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When should I remove my fountain? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: When should I remove my fountain?

Q: When should I remove my fountain?

Ray – McDermott, OH

A: Among your fall-preparation chores is removing the fountain and storing it for winter, particularly if you live in an area that endures freezing temperatures. Why? When ice forms, the cold stuff might damage the float. Or it could create a barrier that prevents water from passing through the spray nozzle, causing your fountain run dry and destroying your motor.

Your best bet: Remove the fountain before the ice begins to form. Sure, you could wait until a thin layer develops and then remove it—but that means you have to get wet and messy when it’s freezing. Not fun. Get a jump-start now before temperatures get too frigid.

Here are four easy steps to pulling out and storing your fountain for the winter:

  • Pull the Plug: Turn off the power to the fountain and pull it ashore. Most units have a quick disconnect at the motor that allows you separate the fountain from the main power cord.
  • Scrub Down: Wash down the fountain and float assembly to remove any algae or debris that has accumulated over the season. If you have a pressure washer, use it. It’ll make short work of even the dirtiest fountain.
  • Electrical Check: Inspect wiring and electrical cables for signs of wear or damage. If your fountain has lights, check for burned out or damaged bulbs and lenses.
  • Safe Storage: Once your fountain is cleaned and inspected, store it in an upright position in a climate-controlled location, like a heated pole barn or garage, until spring.

Now that it’s out and cleaned, you might want to consider sending your fountain to a licensed repair facility for routine maintenance tasks, including oil changes and/or seal replacements. Be sure to read through your user’s manual for special instructions and maintenance plans to keep your fountain running at its very best.

If you don’t plan on using the pond for ice skating or other winter recreation, now is a great time to install an Airmax® Aeration System to keep your pond oxygenated and healthy through the winter months. The aerator will circulate the water while keeping a hole in the ice surface, which will bring oxygen in and allow toxic gases to escape.

Pond Talk: How often do you have your fountain serviced by a licensed repair facility?

Aerate Your Pond in All Seasons - Airmax(r) Deep Water Aeration

Do I need to stop feeding my game fish for the winter? If so, when and what will they eat when I stop? | Pond & Lake Q&A

Do I need to stop feeding my game fish for the winter? If so, when and what will they eat when I stop?

Do I need to stop feeding my game fish for the winter? If so, when and what will they eat when I stop?
Missy – Racine, WI

When water temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, game fish activity slows down significantly – and their appetites slow down too. At that point, they’re capable of finding plenty of food in their habitat, making it unnecessary to continue feeding.

In a chilly winter pond, game fish are perfectly happy to forage for their meals. During the down season, they snack lightly on pond plants and small organisms, gaining sufficient energy to weather the winter until feeding season resumes. Game fish, it seems, never lose their natural ability to find the food they need. They make the most of their senses of smell and sight to track down necessary nutrients, and do their part to keep their pond clean until it reopens in the spring.

But when spring comes, and water temperatures climb above 40 degrees, their appetites return with a vengeance. They’ll be looking to you for sustenance – and nothing gets their mouths watering more effectively than our Pond Logic® Game Fish Grower Fish Food. Scientifically balanced to suit the nutritional needs of bass, bluegill, trout and perch, this superfood creates a strong, healthy fish population, and ensures that your stock is in great shape for fishing season.

Pond Talk: Do you feed your gamefish?

The Pond Guy Game Fish Grower Fish Food

There are so many different types of pond lights. How many do I need – and which are the easiest to install? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

There are so many different types of pond lights. How many do I need – and which are the easiest to install?

There are so many different types of pond lights. How many do I need – and which are the easiest to install?
Fernando – Garden City, SC

It’s true. Although it seems like it should be simple, the sheer variety of available pond lights can make it a bit daunting to choose what’s right for your needs. But in truth, that’s where it starts: decide exactly what you want to light – and how – and the choices sort of narrow themselves. So take a moment to think about what you’re trying to illuminate. A waterfall? A fountain? A spitter? The whole pond?

As luck would have it, we have options to fit all of your pond lighting needs. For submerged waterfall lighting, our Halogen Waterfall Light is fully waterproof, and exceptionally easy to install. For more generalized lighting both underwater and around the pond, our HalogenMini™ 3-Pack Halogen Light Kits are simple to install, and they offer the added appeal of colored lenses for a lively, customized look. For greater energy efficiency and exceptionally long bulb life, our LEDPro™ 36 – 3 Pack Warm LED Light Kit is the ideal choice. These lights can be installed in or out of the water. Because LED bulbs can last for up to 100,000 hours, they’re essentially maintenance free. Regardless which light kit you choose, installation is simple. Our transformers are designed with quick disconnect fittings – and there’s no need to recruit an electrician to get your pond wired and ready.

Once you’ve identified your specific pond lighting needs, you should also spend a moment pondering the stage of your pond’s construction – and the flexibility you’re hoping to achieve. If your pond is brand new, or if it’s currently drained, it greatly simplifies the process of installing underwater lights. If it’s not, you may want to consider an installation without submerged lights. Through some creative design, the effect can be every bit as dramatic.

If you’re planning to automate your pond lighting, you may also want to consider installing timers, or photocells that trigger lights when darkness falls – without any need to flip a switch.

Pond Talk: What type of accent lighting do you have in your pond?

LEDPro™ 36 – 3 Pack Warm LED Light Kit

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 Pond Logic® PondClear™ Pond Logic® EcoBoost™ and Pond Logic® 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 Airmax® 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

Should I leave my bubble aeration system running in my farm pond all winter long? – Pond & Lake Q & A

To keep your unit working properly, you should plan to inspect it several times per year.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: What do I need to do to maintain my fountain over the winter? – Roy in Texas

A: Display fountains provide outstanding pond and lake displays – not to mention helping to circulate the top layers of your water column. To keep your unit working properly, you should plan to inspect it several times per year, and what better time to do it when you’re doing your winterizing chores?

Your to-do list will vary depending on where you live and what your fountain’s manufacturer recommends, but here are some basic maintenance tasks to plan for as the cold weather approaches:

    1. Remove your fountain – including the motor, floats and hardware components – and wipe off the algae and muck from all the exposed surfaces. If you see algae collecting in the nozzles, clean those out, too, as well as your motor’s intake screen, if necessary.
    2. Check all your gaskets, seals and fittings that normally break down over time. If any of these show signs of wear, take your fountain in for service or call us for service parts.
    3. If your fountain includes lights, inspect those as well to make sure they’re working properly. Replace any bulbs or fixtures that may have burned out.
    4. Check your power cord for nicks or kinks that may have developed over the season.

If you live in an area that doesn’t freeze, you can put the unit back in the water once you’ve scrubbed it down and checked it over. If your pond does freeze over, plan to store your fountain components inside, away from the winter elements. Be sure not to cover your fountain. This will ensure your fountain and power cord are protected against any rodents that would otherwise consider it a cozy home.

Most manufacturers recommend replacing the oil (on oil cooled units) every 2-3 years of operation. This can prevent costly repairs in the future. For more information on fountain maintenance, call The Pond Guy® (Service Department: Monday—Friday: 9am—5pm | Phone: 810-765-9665) or visit the manufacturer’s website.

Doing these simple tasks can extend the life of your decorative display fountain and allow you to enjoy them for years to come!

Please Note: The Pond Guy® is an authorized service center for most fountains and aerators. Please feel free to call us at 810-765-9665 for maintenance parts or repair.

POND TALK: What do you do to extend the life of your floating display fountain?

Should I leave my bubble aeration system running in my farm pond all winter long? – Pond & Lake Q & A

To aerate all winter long or not to aerate, that is the question.

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: Should I leave my bubble aeration system running in my farm pond all winter long? – Steve in Minnesota

A: The short answer: Yes, you should keep your aeration system running all winter long. No matter the season, for the health of your fish, you want to breathe that life-giving oxygen into your pond or lake. A bubble aeration system, like the Airmax® Aeration System, keeps the oxygen well-dispersed throughout the water column and prevents the water from stratifying; it also keeps a hole in the ice to allow harmful gasses to escape.

Stir Up the Strata

As the summer cools to winter, a shift happens below your pond’s surface. If the water is not circulated, it naturally separates by temperature: In the summer, the warm oxygen-rich water sits on the top while the cool water, thick with toxic gasses, sits at the bottom. As winter approaches, those different pools of water will flip. The cool water – and all the gasses – rises to the top while the warm water sinks. The pools of water mix – and in extreme cases – this stratification, seasonal shift, and toxic gas distribution can cause a winter fish kill.

A bubbler aeration system prevents that. If the water is churned and moved all year long, it will not stratify. The water at the top and bottom will remain the same temperature, oxygen will be saturated throughout the entire water column, and the gasses will not build up. That makes for an ideal environment for the fish.

Keeps a Hole in the Ice

If your pond freezes over completely and there is no hole in the ice, the decaying matter in your pond (all the fish waste and detritus that naturally break down beneath the surface) releases deadly gasses that are trapped underneath the ice. Prolonged, this will cause a winter fish kill. A bubbler aeration system stops this from happening. The moving and cycling water creates a hole in the ice, allowing the harmful gasses to escape while allowing healthy oxygen in.

A word of caution: If you want to ice skate on your pond and you’re not concerned about fish throughout the winter, we recommend you turn off your aeration system completely. That way, the pond will freeze solid and you’ll be safe while you have some winter fun.

POND TALK: Do you keep your aeration system on all winter long?

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

Winter is coming, are your fish ready?

Pond & Lake Q & A

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

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

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

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

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

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

I want to leave my pond running through the winter. Can I do so without damaging the equipment? – Water Garden & Features Q & A

Picture of a water garden in winter.

Water Garden & Features Q & A

Q: I want to leave my waterfall running through the winter. Can I do so without damaging the equipment? – Karen in New York

UPDATED: A: A majority of water garden owners will shut down their water gardens entirely during the Winter, but there are a few that don’t.

It’s really beautiful to see a waterfall with pieces of ice around it. You’ll actually begin to see sections where the water flows underneath the ice throughout the stream. It really is a beautiful scene.

Here are a few factors to be aware of when running the waterfall and stream throughout the Winter:

Pump Size (Gallons Per Hour): The amount of GPH or gallons per hour of a pump must be greater than 2,000 as the water is coming down the waterfall and stream. If this flow is not obtained, then there is a greater possibility the water could freeze, causing ice dams in the stream and pushing the water over and out the side of the stream. If this happened, your water garden would be drained in no time.

Pump Location: If your pump is located directly in the pond and not in a skimmer, make sure that it is located in at least 24″ of water. Don’t place the pump on the very bottom of the pond. Your fish go to the bottom of the pond to hibernate during the winter.

Long Streams Beware: Even if you have 2,000 GPH of water coming down the stream, if the stream is quite long, longer than 10′ or 15′, then I wouldn’t suggest to run the system throughout the winter. In long streams, there is more opportunity for ice dams to form and thus draining your water garden. If your stream is longer than 10′ to 15′ and you still want to try and run your system I would advise you to use a little bit more flow than 2,000 GPH and to watch it regularly to make sure these ice dams are not created.

Pressurized Filters: If you use a pressurized filter in your pond I would recommend NOT to run the water through it during the winter time. It is best to drain the pressurized filter to prevent any water from freezing and damaging the equipment.

Consider a back-up plan: If you live in a freezing climate and you keep your pond running, you run the risk of damaging your plumbing and filtration system if the water stops flowing. If your pond design allows the water to flow back into the pond in the event of a power outage, you can avoid the problem.

In freezing climates, certain water features, like spitters or decorative fountains, will need to be shut down until spring. Simply drain the water from the feature and remove the pump. Submerge the pump in a 5-gallon bucket filled with water (or per manufacturer’s recommendations), and store it in a place where the water will not freeze. If you don’t keep the pump submerged in water and it dries out, the seals inside the pump could crack, causing the pump not to work properly.

POND TALK: If you’ve kept your pond running through the winter, what challenges did you face?

How do I prepare my fish for winter? Do I need to bring them inside? – Water Garden & Features Q & A

Allow harmful gases to escape by adding a diffuser.

Water Garden & Features Q & A

Q: How do I prepare my fish for winter? Do I need to bring them inside? – Liz in Michigan

A: As the temperatures fall, we may be pulling out our winter coats and goulashes, but your fish don’t need them at all! In fact, pond fish, like koi and goldfish, do quite well in a pond over the winter – even if it freezes over – as long as your pond is at least 18 inches deep (though we recommend 24 inches to be certain the fish don’t turn into popsicles). The fish will go into their annual torpor, or dormancy, and will require little more than clean, oxygen-rich water to survive.

To ensure they get that life-sustaining oxygen, you will need to do four things:

1. Remove debris from the pond. In the fall, before ice forms, give your pond or water feature a good cleaning. Rake out debris, trim dead leaves off plants, net floating leaves and remove as much detritus as possible so very little will be decomposing – and releasing harmful gasses – through the cold months.

2. Add some beneficial bacteria. Also in the fall, you may want to add some beneficial bacteria, like Pond Logic®’s Seasonal Defense®. It accelerates the decomposition of leaves, scum and sediment that builds up during the fall and winter months. In the spring, it replenishes winter bacteria loss, jump starts the filter and breaks down unwanted waste, making your pond water ready for a clean spring and summer.

3. Install an aerator or air stone. Colder water holds more oxygen than warmer water, but you’ll still want to inject air into the pond during the winter months, especially if your pond freezes over. One or two air stones or a diffuser placed in a shallow part of your pond will be enough to aerate the water and keep a small hole in the ice, which will allow harmful gasses to escape and oxygen to enter.

4. Hook up a heater. If you live in a frigid area where the ice on your pond builds to an inch or more, you can use a floating heater or de-icer, like the Thermo Pond, that melts through the ice. Again, it’s critical to keep an open hole in the ice to allow for gas exchange.

In most cases, your fish will be just fine through the winter months. When the water warms, you can begin feeding them again and enjoying them for yet another year!

POND TALK: How do you prepare your fish for winter?

How do I “overwinter” or get my pond plants ready for the winter? – Water Garden & Features Q & A

Plants must not come into contact with ice or freezing temperatures.

Water Garden & Features Q & A

Q: How do I “overwinter” or get my pond plants ready for the winter?
– Maryann in Wisconsin

A: If you live in cooler climates – even those that don’t dip too far below freezing – it’s almost time to prepare your plants for winter. Each type of aquatic plant needs to be cared for in a different way, but the most important factor to remember is that the roots of your plants must not come into contact with ice or freezing temperatures. If they do, they simply won’t survive.

Keeping in mind regional variances, here’s how to keep your aquatic plants healthy, happy and ready to bloom again next spring:

    1. First, remove any dead leaves from the plants growing around your pond. Give bog plants, like irises and taro, a good inspection and clip off any unhealthy growth, spent leaves or blooms. You want your plants to go into winter as healthy as possible so they emerge strong and stout in the spring.
    2. Next, pull on your waders and tend to your hardy water lilies. Pull them out of your pond and trim them to about 3 inches above the root system. When you’re done, move the pots or baskets to 18 inches deep or lower, where they’ll be warm and safe from winter frost.
    3. If you have tropical and floating aquatic plants, like tropical lilies or lotus, it’s easiest to treat them as annuals: Remove them from your pond and mulch the soil and root balls. In most climates, they won’t survive the cold winter conditions. You can try to overwinter them in your shed or garage, but it can be difficult, as many of the tropical varieties require temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and strong light to survive.
    4. Treat floating aquatic plants, like water hyacinth and lettuce, as annuals, too. Fortunately, they’re relatively inexpensive to replace year after year.
    5. For hardy lotus, trim back the foliage after they have gone dormant and turned brown. Don’t trim them while the plant and leaves are still green, as it can cause it to be susceptible to diseases that creep in through the hollow stems. In cooler climates, move your plants to a cool, but frost-free area in your yard or the bottom of your pond, along with your water lilies.

Depending on the size of your pond and the number of plants you have, this winterizing chore shouldn’t take longer than an afternoon, but you’ll be rewarded in the spring with healthy growth that will once again beautify your outdoor living space!

POND TALK: Have you ever overwintered your tropical water lilies indoors? How did you do it?

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