vented properly, layers of ice appear may over when temperatures dip well below freezing. If this only occurs temporarily, and is short in duration while the coldest temperatures and wind are present, there should not be any cause for concern, as a calm or sunny day will give the pond the help it needs to re-open the hole in the ice. If it is necessary to manually reopen the air vent do not try to break through it by hitting it with hammers or heavy objects as this creates vibrations that can harm your fish. If necessary pour a bucket of warm water over the vent hole to melt it back open.

Whichever unit you choose to use will perform to keep your fish safe for the winter months and ensure that they will be healthy, happy and ready to go in the spring.

POND TALK: Which type of system have you found to work better in your pond? Do you still notice some ice formation?

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