Although we can't complain about the winter we had this year mother nature is playing tricks on us again. Signs of spring and warm weather and now snow tomorrow?? What gives?
While walking through the garden you can see signs of spring trying to emerge. The fish in the pond will venture towards the water surface when the sun is beating down on them but when the air changes back to cold they hid. Its been an unusually warm March and April than in the past.
Mother Nature has a way of tricking even the most experienced water gardener. We finally have a week of warm temperatures, and things are coming alive in our ponds. After months of rain, sleet, snow and ice we are all ecstatic. Armed with our pond gloves, waders and nets, we set out to begin cleaning our ponds. Throwing in some MicrobeLift Spring & Summer, clean our filters and hope algae doesn't start to grow until we can get some plants in. We check temperatures and think it is time to add some plants. Seems safe, after all the temperatures are rising. Place our orders, plants arrive and all seems well. Then out of nowhere (actually Canada), comes a cold front with freezing nighttime temperatures. We frantically remove our floating plants, new bog plants and place them in the garage or on the covered porch for the next couple of days. Then, temperatures rise again and out the plants go again. We try our best to ship the plants when the time is right for planting in your planting zone. Unfortunately, we can not control Mother Nature and her unpredictable ways. Just, remember when receiving new plants in the Spring to keep a watchful eye on the temperatures, in case Mother Nature tries to play a trick on you!
Its officially fall now and we need to begin preparing our pond for the winter and hopefully a cleaner pond for spring. I've listed a few maintenance tips to guide you through preparing your pond for the winter. I still have a few flowers appearing in my pond but I think they are almost through blooming for the season 🙁
FALL/WINTER POND MAINTENANCE TIPS
1. Before winter arrives, you will want to make sure your pond and filtering system are clean to ensure good water quality throughout the winter months. With the arrival of fall it is wise to do a partial water change to remove any built up contaminants to improve water quality. Partial water changes need to be made before water temperatures fall below 60 degrees to minimize fish stress. Adding pond salt at this time will improve the slime coating of fish, to help them ward off disease and parasites.
2. Before the leaves begin to fall, cover your pond with one of ourpond nets. The goal is to try and keep the pond as clean as possible for the winter months. Leaves will sink to the bottom of the pond and rot, causing excess carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide. After the first frost, take out any floating plants, as these will begin to decay. Trim back hardy lilies and bog plants and place below the freeze line.
3. Switch to Microbe-Lift Autumn/Winter Prep. This will help break down organic material in the pond before winter sets in. Microbe-Lift Autumn/Winter Prep helps accelerate the decomposition of leaves, scum, sediment and other organic matter during the fall and throughout the winter months. Also, Microbe-Lift Autumn/Winter Prep helps to maintain a healthy immune system for your fish during the winter months. Microbe-Lift Autumn/Winter Prep will help jump-start your pond to a healthier environment in the spring.
4.Reduce your fish feeding as the water temperatures drop below 60 degrees. Start feeding your fish a couple of times a week. We recommend switching to a wheat germ based fish food formulated for fall and spring feeding. When water temperatures drop below 60 degrees, the metabolism of your fish slow down. Both Tetra-Pond Spring/Fall and Microbe-Lift Cold Weather fish food are highly digestible cool weather diets that are made with less protein, but contain wheat germ, which is easily digested. They also contain higher levels of fat, which help your fish survive their winter hibernation. When water temperatures reach 50 degrees, stop feeding your fish completely. Feeding at water temperatures below 50 degrees can possibly kill your fish. A pond thermometeris a must have. This will help you in determining when to stop feeding your fish and will also help to know when to begin feeding your fish in the spring. Its also a good idea to know your water temperature for those adding tropical pond plants to your pond in the spring.
5.Adding Microbe-Lift Barley Straw Extract will help control string algae throughout the fall and winter months. Barley Straw Extract is an effective and eco-friendly way to reduce algae. Unlike algaecides, which are ineffective in water temperatures below 50 degrees, Microbe-Lift Barley Straw Extract will continue to control algae throughout the winter months.
6.Before freezing temperatures begin, install a pond de-icer. Ponds covered with ice do not allow toxic gases to escape causing fish loss. A pond de-icer will keep a section of your pond open to allow oxygen and gas exchange.
7.During the winter removing snow from the surface of the pond will help submerged plants and microscopic aquatic plants to continue to produce oxygen as long as light penetrates through the ice. Insufficient light, along with the decomposition of plant and leaf debris may result in insufficient oxygen for the fish, causing them to suffocate. Removing the snow from a portion of your surface area will reduce the likelihood of this occurring.
Remember to add a tray of sand in your pond for the frogs to have a place to winter over.
With spring upon us its important to check on your fish. Its a critical time for them when they start coming out of dormancy. They are more likely to become vulnerable to illness unless proper steps are taken. When coming out of dormancy their bodies are low on the important nutrients needed to help ward of diseases.
First make sure you clean your pond out of all debris and sludge at the bottom. Microbe-Lift makes a good product called Sludge Away which can help. You can at this time replace about 30% of your pond water. If using tap water make sure you add a water conditioner to remove heavy metals, chlorine, and chloramines found in most tap water. If using tap water that goes through a softener this adds salt and its not necessary to add a water conditioner.
Its important to maintain a healthly ecosystem throughout the pond season. This will help maintain healthly fish and keep your pond clear and free of algae. Add a good beneficial bacteria, such as Microbe-Lift PL to your pond water regularly. Its amazing how this can help you keep your pond balanced.
Aquatic pond plants need to be fertilized monthly to flourish and bloom profusely. At Dragonfly Aquatics we recommend Highland Rim Aquatic Plant Fertilizer tablets. Specially formulated for blooming aquatic plants, with a 10-26-10 nutrient ratio.Highland Rim Fertilizer tablets give your waterlilies, lotuses and blooming marginals plenty of phosphorus to produce the most spectacular blossoms possible. The large 10-gram tablets are safe and non-toxic. They will not promote algae blooms in ponds and they will not harm fish or other aquatic life. Highland Rim Aquatic Plant Fertilizer is available in packs of 12, 36, 80 or 300 tablets. Be sure to order fertilizer tablets with your next plant order.
Here we go again. I call it the Spring Tease. Just when plants are beginning to sprout and the warm weather hits....big time....it teases us with a mention of snow! The cold front here in Ohio and across the north has moved in for a few days. If you have already put plants out in your ponds, be sure and bring them in or protect them.
I was going to clean my pond last week, but with taking care of our customers and being busy taking your orders and sending orders I just haven't gotten around to it yet. I did see that I had some marsh marigolds blooming and bog bean. It gets me anxious, wanting to put more plants out. Good thing I held back. I'll just leave them be in the nursery where they are nice and warm. Besides, I really need to clean my pond at home since I neglected to do that last year. It's pretty bad. I think I need the Microbe-Lift Sludge Away. I have alot of build up of sludge on the bottom of my pond. Maybe then I'll only need to change out half the water this year. I did start putting the Microbe-Lift Spring and Summer in a couple weeks back and the water is crystal clear, but now you can really see the goop at the bottom. For those that haven't tried the Microbe-Lift Sludge Away it works great at speeding up the removal of sludge & muck naturally.
It is especially helpful for ponds that have a rock or gravel bottom, where vacuuming is impractical. Microbe-Lift SA/Sludge Away is formulated specifically for the removal of organic bottom solids that are slow to degrade but works faster at warm water temperatures, however, Microbe-Lift SA/Sludge Away may be used effectively at any temperature year-round.
Microbe-Lift PL is the product most often used to maintain the natural biological and chemical balance of your pond in all seasons. We've talked about the Spring/Summer Cleaner which works wonders in accelerating the breakdown of leaves, twigs and other accumulated dead organic waste. The Microbe-Lift PL is formulated for decorative ponds and is easy to use.
MicrobeLift PL creates a cleaner environment for your pond, promoting faster fish growth and reduces ammonia nitrogen levels. It helps dissolve away organic sludge and seeds and maintains biological filters. It reduces buildup of bird droppings, fish feed and dead leaves and will also break down dead algae. Reduces hydrogen sulfide, which creates strong, offensive odors. Improves dissolved oxygen levels and is effective over a wide range of pH conditions.
Its application depends on the size of water feature/pond you have. Shake the bottle well before using and add the amount of product indicated on the container for the size of pond you have. You can spread it around the edges of your pond or apply in one location. It will become distributed more quickly in a larger pond if applied in different areas.
The application rates depend on the size of pond you have. The recommendations are as follows:
SIZE OF POND/ 1ST APPLIC. NEXT 4 WKS MAINTENANCE
WATER FEATURE (ONCE WKLY) (ONCE MONTHLY)
50 - 200 8 oz 2 oz 2 oz
201-500 10 oz 3 oz 3 oz
501-1,000 12 oz 4 oz 4 oz
1,000-5,000 16 oz 6 oz 6 oz
5,001-10,000 18 oz 8 oz 8 oz
You can store Microbe-Lift PL for approximately 2 years if unopened and for 1 year if opened and store in a dark cool area.
By establishing and maintaining a healthy balance in the pond, and by removing organic waste matter, your water will obtain clarity.
This is what some of us in the North woke up to this morning, and this was after some of it had melted. What happened to those 50 and 60 degree days??? Hopefully they will be back again soon. How can we get started cleaning our ponds and thinking putting those new plants in if the water is too cold to put our hand in it. And what about those fish and frogs???? They are hiding again.
Whenever this happens, those of us who wanted our plants shipped thinking its finally warm wonder, now what do I do with them. Make sure you protect them by bringing them indoors until it warms up. Remember most of the plants have been indoors in a greenhouse environment and shiver even when the temps are in the 60s. But we need to make sure the water temperature have stabilized to 65 degrees before we put those floating plants out.
The floating water plants in your pond need to have the water temperature reach 65 degrees. They will show signs of yellowing leaves and black spots on their leaves if left in water temps below that. The water lettuce will wilt and turn white if too cold. We tend to get anxious in the spring and sometimes put floaters in before the water is warm enough. Even the lotus and waterlilies need the warmer weather to start growing. But at least those were outside all winter and were pulled to ship out.
Hopefully, like last year, this is a short spell and in a couple weeks things will turn around and we can once again start looking forward to enjoying our ponds.
Adding beneficial bacteria is essential for the water garden and seeding of pond filters. Once established the bacteria lives by eating fish waste and other organic matter in the pond. Bacteria converts ammonia into nitrites which are then converted into nitrates. This process known as the Nitrogen Cycle is an important part of water maintenance. It is essential to the health of your pond inhabitants.
When cleaning your filter pads, lava rock or bio blox, care should be taken as to not kill the beneficial bacteria living there. Never use chlorinated water to clean filter pads, or if it is necessary to do so, try to stagger cleaning different pads at different intervals. Rinsing the filter media in a bucket of pond water will allow some of the bacteria to remain alive. We recommend adding beneficial bacteria after cleaning, and monthly to keep a thriving colony of bacteria in your filtration media. Bacteria is available in either liquid or dry.
Microbe-Lift makes a bacteria for each season. Each is formulated to work in the water temperatures of spring, summer and fall/winter. Microbe-Lift Spring/Summer Cleaner is a seasonal approach to the proper organic balance in your pond. It contains cool weather bacteria that will help to jump start your pond to a healthier environmentin the spring. Once the water temperatures have reached above 55 degrees, Microbe-Lift P/L (liquid bacteria cultures) or Microbe-Lift Tac (dry bacteria cultures) can be added. Both are specially formulated for water gardens to promote clean, clear pond water. Adding bacteria to your pond this season will significantly improve water quality and appearance.
We've checked everything out in our ponds but what about our fish? The fish are swimming and coming to the top of the pond. Don't be in a hurry to feed them. The proper time to begin feeding the fish is when the water temperatures consistently reach at least 50 degrees and above.
On the few warmer days of spring they will come to the surface acting as if they want fed. The water should be stabilized around 50 degrees before you resume feeding. You will want to feed them an easily digestible food, such as a wheat-germ-based floating pellet to start with, since their digestive systems are still slow. Microbe-Lift makes a Fall/Spring Fish food that is wheat germ and easily digested. Feed the fish in the morning, feeding them lightly at first so that they will digest their food before the temperature lowers at night for a couple weeks. Once the water temperatures rise above 55 degrees, resume feeding them their normal high-protein food. Any good quality fish food with vitamins will work. Another good choice food for fish is duckweed or azolla. I always put some duckweed in a container in the shade so it grows and multiplies. That way I have it for a treat all summer long. I have heard also that frozen peas are good for fish. I haven't tried that but thinking about it now I will. Just to see if my fish like it.
You may want to add some flake food or balls of cooked oatmeal to your feeding regiment for the baby fish, once they start to appear in early spring.
You will want to make sure your pond water isn't high in ammonia or nitrites for your fish. You can buy test kits to check for this. I always check all the fish for any signs of infection or disease in the early spring so I can treat them before it gets worse. We sell a medicated floating fishfood that works well in treating fish. It is always easier to see the fish in the early spring, before the plants are in the pond.
Barley is available in three different forms. The Barley bale, once placed in your pond, will slowly decompose and as it does so, it will release gases that aid in the elimination of string algae. One 8 oz. bale will treat an 800 to 1200 gallon pond. It will take several weeks for the barley to start decomposing and will continue to work for about 3 months. Microbe-Lift Barley Straw Pellets will break down faster than the bales, plus they are rich in organic peat which softens pond water, reducing the negative effect of phosphate and generally improving the environment for your fish. Two pounds of barley pellets will treat a 400 gallon pond for 4 months. Last, but not least, and my favorite is the Microbe-Lift Barley Straw Extract. The extract goes to work on contact. Decomposition starts immediately and one bottle is equal to a multiple of barley straw bales.
Barley will not kill algae, but it will prohibit it from growing and help eliminate it from your water garden. When the water temperatures are still cool, this is one product that will immediately go to work for you.