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What is a Pondless Waterfall? – Water Garden & Feature Q & A

Picture of a Cascading Pondless Waterfall.

Water Gardens & Features Q & A

Q: I really would love to add the sound of water to my backyard but I really don’t have the space for a full fledged water garden. I read a little bit about your pondless waterfall kits. Exactly how do those work? – Abby of California

A: Did you know you could have the sound of water without the pond? Well you can! A Cascading Pondless Waterfall is exactly what it sounds like…a waterfall without the pond.

Illustration of How a Cascading Pondless Waterfall Works.

How a Cascading Pondless Waterfall Works

The way it works is this: A basin is first dug into the ground and the waterfall is sculpted out of the land. The basin and waterfall will be covered with liner and underlayment to hole the water. The basin will hold a vault that contains a pump. Tubing will run from the pump to a waterfall box at the top of the waterfall. A Basin Matrix, rocks and gravel will fill the void in the basin. Once filled with water, the water will travel up from the basin to the waterfall box. The water will then travel back down the waterfall and disappear into the basin.

Benefits of a Cascading Pondless Waterfall

Besides providing the sights and sounds of a natural looking waterfall and stream, a cascading pondless waterfall feature offers many things a pond doesn’t:

Easier to Maintain: Because all of the water is contained in an underground basin, hidden from the sun, green water is never an issue. Also, no filtration (and the cleaning goes along with that) is necessary because there are no fish to care for.

Easier to Install: Since you’re digging a basin (basically a hole in the ground that will be covered with rocks and gravel) instead of a water garden (a well designed hole in the ground

with shelves and detailed stone work), it takes only a fraction of the time to build

Lower Initial Cost & Lower Energy Cost Potential: Cascading Pondless Waterfalls costs less than a full-fledged water garden. They actually start at $619.99 so this is very easy on the budget. Also most Cascading Pondless Waterfall owners choose to run the waterfall only when they are there to enjoy it, minimizing electrical consumption where with a full fledged water garden, the pump must run constantly for the sake of the fish.

Safer: With no standing water, children can safely play in the stream and waterfall – with adult supervision of course.

If you don’t have a water feature yet but have been thinking about getting one, a Cascading Pondless Waterfall is great way to get your feet wet. With all of these benefits and the low cost to build, you simply can’t beat it.

Why Did My Fish Die Over the Winter? – Pond & Lake Q & A

Illustration of No Aeration Versus with Airmax Aeration

Pond & Lake Q & A

Q: I lost all of my fish after the winter. We love to catch fish in the pond and now we have to start over! What happened? And is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening again? – Alfred of Michigan

A: My first thought when I read this question was, “They don’t have an aeration system”. And after speaking with him, come to find out, he didn’t. This is usually always the case during a winter fish kill. Everything seems to be going just fine when all of a sudden one morning you wake up to discover a wave of fish floating on your pond’s surface. This is not a pretty sight, nor is it any fun to clean up. So what causes fish kill and what can you do to prevent it?

What Causes Fish Kill?
During the warmer months of the year a pond with no aeration will contain oxygen towards the surface of the pond. This is because there is an oxygen transfer from air to water at the pond’s surface. The bottom of the pond, however, will contain very little or no oxygen; Certainly not enough to support fish life. Also, the toxins associated with fish waste and other organic biodegradation tend to sink and stay at those lower depths of the pond, polluting the already oxygen-starved water. This unfortunately, condenses your fishes’ habitat area and forces them to live towards the surface of the pond.

There is also a difference in temperature from the bottom of the pond to the surface. The bottom of the pond will be colder than the pond’s surface. The reason for this is because the sun will heat up the surface of the water and since cold water is denser than warmer water, the cold water will fall to the bottom. This difference in temperatures can be quite dramatic at times. Have you ever jumped into a pond and felt the brisk cold water towards your feet? This is the thermocline border. This dramatic change in temperature can cause your fish to stress as they travel from a warm temperature to a cold temperature and back to warm. This stress can lower their immune systems.

During the colder months of the year, the oxygen as well as the thermocline will actually flip. All of a sudden the colder water containing no oxygen will mix with the warmer water with oxygen. As this mixing occurs, the fish are left with few places to go for oxygen and they will eventually suffocate.

Another issue during the winter are toxic gasses. As bottom organics (grass clippings, leaves, trees, twigs, fish waste, etc.) decay, they will create toxic gasses. When ice covers the pond’s surface, these toxic gasses are trapped underneath the ice and will cause a fish kill.

Preventing Fish Kills
Using an Airmax® Aeration System is the single most important way to help prevent winter fish kills. The reasons are simple: With an Airmax® Aeration System, a compressor sits on shore and pumps air down to a diffuser on the pond’s bottom. This air forces the cold water containing no oxygen to the pond’s surface. This water, because it is denser, will fall back to the pond’s bottom. This cycle will repeat and create a convection or current within the water column. This will fill the whole water body with oxygen as well as maintain the same temperature level throughout the pond (see illustration on left).

Also, during the winter months, when ice has covered the surface of the pond. An Airmax® Aeration System will keep a small hole open in the ice to allow those toxic gases to escape.

The Bottom Line: Having aeration will help reduce the chances of fish kill. Also, remember that this is one of many benefits of having an aeration system (Refer to this blog post for the other benefits of aeration).

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