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I just have a small yard but I’d like to incorporate a water feature, any ideas? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

I just have a small yard but I’d like to incorporate a water feature, any ideas?

Q: I just have a small yard but I’d like to incorporate a water feature, any ideas?
Crystal – Odell, NE

One of the many great things about pondkeeping is that it’s a scalable pastime. Whether you live on a postage stamp or a plantation, it’s possible to create a perfect pond that’s the perfect fit.

For small yards – and people who just want to get their feet wet (pun completely intended) – container water gardens offer all the satisfaction of pondkeeping, without the need for a backhoe, or even much of a backyard. Container water gardens are pretty much just like they sound: small, self-contained pools that are tailor-made for a few select Aquatic Plants, and even a choice selection of your favorite fish. These stand-alone gardens are ideal for decks, patios, gardens, and anywhere else you’d like to add a water feature around your home.

Starting your own adventure into container water gardening is simple. As a first step, we strongly recommend reading through one or more of our Container Water Garden Books. Both Container Water Gardening for Hobbyists and Water Gardening in Containers provide a world of useful information that can help you get started – while sidestepping common mistakes.

After you’re sufficiently up to speed, it’s time to gear up. Start with the right container for the water garden space you’ve identified. Next, you’ll need to shop for the perfect Plants, some choice Plant Media and a Plant Basket or two to hold them. If fish are in your water garden’s future, you’ll also want to consider a Pond Logic® PondAir™ Aeration System to keep your aquatic environment safe and healthy for habitation. Finally, as the perfect finishing touch, you’ll also want to consider our Pond Guy Halogen Lights, with colored lens options that make your water garden a nighttime spectacle to remember.

Pond Talk: What types of water features have you included in your yard?

Container Water Gardening for Hobbyists Book

Should I eradicate all algae from my pond? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q&A

Should I eradicate all algae from my pond?

Should I eradicate all algae from my pond?
Suzanne – Arlington, VA

In a word, the simple answer to this question is no. Algae serves a vital role in the health of your pond, providing both natural filtration and food for fish and wildlife. Algae also looks aesthetically pleasing in a pond, provided there’s not too much of it.

To better understand algae’s place in your pond, it’s important to know the different types that are common. First, there’s filamentous algae. Often referred to as “pond scum,” growth of filamentous algae typically begins on the pond bottom. As it grows, it rises to the surface, and can quickly spread to cover the entire pond if not controlled.

String algae is the second variety of algae pond owners will invariably come to know. Essentially a variation on filamentous algae, this algae isn’t harmful, but its rapid growth can quickly take over the pond if it’s not controlled. Frequently seen on rocks in waterfalls, string algae has been known to double its mass in 24 hours when conditions are right – leaving little room for beneficial algae growth, and inhibiting the growth of beneficial bacteria and plants.

Where filamentous alga are generally unwelcome in most ponds, planktonic algae is its beneficial counterpart. Planktonic algae generally thrives within the first few feet from the surface, where it relies on light for photosynthesis – and produces food for microscopic pond dwellers and newly-hatched fry. While typically desirable in ponds, planktonic algae can bloom, and some forms can be toxic to animals. In those circumstances, special measures may be necessary to control its growth.

In order to maintain a healthy balance of algae growth in your pond, there are a few simple steps that go a long way. First, consider our PondLogic® KoiAir™ and PondAir™a Water Garden Aeration Systems to ensure sufficient aeration. Stagnant water is an open invitation for excessive algae growth. Even if you have a waterfall, consider adding one to increase water circulation. For more aggressive algae treatment, our an algaecide such as AlgaeFix to kill the algae and then follow up with the Pond Logic® DefensePAC. And as a precautionary measure, consider adding a selection of Aquatic Plants to help maintain your pond’s equilibrium, to reduce excessive algae-promoting sunlight, and to provide safe havens for fish.

Pond Talk: What type of algae do you battle most?

Pond Logic® DefensePAC®

I’ve always been told to use lava rock in my waterfall filter, is this the best media to use? | Decorative Ponds & Watergardens Q&A

I’ve always been told to use lava rock in my waterfall filter, is this the best media to use?

I’ve always been told to use lava rock in my waterfall filter, is this the best media to use?
Tara – Bon Temps, LA

Lava rock was a common form of biological filtration media in waterfall boxes as its porous surface provides room for bacteria to reside. While it was popular years ago, pond supply companies have since produced better forms of secondary biological filtration media that are friendlier for both you and the pond itself.

Using lava rock as a source of filtration media has a list of distinctive drawbacks. The first of which is that it can prove to be extremely heavy and cumbersome. It is not exactly easy to lift a bag of rocks out of your pond, especially when it is full of water and debris.
While lava rock is porous and can initially provide a reasonable amount of additional surface area, the coarseness and small opening sizes tend to hold on to passing-by debris, blocking the waterways which greatly diminishes the stone’s performance. Once lava rock is loaded with debris you will have to remove it form your filter box and replace it with new media as it is near impossible to remove the debris from within each rock. For some pond owners this means they would need to replace their lava rock media multiple times each season for optimal performance. Furthermore lava rock tends to be brittle and can leave behind additional dust and debris in your pond.

Biological filtration media like Pond Logic® BioBalls™ filter media provides all of the surface area that your beneficial bacteria desire but implement it into a light-weight cost-effective design. One of the best qualities of secondary filtration media like the BioBalls™ is that you only have to buy them once. Pond Logic® BioBalls™ do not degrade over time and can simply be rinsed out at the end of the season and reused the next. BioBalls™ can placed into a mesh media bag and can be placed right into your waterfall filter box.

Pond Talk: Have you used lava rock as filter media in the past and switched to bio balls or another form of media? Did you notice a difference in filtration performance?

Pond Logic® BioBalls™

Can my snails stay in my pond for the winter? | Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

When should I remove the fountain from my pond?

Can my snails stay in my pond for the winter?
Cody – Falling Spring, VA

While your fish and some of your aquatic plants remain safe and sound during their winter dormancy you may wonder if your snails will be as successful. Your pond snails are amazingly resilient in cold weather and will do just fine given their habitat is suitable.

Your pond depth will play a major role in the success of all of the living creatures in your pond. Your plants, fish and snails can survive in cold water but they won’t fair too well if frozen into a solid block of ice. The ice that forms on the top of your pond varies in thickness depending on where you live but the general rule of thumb is to build your pond to be around 20”-30” in depth. This ensures there is an ample layer of water at the bottom of the pond that is left unexposed to the elements which will provide a safe haven for all of your pets and plants.

You won’t have to worry too much about your snails finding a safe place to hide over the winter as they come equipped with a strong shell which provides adequate shelter. They can hide amongst the rocks and plant remains in the pond as well during the winter but as your fish are in dormancy there is not an overwhelming need for additional habitat. As water temperatures drop and bacteria begin to dwindle a lot of pond owners tend to rely on algaecides to keep their ponds free from algae. If you are using an algaecide in your water garden review the product label thoroughly to ensure it is safe to use with your snails. When your pond comes back to life in the spring your snails will flourish amongst the new plant growth.

Pond Talk: Do you do anything special to provide safety for your snails in the winter?

Can I water garden indoors for the winter? – Decorative Water Gardens Q & A

Can I water garden indoors for the winter?

Can I water garden indoors for the winter?
Tony – Chicago, IL

Your pond can be an outlet to be creative, a way to relax and a nice break from your day to day routine. Your life doesn’t take a break just because the weather cools down so why should your pond? Our blog on Bringing Your Fish and Plants Indoors may be the catalyst you need to start your first ever indoor pond. So what should you bring indoors with your plants and fish and what else can you do with your pond to beat the winter blues?

Some types of water features are easier to implement indoors than others. Water features like container type fountains or pot style water features can easily be carried inside and used to foster your plants and fish over the winter. Larger pre-formed ponds or rubber liner based ponds are more permanent but can be duplicated indoors using a plastic-preformed pond liner or large Rubbermaid tanks. If your outdoor water feature is over 18” deep and doesn’t freeze solid you can leave the bulk of your fish and plants outdoors to over winter and bring just a few inside to create an indoor feature that is sized to fit your home.

Use your ponds Outdoor Décor to compliment your indoor feature. Not only can you accent your indoor water feature with existing outdoor statues and ornaments but you will also be protecting them from harsh winter elements keeping them safe and intact for use next season.

Also, use this opportunity to experiment, learn and grow as a pond owner. Don’t be afraid to try new designs, plants and products to achieve the exact look and feel you want from your water feature. There is a wealth of knowledge available to you in both Pond Books and Blogs that can help you on your journey for the perfect pond. Furthermore, now is the time to take inventory of your consumable products such as Filter Media Pad, Bacteria and Fish Food. Inspect materials for signs of wear and replace them as necessary and make sure you have the products you need on hand for your spring start up. Take the time now to prepare for spring and make your water feature start up a breeze.

Pond Talk: Have you created an indoor water feature? What type did you build? What challenges did you encounter?

Get inspiration for your water garden from Water Gardening for Hobbyists Book!

I’d like to create a water garden or feature, how do I choose a size to suit me? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

I'd like to create a water garden or feature, how do I choose a size to suit me?

I’d like to create a water garden or feature, how do I choose a size to suit me? Maude – Frogsboro, NC

Water Features That Fit

Creating a water feature is a fun and exciting process consisting of endless designs and limited only by your imagination. Many people think they are have to have a large amount of land to create a great water feature. In reality, a beautiful water feature can be constructed in even the smallest yards or even indoors. Before you start purchasing materials for your pond project, sit down with a pen and paper and take some time to research and design the perfect water feature that fits your situation.

One of the more common ways people ease their way into pond building is by using a preformed pond basin. I am sure most of you have seen them when walking through your local home & garden stores. These plastic liners are available in a wide array of shapes, sizes and depths which appeals to customers looking to install a pond in a limited amount of space. These liners are great for people new to ponds as the shape and dimensions are already figured out for you. This does however limit your creative influence on your soon to be pond. It is for this reason that more and more brave newcomers opt to install Rubber EPDM liner instead. Using rubber liner allows you the freedom to create whatever size pond you desire, filled with curves, plant shelves and waterfall streams. The rubber liner is flexible and therefore is not prone to cracking like the harder plastic performed liners. Rubber EPDM liner can also be pieced together using a Seam Kit to accommodate a large array of designs. Pond Kits are packaged with 45Mil EPDM Rubber Liner to create ponds as small as 8’ x 11’ or as large as 21’ x 26’. You can also purchase rubber liner in 5’ increments for smaller or larger applications.

Those of us who enjoy the sounds and sights of flowing water but are not thrilled by the prospects of managing an entire pond, have other means of entertainment. Using a small basin and a pump, you can create a beautiful, streaming waterfall that disappears into a hidden reservoir underground. We call this a pondless waterfall. The great thing about pondless waterfalls is that they can adapt to smaller areas very easily because there is no standing water. For instance, if you don’t have much of a yard and would like to hear the sound of water, a pondless waterfall is for you. There are Pondless Waterfall Kits available that contain all of the parts you need to get started and are available in different sizes.

When planning to build your water feature, plan for a weekend, one preferably without rain of course. Most smaller Pond Kits and Pondless Kit usually need only a weekend to complete and right now is usually the most popular time to build. Just remember it is far easier (and cheaper) to work with your pen and paper in the planning stages than it is once you start building your water feature. Planning ahead helps prevent any unwanted surprises.

POND TALK: What type of water feature do you have?

Everything you need to build the perfect pond!

Can Koi get sunburns? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Can Koi get sunburns?

Can Koi get sunburns? Dan – Bane, VA

Now that beach season here it is time to venture out into the great outdoors and soak in some of that summer sun. You can safely bet your Koi will be doing the same, as they love the sunshine and can be found sunning themselves in the shallows of your pond. Unlike us, however, they can’t lather on the sunscreen. So what can you do to make sure they don’t overindulge and end up with a sunburn?

Koi can get sunburnt? That’s right, your Koi can burn if overexposed to the sun. Some Koi will loiter close to the surface in your pond or in shallow areas that leave their backs very close to the surface of or, at times, partially out the water. This is the most common reason why your fish tend to experience sun damage. Another less common contributing factor is the lack of shade and cover from sun exposure. Some pond owners do not provide any Floating Plants, shaded areas, or recessed areas for fish to hide within in instances of intense sun which leaves them completely exposed. If your pond receives direct sunlight throughout the day, make sure you provide adequate habitat to protect your pets. You can also add some Pond Shade to limit the amount of UV light that is able to penetrate the surface of the pond. A great way to prevent burns, illness, and parasites in your pond is to dose the water with Pond Salt. Pond salt will improve the slime coat on your fish and improve their gill function which protects them from illness and exposure to the elements.

When your fish are over exposed to the sun and outside elements you will notice their slime coat will turn white and start to peel off. If caught in time they will regenerate their protective coating and the old damaged areas will start to break off and wash away. If no steps are taken to address the problem your fish can develop blisters, ulcers, and open wounds that can lead to pain or infection. If you do notice a bit of sun damage on your fish you should quickly asses your pond’s layout and investigate the possible causes of why your fish are being over exposed. Add shade where necessary or if you see that one or a couple of your fish keep surfacing in the shallower areas of your ponds, section them off in deeper areas that are abundant in shade until their protective coating heals. If blisters or sores develop, treat the effected fish with an Antifungal/Bacteria treatment like MelaFix, PimaFix, or TetraPond Fish Treatment.

Always take into consideration the environment your fish are exposed to and adjust as necessary to keep them comfortable. Your fish will enjoy the sunny warm weather quite readily which provides great opportunities to play and interact with your pets. Occasionally checking in on your finned friends and reacting to their needs will keep them healthy, happy, and safe this summer.

POND TALK: Has your koi ever had a sunburn?

Turn your water garden into an outdoor oasis!

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