The lazy days of summer are here. Your pondkeepers have worked hard throughout the spring to get their ponds in great shape to enjoy all summer long. Now is a good time to talk with your customers about what is happening in their pond. Are they experiencing a lot of algae growth, are the fish multiplying at unusual rates, or are the plants becoming overgrown? Take this opportunity to respond to their concerns and get them back to enjoying their pond as soon as possible.
Oxygen levels in pond water must also be closely monitored since the warm water conditions mean the water is not able to hold as much oxygen. Running water such as waterfalls, streams, and fountains ensures maximum aeration. Leave all water features running day and night. Oxygen is at a premium at night because plants are competing with fish for the limited oxygen supply. Plants photosynthesize during the day but respire at night and can cause an oxygen deficit by morning unless extra aeration is supplied. Removing oxygen-greedy, troublesome algae also will help ensure proper oxygen levels are maintained.
The warm summer weather is the perfect condition for algae growth. If your pondkeepers have a pond in direct sunlight, this is even truer for them. Advise customers to remove string algae with a blast of high pressure from the hose and/or using their hands – the best tools for this job. Remove as much string algae as you can. Then, remind customers that there are algae control remedies available to treat green water and string algae, and be sure to stock some options for them.
For heavy algae blooms, suggest a UV clarifier. Suspended, microscopic single-cell algae are so tiny that they pass through even the finest filter. To combat this potential problem, recommend adding a UV clarifier which uses ultraviolet light to destroy the reproductive ability of algae. The dead algae then clump together in particles large enough to be removed by the mechanical filter.
Explain to your pondkeepers that in the summer, when pond water temperatures are above 50?F, feeding high-quality digestible foods will promote growth, vitality, and color enhancement. Fish, like most animals, require a nutritionally-balanced diet in order to grow and be in their best possible condition. Their bodies require the correct amounts (and quality) of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and vitamins. Proteins are used for tissue formation and, because they cannot be stored in the body, young fish need to obtain large quantities on a regular basis.
Encourage your pondkeepers to feed fish high-quality food, particularly in the summer. Fish should be fed as much as they will consume in five minutes several times a day. Fish eat what they need to survive in various conditions, and as the water temperature rises to 77°F and higher, fish will consume less food in a given time.
Remember, fish in hot water temperatures may not show an interest in food. When fish feed in extreme summer heat, their movement also uses more oxygen, which is problematic if there isn’t a sufficient supply in the water. Advise customers to feed in the early morning, at the coolest time of the day.
Keep an eye on fish health as well. Spawning activities in the pond may have taken their toll on females and if they are suffering, suggest your pondkeepers conduct a water test. Stock a product that tests for pH and the presence of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and KH in the water.
Raised pollutant levels are generally caused by overcrowding the fish, overfeeding, or under-filtrating the pond. Each leads to the imbalance between the number of fish and the amount of filter bacteria, which decompose fish waste.
Once identified, these pollutant problems are relatively easy to overcome. A partial water change will immediately dilute the problem, giving you time to identify the cause. Remind your pondkeepers to treat the water with a product that makes tap water safe for fish by removing harmful chlorine and chloramines. Also, make sure their filtration system is up to the task. If it is not properly sized for their pond volume and/or number of fish, recommend a larger filter, pump, or both.
Aquatic Plant Care
Aquatic plants provide important shade, which reduces algae growth, and provides added natural filtration, which helps clean the water and keep oxygen at healthy levels. Plants are very important to an overall healthy pond. To keep them looking their best, recommend that pondkeepers tend them regularly by removing dead blossoms, leaves, and stems to keep the pond free of debris and decay.
Additionally, remind your customers that their aquatic plants need extra care to promote growth and beauty. Suggest, and stock, a fertilizer product that is in tablet form and planted directly in the pot next to the plants’ roots. This will minimize the plants’ release of chemicals and nutrients that would ultimately encourage algae growth.
Another area of care you’ll want to discuss with your customers is pest and disease control. Several pests and diseases afflict aquatic plants, but unlike elsewhere in the garden, these cannot be sprayed with chemicals since most will harm or kill the fish.
Water gardeners need a decent understanding of pests and disease lifecycles in order to attack them effectively. Simply using one or more of the following techniques can control many pests:
• Spray infected plants with clean water from the hose, knocking insects into the water where they can be consumed by the fish.
• Remove pests such as water lily beetles from the plant by hand.
• Remove infested foliage to make way for new growth. Diseases such as water lily leaf spot and crown rot must be dealt with by extracting the damaged foliage.
Help your pondkeepers to care for their pond throughout the summer by stocking products that will help make their work effortless. Remember to be prepared with summer pond care literature and knowledge to keep your pondkeepers coming to you for all of their fish, plant and water care.