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Mon, 30 Nov 2015 14:39:42


Fri, 20 Nov 2015 10:20:51

Lake Doctors biologists installing circulation pumps inside an alligator enclosure with the gators still inside!

Fri, 20 Nov 2015 10:19:31

Tue, 10 Nov 2015 11:04:06

Wed, 30 Sep 2015 13:04:45

Lake Doctors installed an Aqua Master 5.5 hp volcano aerator.

Tue, 22 Sep 2015 16:02:36

Lake Doctors installed an Aqua Master 5.5 hp volcano aerator with Shasta pattern and LED lights on private golf course at one of the largest homes in Pinellas County. Pattern is 7'h x 18’ diameter, churning 1415 gallons per minute providing life giving oxygen as well as aesthetic beauty.

Tue, 22 Sep 2015 15:49:53

The Lake Doctors undertook the biggest aeration install in the South East US at a 155 acre lake in Naples.

Thu, 10 Sep 2015 12:14:29

The community was facing millions of dollars to dredge the 155 acre lake and contacted Lake Doctors for other solutions.
Muck reduction was a major  factor in their decision to install the aeration system in addition to  the water quality benefits.
Less than 2 years after completion, 3 party sediment readings show  minimum of  8” to 16” reduction in the  muck layer. The timeline to dredge may have been pushed back years, if not eliminated or significantly reduced.
This also increased  capacity , improved  water quality and reduced the amount of algaecides needed to maintain the lake.

Tue, 01 Sep 2015 11:58:29

Sun, 23 Aug 2015 12:57:26

The Lake Doctors installed a 10 HP Augusta AquaMaster fountain.

Sun, 23 Aug 2015 12:57:14

The Lake Doctors installed a 10 HP Augusta AquaMaster fountain. The spray height is 25’ and the spray pattern width is 60’. The fountain was installed at the new Great Bay Distribution Center right off I-275 in St. Petersburg, FL and is very visible from I-275. Comments from the construction manager included: “It’s a home run!” “Bigger than expected” “The LED lighting system is very bright white” “owners are very happy”.

Waterbody Types

Mon, 17 Aug 2015 13:59:32

Florida is home to over 2.5 million acres of fresh water available in the form of lakes, rivers and streams, springs, man-made canals, and wetlands. Within these aquatic environments, invasive plants threaten native species and habitats, flood control structures, natural areas and resources, and recreation. Without management of invasive aquatic plants, boats would not be able to navigate, people could not safely swim, fish populations would be stunted or move elsewhere, bird populations would be threatened, tourists might go elsewhere, and agriculture crops and neighborhoods could be flooded during storm events.
The following is a quick overview of the unique types of waterbodies found in Florida.
Note: Individual pages are coming soon to describe each one in greater detail.

Canals in Cape Coral, FL
Thousands of miles of canals, and their water control structures, are carved into Florida’s landscape, especially in the southeastern part of the state. Canals are artificial waterways that modify existing rivers or streams, or are dug into wetlands or uplands for navigation, drainage and flood control, irrigation, access, and recreation. Florida canals range from a few feet to hundreds of feet wide and from a few feet to as deep as 35 feet.

Lakes and Ponds

Orlando area lake
The nearly 8,000 lakes in Florida are some of the most biologically rich systems in the world. Each lake in Florida is a unique combination of ecologic, morphologic, hydrologic, and geologic qualities. From the clear sandhill lakes of the “high” Florida ridge, to the green life-filled lakes of the “valleys”, each plays crucial roles in irrigation, flood control, drinking water supply, recreation, navigation, and as habitats for plants and wildlife.
Several thousand of our lakes and ponds were naturally formed eons ago through geologic processes; thousands more are artificial, constructed in housing developments, shopping centers and golf courses. They vary widely in shape, depth, and size, as well as in water chemistry and quality. Sinkhole lakes are a primary site of recharge, where surface water can enter the aquifer and replenish the groundwater supply.

Florida’s climate and nutrient-rich soils provide year-round growing seasons for aquatic plants and animals in these water-bodies. This means Florida lakes are even more susceptible to invasive plants and algae blooms. Proper plant management in freshwater lakes is an important element in maintaining healthy lake ecosystems and ensuring their intended functions.

Rainbow River
Nearly 1,700 rivers and streams stretch across the state. Ranging from a few feet to a couple of miles wide, these freshwater veins carve into the limestone bedrock, shaping Florida’s distinctive karst topography. Florida rivers are the lifelines for many of the state’s swamps, marshes, lagoons, and estuaries.
Springs and Aquifers

Blue Springs
Springs represent major discharge areas, where groundwater is forced to the surface due to pressure from confining bed of impermeable sediments. Releasing eight billion gallons of freshwater each day, Florida has the most productive spring system in the world. Over 600 springs have been documented and geologists estimate that hundreds more are waiting to be discovered. The majority of Florida’s springs are found in central and north-central Florida—part of the Floridan aquifer system, one of five main aquifers in the state. These underground aquifers are the reservoirs for Florida’s natural water filtration systems providing nearly 100% of the state’s drinking water and more than 60% of the state’s freshwater usage in agriculture and industry. Groundwater released from our aquifers, either through springs or man-made wells and pumping stations, sustains thousands of ecosystems and is an essential resource for human health, outdoor recreation, industry and agriculture.

Ocheesee Pond
Wetlands are the transition zones between dry upland ecosystems and deeper aquatic habitats. Nearly one third of Florida’s wetlands are comprised of marsh ecosystems–delicate habitats possessing significant scientific, ecologic, and economic value. Other Florida wetlands include swamps, which can be described as wetlands with trees, having saturated soils and standing water for at least part of the year. A unique recipe of multiple groundwater sources, frequent natural fires, and flat karst topography allows Florida to have the most diverse mosaic of swamp habitats of any place in the world. Combined, these different types of wetlands are crucial for maintaining the health of many of Florida’s aquatic ecosystems; they provide flood control, aquifer recharge, coastal protection, and they also act as “kidneys” that help filter pollutants from the ecosystem.

Minimizing Pesticide Applications

Thu, 06 Aug 2015 21:32:29

Apply herbicides before established target plants cover a large area

This is the cornerstone of FWC’s invasive plant management strategy – a concept known as Maintenance Control. Eradicating established invasive plants is at best difficult, and in many cases impossible. Using Maintenance Control, invasive plant populations are suppressed to the extent practicable in public lakes and rivers through frequent, but small-scale control efforts, minimizing herbicide use and overall control costs.
Apply the lowest rate of herbicide possible

FWC contracts with research institutions to determine, through laboratory analysis and operational observation, the lowest amounts of herbicides that will control target plants. This strategy reduces pesticide use and management costs and increases target plant selectivity.
Apply herbicides to young or immature plants

FWC advocates controlling aquatic plants as early as possible in the growing season. Mature plants can accumulate significant carbohydrate reserves in the stems or underground rhizomes and become much more difficult to manage, sometimes requiring multiple herbicide applications to achieve control.
Apply herbicides when target plants are actively growing

Aquatic plants must be actively growing for maximum herbicide uptake. Once plants mature or begin to senesce, herbicide uptake is reduced. Twice the herbicide may be needed for the same level of control.
Apply herbicides using strategies that maximize exposure to target plants

Strategies that can reduce herbicide use while improving control include using adjuvants that enhance herbicide uptake or using strategies such as pellet formulations or deepwater trailing hoses that place herbicides at the bottom of the waterbody to control submersed plants.
Apply synergistic combinations of herbicides

FWC evaluates and implements the use of combinations of herbicides that control target plants using lower rates than if either herbicide was applied alone. Benefits include improved control of target plants, increased selectivity to conserve non-target plants, overall reduction in pesticide use, and improved herbicide resistance management.

Invasive Plants: What’s the Problem?

Fri, 24 Jul 2015 02:36:44

The term “invasive” describes exotic plants thriving outside cultivation, expanding into natural areas and disrupting native plant communities. The National Invasive Species Council defines invasive species as:

“…a species that is non-native to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.”

The National Invasive Species Information Center says “…these plants are characteristically adaptable to new habitats, grow aggressively, and have a high reproductive capacity. They are often introduced to a new location without the environmental checks and balances such as seasonal weather, diseases, or insect pests that kept them under control in their native range. Their vigor combined with a lack of natural enemies often leads to outbreak populations.”
A water hyacinth infestation in Fisheating Creek, Florida.  Plants are jammed against a bridge in the far distance — a flood waiting to happen

A water hyacinth infestation in
Fisheating Creek, Florida. Plants
are jammed against a bridge in
the far distance — a flood waiting to happen.

According to FLEPPC, “These population explosions can have catastrophic effects, out-competing and displacing the native plants and disrupting naturally-balanced native plant communities.” Destruction and replacement of our native plants by invasive species has several significant consequences. Wildlife that depends on native plants is often unable to adapt and may leave the area or die out. Invasive aquatic plants can completely fill the water, driving fish and wildlife from the area. FLEPPC says “This reduction in biodiversity can adversely impact wildlife and alter natural processes such as fire frequency or intensity and water flow.”

Aquatic invasive plants are especially troublesome in Florida where they can impede navigation and flood control, disrupt recreational water use, and create breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Control of invasive plants in Florida’s natural areas and waterways is expensive, costing millions of dollars each year.

Maintenance Control Strategy

Sun, 12 Jul 2015 16:17:47

Decades of experience and technical research have taught the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and other plant management agencies that maintaining invasive aquatic weed species at low levels is the most environmentally sensitive method for managing these serious weed problems. Eradication (the complete removal) of a widely distributed and well established invasive plant species is often not possible or economically practical, so plant managers have developed the strategy of maintenance control. Maintenance control is the coordinated and consistent management of invasive plants in order to maintain the plant population at low levels. This level is determined by experienced managers at the FWC and decisions are influenced by factors including funding, available technology, and current conditions.

The maintenance control program recognizes the important roles native aquatic plants play in aquatic and wetland ecosystems. Native plants are not the target of control activities except in those rare instances where they create problems for navigation, flood control, or other public welfare considerations. This program is largely implemented through routine herbicide applications focused on controlling invasive aquatic plants.
Why We Manage Aquatic Invasive Plants (Part 2)
Download PDF fact sheet | Download video
See Part 1: Florida Waters: Ours to Protect
Water hyacinth, 1947 - 2010

Water hyacinth, 1947 - 2010
In Florida, frequent herbicide applications under the state’s maintenance control program result in approximately 20,000 - 30,000 acres of floating plants being controlled each year, with a goal of fewer than 5,000 acres being infested at any one time. This sharply contrasts with previous conditions when as many as 125,000 acres of Florida’s public waters were covered with floating plants as recently as the early 1970s.
The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s stated goals for maintenance control are to:
Minimize environmental damage caused by invasive plants
Conserve the uses and functions of Florida public waters
Enhance conditions for diverse native plant growth
Use less herbicide in plant management
Lower management costs
Adapt management according to current conditions in each waterbody
Integrate plant management methods
Keep the public informed
Why Maintenance Control is Needed

Attempting to control a field of water hyacinth, AFTER it has become a huge problem.

Attempting to control a field of water hyacinth, AFTER it has become a huge problem.
Maintenance control: consistent management of invasive plants in order to maintain the plant population at the lowest feasible level.

Maintenance control: consistent management of invasive plants in order to maintain the plant population at the lowest feasible level.
Allowing invasive aquatic weeds to take over a waterbody may render it unusable for recreation and fishing, displace desirable native plants, adversely affect fish and wildlife populations, and interfere with flood control, irrigation and drinking water supply. When rivers and lakes become completely covered, they can become breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and pose health and safety dangers to the public. Maintenance control is a proactive effort to manage plants before lakes and rivers become completely covered and require “crisis management”.
Maintenance control is not a new concept. Anyone who maintains a car or a lawn practices maintenance control. Preventive maintenance on your car means you frequently spend small amounts of time and money to prevent major breakdowns or repairs. Maintenance of your lawn means that you take corrective action before the grass grows too tall, or weeds or some lawn pest kill it. Maintenance control prevents damage to the lawn and limits the time, effort and money necessary to keep it inviting and useful.

Lake Protection Tips Some Do's and Don'ts for Maintaining Healthy Lakes

Mon, 15 Jun 2015 11:26:47

Lake Protection Tips
Some Do’s and Don'ts for Maintaining Healthy Lakes

Watershed runoff is one of the greatest water quality concerns to our lakes and ponds. Runoff
research shows that any activity that increases runoff into lakes produces negative impacts to
water quality. Lakes and ponds naturally exist at lower elevations in the landscape. Rain or
snowmelt “runs” downhill, transporting contaminants on the land to our lakes and ponds.
Reducing the flow of the runoff will lessen pollutants to our lakes. Listed below are activities
that lake residents and others can do to help slow the flow and reduce pollutants from the
All lake residents should employ low impact development (LID) techniques. LID can be
employed by everyone, everywhere. They work by slowing runoff flow, spreading it out, and
allowing it to soak into the ground. LID techniques include rain gardens, rain barrels,
vegetated rooftops, and the use of permeable pavement.
Homeowners need to control runoff on their property with the use of best management
practices, such as maintaining a buffer zone of natural vegetation along the shore. Use native
plantings to revegetate bare areas. All roads and paths leading to the lake should be curved
to reduce erosion.

Septic systems should be maintained properly. A system should be designed to handle the
load it receives. The size of a system should be increased as the size of a family grows.
Septic tanks should be pumped every three to five years. Check leach field for soft wet areas
or septic smells and replace faulty systems.
Do not bathe, shampoo, or wash boats, pets, or other objects in the lake.
Check all home cleansing products to make sure they say “phosphate free.” Home cleansing
products containing phosphorus have been banned in New Hampshire through RSA 485A:

Do not use fertilizer within 30 feet of a lake. From 30 feet to 250 feet, use low phosphate,
slow release nitrogen fertilizer on vegetated areas only.
Do not burn brush or leaves on the ice or near the shoreÍľ the nutrients remain behind to runoff
into the lake. Do not dump leaves or grass clippings in or near the lake. They also add
nutrients to the water.

Do not urinate or defecate in the lake, and don’t allow pets to do the same. Cows, horses, or
other groups of animals should not be housed near the lake where phosphorus from waste
products runoff to the lake.

Do not feed ducks or other aquatic organismsÍľ there is plenty of natural food available.
Nutrients produced from unnatural food outside the lake’s watershed, will be added to the
lake through the organism’s feces. Discouraging waterfowl populations can also reduce the
risk of swimmers’ itch in specific lake areas.

Do not use powerful outboard motors in shallow areas.The nutrientladen
bottom sediments can be churned into the overlying water to support increased algae and
cyanobacteria growth (shown here), increased turbidity and decreased transparency.

Tue, 19 May 2015 15:59:54

Removing Stubborn Algae from a Fountain

Wed, 06 May 2015 11:40:49

Algae is one of the biggest problems that can arise with your fountain. While chemicals and cleaning are often enough to eliminate the problem with little effort required, the simple fact is that once you have stubborn buildup it can be hard to eliminate. Fountain algae problems can require a bit of intensive treatment in order to fully eliminate them, but once the problem is under control, maintenance should certainly be enough to keep the problem from recurring.

One thing that should always be kept in mind when treating your fountain is to read all of the manufacturer’s maintenance instructions carefully. Pumps can require different methods of disassembling, and different building materials can react differently to certain cleaning chemicals. Make certain that you understand what limitations face your fountain cleaning efforts, and contact the seller or manufacturer if you have any questions. While fountain chemicals are typically safe for most models, you will certainly want to eliminate any chance that your cleaning methods will harm your fountain.

Once you know what chemicals and additives are safe for your fountain, it is time to clean it. This certainly begins by unplugging the pump and draining the fountain. For larger fountains, a wet dry vacuum will do the job quickly. Rinse the fountain with fresh water, and clean the pump with a toothbrush, taking care to remove the outer cover. Cleaning all spouts and tubing is highly recommended, and a pipe cleaner can be an excellent tool to help you do this. Cleaning any holes in the fountain that create small water streams can also prevent clogs from algae.

Once the tubing has been cleaned, you can work on cleaning out fountain algae within the fountain itself. Dish soap can be an inexpensive way to clean, but it must be rinsed very thoroughly. Without proper rinsing, the soap will cause bubbles to form in the water and can be unhealthy for your pump. Take time to use a toothbrush to clean rough surfaces and to get into all crevices on the fountain while cleaning. White vinegar is a great way to clean algae and is much safer for your fountain than bleach. Soaking rocks and other fountain components in vinegar before washing can help to make algae removal easier.

In short, removing stubborn algae can be easy, if time consuming. Fountain chemicals added to the water after cleaning can help prevent future growth. Cleaning your fountain requires care and diligence, and taking the time to use soft materials is important. Your fountain is designed for beauty, relaxation, and a long life, and when you take the proper steps to eliminate algae, you can certainly enjoy all of these things much easier.

Credit: Goodwin

Understanding how to maintain a perfect pond

Thu, 30 Apr 2015 14:20:44

The pond owner’s daydream goes something like this: It is evening and the sun is setting, spiking golden rays onto the crystal surface of the water. Earlier in the day, a string of prize-worthy fish was caught and now you’re watching the kids jump off the dock near a small flock of ducks that have taken up residence in the reeds.
By Veronica Lorson Fowler

For safety reasons, ponds used for recreation should have a 3:1 shoreline slope. Livestock should be fenced off ponds to prevent shoreline degradation.
The pond owner’s nightmare goes something like this: Ropy algae that refuses to go away, water levels that refuse to rise, and a mess of dead fish that make it look as though someone dropped a bomb.

“A pond is a living ecosystem,” says Eric Norland, an Extension specialist in pond management at Ohio State University. “There is no single right way to manage a pond and no one wrong way.”

The key, says Norland, is to decide what you want out of a pond and how to get it. If repairing that sagging outbuilding or building a patio is taking up all your time, it’s perfectly OK just to let the pond go and let it do whatever it wants. Yes, you’ll probably get a lot of algae and pond weeds, and any fish that survive won’t be particularly desirable, “but it will be a very natural pond.”

At the other end of the spectrum is the highly managed pond, with clear water, a perfectly balanced fish population, and an abundance of other wildlife. However, Norland warns, anyone who wants crystal-clear water “should invest in some concrete for an in-ground pool.” Pond water will always have a greenish cast from phytoplankton, part of a healthy pond.

Maintain the banks

Beyond controlling algae and pond weeds (see the sidebar below), water can be kept fairly clear by making sure the banks are well planted (trees are ideal, but grass is also very good) to prevent erosion. Also, cattle should not be allowed access because they ruin bank slopes and nearby sod and their waste pollutes the water. If your home has a septic tank, you’ll want to make sure wastes don’t seep into the pond. You can further assure some degree of water purity by controlling runoff with diversion ditches, tiling, embankments, and grading.

Muddy water can sometimes be treated by applying ground agricultural limestone, agricultural gypsum, or commercial alum, cottonseed meal, superphosphate, and even hay. However, check with your Extension service first to determine the source of the problem.

If the water is reasonably clear and smells fairly good, it’s almost certainly fine for swimming, says Norland. If you’re concerned about the presence of pesticides, tests are available through your county Extension service, “but you can go broke testing for all possible pesticides,” he says. It’s best to limit the tests to a handful of the most likely pesticides used in your area.

Animal wastes can also be a problem. For that reason, it’s recommended that a pond used for swimming not have more than one pair of domesticated ducks or geese.

The best fishing is in ponds greater than 1 acre where overfishing presents less of a problem. Ponds can be stocked with fish from private dealers or your state department of natural resources. Trout need ponds where water temperatures don’t exceed 75° to 80°, but large-mouth bass, channel catfish, bluegills (redear sunfish), and hybrid sunfish do well in warm pond waters. It’s usually not necessary to feed fish.

The average depth for best fishing in a pond 1 acre or larger is 6 to 8 feet with a maximum depth of no more than 12 feet. It’s tough to control fish populations in a stream-fed pond, where the stream brings along fish from the outside, but in a watershed pond, you can periodically seine to both check your fish population and correct it. You can also control populations by setting limits on size and type of fish and by setting fish traps.

Create an underwater shelter

As long as you fish regularly in your pond, “You can get a pretty good idea of the health and fish population,” says Stratford Kay, aquatic specialist at North Carolina State University. To help fish breed and survive, create an underwater shelter in your pond. This will also concentrate fish for easy fishing.

Brush piles of evergreens (including old Christmas trees), beds of wooden stakes, and even slashed and bound automobile tires all work well.

Small ponds often have problems with oxygen depletion. An aerator made specifically for the purpose will help oxygenate the water and will have the side benefit of keeping water open during the winter, helping fish survive.

Fountains are often believed to aerate the water as well as control algae. However, their contribution to those objectives is minimal.

Wildlife is a large part of the pleasure of a pond. A large body of still water attracts quail, rabbits, raccoons, turtles, songbirds, ducks, and deer. You can increase wildlife populations by providing plenty of cover in the form of grasses, trees, and shrubs, especially those that bear small fruits. Large clumps of evergreens nearby will provide winter cover. And predator-proof duck boxes will encourage wood ducks in most areas.

Wildlife can also be the undoing of a pond. Canada geese can create a nuisance with droppings, while muskrats, groundhogs, and beavers can dig into dams, compromising the stability of the pond, and do other burrowing damage.

Your local Extension office will have recommendations for trees and plants that thrive alongside ponds. Nearly any tree that doesn’t drop excessive fruit (such as some crab apples) is fine. Willows are a classic choice, but can spread rapidly and become a nuisance.

A number of aquatic perennials also are lovely and do well either right alongside the pond or in areas a few inches deep, including most yellow flags, Louisiana irises, calla lilies, cardinal flower, and various rushes. Water lilies, a wonderfully romantic pond plant, are also beautiful, but in warmer climates they can overtake small, shallow ponds. Most water lilies do best when planted in pots set on the pond’s  bottom 1 to 2 feet deep. Cold hardiness of water lilies varies radically, so read labels carefully.

Heed these cautions

Be careful if planting rapidly multiplying plants sold for water gardens, especially water hyacinth and parrot feather. These plants can escape into the wild and overrun natural waterways.

Also, plants bought in garden centers may contain other unwanted, invasive plants tucked in among the leaves, such as duckweed, mosquito fern, salvinia, and hydrilla. These little plant hitchhikers can overrun small ponds.

Soil types, pH levels, aquatic weeds, fish, and rules and regulations all vary widely by state. What works (or is allowed) in one state may not work in the next. Contact your state or county Extension service for loads of free or low-cost information on pond management.

Always keep a life buoy and long pole mounted in a clearly visible place near your pond to prevent drownings. It’s also important to keep the pond free of trees, stumps, and brush that might be a hazard to swimmers. For the same reason, trash, bottles, and cans should be cleaned up. It’s also smart to establish clear rules for swimming and boating on the pond to prevent any problems.

A pond can be a beautiful asset to your property and a source of great pleasure. It takes a bit of research and work to keep it attractive and clear, but it’s well worth the extra effort.

How green was my pond

Algae, especially the ropy filamentous algae, is probably the biggest problem for pond owners, says Stratford Kay, North Carolina State University aquatic specialist. This problem is followed closely by duckweed and duckweed-like floating weeds.

The most effective thing you can do to control these problem plants is to control the amount of fertilizer and nitrogen that washes into the pond. It’s best to avoid using fertilizer at all on the watershed for the pond. If that’s not possible, don’t fertilize on at least a 40- to 50-foot area surrounding the pond.

Other tips for controlling algae and weeds:

Do not keep livestock on the surrounding watershed. Check with neighbors who may be fertilizing the watershed. Excess nitrogen is a leading cause of algae and weed problems.

Make sure the pond has an average depth of at least 3 feet (6 feet is better) to discourage the growth of water weeds.

In small areas where rooted plants are a problem, simply pulling them may be sufficient. Scooping out algae and floating plants is usually not effective.

Triploid grass carp may be introduced to eat submersed weeds; however, they are banned in some states so check before stocking.

If the problem is severe and chronic, you may want to consider chemical control. However, chemicals treat the symptoms rather than the problem. If possible identify and remedy the root cause of the algae and weeds.

If your pond is larger than 1 acre and equipped with a drainpipe, you may want to do a winter drawdown. Drain the pond by one third to one half from November until March to expose submerged aquatic plants to freezing and drying. This works only in climates where winters go down to 20 degrees or colder for at least three months. This is a dramatic step, so check with your county Extension office first.

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