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Ponds 101

Ponds 101

The Airmax® Ecosystem™

airmax_ecosystem

The old way…

For years, the accepted method of pond management was to wait for a problem, like an algae bloom or excessive aquatic weeds growth and then “react to it” with a chemical application. Although this is effective at providing a quick fix, it does not address the actual problem. In many cases, this reactive approach is catching up with pond owners. Those that have been practicing this form of management are finding it more and more difficult every year to control unwanted weeds and algae. Chemicals are a great tool, but not the complete toolbox.

Why is the old way outdated?

Over the years, each time you applied chemicals, weeds and algae were killed off and left to rot on the pond’s bottom. This is equivalent to adding fertilizer to your pond. When weeds and algae die, they immediately start to biodegrade. During this process, the dead organic matter is converted into rich organic muck. Although this would be great for a garden, it has a very negative effect on a pond. The nutrients found in this muck greatly contribute to future weed and algae problems.

The NEW way…

There’s a better way to prevent these nutrient buildups from occurring in your pond. We call it PROACTIVE Care involving these tools:

Sub-surface aeration:

By aerating your pond from the bottom up, using Airmax® Aeration Systems, you’ll circulate incredible amounts of water, drastically increasing the dissolved oxygen levels in your water column, which in turn will allow for increased levels of beneficial bacteria to accumulate in your pond.

Bacteria augmentation:

Naturally occurring beneficial bacteria begin to colonize in most mature ponds when water temperatures reach approximately 50 degrees. During early stages of a pond’s life cycle this may be enough to maintain a healthy ecosystem although as a pond gets older, especially when chemical applications are needed, it is necessary to start thinking proactively to subsidize Mother Nature’s efforts.

The PROAVTICE Care solution? Add Pond Logic® PondClear™ and MuckAway™ natural bacteria to radically increase your bacteria count. The billions of PondClear™ specialized microbes will compete for nutrients in your water column while the MuckAway™ sinking pellets send billions of microbes to the bottom of your pond, working quickly to eliminate up to 5” of muck each season, as well as prevent future buildup.

Pond shading:

Excessive sunlight can have a negative effect on water quality. Pond Logic® Pond Dyes will beautify your pond and provide a natural shade while improving water quality.

By exercising PROACTIVE Care (Sub-surface aeration, Bacteria augmentation and Pond shading), you’ll be aggressively addressing the root of the problem – excess nutrients and sunlight. Give PROAVTIVE Care a try…you have nothing to lose- other than nutrients and muck! We GUARANTEE you will be happier with the results!

Treating Your Pond

Many new landowners purchase property with a lake or a pond only to discover it hasn’t been well maintained. Of course, you want to reclaim that overgrown pond and turn it into a useable recreation or livestock watering area, but where do you begin? Treating a pond yourself can look like an overwhelming job but once you break it down to a few simple steps it can be more manageable. Check out these six tips for whipping your pond back into shape.

1. Evaluate the Situation

Your first task is to evaluate the pond itself and record what you find. What is its size, shape and depth? Is there an abundance of weeds? Can you find an aeration system? Are there fish living in the pond? Jot down as many details as you can, because they will be important when deciding what kinds of product to use to regain control of your lake. The more you know, the better.

2. Install Aeration

Next, install an aeration system. Aeration, which circulates oxygen throughout the water column, will go a long way toward improving the health of your pond while you regain control of the habitat and work to maintain it. Plus, your fish and the natural bacteria living in the pond rely on the mechanical water turnover to replenish the oxygen supply and remove harmful gasses like ammonia.

3. Identify Weeds and Treat Them

What weeds are growing in your pond? To help you identify them, check out The Pond Guy® weed control guide. Once you have the plants identified, you can then select the proper chemicals and the right amount to handle the job. Start treating the weeds with a suitable algaecide or herbicide once your aeration system is well established.

4. Rake Out Dead Debris

Yes, it is a tough job, but you will need to rake out and remove dead debris, like fallen leaves, cattails and other decomposing organic materials with a weed cutter and rake, like the Weed Cutter and Pond & Beach Rake. The hard work will pay off in the long run. The more large debris you remove, the less work your muck-destroying beneficial bacteria and aeration system will need to do – and the faster your pond will get into tip-top shape.

5. Continue Maintenance

To keep your pond or lake on the fast track to being clean, clear and usable, you must keep up on the maintenance chores. Remove the years of pond muck buildup with natural bacteria or phosphate binder, like those found in Pond Logic® ClearPAC PLUS pond care package. Continue to remove dead and decomposing debris as your herbicides kill nuisance weeds. Add pond dye for aesthetic appeal and to shade the pond. Now that you have the overgrown pond under control, don’t let it get away from you!

6. Be Patient and Persistent

Despite your efforts, it will take time to reclaim your pond or lake – so be realistic about your expectations. Consider the pond’s age and the amount of debris it has accumulated over the years. If it took a decade or more for the pond to look it way it did, it will take more than one afternoon of hard work to make it pristine again! Be patient and persistent. You’ll have that gorgeous pond in no time.

 

Managing Emergent Weeds

When summer arrives pond owners everywhere are eager to get out and enjoy their ponds. What nobody is looking forward to however, is fighting emergent weeds like cattails and phragmites for control of their shorelines and beaches. Fortunately, there are a few simple tips to keep these emergent weeds in check.

Set Boundaries

Emergents do have a place, they are nature’s solution to providing habitat for wildlife, preventing soil erosion and they make a great visual barrier to add some privacy to your pond. Like most things however, emergent weeds are best in moderation. Set boundaries where you would like to contain emergent weed growth by using landmarks, rocks or other unobtrusive markers. Treat any weeds that try to stray from these boundaries to keep their growth under control.

Treat Unwanted Growth

To maximize the effectiveness of your treatments, wait until there is at least 12”-18” of exposed growth above the water’s surface to apply product. A systemic herbicide like Shoreline Defense® & Treatment Booster™ PLUS will kill the emergent weed down to the root to prevent the plant from re-growing.

Remove Dead Emergents

Wait until treated emergents are brown and wilted to remove them from your pond. Cutting them down too early will prevent your chemical treatment from fully reaching and killing the rhizome (root). Don’t leave dead emergent growth in your pond to decompose. This decomposition turns into nutrient-rich pond muck that fuels new weed growth. Tools like the Weed Cutter & Pond Rake exist to make the process as quick and simple as possible.

Using Pond Dye

Pond dye color is really a matter of personal preference, but different shades are better suited to different situations. Although adding dye to your pond does enhance its visual appeal, it also plays a major part in restricting the amount of sun exposure your pond floor receives.

Using Pond Dye

Pond Dye has no temperature restrictions so we recommend you use pond dye year-round. Pond Logic® Pond Dye is a super concentrated formula that you simply pour in several spots along your pond’s edge. Apply dye approximately every 4-6 weeks or as needed depending on evaporation and rain. One super concentrated quart treats approximately 1 acre 4-6 ft. deep. Easy-to-use Pond Dye Packets are also available and can be tossed into the pond. Pond Dye will be mixed in the water within 24 hours of application.

Choosing a Color

Nature’s Blue™ Pond Dye-is the most widely used of the pond dyes. Nature’s Blue™ Pond Dye works great in ponds that have a manicured and open landscape where the open sky can help reflect the color.

Black DyeMond™ Pond Dye- is growing in popularity and fits very well in natural ponds in wooded areas. It gives the pond a pure, reflective quality that rivals some of Mother Nature’s best work.

Twilight Blue™ Pond Dye– has a neutral blackish-blue tint that shades and protects your pond without making drastic changes to its natural coloring.

Pond Dye & Swimming

All of the pond dyes we carry are food grade, which ensures that they’re safe for recreational use, including swimming. When applied properly in a pond, and permitted to disperse for 24 to 48 hours, dyes pose little to no risk of staining.

Stocking Your Pond

Whether you’re stocking a new pond, replenishing an existing pond or adding to an already-established population, here’s what you need to know about when and how to best do it.

Create Fish Habitat

Provide shelter for your new fish by creating a habitat for the smaller fish to hide, grow and reproduce. Weeds, grasses, felled trees and other debris already in your pond will provide some cover, but a specially designed environment, like Porcupine® Fish Attractor or Fish Attractor Logs, can improve on what’s already there providing a habitat that won’t decompose and is an ideal space for fishing or fish spawning.

When to Stock Your Pond

Spring or fall is the ideal time to stock your pond with fish. Temperatures are mild and oxygen levels are high, so the stress factors affecting your fish will be at their lowest. Once acclimated to your pond, they’ll be primed to flourish. Fish can be added in the summer, but they’ll need a little more time to adjust.

Selecting Fish To Stock

Keeping a healthy underwater ecosystem means creating a balanced fish population. We advise sticking to a ratio of three prey fish (like sunfish, bluegill or perch) to one predator fish (like bass) when choosing species. Selecting fish of similar size will also help the population grow together. The number of fish you add to your population will ultimately depend on the surface area of your lake or pond. Below is an example for stocking a ¼ acre size pond.

150 2-4” Bluegill
50   3-5” Channel Catfish
50   2-4” Perch
25   3-4” Bass
6 lbs. Fathead Minnows

Acclimating Fish

Acclimating fish to your pond is simple. Place the transportation bag in a shaded area of the pond and let float for 15-20 min. This allows your fish to slowly adjust to water temperatures in your pond. Next open the bag and let the fish swim out on their own. If you are adding fish to a pond where fish are already present, release minnows at one end of the pond to attract larger fish and release the smaller fish at the opposite end so they have a chance to find shelter.

Providing Food

You will want to wait 24 hours before feeding your new fish so they have time to settle. A game fish food, like our Game Fish Grower Fish Food, is a great way to provide the fish with protein and nutrients, boost their immune systems, and grow healthy game fish. Plus, it’s a floating pellet—so you can enjoy watching them as they come to the surface and eat.

 

Pond Side Fertilizers

What’s a beautiful pond without a beautiful yard? Many homeowners fertilize their lawns to get that lush look, but you may be doing more than just reviving your lawn.

WHY FERTILIZING IS A CONCERN

Many fertilizers contain phosphorus, which may be beneficial to lawns, but if it is not fully absorbed heavy rain can carry it down to the pond to fertilize algae.

HOW FERTILIZER AFFECTS YOUR POND

The sight of additional algae on your pond may be enough to make you reconsider, but it doesn’t stop there. Excess growth also results in more use of chemicals for algae control, less oxygen and poor water quality for your fish.

HOW YOU CAN LIMIT OR PREVENT POND DAMAGE

Divert the source: If your pond wasn’t designed specifically to collect storm water then consider raising the burm so water runs away from your pond instead of to it.

Choose wisely: Choosing not to fertilize your lawn is always the best control method but if your lawn is just not satisfying you, use low phosphorous or phosphorus free fertilizer and take care not to over apply. Fertilizers are marked with the analysis of their content by 3 numbers; one for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (abbreviated as N-P-K). Look for fertilizers where the phosphorus, or middle number, is lowest.

Leave a buffer zone: Do not fertilize lawn right at the ponds edge maintain a 25ft setback to limit the amount of fertilizer that reaches your pond.

Following these tips will allow you to keep your lawn looking its best without sacrificing the look and health of your pond in the process.

Swimming in Your Pond

Ponds not only provide home for fish and aesthetic appeal, they also provide a whole other form of entertainment. If your pond isn’t something you would currently consider swimming in a little bit of preparation can get your pond in shape and keep you and your family safe.

EVALUATE WATER QUALITY

  • Remove the muck. There is nothing worse than diving into your pond only to land in a layer of muck. If you have an accumulation of muck around your beach areas or by your dock, use some MuckAway™bacteria tablets to spot treat these troublesome areas. Aeration will also help circulate oxygen through the pond to reduce muck and improve water quality.
  • Avoid irritations. Keeping your pond clean will also help prevent unflattering skin irritations and illnesses. Conditions, like swimmer’s itch, are caused by flatworms larvae typically introduced into your pond by waterfowl. Swimmer’s ear is an irritation of the inner ear that occurs when water gets trapped inside your ear. While these conditions occasionally occur, they are avoidable. Keep the number of ducks and birds that frequent your pond to a minimum by using decoys, and rinse off thoroughly after a nice swim in your pond.
  • Test pond water. If you are worried about the overall quality of your pond water, you can get it tested through your local health department, where they can check for e-coli and other contaminants. There is no reason to feel uncomfortable in your own pond. While regular maintenance typically results in a perfectly swim-able pond, it never hurts to get a second opinion. Regardless, use your bacteria, aerate the pond, and enjoy another great summer at home in your back yard.

DESIGNATE A SWIMMING AREA

  • Mark outline. Designating a swimming area using ropes and buoys will indicate what areas are safe to swim. These areas typically mark shallow water and a flat or gentle sloping pond floor with no quick drop off.
  • Remove hidden hazards. Use bottom materials like sand that maintain water clarity and prevent slipping hazards and remove fallen logs, rocks or other hazards. This will allow swimmers to see what is beneath them and avoid floating debris.
  • Don’t forget the fun. Ponds offer a lot more room than swimming pools so there is more space for inner tubes, rafts, and other water toys, not to mention a beach for sand castles. Goggles may even allow you to see a fish or two join in the fun.

PROMOTE SWIMMING SAFETY

A little common sense can go a long way toward ensuring the safe enjoyment of your pond. Here are a few more basics to keep in mind:

  • Consult with your town office. State and local authorities often draft rules and regulations requiring certain types of fencing or presence of personal flotation devices nearby. Ask them what regulations apply to your water feature. Then follow those regulations to a “T.”
  • Show your respect. No matter how shallow or how small, a pond can pose a risk to a small child, non-swimmers, and pets. Kids are naturally drawn toward water and a backyard pond is downright irresistible. Keep a watchful eye out for their wellbeing and let them know that they’re never to go in or near the water without an adult. As an added precaution, make sure they know how to find, and how to use, safety gear.
  • Maintain safety gear. Keep flotation devices in conspicuous locations within easy reach. Our 20” Life Ring and Mounting Kit is easy to install, and could save a life.
  • Never, ever swim alone. This one requires no explanation. Just don’t do it.

So check with the local authorities. Follow the rules. Use common sense. And above all else, enjoy. With a few simple precautions, your pond will give you and your family years of safe satisfaction.

Water Testing

You may have heard other pond owners talk about testing pond water. This seems normal for pools or drinking water, but do you really need to test the water in your pond?

WHY TEST YOUR WATER

Water tests are an additional tool you can use to create a profile of what is really happening in your pond or lake. Performing water tests will help pinpoint your pond problems so you can find the best solution or prevent large issues in the future. Though most large water bodies are stable, if you are experiencing extra weed or algae growth or are concerned about swimming, there are analysis tests that can be performed to put your mind at ease.

WATER TESTS YOU CAN UNDERTAKE

With the help of a DIY Test kit most water quality parameters are easy to test on your own. To use these kits, simply collect a water sample and add an indicator dye or test strip to test the water. Results can then be compared with a color card.

  • pH- Ideally between 6.5 and 8.5. A reading outside this range may indicate an environmental factor such as to much limestone or high concentration of pine needles in the pond.
  • Temperature- Indicates when to start or stop fish feeding and application of chemicals or natural bacteria.
  • Nitrites, Nitrate & Phosphorous- Key elements in excessive algae growth and may be stemming from the use of lawn fertilizers or excess muck accumulation.
  • Carbonate Hardness-May need to be done prior to treating with copper based algaecides and herbicides if you have sensitive fish like Trout, Koi or Goldfish.

WATER TESTS THAT REQUIRE ASSISTANCE

These tests cannot be completed with simple test strips and will require some assistance from an experienced water tester or your local health department.

  • Dissolved Oxygen– Measures your pond’s ability to sustain aquatic life. This test is done onsite but may require assistance due to the equipment required for testing.
  • Coli– A disease causing microorganism generally caused from waste water runoff or waste produced by visiting waterfowl. If this is a concern contact your local health department for instructions on collecting and submitting water samples for analysis. Generally results are available within 1-2 days.

While regular monitoring is encouraged, there is generally no need to test your pond water daily. Most waterbodies, if properly maintained, will fall within the correct parameters on their own.

How to Make an Ice Rink on Your Pond

One of the joys of having a pond on your property is being able to create a winter-sports wonderland. Whether you’re an ice skater or a hockey player, it’s sure nice to simply walk out to your ice rink, slip on your skates and play. But before you groom your pond for ice sports, it’s important to understand how to safely create a sturdy ice sheet and what red flags to look for while the ice is forming.

CREATE GOOD ICE

Since your goal is to create an ice rink, you’ll need to grow a sheet of ice that’s thick, solid, strong and dense. Water movement affects the integrity of the forming ice. Just a little bit of movement on the water surface can create uneven, porous ice that’s not suitable for walking or skating. So it’s important to turn off and remove your water-moving Aeration System from the lake before the ice starts to build on your lake’s surface.

CHECK THE ICE

Look for weak points: As the ice is forming, keep an eye on it. Do you see any weak or soft spots? Are there any areas with pooling water, cracks, breaks or holes? Ice is generally strongest where it is hard and blue or clear.

Follow safety protocols: Tell someone where you’re going, dress accordingly, wear a floatation device, carry a change of clothing and an emergency kit in a waterproof bag. When inspecting the ice, remember this rhyme: “Thick and blue, tried and true; thin and crispy, way too risky.”

Check ice thickness: Use an ice chisel, an ice auger or a cordless drill to carve a hole in the ice and check on what’s happening below the surface. Once you have made a hole in the ice, measure its thickness with a tape measure. Put the tape measure into the hole and hook the bottom edge of the ice before taking a reading.

  • 3 inches or less:Not safe, so stay off the ice.
  • 4 inches:Suitable for ice fishing, cross-country skiing and walking (about 200 pounds).
  • 5 inches:Safe for a snowmobile or ATV (about 800 pounds).
  • 8 to 12 inches:OK for a car or group of people (about 1,500 to 2,000 pounds).
  • 12 to 15 inches:Suitable for a light pickup truck or a van.

CREAT A SMOOTH SURFACE

Now that you have identified the perfect spot for your rink, it’s time to prep the surface. First, check the weather to make sure below-freezing temperatures are forecasted for the next five nights. Then, gather some gear, including a flat-head shovel, a pickaxe or hatchet, and a bucket or garden hose, head out to the rink site and get to work:

  1. Stake out your skating area.A 50-foot by 100-foot rink is plenty of space to start with, particularly on a smaller pond. The area can be expanded as needed.
  2. Shovel the entire surface.Next, using your flat nose shovel, push the snow from side to side in the middle of the ice, and then from the middle out to the ends.
  3. Strategically pile up the snow.Create seating areas, hockey goals and some backstops at either end of the rink.
  4. Access some water.You’ll need water to pour onto the surface of your rink, so break through the ice with your hatchet or pick axe to create an opening large enough for a bucket or garden hose. Build a ring of snow around the hole for future reference.
  5. Ice the surface.Fill your bucket with pond water and pour it onto the exposed ice sheet. If you’re using a hose, siphon the water and distribute it evenly on the surface. Repeat until you’ve evenly covered the area with water.
  6. Freeze and repeat. Let the pond ice freeze overnight. Return to the pond the next day and repeat the process for five nights.

Before long, you’ll have a smooth, solid ice rink that’ll provide hours of fun for you and your friends.

SKATE AWAY!

Now that you’ve learned how to grow good ice rink ice, how to set up and create a winter wonderland, and how to maintain the rink all season long, it’s time to get busy making a rink of your own. Be safe, and enjoy your very own icy paradise!