Category Archives for "All Things Pond"

April 20, 2018

Japanese Koi Carp – Bred To Perfection

Japanese Koi Carp banner

Japanese KoiWhen I first went into the local pond outlet, walking past the registers and the racks of fish food and various pond products, I heard a sound that got my attention. The sound of rushing water was filling the room I was in. It was coming from the back if the store. I walked through the opening, and out into a display area filled ponds of all different sizes.

These were impressive displays each surrounded with magnificent plantings. The sound that had gotten my attention was coming from the back of the display area. As I made my way to the back of the store… there it was! The source of the sound. It was a waterfall display that drained into a large, deep pond filled with slow moving magnificent creatures. I was mesmerized by their beauty and grace as they slowly flowed about. It was from that moment on that I knew I HAD to have that.

These particular Koi were full-grown, approximately 26 inches in length. I counted 9 of them as they gracefully made their way around the natural pool. I was totally hooked! My only remedy would be to create this in my own backyard to enjoy on a daily basis.

Basic needs

Japanese Koi carpOnce you have made a decision to keep Koi, there are some things you need to keep in mind. The habitat necessary for keeping Koi can be a challenge depending on how fully stocked the pond will be. Some suggest that a pond or fountain needs to be a minimum of 1000 gallons in order to keep Koi. This is the bare minimum! I don’t think this is large enough to house one of these magnificent creatures.

Because of their size Koi require a habitat that allows them to swim, not only horizontally, but vertically as well. They need exercise just as we do. In order for that, their pond or tank should allow them to swim up and down. If a koi reaches say 26 inches in length, then his habitat should be twice as deep as his length to allow for proper exercise.

It is a great misconception that Koi will grow to the size of the tank or enclosure. Koi will grow to the size of that particular type. It would be an injustice to the fish if it were kept in a pond and barely had enough room to turn around. Although these are hardy fish, in order for them to thrive they generally require extensive filter systems to keep the water clean and clear.

The reason there is such an emphasis on water quality is because the Koi that we enjoy today are a result of generations and generations of inbreeding in order to achieve the desired color and scale pattern. As a result, the colorful Koi we see today have a weakened immune system. This makes water quality a number one concern to keep these fish healthy and thriving.

Achieving Great Water Quality

If your focus is to keep koi, then it is a good idea to include a bottom drain in your pond. This will help in the collection of fish waste and for proper water circulation. Another recommendation to maintain a high quality of water is the flow of the water.

Instead of a typical skimmer box/waterfall setup, it is recommended to have more than one outlet for the filtered water to flow back into the pond. By doing this it creates a swirling effect that forces debris to the bottom drain, while the skimmer box takes care of any floating debris. This is the best way to keep the water quality high. Below is a diagram of a typical setup. This is from the instruction manual of the UV light featured here. A UV light is also an essential part in keeping water quality high.

Build a Koi pond

Feeding

Koi, just like most other pets you keep can be trained. It is possible to train your fish to be hand fed. There is nothing like the bonding experience you get from have your Koi come to the surface and eat out of the palm of your hand.


Koi are omnivores which means they will eat just about anything. In order to keep your fish healthy, it’s important to feed them a balanced diet. Just like people, Koi need proteins, fats, carbs, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. When deciding on what food to give your Koi, choose one that provides balanced nutrition.

There are many types of koi food products on the market. Some float, some sink. I prefer the food that floats on the water. This allows you to enjoy your koi at feeding time and make sure they eat all that you give them. Uneaten food may sink to the bottom and cause excess waste, which is another reason I prefer the foo that floats.

If you would like to enhance their color, look for food that contains plankton, shrimp meal, marigold petals, and spirulina. These ingredients will bring out the natural colors in your fish. The ingredient that will have the largest effect is spirulina. This ingredient is known to turn the yellow into a rich gold, and orange deeper richer orange, and the red even deeper red. It is an all-round color boost!

History of Koi

Koi artworkKoi have traditionally symbolized wealth, success, and good fortune, along with determination and persistence.

The typical Japanese koi, actually originated in China.  Chinese ledgend has it that Koi swam up the waterfall and through the dragon gate where they were transformed into a dragon.  This story sybolizes many great traits such as independence.  The Koi went against the flow of the waterfall to reach its desired goal. the fact that the Koi swam up the waterfall is where the idea that Koi is a symbol of strength originated.

Koi carp were kept in Chinese rice fields in the 17th century as a food source. Hardy Carp are very resilient and easy to keep making them ideal to keep in the rice fields. These fish are so hardy that they are found all over the world, surviving in all types of climates. The Japanese Koi that we know today are actually ancestors of those carp from China. In the wild carp are naturally brown.

Eventually the practice of keeping Koi carp as a food source spread to Japan. The Japanese noticed slight color variations in some carp. Using selective breeding techniques the Japanese have brought about the amazing color variations that we see today. So in essence the Japanese Koi we see today are merely mutated carp that origtinated in China.

Koi selective breeding results by Seishu Kataoka

Seishu Kataoka Gene Tree

Breeding

This is a topic that is more expansive than I would like to get into in this article. That being said I will just point out some basic points of the breeding process.

Koi typically become sexually active when they are around three to four years old. Typically, Koi will mate and produce offspring all the way up to age 15. The water temperature needs to reach 60 – 70 degrees F. Mating takes place during late spring or early summer.

koi fryIf your purpose it to breed Koi, you will need more specialized equipment for keeping the water optimal. You will also need multiple tanks to separate the mating couples. Koi like to have their privacy during the mating cycle. It is also important to provide them with a fry mate to encourage them to lay their eggs with confidence.

The fry must then be protected after hatching. Not just from predators, but also from getting sucked up into the filtration system. This can be accomplished with the use of fine netting.

Simply for the love of it

Throughout history Koi have been a symbol of prosperity and success, and I can see why. Since my first encounter with these magnificent animals I was hooked. I knew what I wanted. Their beautiful colors and graceful movement is mesmerizing.

Japanese Koi pond

People are passionate about their Koi ponds. The problem with Koi is once you get the fever, the obsession will continue to grow! I would love to hear what you think about keeping these enchanting creatures. Do you have any experience with the keeping these wonderful fish? How about any added advice you would like to pass on to others?  Thank you for reading, please leave any comments below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

April 12, 2018

Pond Algae Control – UV Light Installation

pond algae control before and after

The Answer to Your Prayers

crystal clear waterYou go out to the edge of your pond, expecting to watch your fish gracefully swim about. Then you realize you really can’t see much of anything. Even in the shallow depths, all that exists is a fog of green! Pond algae control is a MUST!  Nothing is more frustrating than spending time, money and energy putting in a pond and then have it turn into pea soup in a matter of weeks. The green pond water you see is caused by free floating algae in the water.

Pond algae control can be a daunting task. I’ve tried various chemical treatments, with minimal to no luck. This year is going to be different! Below is a video of how I fixed my algae problem for good.

Crystal Clear Water – Two Letters… UV

Clearing green pond water without the use of chemicals was my ultimate goal. I picked up a UV light on clearance at the end of the season last year, and have been patiently waiting for spring to install it.  Below is a picture straight out of the sterilizer manual showing its effective light range:

UV light sterilization range

I am going to walk through a typical installation for a UV light. The purpose of a UV light in a pond installation is to remove any free floating algae, and kill various parasites that may be present in the pond water. When selecting what light is best for you, be sure to calculate the size of your pond in gallons. If you don’t know the formula or how to calculate the size of your pond, use our pond calculator.

Once the size of your pond is determined then you can size the light accordingly. It’s better to have a more powerful light than a light that is under powered for proper functioning.

When You Tried Everything

The use of a UV light was a last resort for me. I had an algae problem last year and it turned my water to pea soup. The only time I saw my fish was at feeding time, when they came to the surface. The algae does not harm the fish, but it makes me mental!

Below are the various ways you could potentially hook up your UV light. The setup I used was based on the layout of my pond. There are many ways to implement the use of a UV filter based on your ponds configuration. Here are three different configurations based on pond size. The pictures are from the UV light manual. Click here to download it.

Example #1

For ponds that are smaller, typically 1,000 gallons or less. These types of ponds usually have a pump in the bottom of the pond. Just be sure there is some sort of prefilter to stop large particles of debris from getting lodged in the light.

small pond UV light setup
Example #2

For medium-sized ponds, generally ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 gallons. This set up is for the use with a skimmer box and a waterfall unit. This is the setup I used in my pond. It works well because the water passing through the light has already gone through the skimmer box and has been filtered.

Medium pond UV light setup
Example #3

For larger ponds, 5,000 gallons or more. These setups have a bottom drain and skimmer box, along with multiple return lines to keep the water circulating.

Large pond UV light set up
The diversion manifold seen in example 2 is necessary to ensure proper flow rate through the light. Most waterfall pumps are too powerful to pump straight through the light thus reducing its effectiveness.

Green to Clear in 3-5 Days… Guaranteed!

It is important to understand the proper flow rate through your lighting system. If the rate is too high then the light cannot do its job effectively. The flow rate must be at or below recommended for this guarantee to be honored.

My return line is 2” (Line from skimmer box to waterfall), so I wanted to maintain that, and divert some water through the UV filter. By adding the PVC ball valves, it allows me to have more control over the whole system. I can now slow my waterfall down to a slow trickle if that’s the mood I want to set.

The flow rate through this particular filter is 589 – 983 GPH. My pump is running at 5200 GPH, so putting the light straight in line with my return line will not be effective. It is necessary to divert some water to flow through the light at a reduced rate. By diverting some water through the light, there was no real noticeable difference in water flow from the waterfall.

Before You Change Anything

Keep in mind that every time water that is pumped through your system goes through a 90 degree turn it loses some power. Keep this in mind if you plan on taking your return line through a lot of 90 degree turns.

Below are the specs for this particular brand of UV light. Always be sure to check the specs before purchasing. I used a 40 watt light because my pond is approximately 2,700 gallons.

UV light specs
The main line is a 2” line, while the lines that run through the UV filter are reduced to 1.5”. This is because the water flowing through the light isn’t 100% of the water in the system. The light used has a specific recommended flow rate. It is large enough to handle the flow through the filter without being too large.

Another Option

A submersible light is another option for people that my have everything in place and don’t want to disturb the surrounding landscape.  This submersible light can be placed directly in the water.  It will require its own pump, or water could be routed through it using the existing plumbing.  Just be sure to get the proper size for your pond and be sure the flow rate is not too fast so the light can do what it was designed to do.  If your flow rate is too great the light will not be as effective as it could be.

Follow up

It is recommended that the light bulbs be changed every 13 months of operation. That gives me 2 years of bulb life. If you live in a warmer climate where you can enjoy your pond longer than 6 months a year, you will need to change the bulbs more often. SO…. drum roll… Here are the results!

UV light before and after
As you can see, the light has been really effective! I am super pleased with the results. I recommend this to anyone with a pond who wants crystal clear water. Once this light is in place, pond algae control is a thing of the past!

If you have any questions about installing a UV light, or would just like to share your own experiences, I would love to hear from you. Please leave me a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks for reading.

March 8, 2018

Pond Maintenance Supplies

clear water pond

My goal is to help you achieve a crystal clear pond with as little effort as possible, so you have more time to sit back and enjoy it. The pond you have created is beautiful yes, but unlike a natural pond, it lacks the introduction of fresh water. In nature a pond is fed by a stream or spring, constantly introducing a fresh water source. As a result of that, other water is flushed away, taking with it waste and other toxins. Your pond is a closed system and therefore needs a little help to keep the ecosystem balanced. Here are some products that will assist you in doing that:

pond sludgeSludge

This is a problem that can take over your pond. It can also cause unnecessary stress for your fish. This nasty stuff, made up of debris, fallen leaves and dead algae that winds up in every nook and cranny of your pond. It robs the water of oxygen while its decomposing.


API Pond Sludge Destroyer

Sludge Destroyer is safe for pets and wildlife. This product is a super concentrated blend of barley and bacteria that removes sludge build up. It breaks down fish waste, leaves, grass clippings, and dead algae. When used on a regular basis this product will cut down on maintenance so you will have more time to enjoy your water garden.

Check here for the most up to date price (affiliate link to Amazon).

sludge destroyer


Oase Pondovac 4 Pond Vacuum

If you’ve tried the sludge remover and it just isn’t working fast enough, or you pond is extremely built up with sludge, then a pond vacuum may help you achieve that clean pond you dream of without draining the water, disrupting the ecosystem. This will remove pine needles, leaves, fish waste and excess dirt. Suck up waste and leave the discharge line in the lawn. This vacuum is safe to use on a pond with a liner, or a stone / rock bottom.

Oase Pondovac 4 Pond Vacuum CleanerCheck for the best price here (link to Amazon)


Barley straw

This is a natural algae preventative. barley straw does not kill algae, it only prevents it from growing, Just add this to the water as a preventative measure. As the barley straw decays it releases chemicals that are known to stop algae from growing. This is a very cost effective way to control the algae in your pond. Each of these bales will treat 1000 gallons for up to 5 months.

Barley straw

These work surprisingly well and I recommend them to all my clients. Pick yours up here (Amazon link) and keep your water clear all season long.


UV Clarifier

If you already have and algae problem and want to clear the water without the use of chemicals, a UV clarifier is the way to go. The Ultraviolet light (link to an article I wrote about UV lights) breaks the cell walls of the algae as it passes through the clarifier thus destroying it. Depending on the severity of the problem, the water should clear in 3 to 5 days, sometimes it can happen overnight. The model below is sized to sterilize 3,000 gallons. This is the size used for the pond in the DIY how to build a pond article.

UV clarifier


Pond Master Test Kit

This kit has everything you need to keep your pond healthy. It measures pH levels, ammonia, phosphate and nitrate to help you provide optimum water conditions to keep your pond at its best. This kit has enough supplies to run 500 tests. Simply add the specific test solution to your sample and compare the color with the provided chart. This kit is essential to make sure your water is at its best. Even if you eliminate algae, you may still have problems you are unaware of.

API pondmaster test kitBe sure you have the best quality water with the proper PH so your fish and plants will not only survive, they will thrive. Get your test kit here (Amazon link)


5 in 1 Pond Test Strips

For a quick glimpse into how healthy the water in your pond is, these strips are easy to use. Use these for weekly monitoring of your water.

API POND 5 IN 1 POND TEST STRIPS Pond Water Test Strips 25-CountYou can pick them up here (link to Amazon for the beast deal) and give yourself the assurance that you have great water quality.


Chlorine Remover

This is a must have for any pond owner. Use it every time you add public water to your pond to keep everything safe from harm. Depending on the size of your pond 10 oz treats 1000 gallons. If you are going to do a water change, this is necessary for the safety of your pond. Be sure to use it before adding any beneficial bacteria. The chlorine in the public water will harm the bacteria you add.

Get some before your next water change here. (Amazon link)


Beneficial Bacteria

This should be added on a regular basis throughout the season to keep your pond running smoothly. It will help with the breakdown of fish waste and boost your biological filter to help maintain balance in the ecosystem. The item below will treat one acre that’s 4 – 6 feet deep. Use once a week to give your pond that extra boost. One container will last an entire summer depending on the size of your pond.

beneficial pond bacteriaIf you aren’t using a pond vacuum to remove excess waste, this is the next best thing. Get some before your pond gets out of hand. Here (Amazon link) is the best place to find it.

In Conclusion

I hope this list of pond maintenance supplies has been helpful. The goal is to keep your pond looking its best with as little work as possible. With the use of these products you will spend more time enjoying your pond, and less time maintaining it. If you have any experience with pond maintenance and would like to share what products you use, I would love to hear about it. Please leave a comment below and I will be happy to get back to you as soon as possible.


March 6, 2018

Natural Pond Maintenance – Easy Steps For Minimal Work

spring pond clean up

spring pond cleanup

Wouldn’t it be best if you used Natural Pond Maintenance to get your pond back looking its best for the upcoming season.  It’s almost time for spring cleaning.  A chance to go through all of your mechanical and electrical systems and make sure everything will be running smoothly in the days ahead. Get your pond looking as good as the day you first started your waterfall.

If your pond looks like an old cup of tea, caused by leaves and other debris that have accumulated over the winter months. Now is the time to hit the reset button and bring everything back to its original luster.

Spring Pond Clean Up – Made Easy

autumnWhen the last of the snow melts and you start to get the itch to get out of the house and start breathing in that fresh air, you know it’s a good time to bring your water garden back to life.

My biggest problem is the climate where I live. Winter comes in quickly. It’s usually snowing before all the trees have lost their leaves. Because of this I am not able to complete a fall cleaning. I place a net over the pond in the fall to reduce the amount of leaves and debris that fall in. This works fairly well, however for me the spring is when the majority of my cleaning is done.

There is a lot of misinformation out there about pond cleaning in the spring. The fact is the most aggressive cleaning should be done in the fall before winter sets in. The reason for this is that removing dead leaves and sludge from the bottom is essential for your fishes’ survival during the winter season. If the pond freezes over, it caps it off and the gasses that naturally escape and evaporate into the air are trapped in the water. This increases the level of nitrogen, and the amount of oxygen in the water decreases.

Don’t Take Advise From Just Anyone

frog and butterflySome major brands that manufacture pond supplies recommend draining your pond completely to clean it for the season. This should almost never be done. In fact, it should be a last case scenario. Your pond should never be fully drained.

Test your pond water to see how “dirty” it truly is. Reasons to test your pond water are as follows:

  • The pond water looks like a cup of tea from leaves and other debris
  • The water is black
  • The water is green
  • There is an overabundance of sticks leaves and other debris settled on the bottom

Keep in mind that a spring cleaning isn’t one hundred percent necessary every year. If the fall cleaning was performed properly, it may only require minimal effort. Some people do every two years or so. It all depends on your personal preference, and how “bad” your pond needs to be cleaned. If you have minimal debris in your pond that can be easily cleaned out with a net and your water is still fairly clear, then by all means, just do some minimal cleanup and be done.

Spring Cleaning DON’TS

Your pond is filled with millions of microorganisms all trying to break down the sludge and other material in your pond. When you “spring-clean” your pond, its imperative that you don’t drain it completely. Even though your water may “look” dirty, you will be doing your pond a disservice if you drain it, and refill it. Doing this, resets the nitrogen cycle and takes that much longer for the bacteria to reestablish itself and do its job, maintaining a balanced ecosystem.

Do not drain your pondThe water in your pond should never be completely drained. Even draining half of the water will cause a reduction in the amount of beneficial bacteria, causing a reduction in the ability of your biological filter to work at its optimum potential. The ideal situation is natural pond maintenance taking place on its own.

If you have a pond that is heavily stocked with fish, frequent, smaller water changes may be your only option to maintain the water and to keep the harmful ammonia levels at bay. Fish produce considerable waste, mainly in the summer when their metabolism is at its peak. If your pond is over run with fish, small water changes are a necessary evil. The water used to refill the pond will most likely be from a public water facility which is loaded with chlorine. This will further eliminate the bacteria, and is harmful to fish. Just be sure to use a water conditioner that will remove the chlorine.

Spring Pond Clean Up – What to do

oase pondovac 4 pond vacuum cleanerUsing a net, remove as much debris as possible from the bottom of your pond. If you have considerable buildup of sludge on the bottom, you may need to use a pond vacuum like the Oase Pondavac to clean more thoroughly. This is a helpful tool and comes with various attachments to get into hard to reach places. This allows you to clean your pond with the water still in it. Once all the sludge and debris is removed, go ahead and check the water quality with a pond test kit. These are similar to the same kind of kits used for checking the quality of pool water, but instead they check for pH., ammonia, nitrate, and phosphate. Click here for products related to pond maintenance.

Make Pond Water Clear – And Keep It That Way

Pond skimmer boxThere are a few tools that will help keep your pond looking its best after you have completed your spring cleaning. The first is your skimmer box. This is your first line of defense against unwanted debris in your pond. It works continuously to remove material from the water’s surface before it gets a chance to settle to the bottom. Be mindful that the filter media in your skimmer box should rarely be cleaned. The beneficial bacteria that reside there, are doing their job and should be disturbed as little as possible. Cleaning out the net is necessary on a regular basis.

UV filterOne more consistent problem is the constant battle against algae blooms. To combat this, the use of a UV clarifier may be required. Follow this link to an article I wrote about UV lights.

This is the safest way to eliminate algae, without using chemicals. The light from the UV filter breaks down the algae on a cellular level, destroying it as it passes through. This device can be placed in line with your water return line. All you need is a few PVC fittings to divert some of your water through the filter, and you are in business.

The other way to control algae blooms is through the use of other plantings. This is the most beautiful way to eliminate algae. By having your pond planted heavily, this will reduce the amount of free floating nutrients, starving the algae, thus leaving your water clear.

Final Thoughts:

well planted pondIf your goal is a low maintenance, beautiful pond full of healthy fish and thriving plants, then be sure not to drain your pond. Do not listen to what the majority of pond equipment manufacturers say. Remember, they are in the business of selling equipment, not pond life biology. The maintenance of your pond should actually be less intensive than caring for the grass that was there before it.  If you have any tips of your own, or have any first- hand experience with spring cleaning your pond, please leave a comment below. Even if you disagree with me, I would be happy to listen to another perspective. I encourage you to leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

February 28, 2018

Patriot Large Koi Pond Kit

patriot large koi pond kit

Patriot

20 x 25 Large Koi Pond Kit 5500 GPH Pump Big Bahama 26 Inch Waterfall and PondBuilder Skimmer LH2

Backyard garden pond kits are the easiest way to get started creating your perfect backyard retreat. There are lots of choices and sizes available. Hopefully this review will help you choose the right backyard pond waterfall kit for you.  The pond featured in the DIY tutorial was a kit. The specs can be found below. If you aren’t a seasoned professional, it takes a lot of the guess work out of selecting the right equipment. Another reason to go this route would be the assurance that all the parts will go together, and you have everything you will need to complete your project.

Patriot Large Koi Pond KitIncluded with this kit:

  • 20’ x 25’ 45mil Anjon Lifeguard EPDM pond liner
  • 20’ x 25’ Underguard geotextile underlayment
  • Big frog Eco drive 5,500 GPH pump
  • 26” Big Bahama filtering waterfall
  • Pondbuilder 8” skimmer
  • 25’ of 2” flexible pipe
  • waterfall foam
  • 1 submersible light
  • 1 check valve
  • Starter bacteria
  • All necessary fittings, hardware and installation instructions

This kit will build a typical 13’ x 18’ fish pond with an average depth of 3’. The perfect size to keep fish. This will be a 5,250 – gallon pond. Keep in mind it’s easier to maintain a larger volume of water than a smaller one due to the fact that less water allows for big swings in the health of the water and temperature.

20’ x 25’ 45mil Anjon Lifeguard EPDM pond liner – This is the choice of professional pond builders and do it yourselfers alike. This pond is warranted for life as long as it is used in conjunction with the provided underlayment.

big frog pumpBig frog Eco drive 5,500 GPH pump – This pump has high quality seals, and uses no oil so it is safe for fish. Contains an overload sensor to prevent pump burn out. It is engineered for 24-hour continuous use. Low energy consumption, and will pass through objects up to ¼”.

exploded view big bahama waterfallBig Bahama filtering waterfall – The BB2600 is from Atlantics’ pro series. It offers a 2” bulkhead for maximum water flow. This unit provides biological water filtration. The bio-tech mats help in creating ecosystem balance. This unit can be easily hidden into the landscape, while at the same time giving you ease of access which aids in routine maintenance. Comes with a lifetime warranty for the enclosure. Dimensions: 34.5” L x 25” W x 23” H

Pondbuilder 8” skimmer – From Pondbuilders’ Elite series, these are designed to skim away any debris before it has a chance to fall to the bottom of your pond. This skimmer offers 2 stage mechanical filtration, when working in conjunction with the biological filtration provided by the waterfall unit, creates a perfect balance for a crystal clear pond. This skimmer box houses the pump and protects it. The Pondbuilder skimmer also comes with a natural cover lid to blend into the surrounding landscape.

backyard waterfallWaterfall Foam – This is essential when building your pond with a waterfall. The foam is used to make sure the water flows over your falls, and not behind it. Also it is vital to add to the stability of your stone and rock work, stabilizing as you build. The dark grey foam is easily camouflaged into the landscape.

Submersible Light – This extends your enjoyment of your water feature into the evening and night hours. Low energy consumption and bright light. Watch your fish swim at night.

Check Valve – This attaches to your pump to prevent water from flowing backwards from your waterfall into your skimmer box if there is ever a power failure.

Pros:

  • Price
  • Convenience

Cons:

  • Realizing you should have gone bigger!

The Verdict:

This Kio pond kit truly is everything you need to get your pond up and running besides the rocks. Above is a picture of what can be accomplished using this pond kit.  When priced individually this kit would cost upwards of $1,600 and that’s not even including all the pipe fittings and light. Save yourself time and money, and do what I did. Purchase a pond kit for your project, and start building your at home getaway today! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will get back to you. Best of luck on your future projects!

February 25, 2018

Pond Plants

pink water lily bloom floating on a calm pond

Pond Plants

water lillyPond plants, the vegetation found in and around a pond or water garden can be broken down into four categories. Bog, marginal, submerged and floating

The Biological Filter – Controlling Algae – The Natural Way

This type of filter works by creating an environment where beneficial bacteria can thrive. These beneficial bacteria in turn devour any excess nutrients available. This starves any algae or prevents it from growing in the first place.

To build this type of filter it you will need to create a man-made bog to house the plants that will act as your filter. Use a pond liner and create a reservoir where the pump return line enters the pond. This is typically located above the pond to create a waterfall. Your bog filter will take the place of your waterfall apparatus that comes with most pond kits. Nothing is more efficient than mother nature, that’s why a bog filter is such a great way to keep your pond clear.

bog filter example

The above diagram can be found at http://nelsonwatergardens.com/event/gravel-bog-filtration/

The reservoir only needs to be 8 – 12 inches deep. This is where the bog plants will be housed. Their root system turns waste into plant food, detoxifying the water. It also uses up much of the excess nutrients to cut down on algae growth.

Patience Pays Off

It may take a season for your plants to get established, but once they do the benefit outweighs the cost. With much less maintenance, and a crystal clear pond. The maintenance will consist of trimming the plants back a couple times per year. Another benefit they create is the beautiful backdrop they provide for your pond.

Before selecting any plants for your water garden its important to know what region you live in so your new plants have a better chance of survival. Below is a region map of the United States. Don’t get too caught up in the numbers. If a plant is zone 4 and you live in zone 3, just be sure to plant it in a place where it would be a little more protected from the elements. Here is a map of the United States. To get maps of other areas, click on the picture below.

USDA plant hardiness Zone

Bog Garden Plants

Bog plants are plants that thrive in wet soil or shallow water. They can be used to soften the border between land and water. These will be the plants to include in your bog filter. Below is my bog plants list.

blue wood sageBlue wood sedge (Carex flaccosperma) – Zones 5- 8, from New Jersey to northern Florida. Great for bordering ponds.

blue moneywartBlue Moneywort (Lindernia grandiflora) – Zones 7a – 10b, Blooms are under 1” and the plant height is 2 – 3 inches.

blue rushBlue Rush (Juncus effuses) – Zones 4a – 9b, plant height 12” – 18”

bog lillyBog Lilly (Andromeda polifolia)- Zones 2a – 6b a flowering shrub that grows 16” – 30”

Chinese water chestnutChinese Water Chestnut (Castanea mollissima) – Zones 4a – 8b

corkscrew rushCorkscrew Rush (Juncus effuses) – Zones 4a – 9b a low growing aquatic perennial reaching 8” tall.

Creeping JennyCreeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) – Zones 3a – 8b a groundcover perennial reaching 3” – 4” in height.

dwarf cattailsDwarf Cattail (Typha minima) – Zones 3a – 9b growing up to 18” high.

lizards tailLizard’s Tail (Saururus cernuus) – Zones 5a – 11 an aquatic perennial reaching 2’ – 4’ in height. Does well in standing water.

Japanese irisJapanese Iris (Iris japonica) – Zones 7a – 10b plant as a bulb growing to a height of 10” – 12”

Louisisiana irisLouisiana Iris (Iris Louisiana hybrid) – Zones 6a – 9b A tall iris growing anywhere from 18” – 60”

red stem sagittariaRed Stemmed Sagittaria (Sagittaria australis) – Zones 6a – 11 beautiful foliage growing 1’ – 3’ high.

ribbon grassRibbon Grass (Aspidistra minutiflora) – Zones 8a – 10b perennial grass reaching a height of 24” – 32”

ruby creeperRuby Creeper (Parthenocissus henryana) – Zones 6a – 9b This is a vine that reaches a height of 15’ – 20’ and expands to a width of 15’

Marginal Plants

These are plants would typically be seen growing on the outskirts of a water garden or pond. There is an abundance of these types of plants. Even some bog plants mentioned above would fall into this category. They add color and charm, and attract humming birds, and butterflies. They help to soften the edge and make your water feature feel more natural.

Submerged – Oxygenating Pond Plants

hornwortThis type of plant is necessary to keep your pond in good condition. These plants provide oxygen for fish and other living creatures within your pond. They also help with natural filtration. Another benefit is they also provide shelter and a place for fish to hide from predators.

Hornwort is a great example of a submerged plant that helps oxygenate the water. Throwing a few weighted bundles of these into your pond will help keep fish healthy and thriving. This plant is very common at any pond retailer, or can be purchased online.

Floating Plants

These plants are unusual for the fact that they don’t require soil. They simply leech nutrients directly from the water they are floating in. In general these plants spread rapidly and provide shade from the hot summer sun and protection from predators.

  • Water lettuce – A perennial in warm climates, however in colder climates it will need to be brought in during the winter. The roots dangle in the water, absorbing nutrients to help reduce algae growth, while at the same time providing oxygen.
  • Water lilies – This is what most people think of when they think of a pond. There are a multitude of varieties of these. The color of the blooms also varies depending on the type. Water lilies are not exactly a floating plant even though the foliage is above the surface.
  • Water hyacinthWater hyacinth – These plants have beautiful purple blooms, and dark green foliage. Another great thing about them is how fast they spread. If you live in a cooler climate they will not last through the winter, and will need to be brought inside if you want them to last.

floating pond plant containersOne issue with this type of plant is the fact that they are floating.  As a result they could easily get sucked into your skimmer box. To avoid this, use floating pond plant containers (link to amazon). These are nothing more than a floating ring that keeps the individual plants together and makes a large circle of plants. By keeping all the plants together it is too large to be pulled into the skimmer box.

In Conclusion

No matter how you decide to plant in and around your pond, it’s no wonder that pond plants are a necessary part of the landscape. Mother nature is unsurpassed in her ability to provide an efficient system to take care of itself. By providing the right mix of plants you can make your water garden pond virtually maintenance free. Please leave any questions or comments below, and I will get back to you. Thanks for reading, and happy gardening.

February 2, 2018

Garden Waterfall Pumps – The Heartbeat of Your Pond

AquaSurge 5000

Garden waterfall pumps come in all shapes and sizes. This article will help you learn what to look for when planning your backyard water garden, so you can create the feature of your dreams.

Garden Waterfall Pumps – Let There Be Life


Before we start the discussion, it’s a good idea to have your pond on its own dedicated GFCI protected electrical circuit. Some larger pumps can draw quite a bit of power.

First thing to do is decide what kind of pond or water garden you want. Are you picturing a quiet trickle, so you can still hear the birds singing, or a rushing falls that creates a lot of white noise. Remember when choosing a garden waterfall pump, you can always place an inline flow valve to adjust the rate of water flow. You can always slow the water down, but you can not make it flow faster than the pump will allow, so be sure to get a pump that surpasses your needs if possible.

When I built my pond, I didn’t realize the impact a rushing waterfall would have on the noise level. Now my backyard is filled with white noise. It’s a soothing sound, but I don’t hear the birds singing … or the kids arguing, so it’s not all bad!

The Technical Stuff


computer components Submersible waterfall pumps are measured by gallons per hour (gph). The higher the gph, the more powerful the pump. There is also a measurement for head height. This is the maximum height that the pump can pump from your skimmer box to your waterfall feature.

Think of it like driving a car. When you are driving down a flat road, you keep your foot on the gas at a minimum to maintain your speed. Now when you approach a hill, you have to step on the gas to maintain the same speed as you ascend. Using this logic, you will need a pump that will push enough water through and up so you can achieve your desired result. This is known as head.

When doing your final calculations, know that you will need 1′ of head for every 90 degree turn in your line, as well as 1′ of head for every 10′ of length in your return line.

Go With The Flow

Depending on the type of waterfall you desire, decide on a flow rate. Then you multiply your GPH by the width of the spillway. Here are some examples of a typical 24-inch wide waterfall spillways at different flow rates:

  • Slow flow with a 24″ spillway is 100 GPH so: 24″ X 100 GPH = 2,400 GPH
  • Moderate flow with a 24″ spillway 150 GPH so: 24″ X 150 GPH = 3,600 GPH
  • Rushing flow with a 24″ spillway is 200 GPH so: 24″ X 200 GPH = 4,800GPH

When designing and building your pond, you also will need the proper sized water line. The larger the line, the less restricted the water flow. In other words a 2″ water line will push more water through it than a 1.5″ water line, regardless of the size of your pump. Your system will only be as powerful as its weakest link. If you have a powerful pump and a small water line your flow will be hindered, as well as a large water line and a weak submersible water pump.
Below is a chart for the recommended size water line to be used for a waterfall return line based on your desired flow rate:

Choosing The Right Pump


Using all that we’ve discussed above, its time to put everything together before you make your choice of which pump to purchase. To calculate it use the following formula:

Height of the waterfall + 1′ for every 90 degree turn + 1′ for every 10′ of line used

This means you will need a pump that has your desired GPH at the given feet of head. For example:

For a moderate flowing waterfall that is 3′ high and has 2 elbows and 15′ of water line, you will need a pump that produces 3,600 GPH at 6.5′ of head. This can be found in the specs of any given pump you intend to purchase.

Building Out Your System


Another thing to be sure of, is that your pump is circulating the water completely at least once every hour. To be sure this happens get a pump whose GPH exceeds the volume of your water garden. One cubic foot of space takes 7.43 gallons of water to fill. Knowing that, depending on the shape of your pond, use the following formulas (all calculations are done in feet)

For a rectangular pond: length x width x average depth x 7.43 = Total volume in gallons

For an oval pond: 0.8 x length x width x average depth x 7.43 = Total volume in gallons

This helps to maintain a healthy pond. Also, moving water cuts down on mosquitoes and other pests.

Product Reviews


Now that you know what you are looking for, here is a comparison of some popular garden waterfall pumps, submersible and ready for action .  Any one of these will get you started in the right direction.

We are comparing a few different style pumps all with similar GPH to compare. It’s good to compare “apples to apples”. The head height to GPH ratio chart for each pump is for the whole family of that brand of pump.

I’m only comparing pumps that are in the 5200 GPH range, because that is what I am most familiar with. That is the GPH of the pump featured in the how to build a pond tutorial.

Alpine Pumps

Alpine pumps come in wide array of sizes to meet all of your needs.Alpine waterfall pump

Features:

  • Submersible water pump with energy efficient design
  • Ceramic impeller shafts for long life
  • Vortex impeller has a large pre-filter
  • Vortex can be dissembled without tools
  • Available in 2100 to 8000 GPH sizes
  • 10 in. L x 6 in. W x 7 in. H
  • Pump can be used vertical or horizontal

Alpine PAL5200 5200GPH Cyclone Pump, 33′


Aquasurge by Aquascape

AquaSurge 5000

Features:

  • 5,284 GPH max flow rate
  • 24′ max head height
  • Asynchronous motor
  • 360 watts
  • 3 Amps
  • 20′ power cord
  • 1.5″ discharge diameter
  • dimensions 12 x 5.5 x 7 inches (LxWxH)
  • 3 year Warranty

This pump also features a variable water flow controller, so you adjust flow rate on the fly!

Aquascape AquaSurge 5000 GPH Submersible Pond Pump 91020 with Exclusive BONUS Promotional Magnet Calendar


Patriot

Aqua Pulse 5200 GPH Hybrid Drive Submersible Pump – Up To 5,200 GPH Max Flow

Features:Patriot waterfall pump

  • High flow, energy efficient hybrid drive technology combines the high flow characteristics of a direct drive pump with the energy saving efficiency of a mag drive pump
  • Asynchronous drive motor can be controlled with variable speed controller (not included) that permits you to increase or decrease pump flow as needed
  • Impeller passes solids to .25″. Engineered for 24-hour continuous use; overload sensor prevents burnout
  • Contains no oil; completely safe for fish, wildlife and aquatic plants
  • 2-year manufacturer’s warranty

Aqua Pulse 5200 GPH Hybrid Drive Submersible Pump – Up To 5,200 GPH Max Flow

Monsoon by Anjon Manufacturing

MS5200 5200GPH Submersible Fish Pond Pump (This is the pump used in how to build a pond project)

Features:

  • Engineered for 24 hour continuous use, Passes solids up to 1/4″ in diameter because of the vortex impeller for tough-torque flow.
  • High quality seals for long and efficient pump life.
  • Power Cord length 30 feet, Overload sensor shut-off protection to keep pump from overheating or burning out.
  • Full 2-year warranty, Contains no oil – Fish safe.
  • 420 Watts, 5,200 GPH at 5′ – 24′ Max Head, 1.5″ OutPut.
  • Passes solids up to 1/4″ in diameter because of the vortex impeller for tough-torque flow
  • Overload sensor shut-off protection

Monsoon MS5200 5200GPH Submersible Fish Pond Pump

Side By Side Comparison of Features



It’s YOUR Vision


Whether you decide on a babbling brook, or white water falls, your garden waterfall pump is truly the heart of your project. It’s what brings your garden pond to life. This is about you and your vision of the little piece of paradise you will be creating. If you have any first hand experience with any of these products, or have a suggestion for a better one, please leave a comment or question below and i will be happy to get back to you as soon as possible.  Best of luck with your projects!

January 27, 2018

Koi Pond Liner – To Fish Or Not To Fish

Finding the right koi pond liner is key to the success of keeping these magnificent animals.  If you plan on keeping koi or goldfish for that matter here are some things to keep in mind when deciding what liner will work best for your particular application. When building your backyard water garden pond, be sure to use our pond calculator. The calculations below explain how this is determined and how much liner you will need for your project.

Free form Pond liners


All garden pond liners are not created equal. If you use a preformed liner, then the shape and size has already been decided for you. These are like large black bathtubs to be placed in the ground. This liner would be used in a smaller space and installation is less labor intensive. This option is also the most budget friendly. If you have a small space you could also just use a small pond liner, like the options listed below.

The next three options are similar, in that they are a flexible liner that form to the shape you have created. After you have chosen your site the size of the liner must then be calculated. These types of liners will fit just about any shape.

To calculate how big of a liner you need in feet, use the formula: 2(depth)+length+3 and 2(depth)+width+3. For example, to create a water garden that is 10 feet wide by 15 feet long and 3 feet deep it would be 2(3) + 10 + 3 by 2(3) + 15 + 3. You would need 19’ x 24’ liner. The reason 3 feet is added to both length and width is to be sure there is at least a 18-inch overhang of liner per side. It’s better to have a little too much than not enough.

Here is an overview of the three kinds of flexible koi pond liners available:

PVC – polyvinyl chloride


Of the flexible liners these are the least expensive, and more puncture resistant than the EPDM liner. They can also be “welded” together to cover large areas. According to btliners.com some drawbacks for this type of liner are they may contain trace amounts of arsenic, and are not safe for fish. These liners are not suitable for colder climates. Follow the links below for availability and price:


EPDM pond liners – (45 mil) ethylene propylene diene monomer

This type of liner is made from rubber. It has been the “go to” material for pond builders. This type of liner was used in the “how to build your water garden” series in the DIY section. It requires an under-layment material to protect it from direct ground contact, which could cause punctures. When purchasing this liner be sure to purchase the same size under-layment. It is U.V. stable, which means it won’t break down from the sun beating down on it. EPDM pond liners are fish and plant friendly. One drawback of this liner is its weight. It is difficult to move, and manipulate a large liner. This liner has a lifespan of approximately 20 years. However, it can far exceed that when installed properly with under-layment. Follow the links below for availability:

RPE – reinforced polyethylene


Last but certainly not least is this liner material. It is much lighter than the other two in the group. It is also puncture resistant, therefore does not require an under-layment. According to btliners.com these liners will last longer than 40 years. Use the link below for availability:

Pre formed rigid pond liners

This type of liner is not recommended for koi, but its worth a mention. Unless you have one of substantial size, you will only want to keep smaller breeds of fish in these. When using a preformed liner, the shape and size has already been decided for you. These are like large black kiddie pools to be placed in the ground. They are constructed of high density polyethylene. This liner would be used in a smaller space and installation is less labor intensive. This option is also the most budget friendly. The shape of your hole must match the form of the liner for it to install properly. Use the links below for availability:

Something For Everyone


Even if you don’t desire a pond, but still want a water feature in your garden, then a pond-less waterfall may be the way to go. You will still need to calculate how large of a reservoir you will need to house your pump. Guidelines for a pond-less waterfall are as follows:

Make the reservoir three times the volume of the water in the stream and waterfall

  • Example: If your stream is 2 feet wide and 15 feet long with an average depth of 3 inches (.25feet) then:
  • 2’ width X 15’ length X .25’ depth X 7.5 (gallons per cubic foot) = 56.25gallons X 3 = 168.75 total
  • The reservoir for the above example will need to hold 168.75 gallons of water to function properly.

You achieve the same relaxing noise of rushing or trickling water without any of the maintenance that you would have with a standard pond with a waterfall. If you go this route, you will still need a pond liner of some kind. When deciding on size, be sure it goes a foot or so wider than the width of your falls in order to contain the water. It’s amazing how much water you can loose from splash over.

Final thoughts

I hope this helped you make a decision as to what koi pond liner to choose.  There is a pond or water garden for everyone. One word of advice… don’t go too small. If you go as large as you can afford or have space for you won’t be sorry. If koi are your desire then be sure to get a liner that is fish safe.

When you are ready to start your project check out our how to build a pond and the pondless waterfall diy.  You should find all the info you need here to get off to a great start and achieve professional results.

The EPDM and RPE are the two koi pond liners you should use. You are only limited by your imagination and desire. Begin your at home destination today, and enjoy the relaxing ambiance tomorrow.  Please feel free to leave a comment below.



January 24, 2018

Healthy Ways to Find Inner Peace

koi

Eliminating Stress – Finding Inner Peace


There are plenty of healthy ways to find inner peace.  Are you feeling stressed? Would you like to eliminate, or reduce that stress without any pills or chemicals? Then an at home get away is the solution you have been looking for. The ultimate goal is to create a peaceful, relaxing environment, that allows you to step away from the fast paced world we live in. The following are some dangerous results from stress.

Cognitive symptoms of stress include:

  • Constant worrying
  • Racing thoughts
  • Forgetfulness and disorganization
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor judgment
  • Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side

Sources: Department of Health and Human Services: “Stress and Your Health.” American Institute of Stress: “Effects of Stress.” Helpguide.org: “Understanding Stress.” © 2017 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Do you find inner peace on a daily basis? This is vital to your overall health and well-being. What better way to eliminate stress, and finding inner peace than, enjoying something you have created? Therapy in your own backyard!

Something that requires little maintenance, unless that is what is desired. Something that gives personal joy. For me, the joy is in the maintenance. Adding a new type of plant or some new fish. Watching all my plantings grow and flourish. An environment to ground myself and forget about all the worries of the day.

If you think you can never have a backyard water garden without spending a small fortune, you’re wrong. There are unlimited backyard retreat ideas. There is a pond or water garden for any budget. Even if you desire an extravagant one, you could do it a little at a time until you reach your desired result. Just to put it in perspective, the water garden featured in the build a water garden post was two years in the making. It is still not complete.

My First Water garden


This was nothing more than a couple flower pots placed one on top of the other with tubing running through the middle. The tranquil sound of water dripping 3 or 4 inches on to river rock. Although it was small, it was still effective as a soothing sound out on my back deck. Here is a list of materials I used. The cost was under $50.00.

  • Two flower pots, one larger than the other
  • Tube of silicone
  • ¾ plastic tubing
  • Bag of river rock
  • Small garden pond pump

A water garden like this is virtually maintenance free. Just be sure there is enough water in it, plug it in and enjoy

Easiest Path to Peace

Depending on your drive and how much effort you want to put into it, it’s important to understand a few things before you begin.

Keep in mind that a small garden pond will be harder to maintain than that of a larger pond. It is easier to keep equilibrium in a larger body of water than a smaller one. Small changes will affect the smaller pond quicker and harsher than a larger one. For example: it takes longer to boil a big pot of water rather than a small one using the same amount of heat. Don’t be intimidated by a larger pond. If you go bigger, you won’t be disappointed. I never hear people say … “I wish I went smaller” it’s always the other way around.

backyard waterfallThere are countless options depending on the size and sound you want, and space you have available. If you only want a water feature in your garden, then perhaps a pond-less waterfall is your desire. It’s almost the same setup as that with a pond, but instead a reservoir is created to house your pump. This is a more maintenance free approach.

Pond-less waterfalls are beautiful and provide the same soothing sounds that you would achieve with a traditional setup, without the worry of algae build up, or feeding the fish. Not that feeding the fish is a chore. In fact, for me there is nothing better than after a long day at work, to come home, relax and enjoy feeding my fish.

More Than Just Moving Water


If you are going to keep Koi, remember that they grow quite large. It is misinformation that they only grow to the size of the pond. Koi will keep growing until they reach their full size. They could reach up to 36” in length given the proper conditions. Koi also need a pond that is deep enough for them to swim up and down. This gives their fins proper exercise. If you are going to keep Koi be sure your pond is at least 36 inches deep. Don’t keep koi if your pond is less than 1,000 gallons.

If you have a water garden that is less than 1,000 gallons, koi are not the only type of fish to keep. There are many species of goldfish that do quite well in a small pond. When I say goldfish, I’m not talking about the kind you win at the fair.

Shubunkin goldfish are a calico color, similar to koi. Average size is about 5 inches, but they have been known to grow as large as 18 inches, with a life expectancy of 10 – 15 years. These colorful fish would be a wonderful addition to any size pond.

To Sum Up – Don’t Wait

Your health and sanity depend on how well you can manage the events in your life. Your path to inner peace is right in your own backyard.  If you found this post helpful, please leave a comment below.  If there are any other topics that are relevant that you would like discussed, please let me know and I will include them in future posts.  As always, thanks for stopping by, and best of luck on all your future projects!

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