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Pond Information and Suggestions

Aereation     Barley     Sizing Liners     Feeding Fish     Filters     Fish Care


There are thousands of species of algae. All are plants, using chlorophyl for photosynthesis. They need water, light, and nutrients to survive. Algae blooms appear as green water, "pea-green soup" or flamentous mats that float to the water's surface. Algae grows where there is an excessive amount of nutrients in the water. Although algae are an essential part of the natural ecosystem in any healthy pond, uncontrolled algae growth can produce green water, low oxygen levels, and unpleasant odors. We suggest the following measures to keep algae from proliferating.

    KEEP IN MIND: As no two ponds are exactly alike, what may work for one pond owner may not work for another.

    LIMIT THE FISH POPULATION: Fish waste is a rich source of rapid plant nutrients which makes it an ideal food supply for algae. It is recommended no more than 1 inch of fish for every square foot of pond surface. 

    ADD PLANTS: Plants shade the water and extract nutrients from the water depriving algae of the sunlight penetration they need to flourish. Typically, coverage should be 60% of surface area.

    KEEP THE POND CLEAN: While plants are beneficial, their dead leaves can become a major nutrient source for algae. trim brown leaves from aquatic plants, use a fish net to collect leaves that fall to the bottom, and cover the pond with a net in the Autumn before surrounding trees lose their leaves.

    COLOR THE WATER: If algae does not obtain adequate sunlight, they cannot grow. Water Colorants will tint the water an attractive blue color which inhibits algae growth by reducing available sunlight in the water. 

    ADD BACTERIA: Sometimes by adding large quantity of liquid or dry bacteria it is often possible to solve algae problems. The bacterial agents grow rapidly, consuming all the available nutrients in the pond water, starving the algae. Some bacterial products also include enzymes that break down accumulated leaves and other organic matter, releasing nutrients into the water that are then consumed by the bacteria.

    TRY BARLEY STRAW/EXTRACT/PELLETS: A natural algae growth inhibitor. They remain active in the water for mohths.

   ADD A UV CLARIFIER: A UV Clarifier is strongly recommended for ponds with substantial fish populations and "pea-green soup" water. The UV radiation kills algae and disease causing microorganisms. It is placed in line between the pump and the filter. Since the UV Clarifiers add nothing to the water, they have no effect on string algae, but are highly recommended to control green water.

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Pond aeration is 8-10 times more effective at keeping your pond healthy and clean and eliminating the phosphates and other organic matter that enters your pond. If you are looking for environmentally friendly ways to prevent pond stagnation and pond algae then consider pond aeration before circulation. It ends up doing both for you in an extremely cost effective way.

Oxygen is the most important element for life. All life revolves around the availability of Oxygen. In aquatic environments like fish ponds, aquariums, lakes or aquaculture projects, oxygen is the single most limiting factor for success. All aquatic life forms demand oxygen. From the fish down to the bacteria any body of water has what is called an “oxygen demand”.

Of all the essential elements in water, oxygen is also in the shortest supply. The air we breathe is 21% oxygen. Water can only hold about 8 parts per million (mg/liter) or 0.0008% at 68 degrees F. Oxygen does not like water. It does not take long for oxygen to be depleted.

Ponds and lakes gain oxygen in two ways. 1) Photosynthesis by algae and plants. 2) Atmospheric oxygen is transferred into water at the surface of pond. Photosynthesis may produce sufficient oxygen for very low fish loads but is inconsistent due to the fact that at night algae and plants remove oxygen through the process of respiration. Most of the ponds and lakes have higher than natural fish loads and require additional oxygen to maintain a clean and healthy environment. To properly aerate ponds and lakes we must increase the available surface area and improve circulation to increase the transfer of atmospheric oxygen into the water. Surface turbulence increases the available surface area in contact with the atmosphere and allows increased transfer of oxygen. Increased circulation evenly distributes the oxygen to all zones within the pond

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Barley-Why to Use

The Safe and Organic approach to a crystal clean Pond! You should apply barley straw in the early spring prior to the growing season and into the fall to protect your pond over the winter months. How does it work? When barley is exposed to water and sunlight, natural bacteria begins to grow. Barley bacteria grows slowly as it begins to decompose, outperforming man-made bacteria. Allow 3-8 weeks before results can be seen. 

Helpful Hint: If you have large amounts of string algae in your pond, remove it by hand prior to treating your pond. Always have multiple bags decomposing to insure the highest level of barley bacteria possible. Place bag(s) in desired area - two to three weeks later place a second bag(s) in desired area - two to three weeks later replace the first bag(s) with a new bag(s). Continue this alternating process every three weeks throughout your ponding season, ensuring you will always have decomposing barley bacteria. 

Barley straw will not kill existing algae, it is not a pesticide. Rather it creates a unique pond environment which discourages any unwanted growth while not harming any plant or animal habitants.

The temperature of the water is an important factor. If the water temp is 40 degrees it may take up to 2 weeks for the straw to become active. When the water temperature is above 40 degrees the straw becomes active faster. In about a week the straw should begin to release it's chemical, given sufficient sunlight and oxygen. Well oxygenated conditions are essential to ensure the straw will decompose and produce it's chemical. If the straw is in a compacted state with restricted water movement through the straw, the effectiveness is extremely reduced. 
Barley straw does not harm fish or plant life. Actually in most cases it increases the invertebrate population providing a food source for fish. In fish farms and hatcheries where straw has been used, there are reports of improved gill function and better overall fish health.

Barley straw should be added very early in the spring. It is best to apply when the water temp is low. Time should be given (about 30 days) for the straw to become active. Once activated, the straw will create the unique environment for up to 6 months. A replacement bundle should be added before the first bundle is completely decomposed. Two applications should be enough for one year. Ponds that have a high content of suspended mud it may be necessary to add more straw than in clear waters as the byproducts can be slowly inactivated by the mud. 
Volume of water does not have as much importance as surface area does. An average home garden pond of  800 - 1200 gallons of water should only need an 8 ounce bundle of straw in the spring and then again around the beginning of summer. Avoid adding excessive amounts of straw especially in extremely hot conditions. Be sure to remove the straw if you're in a climate where the water will freeze. For ponds under 800 gallons, 4 ounces of barley straw should be used. 

The above statements are from some of our best barley manufacturers to help explain the usage and need of barley products. If you need further information email us at

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Determine Liner Size

To Calculate Gallons in your pond, Multiply  the Length x Width X Depth x 7.5 if Rectangular And, Length x Width x Depth x 5.7 if Oval.
To Calculate the size of liner take pond depth (in feet), double it and add 2 feet for overlapping. Add this sum to the maximum width and length of finished pond. This is the minimum size of liner material required. Pond liner is sold in Precut UPSable "boxed" sizes. 
Example:  A completed pond measuring 12 ft long x 7 ft wide x 3 ft deep would require a pond liner of 20ft x 15ft. (3 ft x 2 = 6,  6 + 2 = 8 , so, 8 + 12 = 20 for the length, and 8 + 7 = 15 for the width)
NOTE: To Calculate Gallons in your pond, Multiply the Length x Width X Depth x 7.5 if Rectangular And, Length x Width x Depth x 5.7 if Oval.

Feeding Fish


Nutrition involves the processes by which an animal is provided with nutrients needed for maintenance, growth, health, coloration, and reproduction. A nutrient is defined as an element or compound of dietary origin which is necessary to support the life and well-being of an animal. Nutrition concerns all aspects (assimilation, digestion, absorption, and utilization) of a food. There are several broad classes of nutrients in a food. These are proteins, lipids (fats), vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and energy. Since protein is generally the most important constituent of a fish feed, we will begin our discussion of fish nutrition with a look at protein and protein quality.

Protein is not only the most important constituent of a fish diet, it is generally the most expensive (compare the prices of a pound of steak to a pound of rice). Proteins are made up of amino acids linked together by chemical bonds. There are 20 amino acids which are common to most proteins, and 10 of these are essential for normal growth and health of the fish. These 10 essential amino acids are called, oddly enough, essential amino acids. They are: arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. There are three types of proteins. Fibrous proteins are highly indigestible and include collagen (found in connective tissue and bone), elastin (found in blood vessels), and keratin (found in hair, hooves, scales, and feathers). A second type of protein is the contractile proteins which are found in the muscle. These proteins are highly digestible and are found in the flesh of all animals. The third group is represented by globular proteins which are found in hormones, enzymes, and blood.

Proteins serve many functions in fish. They are components of bones, skin, organs, and muscle. Generally, about 70% of the total weight of the fish is made up of protein. Like humans, fish cannot make the essential amino acids in the body. Therefore, fish need to have a dietary source of proteins as the source for essential amino acids. As the protein is broken down in the digestive tract, the amino acids that were once linked together are separated into individual amino acids, called free amino acids. These free amino acids are carried through the blood and travel to the various organs and tissues where they are rejoined together to make new proteins. If a fish gets too little protein in the diet, growth of the fish is reduced and, in severe cases, weight is lost. Feeding fish too much protein in the diet is not wise because protein is expensive and the cost of the feed will be higher than needed, and the excess protein will be used as an energy source. Lipid (fat) is a much better, and cheaper, source of energy for fish.

Fish require a certain percentage of protein and a certain level of essential amino acids for proper growth. These requirements depend upon the size of fish, water temperature, culture conditions, daily feeding rate, stocking rate, and species of fish. The last factor is different than in most animals. One breed of cattle requires the same protein level as another breed. Likewise, all breeds of dogs require the same protein level in their diet. This is true for goats, cats, hogs, etc. However, each species of fish have their own protein requirements. Thus, koi have a different protein requirement (actually essential amino acid requirements) than do largemouth bass, or carp, or tuna. This makes feed formulation for fish quite interesting.

Protein quality, or the nutritional value of proteins, is based upon the amino acid composition of the feed ingredients, specifically the essential amino acid content, as well as the availability of the amino acids. The percentage of protein that can be digested by a fish determines protein quality. For instance, poultry feather meal is an ingredient with a high percentage of protein (80%) and is not very expensive. Thus, one might think that a fish diet could use a high percentage of this ingredient and save the producer some money. However, this is not the case. Poultry feather meal is very poorly digested by fish and thus has a very poor protein quality value. However, if the feather meal is hydrolyzed (broken down) during processing, the protein quality is improved, but so is the cost of the ingredient.

Generally, marine fish meal represents the highest quality protein source used in fish diets. Marine fish meals can contain between 60-75% protein, of which between 80-95% is digestible. Poultry by-product meal is an animal-source protein ingredient that has attracted much attention from nutritionists and is used in numerous feed formulations as a partial or total replacement for marine fish meal. Soybean meal, cottonseed meal, corn gluten meal, soy protein products, and distiller’s and brewer’s by-products are commonly-used plant protein sources. For koi and goldfish diets, additional ingredients may be added to the diet to enhance color and health of the fish, such as algae meals, yeast, protective and chelated forms of vitamins and minerals, and ingredients that enhance color of the fish.

Thus, when one evaluates a feed, it is not enough to know the percentage of crude protein. One must know if the ingredients supplying the protein have a high protein quality that is digestible to the fish. Only by meeting these two criteria can a fish feed be considered adequate to meet the protein requirements of the fish.


Under 50ºF   No Feeding recommended.

50-65ºF      Cold Weather Wheat Germ recommended- starting at 1-2x/week at

50ºF,       gradually increasing to daily, then by 60ºF twice daily.

66-85ºF      Summer Staple, Growth Food, Color Enhancing Food- feed small Portions 3-6 times daily.

Over 85ºF      Cut back on feeding regimen. Feed 1-2x/daily as fish cannot Metabolize at high temperatures or low temperatures. Cold Weather formula can again be used for easier absorption.

Over 90ºF      No feeding recommended. Any uneaten food will add to organic load and oxygen depletion in the water. Fish will begin to die.

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Types of Pond Filters
Pond filters can serve a variety of functions, including:
protecting the pump from debris
breaking down dangerous fish waste
trapping some suspended particles from the water
removing some dissolved waste from the water
reducing algae growth by removal of nutrients  
Intake Filters also referred to as prefilters are usually small (perhaps 3x3x6 inches or so) blocks of open-celled foam that often come in the box with the pump. These are far too small to be effective at waste removal or reduction, and serve only to prevent pieces of debris from being sucked into the pump’s intake and stopping or damaging the pump itself. Advantages: inexpensive; easily removed and rinsed clean; output of pump can still be used to run fountain or waterfall. Disadvantages: small surface area means they plug with debris quickly; often need to be rinsed daily or even more frequently; do not improve water quality significantly. Things to Look For: very coarse foam for good flow; firm attachment to pump; multiple filtering surfaces so a single leaf cannot block flow.  Also the use of a pump sock helps the frequency of how often you have to clean as they have more filtration material that has to become clogged before having to clean.
Submersed Filters are generally larger and more versatile than intake filters. A reasonable unit for a small pond might have a surface area of a square foot or more, and may use a variety of filter media including coarse and fine pads for mechanical filtration, carbon or zeolite for chemical filtration, and perhaps some sort of plastic or porous stone media for biological filtration. Many units can be installed on either intake or output side of the pump, but are most commonly connected to the intake where it protects the pump as well as cleans the water. Advantages: improve water quality as well as protecting pump; may go days to weeks between cleaning; optional filter media may be added for special purposes; pump output may still be directed to water features. Disadvantages: pondkeeper may need to wade into pond to retrieve filter for cleaning; much waste from filter may spill back into pond during cleaning; take up valuable space inside pond. Things to Look For: easy disconnection from pump; large surface area; room for several different media; filter media compartment recessed enough that waste isn’t spilled when removing from pond.
External Filters which can be either gravity flow (filters that need to be placed above the area they are flowing into as the water flows out only as fast as it flows in and cannot push water upward) or Pressurized (filters that are under such pressure that they can be placed at ground level and push water up to a waterfall, etc.) are generally the largest of pond filters, and are located above ground (some may be partially buried) somewhere near the pond itself. Water from the pump’s output enters the top of the filter, trickles through the filter media, then drains out the bottom port. External filters may be operated with a variety of media, but generally use large sheets of foam for mechanical filtration with several gallons of plastic or porous stone biological media underneath. Many operate on the “wet/dry” principle used on high-tech saltwater “reef” aquariums, in which the biomedia has water continuously running over it but is not submerged. Advantages: improve water quality; may go days to weeks or even months between cleaning; most efficient form of biological filtration supports greatest fish load; optional filter media may be added for special purposes; above ground installation makes unit easy to clean.  Things to Look For: internal bypass that allows water to continue to flow if filter clogs; large surface area; room for several different media.
Filters may be used in combination to take advantage of each filter’s strong points. A common setup is to attach a submersed filter on the intake side of the pump, filled with coarse media to prefilter and protect the pump, and also an external filter on the output side, filled with finer media to catch smaller particles and biomedia to improve water quality by reducing ammonia and nitrites. Such a complete system not only provides the best filtration, but also can result in longer times between cleanings.
Sizing the filters Regardless of the pond size, a small filter is better than none, a medium better than small, and large better than medium. The bigger a filter is, the more waste it can catch or process between cleanings, and the more fish can be safely maintained. The trade-offs of course are that bigger filters cost more and take up more space. Another concern is to match the filter to the pump’s output. An undersized filter will either restrict the water flow, or worse, leak water from the system. In such cases, a bypass should be installed to divert water to another water feature, or better still to another filter.
Filters with built in UV Clarifiers  THESE FILTERS combine UV clarification and biological filtration to guarantee crystal clear, purified water. Water passes in front of the UV light, which causes algae to clump and die. Then, the filter sponge traps algae clumps and other debris, allowing clean, clear water to enter the pond. It is a well known fact that a UV clarifier helps to keep your pond crystal clear and free of algae blooms so prolific that it turns your water a "pea soup" green color.  It is also a reminder that a filter including a UV clarifier is usually less expensive than purchasing a filter and a stand alone UV clarifier separately.

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Fish Care

Click Here For Expert Advice - Koi Fish Time

FEEDING FISH: Feed them only a high quality fish food twice a day - but only as much as they will consume within 3-4 minutes. 

DISEASE CONTROL: Stress is the main factor man has the most control over. Many disease causing organisms normally occur in the same environment as the fish. They usually only become a problem when present in significant quantities and/or stress occurs. Therefore, by controlling stress you can help maintain a healthy pond. Prevention is easier than treating your pond for disease. 

Some causes of stress are: 

► High ammonia level. 

► Low dissolved oxygen level. 

► Handling and/or moving fish. 

► Poor water quality. 

► Crowding. 

► Parasites. 

► Too high/low water temperature. 

► Other toxic chemicals (chloramines, oak blossoms, weed spray, etc.). 

► Sharp edges in and around pond. 

► Inadequate and improper nutrition. 

Disease Agents: 

1. Bacterial

► Flexibacter Columnaris (fin & tail rot). 

► Aeromonas (hole-in-the-side). 

► Pseudomonas. 

► Vibrio. 

One of the principal causes of fish mortality is bacterial disease. Except for "columaris" nearly all bacterial infections occur secondarily to some other primary stress. Most are gram-negative organisms. Treatment: acriflavin, nitrofurans, oxytetracycline, kanamycin, chloramphenicol, sulfanomides, salt, etc. as a dip, topical, injection, or in feed. 

2. Viral: We know of no effective treatment except to remove nodular growths by scraping.

3. Fungal: A secondary infection at the site of some other fish injury. Also affects damaged or disturbed fish eggs. Treatment: acriflavin, iodine, malachite green, methylene blue, salt, formalin as a bath, topical, or in pond. 

4. Parasitic: 

► Lernaea (anchor worm). 

► Argulus (fish lice). 

► Monogenetic Flukes. 

► Ich. 

► Trichophyra. 

► Internal parasites. 

Most fish carry some parasites, but develop a degree of resistance that prevents problems. On the other hand, parasites such as anchor worms and fish lice usually are a problem whenever present. Young fish are more susceptible to illness caused by parasites. Stress situations and/or seasonal climatic variations may bring on infection. Some parasitic infections can be mistaken for bacterial diseases or viral infections and some may cause tumors. Treatment: Dylox, Masoten, Demilin, Formalin, Malachite Green, potassium permanganate or salt in the whole pond or in a bath. 

Treating fish diseases is sometimes a haphazard affair because we do not always exactly know what the fish is suffering from. It is not easy to make a correct diagnosis and then, from that "guess," choose a medication and dosage. Treatments for Koi diseases are still relatively unsophisticated. There are no funds available in the U.S. for the development of ornamental fish medicine. 

Note: Dead fish decompose very rapidly and generally are of little diagnostic use even if they have been frozen. It is better to have someone examine a live, diseased fish. Fish cannot be examined over the telephone! Methods of chemical treatment, (listed from most conservative to most drastic): 

► External swabbing. 

► Dip (five minutes in separate bath, aquarium). 

► Bath (30 to 60 minutes). 

► Sick tank or whole pond (low concentration for 12 or more hours).

► Feed. 

► Injection. 

Whole pond treatment advantages include apparent ease of administration and a desire to destroy all the harmful pathogens. The disadvantages are that biological filtration may be severely affected and drugs used in the treatment tend to be absorbed by organic debris in the pond. In addition, therapeutic drug levels may not be reached as pond drug dosages are usually lower. 

External swabbing with antibiotics and/or disinfectants can be surprisingly effective. The disadvantage is that the fish is exposed to handling and possibly anesthetics. Medication should be attempted after water quality and stress conditions have been improved. Partial water changes are very effective in improving water quality and relieving stress.

Beware of the problem of disease organisms that may be resistant to a particular drug. Maintain a current listing of drugs that are effective. Acriflavin, for example, is frequently used for shipping and handling of fish, and has been abused to the point that strains resistant to this drug are not uncommon. 

Winter Maintenance: In most parts of the United States it is best to leave your fish in the pond during the winter, providing the depth of the pond is adequate. Ice will form on the top but the water underneath will not freeze. Always provide an opening in the ice to allow for gas exchange. Without this hole, ammonia which is a toxin can build up and not escape. To maintain an ice-free hole leave the pump operating in the winter time with fountain head and tubing removed from pump. The pump should be positioned so the discharge keeps the water moving at the water surface. Electric pond de-icers will also achieve this. Do not break holes in the ice - since this will send shock waves that can injure or kill the fish. 

At first frost, simply disconnect filtering equipment and the UV Clarifier. Stop feeding your fish when the water temperature falls below 50°F. 

A pond thermometer is very helpful in monitoring water temperature. In spring, when water temperatures reach 50° again, your fish will become active and ready to feed. Begin feeding them after you have re-established filtration.

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