Sunday, March 30, 2008

Feeding Koi

Give your koi quartered oranges to nibble on. They love them and it gives them vitamin C. They also love red cabbage. Leave it whole and watch them play with it like a volleyball.

If your weather is warming up, it's time to jump start your pond. Put Microbe Lift in your bio filter when you turn it back on. That will start your pond with beneficial bacteria.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Too many fish

Question: We put a pond in 3 years ago and had to put in an ultra voiet light to clear up the pond not working fast enough what is the next step? We have about 35 fish.

Pondlady sez:
It sounds to me as if you have too many fish and you feed them too much.
Your possibilities are to cut down your fish population (probably the best way) or to install a huge filtration system (very expensive) plus your UV light. Even then it is possible your bioload will be too heavy. Maybe you have some friends who could adopt some fish?

The rule for fish load is 1 linear foot of fish per 25 square feet of pond surface.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pond and koi problems

I just got some koi from a friend and now my pond is a muddy mess and stinks and my water lilies are dying. Do I need to clean the whole thing out and start over?

Pondlady sez: 
First of all, your koi are eating your water lilies. And the fish waste is making the pond stink. If you give the koi away and get a couple of plain goldfish and then balance your pond ecologically, you will have a clean pond that is relatively maintenance free. Yes, you do have to clean it out and start over. Sorry.

If you wish to keep the koi, you must add a biofilter and feed your koi.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fish feeding

You are always telling us not to feed our fish. But the fish store tells me I must feed them, Who is right?

Pondlady sez:
If you have a balanced pond, with underwater vegetation, your fish will be happy without unnecessary and artificial food introduced into the pond. If you feed them, they will grow bigger than the pond can handle, they will eat all the vegetation, so you will feed them more and more...and soon the bioload will be too big for the pond and all the fish will die.
If you have sufficient filtration, you can feed fish, but not without it. And overfeeding leads to foul and green water.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Help, I have some sort of red worms growing in my foam rubber filter. Will they kill my fish....or me?

Pondlady sez:
The worms are leeches and I have seen thousands of them. They don't hurt anything at all. They help the pond by eating decomposed organic material and sludge at the bottom of the pond and, of course, in the filter.

Give your pond a jump start this spring with
Microbe-Lift PL
It helps get a great biosystem going, so your fish, plants and water will start out the spring healthy.

Friday, March 21, 2008

mud and silt

Hi! I installed my ponds two weeks ago and things are still settling down. I have an upper pond which is 7' round and a lower pond which is 18' x 11'. A small 6 foot stream runs between them. A lot of dirt got into the pond during the construction of the rock walls and turned the water brown. It wasn't clearing up, so my local pond expert informed me about how plants will help clear the water up so I put in 8 water lillies, 15 water water hyacinths and 50 anacharis.

I have also started the biofilters with doses of bacteria and while things are improving, now I am concerned that the anacharis are totally covered in silt and I am wondering if that will kill them? Don't they need sunlight and doesn't the silt block them from getting sunlight? Do I need to go in there and "shake" them off?

Pondlady sez: 
Your pond installer should have pumped out the dirty water before he collected his final check. So now, here's the best way I know to solve your problem.
Take the plants out, wash them off. Pump out the water, clean the rocks with a strong stream of water, wet vac the silt out and start over.
Be sure you add dechlor before you put your fish back in and I would add bacteria to your biofilter to jump start it.

I wish that you could just grab the anacharis, shake it and wash it off, but the silt will come off the moment you try to pick up the anacharis.
I know you wanted a different answer and I'm sorry you have to clean up your installer's mess. He really should return and do it for free. State law says he has to guarantee his work for a year.

Spring has arrived even if it's not very warm where you live. Check your pond equipment. Is your pump working well?
It's always fun to browse in the spitter and statuary section as well.

For pond information, see a list of the articles I have written at Backyard Ponds with the Pondlady

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A New Pond

I am a new pond owner and it has been established for about a month, I have added a few fish. At first they were very active now I feel they are lying on the bottom more and not swimming around as much. My pond has a little green on the bottom and sides but is basically clear. Am I jumping the gun or do you think I may have a problem with the fish? They are eating but not as much. I have several plants in the pond and seem to be doing o.k. my water lily has finally formed a pad but it is small, how often should I fertilize it? I also have a pond smell it that normal?

Pondlady sez;:
You are feeding your fish. Unless they are koi, do not feed them. Make sure you have 1/2 of the surface of the water covered with floating plants and have plenty of places for the fish to hide.

Put at least one bunch of submerged vegetation in your pond for every square foot of pond surface. Feed the water lily at least once monthly, but they would prefer to be fed twice or even every 10 days in the growing season. Use Pondtabbs or other aquatic fertilizer. If you can't find it, use Job's Tree Spikes cut up in 4 pieces or Job's Tomato Spikes. And as a last resort, just dig a hole in the soil of the water lily, put a powdered fertilizer in there and cover it back up. 
You probably have too many fish as well. Here's the rule: 1 linear foot of fish per 25 square feet of water surface.

Spring is coming fast. Check your filters. If they have been out of the pond all winter, put them back in the water and use some Microbe Lift Gel to give the pond biosystem a jump start for spring.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Egrets and Raccoons

From a new pond owner:

I have just gotten my brand new pond and already egrets and raccoons are eating my fish and plants. Help, what can I do?

Pondlady sez:

 We build beautiful backyard resorts for critters like fish and raccoons and then we don't want them as guests. We want our ponds to be gated communities.

I don't know of any way to keep the fish eating critters away from the pond. 
I advocate never feeding the fish at all and giving them a balanced ecosystem 
in which to live. That way when predators arrive, the fish know that they are
 predators so, they hide in the natural plants and rocks that are in the pond and 
they don't get eaten. Or at least the smart ones don't get eaten. The smart ones have smart babies, the dumb ones get eaten.

For a raccoon deterrent, try planting prickly stuff around your pond. Asparagus fern is good or a holly of some kind. Remember, that prickly stuff can bite you as well as the raccoons.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More pond questions

I live in Orlando, florida and have recently installed a pond on my patio. It is a 25 gal. above the ground barrel pond with 3 anacharis and 2 hardy water lilies. I have a fountain and a filter as I have a few fish in the pond. I also have a snail and a 
plecostamus for cleaning. the filter is rated for 50 gal. My question is how can I stop the goldfish (4 of them) from eating the water lilies? At one time I had 14 lily pads and now I am down to just 8. the lilies are still putting out new growth but they seem to only last about 1-2 weeks before they turn black and die. The snail and pleco take care of the remains. I feed the goldfish about 2 times a day as they are constantly at the water surface. Is there something I can do? Or am I just missing something? The patio is screened in so there is no chance of 
outside invasion.

Pondlady sez:

 I think I am hearing two problems here.
1) Your fish are eating your water lilies
2) Your lilies are turning black and dying.
3) a combination of the two

You have too many fish in that tiny pond. It possibly could support two goldfish. As far as your water lily pads, they only live a couple of weeks and then die off because new pads are coming. You also have one more lily than the pond can support. Give a lily to a friend and keep the one you like best. Feed your lily at least once monthly after May. Oh, and you are feeding your fish too much. They are at the top because they are begging just like your dog does under the dining room table. They are not hungry.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tadpoles and fish

Tracy wrote: 

Are tadpoles good for my pond? My fish died with a white film over their
 eyes I was told it was because of the tadpoles.

Pondlady sez:

 I suppose it is possible, but I find it a bit doubtful. Tadpoles (the toad kind) have toxins on their skins so fish won't eat them, and they don't. I suspect you will find your fish died of something else, like foul water, over feeding or some chemicals getting in the water. If they were new fish, it's possible they were sick when you bought them. 
Change out 25% of the water. Don't forget the dechlor. Be sure you buy fish from a reputable fish store and not a big box retailer.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Spring is coming!

It's almost 80ยบ here in New Orleans today. We have pond plants sticking their green noses up in the air. The Louisiana iris are getting bigger and bigger. The canna is at least a foot high.
It's time to get the pond up and running again. Get out your pumps and filters, hook them up and put them in your pond. If the pond stinks, you may have decomposing organic material on the bottom. Before it fouls your pond, try to vacuum it out.

If you did not clean your pond last fall, it's time to do it now. Take everything out, put the fish in some pond water, pump out the water into the veggie garden, wet vac the bottom and put everything back in. Don't forget the dechlor

While you are at it start your algae control with barley

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cost of pump operation

When selecting pond equipment, you should seriously consider the cost of operation.
Each amp can cost $103 per year based on a dime per kilowatt hour.

What does your local utility charge per KwH? You can look on your bill and find out. Most of your cost comes from running your pump, so be sure to choose the right one.

Other costs can be from lighting and bubblers. If you choose the right equipment you can keep your electricity costs down. Consider solar power for free pump operation.

In general, the more expensive the pump is initially, the less it will cost to run. Also take the length of warranty into consideration when buying any pond equipment.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ten Essential Pond Tips

1. You must have one bunch of anacharis (underwater grass) per square foot of water surface area. This serves as a natural filter and as food for the fish. It grows faster than the fish can eat it.

2. 50 - 60% of the surface of the water must be shaded with floating plants. Water lilies are great, as are water hyacinths, water lettuce or water poppies. Just be sure to compost them as they multiply and not allow them loose in a natural waterway.

3. You must have fish to complete the balanced ecosystem. I recommend common goldfish. Do not put Koi in your pond unless you have built a koi pond. They will eat all of your plants.

4. Do not feed your fish. They will become too big for the pond and upset the ecosystem. You will have an overpopulation problem and all of your fish will die.

5. Put in one linear foot of fish for each 25 square feet of pond surface area. If you have 100 square feet of pond, you may have 4 foot long fish, 8 six inch fish or 16 three inch fish and so on.

6. Do not allow turtles, crawfish, alligators, ducks, geese, dogs, raccoons, possums, muskrats, nutria or your children to swim in your pond.

7. Do not use chemicals!!! EVER! Add a dechlorinator when you first fill the pond and then when you add more than 10% water afterwards. 

8. Do not worry about pH. It will take care of itself.

9. Remove any dead or decaying vegetation regularly so that ammonia does not build up and foul your pond.

10. Relax. Your pond will generally take care of itself. I recommend benevolent neglect as the best approach to pondkeeping.

For detailed pond information, see my articles at Backyard Ponds with the Pondlady

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Building above grade

If you do nothing else while building your pond, build it above grade. You can use my method or just pile up the soil you removed from the hole around the edges, but if you don't build it up, run off from your yard can kill your pond.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Choosing a pump

When choosing the best pump for your pond calculate your head loss. Head loss is the vertical distance the pump has to push the water plus the friction caused by the water flowing through the pipes and fittings. If the flow rate is too high for the pipe's diameter, you create more pressure.

  Head losses also happen when filters clog with debris and create back pressure; this can be eased by keeping your filter clean. Too many elbows can add to back pressure. Pumping vertically, whether it is to a waterfall or a filter, will also increase head pressure. Running costs increase with head loss, so it is important to keep head loss to a minimum.

To read all my pond articles, go to Backyard Ponds with the Pondlady