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What does filter media do for my water garden? – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens Q & A

Savio Skimmer

Q. What does filter media do for my water garden? – Debbie in Illinois

Keep It Clean
With all of the pads, balls and nets in this blog you might think The Pond Guy has hung up his waders and opened a sporting goods store. Not to worry pond guys and gals, we are of course talking about filter media in your water garden.

Hey! Nice Pad!
When you look inside your filter, whether it’s a waterfall filter or pressurized filter, you may notice there are assortments of pads, balls, etc. These are called filter media. This filter media serves a vital purpose in any water garden.

Bio Blox Filter MediaFilter media are specifically designed to help colonize a ton of natural bacteria in a small area. As fish excrete waste, ammonia levels began to rise. Without enough natural bacteria, ammonia levels can become so high your fish will become stressed which can eventually to death. Natural bacteria will grow in a water garden without filter media, but unfortunately it is very minimal and never enough to keep up with high ammonia levels.

Less IS More
Many pond owners often think that a clean filter pad will lead to a cleaner pond. This is not the case. As it takes several weeks for nitrifying bacteria to colonize, many pond owners often clean their filter media as soon as it gets dirty. This unfortunately defeats the purpose of the biological functions of the filter media. Some of our readers have written in telling us that this buildup is even blocking or restricting water flow. It is most likely debris or algae being picked up from the water, not the bacteria causing this issue. If necessary, to clean filter media we highly suggest removing the filter media from the filter and placing into a bucket of “pond water” and gently swish the media back and forth. Do not scrub, or use tap water to clean the filter pads. Again, this will cause a loss in natural bacteria. If you accidentally do clean your filter pads, you can use PL Gel on your filter pads to colonize the bacteria faster. It is known throughout the pond industry to reduce colonization by up to 80%!

To prevent blockages to your biological filters use a pump pre filter or a skimmer which includes a net or debris basket along with its own filter pad. This will prevent large debris from getting to your filter. Vacuuming will pick up debris and muck from the pond floor also preventing clogs. Placing these “pre-filters” as buffers will ensure a shorter, easier cleaning time as well as make certain that your beneficial bacteria are left alone to flourish and protect your water garden.

POND TALK: How have you tackled filtration in your water garden? How often do you find yourself cleaning your filters?

Filter media is a must for healthy ponds!

Spring Accessories – Decorative Ponds & Water Gardens

Dyed Pond


Behind The Springs
It is truly an enjoyable experience taking in the sights and sounds of a water garden. Crystal clear water, brilliantly colored fish and lush green plants all meld together to create a picture perfect landscape. While water gardens are a wonder to behold, pond guys and gals everywhere are working hard to keep them looking their best all season long. Let’s take a behind-the-scenes look at some of the accessories that make that work a little less… well… hard!

What’s Your Net Worth?
Having a pond net handy for regular maintenance is a surefire way to add some ease into your cleaning regimens. Purchasing a tool like our 4-in-1 Interchangeable Pond Net not only allows you the ability to skim floating debris from your water gardens surface, but also gives you accessories you can use to round up and relocate your fish for large scale clean ups and to clean seasonal build up from hard to reach surfaces. The added benefit of a telescoping handle ensures that the areas you need to clean are within reach. Remember, the objective of using tools is to make work easier on you. Purchase items that perform for you and work best for your specific situations.

Sayonara Sludge!
Giving your water garden a thorough cleaning in the Spring will help reduce the chances of dealing with excess algae growth and overall improving the quality of the water in your pond. Simplifying the cleaning process using the correct tools encourages us to perform our cleanings a bit more enthusiastically. While Spring cleaning is not the most enjoyable pastime for water gardeners, it can be way more convenient (and way less painful) with a pond vacuum. Vacuums like the Pond-O-Vac IV clean the built up muck from your ponds bottom while eliminating time spent bent over scooping and scrubbing. Adding beneficial bacteria like Pond Logic® Nature’s Defense® & Muck Defense® when your water temperatures reach 50 degrees or higher will naturally break down organic debris that eventually turn into muck at your ponds bottom. Preventing sludge build up will result in easier and less frequent cleanouts throughout the season.

Using Some Colorful Expressions
So maybe this is your first season, or you are looking to add a special touch to your water garden. Implementing a variety of aquatic plants and shoreline grasses will add some color to the landscape and will have a positive impact on the water quality in your pond. Floating plants like Water Hyacinths or Water Lettuce will consume the same nutrients as algae that are present in the water column, reducing the amount of food available for potential algae blooms. Submerged plants like Hornwort give your fish an excellent place to hide. Try to include a diverse selection of plants to boost your water garden’s visual appeal and promote a balanced ecosystem.

Another great way to accent your water feature is to install pond lighting. When it comes to shedding some light on your project, it can be as simple as adding a couple Solar Floating Lights to set the tone, or installing a series of Waterfall Lights and some 50-Watt Pro Lights to highlight the surrounding landscape. With a wide assortment of lighting styles to choose from including Halogen, LED, and colored bulbs, you can achieve a unique look that fits exclusively to your pond!

POND TALK: What approach have you taken to eliminate the hassle of water garden maintenance? Show us some pictures of your unique lighting displays.

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 $499.99 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.

How Do I Properly Size a Pump to Create the Waterfall I’m Looking For? – Water Garden Q & A

Picture of a Waterfall

Q: How do I properly size a pump to create the waterfall I’m looking for? – Several Customers

A: We get this question asked to us quite a bit. The following process will help you in determing the correct pump size for a waterfall:

Step 1: Determine the Head Pressure (Head)

Head equals the total number of feet from theCalculating Pump Size Chart top of the waterfall to the water’s surface. For example: Let’s say that height is equal to 5′.

Step 2: Determining Desired Water Flow
In general, you will need 1,500 gallons per hour (gph) for every 1-foot of waterfall discharge for an average flow. The discharge is considered where the water enters back into the pond. For example: Let’s say the width of our waterfall is 2′. This would mean we need a pump of approximately 3,000 gph.

Step 3: Putting It All Together
In our example, our head pressure is 5′ and the approximate gph of our desired pump is 3,000 gph. This means would need a pump that would pump 3,000 gph at 5′ of head.

Other Notes:

  • For a heavy waterfall flow, use 2,000 gph per foot of waterfall discharge.
  • For a lighter waterfall flow, use 1,000 gph per foot of waterfall discharge.
  • If the tubing from the pump to the waterfall is greater than 10′ then it is recommended to add 1 foot of head for every 10′ of tubing.
  • We also have a calculator on our website to help calculate this formula for you. Click here to view the calculator.
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