Maintenance Calendar for Indiana Lawns

Want a few tips from the experts?  Purdue University Department of Agronomy has developed a great calendar titled, “Maintenance Calendar for Indiana Lawns” (Publication AY-27) aimed to help Indiana residents with their lawns.  Their calendar/chart, which is shown below breaks down the monthly lawn responsibilities based on maintenance levels.

Maintenance levels are as follows:

High– For those wanting the densest, greenest, healthiest lawns and are willing to commit considerable time and money to maintain.

Medium– For those wanting an acceptable lawn, but who are not as committed to spending as much considerable time and money to maintain.

Low– For those who want an average-looking lawn with minimal inputs.

 

If you’re not from Indiana, check with your local state’s Master Gardener program, which can help to guide you the right direction.

 

Aquatic Pond Plants

A well balanced pond would not be complete without aquatic pond plants.  They are a vital component to the entire ecosystem of a pond.  Not only do they offer huge aesthetic value, but their importance is much greater than that.

Pond plants release oxygen, which can be used by the fish.  They also utilize the fish waste by using it as a fertilizer for their own needs which also helps to compete with algae.  Many plants offer shade to help regulate water temperature, as well as, protection from the natural predators of fish.  Many other plants offer filtration by removing excess nutrients from the water.  It’s easy to see how pond plants are a necessity to achieving a complete and healthy ecosystem for your pond.

There are four main categories of aquatic pond plants.  Each offering several great benefits for your pond so getting a variety of plants from different categories can only increase your chances for that well balanced pond.

4 Main Categories:

  • Marginal or Bog plants typically grow around the perimeter of a pond or lake, thriving in rich, organic wet soil and preferring water depths up to 10 inches.  Common marginal plants include Horsetail, Cattail and Water Iris.
  • Submerged (Oxygenators) plants grow completely submerged.  They are beneficial because they act as natural filters by removing excess nutrients in the water that alga otherwise would consume.  Their foliage offers protection and spawning areas for the fish.  Oxygenators, as their name implies, help to oxygenate the water.  Tiny air bubbles can be observed coming from the leaves of the plant.  Common oxygenators include Elodea, Hornwort and Parrots Feather.
  • Floating plants float on the water’s surface while their roots dangle in the water absorbing nutrients, which help to filter the water.   Common floating plants include Water Hyacinth and Water Lettuce.
  • Deep Water plants including Water Lilies and Lotus are among the most popular aquatics.  While both offer great visual appeal to your pond but water lilies also offer shade which helps to regulate water temperatures and provides protection from natural predators that like to prey on our beloved fish.

 

Preventing Low Oxygen Levels in Your Pond

This 3 part series concerning Dissolved Oxygen Concentration (DOC) is a summary from an article titled “Oxygen in Ponds” by Ben Helm of www.watergardenersbible.co.ukThe first post in this series discussed the occupants of the pond and how they affect and rely on DOC.  The second post in this series focused on the individual factors that can cause the DOC to drop.  Lastly, this final post discusses quick fixes to low DOC levels and also preventative methods to assure vigilance in proper oxygen levels.

As discussed earlier, low DOC levels are more likely to occur at warmer water temperatures.  And while there are precise advanced methods for determining your pond’s DOC level, visual symptoms that dangerously low oxygen levels are evident include a change in koi behavior or the koi gasping for air at the water surface.

If it’s determined there is low DOC, quick action to remedy the problem is needed:

  • Agitate the water’s surface shore term by pouring buckets of pond water back into the pond.
  • Spray a hose into and across the pond, simulating rain.  The cooler water will allow the pond water to hold more oxygen.

Prevention

Obviously, prevention is far more desirable of a long-term solution than a reactive situation.  So, consider some of these options:

  • Aerate down to the bottom of the pond.
  • Allow for additional aeration for the biofilter, which will enhance bacterial colonization.
  • Clean out settlement chambers regularly.  Even when organic matter is removed from the pond, it still attracts oxygen demanding bacteria in the filter.
  • Add additional aeration during any pond treatment or medication.

 

DON’T:

  • Assume because your fish survived the host day without additional aeration that they will survive the night.  Night time is when the DOC will begin to drop so aeration is important.
  • Continue to aerate below 54°F.  Fish will settle into that deeper warmer part of the pond.  Aerating below this temperature will just mix all of those layers of water up.
  • Over stock.  This will increase the demand for more oxygen needed for the fix and the oxygen demanding bacteria as well.

 

Factors that Affect Your Oxygen Levels in Your Pond

This is the continuation of the article titled “Oxygen in Ponds” by Ben Helm of www.watergardenersbible.co.uk, concerning Dissolved Oxygen Concentration (DOC).  In the first post, I discussed the occupants of the pond and how they affect and rely on DOC.  Now let’s look at the individual factors that can cause the DOC to drop.

In an ideal pond scenario, plenty of DOC would exist and we wouldn’t have to concern ourselves with this problem.  But most ponds have few too many plants, overfed fish and the fish stocking level is too great.  All of these factors could easily deplete the oxygen to dangerous levels.  So, let’s clarify these factors a little more:

Biological Factors

With the warmer temperatures and all occupants in the pond active, more oxygen is being consumed.  During the daytime, plants are natural oxygen contributors, even exceeding their own oxygen demand.   They still consume oxygen at night, however, they are not producing it.  If there are algal problems, this can help to deplete the oxygen at night because they, too, consume oxygen at night.  This all can lead to a DOC drop at night.  If algaecides are used, this attracts considerable bacterial activity, again consuming yet more oxygen.  Do you see how this could lead to a devastating situation?

Climatic Factors

Temperature has a huge impact on the DOC.  The higher the water temperature, the lower the amount of dissolved oxygen that can be held in the water.  And the warmer water temperatures will result in a higher oxygen demand because all of the occupants are active thus consuming more oxygen.

Chemical Factors

Pond treatments will limit the amount of dissolved oxygen in the pond in two ways:

  • First, any dissolved substance added to the pond will limit the pond’s ability to hold oxygen.  So, always read and follow the label on any additives placed into the pond.  Many treatments will recommend aeration for this reason.
  • Second, many treatments will increase the amount of organic matter that will be broken down.  This will increase the activity of the bacteria, which also will consume oxygen.

In the final post, we will discuss prevention and quick fixes for a low DOC.

 

What’s Consuming Oxygen in Your Pond?

After reading a great article titled “Oxygen in Ponds” by Ben Helm of www.watergardenersbible.co.uk, I wanted to share some of the highlights which will encompass several posts.

The ecosystem that is home to our prized koi and other fish has some requirements to keep it balanced.  One such requirement is the Dissolved Oxygen Concentration (DOC).  DOC refers to the amount of oxygen that is dissolved in the pond water, which measures how much oxygen (by weight – mg) is dissolved in every liter of water.

There are many occupants of a pond that affect and rely on the DOC in a pond.  Let’s look at a few of them.

Koi

At a macro level, koi aren’t the biggest consumers of oxygen in the pond (but this will vary with stocking density).  And compared to other species of fish, koi are quite tolerant of lower levels of DOC requiring 6 mg per liter.  A trout, however, prefers a higher DOC level of around 12mg/l.

Koi absorb roughly 80% of their oxygen through their gills with the remainder consumed in their lungs.

Bacteria/Fungi

The majority of bacteria found in ponds (usually found in the filter) require oxygen; thereby we classify them as aerobic bacteria.  Their DOC consumption varies depending water temperature and food content in the pond water.

With the warmer weather brings active fish.  Ammonia levels will be on the rise once fish begin to eat, thus requiring bacteria to become more active to consume and convert ammonia to nitrites, then to nitrates.  This increased bacterial activity will result in more oxygen consumption as well.

Invertebrates

The more mature of filter becomes will bring a greater diversity of colonized invertebrate life.  Likewise, these critters will require the use of oxygen as they help to consume the organic matter in the pond.

Plants

From microscopic to larger forms, plants consume oxygen just like all the other life forms in the pond.  Plants can also add their excess oxygen, over and above what they need, back into the pond during the day.

In our next post, we’ll look at what factors can cause your DOC to drop.