POND PREDATOR DETERRENTS
Nothing can be more discouraging for a pond owner than having predators ravage their stock of fish and plants. Many homes in both rural and urban settings are visited by deer, raccoons, herons, kingfishers, opossums, foxes, dogs, and more! Stay one step ahead of hungry critters by implementing custom deterrents.
If you are designing a new pond consider making it as wide and deep as possible, and keeping the edges steep. Many hungry animals will wade into shallow water but a plant shelf starting at 12-16” will keep the access points unusable. Plants on these shelves can be elevated with rocks if needed! Being able to see your pond from a window is not only enjoyable, but you will be able to see who may be muddling in it. Even better, install a light that can illuminate the area at the flip of a switch to startle them away!
Cave structures and plants drastically reduce predator activity naturally. Fish will be harder to find when they’re on alert and have many hiding places! Raccoons may muddle up plants near shallow borders, so if you know they are a problem in your yard consider floating plants, floating cork bark for potted plants, or deep water lilies for maximum surface coverage that is out of reach.
Netted dome covers are useful for smaller features (up to 20 feet around) as well as small garden plots. They are easy to move when you’d like to sit and enjoy the view! Larger, flat netting options can be installed easily with rocks or stakes around their border. As an added bonus, netting will catch leaves and other debris that can make the water untidy.
Birds are creatures of habit and will return routinely unless they feel unwelcome. Alligator- and heron-shaped decoys, when moved to different edge locations frequently show that other critters have dibs at this location. Reflective materials can also irritate predators since their eyesight is so keen. Shiny metallic party ribbon or floating reflective pyramids only take a moment to install.
Fishing line makes a trip line that birds will not want to walk through, but their persistence sometimes calls for a small fence contraption that holds multiple threads (see the Heron Stop kits in store). Very hard headed birds (and raccoons!) will definitely respond to a low-voltage current that runs through the electrified fence options like the Spitfire V.
Our most fun pest-away is the Scarecrow motion detecting sprinkler! They’re incredibly easy to install, relocate, and use. A spray of water scares away animals that come within range of your pond or garden. Considering that these attach to a hose and run on only a 9-volt battery they’re a guaranteed favorite.
ALGAE SOLUTIONS FOR PONDS
API Algaefix, Microbe-Lift Algaway, and Fountec Algaecide Clarifier are all algaecides with the same active ingredient: Poly[oxyethylene (dimethyliminio) ethylene (dimethyliminio) ethylene dichloride]. Luckily it’s easier to use than to pronounce! Basically, it’s a chlorine that uses an electrostatic charge on the algaes’ cell wall that breaks it down and kills it.
API’s Algaefix has the lowest concentration of the active ingredient (4.5%), and as a result is a less aggressive algae treatment while still being effective. The advantage of this, though, is a safer effect on plants, fish, and animals in smaller water volumes when dosed correctly. It also has oxidizing qualities so aeration and lower temperatures are necessary during use to minimize loss of oxygen. It is safe for plants and animals.
Microbe-Lift Algaway has a slightly higher concentration of the active ingredient (5.4%), which makes it potentially harmful for snails and invertebrates, but still okay for plants, fish, and animals. This algaecide will also require aeration and lower temperatures during use to prevent oxygen deficit.
Fountec Algacide Clarifier has the highest concentration of the same active ingredient (30%), but is intended for use on tiny volumes of water in fountains, birdbaths, and similar features that do not have fish. It will still be safe for any plants in the features, as well as birds or other small animals that may visit and drink the water.
Another very effective algaecide- Green Clean- kills algae by breaking down into a mix of hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate which acts as an oxidizing agent to kill algae. It can be used in granular or liquid form. The granular form is good for large ponds and spot treating features like a waterfall. The liquid form is best used in smaller volumes of water as it is less concentrated. Green Clean is a heavy oxidizer so aeration and cooler temperatures are vital with use, and it can raise pH by as much as one unit, so it’s recommended to monitor pH after application.
Preventing algae growth is especially important after a large removal using the above products. Barley straw is the most natural algae preventative. It will not kill existing algae, but when used long term it will break down into an enzyme that will aid in preventing new growth. It can be applied in bales or floating bale plant holders, though the more processed pellets and liquid concentrate will aid in faster treatment. When you stop by Aqua Serene for your algaecide of choice, be sure to grab some barley straw as well!
Pond season is just around the corner and the time is here to think about spring cleaning. Spring is an excellent time to lower the water and vacuum the bottom after giving it a brisk scrubbing on the sides. If you have a large holding area, you can do a complete drain, clean, vacuum and refill with fresh water. I recommend adding an algaecide- or more importantly, some live beneficial bacteria, to jumpstart the biological filter if you’re doing a major cleaning.
Let’s not forget about those filters and plants! This is a good time to clean them, too. If this seems like too much work, but you still want to enjoy a healthy pond, give Aqua Serene a call and we would be happy to do it for you.
A good thorough cleaning is important for maintaining a healthy pond for your finned friends, and yourself, to enjoy!
THE POND NITROGEN CYCLE
The nitrogen cycle is a natural process that is vital to the health of your pond and the fish and plants that reside in it. The first step in this process begins with the feeding of your fish. As fish are fed, some of the food is excreted as waste and some is left uneaten. Also leaf litter naturally falls into your pond and will decompose. As waste, uneaten food, and decomposing biological material accumulate the levels of ammonia (NH3/NH4+) in your pond will begin to increase. As ammonia in your pond is produced and the water is cycled through your filter material, a type of aerobic bacteria called Nitrosomonas sp. bacteria will begin to oxidize the ammonia and produce nitrites (NO2-). The nitrites are then oxidized by the Nitrobacter sp. bacteria and be converted into nitrates (NO3-).
Both of these oxidizing processes are extremely important because both ammonia and nitrite at high concentrations can be toxic to your fish and the overall health of your pond. Nitrate however is not lethal for your fish and is the form of nitrogen that is available for uptake by plants.
To ensure a healthy pond and healthy fish, proper filtration is needed based on the volume of water and the amount of fish that are stocked. There are many different types of filtration options such as variations of bog filters, barrel filters, and pressurized filters. Regardless of what filtration method is chosen, making sure there is substantial surface area and plenty of oxygenated water flowing over the material is key. This will allow the beneficial bacteria to thrive and keep the toxic ammonia and nitrite levels in your pond low.
Come by Aqua Serene today and we can provide you with further information on the nitrogen cycle and on proper filtration for your pond!
NATURAL POND CARE: FALL AND WINTER
The leaves are falling and the air is crisp; there is even a hint of frost! Here in Oregon, fall brings cold rains and misty mornings to your yard. Just as in nature, your pond too is slowing down and preparing to sleep for the winter. For those of us interested in keeping an organic or natural pond, fall brings new challenges. As the water cools, the gut bacteria in your fish, as well as the helpful microorganisms in your filters will be less efficient. It’s time to repeat the mantra “less is more”.
Begin feeding your fish less, only a few times a week. They should also be switched to a wheat germ based diet to ensure that they can digest the food, and to reduce the amount of waste proteins in your water. Doing so won’t just improve your water quality; it’ll help reduce those nasty algae blooms when the weather warms. When the water temps fall below 50 degrees, it’s time to stop feeding altogether. The temperature outside varies from the temperature in your pond water so be sure to get yourself a pond thermometer. Just like in nature, your fish will seek the shelter of the deeper portions of your pond and get ready for dormancy. During this time they do not eat, so any food will only rot and dirty up your pond.
Other fall duties include stretching some pond netting over your feature to capture those pesky leaves and debris. This makes the chore of daily skimming unnecessary, and prevents the debris from settling to the bottom where it can decay and cause nasty issues for your pond inhabitants.
Adding a special blend of winter microbes such as those found in Microbe-Lift Fall/ Winter Prep can also help greatly in this regard. The special blend of cold tolerant bacteria added now will ensure a smooth transition to the colder months, and keep your water in tip-top shape.
Lastly, for those considering trying out natural algae control methods like barley straw extract, there is no time like the present to get started! These products take time to build up in the pond system, and fall is a great time to get started on a regimen.
By the time spring rolls around, your pond will be naturally inoculated against the worst of the dreaded “green water” troubles. Your fish will thank you, and so will the environment. Stop in today to learn more.
KOI AND GOLDFISH DIETS
A question I get daily is, “So, what do I feed these guys?” Koi and Goldfish eat just about anything they can fit in their mouths, but as an owner you are keeping these fish in an enclosed environment, so it’s your responsibility to make sure those are the right things. Without the right nutrients or too much of some nutrients, you can run into many problems including immune deficiencies, growth and color issues. First off, protein and amino acids are essential for growth and overall body maintenance for the fish and are important to include in their diet because they cannot be synthesized or stored by the fish themselves. In this area, always look for quality over quantity; fish meal, soybean meal and spirulina algae are just a few easily digested protein sources for Koi. Fats and carbohydrates are important energy sources for Koi and Goldfish and are available in many forms such as grains, veggies, fruits and fish oils. Many essential vitamins can also be found through fruits and vegetables so if you have any scraps from your garden, throw them to your fish instead of the compost! Lack of a variety of vitamins and minerals can cause your fish to be sluggish and can lead to anemia, liver failure, and loss of color over time. That leads me to another question I get almost daily, “How can I improve my Goldfish/Koi’s color?” Let me start out with the obvious, you cannot alter your fishes genes, the general color scheme will most likely stay the same through a Koi/Goldfishes life. With that being said, there are many things you can do to help enhance their natural colors. Carotenoids are a group of yellow, orange, and red pigments that carp cannot produce on their own that are very important to developing color from a young age. There are many natural forms of carotenoids that can be found in animal and plant sources from crawfish, krill, shrimp, marigold petals, yeast, and Spirulina algae. There are also many synthetic forms being produced now but use them with caution, many are known to “dirty” white fish or white spots if used in excess. One last issue to touch on with fall approaching, is another daily question, “How much should I feed them?” As Koi and Goldfish are coldblooded, their metabolism will change with the water temperature. It is always a good idea to keep an eye on your water temp through the seasons just to be aware of your waters average parameters, but also to keep your fish as happy as possible. When your water temp is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit, you can feed high protein feed up to twice a day. When water temp drops between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit you should either feed a lower protein food every day, or a high protein every other day. Alternating the two would be ideal to fill out your fish’s diet. When the water temp drops below 55 degrees, do not feed your fish! They will start to settle down to the bottom and become less and less active as we move into winter. Always pay attention to eating behavior of your Koi and Goldfish, as it can be indicators of many things such as illness, predators nearby, and even just the change of seasons.
Do you like dinosaurs? Then I have a plant recommendation for you! One of my favorite plants the Gunnera Manicata can make you feel like a dinosaur is just lurking around its leaves. Gunnera Manicata, also known as Giant Rhubarb, is an exciting pond plant that we carry at Aqua Serene. The plant can become an impressive talking point since their leaves are known to get up to nine feet wide! The Gunnera Manicata is an herbaceous perennial that can reach up to eight feet in height and thirteen feet in width. In early summer they have a bloom of tiny red-green flowers in conical branched panicles followed by a small spherical fruit. However, they are not grown for their fruits but for their impressive leaves. When planting one, remember how large these plants can get to make sure you have enough space to house these monsters. They grow best in damp conditions next to a pond. If you get one at a young age, remember to cut it back and mulch around and over the base when it starts getting cold out for the first couple years. Once the plant has become well established the mulching is not completely necessary anymore, but it never hurts. Come in and get your dinosaur plant today!
August 10, 2016
Those of you who have a pond might like to know how to keep predators at bay. Recently we started carrying some new products to deter all types of predators. Here is a list of them. 1)Heron Stop is a product that gives you the equipment to protect your pond and fish using an invisible thread with little bells that you string across the pond & secure with stakes. 2)The Brilliant pyramid floats on top of the pond surface sparkling & reflects the light frightening the heron. 3)Pond Protector is a heavy duty UV resistant netting that stretches across the pond in an arch protecting the fish. 4)The Scare Crow is an adjustable motion activated deterrent that has multiple features. 5)The Blue Heron decoy is a life like replica of a Blue Heron & because Blue Herons are territorial by putting one near or in the pond the Blue Heron keeps on moving on.
Spring is just around the corner, yet your pond water is still too cold for most pond plants to be even sending up new sprouts. One super interesting pond plant that already flowering is the Water Hawthorne. This plant has an opposite growth cycle from most pond plants, flowering in fall & spring and lying dormant in the summer. Hawthorne commonly spread about 2-3 feet on the surface and grows happily at a depth of 2 feet, but it can be sunk deeper once established.
The best part about these beautiful, vanilla scented flowers is that they are edible! The most common form of consumption of the flowers is in tea. Additionally the tubers are edible and are good in salads and stir fry!
Hi There Folks! Today I wanted to talk to you about winterizing your pond.
First let’s talk about your fish. Fish are ectothermic critters, so as your pond’s temperature drops their metabolism is going to be slowing down. We at Aqua Serene recommend switching to a wheat germ based food in fall as it gets colder. Wheat germ foods have very little protein n them, which will be easier for your fish to digest as their metabolism slows down. Once your pond temperature drops to 50F, it is time to stop feeding until it starts warming up again.
Next, lets talk about your plants. Its is always a good idea to cut back and remove any dying plant material so the debris will not fill up in your pond. Cutting back your plants also helps them store and conserve energy and nutrients for spring! Lilies and other deep water pond plants we recommend to be sunk at least 18 inches deep to avoid freezing.
Removing/ skimming your pond for debris can be quite helpful too. Obviously removing all the leaves and other debris from your pond is quite a task, but if a bulk can be removed it will be quite helpful for the winter. This helps prevent clogs in your skimmers and filters. Having decomposing material can also affect your pond’s chemistry, so removal of debris for the winter will keep your pond nice and happy.
Finally, if you have fish we recommend keeping your pump running during the winter, even though you don’t have to. The movement and agitation of water will add extra oxygen to the pond for which your fish would thank you for if they could. It is not however necessary to run your UV filtration system.
If you do decide to shut off your pump, we do have a few recommendations. Remove your pump from the pond itself, dry it off to store it. If the pump freezes it could cause damage to it. If you have one, remove your UV clarifier bulb and store it. If the pump is not on and the water freezes on your bulb it could break it.
That’s all for today! Come into the store if you have more questions about winterizing your pond!
Black Knight Cannas
These are just a few of the great plants we have available along with statues and unique creative decorative pieces. Come on in and spruce up your pond! See you at the store!
SPRING CLEANING FOR YOUR POND
Koi and Shubunkins at Aqua Serene
Although it may not feel like it, Spring is here. This is the time our ponds are awakening from the cold winter months. This is also the time when we get an increase in bad bacteria which can cause problems for the pond inhabitants. To minimize the bad bacteria, a complete and thorough cleaning may be in order. Also, keeping an eye on pond temperatures and feeding can go a long way in keeping the pond healthy. At temperatures below 50-550F, we recommend not feeding. At 55 –650F, we recommend a wheat germ based food fed sparingly. Above 650F, we recommend any high quality food fed in amounts your fish will consume in 5 minutes. At this time, you can feed up to 3-4 times daily. As always, feel free to call or stop by with any questions you may have. If a complete cleaning is needed, we can also arrange for that. Along with warmer days of Spring, comes the new arrivals of Koi and Shubunkins. The high quality of Koi this season also includes a select group of Japanese Koi . Come on in and check out our great selections and while you are here, check out all the fine accessories we have to offer.
April 08, 2014
PREPARE FOR YOUR ENJOYABLE SUMMER POND
Spring is on the way. Now is an excellent time to evaluate the condition of your pond. Regardless of the size of your pond/water feature, planning ahead is invaluable. These next few months is the premium time for clean-outs, looking at conditions of hose(s), fitting and connections, filters, pumps. If you have livestock, doing major operations will be more tolerable in moderate temperatures. Don’t wait until its’ one hundred degrees out, as significant water changes are harder on fish then. So plan ahead, do what needs to be done now so you can enjoy your pond all summer.
______________________________________________________________ BEAUTIFUL PLANTS FOR YOUR SPRING PONDS Hi folks, It’s almost spring, and I imagine some of you are longing for some new plant life in your pond. Well, we have some beautiful water Hawthorns in bloom for sale in our water garden. They are one of the first plants we have to offer but don’t worry, there will be more as the months get warmer and spring is upon us. So come on into the store and stock up on pond items, plants, and décor. See you at the store!
February 22, 2014
______________________________________________________________ PONDS AND FREEZING TEMPERATURES So the temperature has dropped to freezing or below, and my pond is beginning to look more like an ice skating rink. What should I do? Will my fish be ok? For the health of the equipment as well as the pond inhabitants, we recommend to keep pumps plugged in and running to keep water moving, which often prevents plumbing and pump damage. For our fishy friends, all we need is to keep the ice from completely covering the surface of the pond which would prevent adequate oxygen exchange. It is recommended that you keep a hole chipped through the ice should the entire surface freeze over. Another way to do the same thing is to purchase a “Pond Deicer” which will keep your pond from completely freezing over. Deicers are not be used to warm the pond but to just keep a small area open for oxygen exchange. A good deicer is one of those items that are good to have around. Come on in and check out the deicers. If your pumps have quit running due to a freeze, it is recommended you unplug the equipment and wait for the thaw while keeping an eye on any plumbing for leaks.
December 11, 2013
With winter coming up, be sure to check the water temperature in the pond. When the pond decreases to the lower 70s (0F), it’s good time to switch your fish food to a wheat germ base that is more easily digested. As the temperatures cool, it is harder for fish to digest food properly. Even though your fish need to bulk up for winter, be careful not to overfeed. You can feed 2-3 times a day what they’ll eat in 5 minutes or less, then remove any excess food. Once the water temperature falls to 500F, the bacteria in a fish’s digestive system are no longer able to process food efficiently.
With the fish taken care of, now is a good idea to trim and remove any dying plant material as it appears, so it does not add to debris build up and will most likely provide more blooms the following summer if properly fertilized. In northern climates when temperatures get below 600F, tropical plants should be brought inside or disposed of, along with surface and submersed plants. When the first leaf falls, it’s time to cover the entire pond with netting. It’s just about impossible to keep netting every leaf out by hand, and it saves a lot of time. The net is barely visible and is stretched and anchored on the sides of the pond. It is very important to make sure the netting is above the surface of the water. As leaves gather, just remove the anchors on one side and flip them off. Then re-anchor. If you have a skimmer, it’s not as dangerous to go “without a net” but the skimmer’s net should be checked and debris emptied out daily. In cooler climates, leave the netting on until the pond surface starts to freeze over. Then when you remove the net, you can set in the heater. A pond heater does not actually heat the pond but instead keeps its immediate area from freezing. This allows for toxic gasses to be released and oxygen to enter the pond. When it gets below 400F, then the main pump can be removed, and filters thoroughly cleaned. Do not leave the pump running on the bottom of the pond. It will lower the temperature of the entire pond too low for fish to survive and can force them to use up all their stored fat just trying to stay still. All your efforts will pay off in the spring with a healthier pond and healthier fish. Just because it seems like the pond will be “sleeping” for a while, doesn’t mean it will look ugly. A frozen pond can be very beautiful, especially if you installed underwater lighting. The effect is awesome! We can winterize your ponds as well. Just call and ask about our winter special.
November 1, 20123
IS YOUR POND READY FOR THE COLD DAYS? Yes, it’s that time of the year again. Summer has passed and there is a definite nip of fall in the air. So what does that mean for our pond and finned friends? It means it’s time to think of what we need to do to help the pond survive the winter months. Make sure all your equipment is cleaned and in good working order, especially pumps and filters. Skim the surface of all leaves and falling debris as often as possible. Doing so can lighten the load on your filters as well as preventing this from falling to the pond bottom to become food for algae next spring. If you haven’t done a thorough cleaning of your pond this year, you may want to give us a call to have it done. This is a good time to remove all the buildup of debris at the bottom of your pond. Feeding is another very important aspect of fall and winter maintenance. That goes a long way in keeping our fish happy and healthy through the winter. As the temperature of our pond begins to drop, we need to change the diet and feeding regimen. I recommend you check your pond water temperature and note it in your pond log. If done 2 – 3 times per week, you can easily see when we need to change the diet. When pond temperature falls below 600F, we recommend feeding a “wheat term” based food half as often as summer feeding. As temperature of the pond continues to drop to the 450F – 550F range, we recommend you feed the same “wheat term” based diet but only 2 to 3 times a week and only if the fish are actively eating all of it. When the pond temperature falls below 400F – 450F, we recommend you stop feeding anything. In spring, we simply reserve this feeding regimen to allow our fish to adjust to warmer water. Always remove any uneaten food after 5 minutes anytime you feed. For further discussion of this or any other pond related issues, please stop by and we can answer your questions.
September 26, 2013
ADDING AERATION TO YOUR POND Is your pond deeper than 3 feet? Do you ever see your fish at the surface gasping for air? Are you having constant algae problems? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may help to add additional aeration. During the summer, it is quite possible to have pond temperature rising to 70+ degrees and we know that oxygen levels fall as temperatures rise. The available oxygen will be toward the upper level of the pond while all the beneficial bacteria and any other bottom critters end up starving for oxygen and dying at the bottom. All the fish waste, decaying plants matter, and dying algae all compete for available oxygen. Adding aeration to the bottom of any pond will greatly improve the dissolved oxygen levels as well as prevent stratification within the water column. For the health of all of your pond inhabitants, it may be good to consider all the benefits of added aeration. If you have any questions please stop by our store and we can discuss it.
July 20, 2013
BUILD YOUR OWN PATIO SIZE WATER CONTAINER Today I will give you some information to help build your own patio size water container. The first example is really simple and inexpensive. First choose a type of material that will hold water; something that is going to give you a decent surface area to work with at least 24″. I recommend a rubber liner if using a container like a whiskey barrel, but you really can use anything that holds water. A plastic or terra cotta pot, or even a ceramic Vietnamese pot like those we sell here at the store. Fill your container with water & let it sit overnight to come to a reasonable temperature, and to give the chlorine or any other additives in your water supply, a chance to dissipate. At this point you could add a few rocks, or a terra cotta pot with a rock inside, to create a hiding place for your livestock should you want to add any. Another idea is adding a few bricks which will aid in protection for your livestock, and give a raised structure in your water container to place a potted lily or lotus plant on. At this point you have a pretty cool little water container. You may want to stop at this point or you might want to be a bit more ambitious and add a fountain to your container. In this case I would forgo planting a water lily or water lotus (they don’t like to be splashed with water constantly) and add some oxygenating water plants like water hyacinth or parrots feather. The second example is more involved. Choose a plastic container. Drill a little hole for mounting a spouting ornament. Place the ornament in the hole. Take a water lily from its pot and spread the lily’s roots and soil gently in the container. We have a great product here already made up and ready to go; or you can also use kitty litter along with soil. Place a divider in the middle (bricks without holes work well). Make sure the planting media can’t escape from its side of the container. Place a marginal plant on the opposite side of the divider along with a small plastic cup that will hold the recirculating pump. Add another marginal plant along with more planting media. Pat gently around each plant and add one more marginal plant if there is room. You want the container full of plants but not crowded. Place a small amount of pea gravel over the potting material (this will keep the potting material from making a big mess) and around the lily plant also. Cut the vinyl tubing to the appropriate length to reach the pump, let the pump inside the plastic cup and add some panty hose to the plastic cup (the panty hose will act as a particulate filter for the pump). Connect the tubing to the spouting ornament. Place a few fertilizer tabs into the soil near the plants crowns. Add water and enjoy. Trimming back dying leaves occasionally and topping off with water is all that left.
May 23, 2013
TO SALT OR NOT TO SALT? Should I be using salt in my pond? A rather common question we get asked frequently. Although it sounds like an easy answer, some specific issues need to be considered. Do you want to use salt for medicinal reasons or just as a maintenance item? If used medicinally, it can be very useful against many parasites. Unlike many medications, which are formalin based and can damage your biological filter, salt is very safe to use for humans as well as pets and won’t harm our filters. The best thing is, it is cheap to use. The optimum salinity for most parasites is 0.3% but there are some that require a salinity of up to 0.6%. At 0.3% salinity, our fish will also benefit by an improved slime coat. A healthy slime coat goes a long way to prevent any potential health problems with our fish. At 0.3% salinity our fish also benefit from improved osmoregulation. The biggest negative of adding salt to your pond would be on many of your plants. However, if salt is added over a period of days and kept at 0.3%, most plants can tolerate that for the duration of any treatment period. So to answer whether to salt or not, the answer would be yes: for medicinal reasons at 0.3% and for maintenance reasons at 0.1%. The best way to monitor your salinity levels is to use a good quality refractometer.
April 27, 2013
KEEP OUR FINNED FRIENDS HAPPY IN SPRING Once again spring has arrived and it’s time to think about our ponds and the coming summer months. What should we be thinking of doing for our finned friends? Proper feeding is a very important aspect of the spring pond. As a guide, the best tool to use is a good thermometer to monitor the temperature of your pond. At about 450 – 500F, we recommend minimal feeding (about 2-3 times per week) of a high quality, wheat germ based food which the fish can actually digest. When pond temperature reaches about 500 – 600F, we recommend you continue using a high quality wheat germ based food with more regularity (3-6 days per week). Once we reach a steady 600+ it is fine to be feeding daily with any high quality koi pellet. Please stop by anytime with your questions so we can discuss the best ways to keep your pond, and its inhabitants, as healthy and happy as possible.
March 23, 2013
PLANNING A KOI POND SYSTEM Hello, I would like to touch base with you a little bit about planning a Koi pond system. It would be worthwhile to list just what we and our Koi require of the system in order to incorporate everything into your design. * An overall system that is built to last. * A filter system which produces and maintains all the water qualities required; namely
- P.H. between 7.2 to 7.8 and stable
- Nitrate zero and stable
- Ammonia zero and stable
- Dissolved oxygen content over 8ppm, at all times
- Nitrite as low as possible and stable
* Total control of water temp at all times of the year * A pond and filter system that removes all mechanical debris to waste on a daily basis, both efficiently and quickly, retaining none within the system at any time, and a filtration system with a biological stage that seldom needs any maintenance but removal of debris and dust is periodically needed. * No toxic metals in any materials used and the ability to remove heavy metals in main water before reaching the pond. * A system that gives the owner easy access to all equipment used for servicing needs. * A system that can cope with high stocking rates of Koi to water volume. * A system that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye of the owner and one that can be easily enjoyed all year. * A pond that contains only water and Koi – no pumps and pipework, and one that has ample natural daylight conditions. If all these things are incorporated correctly, you should be well on the way to producing a very efficient garden aquarium and the best tools we can have to keep your water properly. See you at the store!
February 9, 2013
Red Ramshorn Snail
Malaysian Live-bearing Snail
Sooner or later, you will probably find uninvited guests in your aquarium. Snails find their way into the tank or plants, sometimes from live foods. This intruder is generally the slim American Pond Snail (Physa fontinalis). A common misconception is that snails are necessary for cleaning up excess food and algae. The truth is, hungry snails will eat your aquarium plants.
The Red Ramshorn Snail may also find its way into your aquarium. This snail is harmless as long as only a few exist in your tank. If abundantly fed, they too will attack your plant life. The Live-bearing Snail from Malaysia, however, can be a contributing member of your miniature water world. They live in the gravel of the tank bottom, which keeps it loose and clean. The rapid breeding of snails is a result of overfeeding. If snails get out of control, chemicals should not be used. Dead snails will foul the water feed lightly for 2 weeks and affect a natural control. Removing snails from your tank is quite simple. Switch off the light, preferably in evening. Place an upturned saucer into your tank and put 3-5 Tetramin tablets, or other sinking food available at our store, upon the saucer. During the next 2-3 hours the snails will gather around the food. All you need to do is remove the saucer!
October 26, 2012
WINTERIZE YOUR PLANTS Hello everyone! Even as the pond season slowly winds down, there are still lots of things the water gardener can do to keep his green thumb wet. For example, focus your attention on autumn plant care to savor the remaining water garden season, or give some extra attention needed to properly winterize your plants. Here are a few tips. Bog plants/marginal hardy plants: When your hardy marginal plants begin to brown (or after the first frost) be sure to prune your plants, leaving about 2 inches of the stem above soil level. Remove dead or decaying leaves so they do not make their way into your water garden; rotting plant material can compromise water quality. Hardy water lilies and lotus can be sunk down in deep water for the winter season as long as your pond does not freeze solid. If it does, they will need to be brought indoors or to a green house for dormant storage. Tropical plants: These should be brought inside and cared for as house plants in the spring. Trim all dead foliage and store in a cool dark area keeping plants moist. Allow them to go dormant so they do not sprout prematurely. Know your plant zone for hardiness of your plants geographical limitations. While many plants do fine in summer, non-hardy plants rarely survive in winter outside their zone without special care. Happy gardening!
October 13, 2012
PREPARE OUR PONDS FOR WINTER
So what does this all mean for our ponds? It’s time to think about the coming transition period for the pond inhabitants. For fish, this can be a very stressful time. Maintaining water quality is best for our finned pets.
Let’s not forget about our plants either. With colder weather approaching, we want to clean up all the dead and decaying plant material. As we move into fall and winter, it’s a good idea to skim as much debris as possible off the surface of your pond. This skimming goes a long way to keep the water quality good for our finned friends.
If you are looking for that special plant that gives color and flowers all winter long, don’t overlook the Water Hawthorn. With a growth habit similar to a water lily (many oval long stemmed leaves), it has flowers that are V shaped and white and is a very attractive plant for the long cold winter.
September 29, 2012
BEAUTIFUL POND PLANTS
Hello everyone! Can you believe it’s mid August already? We still have a lot of beautiful pond plants available for your enjoyment: wonderful Lotus, big flowering Canna’s, free flowing grasses, and creeping plants for your water feature. And we have Canna’s and Hibiscus on sale this month. Come on in and pick up a plant or two for your garden or pond!
August 22, 2012
ALGAE CONTROL Summer is finally here! Your pond and its inhabitants are adjusting to warmer water and longer, sunny days. Along with these changes, we often see an increase in the algae. There are several approaches to algae control for our ponds. To begin, algae need three things to flourish: water, light and food. If we can affectively remove any of the three components, we can keep algae under control. Although there are many effective chemical controls available today, I prefer to use natural methods for controlling algae. Floating plants such as water hyacinth or water lettuce can be very effective, because they shade the water surface and their roots compete for the same nutrients as algae. Another great method is the use of an ultraviolet clarifier, or UV for short. UV is not only helps control algae, but it’s also great against bacteria and parasites. A UV uses a special florescent lamp of a particular wavelength to irradiate the microorganisms and make them unable to reproduce. The effectiveness of any UV is dependent on what is called “dwell time.” Dwell time is the amount of time the microorganism remains exposed to the light. As a general rule, a slower flow rate is desired to control bacteria and algae and a slightly higher flow rate is required for parasites. UVs are available in many different sizes and shapes to fit any pond or aquarium. When properly used, UV can be a very beneficial addition to help control unwanted algae, bacteria and parasites. If you are considering a UV, come on down and we can discuss any issues and answer your questions.
June 24, 2012
LILY LIKE AQUATICS
Many lily-like aquatics such as hydrocleys (water poppy) and nymphoides (yellow water snowflake) look similar to lilies but have much smaller leaves and flowers. They are especially well suited to patio pool gardens and smaller ponds, with a recommended planting depth of 6″ to 12″. Yellow water snowflake flowers ( May through September) have fringed yellow flowers with leaves that have distinct ruffled edges with burgundy green blotches. The water poppy flowers (July and August) have small round upright leaves which contrast beautifully with bright yellow flowers. We have both species and more here at the store out in our pond section. Come see out collection of lily-like aquatic plants.
June 5, 2012
MAKE YOUR POND A LIVING SANCTUARY
Floating plants like water lilies and four leaf clovers make a beautiful presentation in your pond. They can take the full sun and are hardy. We have a large selection of pond plants that sink down in the pond but grow on the surface. We also have Pennywort, which grows fast and covers the surface area. We have creepers, and floating plants, exotic Gunnera and Papyrus – all for your pond or garden. Spring is here. Make your pond a living sanctuary!
May 11, 2012
Hi folks! We have a large selection of Japanese Maples, ready for planting. Bring beauty and color to your yard or pond by planting different varieties. Come on by the nursery and check out our selection!
May 3, 2012
SPRING PLANTS AND KOI FOR YOUR POND
Spring has sprung, and around the Aqua Serene pond area it couldn’t be more true. Pond plants are arriving and so are the Koi. We currently have a great selection of pond and marginal plants and new Koi arrivals. The selection of Koi may be the best of the season, with many colors to choose from and some of the nicest Butterfly Koi I have seen for a while. As your pond comes to life this spring, don’t forget to come on in and check us out. We have the answers to your questions and an unbeatable selection of fish, plants and supplies.
April 23, 2012
SPRING PLANTING Hello everyone! It’s spring planting time- and that also goes for tree planting. Did you know that Aqua Serene has a very large selection of trees? Everything from Weeping Alaska Cedars to False Cypress. We have a big conifer section in our garden. We also have Japanese maples, bamboos and dogwoods, all ready for planting. Come on by our garden center and see ‘em all!
April 14, 2012
PLANTS FOR A NATURAL POND
Plants bring your pond to life by attracting birds, butterflies, frogs and salamanders. They also help to blend the water into your landscape, and play a key role in balancing the water chemistry. Pot up your plants in a heavy humus-rich garden soil in round nursery containers, and cover your soil surface with small gravel to keep soil from floating away. Stick to native species or plants that cannot survive year round in your climate. This is important so you avoid potentially introducing noxious pest plants into neighboring natural waterways.
KNOWING YOUR ALGAE
Controlling algae is a key factor in maintaining your natural pond balance, and the first thing to remember is not all algae is created equal. Three basic types grow in ponds: surface algae, string algae and suspended algae. Surface algae species, which stay very short and coat underwater surfaces, are very beneficial to pond life. String or blanket algae however, grow into long filaments that can suffocate plants. Suspended algae can take over your pond and turn it pea-soup green when the water chemistry is out of balance. The accumulation of muck or sludge at the bottom of your pond can also contribute to unwanted algae. In a balanced pond, sufficient oxygen and beneficial bacteria exist to convert waste as quickly as it becomes available, so that toxic ammonia and nitrites do not build up. Enough plants can devour the converted nutrients symptoms of unbalanced water, including that soupy pea-green appearance called an “algae bloom,” which results from excess nutrients and sunlight. Adding submerged plants and beneficial bacteria or a shade source takes care of the problem, usually within a few weeks.
SPRING CLEANING Pond season is just around the corner and the time is here to think about spring cleaning. Spring is an excellent time to lower the water and vacuum the bottom after giving it a brisk scrubbing on the sides. If you have a large holding area, you can do a complete drain, clean, vacuum and refill with fresh water. I recommend adding an algaecide- or more importantly, some live beneficial bacteria, to jumpstart the biological filter if you’re doing a major cleaning. Let’s not forget about those filters and plants! This is a good time to clean them, too. If this seems like too much work, but you still want to enjoy a healthy pond, give Aqua Serene a call and we would be happy to do it for you. A good thorough cleaning is important for maintaining a healthy pond for your finned friends, and yourself, to enjoy!
March 16, 2012
Filter media choice is important. I’ve been using the poly-filter pad produced by Poly-Bio-Marine Inc. in all my maintenance accounts for over nine years. Most any filter pad will mechanically trap suspended particles, but many of them stop there. The poly-pad is an absorbent that attracts toxins along with suspended particles. If you were to cut a dirty poly-pad in half, you would see that all the way through the material, it has absorbed toxins- unlike most pads that only work on the outer, visible areas. I highly recommend it for both freshwater and salt applications.
POND MAINTENANCE RECOMMENDATIONS
When performing regular interval maintenance, I recommend starting with a visual inspection: looking for correct temperature, salinity, water flow and general appearance and operation of your system. Perform a water test to check the nitrogen cycle i.e. ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels. This can be done in about five minutes and may affect decisions as to how much of a water change, or replacing or cleaning of filter media. This is also an excellent time to ascertain the health of your livestock.
Feb 8, 2012
BARLEY STRAW FOR POND SEASON Pond season is fast approaching! Time to take stock in items you will need as the season nears. For example, purchase some Barley Straw products to begin algae control before algae has a chance to take hold. Barley Straw products are an excellent method of algae control and come in liquid, pellets or small Barley Straw bales. All these products work very well and they have no harmful chemicals.