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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 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 vacuum my pond? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Should I vacuum my pond?

Should I vacuum my pond? Heather – Landfall, MN

Regular pond maintenance throughout the ponding season ensures clean clear water. An extremely lucky few may find themselves in a scenario where their pond is perfectly balanced with no debris blowing into the pond and no layer of muck developing at the bottom of their water feature. Then there are the rest of us who deal with slimy gravel or decomposing leaves and fish waste yucking up our ponds. Pond vacuums are a handy tool to make pond cleaning manageable and easy by physically removing hard to reach muck and debris from within the pond without bending or scrubbing.

While there are a number of vacuums available for purchase, the best type for you will depend on the size and type of pond you are trying to clean and what you are trying to clean out of it. If you have a small pre-formed pond or a fountain that you need to remove debris from then a small water-driven vacuum may be the perfect fit. An example of this type of vacuum is the Laguna Pond Vacuum Kit which consists of a water-driven vacuum head and hydro brush attachment. Water-driven pond vacuums attach to your garden hose and use the water flow to create suction. A mesh net placed behind the vacuum is used to catch debris.

If you are looking to clean out fine silt-like debris or have a large water feature you would be better suited with a motor driven Pond-O-Vac IV or Pond-O-Matic XL. These pond vacuums plug into a standard 110 volt power outlet and use a motor to create suction. These types of pond vacuums carry water and debris through the vacuum hose and into a reservoir which can then be discharged outside of the pond through a drain hose. Both vacuums come with extension handles and a full arsenal of attachments to clean hard to reach areas of the pond. The Pond-O-Vac IV’s dual chamber system, rugged wheels, and powerful motor make it the ideal vacuum for those of you with large water features as it is easier to maneuver than the Pond-O-Matic. The dual collection chambers cut your cleaning time as the vacuum never has to shut off to discharge. Once one collection chamber fills the vacuum switches to the empty chamber and continues to work, emptying the filled chamber in the process. If you have gravel or stones at the bottom of your water feature using one of the vacuums smaller attachments will keep you from sucking up stones along with your muck. If the bottom of your pond consists of dirt or fine pea gravel you will find yourself spending more time cleaning dirt and gravel from your pond than muck and debris. You may want to consider implementing a different substrate material or just focus on using Muck Defense bacteria to help digest bottom dwelling debris.

POND TALK: Do you use a pond vacuum to maintain your pond? Which one did you decide to use?

Get your water garden ready for winter!

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 “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?

Algae Growth During the Winter – Water Garden Q & A

Algae Growing in a Water Garden During Winter.

Q: I shut my water garden down for the winter, but I still see some algae growth. Can algae grow in cooler temperatures?

A: In some cases, a pond that stays clean and clear through the summer can blow up into an algal nightmare in the fall. Shutting down your watergarden ceases the flow-through characteristics of the pond. This reduces the amount of filtration that occurs both mechanically (i.e. skimmers) and biologically (i.e. filterfalls). Since there is less flow, it is a good idea to bump up the amount of bacteria in the pond by adding Seasonal Defense Bacteria with Barley. These bacteria operate in cooler conditions and will greatly reduce the amount of nutrients in the water, and also contains barley straw to naturally help with the algae. Using Oxy-Lift Defense to scrub down your rocks will also help to remove any debris build up.

Do I Have to Take My Koi Out of My Water Garden for Winter? – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of a Water Garden in the Winter with a Bubbler Aeration System.



Q: Do I have to take my koi and goldfish out of my water garden for the winter? – Barbara of Massachusetts

A: No you don’t actually. They are many water garden owners who leave their koi and goldfish in their water garden throughout the winter season with no issues whatsoever. There are really only two things that you need to do to make sure your water garden is fit to allow fish to winter over:

Does your water garden have a depth of at least 18″?:
This is very important. There are places in the US alone where water freezing depths can easily be around 18″ to 24″. I suggest a minimum of 18″ of depth to be safe, but I am more inclined to recommend 24″ just to be double safe. We want to make sure our fish friends don’t become icicles. In either instance, it’s also extremely important to make sure we keep a hole open in the ice during these cold times, which leads me to the second thing.

Keeping an open hole in the ice during the winter:
During the winter, when the ice forms a solid layer across on the surface of your water garden, there are toxic gases, caused by decaying vegetation or organics, that can build up underneath the ice. This build up can become so toxic underneath the ice that it can kill all of the fish in the water garden. The best thing to do in this situation is to keep a hole open in the ice to allow for these gases to escape. This is actually very easy to accomplish. Using a pond heater/de-icer, such as a Pond Saucer or ThermoPond, is a great way to keep a hole open in the ice. Another way to keep a hole open in the ice would be to use a small bubbler aerator. These will not only keep a hole open in the ice, but will also add oxygen as well! Bubbler aerators can be used all year to keep oxygen levels high.

Should I Drain My Water Garden Completely for the Winter? – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of a Pump in a Skimmer.



Q: If I take my fish inside, can I drain my water garden completely for the winter? Someone told me that you shouldn’t do that. Why? – Toni of New York

A: If you plan to shut-down your water garden, you should drain the water down below the skimmer opening and yes you would leave the water in the pond. The reason for this is to help prevent some shifting within the water garden. The ground will shift throughout the winter and if you were to drain the water garden entirely, it could cause certain sections of the water garden to cave in. Having the water in there will keep everything at bay by applying pressure to all sides.

Also, when lowering the water level below the skimmer, make sure to drain the skimmer out entirely. Allowing the water in the skimmer to freeze could cause damage to the skimmer itself. The same goes for the waterfall filter. As for what to do with the pump, here is a link to a previous post.

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