Should you run the pump or not this winter? We typically recommend shutting down the pump over the winter months sometime in late December, early January and restarting it in mid March to April. Although some customers enjoy running their pumps year round and get very cool ice sculptures from it, there are some concerns. The first is the chance of ice dams forming in the waterfall & creek. This can cause a water to leak from the pond and cause a significant water level drop. No one enjoys going out to try to refill the pond on a cold winter day when all the spigots are winterized. The second is the chilling effect on the fish. The fish are in the warmer bottom section of the pond and the pump circulation is reducing the water temperature for the fish.
When you turn off the pump, you should remove any check valve in the pond plumbing to release the water from the waterfall box and pond plumbing. Remove and thoroughly clean the pump and store in a frost free aera over the winter.
Your pond looks great and one morning you wake up and it looks like a neighbor kid put laundry soap in your pond. What happened? Well, there is several reasons for the foam, but rarely and gratefully, it typically has nothing to do with the neighbor kid! The foam is due to extra protein in the water. Here are some common reasons for the foam on the pond.
1. Your fish may be spawning. During spawning, the females will lay eggs into the water while the male will fertilize them. All this reproductive activity may cause a temporary foaming and very active fish.
2. You are overfeeding your fish.
3. You have too many fish.
4. You have lots of organic debris and fish waste in the pond.
To eliminate the pond foam, you can use a pond defoamer. These products are safe for the pond, but it is only a temporary solution. Try to take care of the cause of the extra protein in the pond. You can back down or eliminate your fish feedings, reduce your fish population, or clean out the organic debris.
Algae growth which turns the water green or tan and can severely limit water clarity should not be a problem due to our pond system design. After your pond is first installed, or anytime you need to walk in your pond, it is normal to stir up some silt, and have poor water clarity. We are, after all, building a water garden, and are not seeking the artificial environment of a swimming pool. If you do experience some green water and can no longer see the fish, do not be alarmed. It can be common for new ponds less than 2 years old to have spells of green water as the pond finds a balance and becomes a living pond.
Remember, if you had just purchased cows and placed them in a fenced in parking lot, they would not be happy. Luckily for us, when we place fish in a new rubber liner pond, mother nature helps us out by providing algae to make the environment a good place for fish. Tinted water is not bad for the fish, it simply means there are more pond nutrients, such as fish water, than the pond plants can use up. If your pond is planted and stocked appropriately, green water will normally clear all by itself. We typically do not recommend chemicals to clear the water, unless you absolutely need a quick result, say in time for that party. Remember when you use an algaecide to treat green water, you are killing the algae and allowing it to become more nutrients to grow more algae– Break the cycle by ensuring lots of plants! Consult with us about your green water and we will make recommendations. Some possible solutions include the addition of pond plants planted up in such a way that they use up the extra nutrients within the pond. The most common way to cure green water is to shield the water from the sun with lily leaves, adding more filter plants, and beneficial bacteria. Other causes of green water include over-feeding of the fish, inadequate filtration, recent rains bringing in new nutrients, or too many fish for the pond.
UV clarifiers or sterilizers will zap green water and serve a important place in the pond where the homeowner is not patient. During the spring, when the fish have woke up and are producing waste and the plants have not yet had a chance to grow, the pond water will take on a green tinge. However, with some patience and a well planted pond, UV lights are typically not needed. They only cure green single celled algae and do not affect the more common string algae. Up in a future blog- String algae.
As the temperatures spike to 95 this week, we often get questions about potential pond leaks.
If you have a skimming pump chamber, the water level should be kept at the second to the top screw head on the skimmer faceplate so the pump does not empty out the skimmer filter faster than replacement water enters through the skimmer filter opening. Below is a picture of a skimmer with the ideal water level marked in red.
It is normal to lose 2-3″ of water in a week from evaporation.
Garden ponds from 500 to 2500 gallons and larger usually only require small weekly watering. Refill water is less than normally required to nourish regular lawn grasses. If you feel your evaporation is unusually high, make sure you do not have any waterfall or stream leaks from someone stepping too hard on the edge of the liner and creating a trickle water loss. Also check your waterfall box to ensure plant growth has not blocked the flow of the water.
When evaluating a water leak, use the skimmer faceplate to determine actual water loss. Again it is normal to have to put the hose in the pond once a week to refill for evaporation. There are automatic water fills available if you prefer not to do this weekly refill.
If you pond water loss seems above the 2–3″ water loss in a week, you may have a pond leak. Any pond is subject to losing water from small leaks around the water falls and stream. Such leaks are unlikely, but are easily fixed. As you plant the area around your pond, and especially around your falls and stream, be careful not to step directly with all your weight, onto the edge of the liner. If the liner along the water’s edge is lower than the water level, water can trickle out and lower the overall pond level fairly quickly. One way to find this during dry weather, is too look or feel for wet ground or mulch around the pond or falls edges. If you find a wet spot, and confirm a low liner level, it is very easy to simply raise the liner edge slightly with dirt, pebbles or a small rock. The liner can be again hidden from view by re-covering with mulch or another rock. Most leaks occur around the falls and stream, and one way to narrow your search is to shut off the pump, and see if the water level stays high. If the water level only drops when the water falls is running, you can be pretty sure the leak is limited to around the water falls or stream. Sometimes children or dogs playing around the falls will depress the liner, creating a temporary leak. If you’re too busy to locate the leak, it is OK to shut down the pump for a while (unless it is warm and you have big fish), until you can reposition the low liner. Also check the waterfall box since plants in the box can dam up the waterfall and divert the water out of the back of the box. This is easily remedied by thinning the plants in the box.
Until next time,
We have been receiving calls regarding pond care in this extreme heat. It is of upmost importance to keep those pumps running. When the water temperatures are high, the water cannot hold as much oxygen. You can utilize water lilies and water hyacinths to help shade the pond from the sun. The submerged plants like anacharis which are beneficial can become a double edge sword. While this plants make oxygen during daylight hours, they reverse this process at night and take up oxygen. Because the water cannot hold as much oxygen, the oxygen levels may drop dangerously low overnight. We will also refrain from using algaecides during the high temperatures. Having a secondary back up pump or an aeration pump is ideal when pumps fail. A severe sign of low oxygen in the pond is the fish gulping at the surface as though they are hungry. At this point you must quickly establish more circulation/aeration in the pond.
Of course, you have covered the pond, completed filter cleaning, brought in any tropical marginals, trimmed the plants, started feeding the spring/autumn food, have Autumn Winter prep, and a method of creating an ice opening this winter. ( OK- if you haven’t you still have a bit more time) BUT, should you run the pump or not this winter? We typically recommend shutting down the pump over the winter months sometime in late December, early January and restarting it in mid March to April. Although some customers enjoy running their pumps year round and get very cool ice sculptures from it, there are some concerns. The first is the chance of ice dams forming in the waterfall & creek. This can cause a water to leak from the pond and cause a significant water level drop. No one enjoys going out to try to refill the pond on a cold winter day when all the spigots are winterized. The second is the chilling effect on the fish. The fish are in the warmer bottom section of the pond and the pump circulation is reducing the water temperature for the fish.
It is not uncommon to hear customers worry about pond leaks. There are steps that you can take to help find the source of the leak. The internet tells pond owners to add milk to the pond . . .please don’t believe everything you read on the internet! We have yet to determine a leak with the help of milk:o).
First, fill the pond up to the ideal level. If you have a skimmer, this is typically the second from the top screwhead on the skimmer faceplate. Turn off all pumps and fountains. Do you still lose water? How much in what time period?
Refill the pond up again to the ideal level with one pump running? Continue to do this with each pump.
If the pond only loses water with the pumps on, you can start looking for depressed liners in the pond creek and waterfall areas. Check your biological waterfall box, if you have one. They will sometimes overgrow with aquatic plants and dam up the front of the box causing water to spill out the back of the box. Once the obvious is checked, you can check tubing. Spiral tubing tends to crack between the ribs causing leaks.
If the pond leaks even with the pumps off, you need to consider a damaged liner. Check for vermin damage, sharp object damage, and box connections. Liner can be patched using a liner patch kit.
It is common for ponds to lose 2-4 inches of water a week due to evaporation. You can replace this by using a hose or by use of a pond water autofill.
Yes, it is that time again. . . .spring green algae time. What should you do? The pond fish are waking up from their winter rest and the plants are just starting to grow. Because there are often more nutrients in the water than the plants are using, it is common to have green tinged water. The quick fix for green algae is to use a “safe for plants & fish” algaecide like Algaefix or Green Clean along with a beneficial bacteria. Typically you will see results within 24-48 hours. It is important to use this as a quick fix and make sure that your pond is properly planted. You may also utilize a UV sterilizer. These UV lights “zap” the green single celled algaes, but has no effect on string algaes. Again, it is important to remember to plant your pond properly utilizing plants as filters. Properly planting a pond will help keep your pond water clear and healthy.