watergarden specialists
WATERGARDEN ARTICLES

You Know You're Addicted to Watergardening When...

  • You have more pictures of your pond than of your children and family.
  • You started out with 1 pump and now have 4 pumps and the flow still isn't good enough.
  • You started out with a small preform tub garden and now have 2 ponds that are still not big enough.
  • You stay up late at night "tweaking" the waterfall even if it means bringing out the portable lamp.
  • You remember the names of your fish but are tongue-tied at family reunions.
  • You repeat in your sleep... It's still not deep enough... it's still not deep enou...
  • You load up the car with rocks from "Up-North" or from scanning the fields, that HAVE to be around the pond.
  • You keep buying pond plants...when there is really no more room in the pond.
  • You saw a "Have to Have" fish while on a garden tour and beg on hands and knees to the homeowner that you cannot and will not leave without i... reminds me of the movie "what about bob"?
  • You rally up all the kids in the neighborhood and have them take an OATH that they will in fact feed the fish a specific amount of food at specific times of the day while you leave for vacation.
  • You take off work or spend all Saturday to drive 100 miles to save $40.00 in shipping costs for pond products...
  • (Now, I only bring this one up since I was subject to this too. Then it became apparent that it takes 5 minutes to order online and the products are at my house in a day or so. I calculated it, and I spent more time and gas on the road. Now I have more time to spend "tinkering" and enjoying my pond! Do the same! Save gas and time.
  • You built your pond, redid it, redid it again, and now have plans for the next rebuild.
  • You have several "NO FISHING SIGNS" around the pond.
  • You used your generator during the blackout in August of 2003? to run your pond and sacrificed all food in the freezer and fridge.
  • That one single leaf at the bottom of the pond drives you freaking crazy!
  • You keep buying fish to the point its so overstocked that you have to break the news to your spouse that you have to have a bigger pond. Plans are in the Works!
  • Your pond is immaculate and your vacuum cleaner is collecting dust.

Closing... Well as you have read, I am a watergarden addict. I continue to add these phrases as I hear & see the funny things pond owners do and tell me. I will be the first to admit that I am right there with them!

If you can relate, then come join our crazy club. It's free and you're under no obligation than to just enjoy you pond, and accept the "multi-dimensional" person it makes you become!

Email us with one of your "addictions"... we'll add it on!

HAPPY POND...ERING!


The "CYCLE" Nitrification Cycle

This is the process that brings a non-functional biological filter into a biologically established filter. New ponds and ponds that have been completely cleanout, as well as for ponds that are coming out of winter dormancy are all ready to take on the challenge of becoming biologically established ecosystems... healthy, balanced, 'living' ecosystems.

The normal cycle takes approximately 6 weeks. Ammonia spikes, nitrite spikes and pH move all over the range and can lead to poor health of the fish as well as poor water quality. Actual toxicity levels and the number of days required for completion of the cycle depends on several factors. Pond Size, Size and amount of Fish, Amount of Dissolved oxygen as well as the quality and efficiency of your biological filtration unit. In any case, sometimes we need to help the cycle along, but for starts, let's understand how the cycle works.

For any cycle to function fish must be introduced into the pond. In these new pond habitats, we recommend starting with inexpensive, hearty fish like goldfish, not feeder fish as they can not adapt well to the fluctuations in the cycle.

Now you are starting to "seed" your pond by adding your Beneficial Bacteria to the pond. One strain of Bacteria that is in these products is called Nitrifying Nitrosomonas.

These "good bacteria" utilize Nitrogen that is that is given off from the decayed matter, fish food etc. for energy. Note: It can take from 3-6 weeks for these "nitrogen reducing bacteria" or Nitrosomonas to proliferate to a number sufficient to reduce and convert all the Ammonia to Nitrite in the environment.

"Let's stop here, back up, and take a look at where we are in the Cycle. We have a pond, we added some fish, added Beneficial Bacteria to seed the biofilter, you are feeding the fish, and before the Nitrosomonas, "good bacteria" has established itself to, again, convert toxic ammonia to toxic nitrite, along comes a test reading that there is Ammonia in your pond!"

AMMONIA: The #1 Killer of Fish.

Fish waste, urine, their respiration, organic waste, and the decomposition of the uneaten food you offer them all break down and produce ammonia. Ammonia affects the fish by causing the blood to loose its ability to carry oxygen. This creates stress and lowers the resistance of fish to such recurrent bacterial infections as fin and tail rot, body slime, eye cloud, mouth fungus, body sores, redness of fins, general poor health, excess mucus production, flashing, and the incurable Dropsy or Pinecone disease. Ammonia is extremely toxic in its un-ionized form and non-toxic in its ionized form. This can be controlled by keeping pond water at low pH levels. At low pH levels ammonia will ionize and at levels higher than 7.2 ammonia begins to un-ionize and becomes more and more toxic.

Toxic ammonia is NH3 and non toxic is NH4

So you tested for Ammonia with a Test Kit. Do not add any new fish to the water. By adding Ammonia Eliminators/Detoxifiers to the pond, this will help bring down the ammonia levels. Ammonia Eliminators will convert toxic ammonia to nontoxic ammonia. Even if your test kits shows ammonia present. It's just in non toxic form. A salicylate salt test kit is the test kit for you if you are burdened with ammonia problems in your pond. This will detect ammonia. If you use an Ammonia eliminator/detoxifier in the interim until the nitrifying bacteria "Nitrosomonas" proliferate, that's fine, Zoelite can help as well. This dilemma can be diverted by simply applying a good nitrifying bacteria such as TURBOSTART, & Bioseed Gold which "eat ammonia & nitrite".

These offer a real boost of "Live" Nitrifiers.

Both are FANTASTIC! In speeding up the break-in period or so called "new-pond-syndrome". They instantly "age" the water.

**Whether you have a new pond or a pond just starting up in the Spring, TEST! Until the bacterial strains have colonized and have proliferated and can work on the Ammonia to Nitrite conversion, you need to test!

Damn this NEW POND SYNDROME!

Ok. Now that we have the Nitrosomonas establishing themselves in the pond, they are multiplying like mad and working hard to convert this toxic Ammonia (or non toxic if you used an Ammonia Eliminator/Detoxifier) to toxic Nitrite. Note: The nitrifying bacteria don't care what type of ammonia it is, it is just ESSENTIAL to be in the Cycle.

Now we are converting Ammonia to Nitrite

NITRITE: Nitrite is also toxic to fish.

Nitrite is a waste product produced by bacteria in the biological filter as it breaks down ammonia. Nitrite is extremely harmful to fish and can result in severe fish loss. Nitrite levels should be kept at 0ppm. In the spring, the water starts to warm up and nitrite can build up as the fish begin to eat and the type of bacteria that converts ammonia to nitrate is performing only at halfspeed. The deadly Nitrite passed through the gills and oxidizes the iron in the fish blood, preventing it from carrying oxygen and causing the fish to be in demand for oxygen. Salting the water will help the fish resist the effects of nitrite and avoid the low oxygen levels in the body. Salting at a .5% can correct nitrite spiking problems but you cannot have plants at this salt level!

Now, remember the Beneficial Bacteria you added?. This same Beneficial Bacteria that you added to "seed" your pond to introduce Nitrosomonas into the Ecosystem also contains another strain of "good bacteria" called Nitrobacter, which reduces the Nitrite into Nitrate. Again, it takes time for these "beneficial nitrogen reducing bacteria" to develop. Under normal conditions, it takes up to six weeks for the Nitrobacter to proliferate to number sufficient to reduce all Nitrite in the environment. This Nitrobacter Bacteria converts the toxic nitrite into relatively harmless Nitrate (an excellent plant food).

NITRATE is the byproduct of nitrifying bacteria in the biological filter breaking down ammonia and nitrite. It is used by plants and algae as a food source. High levels can lead to excessive algae growth and damage to pond plants. Keep below 200 ppm

Algae and plants use the Nitrate. An excellent plant food

There are also strains on Denitrifying bacteria in the Beneficial Bacteria that you put into your pond. The denitrification cycle is the biological reduction of Nitrate to harmless Nitrogen Gas which exits the pond into the atmosphere. This process is one that does not occur right in the pond water but works in your Biofiler or filtration unit.

This completes the cycle, allowing you to add additional fish and commence regular and periodic partial water changes. If you perform water changes, make sure that you add a chlorine/chloramine remover since chlorine not only a detriment to the fish but will equally detriment the "good" bacteria that have been seeded in the Biological filtration unit.

Fish waste/food/excretions - Ammonia - Nitrosomonas - Nitrite - Nitrobacter - Nitrate - plant food & algae - Fish eat the plants (roots, stems and foliage in my pond!) - fish waste/excess fish food/excretions - ammonia - the cycle goes on


HOW CAN WE SPEED THE CYCLE UP?

NITRIFIERS SPEED UP THE CYCLE...

You are a candidate for Bio-Seed Gold or Turbostart if.

  • Your pond was just installed and the fish are on the way
  • Your pond is being re-opened in the spring and you don't want the hassle of waiting for the cycle to balance out.
  • You have fish in holding tanks and the pond is being scrubbed and scoured clean.
  • You have fish in quarantine and need a cycled tank and it needs Nitrifiers to maintain nitrogen reduction.
  • You got "stupid" with a formaldehyde based medication and "annihilated" your bacteria count in the pond.
  • You rinsed all filtration media with chlorinated water which just killed your beneficial bacteria.

Nitrifying bacteria do have needs...

Salt should be below .3% Salt impedes their seeding.

Alkalinity needs to be over 80 ppm. Nitrifiers do need phosphates to survive. A buffer with is good if you need to boost the alkalinity.

Most of the time the phosphates are provided by the food we feed the fish.

Even if you don't have fish, use a Dechlorinator. Your beneficial bacteria will love you for it. Chlorine will kill the Nitrifiers;

Adding Carbon will help in fast colonization of these Nitrifiers.

Disable UV lights.

Nitrifiers are strictly aerobic autotrophs which utilize inorganic (without carbon) compounds as their primary energy source (specifically ammonia and nitrite). Nitrosomonas (ammonia-oxidizers) and Nitrobacter (nitrite-oxidizers) are the most well known.

These Products must be used at temperatures above 50 degrees.

Remember, Dry formulas can NOT contain Nitrifiers; since true Nitrifiers are not spore forming, they cannot be dried into powdered products. Any microbiologist will confirm this fact. Nitrifiers cannot survive the drying or freeze-drying process; Nitrifying bacteria (Nitrosomonas, Nitrobacter,) can not be dry powder; it must be liquid only.

The Two TOP Products that we offer are Bio-Seed Gold and TurboStart. These products are expensive, but you won't regret it! What else can speed up the cycle so fast? With our short season, I rather spend more time enjoying my ponds than waiting 6+ weeks for an ecosystem to balance.

1st Product. "instant" colonization

TurboStart can be applied to "new" systems and existing systems. No other product I have tested could do this. The TurboStart is fifteen times more concentrated, which presents the disadvantage that they couldn't put much else in the bottle other than Nitrifiers - in other words, not enough food for them to live on without suspending their metabolism by refrigeration. This product has to be shipped super fast, like UPS RED or FedEx Next Morning, and it cannot freeze or get anywhere near "hot".

It gives nitrification an even larger boost by introducing over thirty million live nitrifying bacteria per ounce, rapidly accelerating the nitrification process. Ammonia and nitrite are quickly reduced to safe levels. Both ammonia and nitrite are reduced by over 90% in less than 5 days. Fish stress (induced by high levels of ammonia and nitrite) is also reduced and moralities normally associated with "New Tank Syndrome" are eliminated.

Many products that don't effect ammonia or nitrite claim to contain Nitrifiers, these products actually contain species of heterotrophic Bacillus and Pseudomonas bacteria - NOT Nitrifiers. Every bottle of TurboStart is dated to ensure the freshest and highest quality product. A nitrifying bacteria is alive and must be refridgerated!

2nd Product is Bio-Seed Gold. This reduces the ammonia cycle time to 1 week (Regular Bio-Seed cycle time is approximately 2 weeks.).
BIO-SEED nitrosomona/nitrobacter formula is state-of-the-science technology at work. Our formula "eats" ammonia and nitrates, and cuts the ammonia cycle time by 2/3. This product contains live non-pathogenic, non-toxic bacteria in a freshwater preservative formula. The preservative allows several months of shelf life for this very fragile bacteria. Nitrifying bacteria should state Nitrosomonas/Nitrobacter Bacteria on the bottle. Nitrifying bacteria can not be dry powder; it must be liquid only. You can not mix this Bacterium in the same bottle as Sludge Eating Bacteria. If ammonia spikes which it will if you have a heavy fish load. Add Ammonia Remover/Detoxifier. This does not remove ammonia only converts it to non-toxic ammonia because the Nitrifiers need this nitrogen to live! Within 5 days the cycle is balanced!!!


KC Nitrifier. Pretty simple, does exactly as above, but the cycle takes a 2-3 weeks for the system to balance. KC Nitrifier now comes in a 8oz. bottle that treats up to a 8,000 gallon system. The nitrifying microorganism bacterial count of KC Nitrifier is 1.8 billion/ml. KC Nitrifier should be used to start new bio-filters, boost the performance of existing bio-filters and to get bio-filters back to top efficiency after winter weather has taken its toll. While under refrigeration, the product can last . 6 months refrigerated. 1/3 bottle per 1000 gallon- 8000 gallon pond every day for 3 days. Shipping is ups ground and if ordered Monday you will have it in 2-3 days.! No cold shipping is required. I use this at our next maintenance visit, 3-4 weeks after the cleaning or spring opening of your pond. I consider it a supporting Nitrifier. **USE IT IN CONJUCTION WITH YOUR NITRIFYING BACTERIA "GOOD BACTERIA" THAT YOU ADD REGULARLY TO YOUR POND THROUGH OUT THE SEASON TO MAINTAIN THE "CYCLE".


Can be stored for 2 years but if opened the oxygen brings them to life and there is a shelf life of 2-3 months

Now that we have "Jump started the System" established the Cycle and everything is in equilibrium. We can now continue on with the supportive "Beneficial Bacteria" on a monthly basis. You have read all this stuff previously, but a quick run down wont hurt.

1. Only use Microbe-Lifts Spring/Summer or Clear Pond Fall & Winter Formula to aid in sludge/debris digestion in temps below 50 degrees. These are excellent as they help accelerate the decomposition of leaves, scum, sediment, and other organic matter that may have accumulated during the fall and winter months. If we are opening the pond, not fully cleaning it and the temps are below 50 degrees, this product offers the best start for your pond.

2. After you have cleaned the pond, you can either proceed with the TurboStart or Bio-Seed Gold avenue. (My Fav's) If you passed on the TurboStart and Bioseed and want to play with the "cycles" trickery that's fine, sometimes its not all that bad. If you have a heavy fish load definitely do not pass those 2 products up. But enough said.

3. Which ever avenue you do, It's the goal to establish a clear, healthy, balance, "living" ecosystem. The first application to the pond to establish and sustain "beneficial bacteria" and maintain the "cycle" we need to add what are called "dormant" cultures of Beneficial bacteria. These are activated when opened and oxygen wakes them up. They take a little bit longer to get established, but they are cost effective, and are necessary to add to the pond.

The first product is Bacta-Pur Klear, Nutripak, & Sludgebuster. A 3 part dream team! I apply it preferably in the evening when algae are least active. Water Temperatures must be above 50 degrees.

  • Klear accelerates the startup and subsequent stabilization of nitrification
  • Klear offers 2 bacterial strains involved in nitrification. Nitrosomonas convert ammonia to nitrite and Nitrobacter convert nitrite to nitrate.
  • Klear is a community of beneficial microorganisms out completes algae for nutrients in the water.
  • It is a probiotic that outnumbers the pathogens and thus limits their growth
  • Nutripak assures the presence of essential minerals and trace elements which may be lacking in your water for the Klear to work.
  • Sludgebusters are micro-organisms that break down suspended solids in the water, as well as the sludge and silt on the bottom of the pond. Sludgebuster biodegrades organic waste sludge, fish wastes and reduces odor production methane, hydrogen sulfide, etc. They absorb these nutrients that otherwise would prompt algae growth.

Bacta-Pur Products can be stored for 2 years room temperature, but if opened the oxygen brings them to life and there is a shelf life of 2-3 months

Or there is the Microbe-Lift Pl Bacteria that also provides "beneficial bacteria" and

  • Reduces Ammonia and Nitrogen Levels
  • Reduces noxious odors from fish waste, algae, leaves etc.
  • Promotes fish growth
  • Helps break down existing algae and reduces new algae blooms
  • Improves dissolved oxygen levels.

Here's our recommendation to establish and maintain the "Cycle".

Get the TurboStart or the Bio-Seed Gold right after temps of water are stable at 50-55 degrees. Flood the pond with these little guys whether it's a new pond, a just cleaned pond or just starting one up for the season. Then continue with the maintenance dosage of Nitrifiers: KC Nitrifier used in conjunction with Bacta-Pur 3 part, or the Microbe-Lift Pl. Then in the fall when temp of the pond are dropping, start on the Sludge eating bacteria to maintain superb water quality for the fall and winter months. Microbe-Lifts Autumn Prep or Clear Pond Fall Winter Formula.

KEEPING THE POND IN CHECK TEST REGULARLY!


Water Quality & It's Importance

Test these regularly and keep a log book of your ponds water quality.

ALKALINITY OR BUFFERING CAPACITY determines the ability to maintain a constant pH in the pond. If to low the pH will drop to dangerous levels. Too high and the ph will also be high... very difficult to lower. Alkalinity is the amount of carbonate molecules in the water. The ideal is 100-180 ppm. Total alkalinity or Calcium Carbonate is the energy source for our beneficial bacteria. Alkalinity is the backbone of your pond. All biological products require TA in order to do their jobs. Nitrifying bacteria in your biolfilter require TA to oxidize ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate. A high Alkalinity may reveal that a Ph increase is imminent.

Raise alkalinity or carbonate activity by adding oyster shells, concrete blocks, and calcium carbonate (precipitate powder).

Low alkalinity = no carbonate activity = buffering capacity is low = ph swings

Alkalinity is in range! = buffering capacity in range! The pH will stay rock solid!

pH.

pH is the measure if acidity or alkalinity in water.

A reading of:

  • 7 is neutral
  • below 7 is acidic
  • above 7 is alkaline
  • Ideal is 7.2 -7.6

An Acid ph has a lot of free Hydrogen Ions. A high or Alkaline pH has very little free hydrogen. These hydrogen ions are mostly contributed from the Ammonia conversion to Nitrite.

Remember

Ammonia-Nitrosomonas-Nitrite (Hydrogen released and oxygen is required).

During the nighttime the plants take in oxygen and liberate carbon dioxide, which becomes carbonic acid and drops the pH into the acid range <7.

During daytime the plant now give off oxygen and take in carbon dioxide. Without carbon dioxide in the water to make carbonic acid, the pH will rise into the alkaline range >7

To bring Ph down, do a water change out. Chemicals may take to long and you may loose your fish. If fish seem ok, use Ph Down with pH Buffer.

To Increase your Ph Salts Up.

AMMONIA: The #1 Killer of Fish.

Fish waste, urine, their respiration, organic waste, and the decomposition of the uneaten food you offer them all break down and produce ammonia. Ammonia affects the fish by causing the blood to loose its ability to carry oxygen. This creates stress and lowers the resistance of fish to such recurrent bacterial infections as fin and tail rot, body slime, eye cloud, mouth fungus, body sores, redness of fins, general poor health, excess mucus production, flashing, and the incurable Dropsy or Pinecone disease. Ammonia is extremely toxic in its un-ionized form and non-toxic in its ionized form. This can be controlled by keeping pond water at low pH levels. At low pH levels ammonia will ionize and at levels higher than 7.2 ammonia begins to un-ionize and becomes more and more toxic. This dilemma can be diverted by simply applying a good nitrifying bacteria such as TurboStart, & Bioseed Gold which "eat ammonia & nitrite".

These are a real boost of "Live" Nitrifiers. Excellent in speeding up / eliminating the break-in period or so called "new-pond-syndrome".

Both are FANTASTIC!

Toxic ammonia is NH3 and non toxic is NH4

Perform a water change if ammonia is high or use Ammonia Eliminator/Detoxifier so as to not disturb the "beneficial bacteria"& disrupt the "cycle".

NITRITE: Nitrite is also toxic to fish.

Nitrite is a waste product produced by bacteria in the biological filter as it breaks down ammonia. Nitrite is extremely harmful to fish and can result in severe fish loss. Nitrite levels should be kept at 0ppm. In the spring, the water starts to warm up and nitrite can build up as the fish begin to eat and the type of bacteria that converts ammonia to nitrate is performing only at halfspeed. The deadly Nitrite passed through the gills and oxidizes the iron in the fish blood, preventing it from carrying oxygen and causing the fish to be in demand for oxygen. Salting the water will help the fish resist the effects of nitrite and avoid the low oxygen levels in the body. Salting at a .5% can correct nitrite spiking problems but you cannot have plants at this salt level! Perform a water change if ammonia & Nitrites are high or use Ammonia & Eliminator/Detoxifier so as to not disturb the "beneficial bacteria"& disrupt the "cycle".

NITRATE is the byproduct of nitrifying bacteria in the biological filter breaking down ammonia and nitrite. It is used by plants and algae as a food source. High levels can lead to excessive algae growth and damage to pond plants. Keep below 200 ppm

Algae and plants use the Nitrate. An excellent plant food.

HARDNESS is a measurement of calcium and magnesium in the water. Most pond fish and plants prefer hardness of 50-150ppm. If below 50ppm the pH will be affected. Over 150 ppm, white mineral deposits will form in pond.

DISSOLVED OXYGEN is a measure of oxygen in your pond water. If your fish gasp rapidly at the surface and fish death is constant, then add more Oxygen by increasing flow of your waterfall. Or add an aerator to the pond. You should be able to hear the bubbling and splashing from 15' away!

If you are not sure, TEST for it.


Green Water, How Do I Get Rid of It?

A build-up of debris, too many fish, not enough aquatic plants, excessive exposure to sunlight, excess nutrients, trace minerals, and insufficient filtration will lead to green water. It's just part of the Natural cycle. Mother Nature goes through it and so do we! In the late spring, as your "eco-system" is starting up, this is the opportunistic time for Green Water algae to claim its stake in your pond! Again, Not all ponds are the same, some Green Water algae goes away naturally after 2-3 weeks if your system is in balance, Nitrates are in the correct range and you have proper plant amounts in the pond. But not always the case! These are avenues we recommend to our customers to help eliminate or avoid these algae blooms.

First, Observe the amount of sunlight your pond is receiving, if more that 6 hours a day, try and offer the pond 2/3rd's coverage with waterlilies, floating hyacinths, water lettuce, marginal plants, etc. NEW! GreenClean, a granular algaecide... don't be alarmed by the word algaecide. It is a non-copper based algaecide. It works on contact! GreenClean works through oxidation with provides for immediate control of algae. Dead matter floats to the surface where you can use your skimmer net to remove the debris. This product poses no threat to the pond life or plants.

If you need that extra "umph", especially in the spring and fall when plants are still not as "mature" and not covering as well as they did during the summer, then add a Liquid Water Clarifier to your pond. This is a flocculent that binds these suspended algae particles and then the skimmer will collect these particles on your filtration media, where you can then rinse the pads free. It is important to remove these particles, wheather its algae particles, decayed plant particles, dirt, debris etc., otherwise it will decay and therefore result in oxygen deficiency and poor water quality. If there continues to remain a consistent problem with Green Water, then we recommend a UV light Sterilizer. A UV (Ultra-Violet) sterilizer will kill the algae cell walls as it passes over the light. The dead algae are then collected in your Biofilter filtration media where it can be cleaned from. Another benefit from a UV Sterilizer is that it kills parasites as well! UV Clarifiers do the same in killing the algae spores but do not work against parasites.

See article on UV Clarifiers/Sterilizers

A skimmer is good to have as it continually "sweeps" debris from your pond before it has a chance to settle on the bottom of the pond. A biological filter or waterfall will help oxygenate your water and process toxins in your water produced from fish.

To prevent String Algae and Green Water Algae, see our ALGAE TREATMENTS in our Pond Store! Although I have Barley in all our ponds, a good .3% salt in all our ponds and GreenClean used as needed, I also dose the ponds every 3-4 weeks with Algaefix and Ecofix. Along with my Beneficial Bacteria by my side, the Bacta-Pur Klear, Nutripack and Sludgebusters,"The dream team", Our water quality is Clear, our ecosystems are Healthy and our fish are Happy!


String Algae, How Do I Get Rid of It?

Filamentous algae are string algae, resembling long strands of hair that attaches to rocks, plants, waterfall, basically any item in your pond. It doesn't care. Excessive growth can remove essential oxygen that fish need from the water. It can, if left untreated, choke the pond and fish loss is inevitable. The nutrients in water are what algae thrives on. The addition of pond plants will create competition for these nutrients and guess who looses... The Algae. The plants will continue to thrive on these nutrients as the algae fades away! *Reminder... Try and remove as much of the algae as you can before treatment to minimize the amount of decay.

One natural way to prevent filamentous algae is to add Barley to the Pond. Bales, Pellets and now Liquid can be used in your system. These should be placed in an area where water flow exists. There is also Barley Pads where barley is injected into the filter media for your Biofilters! Barley releases an enzyme as it breaks down, preventing the algae to grow. Sometimes we have seen the Barley turn the water a bit tan-ish in color. This will go away within a few weeks or we use on our ponds & our Customers ponds' what is called Activated Carbon. This helps establish Super Clean water quality. Activated carbon is able to absorb a large amount of organic solids. We also use the Carbon to remove the fish medications after our treatments are complete. Salt also aids in the suppression of Algae as well. See our article on Salt. See also our article on Activated Carbon. High pH and Phosphorous are leading causes of String Algae. Check these in you pond with your Test kit and add PH down followed by a Buffer to stabilize the pH in your pond. If you are reading high Phosphorous, use Phosphate Remover. (Place this in a filter media bag in the filter unit.) NEW! GreenClean, a granular algaecide... don't be alarmed by the word algaecide. It is a non-copper based algaecide. Your fish are not harmed. It works on contact! GreenClean works through oxidation and provides for immediate control of algae. Dead matter floats to the surface where you can use your skimmer net to remove the debris. This product poses no threat to the pond life or plants. I also recommend using the two partners in crime Algaefix and Ecofix.

"Although I have Barley in the pond, a good .3% salt in all our ponds and GreenClean used as needed, I also dose the ponds every 3-4 weeks with Algaefix and Ecofix. Along with my Beneficial Bacteria by my side, the Bacta-Pur Klear, Nutripack and Sludgebusters, Our water quality is Clear, our ecosystems are Healthy, and our fish are Happy!"

In addition, always use a sludge eating bacterium such as Clear Pond Fall/Winter Formula, Microbe-lift Pl or Spring Summer Cleaner or keep on the Bacta-Pur Klear, Nutripak, Sludgebuster routine that offers the full spectrum of "Benefical Bacteria" to breakdown and consume the organic matter. Bacta-Pur Sludgebuster is an excellent bacterium strain that works to breakdown this organic waste.


CLARIFIERS Vs. STERILIZERS

UV clarifiers are added to ponds to control Green Water Algae Blooms. The Ultraviolet light within the unit kills the Algae as the water passes over the light. The dead algae are then collected in the filter and can be rinsed once clarity of the pond is returned. UV Sterilizers actually serve 2 purposes, They kill the algae spores and they also kill parasites! We have several that we recommend, just depending on your concerns, fish load, and pond construction.

Carefree UV Sterilizers

These are designed from corrosion-resistant 316-L stainless steel, which prevents toxic chemical emission into the water. All Carefree UV units are made from heavy-duty pipe-not rolled lightweight tubing-to allow for higher psi ratings and long-lasting, rust-free housings. As an added bonus, Carefree UV's are polished inside the reactor chamber wall to a highly reflective luster/shine. This reflectivity creates more killing power than other units. A bit higher in price, worth the investment due to their construction and Kill Power!

Danner Sterilizer/Uv

These Clarifier/Sterilizer units are suitable for small ponds up to 6000 gallons using pumps up to 3000 gph.

They are fully submersible units that control water borne algae and spread of disease.

The glowing monitor halo ring, visible from any angle immediately shows that it is working.

Comes complete with 9000 hour 40 watt lamp and water tight quartz sleeve.

Includes transformer and 18ft grounded power cord.

Black color is unobtrusive whether used in or out of water.

Tetra UV Clarifiers

These are plastic molded, green in color and Kill Algae spores that cause green water blooms. Very cost effective and if superb water quality is maintained, you may not wish to invest in the Sterilizer just yet. But if you have a hefty sum of money ties up in fish. I would opt for the Sterilizer! These cannot be submerged!


Salt, Salt, Salt Your Pond!

Salt added to your pond can offer many advantages. First, salt protects the fish from disease and parasitism. Salt is basically an irritant to the skin. The fish responds by building up a slime coat. This slime coat is the fish's protection against disease and parasitism. The salt also reduces electrolyte loss during periods of stress, or disease, promoting healthier gill function. During times of stress, electrolytes are lost, including potassium, sodium, chlorides, calcium and magnesium. All of these are essential for the uptake of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide and ammonia. It helps eliminate the toxic effects of nitrite. Salt also assists in suppressing string algae. Salt comes in many forms. It must have no additives. It is imperative that the salt is diluted. No granules should be allowed in the pond. Once salt comes in contact with the gills it will burn and aggravate the gill tissue and eventual fish loss can occur. Most ponds that we care for we add up to .3% or 3lbs per 100 gallon, so a thousand gallon pond will need 30 lbs of salt.

Here it is, simply put..based on a 1,000 gallon pond...

  • For a .1% salt concentration.= Take gallons of pond(1,000)x .01 = 10lb of salt to be added to the pond
  • For a .2% Take gallons (1000) x .02 = 20 lbs of salt
  • For a .3% Take gallons (1000) x .03 = 30 lbs of salt

Many suggest keeping the pond between a .2 & .25 will reduce and suppress string algae.

With sick fish or fish in quarantine, a recommended .3% is acceptable to kill many parasites.

Any amount over 3% will harm your plants. Fish can survive in up to .8% but is not recommended as it is bordering the dehydrating of the fish and can lead to death.

Many keep their ponds salted to a 3% at all times, but be warned, do not overdo that. Plants will suffer.

2 cups of salt = 1lb.


Aeromonas Alert! Stop Ulcer Disease

These two pathenogenic bacteria kill more Koi each year than all other pathogens combined. They are in every pond & I stress, They are in your pond! They are the cause of deadly bacterial infections i.e., ulcer disease, fin rot, mouth rot, etc. They are on the attack as water temperature fall between the 47-62° mark! Be prepared to combat the proliferation of Aeromonas and Pseudomonas population. Koizyme IS A MUST!



Koi? Where Did They Come From?

tidbit... Koi is the Japanese word for Carp.

After reading our "Pond Addiction" article, you then know that Koi keeping can generate obsession. Its popularity is growing by leaps and bounds all over the United States. Koi are intriguing, mysterious and beautiful.

Many believe that the common carp is the ancestor to these colorful Koi. Carp were used as a source of food. This captivity and breeding for a food source nevertheless caused mutations. These "so called mutation" caused noticeably striking, colorful patterns on the fish. Many were awestruck to how beautiful theses "mutations" were. A whole new outlook on the Koi developed. Many kept them for hobby instead of a food source. The name "Koi" dates back to 500BC when a wild carp was presented by King Shoko of Ro to Confucius on the birth of his first son. It was then the first mention of Koi or Carp. At the Niigata prefecture in Japan during the early 1800's, is when the first true-colored Koi originated. The preferred name now in Japan for these single or multicolored carp is Nishikigoi, then known as goi, or Koi.

The average Koi will live between 25-35 years of age which some recordings denote Koi living 200 years! They will reach 18"+ within the first 3-4 years of life depending on water quality, food quality and size of pond. The maximum length is 24-36"!

Koi ponds should be a minimum of 4' deep as these fish grow. They will take up the space. Always keep this calculation handy. Remember, your new baby Koi will grow! An 18" Koi needs 100 gallons of water or 10 gallons for each inch of fish.

If you have 10, 18" fish, you will need an 1800 gallon minimum pond size. Excellent filtration and water circulation should be achieved and maintained as well. These swimming gems need room to grow.

So, when designing and building a pond, keep this formula in mind! Plan for how many fish you want and know how big they will get!

Here are some beautiful pictures of Koi from Blue Ridge Hatchery.

See Pictures of Butterfly Koi below to see the difference in appearances.

 
Standard Koi
Premium Koi
Mixed Premium Select
Select Kohaku
Select Shusui
Select Harewake
Select Ogon
Select Sanke

Butterfly Koi...

Butterfly Koi have been available in the United States for seven or eight years. During that time they have become immensely popular and are now being produced and sold by Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery. The history of their development is an interesting story.

First, let me state that they are not a hybrid of goldfish or Koi as many people believe. I have seen it stated in books and magazines that "the long fins and tail of goldfish have been transferred to koi". Nothing could be further from the truth. Koi and goldfish being closely related will readily interbreed but the resulting progeny are unattractive, mostly resembling wild carp with very little color. In our experience so far, they are always sterile and offer no hope of continuing selective breeding.

Now, for the story of butterfly Koi development here at Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery. About twelve years ago, we noticed an ad in a pet industry trade magazine, of a firm in New York City offering long-finned Koi for sale. This immediately piqued our interest since Blue Ridge has been a national supplier of Koi, goldfish and other coldwater ornamentals for a number of years. We had to see some of these so-called long-finned Koi. An order was placed with some anticipation. As I remember, we received about a dozen of these fish. They weren't koi at all, but appeared to be a wild carp with long fins and a wild gray color. We have since learned that these fish came from a feral population of carp that inhibited the ditches and canals of Indonesia. No one seems to know the origin of these fish, their exact species or how they acquired the long fins and tails.

Anyway, on with the story. These long-finned carp weren't very pretty and didn't appear to have much commercial value. However, we decided to put them in a fenced and protected pond and grow them to maturity. We had only three or four fish left two years later. They had grown into brutes weighing six to eight pounds each. They were very unattractive, even down right ugly. We thought these fish wouldn't sell, but what would happen if we cross- bred them with koi? Could we transfer their long fins and vigor to colorful Koi? It was worth a try. We stocked two female long-finned carp in a two-acre production pond with two of our best ogon (metallic) male Koi. The males also had gin rin or sparkle scales.

We eagerly awaited the spawning and subsequent hatching of the fry. These hybrid offspring proved to be very strong and of rapid growth. But on close inspection when they were still very young, they looked mostly like wild carp. We were very disappointed and discussed culling the whole pond and putting it to better use, but finally decided to let them mature to the end of the growing season. I am certainly glad we did, as some very interesting fish were beginning to appear. A small percentage of them turned into some extremely beautiful fish with color and long fins and tails. Some of them had long fins with a luminous metallic glow that could be described as pearlescent. We were admiring them in a small pool when my son Randy said, "They remind me of butterflies". Hence the name. We realized we had some diamonds in the rough. We were pretty excited about their commercial possibilities.

We would now select the very best, grow them to maturity and breed them to each other to establish a strain. We were hoping these hybrids wouldn't be sterile as in the case of the koi/goldfish hybrids. Of course we would have to wait two to three years to attempt to breed our F1 butterfly hybrids. The selective breeding was pretty much done by my son Randy and my brother Rick. The very best of these first generation hybrids were stocked together in one of our best ponds. We monitored the pond carefully. There was an excellent spawn and hatch. The fry grew rapidly in spite of being rather crowded. We noticed that they had hybrid vigor. However, by the time the fry reached about an inch in length, the prospects didn't look so good. Again, they mostly resembled wild carp or bait fish, but we decided they may yet develop long fins and color. Sure enough, by fall, when they had grown to the length of three to four inches, a good percentage of them had developed into beautiful butterfly koi. Their commercial possibilities began to look very good indeed. With further selective breeding, here was a Koi that, unlike regular Koi, was beautiful when viewed from the sides as well as the top. They swam with such grace and regal bearing. What a beautiful pond fish they would make! Due to their hybrid vigor they are stronger, more hardy, and more disease resistant than either common goldfish or regular Koi.

We subsequently learned that a very fine and beautiful strain of long-finned koi had been developed in Japan. We learned that they also used the wild Indonesian long-fin carp to develop their long-finned koi or "water dragons", as they are known in Japan. They probably started their hybridizing program even before we did here at Blue Ridge.

However, the ZNA, which sanctions all Japanese Koi shows, as well as shows in other parts of the world, refused to allow long-finned Koi to compete in the shows. As a result, there are very few long-finned Koi being produced in Japan at this time.

We were able to obtain some of the long-finned Japanese stock and cross breed them with our butterfly Koi. This resulted in some beautiful new colors not yet seen in Koi at the time. The metallic underlay in the skin and fins is carried to extreme; also the sparkling diamond scale factor or gin rin really glitters. A good specimen appears to have been literally dipped in metallic silver or gold paint, then in turn, encrusted with sparkling scales. Stunning!

Butterfly Koi start to develop elongated fins and tails at about six months of age, but really start coming into their own at about a year. After a year or two in an aquarium or small pool, their fins and tail will be almost as long as their bodies. We have such an aquarium in our office- quite a sight to see. Butterfly Koi need to grow rather slowly, lest their bodies outgrow their fins and ruin the butterfly effect.

Butterfly Koi, no doubt, have a tremendous future and the supply is quite good now. We continue to select and breed for new colors, particularly the red shades, with great anticipation. With the rapidly increasing popularity of garden ponds resulting in tremendous demand for pond fish, it is truly an exciting time here at Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery.

Shusui Butterfly
Butterfly
Kahaku Butterfly
Matsuba Butterfly

Wyatt LeFever is the president of Blue Ridge Fish Hatchery, Inc. which was established in 1958. He is known for introducing several fish to the coldwater ornamental fish trade. Butterfly koi, rainbow dace, and albino catfish are a few of the many. Mr. LeFever has been in the hatchery business for most of his life, breeding both coldwater, as well as tropical fish. He is a founding member of the National Ornamental Goldfish Growers of America of which he served as president from 1988-1990.



When to Start and Stop Feeding...

First off, Fish do not have stomachs! Secretions in their intestines digest the food. Their ability to digest food is directly related to the temperature of the water. Fish will not eat when water drops below 46 degrees. Any food you attempt to feed them on those nice days that may occur in January or February will just decay and pollute the water. Basically, your fish will go to sleep at 46 Degrees. As the temperatures drop, the metabolisms in fish begin to slow. They are unable to digest the food that they normally eat in warmer months. If some fish go after the food you throw them during the winter months, the food is not digested, therefore gut rot develops and the fish will die. When temperature of the water linger at 48-50 degrees, the fish may come to the surface looking for food. Do not feed them. As tempting as it is! To any owner of a pond, a pond thermometer is a necessity as air to water temperatures can vary dramatically.

In September, days are getting shorter and winter is approaching, time to prepare the fish for their long sleep. When Springtime approaches, monitor your water temperature. Only when the temperature of the water exceeds 50 degrees is it time to start feeding them daily.

Fish food is formulated to work with the metabolism of the fish in conjunction with the seasons. They help your fish to adjust from a dormancy stage. These spring foods are lower in protein, allowing for easy digestions, and have vitamin C added to boost their immunity. Foods high in Protein will be excreted by the fish as toxic ammonia, decreasing water quality and detrimenting the health of the fish. Wheat germ food is also ideal for fall and early spring as it is very easily digested.

Do not feed them any corn based food products.

*Remember* No part of your biological system is established or balanced in the spring, its just getting started. That's why it is important to perform water quality tests for ammonia, nitrites, and pH.

  • >81° feed sparingly due to high heat
  • 78-81° three or 4 times a day
  • 72-77° five or six times a day
  • 66-71° three or four times a day
  • 63-65° two or three times a day
  • 59-62° one or two times a day
  • 55-58° two or three times weekly
  • 50-54 ° one or two times weekly
  • <50° do not feed

Aeromanas population, the "bad" bacteria are ready to inflict disease on your fish in water temps of 47-65 degrees. Get Koizyne.

50-58° Feed more grains, wheat germ and veggies - less protein (25% is good) - less fat

63° + Feed less grains and veggies - more protein (35% is good) - more fat

Fall/Spring foods, Summer foods, Medicated foods.


Spring Pond Care

In the spring when the snow has melted and the ice has receded off the pond. Still keep the De-Icer and Aerator in the pond as sometimes temperatures do fall at night. This is the time that the Ecosystem is emerging out of dormancy and critical that we take measures to prevent a disaster from occurring, with this, I mean excess algae growth, imbalance in water quality parameters and fish disease. First off, as the water temps rise, the fish become a bit more active and since it's too early still for a full cleaning, whether you are planning a cleaning or not, we have to address several preventative measures. The pond water is now between 45- 50 degrees. Let's get the system running to get the aeration, and filtration needed. The filter pads, pumps, uv units, tubing etc. were thoroughly flushed cleaned in the fall by us so that all you have to do is plug it in. or if you do it, fine. Clean as best you can and start up the system. Perform a water change. See article on water changes, and add the Dechlorinator/Ammonia remover to the pond. We need to add cold water enzymes at this point to breakdown the organic load that may have accumulated over the winter. Use your skimmer net to remove as much as possible, stirring up the water may cause the water to "murk" up but the filtration will remove that in a day or so Use Accuclear to speed up the clarity. The remaining load that's in the tough to reach spots can be worked on by the Cold water Bacteria, Microbe-Lift Spring Summer formula or Clear Pond Fall Winter Formula. Both are Cold Water Bacteria that eats away at the remaining sludge accumulation. Now let's address the Algae. I favor the GreenClean... Great stuff. Use this if string algae are growing excessively. If you catch it midstream you can use this or we use Algae Fix & Barley to control it from there. As the ecosystem comes into swing, here comes the green water algae blooms. If the water is not gin clear, get your UV sterilizer/Clarifier up and going. The Sterilizer will combat the Green Water Algae and kills Parasites that could be proliferating right now. If in the past the green water has not been a big deal but your pond from time to time gets murky or blooms occur, then use Accuclear to remove the suspended particles. I would opt to have a UV Sterilizer due to the fact that it kills parasites! NOTE! Make sure you turn off your UV Sterilizer/Clarifier for 3 days when adding Beneficial Bacteria! Once water temperatures remain stable in the 50-55 degree mark, you are now feeding your fish, adding nitrifying beneficial bacteria to the pond to seed the biofilter. Aeromonas and Pseudomonas are on the attack right now. They are pathenogenic bacteria, a "bad" bacterium that is afflicting disease on your fish. Don't think your pond does not have them... They are in every pond! See our article on Aeromonas alert. Get KoiZyme to control the population and keep disease from affecting your fish. Add Bacta-Pur Pro 100 a probiotic that prevents development of various other diseases in your pond. And boosts the fishes eco-immunity.

Start fertilizing the plants with Pondtabbs and adding as needed due to possible loss over the winter. The pond is now stabilizing out and the ecosystem is coming into balance. Read articles: What we use during our visits, The Cycle and How to Speed up the Cycle for our recommendations on products. A quick run down... For immediate seeding of the pond that eliminates the break-in period, get TurboStart or Bioseed Gold. Give an extra boost of Nitrifying bacteria such as KC Nitrifier. If you don't mind waiting, just stick with the Microbe lift or Bacta-Pur system. Add Activated Carbon to the pond. Carbon offers a ga-zillion "hotel rooms" for the Nitrifiers to proliferate. Add Fritzguard to coat the bio-media for superb adherence of the Nitrifiers to the various surfaces in the bio-media as well as on the surfaces within the pond.

Keep a Test Kit available to check for Ammonia, Nitrites, Ph swings, as this is the time of year that they fluctuate drastically. Add as needed pH down, pH up, pH buffer, Ammo-lock 2, Dechlorinator/Ammonia Remover. Add or recharge your Zeolite to continue its role in absorption of trace Ammonia that can occur.

Your ecosystem is now balanced and ready for a beautiful season of enjoyment!


Summer Pond Care

IT'S FINALLY HERE!!!! Warm weather, shorts, tee shirts, and VERY active, very playful and Very Hungry fish! You have followed either our recommendations in the spring pond care article, referred to what products we use during our visits, or you had us perform our services to the pond. Either way: Now its time to kick back and enjoy! You have followed the instructions required for the Spring Pond Care and now it's a matter of keeping up with the regimen of adding the Beneficial bacteria to your pond. Either Bacta-Pur or Microbe-Lift. I would keep on adding the KC Nitrifier for the additional boost throughout the summer months. It does not hurt to ensure they are at the maximum population in your pond. Add Activated Carbon to the pond. Carbon offers a ga-zillion"hotel rooms" for the Nitrifiers to proliferate. Fritzguard to coat the bio-media for superb adherence of the Nitrifiers to the various surfaces in the bio-media as well as on the surfaces within the pond. Aeromonas and Pseudomonas are still on the attack right now. They are pathenogenic bacteria, a "bad" bacterium that is afflicting disease on your fish. Don't think your pond does not have them... They are in every pond! See our article on Aeromonas alert. Continue on KoiZyme to control the population and keep disease from affecting your fish. Add Bacta-Pur Pro 100 a probiotic that also prevents development of disease in your pond and boosts the fishes eco-immunity.

Just check the water quality periodically, say 3-4 weeks if all is well. Add as needed pH down, pH up, pH buffer, Ammo-lock 2, Dechlorinator/Ammonia Remover. Add or recharge your Zeolite to continue its role in absorption of trace Ammonia that can occur. Add Activated Carbon to offer the ga-zillion hotel rooms for the Nitrifying bacteria.

Perform your water changes as needed. Keep the UV Sterilizer on but turn it off for 3 days when you add your Beneficial Bacteria! If the water is not "gin clear" at this point, check your UV sterilizer/Clarifier bulb. Make sure you replace this Every Year! The Sterilizer will combat the Green Water Algae and kills Parasites that could be proliferating right now. If in the past the green water has not been a big deal but your pond from time to time gets murky or blooms occur, then use Accuclear to remove the suspended particles. I would opt to have a UV Sterilizer due to the fact that it kills parasites! Check salt level after your water change and add as needed. See article on Salt. Now let's address the String Algae. I favor the GreenClean... Great stuff. Use this if string algae are growing excessively. If you catch it midstream you can use this or we use Algae Fix & Barley to control it from there. You are also feeding your fish per our article on fish feeding Start fertilizing the plants with Pondtabbs and adding as needed, I say this because my fish are Vultures! If you read all the articles, followed the recommendations, followed the instructions on the products, then your pond is now a clear, healthy, balanced, "living" ecosystem!

Read articles on what products we use during our visits, The Cycle and How to Speed up the Cycle for our recommendations on pond products. Happy Pond-ering!


Fall Pond Care, Why the Fuss?

During the winter months, despite all outward appearances, the pond is active even when the water is cold or even frozen. Dead leaves, algae, insects and solid fish waste that have accumulated over the summer slowly break down during the winter months. A build-up of leaves and other organic matter can cause reduced oxygen to dangerously low levels and release poisonous hydrogen sulfide, methane gas & other toxic gasses.

Use Pond Netting to cover the pond to prevent the accumulation of falling leaves into the pond. It is imperative that the debris not be allowed to sit in your pond during the winter months. Again, Decomposition of all the leaves that fall in or are driven in by the wind, uncut waterlilies and marginal plants, failure to remove hyacinths and tropical floaters, etc., will just create a toxic environment for the fish. If all left in the pond to rot, that once beautiful pond that you enjoyed all summer, is now a toxic wasteland!

If you need assistance, Email us. That's what we are here for. We can have your pond netted, plants trimmed, and appropriate Sludge eating bacterium added to your pond to ensure the quality of the water and health of your fish for the fall & winter months!

In the fall, you should also reduce sludge build-up with a bacterial "cleaning" product like Klear Sludgebuster or Microbe-Lift's Autumn Prep. All these products contain bacteria that digest dead algae and sludge that accumulate in filters and at the bottom of the pond. When water temps drop below the 50 degree mark, we use Clear Pond Fall & Winter Formula, This product is excellent in the early Spring and Fall. It is also a cold water bacteria strain that works in a wide range of pH and in water temperatures below 55 degrees F. Clear Pond improves oxygen levels within the pond, eliminates foul odors. It also reduces ammonia and nitrogen levels to keep the pond environment healthy. Microbe-Lift Autumn Prep. is also a "Cold Water Bacteria" that continues to breakdown the organic sediment, misc. leaves that blew in the pond and sludge. These products are completely safe and help keep the water garden clean. These products will help to process the sludge and waste build-up that is hidden behind and underneath rockwork. I use them all in our ponds as well as in our customer's ponds, I recommend them all!

Plant care in the Late Fall

Floating plants such as water hyacinth and water lettuce, however, are removed from the pond completely as they begin to die off from the cooler temperatures and frost. Leaving these in the pond will rob the water of needed oxygen for the fish as the plant material decomposes.

Hardy lilies and marginals are cut back and placed in the deepest part of the pond- assuming your pond is 18-24" or deeper. This should be done before the first frost. If your pond is less than 18" deep, I would recommend removing these plants and place them in containers filled with water in an area that will not freeze.

Other hardy water plants such as iris, sweet flag, grasses, cattails, rushes, etc. should be left in place to over winter regardless of pond depth. As water can fill the cavity and cause rot on these hollow type plants, I recommend cutting back the foliage on these plants in the spring rather than in the fall.

Performing these simple maintenance procedures ensures you that you have done everything you can do to prepare your pond, fish, and plants for another successful season.


Winter Pond Care, Why the Fuss?

A couple things are important for your pond now that the leaves have fallen and the pond and fish are ready for a long winters nap. The winter is also a time of great fish loss for several reasons. If you run your waterfall in the winter, you are exposing the fish to "ColdShock" where they could die! Do Not Run Your Waterfall in the Winter! We do not recommend running your waterfall and pond in the winter. Especially throughout Ohio, Michigan, Chicago and Surrounding States. Intense circulation in the winter can chill the warmer water at the bottom of the pond. Why would one expose the warmer water at the bottom of the pond to below freezing temperatures?

Another reason to not run your pumps. One issue of operating your pump and filters during the winter is the potential of damage to these components should the power be interrupted for extended periods of time. The seals and components of your pumps and filter can crack, wear and as we all know..Pumps are not cheap to replace each year!

Some systems are designed to allow the water to flow back into the pond should a power outage occur. If you have a check valve on your system consider removing it during the winter so that it doesn't prevent the water from flowing back into the pond.

**It is also our experiences in zones 5 and 6 just a De-Icer is not sufficient to keep a sufficient size hole open in the winter. Use an Aerator and a De-Icer in lieu of your pump. The purpose of the adding the Aerators and De-Icers is to provide a hole large enough to facilitate gaseous exchange between the pond and the water. This exchange will keep dissolved oxygen levels up in the pond, vital for fish health, while also allowing carbon dioxide or other gases caused by the decomposition of pond debris to escape harmlessly into the atmosphere.

If after our last visit with you more leaves blow into the pond, either contact us or grab your skimmer net and pull out as many leaves and debris that may have fallen in since our last visit. If left, they will decay and rob the water of oxygen.

Use Microbelift Fall/Winter Prep during the cold season. These bacterial strains are "Cold Water Bacteria", key to accelerating the breakdown of leaves, sediment, and sludge all winter long. We have had success with the pond in our ponds with water temps of 35-37° temperatures. Clear Pond Fall & Winter Formula is also excellent in the early Spring and Fall. It is also a cold water bacteria strain that works in a wide range of pH and in water temperatures below 55 degrees F. Clear Pond improves oxygen levels within the pond, eliminates foul odors. It also reduces ammonia and nitrogen levels to keep the pond environment healthy.

Never break the ice as the vibration can kill the fish! Use a tea kettle filled with hot water with a rope on it and let it sit on the surface of the ice. Let it melt the ice and free up a de-icer that may have froze over during a power outage. If you don't have a De-Icer... get one... your fish WILL thank you!

Winter Algae Control

A Test study we conducted on our ponds. 2 treated with Algae fix, Barley, & GreenClean, 2 without. The ponds treated with AlgaeFix, Barley, & GreenClean all reduced and combated string algae during the winter months!


Water Changes... DO IT!

Water changes are necessary to replenish trace elements and minerals in the water which fish need. "Topping Off" the pond due to evaporation is not a water change. Solids in water do NOT evaporate. Nitrates, phosphates, carbon dioxide, salt, minerals, never leave the pond. They only accumulate inhibiting fish health and growth. By a partial water change, you will notice that the fish perk up as soon you add water back. Make sure you Dechlorinate. By dechlorinating the water, you are removing all chlorine and chloramines.


Activated Carbon

Carbon is a crude form of graphite made from wood, coal, lignite and coconut shell. The imperfect structure of activated carbon, which is highly porous, is what differentiates it from graphite. These pours range in size from visible cracks and crevices to microscopic dimension. This structure gives the carbon its very large surface area, which allows the carbon to adsorb such a wide range of components. Obviously, the smaller the grain, the greater the surface area. One tablespoon of a fine grained carbon will contain as high as one acre of surface area. Activated carbon the highest volume of absorbing porosity of any substance known to mankind. The most important thing is to be aware that there are large grained "junk" carbon that we see out there being pawned off to the hobbyist. Our Carbon is granulated for maximum surface area absorption. It will not release phosphates or phenols and is designed for use in variety of filters. At least you now know what you are putting in your pond! I know what I am putting in my tanks!

This carbon offers you a blend of two forms of specially processed bituminous carbon with millions of macro & micropore structures in one package. The shiny, larger pieces were chosen for their ability to adsorb tannins (discoloration from organic substances like fish waste), dyes (from medications and foods), phenols (toxic compounds produced by algae and fish waste), dissolved organics and odor. The softer, dull black chunks were scientifically proven to be better than any other on the market at removing inorganic toxic chemicals. The mixture is perfect for quickly and permanently removing all toxic, unwanted water contaminants. Both carbons are fast acting & long lasting, with a 3-4 week active life. Virtually-zero ash ensures that pH will never be effected.

Fritz Carbon is also the perfect substrate for growing beneficial nitrifying and sludge-removing bacteria. Special processing creates a much higher surface area and unique active sites for strong bacterial adhesion.

Contrary to popular belief, activated carbon cannot be reactivated by placing it in the oven*.
Activated carbon is probably the most inexpensive and effective tool available to the hobbyist.


Super-Activated Zeolite

Super-Activated ZEOLITE is an ion exchange resin which may be recharged and reused several times by adding salt (see instructions for use.) An all-natural product, ZEOLITE absorbs and binds ammonia, removes and prevents ammonia build-up, and absorbs 2.5 times its weight. It is the best value on the market! Recommended maintenance dosage: 1 pound per 5,000 gallons of water.


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