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We just bought a house with a half-acre pond. Where do we start? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: We just bought a house with a half-acre pond. Where do we start?

Q: We just bought a house with a half-acre pond. Where do we start?”

Hans – Brandon, MS

A: Some home buyers look for granite countertops or in-house movie theaters – but a half-acre pond is an amenity that makes us giddy! Because you likely don’t know the history of the pond, how it was built or how it was maintained, it’s best to give that new pond a complete rehab from the bottom up so you can use it to its full potential.

Here’s a five-step process that will make the job easy:

  1. Assess the Pond’s Condition. Before you begin rehabbing your pond, take some time to examine it, including measuring its size and depth, identifying weeds and beneficial aquatic plants, checking for fish, and inspecting pre-existing structures like a dock or an aeration system. These details will help maintain your pond or get it back into shape.
  2. Give It an Oxygen Boost. Your real work begins with installing a bottom-diffused aeration system, like one of the Airmax® Aeration Systems. The units, which include a diffuser, compressor and airline, circulate oxygen throughout the water column so that it’s readily utilized by critters living in your pond, including fish, frogs and beneficial bacteria. It also helps remove harmful gases from the water. If your pond already has an aeration system, thoroughly inspect all its parts and tune them up as necessary.
  3. Control Weed Growth. Treat prolific growth of aquatic weeds and algae. Invasive plants like cattails, chara, phragmites, bulrush, watermilfoil and even out-of-control water lilies can become real problems in a closed ecosystem. Depending on your situation, you may need to use an herbicide and/or algaecide to get them under control before they take over and negatively impact your water quality. For help, check out our Weed Control Guide, which can help you ID and choose the right remedy for the weed.
  4. Remove Unwanted Vegetation. Before and after you treat the weeds and algae, mechanically remove growing and dead vegetation with a Weed Razer™ and Weed Raker™. If you don’t pull that growth out of the water, it will break down into detritus and pond muck, which will actually fertilize the weeds and algae you’re trying to eliminate!
  5. Do Your Maintenance Chores. Now that your pond is on its way to being clean, clear and usable, keep it that way by maintaining it with beneficial bacteria and pond dye. Beneficial bacteria, like those found in ClearPAC® PLUS Pond Care Package, will break down any residual pond muck buildup and keep the water clear. Pond dye will tint the water blue or black, preventing ultraviolet rays from reaching problem plants like algae while adding beauty to your waterscape.

With a little work, you can transform your new pond into a dramatic part of your landscape – particularly if you decide to add a decorative fountain or other feature to it. Have fun with your new aquatic playground!

Pond Talk: What advice can you share with new pond owners?

All-In-One Pond Care Package - Pond Logic(r) ClearPAC(r) Plus

 

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We have a lot of mosquitoes, especially near the pond. With the recent concern over the Zika virus, what can I do to fix this? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: We have a lot of mosquitoes, especially near the pond. With the recent concern over the Zika virus, what can I do to fix this?

Q: We have a lot of mosquitoes, especially near the pond. With the recent concern over the Zika virus, what can I do to fix this?

Kym – Lake Butler, FL

A: Your concern is justified. According to the CDC, mosquitoes – specifically the Aedes species (Ae. Aegypti and Ae. Albopictus) – are one of the main transmitters of the Zika virus. The bite of an infected mosquito can cause fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis and other unpleasant side effects.

Mosquitoes should be eradicated from your property – and here are six ways to decimate their population.

  • Create Water Movement. Ever notice how mosquitoes avoid moving water as much as possible? This is because the movement isn’t conducive to their life cycle. A female mosquito lays her eggs in stagnant water that’s full of nutritious algae, plankton, fungi and bacteria. When the eggs hatch, the larvae and pupae thrive and grow, developing into adult mosquitoes that perpetuate the population. Stop that cycle with aeration. The water movement created by the pumped-in oxygen creates an inhospitable environment for the mosquitoes while promoting your pond’s overall health.
  • Check for Standing Water. An old tire, ceramic flower pot, cracked bucket – mosquitoes aren’t particular about the vessel of standing water they use to lay their eggs. If it holds stagnant water and contains some type of food source, it’s fair game. The CDC recommends a once-a-week check for standing water around your property. Empty containers, scrub them clean, and turn them over or cover them to reduce your overall mosquito population.
  • Eliminate Food Source. Developing larvae and pupae need algae to fuel their rapid growth to adulthood, and so another way to reduce their population is to reduce their food source. In your pond or lake, use algaecide to remove suspended plant matter and muck reducers to break down detritus on the bottom of your pond.
  • Trim Shoreline Vegetation.  Unlike their developing larvae, adult mosquitoes live in the plants and vegetation along the pond’s shoreline. Evict those pests by clearing out and trimming back grasses and aquatic weeds. Use some herbicide to kill aquatic weeds and grasses, and use weed removal tools, like a weed cutter, rake and debris skimmer, and remove the dead plants and overgrowth.
  • Boost Fish Population.  Fish and other mosquito-eating pond life, like tadpoles, minnow, bass, bluegill and catfish, love gobbling those mosquito larvae and pupae. If you don’t already have a fish population living in your lake, consider adding some! The American Mosquito Control Association, in fact, recommends adding predacious minnows or native fish to lakes and ponds for biological control of the insects.
  • Keep Unused Standing Water Bug-Free.  Despite your best efforts, it can be impossible to completely eradicate mosquitoes in places with standing water – like around a pond or lake. Likewise, vessels like stored rainwater, water troughs and even bird feeders can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. So what can you do? Consider mosquito dunks or bits. These handy little disks or bits contain a specially formulated biological pesticide designed to kill mosquito larvae. You simply toss them in unused bodies of water and let them go to work.

Zika and other mosquito-borne diseases are a real concern. Plus, all that buzzing can be annoying when you’re trying to enjoy your pond or lake during the warm days of summer. Use these tips to keep your yard mosquito-free – and your family and friends happy and healthy.

Pond Talk: Have you stocked your pond with mosquito-eating fish? If so, what types?

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We just bought a house with a pond. Do people actually swim in them? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: We just bought a house with a pond. Do people actually swim in them?

Q: We just bought a house with a pond. Do people actually swim in them?

Julie – Calcutta, OH

A: Yes, absolutely! Swimming ponds are all the rage—and for good reason. Compared to chemical-laden swimming pools cleaned with chlorine, swimming ponds use plants, natural bacteria and aeration to keep the water crystal clear. The Europeans have been creating these for years, and the trend has taken hold here.

Whether you want to dive into your new-to-you pond, however, really depends on how well it has been maintained. Here are some tips to prepare your pond for summertime fun!

  1. Reduce Muck
    There’s nothing like tiptoeing into a pond, only to sink 6 inches into the slippery, slimy muck. Ponds that haven’t been maintained often have a buildup of this sludge. One way to reduce it is to use natural bacteria like MuckAway™. The tiny microbes gobble through the decomposing debris, going through 2″ a month when used as directed.
  2. Add Aeration
    Did your pond come with an aeration system? If not, you need one. An aeration system will increase the productivity of those muck- and odor-eating natural bacteria by infusing the water with oxygen. An aerator will also improve water quality and churn the water column.
  3. Zap Algae
    Algae around your beach area is no fun—and it’s no good for your pond’s water quality, aesthetics and usability. Algae happens, particularly in ponds that have a lot of nutrients (muck and other decomposing debris) and sunshine, but you can battle it with some Algae Defense®. The algaecide goes after chara, filamentous and planktonic algae, the main cause of pea soup-colored water.
  4. An ‘Activity’ Pond
    Rather than refer to your pond as a “swimming pond,” think of the area as your summer activity zone. Who needs summer camp when you can do all these things around your pond:

    • Go fishing! Stock it with fish, grab your pole and tackle box, and catch and release some game fish.
    • Get some exercise! Run or walk laps around your pond, or drop in a paddle boat and do some laps—just 30 minutes can burn 100 calories.
    • Build sandcastles! Why go to a crowded beach when you could build sandcastles at home! Dump a truckload of sand pondside and enjoy your own dunes.
    • Try snorkeling or diving! It may not be the Great Barrier Reef, but you might make some interesting discoveries. Let us know if you find any sunken treasure.

Pond Talk: What favorite summertime activities do you do around your pond or lake?

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I have scum on the surface of my pond like last year but I can’t scoop it out, is it algae? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I have scum on the surface of my pond like last year but I can’t scoop it out, is it algae?

Q: I have scum on the surface of my pond like last year but I can’t scoop it out, is it algae?

Clare – Westford, VT

A: It sounds like that strange stuff floating in your pond is pollen – particularly if you’ve had the same issue at about the same time in previous years. How do you identify it and get rid of it? Read on to learn more about fixing your pollen problem.

Just on the Surface

Looking like an oil slick floating on top of your pond, the pollen’s hue may vary in shade from white to yellow to green, particularly if there’s a little algae mixed in. The substance will break apart if you run your fingers through it, and it often forms a circle around aeration plates.

The tiny pieces of pollen stay on the surface thanks to something called surface tension. Pollen is light, and when it lands on still water that’s not moving it remains there. Unless something breaks the water tension, like rain or the splash from a fountain, the pollen will continue to float and coat the water surface.

Saying ‘Goodbye’ to Pollen

If you want to get rid of that unsightly pollen, here’s what we recommend:

  1. Add Aeration: Aeration, like our Airmax® Aeration Systems, churns and moves the water below the surface, and that action will help break down the surface tension from the bottom up. We offer a range of aerator sizes to fit any pond, from small ornamental features to large water gardens or fish ponds.
  2. Add Some Splash: While the aerator cycles the subsurface water, a decorative fountain like our AquaStream™ Fountains, or even a garden hose (in desperation!) will break the water tension and dissipate the pollen. Check out the different styles, sizes and spray patterns of our fountains – they look great and work hard!
  3. Wait It Out: Pollen will eventually dissipate with the changing of the season or after a heavy rain. If you’re patient and wait it out, the problem will resolve on its own.

Green Be Gone

Is the pollen in your pond a bit green? You could be battling an algae and pollen problem. In addition to resolving the situation with aeration and a decorative fountain, use Algae Defense®. It’s a fast-acting, algae-killing liquid formula that can be applied directly to your pond with a sprayer – so it’ll destroy the green stuff and dissipate the pollen.

Pond Talk: How has pollen been treating your pond (and your seasonal allergies!) this year?

Improve Your Pond's Appearance - The Pond Guy® AquaStream™ 1/2 HP Fountain

Does the type of algae and where it’s growing determine what chemical is needed? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Does the type of algae and where it’s growing determine what chemical is needed?

Q: Does the type of algae and where it’s growing determine what chemical is needed?

Pete – Addison, AL

A: When battling algae, you have the upper hand if you understand the enemy. What type of algae is it? How does it behave? What are its strengths and weaknesses? Before we get in to how to treat the green menace, let’s discuss the different species of algae and where you are likely to find them in an aquatic ecosystem.

Algae Explained

In a large pond or lake planktonic algae, filamentous algae and chara, are the most common types of algae you’ll come across.

  • Planktonic algae, the source of algae blooms, are floating, microscopic plants that color pond water shades of green, blue-green, brown or variations in between. In controlled amounts, this type of algae can actually be beneficial. It can shade the pond’s bottom, preventing subsurface nuisance plants from growing.
  • Filamentous algae are single-celled plants that form long, visible chain, threads or filaments. These threads, which start growing along the bottom of the lake in shallow water or on rocks or other aquatic plants, intertwine and form mats that resemble wet wool. When these mats rise to the surface, they’re commonly referred to as pond scum.
  • Chara is a gray-green branched multicellular algae that has 6 to 16 leaf-like branchlets that grow in spirals around the stem. Though bottom-growing chara superficially resembles terrestrial plants, it lacks flowers, true leaves and roots. It has a skunky, musty, garlicky-type smell and has a crunchy- or grit-type texture, thanks to calcium carbonate deposits on its surface.

In general, algae will grow just about anywhere sun penetrates the pond. Surprisingly, algae has some benefits: The tiny plants feed fish and make great homes for micro- and macro-invertebrates like bugs and worms. But algae has its definite drawbacks. Besides being unsightly and odorous, uncontrolled blooms can cause oxygen depletions, affect fish health and, in extreme circumstances, cause fish to die.

Vanquishing the Menace

The key to successfully treating algae – whether planktonic, filamentous or chara – is to make the most contact between it and the algaecide. Rather than dumping the chemical into one place in the pond, which will only kill algae in that small area, it needs to be evenly dispersed.

Floating mats of filamentous algae and suspended planktonic algae are best treated with liquid mixtures, like Algae Defense® and Clipper™, that are sprayed directly over the area with a pond sprayer. To treat extra thick mats, stick the top of the sprayer into the mat itself to get the chemical to the deeper portion of the problem.

For bottom-growing algae, use granular algaecide, like Cutrine®-Plus Granular and Hydrothol, and distribute it with a granular spreader. It’s the preferred choice because the granules will sink over the algae bed and make maximum contact with it.

Follow up by raking out any decaying or dead debris with the Pond & Beach Rake, setting up an aeration system and adding natural bacteria, such as the types found in ClearPAC® PLUS Pond Care Package.

Pond Talk: How much time do you spend battling algae in your pond or lake?

Spray Directly Onto Algae Blooms - Pond Logic® Algae Defense®

We want to swim in our pond, but as soon as we step in, it is muck and smells. Help! | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: We want to swim in our pond, but as soon as we step in, it is muck and smells. Help!

Q: We want to swim in our pond, but as soon as we step in, it is muck and smells. Help!

Steve – McDermott, OH

A: Yuck. In some luxe-minded circles, mud baths are all the rage – but muck baths aren’t, particularly when they’re paired with putrid, off-putting odors. What causes all that slimy, stinky stuff, and how can you get it under control before swimsuit season?

Making Muck

Muck, and its associated smell, is an all-natural byproduct of the breakdown of organic debris, like leaves, dead algae and disintegrating plants, in your pond. Chances are, your pond has been unused for a long period of time, or you get a lot of stuff floating or falling into your pond. All that material eventually builds up, breaks down and begins to decompose, forming muck and gases.

When you tiptoe into your pond and all that slimy muck squishes between your toes, you’re feeling the accumulation of this decaying material – and smelling the now-released stinky gases that were trapped in the debris. Not a fun experience.

Dealing with Detritus

Unless you want to launch your own luxury muck bath spa (it could be next big thing, after all!), you should definitely plan to get rid of all that detritus and its resulting odor. Here’s a three-step solution that can help:

  1. Add Natural Bacteria: If the water temperatures in your pond are above 50°F, add some Pond Logic® MuckAway™. The formula’s beneficial bacteria will help break down the decaying muck on the pond bottom. When used as directed, MuckAway™ can eat through 2 inches of muck per month!
  2. Add Aeration: When the weather allows, install an aeration system and crank it on. The Airmax® Aeration System product line includes aerators suited for any size pond – from shallow water bodies to ponds up to 6 acres. They each include diffusers, a compressor, cabinet, airline and free mapping service that takes the guesswork out of diffuser placement.
  3. Add Pond Maintenance: Don’t forget to add some pond maintenance chores to you to-do list. Regularly rake out dead and dying organic material. Keep plants trimmed and pond weeds managed. Do what you can to prevent leaves and debris from blowing into the water.

By using beneficial bacteria, adding aeration and preventing decomposing debris, you’ll be well on your way to a sludge-free pond that’s perfect for swimming and summer fun.

Pond Talk: Have you de-mucked your pond? Tell us your success stories!

Eliminate Noxious Pond Odors - Pond Logic® MuckAway™

When I start my aeration system up do I need to turn it on for only a few hours a day like when it was installed? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: When I start my aeration system up do I need to turn it on for only a few hours a day like when it was installed?

Q: When I start my aeration system up do I need to turn it on for only a few hours a day like when it was installed?

Chris – Alpena, MI

A: Yes, gradually starting up your system for the season will avoid any quick turnover in your pond. Ideally, your aeration system should run all year long. By running it all year long, this will prevent possible winter fish kills. But if you shut your aeration system down in the winter for recreational purposes, you will want to start it back up when the ice starts melting off your pond. In addition to gradual start-up follow the steps below to prepare your system.

  1. Re-level Your Cabinet: Take your cabinet and system back outside and get it on level ground again.
  2. Change Your Air Filter: Your air filter, which prevents debris from entering your air compressor, can be cleaned periodically to remove light debris – but it should be replaced every three to six months for maximum system performance and longevity.
  3. Check and Clean Side Intake Air Filters: Take a look at your side intake air filters on your cabinet, and make sure they’re clean and unobstructed.
  4. Ensure Cabinet Fan Works: To make sure fresh air will tunnel evenly through your cabinet, flip on your fan and verify that it’s working properly.
  5. Clean Membrane Diffuser Sticks: Though they’re virtually maintenance-free, these diffuser sticks, which deliver the air bubbles to the water, should be cleaned and inspected or replaced before they are turned on for the season. View your owner’s manual for more information.
  6. Start Your Compressor – Gradually: To prevent shocking your pond, follow your aeration system’s initial seven-day startup procedure. On Day 1, run the system for 30 minutes and then turn it off for the rest of the day. On each day following, double the time: Day 2, run for one hour; Day 3, run for two hours; Day 4, run for four hours; and so on. On Day 7, begin running it for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  7. Pressure Check: Once your system is up and running, make sure that its pressure gauge stays within the normal range of 5 to 10 psi. An easy way to do this to mark the gauge upon initial start up and check it regularly to verify pressure has not significantly risen above or dropped below your initial reading. Please note, this does not apply to Shallow Water Series™ Aeration Systems. It is also recommended to install a maintenance kit every 6-12 months, so if you find that your compressor is not producing as much airflow as it has in the past it may be time to perform some additional maintenance.

Following these simple steps will guarantee a smooth start to aerating your pond this spring. If you’re ever in doubt, check out your owner’s manual or contact us at 866-766-3435.

Pond Talk: Do you have a regular maintenance routine you follow for your aeration system?

Maximize the Life of Your System - Airmax® SilentAir™ Compressor Air Filter