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I’m looking to cut back on energy costs. Can I shut off my waterfall at night? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A


Q: I’m looking to cut back on energy costs. Can I shut off my waterfall at night?

Q: I’m looking to cut back on energy costs. Can I shut off my waterfall at night?

Gita – San Tan Valley, AZ

A: Energy costs have certainly been on the incline lately, and so it makes perfect sense to search for ways to save some of your hard-earned cash. If you must – though it’s not ideal – you can shut off your waterfall at night as long as you have your aeration system operating. It’ll keep the oxygen flowing overnight.

However, consider the hidden costs that you could be incurring:

Dealing with Poor Fish Health:

Still, quiet water – even just during the overnight hours – means that fewer water molecules are circulating and making contact with oxygen-rich air at the pond’s surface. The stagnant water will be unable to release dangerous gases, like ammonia, and absorb life-giving oxygen. That could cause your fishes’ immune systems to suffer, which could lead to disease or worse.

Replacing Beneficial Bacteria:

For your filtration system to remove contaminants from the water, it needs moving water flowing through it – so if your pump is off, your water’s not moving. If all the water drains out of your filter, you could wind up with a loss of the beneficial bacteria that live on the media inside, which means you’ll need to replace them later.

Managing Algae Blooms:

Moving water helps to keep debris suspended in the water column and pulled through the skimmer and filter for efficient removal. But if the pump is turned off, that debris will settle to the bottom of the pond and build up, creating a dense food source for nuisances like algae. When it starts to bloom, it’ll take your time, energy and some algaecide to clear up – which can equal a pretty penny.

Pond pump manufacturers understand that water gardeners are concerned about operating costs, so many of the designs on the market today, including the RapidFlo™ and MagFlo™ Pump, are energy efficient and consume relatively little electricity. Pumps that used to cost $100 a month or more to run have been replaced by models that cost as little as $12 a month. Now that’s some serious savings!

Pond Talk: Besides shutting down your waterfall pump at night, what are some other ways you’ve cut water garden expenses?

Breathe Life Into Your Pond - Airmax (r) PondAir(t) Aeration Kits

19 Responses

  1. Can anyone suggest solutions to our critter problems? Our 2 large ponds have been emptied of a dozen 12 inch koi and more than 2 dozen large goldfish by a mink during the severe winter. He made tracks to the ice opening surrounding our floating heaters. We tried last winter (after we saw him) to set a 36 inch Havahart trap but the creature is too long in body and tail to be caught. (He apparently eats the bait and backs out.)

    After the bait no longer disappeared, we assumed he traveled back down the hill to our farm pond so we purchased 8 six to eight inch koi. They were fine for several weeks until we saw a large water snake and we are left with 4 fish, holding our breath each morning to see if he got another one . We just purchased 2 ten inch koi, hoping they are too large for him. This gourmet feeding of the critters is frustrating and expensive.

    Forgot to mention: the mink also ate the frogs.

    • Hi Phyllis – I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your fish. It’s always hard to lose on, especially worse when it’s to a predator! Mink tend to come around when their usual food source is low (winter, like you experienced). They travel pretty far to hunt. Mink are sly hunters, they will find the tiniest hole to slink into in order to catch fish which is why its typically difficult to stop them. If you see him again, I would recommend having a professional trapper come out.

      As for snakes, adding rough material (rocks, mulch, etc.) around the edge of your pond will typically keep them at bay.

      • Thanks for your response to my critter problem report. We did find a guy who will trap for mink although we’re afraid stray cats will find the traps. (He trapped for foxes and coyote last winter and caught a feral cat.)

        As to your snake comment, our guy must like rough stuff since both pools are lined with rocks on top of the rubber liners and all the edges have rocks and boulders sticking up. Things are looking up, though. We have not seen the snake for more than a week now and no more fish have disappeared so we hope he went back to our mud-bottom farm pond.

      • That’s good news! Maybe the snake didn’t find the pond on his own. He might have been dropped by in by a bird depending on how big it was.

  2. My fish are getting ulcers. They had them last year. I purchased a UV sterilizer and also treated the fish with Melafix and Pimafix. I thought over the winter the bacteria (or whatever causes ulcers) would disappear. About six of my comets have ulcers again. The koi have not been affected yet. I am treating my 3500 gal. pond with Melafix again. This is costing me a fortune. I have to find out what is causing this. Could you help me?..

    • Hi Jeanette – I’m sorry to hear that your fish have ulcers. Did the ulcers go away at all from last year? Here’s a blog article we did on fish diseases: How do I treat my pond fish for ich and other diseases?

      I would recommend the following course of action since it seems to be limited to your comets:
      – Set-up a quarantine tank for the comets. Make sure it has aeration.
      – Treat the fish in quarantine tank with KnockOut™ PLUS or MinnFinn™.
      – Leave the fish in the quarantine tank until the ulcers start to clear up. Remember, you will need to make sure there is aeration and do regular water changes to keep good water quality
      – Do a 25-50% water change on the main pond. Treat it with pond salt or KnockOut™ PLUS

      If you have additional questions, please feel free to respond here or give us a call at 866.766.3435.

  3. I have a pondless waterfall. The gentleman who installed it this year said to keep if turned off anytime we aren’t outside using it to save on pump life. Should pump life be more of a concern then the bacteria buildup since it’s not running constantly?

    • Hi Michelle – Most pumps are designed to run constantly without interruption. With pondless waterfalls, you can turn off your pump while you are not outside. We run our pondless features here at The Pond Guy from about 9am – 9pm.

  4. If I go away for a week in the summer, I have to shut down my waterfall because the water lever in the pond drops due to evaporation and the pump would just suck air. I have no one who can come in and add water.

    • Hi Joe – That sounds like an awful lot of water loss for a week of running a pump. Are you sure you don’t have a leak somewhere?

    • Doesn’t sound odd to me at all. My koi pond will run out of water in the pump box in two days. My auto-fill (looks like a toilet tank valve) was sticking. I thought I had a leak and dug up the entire return line before I figured this out.

  5. Another alternative, run a smaller pump running night time. Water fall during the daytime, turning off smaller while waterfall pump is operating

  6. I would never turn my waterfall off except in January & February due to ice jams and water loss. My fish have bred to the point where even with just a 6″ diffuser I would find the biggest ones floating the next morning if I turned off the waterfall. It’s always the biggest ones that go first when there’s an oxygen loss. I have added six 1200 GPH pumps to aerate with six foot sprays for an hour or so each day during July & August when the water is above 20C. If I run these sprays on the hot days I don’t find any floaters in my 1500 gallon tank. Anyone need some fish?

  7. This is not related but I need some help ASAp. I have two very large albino cat fish on my koi pond. I have had them for years. Recently the slightly bigger one has attacked and shredded the top of the head of the other. The smaller one now has a very nasty large hole on the top of it’s head. What is going on here? any answers. Also how can I humanly put down a pond fish?

    • Hi Kathy – It’s likely a result of spawning. Male catfish will fight each other during spawning season but they can also cause damage to female catfish during this time by pushing them against rocks, etc. The most humane way to kill a fish is to whack it in the head (against a pole, ground, with a hammer, etc.), but it needs to be hard.

  8. My waterfall and filter run 24/7/365. This is how I save in the long run.

  9. What if you dont have any fish….is it ok to turn off at night. I stopped adding fish because of the various critters in my natural habitat back yard thinking they had a sushi bar.

    • Hi Dawn – Without fish, it’s not as important but the part about biological filtration still stands. Anytime water isn’t flowing your biological filtration, you can lose bacteria that helps to keep the pond clean.

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