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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?

Remove Up To 2

I know bass are good predator fish to put in a pond, but does it matter if they are largemouth or smallmouth bass? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I know bass are good predator fish to put in a pond, but does it matter if they are largemouth or smallmouth bass?

Q: I know bass are good predator fish to put in a pond, but does it matter if they are largemouth or smallmouth bass?

Joe – Alhambra, IL

A: Bass – both largemouth and smallmouth – make excellent predator fish. These strong, scrappy guys keep your bluegill population in check. They chase frogs, eat crustaceans and snails, and even catch unsuspecting birds and rodents like small muskrats. They’re a definite asset in your pond or lake.

These two fish cousins, however, have their differences. Read on to learn which is better suited to your pond or lake.

Distinct Differences

Though they’re both species of fish in the sunfish family, largemouth and smallmouth bass have different physical characteristics. The largemouth bass, Micropterus salmoides, sports a big grin that extends way back beyond its eye, while the smallmouth bass, Micropterus dolomieu, has a smaller smile that reaches only to the middle of its eye. They also differ in their color and color patterns; the olive green largemouth has dark blotches of scales that run horizontally down its flank, and the brassy brown smallmouth has dark scales that run vertically.

Happy Habitats

These freshwater fishes both thrive in lakes, ponds and rivers, but each species has its preference. Largemouth bass favor crystal clear lakes with 2 to 6 feet of water, and sandy shallows and abundant rooted aquatic plants or habitat for spawning. They flourish in warmer water – even enjoying 80 to 90 degree temperatures in the summertime.

Smallmouth bass, however, are primarily river dwellers that like to hang out around pea-size to 1-inch-diameter gravel for spawning. They’ll tolerate lakes and ponds, but they like the steady current and higher rate of dissolved oxygen it provides. They also like water temperatures a bit cooler; anything warmer than 90 degrees F is lethal to smallmouth bass.

Food for Thought

These fishes also have different tastes in food. Largemouth bass aren’t too picky. They’ll gobble through a variety of foodstuffs, from Game Fish Grower Food to smaller fish like shad, perch, bluegill and sunfish. Smallmouth bass, however, stick to the bottom of the lake or river and nosh on crustaceans, insects and smaller fish.

Potential Pondmates?

Because both these guys are fun and challenging to fish, it would be fantastic to have both species in your pond or lake, wouldn’t it?

Large- and smallmouth bass can live together, but it takes the help of an attentive game fish manager to make that happen. The general consensus from most experts is that the largemouths will typically replace smallmouths in smaller pond settings unless subadult or adult smallies are introduced annually. Even if you provide an ideal spawning environment for them, the largemouths will still edge them out.

Bottom line: You’re better off with the largemouths. They’re easier to keep, and they adapt more readily to a pond- or lake-type environment.

Pond Talk: What types of game fish do you have in your pond or lake?

Promote Rapid Fish Growth - The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower Fish Food

We had lots of tadpoles in our pond last year. Will they still be tadpoles this year or can we expect more frogs? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I see giant tadpoles and small black ones. Are these the same type of tadpoles at different stages?

Q: We had lots of tadpoles in our pond last year. Will they still be tadpoles this year or can we expect more frogs?

Lynn – Beecher, IL

A: What would a summer evening on your pond or lake be without bullfrogs? Let’s discuss how to distinguish bullfrog and toad tadpoles and understand how they develop into adults.

What Came First: the Egg or Frog

Both bullfrogs and toads reproduce by laying eggs in the water. Female bullfrogs deposit their eggs on the pond surface in large round clusters or masses protected by aquatic plants. One bullfrog can lay up to 20,000 eggs, which are then fertilized by the males. Toads create strands of dark-colored eggs that look like black pearls attached to foliage and leaves near the water’s edge.

After 7 to 10 days, frog or toad tadpoles hatch from their eggs. Bullfrog tadpoles appear dark green to black in color and they’re big – much larger than other species of frog or toad. They also mature more slowly when compared to their toad counterparts. In fact, bullfrogs will stay in their tadpole stage for almost three years before transforming into adults.

From Aquatic to Terrestrial

A toad’s and frog’s physical development from tadpole (or pollywog) to adult are similar. As tadpoles, they live exclusively in the water and nibble on aquatic plants for nourishment. At first, their bodies are long and narrow and include a tail where they store fat when food is in short supply during the winter months. Eventually, the tadpoles will start to grow back legs, followed by their front legs. And then their tails shorten and disappear, and they develop lungs. Before long they’re full-fledged adults.

Survive and Thrive

As with most critters in the wild, the strongest will survive – and tadpoles are no different. Out of the thousands of pollywogs that are born, only a small percentage make it to adulthood. They have, however, evolved some survival traits that protect them from predators, including their camouflage color that makes them excellent at hiding.

You can help boost their survival numbers by adding pond dye or installing a decoy device, like an Owl Decoy or Nite Guard Solar®, designed to chase away rodents and snakes. With its timed head rotation powered by a built-in solar panel, the Owl Decoy will help repel nuisance birds and other small critters during the day. And the Nite Guard Solar® LED lights that resemble a predator’s glowing eyes will keep your pond – and your toads and frogs – safe at night.

Pond Talk: What kinds of frogs and toads live in your pond or lake?

Shade Your Pond From Predators - Pond Logic® Pond Dye

My son wanted to know if crayfish can live in our pond. I think they can, right? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: My son wanted to know if crayfish can live in our pond. I think they can, right?

Q: My son wanted to know if crayfish can live in our pond. I think they can, right?

Mike – Little Rock, AR

A: Yes, those little freshwater crustaceans can indeed live in your pond – as long as you provide the living conditions they need to thrive. Here’s what you need to know about growing a healthy crayfish population.

Home Sweet Home

Also known as crawdads and crawfish, North American crayfish belong to the family Cambaridae. More than 300 species live in rivers, brooks, ponds and even special “crayfish farms” across the country. Most types prefer fresh flowing water that doesn’t freeze in the winter, but some thrive in swamps and ditches.

During the day, crayfish hunker down underneath rocks to hide from predators like fish, birds and alligators. But at night, they slowly cruise the river bottom in search of food. Their preferred meals are anything decaying, including dead insects, worms, algae and fish, but they’ll also snap up small, live fish that are swimming by if they’re feeling too lazy to forage. They’ll also get their greens by gobbling through algae and aquatic plants.

These decapod crustaceans can grow up to 6 inches in length. They’re related to lobsters, crabs and shrimps, and they’re prized cuisine among foodies (etouffees anyone?) and larger fish, like bass and bluegill. Crayfish and dwarf crayfish are also kept as colorful pets in aquariums.

Welcome Residents

Crayfish can make a fun addition to your pond. They nibble on aquatic plants, so they help control weed growth. They eat decaying material, so they – along with Pond Logic® MuckAway™ – will help keep pond muck to a minimum. They’ll entertain your son (and his friends) for hours as they turn over rocks and hunt for crayfish. And they make for some delicious eating for you and your resident fish!

These guys will dig to create burrows in the bottom of your pond – but don’t worry. They won’t likely cause any leaks. It’s important, though, to control their population. Crayfish reproduction is tied to fluctuating water levels, so manage their population growth by stabilizing the water level in your pond, and use basket traps or lift nets baited with meat to remove large numbers.

Create a comfortable environment for crayfish by providing clean, aerated water and some rocks for burrowing. They’ll find their own food – or become food if they venture too close to your Fish Attractor Spheres!

Pond Talk: Have you ever hunted for crayfish?

Increase Fish Survival Rates -Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres

6 Ways you can Enjoy Your Pond this Season

6 Ways you can enjoy your pond this season

6 Ways to Enjoy Your Pond this Season

If you were one of the many pond owners battling algae, muck, excessive weeds or green water last year, it may be difficult to remember why you wanted that pond in the first place. The beginning of the new pond season is the perfect time to do a little research, evaluate and tweak your pond maintenance practices. Getting a head start will allow you to make this years resolution to spend more time enjoying your pond, lake or water feature. Here are just some of the many benefits they offer.

  1. Gives you a nice place to sit and relax: Imagine lounging in a hammock alongside your pond, swaying in the cool breeze. Picture yourself enjoying a cool glass of lemonade while sitting on your dock and watching your fountain cast rainbows against a blue sky. There is a reason why folks vacation at their favorite lake house! You could have one of your own in your back yard.
  2. An investment in your home: Many of us today are trading vacations for “staycations,” and we’re looking at ways to build on our biggest investment, our homes. Landscaping with decorative water features and creating functional outdoor living areas adds value to a home. Plus, it’s fun to add personalized décor to turn the space into your own oasis.
  3. It’s a hobby that’ll grow with you: Keeping a decorative pond will definitely be a learning experience, and as you learn more about the technical aspects of maintaining water quality, keeping koi or aquatic plants, and managing the pump and filter, your pond will look better and better, and bring you more satisfaction as a hobbyist.
  4. Provides water fun for everyone: From paddle boating and swimming in the summer to ice skating and ice fishing in the winter, a pond or lake will be sure to satisfy just about any outdoor adventure. But remember to always play safe, making sure you supervise children at all times and have a life ring and rope nearby.
  5. Creates a wildlife habitat: If you like the great outdoors and all the critters in it, you’ll appreciate the variety of wildlife a pond will bring. Animals of all sorts gravitate toward water. Depending on where you live, you can expect to see wild birds and water fowl, raccoons, turtles, frogs, butterflies and dragonflies, not to mention all the underwater life. These animals will call the pond and your property home, making it an entertaining ecosystem for your family and friends.
  6. Cheaper than therapy: More than one pond owner has told us about how therapeutic their water features are! After a long day at the office, there’s nothing more relaxing than sitting alongside your pond with a cold drink in hand, feeding the koi and pond fish, or appreciating the water lilies in bloom.

Of course, these examples only scratch the surface of the benefits that a pond or water feature can bring to your yard. So take inventory of your supplies and make a plan so you can begin this pond season by relaxing.

Pond Talk: How do you plan on spending time by your pond this season?

Happy New Year From The Pond Guy®

I think my pond is spring-fed. If I shut down my aeration system, will the pond freeze enough for me to skate? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I think my pond is spring-fed. If I shut down my aeration system, will the pond freeze enough for me to skate?

Q: I think my pond is spring-fed. If I shut down my aeration system, will the pond freeze enough for me to skate?

Timothy – Newton, WI

A: Skating is a winter favorite for many people – and it’s even better when you’re doing it on your own pond or lake. Before we dive into answering your question, however, let’s go through the differences between a spring-fed pond and a catch basin pond.

Catch Basin or Spring Fed?

A catch basin pond is a reservoir filled with precipitation runoff from the surrounding area. The volume rises and falls depending on rainfall and snow melt; in the winter, when conditions are right and temperatures are below freezing, an unaerated pond like this makes a great skating rink.

A spring-fed pond, however, is fed by a spring or ground water. It keeps the pond’s water level fairly consistent, regardless of rainfall, but the moving water created by the spring could cause dangerous conditions – even if the aeration system is shut down for the season.

Stay Safe on the Ice

If you discover your pond is indeed fed by a spring and has constant water movement, follow these Ice Safety Tips before trying to use the ice rink for recreation:

  • Wait for Extended Cold Temps: Spring-fed ponds will take longer to freeze, so be sure temperatures are below freezing for two to three weeks before testing the ice formation. Remember that wind and snow coverage will also affect ice formation and its integrity.
  • Test Ice Thickness: Once you’ve given the water time to freeze and the ice time to form, the next step is to verify the ice sheet’s thickness. You can either drill or cut samples—but make sure you do so in multiple locations as you work your way toward the center of the pond as the water won’t necessarily freeze evenly.
  • Stay Far from Moving Water: Water current and movement will also affect ice formation, so steer clear from any inflow and overflow areas where water movement will weaken the ice.
  • Shut Off Aeration: Of course, plan to turn off your aeration system before the ice starts forming on your pond. The aerator will agitate the water, preventing it from forming into a solid, safe sheet of ice.
  • Be Prepared: In case someone accidentally falls through the ice, don’t venture out on your own, and always make sure you have a life ring or floatation device within reach.

Winter recreation – skating, hockey, ice fishing and more! – is one of the joys of owning your own pond or lake, but always use common sense when venturing out. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Pond Talk: What winter sports do you enjoy on your frozen pond?

Be Prepared For Any Scenario - Taylor Made 20 Inch Life Rings

I would love to have ducks at my pond. Is there any harm, and how do I attract them? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I would love to have ducks at my pond. Is there any harm, and how do I attract them?

Q: I would love to have ducks at my pond. Is there any harm, and how do I attract them?

Jerry – Cass City, MI

A: Ducks certainly make an entertaining and colorful addition to a pond or lake. Various species of these plumed wetland visitors grace just about every continent and climate on planet earth – including sub-Antarctic islands like South Georgia and the Aucklands to oceanic locales like Hawaii and New Zealand.

Despite their worldwide distribution, getting ducks to call your pond home can be a challenge. But you can attract them if you understand their specific needs.

Pondside Open House

The duck types that frequent ponds include mallards and wood ducks, along with Muscovy ducks, black-bellied and whistling ducks. Ducks are omnivores and like to eat a wide range of foods, from small fish, eggs, snails, worms and bugs to grass, weeds, seeds and berries. In general, they require a lot of space and copious amounts of water in the form of marshes, lakes or large ponds. Aquatic plants, like reeds and water lilies, make them feel at home, as does concealed areas with tall marsh grass and shrubby cover for nesting and hiding.

Attracting the Flock

Providing a duck friendly habit is the best way to convince the feathered visitors to stop by, but here are some expert tricks to make your pond more appealing:

  • Create a Mess Hall: Set up feeding areas by clearing out an area or providing large, low platforms, and toss out some cracked corn, spilled birdseed and kitchen scraps. Don’t feed them by hand, but use goodies to pique their interest.
  • Plant a Duck Garden: Berry bushes can help draw ducks. And if you have a garden area near your pond, use mulch to attract tasty insects and earthworms.
  • Offer a Nest Box: Though ducks will nest in a variety of places, from ground nests in grassy areas near the pond to brush piles and hollow logs, provide them with nest boxes to help attract nesting ducks.
  • Install a Fountain: Ducks flock to the sound of splashing, so consider installing a fountain or waterfall in your pond.
  • Use Natural Décor: Add some half-submerged logs, overhanging shelves, marsh grasses and marginals, aquatic plants and brush piles to your landscape.
  • Add Some Decoys: A duck decoy pair floating quietly on your pond will attract the attention of the real-life things. They’ll swoop down to investigate and (hopefully!) decide to stay for a while.

Duck Dangers

Unlike a Great Blue Heron, ducks will leave your fish alone – but they can trigger other problems. If a lot of them are visiting, they can cause water quality issues (which can be remedied with the beneficial bacteria in Pond Logic® PondClear™). They could bring in unwanted weeds, like duckweed and water milfoil, that weren’t present before. The ducks, ducklings and eggs could also attract feral cats, raccoon, skunks and other predators.

Having these colorful beauties visit your pond, however, is worth the hassle. When they do stop by, observe them from a distance – and enjoy bird watching!

Pond Talk: Do ducks visit your pond regularly?

Help Attract Ducks To Your Pond - Flambeau® Storm Front™ Mallard Decoy Pair

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