The First Call Of The Season

dead fish

It always comes, and I hate it.  It’s that first call of the season each spring or summer when the temps start to rise.  It usually goes something like this.  “Hi, I need some help here, my fish are coming to the surface of the water and appear to be gasping at the air.  Some are dying and I need to try to save the other one’s.  What can I do?”

My first response is usually with a simple question.  “Do you have aeration in the pond?”  And usually the answer is…no.

In fact I can’t think of an instance, although that’s not to say it couldn’t happen, but I can’t remember anyone ever following that question with a “yes”.  

And therein lies the problem.

Without a pond aerator in place before the problem starts, you’re going to end up in crisis mode, trying to respond like a M.A.S.H. unit in a war zone.

To start with, I’ll cover what you might try to help curb the losses in the short term.  And then I’ll tell you how to end this tragic problem for good.

Read more

There’s No Better Way To Protect Your Fish From Herons


Carol, a pond friend of ours, wrote into us recently and had a great question about heron decoys.

Last fall, a Great Blue Heron came into her fish pond and may have taken out any number of fish.  It was hard to tell just how many, but some were likely eaten, and while eventually they did get the bird to move on, she was worried about the return of another one.

It’s a valid concern for fish pond owners, particularly in the spring and fall when herons are migrating around.  They’re always on the lookout for an easy and tasty meal, and fish ponds tend to provide that in droves.  These easy pickings tend to keep a bird around, and it’s not unheard for them to clean a pond out in a few days of feasting.

But this doesn’t have to happen to you…or Carol.

Read more

Watch Out For Chlorine In Your Fish Pond

I recently came across this post in a pond forum and wanted to share this with you…and while you’d think this would be a rare thing to happen in a fish pond, that’s not really the case.

“Late last fall ,I allowed a distraction to cause me to effectively KILL all  of my Goldfish ,I had just turned on the tap water to add about 50 gals of make up water,company came ,and you know the rest ,5 hrs later ,the massacre was found ,I was SICK ,after the funeral for 85 of our friends.”

If you live in a city and/or use municipally treated water, then you’re facing a challenge of dealing with either chlorine, or worse yet, chloramines, in the water.  These chemicals are commonly used to help disinfect drinking water and while they may not cause any issues for us in the short term, the fact is they are deadly to pond fish.

Read more

Don’t Feed Your Fish In Cold Water!

I noticed a fairly common but disturbing post on a pond forum today and I wanted to share this with you here in the hopes that it will help you avoid this with your Koi in particular.

Here’s the post

This is a story that would usually start with “A friend of mine…” but I’ll fess up.  I made a major bone-head mistake and fed my koi while the water was still too cold.  The weather was warm and they were obviously very hungry, but I didn’t think to check the water temperature.  Now I have some very sick koi, including two that are near dead.  They’re behaving strangly, some are losing scales, and a few even have blood streaks in their fins.

They’ve always been very healthy, and all of my goldfish appear unaffected, so I was baffled.  After testing the water (all normal levels) and some serious googling I think it’s septicemia caused by the food rotting in their digestive tracts.  I’m now trying to warm up the pond and running to the store for some salt.  Any other recommendations for this emergency case?  As always, thanks in advance!

Read more

Question: Should Beneficial Pond Bacteria Be Used In The Winter?

One question I get asked a lot in the fall of every year is, “should I continue to use beneficial bacteria in my pond even though it’s getting cold?” It’s a great question and one that I’ll cover in the video below as well as the short article a bit farther down the page. There’s … Read more

Does Green Water Hurt Fish?

One of the most common questions we get about algae of any kind, concerns green water and whether this very common problem is actually harmful to fish.

It would make sense to say that this issue of clarity in any size of pond is really annoying to the pond’s owner. What may have once been a pristine and clear body of water, sometimes turns into a pea green soup overnight.

Green water in ponds, in case you don’t know, is actually created by very small, single cell algae that multiply out to the point where the water may become tinted slightly to the other end of the spectrum where you can’t see an inch down into the pond.

Like algae algae, these little fellow love sunlight and they derive a lot of energy from photosynthesis. Some of them even rise and fall during a 24 hour cycle. In the morning and throughout the day, they rise to the surface to soak in some rays, and at night they fall back down to the lower parts of the pond.

Read more