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The Importance of Regular Pond Maintenance & Cleaning

A sparkling pond in your backyard is the perfect way to invite birds and wildlife into your outdoor space. You will enjoy knowing you are supporting nature with fresh water and plants that will create a miniature ecosystem. However, keeping that biosphere healthy is critical.

 

While Florida pond maintenance can take a little effort, the results make it well worth it. Whether you decide to handle the work yourself or hire a pond management company, the local flora and fauna will appreciate the time you took to design a small ecological haven.

 

Routine Cleaning

 

Regular pond maintenance will include cleaning the filters and pump, removing debris from the surface and the bottom of the pond, and scrubbing waterfalls and fountains. It is also important to clean up and remove any dead foliage.

 

Deep Cleaning

 

Depending on the size and location of your pond, you should schedule a deep cleaning once or twice a year. You will need to remove pumps, filters, etc., and rinse it out or use a pond vacuum to do a proper job and give it the thorough cleaning it requires.

 

While ponds are beautiful additions to your landscaping, they can also be a lot of work. Enjoy the benefits of their beauty without the hassle when you talk to The Lake Doctors, Inc. in the Florida Panhandle.

5 Key Reasons to Use a Lake or Pond Aeration System

Keeping your pond or lake healthy is the first step in protecting the longevity of your water feature. A body of water that enjoys proper lake and pond management can look forward to supporting a wide range of plant, insect, and animal life. One of the best ways to set your pond or lake up for a bright future is to supply it with appropriate aeration systems.

 

The Right System

 

Aeration systems installation in Florida isn’t as simple as plugging in a fountain and hoping for the best. You need the guidance of a professional to choose the right equipment to maintain the correct balance within the system. There are several reasons to consider contacting Lake Doctors in the Florida Panhandle:

 

1 – Reduce and eliminate water quality issues that lead to pond algae blooms. Aeration can also improve clarity and reduce foul odors.

 

2 – Pond aerators and fountains are visually pleasing and can create interesting patterns.

 

3 – Mosquitoes love shallow, stagnant water, but aeration discourages their habits by providing continuous circulation.

 

4 – Aeration increases the oxygenation of the water, which encourages a healthier habitat for fish, insects, birds, and plants.

 

5 – Beneficial aerobic bacteria thrive on diffused oxygen; they break down organic matter and consume excess nutrients, which reduces organic sediment.

 

If you start with the right equipment and a company that knows how to keep your pond or lake healthy, you can look forward to years of beautiful water features.

 

7 Tips to Keep Pond Water Clean

When it comes to maintaining a pond habitat, it is important to keep in mind just how crucial good quality water is when it comes to keeping your fish and flora happy and healthy. While some might think that clear water means good water, that simply is not the case. Thankfully, there are some lake and pond management tips that you should know to keep your pond perfect for flora and fauna alike.

Maintain a Healthy Fish Population – Too many fish in your pond can cause over-population. An excessive number of fish means an excessive amount of fish waste, which can cause an imbalance in your pond water. If you notice more than 10” of fish for every 100 gallons of water, it is time to consider rehoming the excess.

Don’t Over-Feed Your Fish – If you put more food in your pond than your fish can eat it can end up rotting and decaying. Choose a quality fish food—one that floats—and then feed your fish once per day. You should never feed them more than they can eat in 2 to 3 minutes.

Create a Proper Balance of Plants – At the season’s peak, you should have between 40% and 60% of the surface area of your pond covered or shaded by plants.

Choose the Right Size Pump for Your Pond – You should be circulating the entire water volume a minimum of once every hour for a healthy pond.

Clean Debris from Your Pond Before It Can Decay – A pond skimmer is likely to remove most of the debris from the surface of your pond, but it won’t be able to get everything. That is why it is essential for you to remove any fish waste, leftover fish food, sticks, and leaves that the skimmer misses avoiding an increase in ammonia levels.

Choose Proper Filtration for Your Pond – Just as important as your pond pump, your pond filter should match the size of your space. It is always a good idea to up-size your filter to handle more than the capacity of your pond. Also, remember to clean your filter regularly, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Keep Your Pond Cool During Hot Summer Days – When the temperature starts to climb outside, it can warm up your pond. When the water in your pond exceeds 75 degrees, it begins to have a difficult time retaining acceptable levels of dissolved oxygen—which is critical for fish health. With the proper pond shading, you can help keep your pond water cool so your fish can breathe as usual, even during extreme heat.

Taking care of a pond or water garden is a lot of work if you are trying to do it on your own. However, there are options that will handle all of the work for you, including our location in Tallahassee, FL. With the proper pond management and pond maintenance, you can enjoy a beautiful exterior design element that will keep your space looking it’s very best.

UPL NA Inc’s Aquatic Drone Boat Development and Commercialization

In this article, we’d like to introduce you to a new and useful tool the UPL NA Inc (UPL) Aquatics Team has been working on for managing aquatic plants and algae. It’s an autonomous aquatic drone boat! For the last few years, we’ve presented general updates and most recently brought an actual field-tested model to aquatic plant management conferences. We’re excited to share some details about the boat’s development to date, specific features of the boat, and welcome your interest in future testing and possible purchase. Almost everyone—especially those in the aquatics industry—is trying to do more with less, and there is a significant need to be more efficient. Technology is changing at a rapid pace to help save time and make tasks easier thereby increasing our efficiency and improving life in general. With that in mind, UPL has collaborated [1]rated with North Carolina State University (NCSU) since 2016 on the development of an autonomous drone spray boat named ADAPT™ (Aquatic Delivery Autonomous Precision Technology). The driving force behind the project was to offer a versatile, easy-to-use, pesticide delivery method that significantly reduced the exposure potential to the aquatic applicator. When the partnership between UPL and NCSU (Crop Science and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering departments) began on developing the ADAPT™ spray boat, a provisional patent along with initial boat design was filed and project implementation began (Fig 1). The rather rudimentary boat had no chemical tank and was propelled by a small fan. Initial tests were promising; however, there was a problem with the boat tracking off-course in moderate winds. By the third generation (Fig 2), the previous tracking issues were resolved by replacing the fan propulsion with a lower power (~50# thrust) trolling motor, and the boat was lengthened by several feet to make room for a 10-gallon spray tank. Several trials were conducted with this iteration—including a full-scale treatment of roughly a quarter-acre pond for watermeal/duckweed—and resulted in excellent control (Fig 3). The next step in the evolution came with a manufacturing agreement with RMD Systems (San Luis Obispo, CA) in 2019 which significantly added more capabilities and capacity to the boats. By using many off-the-shelf parts, we are able to keep the cost down, while also offering a great deal of versatility. This allows the boat set up to be designed for an applicator’s specific needs. The current generation ADAPT™ spray boat has the following specifications and capacities (Table 1) in addition to the autonomous mode feature. A predefined track can easily be created and stored in the boat’s onboard memory, allowing the boat to automatically run the track in autonomous mode when directed by the applicator. An enhanced feature of autono[1]mous mode is the ability of the applicator to set specific waypoints to turn on and off the spray pump.

 

 

Figure 1. ADAPT™ 1st Generation

Figure 1. ADAPT™ 1st Generation

ADAPT™ 3rd Generation

Figure 2. ADAPT™ 3rd Generation

ADAPT™ Generation treating watermeal/duckweed

Figure 3. ADAPT™ Generation treating watermeal/duckweed

ADAPT™ Smart controller with integrated video display

Figure 4. ADAPT™ Smart controller with integrated video display

Table 1. ADAPT™ spray boat physical specifications and capacities.

Table 1. ADAPT™ spray boat physical specifications and capacities.

 

ADAPT™ is equipped with several safety features including a first-person, real-time video camera mounted on the bow which transmits a video feed to the applicator on the smart controller (Fig 4). Redundant GPS receivers, inertia meters, and compasses significantly reduce the pos[1]sibility of a “fail-to-run” situation. The boats have software that returns the vessels to the original launch point (also known as the “return to home” feature) when the batter[1]ies are running low or a loss of signal from the controller is detected. Lastly, ADAPT™ is equipped with LiDAR (light detection and ranging) sensors on the bow to stop the boat while running in autonomous mode when an obstacle is detected. Recently, UPL placed 3 boats in the hands of professional applicators for real[1]world testing to receive feedback on the current utility of the platform and evaluate potential changes to make it more useful. Particularly noteworthy was a trial conducted by The Lake Doctors, Inc (hereafter TLD). In May of 2021, TLD staff from the Jacksonville office and regional manager Sean Fleming simultaneously conducted an algae application and mapped a two-acre pond for bathymetry and sub[1]mersed aquatic vegetation using an ADAPT™ boat w hi le in autonomous mode. The mapping effort was repeated twice while on-site to document the accuracy of the guidance system. As you can see by the tracks in Fig 5, the boat maintained a very accurate path as evidenced by the overlayed image of the two tracks. Another evaluation was also performed to compare the ADAPT™ mapping accuracy to a typical application surveying vessel (i.e., johnboat operator-driven) used by TLD. The results were very comparable, ~75% similarity between methods to collect the data. It was noted that the accuracy rate would be higher if the transducer on the ADAPT™ was calibrated (position of the transducer relative to the water’s surface). Both trials were performed relatively quickly for the size of the pond evaluated. The ADAPT™ platform is tailored for multitasking as demonstrated in this trial that was completed in 25 minutes. Sean stated several key findings in the conclusion of his report. “Running in autonomous mode may allow for placement in difficult to access locations for treatment or bathymetric analysis. The autonomous mode would allow for precision treatments at specific areas of a waterway with confidence that the pathways would be followed. This would be most beneficial in developing tracks based upon biovolume maps generated. In such applications, the initial scan would flag the areas of greatest biovolume accumulation (Fig 6) and the subsequent runs would be able to precisely target those areas based upon GPS data rather than a visual line of sight. This would be particularly effective for areas of underwater vegetation deep in the water column. The trailing hoses can be set to the precise depth based upon the contour measurements to more precisely deliver herbicide to the target species.”

C-Map BioBase tracks and bathymetry output as collected by ADAPT™.

Figure 5. C-Map BioBase tracks and bathymetry output as collected by ADAPT™.

C-Map BioBase vegetation heat map and bathymetry output as collected by ADAPT™.

Figure 6. C-Map BioBase vegetation heat map and bathymetry output as collected by ADAPT™.

Figure 7. ADAPT™ drone boat at UF IFAS Aquatic Control Short Course August 2021

Figure 7. ADAPT™ drone boat at UF IFAS Aquatic Control Short Course August 2021

The latest generation ADAPT™ boats are back from testing with applicators and will be showcased at upcoming aquatic weed management conferences (Fig 7). They are also available for on-water demonstrations with prospective customers. Please contact your UPL sales representative to schedule a demonstration and discuss the personalization of a boat for your operational needs. UPL is proud to announce ADAPT™ is now available on the commercial market.

Dr. Justin Nawrocki (Justin.nawrocki@upl-ltd.com) is the east coast, including Florida, territory sales manager for UPL. Justin has been a part of this drone boat development since the inception of the project while he was still a graduate student at North Carolina State University. He has moved up through the aquatics industry over the past 20 years from a professional applicator to an extension specialist for Lake Gaston to receiving his master’s and doctorate degrees from NC State researching aquatic plant management. Jacob Meganck (Jacob.meganck@upl-ltd. com) is the Midwest territory manager for UPL. Jacob started in the Aquatics industry in 2005 working for a major distributor and in 2011 moved into his role as Midwest territory manager. In the distribution role, he assisted in developing a speed-rate controlled application boat modified from agriculture and right-of-way systems. Jacob came onboard to the aquatic drone boat project when UPL partnered with NC State. Dean Jones (Dean.jones@upl-ltd.com) is the Mid-south territory manager for UPL. Dean has 25 years of experience in the aquatic plant management industry including serving as Manager of the Polk County Aquatic Weed Control Section, Senior Biological Scientist with Osceola County and the University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, and a contractor for the US Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center. Dean became a member of the drone boat project team in January 2020 upon joining UPL.

Benefits of a Pond or Lake Management Consultation

When you have a water feature on your property, such as a pond or small lake, you want to keep it as healthy and attractive as possible. The best way to do that is by consulting with a lake management company such as ours at The Lake Doctors, Inc. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the benefits of communicating with professionals about your body of water.

 

When consulting on your water feature, you get the big picture, but you also benefit by learning about the details and best ways to keep the lake or pond healthy. This includes a comprehensive pond maintenance program that looks at the quality of the water itself and how to monitor its health through testing and analysis.

 

Learning about what plants are growing in your lake lets you know which ones are the best for a healthy aquatic environment and which ones are invasive and should be removed. You can also benefit by analyzing algae and inhibiting its growth.

 

Overall, consulting on lake management and hiring professionals to take care of your various bodies of water on your property makes certain that problems are identified early and corrected without delay.

 

Contact us at The Lake Doctors, Inc. to learn more about lake and pond maintenance.

pond management

Make a New Year’s Resolution to Keep Your Pond Healthy

As the New Year gets closer, you might be trying to think up some good ideas for resolutions. One we hope you take a moment to consider is to keep your pond healthy all year long. There are many different reasons why this is a great resolution to keep.

The first reason is for your own mental health. Caring for your pond helps you create a beautiful space that elevates not only the value of your property, but also your mood. Many personal ponds can feel like peaceful sanctuaries that allow you to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life—if even for but a moment.

Pond management doesn’t just benefit you, however. By signing up for annual management service, you are actually helping the entire ecosystem housed within and around your pond. From the flora to the fauna, everything benefits from a well-cared-for pond.

So make one of your resolutions something that benefits both you and Mother Nature. We are sure that by the end of the year, you are going to see what a tremendous difference professional pond management services have made in your life that you’ll be making this service part of your annual resolutions for a long time to come.

 

pond management

An Annual Pond Management Program is Worth the Investment

That overgrown pond on your property would be great for fishing with some needed improvements. Among these would be reducing algae and weeds, introducing beneficial plants and fish, and stocking game fish. With an annual pond management program, you create a healthy pond filled with healthy fish.

It might seem as if it were more valuable to leave that body of water as it is in nature, but with the assistance of highly qualified technicians, it can be clean, healthy, and productive. These professionals have the education and training to turn that pond into your favorite fishing hole.

Testing, Treating, & Stocking

The transformation begins with an annual pond management program. This way, the technicians can determine what your pond needs:

  • Reduction of Weeds & Algae
  • Water Testing for Clarity & Chemistry
  • Inventory of Plants & Fish
  • Weed & Fish Management
  • Water Treatment
  • Fish Stocking
  • A Sustainable Environmental Management Plan
  • Regular Reports & Corrective Action

Over time, you’ll see the improvements in your pond as the weeds and algae give way to healthy and beneficial plants. The water becomes cleaner and clearer, and the fish start reproducing. Other benefits include improved drainage and increased real estate and recreational value.

Dealing with Snakes around Your Pond – A Natural Approach to Pond Management

water snakeYour pond may be part of a thriving ecosystem. As a water source, your pond is attractive to many wildlife species. Each species plays an important role in maintaining the balance of the local environment. Of course, this means you are likely to encounter some perhaps less-than-welcome animals as well. When you find snakes around your pond, you may be alarmed. But there are pond management strategies you can implement to help you control their presence.

The first thing to remember about snakes is that you are much more likely to come across a non-venomous than venomous species. Common species in North America, such as northern water snakes, black rat snakes, garter snakes, and corn snakes, may seem creepy to some people. But they are harmless to humans, and they feed on other animals such as mice.

If you aren’t very familiar with snakes, it’s best to err on the side of caution – do not approach or provoke the snake. On the other hand, if you have identified a venomous snake, contact a professional wildlife control company.

As far as managing snakes around your pond, there are several varieties of plants you can use. Some species of plant repel snakes because of their scent or deter them because of their appearance. By surrounding sections of land with these plants, you can help ensure that snakes stay away from that immediate area. Pink agapanthus, lemongrass, marigolds, sarpagandha, wormwood, and mother-in-law’s tongue are said to be effective in keeping away snakes.

Contact The Lake Doctors for pond management services.

 

Lake Aeration Systems 101 – What You Should Know

lake with a fountainProper oxygen levels are just as vital to the health of a water body as they are to a human body. In ponds and lakes, fountains and aeration systems are essential for controlling algae blooms and preventing fish loss. And since cold water holds more oxygen than warm water, aeration systems become especially necessary in the summer months.

The most common forms of aeration are surface aerating fountains and submersed diffused air systems. Both systems work by introducing and circulating oxygen throughout the pond or lake. However, submersed air diffusers use a compressor to pump air through tubes, which releases the air in bubbles from the bottom of the pond. Fountains, on the other hand, spray surface water upward, which aerates the pond as it splashes down again.

Depending on the characteristics of your body of water, one of these systems will likely be more effective than the other. For example, a shallower pond will benefit more from a fountain since aeration occurs on the surface. Deeper ponds will require a submersed diffuser to ensure that the water is consistently oxygenated.

Consulting with a professional water management team is the best way to ensure that you have the right aeration system. At The Lake Doctors, Inc., we are available to assess your pond or lake and recommend the best solution for you.

What You Should Know About Elodea

elodeaWeeds are a problem on land and in water. That fishing pond you have in your backyard would be so much more productive without that growth of unwanted plants. They make trouble for you when stocking your pond by impacting oxygen levels and interfering with water flow and boat traffic. So, how do you manage aquatic weed control? Our licensed aquatic biologists have solutions for you. This is what they do each and every day.

Don’t Use Invasive Elodea for Weed Control

First, let’s start with what not to do. That includes making use of elodea waterweed (Elodea canadensis). This is an underwater plant that helps reduce algae in cool water aquariums and water gardens. However useful this Canadian pondweed is at aquatic weed control, elodea itself can get out of control.

This plant is an invasive species that can escape your property and multiply in the wild. As it propagates by breaking off the parent plant and rooting in the soil, it grows freely, forming a mat of weeds that interferes with fish and other plants as well as fishing and boating.

Elodea is an aquatic weed that takes over quickly and is hard to remove for the process creates new plants Out-of-control elodea requires specialized equipment and innovative techniques for removal. When weeds or elodea are a problem, look to our aquatic biologists for safe and effective solutions.