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I’ve heard a lot about snapping turtles. Are they good for a pond or should just remove them? – Ponds & Lakes Q & A

I’ve heard a lot about snapping turtles. Are they good for a pond or should just remove them?

I’ve heard a lot about snapping turtles. Are they good for a pond or should just remove them? George – Duck, NC

Ponds tend to attract all types of creatures to your yard, some more desirable than others. With their large claws and strong jaws, snapping turtles may make the list of animals you don’t want in your pond. It all really boils down to why you dug your pond in the first place and how you spend your time enjoying it.

The snapping turtle is the largest turtle in the United States, living 30 years on average, their shells growing to around 15 inches, and normally reaching weights of 10 to 35 pounds. The largest common snapping turtle on record being nearly 20 inches long and weighing 86 pounds. It is believed some species of snapping turtles can live up to 150 years with some reports of snappers have been found with musket rounds lodged inside them from the American Civil War.

Snapping turtles tend to inhabit the shallow areas of your pond and will feed off of both plants and animals limited only to what they can fit in their mouths. If you have prized fish or encourage Geese and Ducks to raise hatchlings in your pond you may find snapping turtles to be a major inconvenience. These turtles rarely surface in the pond to bask in the sun and instead are commonly found buried at the bottom of the pond with only their head exposed. Because they are too big to actually hide inside their shell the snapping turtle relies on his sharp beak-like mouth for protection. Their neck is extremely flexible and is able to reach over their shells to protect their hind legs and tail. While their size and power may be intimidating they are not usually aggressive in the water. Rather than attack and bite potential threats they prefer to swim away and hide. That being said, there is no guarantee that you won’t accidentally provoke one of these snappers. If you swim in your pond you may not want to keep the snappers around.

If you have a natural pond and have no intentions of swimming or any special attachment to particular fish or frogs in the water there is no reason why these turtles can’t be a part of the scenery. They can help balance fish populations and are absolutely amazing to look at if you can spot a large one moving around your pond. If you decide that they need to find a new home you can remove them by installing a Turtle Trap. You can bait the trap with fish or meat from your home and place the trap in the shallow areas of your pond. You don’t want the turtle to drown so keep the top of the cage exposed and out of the water. When you catch a turtle be sure to use thick working gloves to protect your hands from potential bites or scratches. Pull the cage from the pond and transport the turtle to another location. As they are known to travel far distances over land you will want to relocate them a few miles away from your pond or they may find their way back. Never try to catch snapping turtles using hooks as they tend to swallow food whole. If they ingest a hook you will be unable to remove it and possibly injure the turtle.

POND TALK: Did you find snapping turtles in your pond? Do you love them or hate them and why?

Keep those fish safe from predators!

I didn’t have fish in my pond before but they are there now. How did they get there? – Pond & Lake Q & A

I didn’t have fish in my pond before but they are there now. How did they get there?

I didn’t have fish in my pond before but they are there now. How did they get there? Brenda – Golddust, TN

Where Did YOU Come From?

In states everywhere people are being shocked and amazed by the random appearance of fish in their ponds. These fish were not added by the owners of the pond but there they swim none-the-less, almost mockingly. What is this strange magic?! Is this some form of prank?! Perhaps it is the work of alien beings?! What is going on?

Unfortunately, I can not weave a tail of some sort of intricate conspiracy against pond owners across the nation. The far less captivating reason is that, by some sort of mistake, either you or Mother Nature, have unwittingly moved these fish into their new home. Fish can be introduced into new ponds in quite a few ways. Eggs or fry can be carried in on the feet or mouths of water foul and other animals, or can be clinging onto some aquatic plants you decided to add to your pond. Sometimes flooding can wash fish from nearby ponds, lakes, and streams into your pond. While you can try to prevent any fish from making it into your pond, it is pretty much inevitable that over time, they will find a way to make your pond a place of their own. It is not all bad news though, having a balanced fish population actually contributes to a healthy ecosystem and can actually provide you with a form of entertainment whether it be fishing, feeding, or just watching them from the shore.

Not sure if you have fish? Try baiting a hook and doing a little bit of fishing. Odds are if there are some fish in the pond at least one or two of them will bite. If you are not into the fishing scene you can try to place a Fish Trap in the pond with some bait and see what you pull up. You may get lucky and coax them up to the shore just by throwing some bread or Fish Food into the water. Keeping track of the size, number and types of fish you pull out of the pond will give you an idea of what type of fish population you will be dealing with later on down the road. If you notice you are only pulling out prey fish like Bluegill, you will eventually have an over abundance of little fish swimming around the pond in the seasons to come. To keep things balanced you would want to introduce a few predator fish like Bass to the pond. On the other hand, if you notice that you have a lot of small Bass in the pond, they may need a little more help with finding food. Stocking some Minnows, Bluegill, or feeding them fish food will help them grow to a more appealing size. You can read more tips on adding fish by reading our Pond Stocking Blog.

You can also find some helpful information on the pros and cons of feeding your fish with fish food or properly stocking the pond to let them feed themselves here.

POND TALK: What types of fish naturally found their way into your pond? Did you ever find out how they got there?

Grow your fish fast!

Do fish drink? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

 Do fish drink?

Do fish drink? Kristie – Doglap, MS

You would think that your koi need a drink of water like the desert needs another grain of sand but just like us; they too need a little refreshment from time to time. Koi utilize water to maintain proper body functions the same as us but they just do it a little bit differently.

Koi don’t per say “drink” like we do. If we want a glass of water, we pour water in a glass and drink away through our mouths. Koi on the other hand absorb water through their gills and body in a process called osmosis. Osmosis is defined by dictionary.com as “the tendency of a fluid, usually water, to pass through a semipermeable membrane into a solution where the solvent concentration is higher, thus equalizing the concentrations of materials on either side of the membrane.“ In other words, koi have larger concentrations of water that contain salt in their body than does the surrounding water garden. Through osmosis water is constantly passing through koi’s semipermeable skin into their body to equalize these concentrations. Since water is constantly absorbing into their bodies they have to immediately excrete this water to prevent them from bursting. During the course of a day, they can excrete up to 10 times their weight.

Feed your fish with the best!

Can Koi and Goldfish Breed? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can Koi and Goldfish Breed?

Can Koi and Goldfish Breed? Sheldon – Huntington, KY

Would That Make It A Koldfish?

Your fish have finally spawned and after what seems like eons of waiting they are starting to grow into full grown Koi…or Goldfish…or…what are they? Your newcomers seem to have unique new patterns and colors that are difference than their alleged parents, is it possible your Koi and Goldfish have crossbred?

While it is possible to crossbreed the two types of fish, it is fairly uncommon for the process to naturally occur in your pond. The outcome of such instances yields sterile offspring that are unable to reproduce. It is much more common to produce new colors and varieties of fish due to two different types of goldfish reproducing. While some pond owners are curious about the potential to crossbreed their fish, many more would be happy to just experience the spawning process even once in their back yard water garden regardless of the results. If it has not happened for you yet, make sure you are providing adequate habitat in the form of submerged plants so if your Koi do spawn the eggs and fry will have places to attach and hide to avoid becoming an easy meal (yes Koi will eat their own young). Furthermore, maintain a healthy water feature by providing adequate filtration, aeration, and beneficial bacteria. Using the products in a Pond Logic® DefensePAC® will give you a wide assortment of products that simplify your pond maintenance and promote a clean healthy environment. Click over to our Koi Spawning Blog for a little more insight on the matter.

Pond Talk: Have you ever experienced this phenomenon?

Water Hyacinth

My Fish Are Nibbling At My Toes When I Swim. Why Is This Happening And How Can I Stop It? – Pond & Lake Q & A

My Fish Are Nibbling At My Toes When I Swim. Why Is This Happening And How Can I Stop It?

My Fish Are Nibbling At My Toes When I Swim. Why Is This Happening And How Can I Stop It? Holly – Wiggins, CO

…Or We’ll Feed Ya To Da Fishes

While we love hand feeding our fish from time to time, nothing ruins your day faster than taking a dip in your cool refreshing pond water only to be reduced to an overgrown chew toy. No one wants to swim in a pond where they feel they may be next one the menu, so how do you stop your touchy feely finned friends from taste testing you and your friends?

It is common to have the smaller prey fish in your pond try to make a quick meal out of your fingers and toes than their larger predator counterparts. It is a sign that your pond may be imbalanced, creating a shortage of food for your smaller fish. They are simply trying to find a snack wherever possible and that includes your precious phalanges. Keep tabs on your fish population to make sure you have a balanced ratio of 3 prey fish to every predator. If you have an abundance of smaller fish in the pond you may want to introduce some minnows into the water to give them a quick and easy meal that can be replenished over time. If your pond does have an unbalanced population, investigate why this may be. Make sure you have adequate habitat in the pond for your small fish to hide and mature and if you feel your fish are having trouble finding enough food consider manually feeding them using a quality fish food like Game Fish Grower Fish Food. If you are not quite sure what or how to feed your fish read our Fish Food Blog. Also for some great tips on adding habitat to your pond click over to our Creating Habitat Blog.

Pond Talk: Do your fish nibble at you when you swim in your pond?

The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower - Fish Food

Do I really need to feed my fish? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Do I really need to feed my fish?

Do I really need to feed my fish? Joe – Little Rock, AR

Come And Get It
Those of us pond guys and gals that own large farm ponds have been feeding our fish for ages. Over the years, some of us have pondered, “Do I really have to feed my fish?”

“Fish” Food Versus Fish Food
There are two ways to keep your fish well fed: properly stock your pond or use fish food. We suggest both.

Properly Stocking:
To properly balance your pond, you should stock the water body with 3 prey fish, like Perch or Bluegill, for every 1 predator fish, such as Bass. This will ensure that your predator fish will have a bountiful selection of prey, while still giving the prey fish a sporting chance to mature and reproduce. If you stock too many prey fish, you will experience a very small number of big predators and a ton of tiny pan prey fish. If you stock too many predators, you will end up with very small predators and only a few big prey. When your pond is properly stocked, your fish population tends to keep itself in check. We suggest starting out with 300 bluegills and 100 bass per acre. You can add some feeder minnows into the pond to provide a nice snack that will be able to replenish itself. However, it is not uncommon for the fish in your pond to make short work of the feeder minnows you add to the pond.

Fish Food Pellets:
So you feel your fish should have a little more selection than their regular diet of … well … each other? You can control what your fish are eating by feeding them quality fish food like Game Fish Grower. Foods that are high in protein and low in filler promote rapid fish growth and optimum overall size. Pellet feeding also provides an opportunity to turn feeding your fish into an opportunity to have some fun. Pellet training your fish takes some patience and persistence, and while it can be trying at times, it is truly enjoyable once you get it right. Try to establish a daily routine feeding time and place so your fish will begin to expect your pond side presence. Start by throwing some pellets in the water from a distance, waiting for the fish to venture to the water surface to take the food. Repeat this process until your fish willingly greet you at feeding time. As time progresses, you can close the distance between you and the pond’s edge. Avoid making sudden movements, as this will scare the fish and they will be more hesitant to approach you at feeding time. You can then begin placing your hand into the pond with a fist full of food, opening your hand slowly to release the pellets which will float to the surface. You may not have any takers the first few days you try this, but if you are patient, they will eventually figure out where this food is coming from. As they grow more comfortable to your hand being in the pond, they will start eating from it. If you do not have the time or desire to feed your fish by hand, you can place a feeder, like the a directional feeder, at the pond’s edge to release food at programmed intervals.

What’s On The Menu?
While your fish always eat the food you throw in the pond like they haven’t eaten in years, the truth is, if your pond is stocked properly, they really don’t need any outside assistance. On top of having other fish in the pond to eat, they will also eat bugs from the surface of the pond, leaches at the bottom, and basically anything else they can find in the water. Try to catch some of the fish in your pond each season and record how many of each type you are pulling out of the pond while inspecting them for healthy color, weight, and size. Occasionally checking up on your fish will decrease the frequency and severity of population issues, while making your pond an enjoyable addition to your home with fun activities for the entire family.

POND TALK: How often do you feed your fish?

The Pond Guy® Game Fish Grower - Fish Food

Why Are My Fish Hiding? – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Why Are My Fish Hiding?

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: Why are my fish hiding now when they didn’t before? Is something wrong with them? – Rob in California

A: There’s nothing more frustrating than hiding or skittish fish. Part of the joy of having a water garden is to sit by the pond’s edge, feed your fish and relax while you watch them enjoy their underwater world. When they dash off and hide at the site of anything coming near them, or they hole up and never come out, it almost defeats the purpose of having koi or goldfish in your pond! Here are a few reasons why your fish may be hiding.

New Digs

It’s tough to move into a new pond. If you’ve recently added new koi or goldfish to your water garden, you can expect them to be a bit shy or skittish. They need to check out their new home, get used to having new roommates and adjust to a new way of life. The fish already living in the pond could turn tail and hide, too. The new fish could spook the old fish, causing them to retreat to their favorite hole.

If this is the case in your pond, give the fish time to adjust. As soon as they’re used to their new home and used to one another, they’ll eventually come out of hiding. Encourage them to be social by tossing some floating food, like Pond Logic® Floating Ponstix Fish Food, into the pond. That’ll bring them to the surface!

A word of advice: Before adding new fish to your pond, remember to quarantine them for a week or two in a separate tub to be sure they don’t have any parasites or fungal infections that could infect the rest of your population.

Water Changes

Fish can also become skittish and hide after water changes. Any change to their environment – like the water quality, pH level, or oxygen level – can cause them to stress, and when they stress, they may retreat to their favorite hiding spots.

To keep the water quality as even as possible, test your water’s pH, ammonia, nitrite and phosphate levels regularly using a commercial water testing kit. You’ll also want to keep your water well-aerated using a diffuser, like the Water Garden Professional Aeration Kit, to be sure the fish get an ample supply of oxygen. Also, be sure to check your filtration system regularly, cleaning or replacing filter media as needed.

Predators

Imagine looking up and seeing a clawed paw grab for you or a sharp beak slice through the water. Predators, like raccoons and herons, love a good sushi dinner – and that’s how they see your fish! If your pond and its inhabitants have been visited by hungry predators, your fish are hiding for their lives.

To chase off unwanted visitors, you can try a range of deterrents, including motion-activated sprinklers, like the Motion Activated Scarecrow; decoys, like the Great Blue Heron Decoy or 3-D Coyote Decoy; pond netting, like the Atlantic™ Pond Protector Net Kit; or reflective tape hanging from trees. Having 40-60% surface coverage of aquatic plants such as water lilies, water hyacinth or water lettuce will give your fish a place to shelter themselves from predators.

Under the Weather

Stressed or sick fish will also hide. If they’re not feeling well, it’s normal for them to segregate themselves away from the crowds. If you think your fish may be sick, try taking a closer look at it. Using a net, like the 3 in 1 Interchangeable Pond Tool, fish it out and put it in your quarantine tank. After you determine what the problem is, treat the fish and the pond accordingly.

POND TALK: How have you coaxed shy fish out of their hiding places?