Tag Archives: fish

The Do’s & Don’ts For Ponds

Pond keeping can be a mind field when it comes to knowing what you can and can’t do to achieve algae free, crystal clear water. One ‘expert’ will tell you to do this, another ‘expert’ will tell you to do that and suddenly it all becomes a very confusing, tangled web of conflicting information.

We are not claiming to be experts but we do know a lot about bacteria and how it thrives in ponds. Therefore, we have compiled a list of do’s and don’ts to help you create the perfect water conditions in your pond, keep algae at bay and maintain a balanced eco system.

DO treat your pond with a bacterial product on a regular basis.
Beneficial, aerobic bacteria is the foundation to any ponds eco system, it keeps algae at bay by eliminating any excess nutrients in the pond, prevents sludge from becoming anaerobic and releasing toxic hydrogen sulphide into the pond and helps prevent fish illnesses.
Bacteria needs to be topped up regularly. As with any living organism, it only has a certain lifespan and once it has died, it needs replacing.

DO use a hosepipe to wash your filters.
This is a very conflicting point within the pond industry but at Envii we recommend using a hosepipe to wash filters. The chlorine that is found in tap water is only present as a trace element and the amount that is left behind on the filters is so small that it will have a very insignificant effect on the bacteria that is present in the pond.
By using pond water to wash your filters, you will remove a lot more of the bacteria that is present in the pond and then have to replace the pond water with tap water.

DO check your water parameters on a regular basis.
Although your water may look clear, it may not be the quality, healthy water that your fish need. Check your water parameters every couple of weeks to ensure your pH, KH, ammonia and other levels are where they should be. If you don’t know what your water parameters should be, have a read of our Water Parameters post. Water parameters can change rapidly and can have severe consequences on your fish.
If you find that your water parameters are not where they should be, use Pond Equaliser to instantly stabilise them and create the perfect water conditions for your fish.

DO ask for technical advice.
Nobody wants to buy a product that they think is going to solve their problem, only to find out that they have purchased the wrong product or not used it correctly. We provide expert advice not only for our products, but for any other pond query either by email or phone. So, take advantage of us and give us a call!

DO treat your pond with a bacterial product all year.
We hear from more and more people every week who had a crystal-clear pond in winter that suddenly went green in spring. Algae won’t grow below 8°C which is why ponds look good during winter. However, bacteria also die when it gets below a certain temperature and with a lack of algae to feed on, come spring their numbers have decreased drastically. The depleted number of bacteria, coupled with the rise in temperature in spring quickly results in an algae bloom that will turn your water green.
Treat your pond with Winter Pond Treatment during the colder months to keep bacteria present in the pond and prevent an algae bloom in spring.

DO keep your pumps and filters running all year.
A lot of pond owners decide that once the temperature drops, the pumps should be turned off as the pond can no longer be enjoyed. However, by turning the pumps off, you will be creating problems that will not show themselves until spring. During winter, a lot of debris falls in to ponds and starts to break down. If this debris is not cleared out, it releases excess nutrients into the water that algae will feed on when spring arrives.
Keep your pump and filter running to remove any of this debris and keep the water moving.

DON’T empty your pond and start again.
One common misconception when a pond is struggling with algae or green water is to empty all the water out, clean the pond and refill it. However, this is possibly the worst thing to do in this situation. By removing all the water, you also remove any of the beneficial bacteria that was in the pond. When the pond is refilled it is filled with what is technically sterile water that contains chlorine, toxic heavy metals and little to no bacteria. Initially, the pond appears to be in a very good condition as the sterile water stays clear for a few weeks but then quickly turns green due to the lack of bacteria available to fight off any algae spores.
If for some reason you do have to empty your pond, introduce a bacterial product as soon as you have refilled to introduce bacteria into the pond straight away.

DON’T remove blanket weed whilst it is still alive
The most obvious thing to do when you see blanket weed appearing in your pond is to pull it out and throw it away. If you have ever done this, you will know that within days, the blanket weed reappears and you begin the cycle again.
If you remove blanket weed when it is still alive (green) the strands tear and release new spores back into the water.
Ensure that any blanket weed you remove has been killed first by using Blanketweed Klear. For more information on blanket weed, read our post on How to Get Rid of Blanket Weed.

DON’T change your filters
If your filters are getting dirty when using a bacterial product, it is because your pond is dirty. You should only clean the filters, not change them.
Bacteria anchor themselves on to the filters and digest any algae or sludge that gets caught. If you change the filters, you remove all the beneficial bacteria that has been added to the filters.
If you have to change your filters, be sure to apply a bacterial product directly to the new filters.

DON’T introduce plants without leaching out fertiliser
When buying plants to add into your ponds, the easiest place to buy them from is the local garden centre. However, these plants are grown in fertilisers that aim to speed up the growing process to allow the garden centres to sell them quicker. If these plants are added straight into the pond, the fertiliser leaches out and in to the pond, harming the beneficial bacteria.
Before adding plants to the pond, put them in a bucket of water for 7-10 days and change the water every day. This will leach out the fertiliser and they will then be safe to add to the pond. For more information on pond plants, read our post Should I Keep Aquatic Plants.

DON’T feed fish during winter
As the temperature starts to drop in autumn, you should consider changing over to a high protein food for your fish. When winter begins, stop feeding your fish all together. Fish don’t feed throughout winter, so the food that is thrown into the pond will break down and release nutrients into the pond to feed any algae spores when the temperatures rise.

DON’T allow your pond to freeze over completely during winter
You should avoid letting your pond freeze over during winter at all costs. If the pond does freeze over completely, it will create an air tight seal that will not allow any oxygen to enter the pond or any toxic gases to leave the pond. If this continues for an extended period, it may result in fish death. For more tips on caring for your pond in winter read our Preparing Pond for Winter post.

DON’T overstock the pond
It is very easy to overstock a pond, after all, who wants a clear pond and only two fish to look at. However, if a pond contains too many fish it can have a big effect on the water quality in the pond. Fish produce a lot of waste; this waste gives off ammonia which can in turn raise the pH in the pond and lead to illness or death among the fish.
As a rule of thumb it is recommended that a pond has 55cm of fish per 1,000 litres. The average fish size in UK ponds is around 6 inches so this would equate to 3-4 fish per 1,000  litres.

Do's & Don'ts Infographic

Preparing Your Pond For Winter

For any enthusiastic gardener, autumn is a perplexing time. Your arduous work throughout spring and summer begins to fade away, with the promise of next season and another fruitful crop just on the horizon. Pond keepers are no different in this respect; they toil all year to fight off algae blooms and keep their pond in the best condition for its inhabitants, only to be bombarded with algae come spring. The thought of having to cover up the pond, no longer being able to sit around and enjoy it with a cold drink in hand, can be a little sad. However, with a little maintenance during autumn and winter, your pond will be match fit for the first sign of a warm spring day.

The main priority for any pond owner throughout the year is to keep the pond water ‘healthy’. If the water parameters are correct in terms of pH and KH (carbonate hardness), you will provide a healthy environment for aquatic wildlife, fish and beneficial bacteria. It cannot be stressed enough, that without the water parameters being correct, beneficial probiotic bacteria will struggle to deal with the unwanted organics added during autumn & winter that elevate the risk of fish & wildlife death and algae blooms in spring.

Without any care or maintenance over autumn and winter, ponds begin to form a layer of sludge on the bottom from unwanted organics such as leaves, twigs and faecal waste from fish and wildlife. Whilst frogs and newts love to lay in this sludge, if left untreated, it can cause an imbalance in the water, making it poisonous to wildlife and fish by discharging Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) gas from anaerobic bacteria inside the sludge.

Essential Autumn Care Tasks
To prevent an algae bloom in spring, complete these simple tasks during autumn:

Check your water quality

After a spring and summer of algae, acidic rain and fish waste your pH and KH levels will need adjusting. The pH should be between 7 & 8.3 and the KH level should be above 5. You can either buy a quality testing kit, take a sample of water to your local water garden centre or simply use Pond Equaliser to instantly stabilise the pH at 8, and KH above 5. Pond Equaliser will also remove any ammonia and heavy metals to create a safe and healthy environment for fish, wildlife and beneficial probiotic bacteria.

Add bacteria

Add quality, probiotic bacteria that are capable of working at temperatures lower than 08°C. Use Pond Klear for smaller ponds, Natural Pond Klear for larger natural ponds and Winter Pond Treatment for the colder winter months. Task-specific probiotic bacteria slowly digest any debris and unwanted organics and reduce the toxic H2S levels.

Tend to plants

Prune back any aquatic plants and remove any floating debris from the pond; this debris can be deposited in a compost heap as it is high in nitrogen and other essential nutrients for plant growth. Don’t forget to check for any wildlife that may be hibernating when removing aquatic plants or sludge; newts and frogs will hibernate in sludge and dragonfly larvae can lie dormant in plants for several months. When you remove any debris or plants from a pond, leave them at the side for a couple of hours to allow any wildlife to make its way back to the pond.

Cover up

Cover your pond with a net to catch leaves and twigs; leave gaps around the edge to allow wildlife to get in and out of the pond. The frogs and newts that may be hibernating at the bottom of the pond will be ready and waiting to eradicate slugs and snails in spring.

Put your fish on a diet

Feed fish less as the temperature drops, or consider moving to a low protein food. As temperatures drop, fish eat less, once it gets below a certain temperature they will stop feeding. If you continue feeding them, the wasted food will break down, release nutrients into the water to feed any algae and will add to the layer of sludge at the bottom.

Deep clean

If you have a filter, clean it thoroughly in autumn to remove any algae or debris trapped during summer and clean monthly throughout autumn and winter.

Keep it moving, slowly

Keep pumps and filters running all year; they will continue removing debris and prevent the pond from freezing over. If possible, turn the flow rate down to avoid cooling the water further. If water freezes over, it restricts the available oxygen for fish, and seals in the toxic gases that can be released from decaying organics.

Check your water quality, again…

Most important of all, get the water parameters right to increase the ponds biological self-cleaning ability, as this will reduce the amount of work required, and increase the enjoyment of your pond in spring & summer 2018.

For more information on why ponds go green in spring, read our blog post here.

Featured Product – Pond Equaliser

What Is Pond Equaliser?

This weeks featured product is Pond Equaliser.
Pond Equaliser instantly stabilises key water parameters in ponds and aquariums such as pH, KH, GH and ammonia. It is crucial that these parameters are balanced as they determine the biological balance in a pond. Balanced and stable water parameters provide both fish and beneficial bacteria with perfect living conditions and reduces the risk of algae, sludge and blanket weed.
Pond Equaliser only contains ingredients that are naturally found in water and are completely harmless to fish, wildlife and humans.

How Does Pond Equaliser Work?

Pond Equaliser adds essential minerals to pond water to stabilise the key water properties such as the carbonate hardness (KH), the pH and the general hardness (GH)
It also adds calcium to the water to neutralise any toxic heavy metals (found in tap water) and eliminate ammonia which is a by-product of fish waste breaking down.
By improving the water quality, the biological capabilities of the pond are dramatically increased, ensuring bacterial based maintenance products work at maximum efficiency.

Don’t Just Take Our Word for It…

MJA – Pond colour has definitely changed from Pea Green and getting clearer – not fully there yet but is looking good.

Jules – Used in conjunction with Envii Pond Klear worked miracles. Within 4 days could see the fish again and green weed cleared.

Amazon Customer – Did what it said on the pack tested water and fish are happy now!

What Are the Ideal Water Parameters for Fish?

Oxygen levels in your pond should be a minimum of 5.0 mg/L and a maximum of 18mg/L.

Ph levels should be kept as neutral as possible at around 7, but they can fluctuate down to 6.8 and up to 8.2 whilst still be classed as healthy.

KH levels, or carbonate hardness levels, should be kept at around 105ppm but can fluctuate by 15ppm either way and still be classed as healthy.

Ammonia levels should be at zero as they can be very harmful to fish, Nitrite levels should be as close to zero as possible and Nitrate levels can be up to 50ppm.

For more information, read our blog on the Ideal Water Parameters.

Why Is It Important to Monitor The pH Of Pond Water?

It is essential to monitor your pH levels very closely as they can have fatal effects on your fish if you don’t. Your pH level should sit around 7, which is neutral on the pH scale. With every digit above this, your fish come closer to being exposed to dangerous levels of high acidity and alkalinity. High acidity and alkalinity can increase the toxicity of any ammonia in your pond. Ammonia can cause physical burns to your fish’s gills and if it becomes too high will cause ammonia poisoning.

How to Lower Pond pH?

Lowering your ponds pH levels is very easy. As you are reading this we will assume you have checked your water with a test kit and found that your pH levels are too high.

The next step is simple. Follow the instructions for Pond Equaliser and your water parameters (pH, KH, GH, Ammonia & Heavy Metals) will be stable within a few hours.

Why Is My Pond pH So High?

The first thing to do if you get a high pH reading is to take another. Make sure you take one reading in the morning and one later in the day, ideally with similar weather conditions. The reason for this is that algae is more active in the late morning and will be sucking up carbon dioxide which will in turn cause your pH to read high. The algae are less active first thing in the morning and later at night which is why it is best to take two readings.

If your pH level is still high, treat your pond with Pond Equaliser and then take two readings 24 hours later.

 

Should I Keep Aquatic Plants?

There is a split between pond owners as to whether to have plants or not. Aquatic plants can be a great aesthetic addition to your pond, as well as providing several health benefits to the water and fish. They offer shade, compete with algae, remove harmful nitrogen and give back useful oxygen into the pond.

How To Stop Koi Eating Plants

One reservation some pond keepers have when deciding whether to keep aquatic plants is that some fish, Koi especially, like to eat the plants, upset pots or disturb the soil, resulting in a dirty pond. This can easily be resolved by either planting in aquatic cloth liners or aquatic gravel.

Alternatively, there are some plants that would benefit from being planted in waterfalls or streams, keeping them out of reach for fish, whilst still purifying the water.

 

Different Varieties Of Aquatic Plants

Water lilies and lotus’ are common floating plants that provide much needed shade for fish. This shade also slows down the growth of any pond algae and sludge as it restricts the amount of sunlight that can reach the algae. As well as providing shade, these plants also compete for nutrients with existing algae. The combination of shade and nutrient competition results in very little algae growth.

Submerged plants such as hornwort and water moss are essential to a well-structured pond or water garden. They provide small fish with cover from predators such as herons and cats. They also provide the water with copious amounts of oxygen whilst absorbing some of the more harmful chemicals in your pond such as ammonia and nitrogen. Be sure to plant these plants in aquatic gravel or cloth liners to avoid fish digging them up.

Shallow water or marginal plants can sit on the shelves of ponds and provide all the health benefits of submerged plants whilst providing shelter and protection for other aquatic wildlife such as frogs, newts and dragonflies. Some varieties such as water iris produce vibrant flowers that add another dimension to your pond throughout the year.

Spring Jobs For Your Pond

It’s March 20th and spring is officially here so it’s time to start working on your pond, clearing up after the winter and preparing for the rest of the year.

Most of the UK had a mild winter and despite the Met Office’s warning of Thundersnow back in January, we haven’t had much snow or ice this year. Because of the milder temperatures, there is a possibility that pond sludge and algae have been active in your pond for a good proportion of the winter months as they can grow down to temperatures as low as 8°C.

Preparation Is Key

First things first, if you have any plans for your pond this year, now is the time to start putting them into action. Make sure you have all your pond maintenance supplies and feed stocked up, there is nothing worse than running out of something when you need it most! Go over your filters and pump and make sure everything is clean and working as it should be.

Remove Debris

Remove any obvious debris that could have made its way into the pond over winter. Small pebbles, rocks, leaves & twigs can all be blown or washed into your pond and if they degrade, they will eventually turn into pond sludge. Be sure to clear any loose debris from around the edges of your pond as well as these will make their way in.

Inspect all your aquatic plants and remove any that have not survived the winter. Remove any dead leaves and trim back accordingly.

Pond Sludge & Algae

As we mentioned above, the winter has been mild and pond sludge may have been active in your pond for a few months now. Be sure to use your Pond Klear and Sludge Klear early as it can work down to temperatures as low as 4°C. If you have been using Winter Pond throughout the winter months you may not have much sludge so have a look before dosing up.

pH Levels

Your pond hasn’t had much attention for a few months and although chemical and bacterial levels don’t change much in the cold, it is always good practice to use a test kit to ensure your water conditions are perfect.

Poor water quality and the fast transition in a ponds conditions coming out of winter and into spring can lead to “spring kill” which refers to the loss of fish at the start of spring due to series of related water quality issues

What Are The Ideal Water Parameters For Ponds?

They are often overlooked, but having the correct water parameters is one of the most important factors to a successful, healthy pond. Providing your parameters are correct, your fish will be healthy, aerobic bacteria will be able to thrive and do its job properly and any pond plants that you may have will be able to contribute to the condition of your pond.

Correct Oxygen Levels in Ponds

The maximum amount of dissolved oxygen that can physically be held in water is 18.0mg/L. The minimum that you should let that figure get to is 6.0mg/L, anything lower than this and your fish will start to suffer. Some fish will be able to tolerate lower oxygen levels than this but it is advisable to try and keep the minimum at 6.0mg/L. Cold water can hold almost twice as much oxygen than warm water so keep a close eye on your oxygen levels throughout the summer months.

There are a couple of things you can do to maximise oxygen levels in your pond. Keep plenty of oxygenating plants, install a waterfall as this will bring in oxygen with the water and if needed, install an air stone or fountain to inject further oxygen.

If you need to make a partial water change for something, it is important to test your oxygen levels as tap water naturally has very low levels of oxygen in it.

What Should Pond pH Be?

Ph levels in ponds are very important but first we are going to have a quick chemistry re-cap on what pH is. Ph is a numeric scale that is used to determine the acidity or alkalinity of a substance, in this case pond water. The scale ranges from 1-14 with 7 being neutral, 1 being the most acidic and 14 being the most basic, or highest alkaline level. Battery acid has a pH of 1.0 whilst Lye (used in household drain cleaners) has a pH of 13.5, both can be just as dangerous as the other and give you a good indication as to why keeping a balanced pH level I so important.

Now that we have gone over what pH is, lets cover why it affects your pond, what it should be and how to change your pH level. A fish’s natural pH level is 7.4 so it is best practice to keep your pond as close to this level as possible. Fish can tolerate slight fluctuations in the acidity or alkalinity of the water but only down to about 6.8 and up to 8.2. When testing your pond’s pH level, be sure to test it twice in the same day, once first thing in the morning and once late in the day, preferably evening and preferably during similar weather conditions. The reason for testing twice is the algae that will be lurking in your pond. Algae is only active during daylight hours and when it is active it absorbs large amounts of carbon dioxide found in your pond causing your pH to read high. If your pH level looks a bit too high or low, you need to gradually bring it back down, you can do this by using Pond Equaliser.

It is crucial to keep your pH as neutral as possible. High alkaline levels in the water will increase the toxicity of any ammonia that exists in your pond, leading to possible Ammonia poisoning.

What are KH Levels?

KH is the measure of carbonate hardness in your pond and carbonate hardness is the amount of calcium carbonate in your pond. Calcium carbonates are very important as they feed the nitrifying bacteria that remove harmful ammonia and nitrates from your pond water. These bacteria are part of your ponds bio-filter, without this, your pond would be under great threat and would rely heavily on your mechanical filtration system. KH levels should be around 125ppm but they can fluctuate safely by about 20ppm either way.

Unfortunately, as with low pH levels and low oxygen levels, the effects of low KH levels can’t be seen by eye. You may notice that your ponds condition will deteriorate, Ammonia and Nitrate levels will rise and your pond will become more susceptible to pH swings which will ultimately lead to a pH crash!

Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates

Ammonia is released into your pond when your fish excrete waste. The nitrifying bacteria that are fed by calcium carbonate then break down the ammonia and turn it into Nitrite. Nitrite is then broken down further, to its final state, Nitrate. Nitrate is the final by-product of Ammonia. All three of these can be dangerous to your fish and should be monitored carefully. Ideally you should be removing any Ammonia in your pond to avoid it damaging your fish or breaking down further. Ammonia can cause Ammonia poisoning that can lead to death, Nitrites and Nitrates are not as dangerous but if your fish already have Ammonia poisoning they will be weak and susceptible to the irreversible effects of Nitrates.

Ammonia levels should be kept as low as possible, ideally at 0ppm but they can be okay at 0.5ppm if your pH level is neutral. Remember, the higher your pH, the more toxic Ammonia becomes so it is best practice to keep the level low. Likewise, Nitrites should be kept as low as possible around 0.25ppm but ideally at zero. Finally, Nitrate levels should be around 20-60ppm.

To summarise, water parameters are one of the most important things to monitor in your pond and they should be as follows;

Oxygen – Minimum of 6.0mg/Litre

pH – Keep your pH level as neutral as possible, around 7/7.5

KH – Keep your level between 95ppm and 150ppm

Ammonia – Should be at zero but can go up to 0.5ppm depending on the pH level

Nitrite – Like Ammonia, it should be as low as possible

Nitrate – Can be in-between 20 and 60ppm

You can stabilise pH, KH and ammonia levels with Pond Equaliser and stabilise Nitrate levels with Nitrate Klear.

Common Fish Diseases

In our last blog, we spoke about some of the reasons fish jump out of water. One of the issues is due to diseases, which can cause the fish to jump out of the water to escape the pain.

Below we have listed some of the most common fish diseases along with their symptoms and how to treat them.

Common Diseases Symptoms How to Treat
Ammonia Poisoning Red or inflamed gills
Fish could be jumping out of water to escape pain or inhale more oxygen
As mentioned in the previous post, high ammonia levels are easy to avoid by keeping your water levels right with Pond Equaliser. There is no treatment for fish suffering with ammonia poisoning, other than levelling ammonia levels in water.
Fin Rot Fish’s fins appear jagged and may have a milky substance around the edges Like ammonia poisoning, Fin Rot is caused by incorrect water qualities. We would advise using Pond Equaliser and then monitoring the infected fish.
Camallanus Worms Serious infections can be seen in the form of a pink/red worm protruding from the fish’s anus. They may also be lethargic and lose their appetite A de-worming medication such as Levamisole is the recommended treatment.
White spot White spots will be visible on your fish’s fins and possibly body This is a very common disease and there are many remedies available at your local pet shop.
Hole In The Head Quite literally, the fish will appear to have small holes or indentations on their head and may lose their appetite A common method used to treat this disease is to add the antibiotic metronidazole into your water and then monitor water levels very closely. It is also thought that an improved diet (frozen fish food or vegetable based foods such as seaweed strips) can aid in the recovery of the fish.
Nitrite and Nitrate Poisoning Symptoms are not obvious but they can include erratic swimming and loss of appetite Although nitrate poisoning is not a disease, as we discussed in the last blog, it can be deadly to your fish. Ensure your water has low levels of nitrate by using Nitrate Klear.
Pop-Eye Eyes are abnormally sticking out of the fish’s head and may appear cloudy in colour Ensure water quality is perfect to avoid infecting any other fish. Remove the infected fish and keep in quarantine whilst treating with antibiotics.
Swim Bladder Disease Fish will be floating on their side or back and will be unable to dive The easiest treatment is to not feed the effected fish for 24 hours. Swim bladder is caused by fish taking in too much air when eating.
Velvet Fish will have yellow or grey dusty spots on them Copper and quinine-based medications are very effective, but these can be toxic to certain fish so check before treating