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How do I know if my filtration system is adequate for my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Q: How do I know if my filtration system is adequate for my pond?

Q: How do I know if my filtration system is adequate for my pond?

Roger – Grayson, GA

A: Clean, clear water is a must-have in any water feature. It allows you to see those gorgeous koi and goldfish swimming below the surface. It shows that you have excellent water quality, with plenty of oxygen for your pond’s inhabitants—including the microscopic ones, like beneficial bacteria. And it puts off no offensive odors, which means you can host shindigs by your water garden without scaring off your friends.

When your water quality is suffering, your pond is telling you that your filtration isn’t up to par. Here are four clear signs that say you need to kick it up a notch.

  1. Algae Blooms, Clarity Concerns: If you have a filtration system in place but you still have water clarity issues and algae blooms, that’s an obvious indicator that you need an upgrade. When selecting a more powerful filtration system, like our AllClear™ PLUS Pressurized Filters with a built-in ultraviolet clarifier, make sure it’s sized appropriately for your pond and its nutrient load.
  2. Fish Frenzy: If your pond’s resident fish have multiplied and grown over the years, then you’re likely overdue for a more powerful filter system. Most filter systems are marketed for a minimal fish load, so too many fish producing waste will overload the system. Remember: The rule is to allow 1 inch of adult fish per square foot of surface area. If you have too many koi or goldfish in your pond, you should think about finding new homes for some of your finned friends or increasing your filtration.
  3. Toxic Test Results: Test your pond’s water with one of our Pond Master Test Kits to find out what your ammonia, nitrite and phosphate levels are. If you see high ammonia levels or if your fishes’ health has been suffering, the pond lacks proper filtration.
  4. Foamy Falls: Have you seen foam build up at the base of your waterfall or stream? All that frothiness, which is caused by excess protein and oil excreted by fish and other pond dwellers, can be a sign of excessive nutrient levels caused by inadequate filtration. A higher-powered filter system can help remove and dissipate that foam.

If you have a waterfall filter box, you can easily boost your filtration system’s water-cleaning power by adding Matala® Filter Pads. With four different densities—low, medium, high and super high—you can mix and match them to suit your pond’s unique needs.

Pond Talk: What telltale sign told you that it was time to increase your filtration system?

3 Types of Filtration, 1 Powerful Unit - Pond Logic (r) AllClear(t) PLUS Pressurized Filters

Are other fish like my plecostomus as hardy over the winter as my koi? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Are other fish like my plecostomus as hardy over the winter as my koi?

Q: Are other fish like my plecostomus as hardy over the winter as my koi?

Dale – Paoli, PA

A: Last week, we talked about how koi and certain types of goldfish, like Sarassa and Shubunkins, can overwinter in your pond or water garden even when water temperatures dip to near-freezing levels.

But what about other common pond fishes?

Well, it depends on your USDA hardiness zone, which divides the country into zones based on how cold the temperatures get. Just as with plants, some fish species can be “hardy” in some climates and not in others. An Oranda, for instance, might do just fine overwintering in a pond in Orlando, Fla., but up in Fargo, N.D., that same fish would turn into a popsicle—even with an aeration system and de-icer.

When the temperatures begin to fall in colder zones, here’s what you do:

1. Keep a close eye on your pond’s water temperature using a thermometer, like the Pond Logic® Floating Pond Thermometer. When the mercury hits 68 degrees or so, it’s time to bring those less hardy fishes—including Plecostomus, Oranda, Telescope goldfish and Black Moors—inside.

2. Carefully scoop those snowbird fishes out of the pond with a net, like The Pond Guy® 3-in-1 Interchangeable Pond Tool, and place them in a bucket pre-filled with some of your pond’s water.

3. Re-home the fishes in a properly sized indoor fish tank or aquarium outfitted with the right mechanical and biological filtration system for the job. Be sure to condition the water and pre-treat it with some beneficial bacteria to kick start the system’s biological filtration, too.

As soon as sun thaws your pond water—or at least heats it back up to room temperature—it’s safe to return those fishes to their “summer” home.

Pond Talk: What kind of overwintering setup do you have for your less hardy fishes?

Do I have to put fish in my pond? I won’t want them to nibble on my toes when I swim. | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

Do I have to put fish in my pond? I won’t want them to nibble on my toes when I swim.

Q: Do I have to put fish in my pond? I won’t want them to nibble on my toes when I swim.

Scott – Ypsilanti, ND

A: When you’re enjoying a refreshing dip in your pond or lake, that tickling sensation of tiny mouths nibbling at your toes can be a bit, well, unsettling. (Cue the Jaws theme … )

If you swim in your pond or lake and don’t like the tiny sharks mistaking your feet for food, you don’t have to stock it with fish – but they’ll probably wind up there anyway. How? Pond visitors, like birds and other animals, will bring tiny fry and fish eggs with them, depositing them in the water where they grow and multiply.

The trouble (and nibbling!) happens when the population of these uninvited guests explodes out of control. Schools of tiny bluegill with no predator fish, like perch, pike, walleye or salmon, to control their numbers are looking for food – and they see your toes as something tasty to eat.

To maintain a healthy, balanced fish population in your pond, it needs some predator fish. Ideally, there should be a 3-to-1 ratio of prey to predator fish. That will keep those nibblers to a minimum, allowing you to enjoy your swim time in peace.

Keep the prey and predator fish population in your pond thriving, make sure they have safe places to spend their time, like in the Porcupine® Fish Attractor Spheres. The spheres, with their PVC-pipe barbs, provide a safe spawning habitat and a refuge for young fish.

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

Porcupine® Fish Attractors - Create A Healthy Fish Population

How Well Do You Know Your Koi? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

How Well Do You Know Your Koi?

How Well Do You Know Your Koi?

Koi add color and movement to your pond. They’re relaxing to watch. And they’re likely the centerpiece of your water feature. But how much do you really know about your finned friends? Check out these five factoids about koi and impress your fish-keeping pals during your next pond-side shindig.

1. A Long Life Span: Have you heard of Hanako? He’s the fabled koi who lived for 226 years after being supposedly passed down through the generations and was aged by counting rings on his scales. To set the record straight, Hanako has been proven to be an urban myth. Koi typically live 25 to 35 years in a well-maintained fish pond – but that’s still not a bad life span, all things considered!

2. Growth Spurts: Koi, like most other fish, start out as teeny-tiny fingerlings and grow to their genetically determined adult size. But unlike many fish, koi will grow to fit their accommodations – which means they’ll develop into super-sized beasts in the right environment. In their first three to four years of life when housed in an adequately sized pond, a koi will reach about 18 inches long. Throughout its lifetime, it can grow to reach up to 3 feet and more. That’s some big fish!

3. Colorful Gastronomes: The ultimate underwater foodies, koi will eat just about anything, with the exception of meat. Though they love their commercial pelleted diet, like Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food, koi will happily gobble down lettuce, apples, oranges, watermelon, and even tiny shrimp. So why not treat your scaly pals to some healthy fruits and veggies now and then!

4. Feast and Famine: Koi love to eat and will chow whenever food is offered, but these guys can actually go more than 10 days without food during the warmer months – and fast even longer when temperatures drop and they go into their winter torpor, or hibernation, when they pass on meals for months at a time. Of course, if you feed your fish regularly, don’t suddenly stop as doing so can affect their health and happiness.

5. Koi Agility? No, koi unfortunately cannot be trained to jump through hoops like a dolphin or fetch a floating ball like a Labrador, but they can be conditioned to recognize your footsteps and come to the water’s edge for a visit. Simply feed your fish from the same place consistently and, before long, they’ll learn to go there for food and even learn to eat from your hand! Now that’s a cool party trick.

Pond Talk: What other interesting factoids have you heard about koi?

Pond Logic® Growth & Color Fish Food - Optimum Fish Health & Beauty

We’ve had a mild winter so far, does this affect the dormancy of my fish? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

We’ve had a mild winter so far, does this affect the dormancy of my fish?

We’ve had a mild winter so far, does this affect the dormancy of my fish? 

Ivy – Schaumburg, IL

We may be having a mild winter, but a mild winter for humans doesn’t really mean the same for your fish. During the winter months, fish living in outdoor ponds will go “dormant,” slowing down all their systems and responses in order to conserve energy during cold temperatures. Monitoring your pond’s temperature is easy – we recommend this handy Pond Logic® Floating Thermometer.

The signs your fish are ready for dormancy are relatively easy to pick out – colder temperatures will mean less food, to which your fish will react to naturally. Their metabolism and digestion will slow down, as will their movement in general, while they conserve energy. Don’t be alarmed if your fish appear “lazy” or don’t have any appetite – this is all normal. It’s also a good idea to wait until spring, or whenever it is consistently warm, to start feeding your fish again regularly. Do remember that your fish will require a couple days to digest their food and even if they become more active on a warm day you won’t want them returning to a dormant state while still digesting.

However, if Old Man Winter does sneak up on you, don’t wait until the first freeze to make sure your fish have enough oxygen and aeration to keep the water from freezing over. We recommend using these Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration Systems to keep your pond, and your fish, in good stable condition for the winter.

Some people like to leave their aeration system running year ‘round, so feel free to do so as well, we’re sure your fish won’t mind!

My pond isn’t frozen yet, but I can’t see my fish. Are they okay? | Ponds & Lakes Q&A

My pond isn’t frozen yet, but I can’t see my fish. Are they okay?

My pond isn’t frozen yet, but I can’t see my fish. Are they okay?
Stephanie – Harpursville, NY

Fish are survivors. And when the water starts getting cold, they head for deeper waters, where the chilling effects of winter air are less pronounced. Provided there’s adequate aeration, your fish will likely linger at the bottom throughout the colder months. As a result, they’ll be much less visible – but the odds are extremely good they’re doing just fine.

In order to ensure there’s sufficient oxygen for the winter, some people opt to keep their aeration systems active all year ‘round. At the very least, though, it’s important to maintain a vent hole when – or if – your pond ices over. The vent hole allows harmful decomposition gases to escape, allowing fish to winter safely. And because their metabolism slows during the winter months, a properly vented pond will likely have sufficient oxygen to ensure the survival of your fish until springtime.

Fish, it turns out, are extremely resilient. After wintering in the lower reaches of your pond, your fish will gradually return to the upper levels once water temperatures start to rise. In general, it’s probably a good sign when fish become less visible. If they’re struggling, it’s far more likely you’d see them at the edges of your pond. So while you might miss them, your invisible fish are probably doing just fine.

Pond Talk: Have you noticed less fish movement in your pond recently?

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this? | Decorative Pond & Water Garden Q&A

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this?

Most water gardens I see are kidney shaped, is there a reason for this?

Frank – Queens, NY

Just as variety spices up life, interesting shapes give a boost to the appeal of any backyard water garden. Because the kidney shape curves conveniently to form a perfect vantage point – where the entire pond is visible – it’s especially popular. It’s also a simple feature to install, starting with our custom cut Firestone 45 Mil Pond Liner. Using this 45 mil EDPM liner and some careful preparation, you can have your own custom-shaped water feature up and running in no time.

During your planning and preparation, you’ll want to consider the kidney shape, which allows much more than a convenient point to view your water garden. It also adds a touch of style without sacrificing function – while keeping the pond healthy by ensuring a generalized flow of moving water. That flow, of course, is best achieved by the use of pumps, skimmers and filters, which draw water from one end of the water feature to the other.

For maximum circulation – an immediate boost of visual interest – we strongly recommend the installation of a waterfall at one end of your water feature, with a skimmer and pump at the other. With the use of our Atlantic™ Pro Waterfall Filter Falls Box, your waterfall with double as an efficient filter designed to establish and maintain a balanced ecosystem for both fish and plants alike.

Pond Talk: What shape is your water garden?

Waterfall Filter Box