Snails in the pond

Pond Snails – Who’s Your Friend?

The Bad News - too many pond snails

Now and then we get a call about pond snails.  They reproduce so quickly that they can become a problem, clogging up the filter basket or getting stuck aroudn the pump.  Once these little buggers are in the pond they are hard to get out. The common snail is invasive.

The Good News: The Japanese Trap Door Snail - He's Your Friend!

This type of snail does not pro-create so readily and even better, it spends its every waking moment EATING ALGAE!  10 snails can cover about 50 square feet.  Now this doesn't let you off the hook for keeping as much debris out of the pond as possible and adding beneficial bacteria in weekly to keep your pond looking great. They are usually about 1/2 inch to an inch in size and can grow a bit bigger if they like their environment.

When and how to add the trap door snail

If you can, get snails that are about and inch in size.  The really tiny ones might be a snack for koi!

Snails can die if not transferred to the pond in a gentle way.  When you first get them they may appear dead.  This is because they are scared.  Just be gentle with them and they will perk up in the pond. Even a cracked shell can mend! Take are not to slosh the around int eh bag on the drive home. Make sure you float them in a bag for 10  minutes taking care that they are not heating up by the sunshine.  After 10 minutes splash some pond water in the bag and let them float for another 10 minutes.  This helps the water in the bag to reach the same temperature as the pond. Gently take them out and set them in the a shallow place in the pond.  At first you may see no sign of life, but after a while they will go snooping about!

What do they eat?

They are scavengers and eat organic material, including algae on the bottom of the pond and covering plants.  They don't eat fish waste so proper biological and mechanical filtration is necessary. If you want to see the snail you can always get a piece of lettuce and put a rock on it in the water.  The next day you may find some snails on it. If you are not feeding your fish daily, bring the snails some lettuce or zucchini once a week.  Algae isn't a rounded diet for them and can make their shells thin. If they aren't getting some quality food to supplement the algae they may nibble on the plants.

For more pond topics click HERE.

Lotus -11 Things to Know

Lotus can be an easy new plant to grow.  What you need to know about lotus before adding them to your pond:

  • They can grow in patio ponds to larger ponds.  Often people like them in  larger ponds, 10 x 10 or larger because they are such a large plant. They can grow 2 to 4 feet tall!
  • Plant them in full sun.  (6 hours of sun or more).  They don't do as well in a shady pond.
  • They come in different sizes and are an excellent natural filter.
  • Plant them in calm water.  They flower through the summer and each bloom will last 3 to 4 days.  Cut them off when they are spent. Put in tablet fertilizer every month.
  • They can be invasive, so never put them in bare root into the pond.  Luckily, they have a hard time growing out of their pots, so just make sure there is a sufficient rim and they won't go anywhere.
  • Pots need to be 16 to 20 inches depending of the variety you get.  Bigger pots yield bigger blooms!
  • When adding a freshly potted lotus to your pond, place it only a couple inches under the water.  Once it starts growing, then move it to just a little deeper.  Depending on the variety, they can go from 4 inches to 18 inches deep.
  • Cared for lotus plants will overwinter in Colorado!  (Yay!  Happy dance!) - just don't let the tuber freeze!
  • When adding new plants make sure the pond water is above 60° or 70°  when adding tropical plants
  • Lotus are tall.  Their leaves do not sit on top of the water, but grow above it.
  • Purchasing your lotus from a local nursery ensures that the tuber is not broken from being shipped in the mail.

  Lotus Flower Lotus

Lotus Flower

Water Lilies

Hardy Water Lilies are a Must in Colorado Ponds!

Water Lilies

Hardy water lilies do well in a sunny Colorado pond.  Benefits of lilies in the pond are many. The shade they provide gives shelter to fish from predators (you can't eat what you can't see!).  They shade they provide keeps the pond cool and stabilizes the water temperature from fluctuations.  Ponds in sunny locations with little or no plant life may experience more algae.  Lilies help keep the pond in balance by  providing oxygen and using up nutrients in the water that feed algae as well as blocking some of the sun.

Things to know when first getting lilies:

  • Plant in loam garden soil - not regular potting soil!
  • Use a fabric aquatic plant pot or a plastic pot with no holes.  14 to 16 inches is ideal.
    • They will grow directly in the gravel, but will float up if not anchored down and it can make cleaning out the pond or separating the plants later more difficult.
  • These plants grow as a "rhizome" and the crown should not be covered by the soil.
  • Put 2 or 3 fertilizer tabs into the soil for optimal flower color (Lilies come in a variety of colors!)
  • When first introducing a lily to the pond, put in in at about 6 inches depth, if possible.  Then, as the plant grows, lower it to 12 to 18 inches below the surface. One way to do this is to put a plastic pot under the lily pot to raise it up if you need to.

Things to know about caring for lilies:

Dividing and re-potting
  • Every 2 or 3 years the lilies will need to be divided.  A plastic container will begin to bulge - giving you this reminder to this.  If they are not divided and re-potted, they will grow right out of the pot, or be root bound and produce less flowers.
  • Take the pot out of the pond and hose off the soil.  You will be able to see that there are different rhizomes.  You'll need to cut these into separate pieces, keeping the most healthy looking ones and discarding the others.
  • Re-pot the ones you are keeping, putting some gravel on top of the soil to weigh it down and put it back in the pond.
Fertilizing
  • Lilies do well with fertilizer
  • Add fertilizer tabs every 4 to 6 weeks
  • Push them down in the soil so they are near the bottom of the roots.
  • Make sure to remove leaves when they die or turn yellow.
Fish
  • Sometimes koi will burrow into the gravel and soil of a lily and uproot them.  Try putting some larger cobble over the soil to deter fish.
  • If koi are eating your lilies you may need to offer them other plants to nibble on like floating hyacinth.
  • If you need to protect the lily plant from the fish, there are these specialized nets that float at the top to protect lilies. They are floating plant protectors by Nycon.
Winter

Lilies will go dormant during the winter.  Cut them back to about 6 inches above the root ball.  They can stay in the pond all winter and will come back in the spring.

Net your pond

Net your Pond for Fall

Have you spent a lot of time trying to get leaves out of your pond?  Net your pond for fall to keep organic material out of your pond!  Leaves and other material that blow in decompose all winter and when that spring time sun hits, will feed an algae bloom.  Help keep your pond looking great by netting it now.  Protecting your pump from additional material will also help keep the pump running and your fish healthy.

Domed Works Better

Colorado Pond Pros has put nets on ponds stretched taught across. But what we've found is that the weight of the leaves pushes down the net and the leaves get soaked in the water, adding tannins.  Pulling off a net with soaked leaves isn't easy either!  This year we have build domes over ponds to hold up the net.

This method is working well.  We recommend netting ponds and removing them once the leaves have all fallen and have been removed from your yard .

Want to read about more pond topics?  Click HERE.

industry event

Colorado Pond Pros Attends Aquascape Industry Event

Mike attended an industry event at Aquascape in Chicago last week.  He met with top pond companies in the United States to share secrets to building and servicing beautiful ponds. They built the beautiful pondless waterfall in the picture here. I put in an arrow so you can see Mike!

Pond De-Icer – Why you need one!

Pond De-icer

Did you know that the most common reason for winter fish loss is gasses getting trapped under the ice?  It's really a lack of a pond de-icer?  Yes!  Often referred to as a "floating pond heater", they are invaluable to a Colorado pond. Many people think it is because it got to cold or the fish froze.....no so.

Trapped Gasses

A de-icer or heater doesn't exactly heat up a pond like a warm swimming pool.  They actually keep one small area from freezing over.  Gases form in the water when decaying organic matter like leaves break down.  Gasses from the fish themselves build up in the water when it is iced over.   These trapped gasses can actually suffocate the fish!   A de-icer produces enough heat to keep the water from freezing around the unit.  This allows these gasses to escape the pond.   If you have lots of plants in your pond or more than 10 fish, you may want to consider using more than one de-icer to make sure there is enough ventilation.

Oxygen

Although fish don't do a lot in the winter, they do need oxygen.   When aerators are used in combination with a de-icer the fish have a good supply of air and a way for off gasses to get out.  This benefits the plants as well as the fish.  To have healthier fish, plants and a thriving eco system use both throughout the winter.

Placement of Aerator

It is important that aerators are not placed at the bottom level of the pond.  There is a thermo-climb temperature gradient with in the pond during the winter.  Simply said, the bottom of the pond is warmer during the winter than the top because the earth is not frozen so far down.  The more shallow the water gets, the colder the water gets.  If an aerator disc is placed at the bottom level of the water, the fresh and very cold air that it brings in will disturb the natural temperature and make is too chilly for the fish.  To avoid this, place aerators on a top shelf in the pond.  No shelves in your pond?  Tie the aerator disc on the side at the level it needs to be. Just use fishing line to attach it to something outside the pond.

Ok to Freeze!

It is actually ok for a pond to freeze over........as long as there is a hole for gases to escape.  When snow accumulates on a pond, it acts as an insulator from the harsh winter wind and dry Colorado air.  It keeps evaporation down and keeps the temperatures from fluctuating too much.  In the picture above, you can see the that waterfall does have snow on it, but that the moving water is still moving under it.  Moving water in pipes doesn't freeze!  The hole with arrow pointing to it is from an aerator bubbling up.  In very cold weather the water bubbbling can freeze over like a dome and may need to be broken up.

Very Big Fish or Very Harsh Weather

If you have very large koi or live in an area where the weather gets extremely cold, creating 8 inches of ice in your pond....you may want to consider adding a submerged water heater.  While this doesn't heat it up like a hot tub, it will keep the temperature more consistent and keep it from freezing all the way over.

Did you know?

Did you know that there are products like the ThermoCube that are Thermostatically Controlled Outlets?  That means they are outlets that you plug your heater into and they turn the outlet off when the air temperatures go above 35 degrees and turn it on when it gets down to 35 degrees.  If your heater doesn't have a temperature controlled on/off feature, this can save you electricity in the winter. 

Be Careful with Outlets!

Typical outlets have circuit breakers of 15 or 20 amps and are 120 volt outlets.  If GIFs are tripped during the winter, heaters, aerators and pumps can get shut off just when you need them to run.  Pipes can freeze int eh middle of the night when pumps suddenly turn off.  Be sure your circuit can handle the volts of equipment you need to plug in for the winter at the pond.  Remember, that the circuit might be carrying load from the house as well. We found a great article to understand how electrical outlets can be overloaded on Blain's Farm & Fleet's website.   Click HERE to check it out.

For more about getting your pond ready for winter, click HERE. 

Getting Your Pond Ready for winter

Getting your Pond Ready for Winter

Getting your pond ready for winter helps to keep it in the best condition possible and will help start the spring off on the right foot!

7 Steps to  Getting Your Pond Ready for winter:

 1. Decide if you will you be running your pond over the winter

  • Running the pond over the winter helps keep the fish healthy.
  • If you have fish, they need to have air!
  • Ponds and waterfalls look beautiful with snow and ice on them.
  • Leaving a pond dry is not always a great idea.  It can expose liner to the freezing, thawing and harsh sun and wind that is so typical here in Colorado.

2.  Leaves - Keeping them out of the pond

If your yard ends up with leaves in it, it is safe to say that your pond will too!  Leaves that blow into the pond could cause several problems.  They can muck up the skimmer basket or net, causing a blockage that could keep water from getting to your pump, and could even burn out your pump!  They also begin to decay in your pond.  Here in Colorado we have plenty of sunny days smack in the middle of the winter.  Leaving organic material in the pond over the winter will cause algae.

  • Rake up leaves and remove them from the yard - if not, they will end up in the pond!
  • Put a net over your pond to keep them out.  In our experience, a raised net that is over a sort of cage does much better than putting a net flat over the pond.  The weight of the leaves causes it to sink into the water, allowing those tannins to get in.
  • You can leave the net on until all the leaves have dropped.  Make sure to remove all leaves from your yard before removing net
  • Blow off leaves from your net every couple of days with a leaf blower.

3. Fish During the Winter

  • Many people wonder if fish can over winter in Colorado.  They certainly can!  Gold fish need only 18 inches of water to overwinter and Koi need a bit more than that.  24 to 36 inches is plenty.
  • When the water temperature reaches 50° you need to stop feeding the fish.  Their metabolisms slow down and they can no longer metabolize the food.
  • The fish will be fine if the pond freezes over....mostly.  There needs to be at least one hole in the ice for the fish gases to escape.  The running water from the waterfall keeps oxygen flowing and usually keeps the pond from freezing over 100%.  Many people add a floating de-icer to make sure.  It keeps a small area from freezing.
  • Refrain from breaking the ice by hitting it.  Imagine if you were underwater....basically taking a nap and someone broke ice over your head with a shove!  That would be a very loud noise and it can put added stress on your fish.
  • Snow on top of the pond - you don't need to remove the snow off a pond.  But you do need to make sure a hole is left open for the fish gases to escape.

4.  Pond Equipment

Some equipment needs to be removed for the winter, while other equipment will need to be removed.

  • UV lights need to be pulled out for the winter and stored in a place that they will not freeze.  Leaving them in will cause them to break.
  • Pumps - moving water does not freeze.  If you have fish it is ok to leave the pump in for the winter and run it.  Do not turn it off and leave it sitting or it can freeze, as well as the pipes attached to it.  If you choose to pull out your pump for the winter, store it in a place where it won't freeze.  Putting it in a bucket of water helps it from drying out and getting cracked seals.
  • IonGens - they can stay in over the winter, however, the IonGen control panel is a piece of computer equipment.  Taking it out and storing it in the garage will  keep it in better condition.
  • Autodose - These need to come out for the winter.  Their small tubes will likely freeze as well as the beneficial bacteria pouches.  Frozen bacteria is dead bacteria!  If you want to add beneficial bacteria specifically for 50 degrees and lower, you can add it weekly by hand.
  • Aerator - a great thing to add to the pond for the winter.  Helps ensure adequate oxygen.  Keep in mind that the air stone should be on the top shelf of the pond - putting it in the very bottom will disturb the temperature of the water as the air is coming in from the very cold.

5. Ice

  • Never crack or bang on the ice of the pond, it can stress out the fish.
  • Keep an eye on the waterfall or stream – remove ice that may form across it because it can divert water out of the system.

6. Plants

  • Hardy Lilies will come back in the spring.  If you have a lily pot on an upper step, it is a good idea to move the lily to the lowest part of the pond. This keeps it at a better temperature.
  • Marginal plants, the ones with their feet in the water will come back as long as they are hardy to zone 5.
  • Floaters like water hyacinth,

7. Evaporation

Colorado is very dry in the winter!  You will need to add water if it begins to get low to make sure your pump as enough to keep on pumping.  If you are adding small amounts of water (less than 20% of the total pond volume) then you don't need to worry about adding a de-chlorinator.  If you are adding a large amount at one time you will need to add de-chlorinator if you have fish.  Chlorine in the water can burn their gills!

Would you like to read about more pond topics?  Click HERE!

Would you like us to come winterize your pond or install a pond net?  Give us a call today at 303-775-0224 or click CONTACT US.

How Far to Fill up a Pondless Waterfall?

Are you wondering how far to fill up a pondless waterfall? Follow these quick steps to determine just how much water and to what level to fill it.

  • Turn off your feature.  You may have to um-plug it.
  •  Look into to vault after the water has drained back into it.
  • From this point you can fill the vault to the top with water.
  • Turn the feature back on.
  • Look again into the vault.  The water level with it running is the level you can put water into while it is running.

Don't Over Fill

Filling up the vault to the top while it is running could potentially cause overflow if the feature was to be turned off.

Think you may have a leak?  Click HERE to learn more about pondless waterfall leaks or pond leaks.

 

Protect your pond from hail!

Now and then here in Colorado we may experience hail.  Protect your pond from hail by making sure there is no exposed liner!  Colorado Pond Pros build ponds so that the liner is completely protected from the harsh rays of the sun, from the freeze and thaw cycle and from hail.  If you have exposed liner cover it with rock and gravel.  If you need help CONTACT US! 

Insurance -Protect your pond from hail

Have you already had hail damage and need a quote for the repair?  Start by texting us over some pictures so that we have an idea about the size of your pond.  We offer free estimates over the phone or in person estimates for the cost of a service call.  That amount can be applied to the cost of the repair work.

Looking for a landscape company to build your pond?

While many landscape companies may build ponds, we specialize in building ponds.  That's right, we only build ponds, waterfalls and waterfeatures!  If you are looking for a landscape company to build your pond - look no further!  Because of our focus, we are expert pond builders.  Check out these 10 common questions people ask:

1.  How long does it take to build a pond?

The time is takes to build a pond completely depends on how large the pond is.  However, it is very typical for a backyard pond to take 2 to 4 days to build.  Some smaller features can even go up in one day!

 

2.  Do you use concrete?

We choose not to concrete.  The freeze and thaw cycle can cause cracks to form in concrete, causing leaks.  We use underlayment, liner and natural stone to protect the liner.  This way the liner isn't exposed to the freezing temperatures and the hot sun, making it easier for the liner to last a very long time!

 

3.  What kind of equipment do you use?

When building a pond, we typically we use a Dingo that is narrow enough to fit through most backyard gates.  If the boulders used will be larger than usual we may bring in bigger equipment that requires a piece of fence to be removed during the build.

We use Aquascape products within the pond because they provide very well made and specialized pumps, aerators, skimmers, biofalls and other products that we have found to be very reliable over the years.

 

Natural pond - landscape company to build your pond

4.  Do you warranty your work? 

We warranty our work for 1 year.  The equipment we use is warrantied for 3 to 5 years.

 

5.  How much maintenance is involved with a pond?

When a pond is well built and is set up for the eco-system to thrive, they can be very little maintenance.  Some people feed their fish each week, while others prefer to feed them daily.  The skimmer basket will need to be cleaned out once a week, the filter pad could be washed out each month and beneficial bacteria will need to be added weekly and sometimes every few days if we have high heat or a lot of rain.  Did you know that rain contains nitrogen, which greens up landscape and sometimes can cause algae blooms?  Read more about that HERE. 

 

6.  Do I have to have fish?

No, you do not have to have fish.  However, ponds are small eco-systems within themselves and to keep it balanced a pond need 5 elements - of which, fish are one!  To read more about that click HERE.

 

7.  How much will my electric bill go up?

We use energy efficient pumps.  Customers report their electricity bills going up by roughly $30 a month.

 

landscape company to build your pond8.  Do I have to turn it off for the winter? 

No!  In fact, ponds and waterfalls can be beautiful during the winter!  If you have fish, we recommend running it over the winter for proper oxygenation.  If you choose not to run it you'll need to make sure aerators are in place and maybe even a floating pond heater.

9.  Do fish stay in the pond over the winter in Colorado?

Yes!  They over winter just fine as long as they have aeration and the pond doesn't freeze over 100%.  Even a small hole not frozen is enough for the fish gases to escape.  They basically go dormant (not quite sleeping) for the winter.  They don't eat because their metabolisms slow down so much.  Think about the fish in the natural ponds, they do just fine!

10.  Do ponds attract mosquitoes? 

While stagnant water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, the ponds we build are not stagnant.  The pump keeps the water flowing.  If a mosquito makes the mistake of thinking its a good place to lay and egg, the fish are right there for an afternoon snack!

landscape company to build your pond