Tag Archives: fishkeeping

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

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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.

 

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.

Why Do Your Fish Jump Out Of The Water?

Why do my fish jump?

Fish jumping out of water is not very common but when somebody sees it, it can initially look quite impressive. Fish can just be jumping out of the water for fun or to escape a mate but there could also be more concerning reasons.

There are many reasons and theories as to why fish jump, so we are going to go through some of the more concerning reasons.

High Ammonia Levels

One reason fish jump out of water is because of high Ammonia levels in the pond. If Ammonia levels are not monitored they can quickly rise and become very dangerous.

As fish excrete waste into the pond, it creates Ammonia. These high Ammonia levels can result in burns to the fish’s gills which could explain why they are jumping. When fish experience pain, they will either swim into the pond walls, to “itch” the pain, or they will jump out of the water to try and escape the pain.

Fortunately, this is very easy to treat with Envii Pond Equaliser. Equaliser instantly stabilises the chemical balance in your pond and creates perfect water conditions. Equaliser will adjust pH, KH and GH levels in your pond, as well as reducing levels of Ammonia and heavy metals.

We recommend using this product to all our customers as it provides the perfect conditions for fish, plants and beneficial, aerobic bacteria as well as allowing you to get the most out of any of your bacterial pond treatment products.

High Nitrate Levels

Nitrates are a by-product of the bacterial reduction of Ammonia. If the Ammonia levels in your pond have been high for a while, the chances are that they have reduced to their final product, Nitrate. As with Ammonia, Nitrates can cause irreversible damage to your fish, including their liver, spleen, nervous system and kidneys.

Nitrate levels are easy to neutralise and can be done so within hours, using Envii Nitrate Klear.

Parasites and Diseases

Parasites and diseases can cause damage to your fish and this damage may not always be visible without taking your fish out of the pond. Unfortunately, there are many diseases that can affect fish, however, most of these diseases can be diagnosed via visual symptoms. Use our Common Fish Diseases post to help determine what may be wrong with your fish.

As with High Nitrate Levels and High Ammonia Levels, the common denominator that is causing your fish to jump is damage/pain so take action as soon as you see you fish jumping.

To conclude, the first thing you should do is to check your pH, KH, GH, Ammonia and Nitrate levels in your pond using a test kit. If these are all okay, isolate the jumping fish and inspect it for any visible damage, parasites or diseases.

6 Tips To Prepare Your Pond For Spring

Remove debris 

Use a net or pond vacuum to clean the debris from the top of the pond. Any organic material left in the pond will decay and cause algae problems like green water and sludge. Removing it is the first line of defence against algae problems. It’s also worth clearing the surrounding area to prevent anything blowing into the pond.

Move fish back into the pond 

If you’ve moved your fish into a temporary tank during the winter, now is the time to get them back in the pond. It’s important to ensure the temperature of the tank is within 1°C of the pond temperature.

Clip back and trim plants 

Spring is the best time to have a general tidy up of the pond area. Overgrowth can be a large factor in an imbalance in the pond system.

Feed fish 

You can start feeding your fish again at temperatures of 10°C and higher.

Start treating your pond 

The earlier you can start treating your pond the better. Envii’s pond products work as low as 4°C which means you can get started earlier in the spring and treat later into the autumn. Giving the bacteria longer to establish will greatly increase the chances of keeping your pond clear and healthy. Click here for more information.

Clean your filters 

Most bacterial water treatments will dislodge any algae or sludge and it will get sucked into the filter. If the filter gets clogged it will stop filtering the water and become completely useless. It’s important to clean them regularly for water treatments to work efficiently.

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The pond sludge problem

Every garden pond has sludge. It’s part of the natural balance of pond life to form a layer of dark, thick gunk on the pond floor and most of the time it’s nothing to worry about; but when ignored it can prove fatal to plants, fish and other wildlife or, at the very least, make your garden smell like rotten eggs.

Even with the best will in the world and a lot of spare time, you can’t stop things falling in your pond. Leaves from overhanging trees, bird droppings, and plant cuttings are all going to end up in there. All this, added to the matter already in your pond, sinks to the bottom and forms the layer of sludge. The sludge is a mixture of organic and inorganic matter which is mostly biodegradable in the right environment.

Now, a small layer of sludge isn’t anything to phone home about, but when it starts to build up and is left untreated it starts to starve the pond of oxygen. This lack of oxygen causes increased activity in anaerobic bacteria (the bad kind), which in turn produces hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is best known for producing a foul, rotting egg smell but it can also be toxic to fish and plants in large doses.

Not only can it kill plants and wildlife, it can also kill off the aerobic bacteria which eats the pond sludge. Unfortunately, this creates a vicious cycle where the pond sludge increases, the hydrogen sulfide increases with it, and the pond becomes more toxic. Here’s the process simplified –

Sludge infographic attempt

How to fix it

It might seem like an obvious suggestion but the first step is prevention. Do everything you can to avoid organic matter falling into your pond –

  • Keep bushes, trees and plants trimmed so there isn’t much overhanging
  • Clean your pond regularly with a net to get out any floating debris.
  • Use a bird deterrent (scarecrow etc) so they aren’t as prevalent.
  • Keep a net over the pond to stop any larger debris getting in.

The second step is to physically clean out as much sludge as you can. Arguably the easiest way to do this, in a small pond, is by shoving a (gloved) hand in and pulling it out, but you can also use a net or pond vacuum. Admittedly, I’ve never used a pond vacuum but I have heard mixed reviews. Some people complain that it can suck up any smaller pond life (tadpoles etc) but you’ll have to use your own better judgement on that one.

The final step is to add to the aerobic bacteria in the pond. There are a few products out on the market including our own Envii Sludge Klear! By adding to the aerobic bacteria, you are increasing the rate at which the sludge is being eaten. Not only will this help with sludge but it will also improve the environment for fish and plants. It also contains facultative bacteria which break up the sludge, allowing the filter to consume it easier. Sludge Klear also works as low as 4°C which means you can use it through the winter and avoid the inevitable build up in early spring.

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