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I just installed a backyard water garden. How do I take care of it? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: I just installed a backyard water garden. How do I take care of it?

Q: I just installed a backyard water garden. How do I take care of it?

Cheryl – Charlotte, NC

A: Congratulations! You’ve just waded into a relaxing and exciting hobby that will give you joy for years to come—as long as take proper care of it. Here’s a quick rundown of what we recommend to new pond hobbyists.

1. Keep It Clean

First and foremost, it’s critical to keep your water column clean and your pond’s rocks and surfaces free from muck and debris. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a smelly, algae-filled hole in the ground, and who wants that—particularly if you plan on hosting backyard barbeques this summer!

We suggest you use the Pond Logic® DefensePAC®, an easy-to-use combo pack that includes Oxy-Lift™ Defense®, Nature’s Defense®, Clarity Defense®, Muck Defense® and Seasonal Defense®. These products work together to remove excess debris and promote a healthy ecosystem for your fish and plants all year long.

2. Beautify It

If you’re like many water garden hobbyists, you’ll soon be adding aquatic plants to you pond (if you haven’t already!). Water lilies, water hyacinth, irises and a host of other floating, submerged and marginal plants can do wonders to spruce up a backyard, adding pops of color and interest to your outdoor living space.

But that’s not all. Aquatic plants, like those found in our Aquatic Plant Packages, also naturally filter the water in your pond by removing harmful pollutants and gases, releasing oxygen and being a breeding ground for muck-destroying beneficial bacteria. Plus, your fish will use the plants as an underwater playground!

3. Add Some Finned Friends

Speaking of which, you may also wish to add koi, goldfish and other aquatic critters, like snails and turtles, to your pond. They’re fun to watch and care for, they add life and movement to your water garden, and they add another dimension to your new hobby. (If you haven’t been to a koi show yet, plan on it!)

A word of warning: Remember that fish grow, so don’t maximize your fish load from the get go. A booming population of goldfish, koi or other pond fish means an overload of fish waste, which can cause problems down the road. In general, we recommend one 6- to 8-inch fish per 10 square feet of surface area.

4. Beef Up Your Filter Media

Finally, let’s talk filter media. Where is it? Do you have enough of it? Filter media typically lives in your filter box, and its purpose is to mechanically remove large debris from your water as it flows through the filter, as well as provide a home for gunk-gobbling beneficial bacteria.

When it comes to filter media, more is definitely better. You can easily beef it up by adding BioBalls™ Filter Media to your waterfall box or some extra Matala® Filter Media Pads to your filter.

Enjoy your new hobby!

Pond Talk: What was your first water garden like? What changes have you made to it since then?

Season Long Pond Care Package - Pond Logic® DefensePAC®

Should I use just one type of filter media or are multiple types better? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Should I use just one type of filter media or are multiple types better?

Q: Should I use just one type of filter media or are multiple types better?

Christine – Mt. Clemens, MI

A: Filter media—or the stuff in your filter that holds beneficial bacteria—come in a range of shapes, sizes and densities. Some are plastic balls; some are fibrous mats and blocks; some are plastic spiral-shaped things that more resemble fusilli than pond products. With all the different types, it’s tough to decide which is best.

Well, we’ll make it easy for you: Try a little of each type. Just like plants, different filtration media provide different amounts of water filtration, so we recommend a healthy mix of media pads, like Matala® Filter Media Pads, and Filter Media Pads pre-cut and by-the-foot; ridged plastic balls, like The Pond Guy® BioBalls™; and curly plastic strips, like Bacti-Twist® Biological/Mechanical Filter Media.

When choosing the filter media, regardless of type, look for these defining characteristics:

  • Durability: Your media should be able to withstand wear and tear. The Pond Guy® BioBalls™ are more durable and longer lasting compared to similar products.
  • Density: Your media should be the right density for your specific needs. Matala® Filter Media Pads come in 4 densities to suit your particular pond.
  • Surface area: Your media should also have a lot of surface area, which will result in more places for beneficial bacteria to grow.

Your filter media’s density and surface area are particularly important because they determine how much beneficial bacteria grows and the rate at which water flows through the material. Dense material allows for more bacteria colonization, while less-dense material allows for more water flow. By using all different types of filter media, you’re encouraging optimal biological and mechanical filtration—and that’s always a good thing in an enclosed system.

Already have filter media in your system? You may be able to use it for another season or two, but first give it a visual inspection. Is it beginning to wear on the edges? Has it compacted over the last few seasons? Worn or compressed material should be replaced to give your pond top-quality filtration, but fresh, fluffy material can be reused.

Pond Talk: What’s your preferred filter media type—and why?

Keep Your Water Crystal Clear - Matala® Filter Media Pads

What Are Those Tiny Red Worms In My Filter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

What Are Those Tiny Red Worms In My Filter?

Q: What are those tiny red worms in my filter?

Jose – Highland Park, IL

A: They’re tiny, they’re wriggly, and they’re blood-red – or at least a creamy pink color. What are they? They’re non-biting midge fly larvae, also known as bloodworms. Though they’re an unsettling infestation to see in your filter, they’re actually harmless to your fish.

Know Your Chironomidae

Midge flies hail from the family Chironomidae, which includes more than 10,000 different species worldwide. Some varieties appear bright red in color thanks to a hemoglobin-type substance that helps them live with oxygen-depleted water, giving them their “bloodworm” nickname.

As adults, midge flies resemble mosquitoes, but they have fluffy antennae and no blood-sucking proboscis. Large numbers of them can be a nuisance as their droppings can cause damage to paint, brick and other surfaces. And when their tiny corpses pile up, they can cause a stink.

Home Sweet Home

These insects thrive in freshwater aquatic and semi-aquatic environments. In their larval stages, they live in tree holes, bromeliads, rotting vegetation, soil and artificial containers – including filtration systems, infesting media pads. They spend their time attached to the container’s solid surface and taking in tasty food as it floats by.

Midge flies lay their eggs in water, preferring it to be still, clear, dark and safe from critters like fish and frogs that nosh on the larvae when they emerge. To protect themselves, the bloodworms actually create and live in tiny half-inch tubes they build from mud, algae and other naturally occurring resources. Look closely in your filter, and you’ll probably see some of these worm-sized mud huts.

A Tasty Fish Treat

Don’t worry: These little guys won’t harm your pond or your fish. In fact, if one wriggles its way into your pond, it will be a welcome treat for your fish! Goldfish and other smaller fish will gobble them and their little mud homes; koi and other larger fish will treat them as tasty hors d’oeuvres.

Bloodworms are quite nutritious for fish. In fact, the insects are about 55 percent protein – which is a key nutrient fishes need to grow, reproduce and maintain their health. So rather than balk at the tiny worms, scoop them out of your filter and give them to your pond dwellers. They’ll thank you for them!

Pond Talk: What’s the weirdest (or coolest!) insect you’ve seen in or around your pond?

Filtration Made Affordable

Does Filter Media Need To Be Replaced Each Year? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Does Filter Media Need To Be Replaced Each Year? Does Filter Media Need To Be Replaced Each Year?

Sandra – Granger, IN

There is an assortment of filter media out there in the pond world from filter pads to bio-ribbon to BioBalls™. Knowing when to replace it or clean it is critical to keeping your pond in tip-top shape. Spring is the perfect time to inspect and, if necessary, replace filter media in the following 4 areas.

Skimmers: Your skimmer is the first line of defense in collecting debris and protecting your pump. Most skimmers have a filter pad to remove finer debris. Check the media for frayed edges or tears and replace it needed. Most skimmer manufacturers offer replace filter pads but if you’re like me and like to save a little money, it’s much easier and economical to cut your own. Check out our 1” and 2” filter media pads that you can purchase by the foot.

Waterfall Filters: If you have a waterfall filter, this is the main filtration area of the pond. Most standard filter media pads in the waterfall filter should be replaced once each year. You can get a little more life out of filter pads by going with Matala® Filter Pads. These filter pads are built to last and can last usually 2 to 3 seasons. Also, the waterfall filter is a great place to add additional media such as bio-ribbon or BioBalls™. These types of media rarely need replacing.

In-Pond Filters: If you have an In-Pond Filter, such as a Pondmaster® Pond Filter or ClearSolution™, have their own types of media. For instance the Pondmaster® Pond Filter contains not only a filter pad, but also a carbon pad that should be replaced each season. The ClearSolution™ contains bio-media rocks that should be inspected and replaced every couple of seasons.

Pressurized Filter: This is similar to the In-Pond Filter, Pressurized Filter Media should be replaced each season to ensure the best possible filtration.

If you are unsure which media to purchase, simply give us a call, we are glad to help.

Matala® Filter Media Pads

Should I use just one type of filter media or are multiple types better? | Decorative Pond & Water Garden Q&A

Should I use just one type of filter media or are multiple types better?

Should I use just one type of filter media or are multiple types better?

Jason – Brooklyn, NY

When it comes to filter media, your pond – and the fish and plants that call it home – benefit from variety. Because each type of filter media provides different benefits to your pond’s water quality, each one plays a vital role, and none should be overlooked.

The characteristics of different filter media say a lot about the roles they play. For sheer durability, you’ll appreciate the performance of our Matala® Filter Media Pads and our The Pond Guy® BioBalls™ Filter Media. Our Matala® Pads are available in multiple densities – from porous to fine – and they’re designed for easy cutting to fit the dimensions of your filter. These filters perform well for the long haul, with the most porous Black Matala® Filters designed to remove larger particulate, ranging to our Grey Matala® Filter Pads, which filter small particles. With a careful mix of Matala® Filter Pads, you’ll achieve both mechanical and biological filtration, and your pond water will be cleaner, clearer, and healthier for all of your pond’s inhabitants.

Our BioBalls™ provide excellent secondary filtration by providing a home for beneficial bacteria. These bacteria perform vital biological filtration functions, and their unique design is well suited to fit filter boxes. They’re easy to clean, and they last virtually forever.

Our ReUsable Filter Media Pads, which are available for purchase by the foot, allow for maximum water pass-through without sacrificing durability. Because of their unique design, they’re exceptionally clog-resistant, and they’re easy to cut to suit the needs of your filter.

Finally, our Bacti-Twist® Bio Ribbon Filtration Media does the twin tasks of biological and mechanical filtration. This distinctive media provides a large surface area to house beneficial bacteria, and fits easily into any filter container.

With a carefully-selected mix of filtration media – of varying densities to allow for water flow and the establishment of beneficial bacteria, both you and your pond will see the short- and long-term benefits, making your water feature a picture of health and cleanliness, with minimal effort.

Pond Talk: What type of filter media do you use for your pond?

Matala® Filter Media

I took my fish out for the winter… when it is best to put them back? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I took my fish out for the winter…when it is best to put them back?

I took my fish out for the winter… when it is best to put them back?
Kathie – St. Cloud, MN

It is about time to get your pond up and running for the season. Your decorative pond fish may be even more excited than you are if they’ve been stuck inside for the winter. Before you re-introduce them to their pond you will want to give it thorough once-over to make sure the pond is healthy, clean and ready for spring.

You may choose to perform a complete pond cleanout and start from scratch, or if you prefer you can leave the pond in tack and just do some minor preparations. If this is the case, start by removing debris and algae from the water column, stream, rocks and pond bottom. Dusting Pond Logic® Oxy-Lift™ Defense® on your rocks and waterfall will lift hard to remove debris and save you the time and energy of having to scrub them clean. You can don a pair of Aquatic Gloves or use a Pond Vaccum and go to work removing the muck and debris that have sunk to the bottom of your pond.

Once you have removed as much solid debris as possible you can perform a partial water change of around 25%. Include a dose of Pond Logic® Stress Reducer PLUS or Water Conditioner to neutralize harmful water contaminates. Inspect your filter media for signs of wear and tear and replace as necessary. Thoroughly rinse off soiled filters and seed them with PL Gel Bacteria so they are ready to work as soon as you reinstall them in your filters. If you brought your Pressurized Filters, UV Clarifiers and Water Pumps inside for the winter you begin to bring them out and install them now. With your pond cleaned out and filtration system in place you are ready to fire up your pumps and circulate the water in your pond. Add your seasonal cool-weather bacteria like Pond Logic® Seasonal Defense® to further establish beneficial bacteria in your filtration media and pond.
Let the pond circulate over the course of a few weeks if possible before adding your fish. This will ensure your fish don’t suffer from peaks in pH or ammonia while your water finds a happy balance. Ideally temperatures over 50 degrees are more easily adaptable for your fish but be sure you acclimate them to the pond slowly following the same process you would to introduce a few fish. Using Pond Logic® Stress Reducer PLUS will aid in this process.

A good spring clean out will set the pace for your ponding season and prevent future headaches and stressed fish. Be patient and thorough using the proper tools so you can make your pond even more enjoyable this coming season.

Pond Talk: Have you performed your spring clean up yet? Any new ideas for your pond this season?

Pond Logic® Stress Reducer PLUS

What does filter media do for my water garden? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Savio Skimmer

Q. What does filter media do for my water garden? – Debbie in Illinois

Keep It Clean
With all of the pads, balls and nets in this blog you might think The Pond Guy has hung up his waders and opened a sporting goods store. Not to worry pond guys and gals, we are of course talking about filter media in your water garden.

Hey! Nice Pad!
When you look inside your filter, whether it’s a waterfall filter or pressurized filter, you may notice there are assortments of pads, balls, etc. These are called filter media. This filter media serves a vital purpose in any water garden.

Bio Blox Filter MediaFilter media are specifically designed to help colonize a ton of natural bacteria in a small area. As fish excrete waste, ammonia levels began to rise. Without enough natural bacteria, ammonia levels can become so high your fish will become stressed which can eventually to death. Natural bacteria will grow in a water garden without filter media, but unfortunately it is very minimal and never enough to keep up with high ammonia levels.

Less IS More
Many pond owners often think that a clean filter pad will lead to a cleaner pond. This is not the case. As it takes several weeks for nitrifying bacteria to colonize, many pond owners often clean their filter media as soon as it gets dirty. This unfortunately defeats the purpose of the biological functions of the filter media. Some of our readers have written in telling us that this buildup is even blocking or restricting water flow. It is most likely debris or algae being picked up from the water, not the bacteria causing this issue. If necessary, to clean filter media we highly suggest removing the filter media from the filter and placing into a bucket of “pond water” and gently swish the media back and forth. Do not scrub, or use tap water to clean the filter pads. Again, this will cause a loss in natural bacteria. If you accidentally do clean your filter pads, you can use PL Gel on your filter pads to colonize the bacteria faster. It is known throughout the pond industry to reduce colonization by up to 80%!

To prevent blockages to your biological filters use a pump pre filter or a skimmer which includes a net or debris basket along with its own filter pad. This will prevent large debris from getting to your filter. Vacuuming will pick up debris and muck from the pond floor also preventing clogs. Placing these “pre-filters” as buffers will ensure a shorter, easier cleaning time as well as make certain that your beneficial bacteria are left alone to flourish and protect your water garden.

POND TALK: How have you tackled filtration in your water garden? How often do you find yourself cleaning your filters?

Filter media is a must for healthy ponds!