Home | Ponds and Water Gardens | problem solving

Category Archives: problem solving

Feed Subscription

Backyard Ponds: A Quick Springtime Maintenance And Care Guide

Spring Pond Care

Garden PondSpring is finally here in the northeast, and it is time to give your pond some attention after a long cold winter.  Here is a quick to-do list to help you make sure that your pond is in good shape, and will give you a summer of trouble free enjoyment.

Inspect Your Pond

Freezing, thawing, heavy snow (and pets and kids) can cause rocks and landscape to shift.  Check the perimeter of your pond for any changes to your pond boundary, looking for any potential hazards or areas that may have weakened that could cause a leak.  This is especially important if your pond has a stream or waterfall.

Prepare Your Equipment

Whether you bring your equipment inside, or leave it outdoors, make sure that you look over all your plumbing and filter equipment.  Check for cracks or other damage, worn parts, pull everything apart and make sure that nothing is hiding inside your pumps or filters that could cause a problem on start-up, replace Filter Media as necessary.  Inspect your nets and maintenance equipment, so that everything is ready when you need it.

If your pond includes an Ultraviolet Sterilizer or Clarifier, check the quarts sleeve, make sure it is in good shape and clean.  Make sure that all the seals are in good shape, so there are no leaks.  Replace your U.V. Sterilizer Bulb.  Even if your U.V. is still functional, it may not be producing quality good light.  Bulbs degrade over time, light spectrums shift, and efficiency is reduced.  Replacing your U.V. bulb every spring will ensure that it is working at peak performance when the hot weather comes, and your need it most.

Clean Out The Mess

Evaluate how much cleaning really needs to be done, Don’t overdo it!  Especially if you have fish, you don’t want to do too much, it will completely disrupt the biological system in your pond.  In most cases netting out as much debris as possible, cleaning out the filters and stirring up and pumping out some of the dirty water is all that is needed.  If there is a considerable amount of debris, and the water is dark and organic laden, more extreme cleaning may be warranted.  In these cases it is advisable to use a kiddie pool, or some other safe container to temporarily house your fish during cleaning.   Pump water from your pond into the pool, and then transfer the fish once the water level is low enough to easily catch them.  Drain the pond as much as needed (completely drain id needed), and use a hose to wash the pond from the top down, pumping the dirty waste out with a submersible pump and large diameter Flexible Tubing.

pond lillyThis is a good time to do some maintenance on your pond plants if you have any.  Trim off any remaining dead or damaged foliage, evaluate whether you need to split or move anything to a larger pot, it is much easier to do this now with a lower water level.  Using a 5 gallon bucket will make it much easier to gather plant debris or potting material.

Refill the pond and use a conditioner if you are using a chlorinated water source.  Make sure that you slowly acclimate your fish back into your pond if you did a very large or complete water change.  Do this by adding some of the new pond water to the pool that has your fish, and putting some of the water from the pool back into the pond.  Do this slowly over a period of time until the pool water has been completely mixed with the new pond water, do this slowly, especially if there is a big temperature difference.  Once acclimated, put your fish back into pond.


Spring Pond Treatments

There are a few things that you can do for your pond during your spring start-up to ensure that your ponds biological system gets a good start.  Use of biological supplements like Microbe Lift Sludge Away, will help to break down organic waste and muck that has accumulated in your pond over the winter, and get your pond headed in the right direction.  Using a live nitrifying bacteria like Microbe-Lift PL will help re-establish your biological filter, this is especially beneficial if you have completely shut down your pond for the winter and stored your filter indoors.

This is also a good time to start Barley Straw Treatments for algae control, these take time to establish, so adding them now will make sure they are active for warmer weather.


Spring Fish Care

You need to be careful with your fish as they become active in the spring.  Your fishes metabolism is controlled by the water temperature, and you should not feed your fish until water temperatures have stabilized above 40 degrees, your fish will have trouble digesting food in cold temperatures.  Use a Spring and Fall Formula fish food that is easily digested until your ponds temperatures have stabilized above 60 degrees.


Hopefully this will get your pond headed in the right direction, and all you have to do this summer is sit back and enjoy!

Until next blog.




Algae Control in Ponds and Water Gardens

Free Floating AlgaeWhat fun is a pond with pea-green water or masses of stringy gunk growing from every submerged surface? You work so hard to keep your pond clean, clear and looking good, but even with the best efforts, algae can appear in a flash, a stringy, slimy eyesore, mucking up the view. Most algae outbreaks can be quelled by addressing water chemistry (nutrient) issues or finding a way to control the amount of light that penetrates the water’s surface.

Getting to the proverbial root of the problem is the best solution, but there are also numerous algae control products on today’s market to help you rid your pond of that unsightly green invader, at least temporarily. While we generally recommend algaecides as a last resort, when you reach that point it’s important to use them correctly to ensure the safety of fish, plants and other inhabitants of your pond.


Getting to the Root of the Problem

Algae blooms are generally the result of either too much sun exposure or too many nutrients available in the water for the algae to feed on. If your pond is exposed to full sun for the majority of the day or when it is strongest, alga take advantage. You can provide shade using floating and marginal plants which provide cover for fish and other pond inhabitants, as well as aiding in nutrient control. Desirable flora like floating lettuce, hyacinth and duckweed will compete for dissolved nutrients and provide the shade you need while also serving as a food source and shelter for fry that may be produced by koi and goldfish. Read More »

Muck Monsters – Weird Creatures in Your Pond

GammarusIt’s that time of year again…time to slip on the rubber boots or waders to clean out the muck accumulated in the bottom of your pond. Though it’s always nice to see our finned friends coming back to the surface to see us after a long Winter, there are also many things we can encounter in the pond that most of us would rather be left unseen. I’m talking about the nasty, writhing, wiggling creatures that take refuge in the muck and dormant filtration. While there are thousands of microscopic creatures in a pond that you will probably never have the opportunity to see, it’s the worms and larvae that you can see with the naked eye that can cause panic or alarm if you don’t know what you’re looking at.  I’d like to take this opportunity to talk to you about a few of the common critters you may find in your pond to hopefully save you some worries in the coming weeks. Read More »

Pond Algaecides – Usage and Precautions

Hey guys, Justin here! Its about that time of year when your pond may be turning into something resembling large vat of pea soup. The water turns green, the liner turns green, and thick green strings of algae grow on everything! It’s painful to see, because you work so hard on your pond to keep it nice, clean, and clear. Though I recommend using algaecides only as a last resort, it is very important to ensure that you are using them correctly if you choose to go that route.
The first thing to know when treating your pond is the size of you pond in gallons. This is imperative, as over dosing algaecides can kill ornamental plants, frogs, snails, and even fish. Under dosing, while not harmful, is wasteful and will obviousle make the product less effective in combatting the algae. If you are not sure of how many gallons your pond holds, there are many formulas to help you determine the volume. Rectangular ponds use the formula Length x Width x Average Depth x 7.5,  Circlular ponds Width x Depth x 70.5. Make sure that all of your measurements are in feet. Oddly shaped or angular ponds may be a little tricky, but generally you want to calculate using the surface area x the average depth. Once you have the volume of your pond calculated, simply follow the directions based on the manufacturers suggested doses.
Once you have added the algaecide to the pond, it is important to remember the last half of algaecide is “cide”. This means that algae will in fact die, and those of us that have kept ponds and aquariums know that dead organisms left in water start to break down. As the dead algae is being broken down by bacteria in the water, Ammonia and CO2 will be released into the water. Ammonia is very toxic to fish even at low levels. It is important to add bacterial additives to your water in conjunction with algaecides. The additional bacterial additives will convert the excess Ammonia to less toxic nitrite, then again into nitrate.
As the bacteria are breakdown the dead algae, they also release CO2. As the CO2 is released, it will actually force the available oxygen out of the water. When treating your pond with an algaecide, it is very important to have adequate aeration and surface agitation to supply your fish with vital oxygen. This is especially important during the warmer water months, as warmer water tends to hold less oxygen than cooler water. CO2 build-up in conjunction with the demize of oxygen contributing (and unsightly) algae, will cause an instant drop in available dissolved oxygen! Be aware of treating in the evening, too. Oxygenating plants will not produce as much oxygen in the evening and through the night. Even if you have bunches of oxygenating plants in the pond besides the algae, fish may still suffocate if the pond is treated late in the day. It is best to treat early in the day when you are able to observe how your animals are responding and take steps if necessary to add more aeration. (Low oxygen levels may cause fish to become sluggish, listless, or cause them to gasp at the surface or congregate at a fountain head or waterfall where more oxygen is available.)
Remove dead and decaying algae as much as possible, before it begins to cause other problems. Once the algaecide has run its course, it is recommended that you do a water change to remove the remaining algaecide and free floating algar, and vacuum the pond bottom to remove the debris. There are also a variety of “sludge removers” to help breakdown the remaining debris before problems begin.
Following these simple steps and precautions will ensure that your pond remains clean and clear and help you to avoid any algaecide caused fatalities (except the nasty green invader). Good Luck and happy pond keeping!