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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

I have a lot of water lilies in my 1/2 acre pond. How do I control them? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I have a lot of water lilies in my 1/2 acre pond. How do I control them?

Q: I have a lot of water lilies in my 1/2 acre pond. How do I control them?

Dan – Newnan, GA

A: In ornamental ponds, water lilies planted in pots are prized possessions—but in a shallow farm pond or lake, lilies living wild can be an invasive species that takes over the water surface in no time.

Of course, water lilies aren’t all bad. Their leaves and roots provide food for beaver, moose, muskrat, porcupine, and deer. Their seeds are gobbled by waterfowl, and their leaves provide protective coverage for largemouth bass, sunfish, and frogs. Left unmanaged, however, water lilies can restrict lake-front access, eliminate swimming opportunities and quickly take over shallow areas.

But before we get into how to control these beautiful but troublesome aquatic plants, let’s learn a bit about them.

Habitat, Growth

The water lily is a floating-leaved aquatic perennial herb that grows rooted in mucky or silty sediments in water 4 to 5 feet deep. It prefers quiet waters like ponds, lake margins and slow streams. When unmanaged, the plant tends to form dense areas covering hundreds of acres.

Each spring, new shoots appear from the rhizomes and grow up through the water until they reach the surface. The flowers appear from June to September. Each blossom opens in the morning and closes in the early afternoon for two to five consecutive days. After the flowers have closed for the final time, the flower stalk corkscrews and draws the developing fruit below the water.

The plant over winters underground as the rhizome. These rhizomes, along with the plant’s seeds, are how it reproduces. A planted rhizome can grow to cover a 15-foot-diameter circle in just five years!

Limiting Those Lilies

You can control water lilies with several different methods.

  • Mechanical Control: First, you can cut/harvest the water lilies or dig up the rhizomes to create open areas of water. If you cut the lilies, you must do so several times a year as these plants thrive in shallow water and grow rapidly. If you dig up the rhizomes, it can be an intrusive and costly though permanent process; they can be difficult to dislodge, but it can be done via rotovation (underwater rototilling) or excavation. Either way, mechanical control is a difficult method because the plant will likely regrow from seeds or remaining rhizomes.
  • Chemical Control: Another more effective method is to use reactive chemical treatment, like Shoreline Defense®, to manage lilies that are actively growing and have reached the surface. When applied directly to the foliage—along with some Treatment Booster™ PLUS to break down the plant’s protective surface—the herbicide’s active ingredient penetrates the lily and makes its way to the rhizome. Once it has turned brown, use a Weed Cutter to remove as much of the decomposing plant as possible to prevent an accumulation of dead material and muck. If you use this method, treat your pond in sections, dosing only half of the lilies at a time; if the weather is hot, decrease that to a third or quarter, waiting 10 to 14 days between treatments.
  • Preventive Control: In addition to mechanical and chemical control, you can also prevent—or at least slow down—the growth of water lilies by treating the pond’s water with Pond Dye. By blocking the sun’s rays early in the season, the lilies will not get the light they need to develop.

Controlling water lilies can be a challenge. But these methods, you can manage them and keep them contained in a particular area, making them a beautiful addition to your landscape.

Pond Talk: How do you control wild water lilies in your farm pond or lake?

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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

Is there anything special I need to do to stock my pond this spring? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Is there anything special I need to do to stock my pond this spring?

Q: Is there anything special I need to do to stock my pond this spring?

Bryan – Flowery Branch, GA

A: Fish are fun to catch and entertaining to watch, they also help maintain a balanced backyard ecosystem. There’s nothing quite like fishing for bass, perch or bluegill from your own pond or lake. Whether you’re stocking a new pond, replenishing an existing pond or adding to an already-established population, here’s what you need to know about when and how to best do it.

Spring Stocking: Spring is the ideal time to stock your pond with fish. Temperatures are mild and oxygen levels are rising, so the stress factors affecting your fish will be at their lowest. Once acclimated to your pond, they’ll be primed to flourish. Fish can be added in the summer, but they’ll need a little more time to adjust.

Remove the Competition: Before you stock your pond or lake with desirable game fish, you’ll need to remove any unwanted wild fish. They’ll negatively impact your new fish population by competing for food and habitat—or they may eat your new fish. Trap them with our Tomahawk Live Trap, which will enable you to relocate them.

Happy Habitat: Make a home-sweet-home for your new fish by creating a top-notch habitat for the smaller fish to hide, grow and reproduce. Weeds, grasses, felled trees and other debris already in your pond will provide some cover, but a specially designed environment, like fish attractor spheres or logs, can improve on what’s already there.

Healthy Population: Keeping a healthy underwater ecosystem means creating a balanced fish population. We advise sticking to a ratio of three prey fish (like sunfish, bluegill or perch) to one predator fish (like bass) when choosing species. The number of fish you add to your population will ultimately depend on the surface area of your lake or pond. To help you calculate what’s best for your situation, here are some examples of stocking rates.

Fatten them Up: With your brood settled in, you want make sure they’re getting enough grub to thrive. A game fish food, like our Game Fish Grower Food, is a great way to provide the fish with protein and nutrients, bolster their immune systems, and grow healthy game fish. Plus, it’s a floating pellet—so you can enjoy watching them as they come to the surface and eat.

Spring stocking time is here! To find ready-to-stock game fish in your area, visit your local fishery. Happy fishing!

Pond Talk: What’s your favorite game fish to keep in your lake or pond?

The Pond Guy(r) Promote Fish Growth This Season - The Pond Guy(r) Game Fish Grower

I spend a lot of time trying to kill algae, and sometimes it doesn’t work. Do you have any tips? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: I spend a lot of time trying to kill algae, and sometimes it doesn’t work. Do you have any tips?

Q: I spend a lot of time trying to kill algae, and sometimes it doesn’t work. Do you have any tips?

Vince – Columbia City, IN

A: Frustrating, isn’t it? You spend hours upon hours pondside, dosing the water with algaecides and raking out algae-feeding plant matter and detritus, only to see the green menace return weeks – if not days – later. Is there a way to control the nuisance algae that’s turning your pond into pea soup?

You bet. Below are our top recommendations for battling the algae. If you follow these guidelines, you’ll have that green menace under control in no time.

#1 – Treat Only Actively Growing Algae
When using algae control products in your pond or lake, the algae must be present and actively growing. Why? Because the chemicals need to make direct contact with the tiny organisms and absorb into their cells for them to be effective; if there’s no living algae, the chemicals will land in the water and become diluted, and therefore ineffective when the green stuff blooms.

#2 – Treat When Weather Is Favorable
Algae can grow in cold temperatures – even frigid, depending on the species – but algaecides aren’t so tolerant. The pond water must be warmer than 60°F for the chemicals in them to work. Apply your algae treatment on a sunny, mild day when rain is not expected in the immediate forecast. This will allow the chemicals to adequately absorb into the algae. As always, read the product label for instructions and specific temperature requirements.

#3 – Treat Only a Third at a Time
When temperatures heat up and the algae dies off, that combination of warm water and decaying plant matter reduces the amount of oxygen available to fish and other living critters in the pond. Keep them in an oxygen-rich environment by treating the pond in small sections and wait 7-10 days before moving to the next section. In addition, keep your aeration system or fountains running during treatment to continue circulating and oxygenating the water.

#4 – Read the Product Label
Different algaecides have different active ingredients, inert ingredients and specifications, so always read your product’s label for appropriate protective equipment and application rates. Pay special attention to warnings concerning water use and restrictions in ponds used for irrigation, drinking and swimming, as well as in ponds that house certain types of fish. If you have trout, which are sensitive to copper-based treatments, test the carbonate hardness levels and ensure they are above 50 ppm prior to treatment. If they’re above that, use another treatment, like Hydrothol®, that contains no copper.

#5 – Follow Up with Airmax® Ecosystem Pond Management Program
Algaecides are a great tool that can temporarily clear up pea soup water, but they do little address the actual problem causing the algae – which is excessive nutrients and organics. By following your treatment up with proactive pond management practices, such as aeration and natural water treatments like MuckAway™, you will reduce the accumulation of dead organic material, which will help to keep your water clear season after season. Check out the Airmax® Ecosystem™ – Proactive Pond & Lake Management video below for more information or view the article here.

Pond Talk: Do you have any additional tips for successful algae management?

Eliminate Algae and Chara Fast - Pond Logic Algae Defense

Our pond attracts all kinds of wildlife. What can you tell us about snapping turtles? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Our pond attracts all kinds of wildlife. What can you tell us about snapping turtles?

Q: Our pond attracts all kinds of wildlife. What can you tell us about snapping turtles?

Gail – South Boston, VA

A: Healthy ponds do tend to attract all types of creatures to your backyard, some more desirable than others. Snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) are large freshwater turtles that make their homes in ponds and streams with plenty of room and food. When encountered in the water, they typically slip quietly away from any disturbance – but because they can have fierce dispositions, it’s a good idea to get to know these shelled reptiles and their habits a little better.

How to Identify
Snapping turtles have a look all its own. Resembling a prehistoric dinosaur, the snapping turtle has a large, muscular build with a rigid carapace (hard shell) that can grow up to 18 inches. They usually weigh between 10 to 35 pounds. Its most defining features, however, is it’s long, flexible neck and beak-like mouth used to snap prey and defend itself from predators.

What They Eat
This omnivore’s preferred meals include just about anything it can capture and swallow, including aquatic plants, invertebrates, fish, frogs, reptiles, birds and small mammals. Snapping turtles also clean-up your pond by consuming carrion (or dead animals). In a farm or swimming pond, a snapping turtle might snap up some undesirable visitors, like snakes.

Nocturnal Activity
A snapping turtle is mostly active at night, but it does venture out during the day to bask on fallen logs and scavenge and hunt for food. When C. serpentine is on dry land, it can be aggressive, particularly when it feels threatened – and this is when you should avoid contact at all costs. A snap from a snapping turtle can be painful!

Remove & Relocate
If a snapping turtle is causing problems in your pond, your best bet is to safely and humanely remove it. Grabbing its shell with your hands is a bad idea; it can easily stretch its neck back across its own shell to its hind feet and snap your fingers, and it can scratch you with its sharp claws.

Instead, trap it in a turtle trap, like a Tomahawk Live Traps. The 32-by-18-by-9-inch trap made with 12-gauge wire comes pre-assembled and ready to use. Simply place it in the water partially submerged and bait with fish or meat. When you capture the critter, relocate it to a place that has a water body, food and shelter.

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

Trap Unwanted Guests - Tomahawk Turtle Trap

Why did I lose my fish? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Q: Why did I lose my fish?

Q: Why did I lose my fish?

James – Willmar, MN

A: After a long, roller coaster winter, there’s nothing more disappointing than returning to your pond to find your fish floating and bloated in the water. This winter fish kill, or “winterkill,” can happen when the ice sheet on your pond prevents gas exchange and reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water, ultimately causing your fish to suffocate. Shallow lakes, ponds and streams are particularly vulnerable to winterkill.

What causes it, and how can it be prevented? Read on to learn more.

Starved for Oxygen

Winterkill occurs when ice and snow cover your pond or lake for long periods of time. That solid sheet of cold stuff seals off the water, stopping oxygenation and gas exchange at the surface, but that’s not all it does. The ice and snow cover also prevent sunlight from reaching pond plants, which normally produce sub-surface oxygen via photosynthesis. Add to that a lake full of decomposing organic matter releasing toxic gases that are trapped under the ice, and your poor fish do not have enough oxygen to survive.

The ones that do survive are not finned superheroes, but they are more tolerant of a low-oxygen environment than their dearly departed cousins. The species type and size makes a difference, too, in their ability to deal with less-than-optimal living conditions.

Stayin’ Alive

Unfortunately, you cannot bring your fish back to life, but you can prevent winterkill from happening in the future. We recommend a simple, two-pronged approach:

  1. Aeration: Aerate your pond year-round with an Aeration System to circulate the water, increase dissolved oxygen and keep oxygen levels more consistent throughout the pond. It will also keep a hole open in the ice, allowing for gas exchange.
  2. Muck Removal: Using natural bacteria, like MuckAway™, or a dredge in extreme cases, remove as much muck and decomposing debris as possible before the ice forms. This will prevent the pond from naturally filling in, and it will reduce the amount of gas produced from the decomposition process.

Winterkill is a disappointment, but it can be prevented with some planning and preparation in the fall. In the meantime, restock your pond and enjoy!

Pond Talk: Have you even experienced winterkill in your pond? What did you do to remedy the situation?

Reduce Muck and Organic Debris Build-Up - Pond Logic® MuckAway™