Aquatics Unlimited: Articles: Pond Maintenance
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Pond Maintenance

Why would pond water turn cloudy white and what can you do about it? White cloudiness is usually from dirt getting into the water, either from an overturned plant pot or run-off from the surrounding area. These must be fixed at the source, then allow the bacterial bloom to run its course.

Why would a pond turn cloudy green and what can you do about it? Excess nutrients and sunlight cause the free-floating algae to prosper. A well-planted pond will often be cloudy green for a week or two in the early spring, before the plants have kicked in. After that time, the plants will use up most of the nutrients and provide some shade, and free-floating algae should disappear. Ponds with few plants will need heavy filtration, UV sterilization or chemical treatment to remain clear. For more on algae control, see Battling Pond Scum.

Why aren't there any large-size algicides for ponds? The Federal Food and Drug Administration has taken many pond treatments, including fish and algae medications, off the market, under the premise that they are being used illegally on food fish (trout, catfish, etc.). Presently, there are only a few products listed as "algicides" that are approved for pond use, and they are available only in small packets for backyard pond use.

If the chemical approach is taken to solve the above question, name the two types of products we carry you would recommend to a customer (Hint-one method much safer than other). Algicides (Pond Clear) can be used, but they are very rough on plants. Flocculents (Aquarem, Crystal Lagoon) and bacteria/enzyme products (Clear Pond) are much safer for fish plants and pets.

What caution would you have for customers that use algicides, flocculents (clumping agents), or shading agents on a pond with "green water" (algae)? Dead algae should be removed promptly, either by filtration or partial water change. At best, dead algae contributes to the next algae bloom; at worst, it can foul the water, depleting oxygen and injuring or killing fish.

What are the best ways to control pond algae? Far and away, the best is to have the pond well-planted. Otherwise, products like Clear Pond, Crystal Lagoon and AquaRem can be used to help control, but not eradicate, algae. UV Clarifiers work well for floating microscopic "pea soup" algae.

How do products like Clear Pond and Ultra Clear help to control algae? These products and many others contain enzymes and bacteria, that essentially bio-degrade organic material, including algae. Unfortunately, most ponds have an abundance of organic material, and would require very frequent additions of Clear Pond.

How do products like Aquarem, Accu-Clear and Crystal Lagoon help to control green water type algae? They are sprayed across the top of the pond, where they form a white cloud-like layer at the surface. This layer slowly sinks, catching suspended material and algae as it drops. (It's best to leave any pumps off during this part of the process.) The resulting layer of sludge can be removed by siphoning or filtering.

Are algicides safe for any pond plants? Algicides inhibit most plants (some marginals seem relatively unaffected), and often kill water lilies, hyacinths and water lettuce.

A customer's pond has a small amount of hair algae on the sides of their pond. The customer is concerned about this situation; what would you recommend the customer do? Probably nothing. A small amount of algae is actually beneficial to the pond, removing wastes (that promote green water) and adding to the fishes' diet.

What product helps to control common fish diseases? There are several, including Tetra DesaFin and Medicated Food Sticks, and Aquarium Pharmaceuticals' Formalin. Common aquarium salt is also effective on several parasites.

What is the biggest risk in using medications containing formalin? Oxygen depravation. Formalin drastically reduces dissolved oxygen levels, so clean water, uncrowded fish and plenty of aeration/circulation are a must.

What pond-cleaning devices do we carry? We carry a 6-foot No-Spill, several nets for collecting debris, scrubber pads with extension poles and the Mini-Vac.

What products help to control plant eating insects? We sell "Blade Runner", which kills soft-bellied insects like aphids. A solution of one tablespoon Ivory Soap, one tablespoon vegetable oil in one pint of water can also be carefully sprayed on marginal plants (but not into the pond).

What is the safest and most cost effective way to control aphids? Simply spray them off the plants with a garden hose. Fish love them and will soon learn that these hosings mean snack time. Alternately, plants could be fully submerged for an hour, allowing the fish to again dine upon the aphids.

Are dechlorinators necessary with a pond? Absolutely. Pond plants and fish are just as susceptible to chlorine burns as aquarium plants and fish.

Is topping the pond off with a garden hose good enough water maintenance for the entire season? No. Water changes are also necessary to keep a pond clean and healthy. A good routine is to change 5%-10% every two to four weeks, cleaning up leaves and other debris in the process.

What are the differences among all the types of pond food that we carry, and when/or for what, should each be used (wheat germ, spirulina, growth, etc.)? There are a number of staple diets for everyday use, growth foods to help young fish add size and weight more rapidly, spirulina for natural color enhancement, and wheat germ for easy digestion (very important in Spring and Fall when cold water slows the fishes' digestive system).

In addition to the standard white and black filter pads, we also carry a blue bonded filter pad for the Supreme Pond Master filters. What is the difference between this pad, and the standard white pad? They catch much finer particles, clearing water much more quickly. They also need to be rinsed or changed more often, and are best used for a quick clean up.

What differences are there between Nycon's koi nets and a landing net from a bait shop? Koi nets are shallower, to prevent spine damage to larger fish. Also, the specially treated fine netting resists snagging fins and stripping scales. They are quality products meant to last for years of heavy use.

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