FAQs about Pond Maintenance

1. Do I need to fertilize my aquatic plants? How? When?

All aquatic plants, except submerged plants (like Anacharis) should be fertilized with tablet type fertilizers. Submerged plants do not need to be fertilized at all. Water lilies need heavy feeding for optimum foliage and flower production. They are fed according to label instructions, either monthly or if a slow release fertilizer is used once in spring and once in summer. Water lilies are fertilized when the first floating leaves appear in spring. Bog plants are fed when they have started growing actively. Lotuses are given their tablets once the first leaves reach the surface of the water. The tablet is inserted into the soil finger-deep, approximately three inches from the growing points of the plants. After withdrawing the finger that pushed the tablet into the soil, the soil is squeezed around the tablet to prevent it from releasing nutrients into the water.

2. Do I need to feed my fish? How much?

Goldfish that are fed regularly will be more active and visible. If they are not fed, they will be very shy, not coming out into open water very often. They can survive with no additional food, subsisting on algae, insects and other organic matter. Feeding with floating pellet foods keeps the fish coming to the surface and learning when they see people, it means food. Color enhancing foods can be useful in increasing the color intensity of the fish. Pellet foods seem to be easier digested than flake foods for outdoor pond fish.
Feed daily for best health and visibility of fish. Feed what the fish can consume in five minutes or less. Remove any floating food after five minutes to eliminate organic waste from the water. Feed no more than three times per day in spring, summer and fall. Feed when the water temperatures are higher than 55 degrees with regular pellet fish foods. For colder water feeding, use wheat germ foods that are easily digested by the fish. This type of food can be fed when water temperatures are between 45 and 55 degrees.

3. Why is my water green? How Can I Solve the Problem?

Water is usually green because of an overload of organic waste that is not efficiently being removed by beneficial bacteria. Many factors contribute to the inability of the bacteria to take care of excess nutrients. A new pond may not have enough bacteria established to efficiently remove nutrients. Given time, the problem will take care of itself. A high pH prohibits the natural bacteria from growing properly. The pH should be in the range of 6.5 to 7.5 for normal growth of bacteria. High pH often contributes to green water and excessive string algae growth. An overload of organic matter such as fish food, decomposing leaves, pollen and dust can contribute to the abundance of algae. Anything organic turns into fertilizer for algae as it decomposes. Once the bacteria deplete the nutritional value of the organic matter, the water clears up quickly, often overnight.
While there are algaecides, a natural approach using artificially applied bacteria, or simply allowing nature to resolve the green water on her own, is often the most effective, long-term solution. Beneficial bacteria can be obtained from powdered products or from Barley Bales that have a natural strain of bacteria on the stems. An AquaMatÆ provides a massive amount of surface area to grow beneficial bacteria, supplementing the existing biological system.

4. What should I do about the stringy algae in my waterfall and pond?

Filamentous algae (the stringy kind) is a beneficial type of algae that harbors good bacteria necessary for clearing the water. The trouble with this type of algae is it is unsightly when it grows long in the streambeds, waterfalls, and along the sides of the pond. A short layer is good for the pond, but when it grows to two or more inches, it is often considered to be too much. Hand weeding removes the longest parts sufficiently if done every couple of weeks. Installing a barley bale for every 1000 gallons of water, twice a year promotes a type of bacteria that combats the stringy forms of algae.

5. How often do I need to replace my filter media?

Filter media should be replaced when the original shape is flattened or is limp. The loft of the material should be similar to how it was originally. If the material is clogging sooner than it used to, it should be replaced. Most biological filter media last two seasons because it is not washed often enough to harm the material. Pre-filter media that is used for mechanical filtration wears out faster because it is being washed often.

6. Should I use a net over my pond in the fall and winter?

A net installed over the water garden catches debris falling from the trees, like leaves, needles, flower parts seeds and fruit. Any of this organic debris that can be eliminated before it rots, will ultimately keep the water cleaner. Install the netting in early fall and remove it by the spring thaw. Have the net in place during the time leaves are dropping, then remove it soon afterward, takes care of the leaves, and gets rid of the net before the winter comes.

7. What does sea salt do for my water garden?

Natural sea salt is used in the water garden to improve the function of gills and to reduce stress by restoring the slime coating (electrolytes) of the fish. The improved gill function is important during periods of fish illness when the gills are often impaired. Quick salt baths can be helpful in treating external parasites and fungal infections.

8. How do I know how much salt is in my water garden?

Test the water with a Salt Level Test Kit to determine the accurate measure of salt in the water. For ponds with plants, maintain a salt level of 0.1% or 1ppm. Ponds with fish only can be maintained at 0.3% or 3ppm. The high level of salt is deadly to plant life. Note that salt does not evaporate. Once salt is put in the water to the correct level and the water evaporates, only the water evaporates, temporarily elevating the salt level. Once the water level is restored, the salt levels are correct again because the salt has been diluted to the original level.

9. I need to clear my pond in a hurry, how can I settle out the green water?

Clearing the water in a hurry, whether for a party or to enhance mechanical filtration, can be done using a flocculent. It is a liquid that is added to the pond, doing its’ work in a few hours. The material, sold under the name of Accu-Clear, causes suspended particles in the water to stick together. This makes the larger particle heavy, causing it to settle to the bottom of the pond. When using a mechanical filter, these heavier particles can be removed from the water easily. This product should not be used as a substitute for healthy, balanced water.

10. How can I control excess waste that feeds the algae?

Reduce excessive fish food. Over feeding of fish is probably the most common way water turns green. Remove dead or dying foliage from plant in and around the pond that may settle to the bottom of the water. Decomposing plant matter feeds algae, causing green water. Remove dead fish promptly to avoid contaminating water with ammonia. Ammonia breaks down into a form of fertilizer that feeds algae.

11. What can I use to keep algae controlled in a fountain that does not have plants?

There is a polymer-based product called Fountec that is very effective in controlling the formation of algae. This non-staining, non-foaming, non-corrosive product is safe for birds and pets, but CANNOT BE USED WITH FISH. Great for fountains and birdbaths.

12. Can I use a dye to reduce or mask the algae in my water garden?

Controlling algae through the use of dyes or coloring agents is another way to effectively reduce sunlight penetration, which prohibits photosynthesis, thus cutting back on algae growth. This method is often employed in public gardens where the bottom of the pond is not supposed to be seen. We have a customer who uses the black dye to hide trash in the ponds in a public park. The black dye is called Pond Shade and the blue dye is sold as Aquashade-OA.

13. Does bacteria really work in controlling green water?

Bacteria products control green water by organically reducing waste in the water using naturally produced forms of bacteria. When applied according to label directions, the bacteria are very effective in controlling green water. Repeated applications are necessary.

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