Category Archives: Pond and Fish Care

Philadelphia Spring Pond Maintenance

Philadelphia Spring Pond Maintenance
Philadelphia Spring Pond Maintenance

Philadelphia Spring Pond Maintenance time is upon us!

The maintenance tasks listed below can help prevent future problems from arising throughout the pond season. Some pond enthusiasts enjoy performing their own maintenance, but you can always hire a professional to take care of it for you.

Do a Philadelphia Spring Pond Maintenance Cleanout

whether that means a full cleanout or just picking up a bit and rinsing things off. Enjoy our easy-to-follow instructions on how to clean out our own pond.

Check your pump to make sure that it’s clean and functioning correctly.

Your pump is the heart of your water feature and needs to be in tip-top shape at all times. Learn more about water feature pump maintenance.

As part of your Philadelphia Spring Pond Maintenance , fix any leaks in your water feature.

Constantly adding tap water to make up for a loss of pond water means the constant addition of nutrients which will eventually promote algae growth.

 Remove algae, leaves and other debris left over from the season before.

This is crucial because an excess of decaying debris will add to the nutrient levels and the algae in the pond.

Add plants to control algae when you do your Philadelphia Spring Pond Maintenance.

Since plants directly compete with algae for nutrients, they are the most important addition to the pond. Using a wide variety of plants will not only add to the natural look of the pond, but will reduce algae growth as well.

DO NOT overfeed your fish.

Fish food that is not eaten will add more nutrients to the pond, helping feed the algae. See our What to Feed Fish in the Spring article for more information. 

Contact us for more information on Philadelphia Spring Pond Maintenance.

Types of backyard pond fish

Backyard pond fish– What are the most popular?

Let’s be honest– one of the best reasons to get a backyard pond is for the fish!  Even if that is not your first thought when building a pond, the backyard pond fish will soon be the family favorite!

Most of the ponds AquaReale work with are well suited for backyard pond fish and a full ecosystem. And remember– fish do better in ponds with proper balance and filtration.

Here are some of the most popular types of backyard pond fish:

backyard pond fish koi
backyard pond fish koi

Koi Fish

The most well known and popular type of backyard pond fish is Koi Fish.  Koi are a domesticated version of common, not so colorful carp. Over time they have become selectively bred to get the awesome colors and patterns they have today.  The Japanese are the masters of developing koi to have the best colors and patterns.  Koi come in all colors and sizes and can grow up to three feet, depending on their living conditions.

Koi really begin to thrive in ponds of around 1000 gallons or more. The more water for them the better.  They are very friendly and they eventually are able to be hand fed.  They develop personalities and you’ll ending up falling in love and even naming them.

 

backyard pond fish-- butterfly koi
backyard pond fish– butterfly koi

Butterfly Koi (A.K.A. Dragon Koi)

Butterfly Koi are known for their unique look and beautiful longer fins. .  They originated in the mid-20th century as a result of an attempt to increase the hardiness of traditional koi. Japanese breeders interbred traditional koi with wild Indonesian longfin river carp.  Their body shape is more slender than regular koi which are more oval.

Backyard pond fish-- Goldfish
Backyard pond fish– Goldfish

Goldfish

The small sized goldfish is very common for backyard ponds and they make great starter fish.  They resemble Koi, but don’t require nearly as much space as Koi do, so they are great for smaller ponds.

Goldfish as they look today were developed in China over 1000 years ago and are known to be very resilient. Comets are plain orange and white goldfish.  Shubunkins are goldfish that usually have black, orange and bluish coloring.

Backyard pond fish -- Calico (Fantail)
Backyard pond fish — Calico (Fantail)

This fish is also a member of the carp family.  The fish have black, orange and red markings against a pearl white background.  This fish is easily recognized by a forked caudal fin (at the tail part), which forms a symmetrical pair that looks like butterfly wings. All of its fins are well proportioned and slightly rounded.

Backyard pond fish-- Golden
Backyard pond fish– Golden Orf

Golden Orf

Golden Orfes are long, slender, bright orange fish.  They range to dark silver in color.   They are fast growing and fast swimming.  They like to swim together in groups which is great for encouraging other fish to join them .  Although not as popular they do very well and add excitement and character to any pond.

What backyard pond fish will YOU get??

The fish you put in your pond is completely up to you!  Have fun.  Enjoy your pond and your fish.  Be sure not to overdo it with too many fish– the right balance is the key to happy pond life. Contact us to see which fish are best for your pond!

 

Philadelphia Spring Pond Cleaning

 

 Philadelphia Spring Pond Cleaning
Philadelphia Spring Pond Cleaning

Philadelphia Spring Pond Cleaning

So it’s spring time and you are wondering what maintenance is needed for your backyard pond.  Every pond is unique and will look different.  A few questions to start…  How do you want your pond to look?  Some people prefer pristine while others prefer a more rustic, natural look.

Spring is the best time to clean your pond or have your pond professionally cleaned.  A Philadelphia Spring Pond Cleaning will ensure your entire pond ecosystem is healthy and looking great for the months ahead.

We recommend full pond cleanings, whether we do it or you do it yourself.  A Philadelphia Spring Pond Cleaning full cleaning would involve storing the fish, draining the pond and power washing the rocks.  During this time, it’s easy to check for loose edges as well as check the pumps and filters for debris and any potential issues.  This is now a good time to cut back dead plant matter as well.

Philadelphia Spring Pond Filter Cleaning

If you greatly prefer the rustic look, you may prefer not to do a full Philadelphia Spring Pond Cleaning.  if that is the case, we recommend at least cleaning the filters and filter media.  It’s usually possible to clean the filters without draining down the pond.  However, without draining down the pond you won’t be able to do the other important things like cut back plants, check lights, make rock adjustments, etc.

If your pond does not have a filtration system, we highly recommend one.  Contact us to explore the possibility of adding one to your pond.

 

Ready to Enjoy to Pond

No matter what level of Philadelphia Spring Pond Cleaning pond you choose, a little pond maintenance in the springtime goes a long way to enjoying your backyard paradise in the warm months to come.  Contact us to see how AquaReale can get your pond up and running into the pond of your dreams.

Koi Pond Fish: What to feed in spring?

What should I feed my Koi Pond Fish in Spring?

 

Koi Pond Fish
Koi Pond Fish

Koi Pond Fish Diet in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware

Fish often are a big part of your pond and they provide a beautiful connection to nature and animals.  Just like people, Koi Fish  thrive with the right diet. Should you feed them the same Koi Fish food in the fall as you do in the spring?

What to feed your Koi Pond Fish in Spring

So now that you have a pond with fish you may be wondering how often and what do you feed them?  Does it matter what kind of food they eat?  Do you feed them the same food in the spring as in the fall?  Will the goldfish eat the same food as Koi Pond Fish?

If your pond is designed properly and is a well balanced ecosystem you may not need to feed them at all.  Fish in a well designed backyard pond can live off the nutrients in the ecosystem without ever having to be fed by the pond owner.  They can survive and thrive off of nutrients in the pond by eating foods like plankton, floating pond plants, aquatic plant roots, larvae of insects, worms, and even small animals.

But admit it– one of the main reasons you have fish is to interact with them.  It’s amazing to throw Koi Pond Fish food into your pond and watch the fish rush over to gobble the food up.  Since Koi Fish are often larger than goldfish, they eat more as well!

In general. feeding food products should only take place when the pond water ranges between 50° to 85°F.  So if you do decide to go out and purchase fish food here are some helpful tips.  Lately, fish  food manufacturers have come a long way in producing foods that take consideration to seasons and temperature change.  Koi Pond Fish food also come in different sizes to accommodate different sized fish.

Koi Fish
Koi Fish

Feeding in the Spring (cold temperature formula food) 

Each season brings its own nutritional requirements.  Spring is no exception.  Fish are coming out of their seasonal hibernation into 50ºF  water and they cannot metabolize all of the ingredients of the all season formulas.

As it gets warmer (maybe between 50-55ºF) in the spring, the fish will start eating more and they need food they can easily digest. You don’t want to overfeed your fish at this point, since they will fill the pond with waste.  Your Koi Pond  Fish are not yet operating with a full system as they ease into the warmer weather.   This makes it harder for them to digest food, leaving to more pond waste

Good luck with your fish  For more personalized information, contact us any time!

Healthy pond plants

First off, plants are a huge part of the pond ecosystem and need to be there to make sure everything lives harmoniously. Pond plants also enhance the beauty of any water feature. So, when your pond plants aren’t healthy, you know it. One sign that there’s something wrong is yellowing leaves. Here are some of the more common reasons why your pond plants are turning yellow.

Healthy Pond Plants
Healthy Pond Plants

Healthy pond plants love fertilizer!

Be sure to fertilize your pond plants. If your plants are potted (which is what we recommend) poke a hole in the soil and push the fertilizer down inside, then carefully close the soil over the hole. Fertilizer should also be added whenever re-potting your plants is necessary. For floating plants, remove them from the pond and place them in a container that will hold water. Add your favorite water-soluble fertilizer according to the directions. Do not add more than the recommended amount. Too much fertilizer can cause plants to turn yellow too.

Healthy pond plants and Insects

Aphids

Inspect your pond’s plants just like you do your other plants. Pond plants are not immune to insects, especially in the winter if you bring them in the house.

Spider mites love the dry winter environment our homes have. Any insecticide that you can use on houseplants is safe to use on water plants inside the home. Aphids are sometimes problems in the house, but mites are more prevalent.

Aphids are usually the main insects to attack pond plants. Depending on the plant, you may be able to wash them off in the water where they will become yummy treats for your fish. Floating plants like hyacinths, water lettuce and lily pads and their flowers are good candidates for this. When you do water changes or add water to your pond due to evaporation, spray the water on the plants. This will wash the insects off too.

Too Much Sun

Healthy pond plants can burn just like us. A sunburned plant will have a bleached look or brownish cast to the leaves, sometimes they will yellow. When moving pond plants outside, if they have spent the winter inside, do it gradually. Move them first to a shady spot. Set the pot in a larger container that will hold water. Gradually over a 2-week period expose the plants to more sunlight. Do this in the spring when the weather begins to warm so that they also get used to the cooler nighttime temperatures.

 

For more information, reach out to us! 

Philadelphia Koi Pond Myths

Philadelphia Koi Pond Myths
Philadelphia Koi Pond Myths

Philadelphia Koi Pond Myths

Philadelphia Koi Pond Myth #1:  I should locate my pond to  the lowest part of my yard!

Reality:   This is probably the worst location for your investment because of the run-off that can creep its way into your pond. When your pond is positioned near your house, you can take in the beauty and tranquility of your pond when entertaining friends or lounging on your deck.

Philadelphia Koi Pond Myth #2It’s necessary to drain and clean your pond regularly.

Reality: If you decide to work in harmony with Mother Nature, then draining and cleaning your pond should take place only once a year (at most). Clean-outs should occur in the spring, before the weather gets warm and the bacteria has an opportunity to set up.

Philadelphia Koi Pond Myth #3The more filtration, the better the pond.

Reality   Believe or not, you can over-filter a pond. Tight filter pads in your skimmer pick up the smallest particles of debris, causing you to be cleaning the filtering mechanism out constantly. Fish in the wild certainly don’t swim around in bottled water. If you can see a dime on the bottom of the pond, then the water clarity is just right for your fish and filtering past that create headaches instead of eliminating them.

Philadelphia Koi Pond Myth #4You can’t be a koi hobbyist and a water gardener.

Reality   Not true! You can raise koi and have a beautiful water garden. The koi can grow up to be just as beautiful and just as healthy as they are in traditional koi ponds – and you’ll love them just as much!

Philadelphia Koi  Pond Myth #5The presence of rocks and gravel make it difficult to clean your pond.

Reality   Rocks and gravel offer a natural place for aerobic bacteria to colonize and set up housekeeping. This bacteria breaks down the fish waste and debris that would otherwise accumulate in the pond and turn into sludge. Regardless of your pond’s location (i.e. close to trees and loads of leaves), or how many fish you have in it, you’ll find that having rocks and gravel in your pond not only makes it look better, but it makes it healthier as well. So contrary to the myth, having rocks and gravel on the bottom of your pond actually allows Mother Nature to clean up after herself.

Philadelphia Koi Pond Myth #6: Your pond must be at least three feet deep in order to keep koi.

Reality   There are thousands of two-foot deep ponds around the country, full of happy and healthy koi. The water in a two-foot deep pond will generally only freeze eight inches down, even in the coldest of climates, because of the insulating qualities of the earth that surrounds the pond.

Philadelphia Koi Pond Myth #7:  Koi can’t be kept in a pond that also contains plants.

Reality   In a naturally balanced ecosystem, koi and plants complement and need one another. In nature, fish feed on plants. As a result, the fish produce waste, which is broken down by aerobic bacteria on the bottom of your pond, which, in turn, is used as fertilizer by the plants to grow and produce more natural fish food.

Philadelphia Koi Pond Myth #8:  You have to bring your fish inside for the winter.

Reality   Fish do fine during the coldest of winters as long as you give them two feet of water to swim in, oxygenate the water, and keep a hole in the ice with a de-icer, allowing the naturally produced gasses to escape from under the ice.

For more answers or to see what we can do for you, please contact us!

Pond Plants in the Fall

Pond Plants in the Fall
Pond Plants in the Fall

What do you with Pond Plants in the Fall?

Here on the east coast, the seasonal change from summer to fall is apparent by the beautiful, multi-colored leaves and the dip toward cooler temperatures. How will that chill you feel in the air affect the plants in your aquatic paradise?

Hardy Marginals

 As with terrestrial, perennial plants, dropping temperatures signal your hardy aquatic plants to prepare for their winter dormancy. At this time, you should stop fertilizing them as you see leaves begin to yellow and brown. It’s OK to leave these plants where they are in your pond to weather the cold of winter, just be sure to trim the dying foliage of your marginal plants down to 2” above the water level.

Tropical Marginals

Treat these plants as they would any garden annual by replacing them each season. A fun alternative to this is to treat them as tropical houseplants and bring them in for the winter. Most tropical marginals will do well potted in heavy garden soil in a sealed clay pot with no drainage holes. When kept wet, the plants do well in a sunny window or sunroom.

Waterlilies

Waterlilies will also begin to show their dislike for the cold with yellowing leaves and fewer flowers. When this happens, the leaf and flower stems of hardy water lilies should be cut back to about 2 to 3” above the base of the plant.

In areas where freezing is likely, plants should be overwintered indoors. This can be a difficult task; therefore many gardeners choose to simply buy a new plant each season.

Lotus

As with the marginals in your pond, the foliage of your lotus plants will need to be trimmed back after they have died back and turned brown. It’s important not to cut the leaves while they are still green because the freshly cut, hollow stems are susceptible to disease which can spread to the plant’s tuber, possibly killing the plant. Lotus tubers will not withstand freezing, so any plants that are growing in the shallow areas of your pond should be moved to the bottom, away from freezing water.

Caring for your Pond Plants in the Falll will mean less work and healthier plants come spring.  Contact us for more information on Pond Plants in the Fall.

Pond Pump Repairs fish pond

Your pond pump is one of the most important pieces of equipment in your pond, so why not learn how to take care of it properly via Pond Pump Repairs?

Oftentimes, pumps burn out or die prematurely due to improper care and installation. By knowing how to take care of Pond Pump Repairs, you can ensure it will last several years.

Pond Pump Repairs
Pond Pump Repairs

Pond Pump Repairs case #1 : Pump Hums but Pushes Very Little Water

Possible Cause: Impeller may be seized by debris

Troubleshooting: Unplug and remove the pump from the pond and inspect the pump intake to ensure there is no debris restricting the impeller. Remove any debris, like rocks or sticks, which may have become lodged around and above impeller.

While the pump is still out of the pond, lay it on its side and plug in the pump to see if the impeller spins. If the impeller does not spin, use a screwdriver or similar tool to kick start the impeller.

Possible Cause: Pump may be air-locked.

Troubleshooting: Air has gotten into the impeller chamber. Tilt the pump while it’s in the pond to allow air to be released from the chamber or remove the pump from the pond and re-install, ensuring that the impeller chamber is flooded with water.

Pond Pump Repairs case #2: Pump Pushes Very Little Water

Pond Pump Repairs case # 3: Possible Cause: Plumbing clogged with debris.

Troubleshooting: Disconnect the pump from the pipe. This will allow the plumbing to drain. Clogged debris may back-flush out of the plumbing and into the pond during this procedure. Inspect the plumbing to make sure no debris is lodged inside.

Pond Pump Repairs case # 4: Issue: Pump Is Not Running

Possible Cause: Poor electrical connection, tripped breaker, blown fuse, or other interruption in power supply.

Troubleshooting: Check to make sure all electrical connections are working and that a qualified electrician installed and tested it. Note – Long extension cords may cause voltage drop at the pump and the amps to rise above maximum level. This can cause the pump to heat up and burn out the motor.

Pond Pump Repairs case #5  Issue: Pump Operates Intermittently

Possible Cause: Not enough water in the pond.

Troubleshooting: Most pumps must be submersed in water to operate properly. Low water levels may cause the pump’s internal thermal shut-off to activate. The thermal shut-off will deactivate once the pump is cooled down. The proper water level must be established in the pond for the pump to work properly.

Possible Cause: The pond is too small to support the volume of water needed for the stream.

Troubleshooting: The pond must be designed to provide enough water to the stream and waterfalls for proper circulation. When the pump is first started, it may be necessary to add a few inches of water to the pond in order to account for the water used to feed the stream and waterfalls. Upper pools and “check” dams in the streams are also very effective at holding water upstream when the pump(s) are not operating. Ponds that are too small may not be able to supply enough water to start the streams and waterfalls. This will cause the water in the pond to drop below the opening of the skimmer upon initial start-up and starve the pump of water.

Enjoy!

Remember, your pond should not be an endless source of frustration and confusion to you. If you continue to have problems with your pond, regardless of the troubleshooting steps you performed, it may be time to call in the help of a professional.   That’s where  AquaReale can step in and help.  Just reach out!

But please, don’t consider routine, general maintenance to be a burden on you. After all, how many tasks do you get to perform in the warm sun, with the sounds of frogs and birds all around you, and your friendly koi nibbling at your fingers?

And how often are you tempted to take your shoes off and dip your toes in the bathtub when you’ve been cooped up in the house washing windows? Not often. That’s why you installed your pond. Enjoy it!

Watch our Pump Troubleshooting video for more tips on maintaining your water feature pump

Fall Pond Care– Philadelphia

Fall Pond Care
Fall Pond Care

Fall Pond Care time has arrived!

 

It seems like someone flipped a switch and fall appeared!  With the colder weather, leaves are starting to come down and the beauty of fall is cascading in in.

Here’s a handy list of 10 Tips for Fall Pond Care…

 

  1. Decaying leaves and foliage produce toxic gases that can harm your fish so you want to remove this debris before winter rolls into town. You don’t need to remove every single last leaf, but try to remove the majority.
  2.  If you put protective pond netting over your pond before the leaves started to fall, your job is easy. Carefully roll up the net and discard the leaves that were caught.
  3. If you didn’t use a net over the surface of your pond, you’ll need to remove the build-up of leaves from the bottom of the pond. Use a long handled pond net to scoop them out. Check your skimmer basket and remove any leaves that are still caught inside.
  4. Add Cold Water Beneficial Bacteria to the pond once the temperature drops below 50 degrees. Use twice weekly for two weeks, and then once per week until the water starts to freeze.
  5. Stop fertilizing your aquatic plants after the first frost.
  6. Trim back hardy marginal aquatic plants to 2″ above the water to keep the dead foliage from drooping over into the pond.
  7. Trim back waterlily leaves and stems to 2-3″ above the base of the plant. This keeps dead foliage from decomposing in the pond.
  8. If you left hardy waterlilies in their pot, drop them into the deepest part of the pond to over-winter. Do not bring them indoors as they need a period of dormancy.
  9. Bring tropical waterlilies indoors if you want to over-winter them. Keep the pot in 50-degree water or take them out of the pot and store in sand. Be advised, even trained horticulturists lose a lot of tropical waterlilies when storing them indoors, so you might simply want to treat them as annuals.
  10. Once temperatures drop to 50 degrees, stop feeding your fish. They need to get ready to hibernate and you’ll want to avoid any metabolic complications.

For more information or a quote on fall service, contact us!

Pond Predators: How to win the battle

Pond Predators: How to win the battle

There are many Pond Predators that love to hunt fish. And when we give them shiny gold targets to go for, it makes their jobs even easier. Two of the usual suspects in the missing fish line-up are the raccoon and the heron. There are others, but these are the two most prevalent in the hobby.

For the raccoon, you have to first remember he doesn’t mind getting his hands wet, but will probably not purposely go for a swim to catch a fish. He can be held at bay by the way the pond is designed. A plant shelf that is too shallow will help him snag a fish every time.

Pond Predators
Pond Predators

Keeping Them Safe

For the heron, things get a little more challenging. They are very crafty and smart birds and you should not underestimate them. There are many methods available to keep them or scare them away from your pond – from plastic heron statue replicas to floating alligator decoys and motion-activated sprinkler. These options to ward him off all offer varying levels of success for every water garden hobbyist.

In early spring, these birds return to your area and look for feeding grounds. As they fly overhead to see where the fish are, your colorful fish stand out like a fast food restaurant. Your first defense is to use a decoy of some sort, whether it is heron or alligator decoy. They work better if you keep moving them around the pond to fool the heron into thinking they are real. Herons would rather not feed in the same water as an alligator, and if they see that another bird has staked out your backyard already, they are more likely to move on to the next available spot.

As we move into summer, just like us, Pond Predators develop a routine and may even forget about your pond. So the trick is to move the decoy about every three days in the spring and every couple of weeks in the summer.

Another decoy on the market is a motion-activated sprinkler called a Scarecrow. When the predator gets close enough the motion sensor will activate, and the visitor will get a quick blast of water.

Pond Predators: Alligator decoy
Pond Predators: Alligator decoy

Life Without Fish? Never!

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to have fun with your fish, and to remember that all of these occurrences are case specific. You may never see a Pond Predators such as a heron or raccoon in your backyard, your fish may be disinterested in your plants, and there may be no bullying in the pond.

Who knows, maybe you’ll be lucky and avoid all three. After a season or two, you will remember what your life was like before fish. You’ll undoubtedly realize that the pleasure of pond fish far outweighs a life without finned friends.

 

Contact us to see how we can help create your personal pond predator solution!