Archives for February 2009

What is the Difference Between an External Pond Pump and a Submersible Pond Pump?

A person just getting into ponds may be confused at the terminology and types of pond pumps, particularly when trying to determine the type of pump they need for their pond. The most common questions is “What is the difference between an external pond pump and a submersible pond pump?”

The easiest and most simplified answer is to say that one is used outside of the pond (external) and the other is used inside of the pond (submersible). However this really does not fully answer the question.

It is true that an external pond pump is placed on dry ground outside of the pond, but there are other things to note about an external pump. External pond pumps. are going to be best for larger ponds due to the fact that they are more energy efficient and are capable of moving larger volumes of water. Usually ponds over a couple of thousands of gallons will benefit more from an external pump or ponds with larger water features may also need a larger external pump due to the distance that the water is going to travel to supply water to the water feature as in the case of a large waterfall. It is also important to note that some external pumps may also need to be hardwired and are not simply “plug and play” like the submersible units.

Speaking of submersible pond pumps. Submersible pumps are going to be best used in small ponds or when powering smaller water features or equipment like a small filter. Submersible pond pumps are very easy to install. Basically they are placed in a desired location in the pond and plugged in and that is it. Furthermore, many submersible pumps come with fountain and spray attachments so that they can easily be utilized as a small fountain feature.

Remember to effectively choose the correct pond pump for your pond, pay attention to the gallons per hour (gph) that the pump move and select the pump that will move the entire volume of water at least once in an hour. So a 5000 gallon pond will most likely need an external pond pump with a rated GPH of at least 5000.

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Pond Liners: the Hole Story

Sometimes I get calls from people who have purchased a new home with an old pond that has a big problem. The number one complaint is that it will not hold water; second is that the water is green; third is that the rock work is ugly – an eyesore!

At that point I ask if their waterfall and pond are constructed with a pond liner, and they are surprised that I knew that. However, eighty percent of all these types of calls pertain to a liner pond and waterfall. We have replaced over $80,000 worth of defective liner ponds. One customer in Rancho Bernardo, California, had spent $14,000 to have a koi pond and waterfall built by a large and well respected local pond liner supply company. They complained of needing to add water daily since the liner pond was constructed over a year ago.

The pond liner installer’s response was that the loss of water was from evaporation. The liner pond was fitted with a manual auto fill system and they discovered the solenoid was turning on every 15 minutes to replenish the loss. In addition to the annoying water loss, they could not enjoy their fish for half the year because of murky green foul-smelling water. They reported the pond liner company came out dozens of times dumping various concoctions in the pond with a promise of startling results. The results were startling all right – our client sued the pond liner store and contracted with us.

The first thing I discovered was that the volume of the liner pond was 8,000 gallons and the waterfall pump was only 1,000 gallons per hour. It was taking eight hours to run the total pond volume through the filter. Secondly, the filter was rated for a 2,000 gallon pond, not 8,000. (Filters are usually overrated by their manufacturers as it is.) Third, the ultraviolet light was also rated for a 2,000 gallon pond, making it only one-quarter effective (according to its ratings) at controlling suspended algae growth. Fourth, because the pump was only 1,000 gallons per hour, it was not strong enough to properly backwash the filter, which requires four times the flow to be back-flushed properly.

Consequently, the filter was overloaded with rotting waste material that was contributing to additional pollution of the liner pond. The fifth defect in design was caused by the pond’s large surface area, which was surrounded by several deciduous trees that were dropping their leaves into the liner pond. Needless to say, there was no skimmer installed. So all this debris ended up rotting on the bottom of the pond, contributing to the nitrate and ammonia overload.

The sixth discovery was that the suction drain on the bottom was at the same end of the liner pond as the waterfall. Consequently, the water was only circulating between the water returning to the pond and the water leaving it (from waterfall to drain). Half the liner pond was not circulating properly and was stagnating because the nitrifying bacteria were not receiving adequate oxygen to do their job of breaking down the nitrites.

NOW LET’S DO IT RIGHT

We were asked to assess the condition of the liner pond and determine the cost to correct the problems found. We turned off the waterfall in the liner to test the evaporation theory and discovered (with the falls turned off) that the pond was losing 25 to 30 gallons per day, or 750 gallons per month! Installing a larger pump filter and UV was not going to solve all their problems.

I suggested that since a reputable pond builder and store owner was involved, he should get a second opinion. He was confident that, with our reputation of 22 years and 1,800 ponds under our belt (at that time), we knew what we were doing.

After finding a temporary home for the fish, we drained the liner pond and quickly made two discoveries. As the water was being pumped out of the pond, there was a small waterfall developing from the water that poured back through a hole in the liner created from a tree root. Also, water was leaking back through a loose seal around the bottom drain as fast as we could pump it out. (This continued for some time, revealing there were hundreds of gallons of water being stored in the sandy soil surrounding the perimeter of the liner pond due to the ongoing leaks.)

We offered to repair the faulty drain and patch the punctured liner and refill it, but the owner insisted we do it right, using rebar plus 3500 PSI concrete and skimmer. Unfortunately, not one single item in the entire system could be reused in

the new construction. Even the PVC piping had to be scrapped since it was undersized for the pump.

In the final analysis, because this project was not thought out or designed properly, the initial $14,000 spent was entirely wasted. Replacing everything and installing it correctly cost the customer $17,000. The new pond was constructed of 3/8” and ½” rebar, 10” on center with 4 ½” of 3500 PSI concrete and fiber mix added. The ugly fiberglass waterfall was removed and replaced with a natural looking waterfall constructed of concrete real granite rock.

A skimmer was installed on the opposite side of the pond from the waterfall. The bottom suction drains (two anti-vortex drains in series to prevent turtles or fish from getting ****** against the drain) were placed on the opposite side of the pond from the waterfall to maximize circulation.

Next, a Venturi valve was installed to add additional oxygen and create a circular current in the pond. This delivers oxygenated water to all areas. A 6000-gallon biofilter was installed with two 180-watt ultraviolet lights. The high efficiency filter pump, which runs 24 hours a day, and is rated at 4,800 gallons per hour.

We installed a second pump of the same rating to allow for twice the flow volume off the waterfall on demand. It is also operated by a timer that comes on twice a day for one hour. This keeps sediment stirred up in the waterfalls and pond to aid the filter in removing it. The skimmer now removes 90 percent of all debris falling into the pond before it can become waterlogged and sink to the bottom.

The electronic water level control we installed in the previous pond at the owner’s request was the only item that was reused in the new system. It is designed to add water to the pond automatically as needed due to normal water loss through evaporation and wicking around bog planters into adjacent soil.

This story has been repeated dozens of times over the past few years. Fortunately, most of them were on a much smaller scale.

Most of our business is word of mouth, so I imagine there are many people who, not knowing whom to call, simply gave up and turned their water feature into a rock garden. Think twice before investing too much money into a liner pond. Ask the contractor specific questions about the precautions he takes against leaks caused by roots and critters. Also, get several bids on concrete and rebar constructed ponds, they usually only cost 20% more and can be expected to last for decades.

My last word of advice, be patient, take your time and thoroughly investigate the contractor and his claims.

An ounce of prevention…

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How to Build a Garden Fish Pond

Building a pond is a big undertaking that involves a fair amount of hard work and, as it will be a permanent feature of your garden, it is worthwhile spending some time in the planning stage.

So before you rush into the garden with a shovel, pause for a while and think about your fish pond design and the type of pond that you want …

Natural Pond – follows the curves and forms of nature and may include an outcrop of stone or a natural beach. This will often allow planting at the edge of the pool and can create the impression that the pond was there long before the rest of the garden or the house were constructed.

Formal Pond – a geometric design works best when there is a relationship in design and materials with the buidings that are close by. It will usually be symmetrical in design and could be rectangular or square in shape and may have a paved edge. Formal ponds are often planted but usually with artfully chosen plants rather than the wilder plantings of a natural pond.

Raised Pond – a formal pond can also be construced above ground from bricks, blocks or stone. There will be less waste to carry from the site, however the cost of the construction materials will be higher than an in-ground pond.

Once you’ve decided on the type of pond spend some time working out possible locations and mark out the locations with a garden hose or a length or rope. Take into consideration the amount of light in different locations. If you want to grown water lilies you will require four to six hours of direct sunlight on the pond during the day. Shade is fine for fish-only ponds. Check the overhanging trees as these could also be a source of pond pollution. If you must build a pond beneath a tree at least try to avoid deciduous trees – the leaves will create a lot of pond waste.

When deciding on the location of your pond avoid the temptation to locate the pond in the lowest point in the garden. The low point can be subject to flooding in heavy rain and will often collect runoff from the garden. This may carry fertilizers and organic debris into the pond.

A pond for goldfish or aquatic plants need only be around two feet deep although more depth may be required in very cold areas to prevent the pond freezing in winter. If you want to keep koi in your pond it will need to be at least three feet deep or more.

The biggest mistake that water gardeners tend to make is to build a pond that is too small. Your finished pond will appear much smaller than your original layout!

If your pond is to be dug out rather than raised consider how you will remove the excavated material. It may be possible to use it in another part of the garden, alternatively you may need to have it removed which can be difficult and expensive.

Assuming you are going to build a sunken pond the next step is to start digging! Dig the pond to the desired shape and dig a shelf around the perimeter of the pond about one foot deep and one or more feet wide. Dig the remainder of the pond. If you are planning a waterfall dig the pond with a slight slope away from the waterfall.

Line the excavated pond with underlay. This is to stop the flexible liner from being pierced by sharp stones. Pond underlay can be made from geotextile or old carpet, providing it is non-organic and non-rotting can be used to save money. A butyl rubber pond liner is laid on top of the underlay. Position to liner evenly in the pond and try to minimize the folds and wrinkles. Leave an overhang of at least six inches. Avoid walking on the newly laid liner as much as possible. If you must walk on it wear socks!

Fill the pond and try to ease the wrinkles out of the liner while the pond is filling. Arrange coping stones around the edge of the pond and fold the liner up behind the stones ensuring the edge of the liner is above the water level. A more natural edge can be created by planting shallow-water plants around the edge of the pond. You may need to consider cementing the coping stones in place if the pond edge will be subjected to much foot traffic.

Now sit back and enjoy your new garden pond!

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Pond Liners: 7 Reasons Why I Don’t Use Them

1. Liners will eventually leak.Manufacturers have varying warranties, ranging from 15 to 30 years, with a 75-year life expectancy. In reality, it will definitely last as long as the guarantee claims as long as you leave it in the box, and store it in your garage.Once you place it in the ground, nature’s forces begin a contest to see which will break its water-tight integrity first. Vying for the title of culprit are gophers, ground squirrels, chipmunks, rats, moles, roots from trees, plants and weeds, sharp rocks, heavy rocks, sharp objects, and moose (if you live in Alaska).

If a leak does develop, it is next to impossible to locate it without removing all the rocks covering the liner, draining the pond, spreading the liner out on the ground, and inspecting every square inch. A tiny pin hole can lose five gallons every 24 hours.

2. Bottom drains cannot be utilized with liners. Liner advocates discount the use of bottom drains primarily because they would rather not, since approximately one half the sources for leaks in liner ponds are from bottom drains. When the liner is cut to install the drain, sealants are used along with pressure rings to make a water-tight seal. The sealants dry out or break down and seal collars warp, resulting in time-consuming, costly repair.

3. You cannot use out-of-pond pumps. Since liner advocates don’t use bottom drains, they can’t use above-ground pumps, which leave no other choice but to use sump pumps. These pumps were originally designed to pump water from sump pits in basements and cellars. They are not designed to save energy; in fact, they are the greatest consumers of energy per horsepower of all pumps. The largest retailer/wholesaler of liners, pumps and accessories sells a sump pump which produces 4200 gallons per hour at 704 watts for $339.00. This pump needs to be pulled from the pond to clean debris from its intake screen. It is a potential shock hazard to fish and humans and is filled with oil, which has the potential of leaking out and covering the surface of the pond.

In contrast, an above-ground pump that supplies 600 gallons more per hour (4,800) for less than half the energy cost (348 watts) and costs over $100 less. Running this pump 24 hours per day will result in a savings of over $500 per year over the sump pump. In other words, the energy savings would pay for the above-ground pump and put an additional $270 cash in your pocket the first year alone.

If that isn’t enough incentive, a second reason to use the above-ground pump is that there is never a need to worry about it clogging since we install two 8″ anti-vortex drains on the bottom. The only maintenance required is to occasionally remove the lid from the leaf basket on the pump and dump the debris from the catch basket. Because this is a high-efficiency pump, it is extremely quiet, and standing right next to it you can barely hear it running.

With liner ponds the sump pump is located at the outside edge of the pond, not in the middle as in professional concrete and rebar constructions. We place two 8″ anti-vortex drains in the middle of the pond, 24″ apart. As fish waste and other suspended particles and algae spores settle to the bottom, they are drawn into the drains and taken out by the filter. An ultraviolet light is placed in series between the filter and pond return in order to kill pathogenic bacteria which can cause disease and turn the pond green.

In deeper ponds that use liners, all the waste material settles and collects on the bottom and rots, creating ammonia that is toxic to fish and other aquatic life. Because a sump pump is located near the outer edge of the pond and not in the middle on the bottom, maximum efficient circulation cannot be reached. This creates toxic cloudy areas in the pond’s bottom. Most liner ponds I’ve seen are only 24″ deep, and circulation is not an issue in these cases. However, koi fish are not recommended in these kinds of ponds; koi experts recommend a depth of at least 3 feet.

4. You cannot use a high pressure maintenance free biofilter with a liner pond. When using a sump pump, you have to use a gravity feed bio-falls, down-flow or upflow filter. All of these are inefficient and result in high maintenance costs. They need to be cleaned often by removing all the waste-laden filter media. To say the least, this is a filthy, stinky, messy job which neither my female clients nor most of my male clients expect to perform.

Aqua Ultraviolet’s high pressure filter contains state-of-the-art technology enabling it to simply be back washed with a turn of the handle. The discharge hose can direct the fish waste and particulate debris down the drain, or it can be used to water the garden or lawn. The high pressure filter is designed to handle five to ten times the volume of water that a gravity flow unit or bio-falls can handle.

In addition to all this, the patented bead design of this filter allows for maximum surface area in which nitrifying bacteria can live and break down nitrites. The “Liner Guy” wants you to use his messy, dirty, stinky inefficient filter because it is his filter, and it costs very little to manufacture compared to the professional bead filter. My opinions about filters come from many years of experience, and trying nearly every one that is on the market. I even jumped on the “filter bandwagon” for a couple of years and used my own design.

Why? Because of the unbelievable profit margin! When I discovered the Aqua Ultraviolet filter advertised in several pond magazines, I gave it a try. I’ve been using it for over ten years with no problems whatsoever. My clients clean the filter with the turn of a handle and stay clean themselves. A great side benefit to this filter is that you can have twice the number of fish in your pond than when using the inefficient gravity filters. By the way, this is not a paid endorsement of their product!

5. Safety is a concern when pond liners are used. After a hole is dug, a pond liner is placed in the hole and then it’s filled with water. Rocks are then placed around the perimeter of the pond to cover up the edge of the pond liner, and more rocks are piled up on a mound of dirt covered with another liner to create a waterfall. From my 26 years of experience, I’ve learned that many adults are just like kids when it comes to ponds and waterfalls.

They inevitably climb on the rocks of the waterfall and the pond’s edge. Since the rocks are all loose, they can move, tilt or shift on the pond liner, resulting in someone falling and getting hurt or, worse, drowning. With professional concrete and rebar construction, all the rocks are cemented in place, providing a secure foundation to walk or climb on.

6. Pond liners limit pond shape and configuration. Why are most liner ponds circular or oval in design? Because pond liners are dispensed on rolls and therefore available only in square or rectangular shapes. If an L-shaped pond was designed, you would need to bunch up an inordinate amount of pond liner into the inside corner. Not only is it wasting expensive square feet of pond liner material, it makes it difficult to stack rocks on top of the bunched up liner so as to cover it up.

Oh sure, “Liner Guy” you’re thinking, why doesn’t he mention that special shaped pond liners can be custom made? Okay, I’ll mention it! Custom pond liners can be made to order. And now I’ll mention that this customized pond liner is going to cost you as much as constructing a professional pond with rebar and concrete that will last a lifetime. There, I mentioned it!

7. Last but not least, Integrity. When I read articles written by “the Liner Guy’s” disciples, bragging about the ungodly profits derived from pond liner construction, I can’t help but wonder how they sleep at night. The profit derived from one day’s work — digging a hole, dropping in a pond liner, covering its surface and perimeter with loose rock, and plugging in an energy-sucking sump pump — equals what I made in four or five days of labor. One big difference: their warranty is one year, if you’re lucky; but one built with concrete and steel is for a lifetime!

I’m the person that the past customers of “the Liner Guy” called two or three years down the road, asking me to fix the leak in their stinky green liner pond. A client in Poway, California paid $6,500 for a liner pond with a necklace of rock around the perimeter and a 3 x 4 foot fiberglass waterfall at its edge. I actually had to suppress a laugh when I saw it out of respect for my client’s grief.

This pond had a bottom drain that leaked; however, the major loss of water stemmed from a tree root puncture. In addition, it was obvious that this “Liner Guy” disciple did not have his customer’s long term financial well being in mind after I discovered a cheap, 7- amp energy-sucking “Jacuzzi pump. We replaced it with a 3.6 amp high-efficiency pump that supplied nearly twice the flow.

Next, we pulled out the liner, reconfigured the pond’s oval shape to serpentine, and constructed the pond and waterfall shell using rebar (8″ on center) and 3500 psi concrete with stealth fiber added. We installed two 8″ bottom drains, added a professional skimmer, a Venturi air supply valve, a natural rock waterfall, a turtle island that supported a 25 foot bridge spanning the pond, an “Ultima II” high pressure, back-washable filter, ultraviolet light, lighting in the pond and waterfall. plus an electronic AquaFill pond water leveler. All this took us eight days from start to finish and cost only $2,000 more than the client originally paid.

In Conclusion: Is it any wonder why I despise the “get rich quick” scheme of pond liner construction? The “liner guy” hates hearing me refer to concrete and rebar ponds as “professional construction.” They insist their liner ponds are professional construction. And if so, why do they sell the very same kits to do-it-yourself homeowners as to the construction business people for hire?

I am proud to claim over 1,900 satisfied customers over 26 years. Ninety-five percent of my clientele comes from referrals by satisfied customers. I don’t have to wonder why that is so.

Is there a place for liner ponds? Yes, if you’re renting and expect to move in two or three years. Or if you’re setting up a temporary display. No, I’m not totally against liners. They’re great for truck beds and cheap swimming pools! Actually, I have made thousands of dollars over the years from pond liners – by replacing them with concrete and steel!

An ounce of prevention is worth a [pond] cure. Happy koi, peace and joy.

By Douglas C. Hoover; CEO of Aquamedia Corp, freelance writer and author. Designer, architect, engineer and builder of over 1900 waterfall and ponds in California for the past 26 years. Inventor and manufacturer of several water feature related products such as the “AquaFill” T.M., electronic float control system for ponds, pools, fountains and hot tubs.
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What Are The Best Pond Filters?

Although a natural pond does not require the use of a pond filter a man made pond can only benefit from its use. Pond filters are designed to break down toxins within the water usually caused by decaying organic particles, if a pond filter is not used to remove this physical dirt your pond could be at risk of having poor pond water which could result in health problems for any fish living within the pond.

Depending on the size of your pond and how many fish you have will determine the type and size of the pond filter you need. Once installed the pond filter will keep both the water free from particles that can cause the water to be murky, smelly and even toxic, your fish and pond plants will also benefit from the pond filter as they will be healthier.

Pond filters not only optimise the viewing of your pond by cleaning the water for enhanced viewing of the fish, plants and inhabitants pond filters also conserve water by cleaning and recycling the ponds original water, When the water is pumped back into your pond it keeps the pond water which also helps to reduce the risk of the pond becoming stagnant.

There are several different types of pond filters to choose from all of which will produce a noticeable difference to any garden pond.

External Filters

External pond filters are usually the largest type of pond filter available. They are situated outside of the pond but close to it. They are usually filled with large sheets of foam with porous or plastic stone biological media underneath.

The biggest advantage of external pond filters is the improvement of the water quality it is also possible to add different filer media to serve other purposes should you have a specific problem with your pond. Having the pond filter outside of the pond makes the unit a lot easier to clean also the external pond filter supports the largest fish load.

The only disadvantage is the size and visibility however it is quite easy to disguise the pond filter behind pond plants making it less visible.

Submersed Filters

These pond filters are extremely versatile and are filled with a mixture of filter media for different types of filtration including chemical, mechanical and biological filtration. The advantages of this type of pond filter is not only the cleanliness of the water but the pond filter can also be used for other purposes such as water fountains, pond spitters and many other water based pond feature.

The only disadvantage is this type of pond filter is submersed in the water which may mean that you will need to stand in the pond to retrieve it depending on where it is situated when you decide to clean it.

When purchasing pond filters you will find that pet shops are always happy to help you chooses the right filter to suit your pond, take the time to ask someone in the shop and explain what sort of pond you have it is also wise to have a rough idea of the size and how many fish reside with it to make sure the best pond filter is selected.

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11 Tips Before Building a Backyard Water Garden or Backyard Pond

From The Pond Warehouse who has over 13 years of experience in ponds and water gardens, building and owning a pond, water garden or pond-less waterfall can be an awesome and rewarding experience to enjoy. The Pond Warehouse strongly suggest you think through this list of 11 Tips before beginning your backyard water garden or back yard pond project.

1. Pick an area in your yard that you can make a pond or water feature look natural, preferably not a low area in the yard.  Low spots gather rain runoff which can be full of nutrients. Nutrients cause algae blooms and can turn a pond green fast.

2. Do not build your pond too close to a tree.  This can damage a trees roots and possibly kill the tree.  That is something you do not want to deal with at a later date.

3. Do not build a pond in direct sunlight.  This will cause pond algae problems.  We recommend no more than 4 hours of direct sunlight.  Plants will grow perfectly fine in shaded pond. In shaded areas of your pond, simply use slow release aquatic fertilizer tablets a couple times a year. You can find good Aquatic Plant Fertilizer at The Pond Warehouse. Also, consider using pond plant baskets containers, such as a Round Aquatic Plant Basket. Planting in containers makes it easier to move, divide, trim and maintain unwanted spreading of plants!

4. Make sure there is plenty of room for landscaping around your backyard pond.  This will add beauty and help the pond look natural even in the flattest of yards.

5. To layout the shape of your pond, we recommend using a cord, rope or garden hose. You can continue to change the outline in your yard and play with it until you get the pond shape you are happy with.

6. Keep pictures and make notes of the things you like and incorporate them into your water garden pond.  Take into consideration water flow.  Do you want a gentle waterfall or more a gushing look?

7. You should decide what you plan to do with your backyard pond or backyard water feature? Do you want fish and plants in it or not. A pond with fish and plants requires different design considerations and treatment than a pond without fish and plants.

8. Make sure you check with you local county or township codes regarding any restrictions regarding building your pond, such as pond depth.

9. Placement of the pond waterfall is important. It is best to place the pond waterfall at the back of the pond.  This way you can see it and hear it from your view point. There are many items that go into building a pond waterfall, so to make things less complicated The Pond Warehouse has different pond waterfall kits based on stream length and width. We even provide a suggestions on how to build a waterfall for those that want a beautiful waterfall but no pond so make sure you check out The Pond Warehouse.

10. Proper filtration is a must.  We recommend putting all the water in the pond through a filter every hour.  This means if you have a 2000 gallon pond then you need a pump that will move 2000 GPH (33 GPM) such as the EasyPro 2200 GPH Mag Drive Pump.  You also need a filter that can handle 2000 GPH, such as the EasyPro 2500 Gallon Pressurized Filter with UV or EasyPro AquaFalls biological filter.

11. Once you are ready to build your own dream water garden we strongly recommend you speak with an expert as pond design is critical so that everything works properly. If you do not know an expert in your area please feel free to contact The Pond Warehouse at 877-268-6186 for pond assistance. Also we can share with you exactly what to do in treating your pond with bacteria and water treatment so that you have a healthy, trouble free, beautiful pond that you can enjoy.

The Pond Warehouse has over 13 years of experience in ponds and water gardens. We can help you with all of your pond supply needs. We pride ourselves on delighting you – our customer by providing the pond expertise, highest quality pond products and top notch customer service all at the best value.

Thanks, The Pond Warehouse 1-877-268-6186

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Koi Pond & Waterfall: Top 21 Most Asked Questions Answered

Q  What is the ideal depth for a koi pond?

A  In my experience of over 25 years, 4 to 5 feet is ideal. You need a minimum of 3 feet for koi fish for several reasons. Safety for fish from wading cranes they can not wade in 3 feet of water. Plus the water temperature in shallow ponds fluctuates too much with the changes in ambient temperature. The greater the volume of water, the longer it takes for the temperature to change. Warm water or fluctuating temperatures are unhealthy for fish.

Q  What is the ideal size for a pond?

A  The ideal size would be determined by the size of your yard. Its size should be proportional to the size of the yard. Also, the larger the pond, the greater the maintenance.

Q  What is your opinion on using a liner to construct a pond rather than using a hard molded or concrete one.

A  My recommendation is and always has been to use concrete. However, if you are on a tight budget or do not plan on living there for an extended period time, a liner would be recommended. In this case, you would have to add a thin layer of mortar between the liner and soil to prevent tree roots, ground squirrels, rats, mice, gophers or chipmunks from compromising the liner. The hard molded, preformed plastic ponds become brittle from the sun’s UV rays in just a couple of years. No good!

Q  What type of pond filter do you recommend?

A  That cannot be answered simply because many factors are involved. Do you have an existing pond with a submersible pump or above-ground pump? What’s the volume of the pond? Do you have fish, and if so, how many? What size plumbing pipe is being used? This is so involved, I have devoted an entire chapter in my construction manual to the subject. I have an 8000 gallon pond with above-ground pump and I use a pressurized biological bead filter. It takes 2 minutes to back flush with the turn of a handle and keeps my pond crystal clear.

Q  I have tons of algae hanging from the rocks in my falls and growing in clumps in my hand. What can I do to get rid of it?

A  When the first Polynesians settled in Hawaii between 300 and 600 AD, they were probably very annoyed by the aggressive, wild, pervasive taro plant, just like you are your algae. They tried to chop it down, burn it, stomp it, but to no avail. It just came back, so they eat it, and still do to this day. In fact, it’s a staple like peanut butter is to some Americans. Just kidding! However, if you told me it was watercress I would suggest eating it. Many pond stores will try to sell you a very expensive algaecide to solve your problem, but all you need to do is increase the salt content of your water. Some experts recommend one pound of rock salt to every 100 gallons of water. This will not hurt your fish; in fact, it will help to produce a healthy shine coat. However, it will harm most of your plants if you apply that dose all at once. Plus the dead and decaying algae will deplete the oxygen and this will harm your fish. Apply it slowly over a week or two, and be patient. It takes longer to kill it this way, but your fish will appreciate it! This topic is also a chapter in my construction manual.

Q  Should I keep salt in my pond on a regular basis?

A  If you maintain a specific gravity of 1.000, your fish will be less susceptible to ulcer and fin rot. And you will keep the algae from getting out of control.

Q  I am considering building a waterfall between my house and my neighbor’s against the fence. Will the sound of the falls annoy them if I let it run 24 hours a day?

A  The sound generated by a waterfall is called white noise, which is very relaxing and soothing, not annoying. I have several hundred clients who leave their falls running 24/7 and none have ever had a neighbor complain. In fact, they all appreciate the fact that they did not have to spend the money to enjoy the sound.

Q  How many koi fish can I put in my pond?

A  The amount could range from 150 to 250 gallons per fish. If you are starting out with small 6″ to 8″ long koi, they can reach 2 feet in three years, depending on how much food and how often you feed them. They could even grow to over 3 feet long! The overcrowding of fish produces stress and a lot of waste material. It can reduce the health of the fish and result in various diseases. Also, a less crowded pond is more pleasant to look at.

Q  Do I really need a filter in my pond?

A  Not in every case. If your pond is small and you have any guppies or mosquito fish and adequate water plants covering 1/3 to ´ of your pond, your pond will clean itself by means of the nitrogen cycle. The biological aspects of pond chemistry is well covered in my waterfall and construction manual.

Q  How long do koi fish live?

A  The average life span of koi in Japan is 70 years. Some have been known to live to 100 or more, such as the legendary Hanako, alleged to have lived for over 200 years. Unlike the amazing results of the meticulous care the Japanese give their koi, American koi live a fraction of that time, usually due to neglect and lack of care or proper environment.

Q  How can I protect my koi against predators?

A  Unfortunately, most people that come to me are frustrated people who already have a pond or a rather poorly planned pond. If your pond is shallow, less than 3 feet, or has a shallow end, the raccoons, coyotes, cranes, egrets, etc. have easy access to your fish. You may think your fish are safe because you have a deep end for the fish to retreat to. Well, you and your fish are dead wrong. A crane will stand perfectly still for 10 to 20 minutes waiting for the koi to forget he is there. Some will regurgitate chum into the deep pond, luring the fish to the surface. Your only solution is a net, or try the crane statue, scarecrow, or high-frequency sound emitters for smaller animals. However, one of my clients watched a crane land next to his crane statue. While the scarecrow was pelting him with a stream of water, it snatched up one of their prize koi.

A critter-proof pond is over 3 feet everywhere and has a raised deck 13″ minimum over the water surrounding the pond. Raccoons cannot swim and catch fish at the same time, and they or the birds will not be able to reach the water.

Q  I would like to have a koi pond but I live in Michigan and every year ponds and lakes freeze over. Will they survive?

A There are fish in those lakes you are talking about: blue gill, bass, sunfish, carp, and they all survive. And guess what? Koi are in the carp family. Koi were originally raised for food in Japan. They would grow rice in the summer and then flood the rice patties and raise koi in the winter, cutting holes in the ice to catch them for food. However, your pond must be 4 ´ to 6 feet deep to ensure the water stays about 40 o the bottom. Turn off the waterfall and bottom drain, draw water from the skimmer to keep the bottom still. Place swimming pool solar blankets over the surface. If your pond is deep enough, you can let it freeze over. However, you need to install a horse tank heater to keep a hole open in the ice to allow any ammonia gas from rotting debris on the bottom to escape. If your pond is less than 4 ´ feet deep, take the koi indoors for the winter and place them in a garage or basement tank.

Q  Can I keep koi and goldfish together?

A Yes, you can. They are both cold water fish and members of the carp family. Most other cold water fish can also swim together, such as shubunkins, rudd, orfe, blue gill, mosquito fish, guppies, sunfish, bass, etc. However, only in deeper ponds where the mean temperature is 65 degrees or less on the bottom for bass, sunfish and blue gill.

Q  Should my pond have a bottom drain?

A  First of all, a bottom drain is essential for a healthy pond. However, if it is exposed and the suction is strong enough, turtles or fish can get stuck to it and not be able to get loose. Therefore, two drains should be hooked in series to relieve the pressure between them, just as in a swimming pool. Bottom drains draw falling waste from the fish before it reaches the bottom, keeping it clean. Areas where it does build up can be swept to the drains for easy cleaning. If you are using a submersible pump or pulling the water from a skimmer, water is not circulating properly on the bottom of the pond. That is where rotting debris is producing ammonia and other toxic gases.

Q  My pond water is very clear, but my fish are dying. What is wrong?

A  Drinking water might taste good, smell good, and look clear. But some of the most toxic chemicals that are known to cause cancer are colorless, odorless and tasteless. I recommend that you purchase a test kit form a pond store and check your water regularly. Nitrates, nitrite and ammonia are all detrimental to fish. Ammonia and nitrite can, at high levels, be fatal to fish. These substances are dissolved in the water and consequently are impossible to detect by the clarity of the water and they can break down the fishes’ immune system.

Q  What type of filter do you recommend?

A  For any pond over 1000 gallons, I recommend a pressurized biological bead filter that can be back washed. I have used Aqua Ultraviolet Ultima II filters for years. Most larger pond suppliers carry them. Their filters range from 1000 gallons to 10,000 gallons. Up-flow and gravity flow filters require regular cleaning, which is a filthy job. The filter media is packed with stinky, putrid fish waste and decaying pond scum. As you handle the filter screens, media, scrubbers, etc., you will have little white feces-eating worms that are 1/16″ long crawling on your hands and arms. Not to mention the noxious smell that burns your eyes and lungs.

It cost pennies on the dollar to make, yet dealers charge a fortune. You pay the price for the filter and in the time it takes to maintain it you pay an additional cost for your time maintaining it. With a pressurized filter, it only takes the turn of a handle for 2 to 3 minutes and the filter is clean. The waste water is not wasted either. You can water your plants with it using the discharge hose. If you can imagine, that brown, colored, stinky water is packed with nitrogen. It’s better than Miracle Grow T.M. I have used my 6000 gallon Ultima II for over eight years and it works as well now as they day it was installed. Happy, happy fish!

Q  How much does an average pond cost?

A  What is average? It depends on whether you are talking about a liner pond or a professional concrete and rebar pond. A typical liner pond can be 6 feet by 8 feet, and depending on who is installing it, could cost between $2,500 and $3,500. The other dimensions are pretty much proportionate. Liner ponds are susceptible to leaks from punctures, gophers, and rats, etc. Concrete ponds last for decades and on the average cost only 20% more than liner ponds.

Q  My pond is green and I can not see my fish. What should I do?

A  Your challenge is algae (suspended planktonic algae), which does not directly hurt the fish. However, algae gives off oxygen during the day from photosynthesis. But unfortunately, it uses up oxygen at night. In addition, it is unsightly and blocks the view of the fish. You can increase the salt content or install an ultraviolet light, which not only kills spore algae but kills the bacteria that causes the water to become murky and stinky.

Q  I heard that UV light will also kill the beneficial bacteria. Is that true?

A  If I say “No,” I am calling many so-called professional experts liars. So I will put it this way. All the beneficial pond bacteria such as aerobic or anaerobic bacteria, nitrobacter, etc., reside in the filter or in the decaying debris at the bottom of the pond. They aren’t floating around in the pond. Bacteria and algae containing pathogenic disease are, and as they pass through the UV light, they are eradicated.

Q  Do I need a waterfall for my pond?

A  With no hesitation, YES! Most definitely. First of all, waterfalls are beautiful to look at. The sound is soothing and relaxing and the water moving over rocks generates negative ions which are added to the air. As you breathe negatively charged air, it relieves stress and anxiety. Waterfalls also add extra oxygen to the pond. Waterfalls are a must!

Q  I heard concrete ponds will leach alkali into the pond. Is that true?

A  Yes and no. A poorly constructed concrete pond will, but only until algae starts growing on the sides. Also if the pond is constructed of 3500 psi concrete and coated with Thoro-seal T.M., it is impossible for alkali to leach out. Plus, if you use Doug Hoover’s secret mortar mix formula, the mortar in the waterfall between the rock will not leach either.

Q  What is the advantage of building a waterfall using concrete and mortar?

A  A major reason is that the rock will be securely mortared in place, preventing a serious accident from rocks sliding, as with a liner waterfall. Trust me, some day, some adventurous child will climb onto it. That is a lawsuit in the making.

Happy koi, peace & joy.

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Fish Pond: Backyard Pond Building

Backyard ponds are once thought to be owned by only the wealthy and filthy rich individuals. That was then. Now, backyard ponds can be built by even the simplest homeowners. These can liven things up and can be a good conversation starter for guests and visitors. It will not only provide a beautiful and visually appealing backyard but a relaxing one as well.From cozy and small to rich and lush, back yard water gardens can range from almost any design you want. Just a little background about building a back yard pond and the right materials is enough to create your own private oasis.

Step one. Decide where your pond will be situated.

Look for an area in your yard where there are little trees. Falling leaves are a big no-no to your pond since it can make maintenance an everyday job. Place your pond in an area reached by the warmth of the sun. Aquatic plants need the sun to grow. However, stay away from too much heat since this can cause some plants such as lilies to die.

Another advice is to place your pond in a high area. This can prevent runoff water to accumulate and overflow your pond causing murkiness and further maintenance.

Step two. Lay out the area of your pond.

If you want to design your pond to the size you want it to, trace the perimeter of the pond using a bendable material like a garden hose. If you are satisfied by the size and shape of your pond, mark the area using a spray paint or any marker.

Step three. Use a pond liner.

Pond liners are used to prevent water from the pond, fishes, aquatic plants, and other pond contents to escape the pond. In the same way, it also prevents non-pond materials to enter and cause dirt or excess nutrients to the pond. Pond liners range from pre-formed liners to PVC liners. If you are willing to spend the extra cash, using cement will also be applicable.

Pre-formed liners are usually utilized by small ponds. These can be bought at pond supply outlets and can be easily installed after digging the pond. However, if you want to create the design and size you want, PVC liners would work best. These are usually used for large and complex ponds. Other types of liners are available. It is best to ask for advice from your local pond contractor about this stuff.

Step four. Dig your pond.

Dig your pond according to the width and depth that your prefer. Place rocks on the edges of the pond liner and fill in spaces with gravel. Do this part diligently and carefully. Camouflage the area with stones, pebbles, or plants.

Step five. Assemble the equipment.

Place the filters, lighting, and water supply. Make sure that these will all function well. Connect them to the electrical supply and place them in locations that will suit them best. Do not forget to make a drainage system for the pond.

Step six. Just add water.

Now is the time to fill the pond with water. Observe if there is any leaking. Clean out the area first and then add clean water for your pond. Place the plants in their rightful places in order to create a beautiful appearance. Let the plants settle for at least a week and then it is appropriate to add the fishes. Add fish one at a time. Fill the pond with just the right amount of fish. Consider the size of the pond and your fish. Make sure they are compatible.

And now, sit back and relax. Give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done!

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Pond Landscaping

Adding a pond to your yard can help you add a place to relax. Landscaping this area can help to make it an extension of your home.

Landscaping around your pond is a something that you can accomplish with your entire family. Ponds can help to add beauty and interest to any backyard, no matter what size yard that you have. You can easily find a pond that will fit the size and feel of your yard. Landscaping around your pond is easy and fun to do. If you need a place to rest and relax, then you can add fish and plants to your pond area to make it into the refuge that you need and want.

Pond Planning

When starting your pond planning, you may want to consider purchasing one of the many pond kits that contains everything that you will need to install your pond or you can decide to create your own pond that meets your specific needs and purchase the supplies on your own. You need to keep in mind certain things before you begin digging your pond. Finding the right location for your pond is the most important part of planning.

You need to choose a site for your pond that gets at least four to six hours of sunlight each day. Water plants usually need full sun to thrive, so keep that in mind. To eliminate leaves and debris from your pond, you may want to place the pond away from trees. You also want to stay away from electrical sources for obvious reasons.

Viewing Your Pond

When you are trying to find the right place for your pond, make sure that you choose a place where you can enjoy it from inside of your home, too. This will give you a focal point that you can enjoy even when the outside weather is not conducive to being outside.

The Shape of Your Pond

There are many different shapes that you can consider for your pond landscaping design. You will want to ensure that it fits your space and your desires to increase your satisfaction. If you want a formal landscaping area, then a square or rectangle shaped area is best. A more casual, informal styled pond would include more unusual and curved shapes in its design.

Landscaping Around Your Pond

After you have installed your pond, then you want to consider how you are going to landscape around it. The landscaping around the pond will be dependent upon your personal tastes and desires, but there are many different ways that you can landscape it. You will find that there are many different landscaping ideas for this area, including brick, stone, or even flowers.

Finishing Touches

Adding fish and plants to your pond can help to increase that relaxing feel that you want. It is important that you add these things carefully though, because your fish will reproduce and your water plants will grow. If you don’t consider that now, then your pond could quickly become overloaded.

This project may take you quite a bit of effort and time, but you will find that it is well worth the effort. Your pond and landscaping will be a place that you will enjoy for many years to come.

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7 Secrets of Building a Koi Pond

Are you thinking of building a koi fish pond? Keeping these magnificent fish in your garden can be great fun and it is not as difficult as you might think. With the right care koi can live for decades and some can become almost a meter long. Follow these tips to plan your pond properly so your koi will live long and happy life.

1 Depth is important

Depth of your pond is crucial. The minimum recommended depth is 4 feet, however it is much better to give your fish six or even 8 feet deep pond. This will ensure that your koi are protected from raccoons, cats and other animals who love a fish dinner. Deeper fish pond also helps to keep water cool in hot summer days

2 Make your pond as large as you can

Small ponds are not suitable for koi. Remember, with time koi can grow quite large and they will need a lot of room. Also there are so many color variations of koi, that with time you will probably want to add more fish to your pond. So it is better to create a large pond from the start than rebuild it later. About ten thousand gallons is a good size for a koi pond, bigger would be even better.

3 Use fish pond heater in colder months

Unlike tropical fish, koi don’t suffer much from cold; however you should never let your pond freeze completely. Installing a proper pond heater will always keep an opening in the ice. Also keep in mind, that koi only grow when the water is warm, so with a heater your fish will grow faster

4 Plan some shade for your koi

When selecting a spot for your pond, make sure it is out of direct sunlight. Also keeping water plants like water lilies in your pond are a good idea – not only they add beauty to the overall design, but they also provide shade for the fish. However, you should avoid building your koi pond under trees. Cleaning a fish pond of fallen leaves is no fun.

5 Plan to install a bird net

There are many birds of prey that would love to steal your koi. Don’t give them the opportunity; plan your pond location so it is possible to cover it with a net.

6 Keep insecticides away from your pond

When landscaping your pond keep in mind that you should not use any insecticides or herbicides near the water. Even a small amount of common garden poison can kill your beautiful fish.

7 Get proper equipment for your pond

Several accessories are absolutely essential for a healthy koi pond. Ideally you will have to invest into a water pump, filtration system, water aerator and an ultraviolet sterilizer. If the water in your pond is still, your fish might get sick and eventually die. Koi pond filtration systems are expensive, so as an alternative you can make your own homemade filters.

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Koi Pond or Pondless Waterfall: Where Do I Begin?

1.) Have you thought about A Water Feature?– Is it true that a water feature will add equity to my home? What about a swimming pool? Doesn’t a pond require a lot of upkeep? What is the average cost? Do I need a building permit? Do I have to have fish? …we travel a lot!

American Society of Landscape Architects

Landscape Architects Identify Trends for 2007

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ –“Sustainable design is bigger than ever and homeowners and commercial building owners alike are looking to utilize outdoor spaces even more. The New Year will bring a number of exciting and creative design solutions from landscape architects.

Homeowners are requesting that landscape architects design complete outdoor rooms, such as kitchens and bars, for entertaining. Water features such as koi ponds, waterfalls, and fountains continue to be popular (with no signs of slowing), according to a new survey of leading members of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).”

The American Nurseryman Association reports that “water features are the fastest growing trend in landscaping since 1990 (2007 should break all records.)”

Regionally, in-ground pools will add about 5 percent to the value of a home in the Northeast, about 6 percent in the Midwest, and 7.5 percent in the Southeast and West. In the Southwest, a swimming pool will add nearly 11 percent to the home’s value.

If you add a $35,000 pool to a $300,000 house, you will just barely recover your initial expense. However, you still have the high maintenance cost and you have just limited the future buyers of your home to people who want a pool. Therefore, you have actually reduced the equity in your home. On the other hand, everyone loves a beautiful water feature, young and old! Therefore, increased equity!

Swimming pools require constant attention and maintenance. Unlike ponds, pool owners cannot rely on the nitrogen cycle to lend a hand at keeping the water healthy. This can only be accomplished by due diligence and a myriad of chemicals. Unlike a pond, the enjoyment of a pool comes from its use; and for most regions of the country, the climate dictates a very short period of time for pool use. Unless you heat your pool, then your dumping more money in your pool.

A pond requires minimal attention compared to swimming pool. Once a properly constructed pond is established with the right proportion of fish, plants and biological elements, a pond will take care of itself, the rest is enjoyment, year round. You do not need to use a pond as you do a pool, it only need to exist for you to enjoy.

2.) What do I do about the safety of my small children or grandchildren? How big should it be? Is this something I can do on my own or do I need professional help building a pond?

Unlike a swimming pool, ponds can be child proofed, with very little expense. A swimming pool, however, requires special self-closing gates with special latches. Another required code requirement is 95-decibel alarms on all exit doors leading to the back yard.

And for your added peace of mind, you can install an unsightly, removable, lightweight fence that cost hundreds of dollars. Then you can continually agonize over whether you, or someone else, forgot to close the fence gate.

A pond, however, can be filled with large boulders, which can be removed later when the children are grown. Or you can construct a pondless waterfall to begin with. Now you still can enjoy the sight and sound of cascading water without the concerns for safety.

An added advantage of a pondless waterfall is that a pondless waterfall costs less to construct and maintain. A pondless waterfall can be added to your front yard, meet all building code requirements, increase curb appeal, and thereby increase the equity and the resale value of your home.

The “size of the water feature” is a relative term. There are many factors that need to be considered. Far more than can be be discussed in the space I have allotted for this article. I will cover it in my next article. A few questions to ask yourself: How big is your yard? Where do you spend the majority of your time?

What is your budget? How is the size, shape and topography of your yard related to certain limitations regarding the building codes? Will the existing water table affect your water feature? Does your property currently have adequate drainage? Do you have underground utilities? If so, where are they located? What are the local building codes regarding pond depth? Do you need a building permit, or a licensed contractor? …just to name a few of the topics covered.

Whether you need a professional contractor is another article. What type of access do you have to your property? Do you want large boulders? If so, is there proper clearance for a crane or Bobcat? How do you find a qualified contractor? How do you go about qualifying them? Are they properly licensed? Insured? Bonded? Workmen’s compensation? Liability insurance? Hospitalization? References? Background checks and much, much more. Do your homework and proper research prior to commencement, it could save you thousands of dollars.

3.) What is the single most important first step in building a water feature? What about equipment? Should I get koi fish and a turtle? Where should I place my pond and waterfall? All these questions can be addressed with two words: Plan & Design!

First, decide where you spend most of your leisure activity. …family room, living room, patio etc. Your waterfall and pond should be in close proximity to that location. Not in the far corner of your property. Sound and visualization are two of the major benefits of a waterfall and pond. These decisions are part of the planning process. Once you decide on these issues, the design process begins.

The best way to approach this phase is to consider a digital design. There are companies that can produce an incredible digitally designed, virtual photo of your backyard, by simply providing them with a digital photo of the area you want the water feature located. You may opt to digitally design your own. There are digital design programs that are simple to master on your own for less than a hundred dollars. Just search the web by typing in digitally designed ponds or waterfalls.

The type of equipment you should use is dependent upon the size of your pond. Your budget is another factor. If you have a small budget, you’re looking at designing a small pond. In addition, look at the available options for construction materials.

You can buy a rubber liner kit and install it yourself, or have a rubber-liner-kit-installer-guy install it for you. Bottom line, either way, is there is no guarantee against bucked-toothed critters such as mice, rats, ground squirrels, gophers and ground hogs, from burrowing underneath your expensive rubber liner and chewing a hole in it. Concrete (3500psi) and rebar is the best construction method, and if done correctly, will last for generations. Concrete ponds cost only 10 to 20% more to build than liner ponds.

Your pond will require less maintenance if you allow the nitrogen cycle to do all the work. This means you need to do your part by providing the elements needed for the nitrogen cycle to operate. The fish provide the waste which produces nitrates and ammonia. Certain essential bacteria break down the nitrates and ammonia into safe byproducts used by the plants and other organisms.

Once this process is started, with the aid of a biological filter and possibly an ultraviolet light, future maintenance is minimal and routine. An above ground, high efficiency pump produces more water flow at half the energy and less initial cost than a sump pump used with liner ponds. The savings in electrical costs alone could easily pay for the additional cost of professional concrete construction in less three years.

4.) Where do I find the equipment and construction material I need to complete my project? How do I know what size filter, pump or ultraviolet light I need? If I want to have a concrete pond and waterfall shell, Where do I begin?

The internet is the best place to start looking for equipment. Local pond stores are usually higher priced, because of overhead expense. Most of the internet dealers are knowledgeable on sizing pumps, filters and ultraviolet lights to any size pond or waterfall. However, keep in mind, most on line dealers are trying to push pond liners, sump pumps and pond liner-related filters and accessories.

Look for energy efficient pumps first, and those dealers will carry concrete pond related products such as bottom drains, pool type skimmers and pressured, back-flushable biological bead filters. Also, Liner dealers sell the cheap mechanical autofill devices, because of a high profit margin.

Make sure you invest in a reliable electronic autofill system that is less likely to malfunction such as the levelors and aquafill systems. A stuck float could result in the chlorine poisoning death of all your fish and possibly thousands of dollars in flood damage.

If you act as your own project manager, you can get competitive bids from local concrete contractor for pouring your pond and waterfall shell. Also find a stone mason who will build your waterfall using mortar. With liner ponds and waterfalls, the rocks sit on the liner and can easily move when stepped on by adults or children resulting in serious accidents.

Trying to save hundreds up front, could possibly cost you thousands down the road. You get what you pay for.

Penny wise and [pond] foolish? Happy koi, peace & joy.

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Goldfish – How To Build Your Very Own Pond

If you’re planning to keep your goldfish in a garden pond and you’re also planning to build the pond yourself, then there are a few things you will need to know first.

The tools you will need are a shovel, pond liner and underlayment, a long piece of rope, coping stones and decorations, plants, a pump (you will need a pump to run a filter, fountain, or waterfall in order to keep the water circulating and the plants healthy), a filter system and some cooperative friends or family members! Now you can get started –

Building Your Pond

There’s no reason why you couldn’t build a pond in one day, although that purely depends on the size of the pond you’d like to have in your yard. The first thing you will need to do is find an area of the garden that is most suitable for keeping a pond. Make sure it is –

– Close to the house as you will need power to supply your pump with, unless of course you have an external outdoor power socket.

– Don’t build your pond at the bottom of a slope, because when it rains, dirty water will runs down and into the pond, maybe containing chemicals from your garden.

– Try to place it in an area where it will have access to at least 4 hours of sunlight. Your pond plants will require sunlight to stay healthy.

– Don’t place it in an area directly under leaf dropping trees. The last thing you want to have to do is clean all the leaves out of your pond every day.

Finally once you have found a suitable position to build your pond, you can start digging! You’ll need to-

– Decide on the shape and size of the pond. Use the rope to outline the shape you want and then begin digging. That’s why you need a couple of helping hands so that the work gets done faster!

– Do not go for a small pond for goldfish because they need space. Also try and keep different levels of depth, as in a swimming pool. Mark out the shallow areas and the deeper areas. This would give the pool a natural variety.

– Usually ponds in moderate climates should be at least 2 feet deep while in colder climates, you would need to make sure that the pond is deep enough to allow for at least 12″ to 16″ of water below the freeze zone.

– Dig according to the shape you want and dig a shelf-like level around the perimeter of the pond, which is about one foot deep and one foot wide. Also make provisions for a waterfall by digging a slight slope to one end.

– Time now to position the external pond filters. If you have pond skimmers as well, then you would need to place and level these in the proper places. Also dig a ditch to the external pond pump from the skimmer and from the pump to the external pond filter or waterfall.

Next you will need to line your tank with a pond underlayment that you can pick up at any hardware or landscaping wholesaler.

– Now you have to line the pond with what is called as Pond Underlayment. This is a lining that can be cut according to the shape needed and can be taped together. This underlayment will help the pond lining to stay in place.

– You can now put the rubber pond liner into pond and spread it out.

– Make sure you smoothen the folds and position it evenly. Some folds will still be there but the water will take care of that.

So that’s the building process of a garden pond, from there you will need to add in a pump that is correctly matched to the size of your pond as well as purchasing plants and other accessories to add to the pond.

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Having your Own Garden Pond is not as Difficult as you Might Think

A garden pond adds new dimensions to any garden. As well as providing a tranquil spot to sit and relax on a hot summer’s day, it attracts a whole range of wildlife to your garden such as frogs, newts, and water birds and almost inevitably gives you a mini nature reserve. It also opens up new plant growing opportunities both in the water and at its edges.

Choosing the right location, shape and size of garden pond

An ideal spot for a garden pond is in an open area with plenty of sunshine, but not too exposed to the wind and it is best not to locate it directly under trees to avoid accumulating soggy leaf mould every autumn. You should aim for as large a size as you can manage and the location will comfortably support, as larger ponds will gave a greater impact and are easier to clean and maintain than smaller ponds and are less prone to green water. The shape should be gently curving to blend with the environment and it is best to avoid narrow necks of water if possible. The ideal depth for a garden pond is around 2 feet deep, any shallower and it will be prone to drying in the summer and if much deeper it will accumulate mud in its base.

What lining material to use

Flexible liners are generally the best materials to use and are usually made of either butyl or PVC. If working to a lower budget then polythene can be used but this is thinner and generally won’t last longer than 3 years before it needs to be replaced.

Preparing the hole

You should mark out the area to be excavated with a trail of sand or an old hosepipe and the best months for pond making are April and May, so you should start digging around March. The pond base should be dug to around a 3 feet depth in its centre and you should make arrangement for disposing or using the surprisingly large amounts of material which will result! It is a good idea to consider preparing a shelf around the edge of the pond, in preparation for plants that prefer to grow in shallow water and otherwise the sides should slope at around 45 degrees. It is also advisable to protect the liner with a layer of fibreglass matting or sand in the base of the hole.

Laying the liner and filling the pond

Make sure the liner is large enough and then stretch it over the hole and hold the edges down with some heavy stones and check that it overlaps an even amount all around the pond and even out any wrinkles. Now you can start to fill it with water. A hosepipe should then be prepared and the exciting part can begin, filling the pond with water, which will settle down the liner with the weight and help even out any wrinkles. Fill the hole to the brim.

Edging the pond

Usually the best way to edge a pond is by laying flagstones and tucking the liner under them, they should be laid so that they overlap the edge by about 2 inches. These should be laid carefully to get a level finish and should be bedded with fine soil or sand. It is best to avoid concreting them in or repairs can be difficult. Now it’s time to stand back and admire your new pond but a little patience is required as it requires about 2 weeks to bed down and for undesirable chemicals in the water to disperse.

Then it is time to start planning to decorate it with water plants of your choice and for you local wildlife to discover it and hopefully take it up as their new residence.

It should always be borne in mind that open water can present a dangerous hazard to young children and this should be considered before making a garden pond.

In a future article I will discuss the range of plants now at your disposal and some of the fish wildlife that you may wish to introduce.

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Koi Ponds – Tips On Building The Pond Of Your Dreams

There are beautiful Japanese fish known as Koi and can grow up to roughly 1 meter long. With the proper love and care they have the ability to live up to several decades. Because these large types of fish are very beautiful and serene to watch, numerous owners of homes have dreams of building their own koi ponds.

Koi Have been called “Dragon Fish” by people through the ages who admire them. Koi have a definite captivating quality to them. Originally bred in the country of Japan, Koi are bred and kept by professional fish farmers as well as hobbyists throughout the world.

Koi are ordinarily kept in man-made or natural Koi ponds. Constant attention as well as care is required by the Koi and you must be prepared to devote some of your time as they need a stable environment and also need to be well fed.

Fundamental Principles Of Constructing Koi Ponds

You first need to understand what the Koi needs are so that you’ll be able to take proper care of them and meet their needs. The preferences of these fish are shady ponds so the place where you want to put your Koi pond needs to be shady but not completely dark.

Because of the length of time that these fish can live as well as the size that they can grow you will need to have some foresight when constructing these ponds. The size of your pond needs to take into account the amount of fish as well as the length that these fish will grow.

Most people who purchase Koi fish usually purchase more than two for their ponds. Be sure that the depth that you make your pond is deep enough for the fish not to get accidentally trapped or get caught by flying egrets and herons. These fishing birds have a tendency to swoop in on these types of ponds and eat half the population of the Koi in a relatively short period of time.

Ponds that are man-made also require the use of aerators as well as water filters to maintain a a healthy water environment for the Koi. A way to help aerate the pond is by putting water plants into it, however the majority of man-made ponds require artificial aeration. The ponds filtration system needs to be reliable and durable. Constructing Koi ponds requires quite a bit of thought and work.

Always bear in mind to make the location a priority when building Koi Ponds. When building Koi ponds you’ll need to be sure that you build it on a stable area where the ground will not ***** open or end up sliding off a slope.

There is a lot of satisfaction to the owners and they may often interact with other owners and that is another reason why many people love their Koi fish and ponds. Make sure you do some additional research when you plan on constructing Koi ponds in regards to the habitat and food of the Koi species you select.

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Koi Pond: is Ph Important?

It can mean the difference between life and death of your koi fish!

Alkaline Koi Ponds

Generally speaking, alkaline conditions are more common than acidic in ponds, especially the newer ones. If the pH remains over 8.5 for any length of time, the koi fish will become stressed or diseased. Here are some helpful examples:

Symptoms

• Lethargic or listless fish due to damaged mucus coating; prone to fungal

infection and other disease

• Plants chalky in appearance due to calcium deposits

• Prominence of waste chemicals which harm pond life

• Biological filter loses effectiveness

Reasons

• Introducing fish too soon into a newly constructed pond that was not properly sealed; the lime or alkali from the cement will raise the pH to the top of the scale. Even a shovel full of concrete or mortar can cause serious problems.

• Lime leaching from cement products such as blocks, stepping stones and

similar materials over a period of time.

• Lime in stone products subject to erosion

• Excessive growth of algae.

Solutions

• If the pond alkalinity is from the koi pond being new, allow adequate time for the pond to age. To speed up this process introduce bacteria found in a koi pond starter solution.

• Institute a partial pond water change to dilute the alkalis

• If high alkalinity is due to an over-abundance of algae, remove excessive growths of thread algae.

• If these steps do not result in a lower pH, use acidifying compounds or pond

pH buffers.

Acidic Koi Ponds

Low pH conditions occur less often than alkalinity in koi ponds.

Symptoms

• Fish become stressed, resulting in sickness; they may start dying off.

• Oxygenating plants such as hyacinths, water lettuce, Elodea and Anacharis

become discolored and wilted.

• Biological filtration ceases to operate correctly.

Reasons

• Pond water may have lost its buffers due to excessive amounts of rain,

which is soft and very acidic in many areas due to pollution. Loss or

decrease in buffering agents can create drastic fluctuation in pH.

• There may be high levels of humic acid or other organic acids produced

by build-up of decomposing plants and leaves.

Solutions

• Regular partial water changes

• Adding buffers to pond by placing a mesh bag of oyster shell gravel,

dolomite or crushed coral gravel in filter or waterfall. Water passing

through the material will pull out the calcium carbonate and raise pH.

• Using pond-buffer salts (sold in pond supply stores)

Partial Water Changes

Wastes and toxins tend to build up in most ponds, despite use of a biological filter. As water evaporates, pollutants remain and build up over time, becoming dangerously concentrated. For this reason it is highly recommended for smaller koi ponds that you drain and replace 20 percent of the koi pond a couple of times a year. Larger koi ponds are generally much more stable and the water chemistry does not fluctuate radically. This water should be siphoned or pumped from the bottom of the koi pond, where the majority of pollutants collect.

No more than 20 percent should be replaced since larger amounts could easily upset the balance of the koi pond. This is especially true if the replacement water is softer or contains high levels of chlorine or chloramines. It would also be advantageous to keep most of the rotting debris cleared from the bottom. Decaying fish and pond waste produce ammonia, methane and other toxins which can be fatal to the koi pond family.

If you are adding water with a garden hose, it is best to adjust to low volume and a mist that sprays gently through the air before entering the pond. This will allow some of the chlorine to evaporate. If you add the water quickly, add a dechlorinating product to the koi pond to neutralize the chlorine and chloramines. Unless you are adding water to your koi pond by means of an electronic aquafill water leveling system, always use some type of a timer or alarm to remind you to turn off the water! If left unattended for an extended period of time, you could find your pond overflowing and your koi fish dying from chlorine poisoning. It happened to me… several hundred dollars worth!

Happy koi, peace & joy.

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More Pond Basics

Here are a few more basics about ponds from my pond information site:

*Cleaning

In a healthy pond, with a properly functioning nitrogen cycle, water changes can be minimal. I still recommend a water change of 10-20% per month on a healthy, fully functional pond. In a newer pond larger and more frequent changes may be necessary.

If your pond has a KH below 80 ppm and a pH below 7.0, I would first look to possible causes. One common one is the buildup of organic mulm on the bottom of the pond. The decomposition of this will produce nitric acids which will affect the pH and KH. Since most pond keeper have koi or goldfish, this is important to note, as both these fish do much better at a pH above 7.2 and need the calcium provided by the KH for proper osmotic function. See “Proper Calcium, Magnesium and KH in Aquariums” for more information about Calcium KH, and GH.

If a lot of leaves fall to the bottom of the pond vacuuming them or raking them out is important to prevent organic buildup.

Water changes also will help with pH and KH if your tap or well water is slightly alkaline and has a KH above 80 ppm.

*Feeding

Feeding a quality diet can be beneficial for growth, breeding, color, and eve the environment as there is less nitrogenous waste to add to the water column.

You want a food high in aquatic based proteins (although not too high in protein as most koi and goldfish are more “grazers”). Whole fish meal or white fish meal is a good source. An amino acid that is important to koi and goldfish is DL-methionine and is found in Whole fish meal as well as peas.

Cereal is not a good source of energy for fish as it is in humans, fish utilize fats more for energy. Cereal is mostly used as roughage and to move other nutrients thru the digestive tract.

In summer months I usually feed twice per day, as temperatures fall below 70 F in the pond I feed once per day. When temperatures fall below 60 F in the pond I feed every other day or less, depending on fish feeding habits. Below 50 F, I do not generally feed.

For adult Koi there are several quality foods available: Hai Feng, Sanyu, A-Zoo, Hikari, and Nursery-Pro just to name a few. For goldfish or shubunkins I recommend Spirulina 20 Flake, Hikari, or Sanyu. For fry (in addition to natural foods that will be available around the plant roots and other calm areas of the pond), I powder Spirulina Flakes and stir it into a cup of water, then pour this solution into the area the fish fry are at.

*Winter Pond Care

It is important in winter to keep at least a small section of your pond open for proper exchange of gasses (O2, CO2), if water can still flow into the pond through a water or aeration device, that will work. However if you live in an area of hard freezes, you may need a pond de-icer

*Pond Chemistry

Generally most Pond Fish such as Koi and Goldfish like a higher ph of about 7.8 (although a pH in the range of 6.8 to 8.0 is often acceptable). A well planted stable pond usually does not have problems with too high or too low a pH.

If your pH is too low, Sea Chem Marine Buffer can help (Wonder shells somewhat too). For large volumes of water, aragonite may be more cost effective.

For too high a pH, these are cost effective ways in a pond:

-Barley Straw (great for algae control too, although so-so for ph)

-Almond shells (this is really good for lowering ph, more effective than peat and with the side effect of being antibacterial)

-A veggie filter (this helps with a stable pH and produces nitric acid)

*Pond Bottom

Construction and make up of your pond can be done in three different ways (and there is no one best way; the best way fits your pond size needs, climate and budget).

A preformed pond is probably the most simple. With this method you basically dig a hole to the shape of the pond, remove sharp rocks, add sand for a cushion maybe cut a few holes on the size for bulk heads to add filtration and you’re ready to add rocks, filtration and décor. This style is good for small applications (usually under 250 gallons) and where roots or gophers may be a problem.

A pond liner made of PVC material or EPDM. I prefer the EPDM in a 45 mil. thickness.

With liners you can generally go up to a 1000 gallon pond. Preparation is similar to a preformed pond, however more care needs to taken with sharp rocks and a pre liner or sand should be used. Also in areas of high tree roots or gopher activity these can be compromised.

The other method is a concrete pond using rebar for support as well. This is probably the most expensive method however this is the method I recommend over 1000 gallons. I have subcontracted (installing the filtration) for many concrete ponds and it is important to use a good contractor or prepare and build this properly yourself as even a concrete pond that is poorly built can have problems. Make sure to not build a concrete pond on “fill” as the pond will often settle and *****. Also proper use of rebar is a must especially in ponds over 3000 gallons.

Bottom substrate:

I personally usually do not had a substrate per say, rather I allow the roots of potted plants (that will grow out of there pots) to collect there own debris. I do often add some zeolite or laterite both for absorption of some nutrients but also as an inexpensive plant root material.

*Spring Fed Pond

If you live in an area of natural springs or have creek flowing nearby, this can make for a very healthy, clear and natural pond. If it is possible to divert water into your pond (or just fill from below with a spring), this is always an excellent idea! This way you will likely maintain lower nitrates and phosphates, less algae, better Redox, and better electrolyte levels resulting in a more clear pond and healthier fish. Make sure to have an overflow or skimmer to remove excess water. If you have a well you can achieve similar results (or even use your well during the dry season when the spring or creek diversion dries up).

I also have achieved a similar effect with just plain tap water used in a very slow flow (a 10% water exchange per day or less will not show any ill effects from chlorine). Make sure this is not a problem with local water companies first, although the ponds I used tap water overflow on used less than 200 gallons per day (for a 2000 gallon pond) which is less than watering one’s lawn for an hour.

If with this method, filtration and circulation are still needed in my experience, although this often allows for a more simple filter (such a the Hydro-Pond Sponge Filter). A Veggie Filter is very usefull in this set-up too!

*Pond Predators

Herons have been the most common predator to my customer’s ponds that I have had to deal with. I do not like to add anything that detracts from the beauty of the ponds I maintained, so decoys were my first choice. I found Heron decoys worked well at not only scaring away Herons, but other predatory birds as well such as Cormorants. I also occasionally employed motion sensor scarecrows that connected to a water supply and then ******** ANYTHING that moved, this device also worked for dogs that would “play” in the pond (often destroying it and scaring fish), but was not as effective for raccoons.

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How To Build A Pond With A Waterfall

What type of pond

You should consider first what type of pond you want, in this case pond with waterfall feature. Would it be a home for fish and plants, these are things that you should take into consideration as well. But please keep in mind the most common mistake made when constructing a pond is the size, do not make it too small, if you decide to add fish at a later date, it will only make you more work as your pond may not be big enough.

Location

You will enjoy your pond more if you install it close to your home, or window, this way you can watch all the wild life visiting all year round. The pond needs to be located away from any drain pipes, keeping it away from any run off of rain, as this may contain contaminates. Also do not build your pond too near to trees as you will always have to be removing dead leaves and debris. Try to position your pond where it will receive a maximum amount of direct sunlight, this will aid the growth of plant life.

Determine the size and shape of your pond

This can easily be done by using a length of rope or string, or even a garden hose pipe. Lay the rope down where you require to the shape you want, you can then either peg the rope down, or use chalk powder. Now you can start to excavate, digging it to approximate six inch depth, making this the first shelf., this is called the coping shelf, dig down a further twelve inches making this the second shelf, and then a further six inches to the base of the pond. The reason for this shelving is for different types of plant life, and maybe the fish you are going to put into your pond. Remember a larger pond is more stable and easier to keep.

Construction

Once you have got your pond excavated and ready, you need to line the hole with soft sand, minimum of half an inch thickness, and pat down firmly. You are now ready to line your pond. You can buy pond liners from any good garden centre or pond specialist. Determining the size of your pond liner is simple, measure the maximum length and width, add the depth twice to these measurements, plus a foot or two for overlap and this will give you the size. Lay the liner into the bottom of the pond and feed it into the contours of the shape, remembering first to remove your shoes before getting into the pond. Once you have completed all the contours pushing the liner into the back of the shelves, keeping folds to a minimum, start to fill your pond.

Waterfall

This is the time to start construction of your waterfall, first we raise the level to make a slope for your waterfall, this can be achieved by either a pre-formed waterfall mould, or you can make it yourself by using stones, or soil remembering to shelve it up to the desired height, cover this with more soft sand then place either your preformed waterfall mould or rubber liner, making sure if you use the liner that you have it pushed well back into all the recesses. Then you can add an external water tank, which will re-circulate the water from the pond down through the water fall, to do this you will need either an electrical pump, or solar pump, you can both from a garden centres or pond specialists. The pump should be placed in the bottom of the pond with a feed pipe running to the waterfall tank, this pipe should be buried in the ground for safety reasons and not be unsightly,

The finishing touches

All around the pond, your first shelf which was called the coping shelf is now ready to have the coping stones put in place, these can either be decorative paving stone, or cobble stones, this holds the liner in place and gives wild life a way of climbing in and out of your pond. It does not harm adding a few stones onto the other shelves of your pond. This is also the time to add your plants such as water lilies, oxygenated plants and other decorative water plants that add colour to your pond throughout the year. Now you should link your pump to the power supply, switch on, and then you will see the water level go down, now add more water to just below the coping stones and then you have your final result.

Your pond will be a really nice relaxing feature in your garden, to watch and listen to on warm summer evenings.

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A Clear Pond; Proper Pond Maintenance, Filtration, and Chemistry

Keeping a clear pond in the warm or hot summer months involves these key ingredients for proper filtration:

[1] ADEQUATE WATER CIRCULATION AND MOVEMENT.

A general principle (not a rule) of about 50-200 gph per 100 gallons can work for this (A lower proportional gph for large ponds, a higher proportional gph for small ponds). This can be achieved with more than one pump and even a large aeration device (air stone). As for the air stone, I find they are excellent for vertical circulation, often better than water pumps of greater gph. A large double air pump such as a ReSun 9603, Million Air 600, Whisper 800, or Maxima with two air stones can circulate at a rate up to 500 gph. A way to check this is to place the air stone down a narrow PVC tube or aquarium lift tube, then place the top of the tube just above the water level and measure the rate the water fills up a gallon container (one gallon in 15 seconds= 240 gph).

A good water pump is the Via Aqua 2600, 3300 or 6500 hydrant pump. Both have sealed electromagnetic motors and ceramic shafts.

[2] GOOD FILTRATION.

I prefer pressurized pond filters such as the “Clear Stream” for their efficiency and ease of hiding in the ground. But there are many excellent filters available.

For small ponds (and even medium-large), large sponge filters are excellent bio filters and reasonable mechanical filters. They are inexpensive, easy to service, and simple to attach with either a power head pump or and air stone. There now is a specific Pond Sponge Filter called the”Hydro-Pond” there are two models; one air driven, one pump driven. They are useful up to 1500 gallons and more can be used for larger ponds or in combination with other filters.

Bio falls are also excellent pond filters. I do not recommend the old style Becket or Pond Master Submersible filters; they clog easily, are hard to service, and are not efficient filters. Multiple types of filtration are also excellent, such as a pressurized filter- bio falls combination, or a pressurized filter- sponge filter combination.

[3] PLANT FILTRATION (Often called Veggie Filters)

This is a very important part of pond keeping and filtration. A well planted and diversified planted pond is VERY important for clarity, pond and fish health, and even fish breeding. Any plant with a good root structure that grows fast and has the majority of their leaves above water is a good candidate to start with. I recommend water iris for their strong root structure, fast growth, great nutrient absorption, and a great place for baby fish (fry) to hide feed and grow. There are many other excellent plants as well such as bull rush. Make sure these types of plants (plants with roots in water and leaves above) are planted in an area of good, but not strong water movement. This ensures that they will do their job as plant filters.

Other plants such as lilies and hyacinth are excellent for nutrient removal too, but not at the rate of iris and similar plants. They are useful for shade, which will slow algae growth

[4] UV STERILIZATION.

Although not always necessary in a well planted, well shaded, well filter aquarium; they are still very useful. UVs help with algae control, disease prevention, and the Redox potential (which is important for fish health and proper filtration). For the UV to properly function in a pond, the flow rate should not exceed 20-45 gph per watt of UVC. In larger ponds with high flow rates I recommend more than one UV sterilizer, with a by-pass from the main line, connected in PARELLEL not in line together. For this reason, I also do not recommend the popular filters with built in UVs, as the flow rate is usually too high to work properly. A separate UV is always best! For more information about proper UV sterilization and how it works please visit this site; “WHY USE A UV STERILIZER”

Many times I have heard of complaints that their UV did not help with algae control, when I checked this client’s pond, I found inadequate filtration and an improperly installed UV sterilizer. Even a properly installed UV Sterilizer cannot over come poor filtration and a poorly planted pond. And many manufacturers make claims of high flow rates that are impossible for proper contact time.

[5] CLEANING (proper chemistry):

In a healthy pond, with a properly functioning nitrogen cycle, water changes can be minimal. I still recommend a water change of 10-20% per month on a healthy, fully functional pond. In a newer pond larger and more frequent changes may be necessary.

If your pond has a KH below 80 ppm and a pH below 7.0, I would first look to possible causes. One common one is the buildup of organic mulm on the bottom of the pond. The decomposition of this will produce nitric acids which will affect the pH and KH. Since most pond keeper have koi or goldfish, this is important to note, as both these fish do much better at a pH above 7.2 and need the calcium provided by the KH for proper osmotic function. See “Proper Calcium, Magnesium and KH in Aquariums” for more information about Calcium KH, and GH.

If a lot of leaves fall to the bottom of the pond vacuuming them or raking them out is important to prevent organic buildup.

Water changes also will help with pH and KH if your tap or well water is slightly alkaline and has a KH above 80 ppm.

A final note about KH, if your KH is below 80 ppm you will NOT have a healthy pond in the long term!

For much more, please read my vastly expanded Pond article with links to even more resources as well as pictures: A Clear Pond; Pond maintenance set-up, chemistry, filtration, predators and much much more.

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