Monday, April 28, 2008

Feeding fish

Do not feed goldfish because it turns the pond into an outdoor aquarium, but here's yet another reason not to feed them.

Fish soon realize that when a shape appears at the edge of the pond, food appears. They like that and soon they are trained to eat out of your hand. At least that is what you think.

Fish are not the brightest of critters, so when ANY shape appears at the edge of your pond, like a heron, an egret, a crane or a raccoon, they come up to greet the intruder and oops, they become a fresh sushi dinner for a hungry intruder.

For more pond information, have a look at Backyard ponds with the pondlady

Friday, April 25, 2008

Wild Plants

If you gather plants from the wild, you will bring in parasites and diseases. If you must harvest from the roadside ditches and swamps, first of all, be careful. There are some unpleasant creatures living in those ditches and swamps.

Secondly check local laws, it may be illegal.

Third, put your plants in a washtub or bucket of water with a cup of so of Clorox in it. Leave them there for a week to ten days. That will kill any parasites or other bugs that may have found their way home with you.

Check them well when you put them in your pond for any hitchhiking critters that may have traveled to your house with your new plants.

I find it is often easier to buy the plants from a reputable aquatic nursery or online to assure the plants in your pond are disease and parasite free.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

New Pond Plants

It's time to pot up plants after you have divided them. If your pond is like mine, you have many more plants coming up this spring that you had last fall. So hack them in two or three or four pieces at the bottom and repot them. Here's how:

How to pot up pond plants.

Don't forget you can read more about ponds at
Backyard Ponds with the Pondlady

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Visiting Wildlife

If you trap visiting wildlife like raccoons, and want to relocate them, check with the Wildlife Commission to see if
1) You have rights to move them to a more suited environment,
2) If they are prone to mark their territory and return,
3) Have the local humane society trap & move them to a more fitting area. 

If they are taken to a brand new neighborhood, they are likely to be unable to find food and die.

Learn more about ponds and get your questions answered at
Backyard ponds with the pondlady

Monday, April 14, 2008

Flower pot pond?

I just got an email asking if a pond could be in a flower pot. I answered that I have had ponds in casserole dishes just to prove it could be done.

So, yes, you can have a pond in a flower pot. Put a couple sprigs of anachris in the water, float some plants on top, have a couple of mosquito fish in it to eat any larvae that want to hatch and you will be fine.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Water lily question

I recently introduced 6 fully grown water lilies to my 5000 gal pond. The leaves are starting to yellow and some have small brown/black spots on them. It is a full sun pond with a pump transferring water at rate of 600 gal per hour.

Pondlady sez:

 Water lilies need feeding every 10 - 14 days with Pondtabbs or other aquatic plant fertilizer.
They also like to have the 
tops of their pots at least 18" below the surface of the water and are happier even deeper. 
And remember, the outer ring of leaves gets yellow and needs to be pinched off periodically so the new leaves can grow.
Same with the flowers. They will open and close for about 3 days and then die. Pick them off immediately. Don't let them decay in the pond.
Pinch leaves and flowers off at the pot, not at the top of the water.
Oh, and water lilies do not want water falling on their leaves, nor do they want to be too near moving water. A foot or so away is fine.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Fish Fighting?

If you see your fish chasing each other like they are fighting, don't worry, they are not fighting. What you see is fish spawning. You are about have fish eggs, then babies. Fish babies are called fry. And goldfish are not the best parents in the world. They will eat their babies if they can. Goldfish babies are born grayish brown so they cannot be seen as easily be their hungry momma.

To get all your pond questions answered, see
Backyard Ponds with the Pondlady

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Goldfish eggs

There is no set time for goldfish eggs to hatch. The warmer the water, the faster they hatch, so don't worry if some take longer than others.

Goldfish are born blackish, brownish gray and gradually change to orange, gold or other adult colors. They are born dark to escape the parents who will have them for breakfast if given the chance. Not all of them change; some stay the same brownish, blackish color all their lives.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Turtles and other critters

Critters and ponds go together. When we have a backyard wildlife habitat, we get the critters that come with it. Let's do the best we can do co-exist. You can just not invite most of these critters. The others we just have to live with.

Turtles will eat your water lilies. So will koi, crawfish, bass, perch or other lake fish. Raccoons and nutria will eat them as well. So will ducks and geese. I don't know about possums or muskrats, but I would not be surprised if they did.

Read all about ponds at Backyard Ponds with the Pondlady

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