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Should I add gravel to my pond?… even if it is preformed? | Decorative Ponds & Watergardens Q&A

I took my fish out for the winter…when it is best to put them back?

Should I add gravel to my pond?… even if it is preformed?
Kandy – Racine, WI

Adding gravel to the bottom of your water garden can help create a more natural appearance than the plain black plastic or rubber liner you are looking at now. The small stones create an excellent source of surface area for beneficial bacteria such as Pond Logic® Muck Defense® to colonize and filter your pond water. Aquatic plants can also benefit from the gravel base by anchoring themselves within the gravel and establish a root system beneath the rocks, safe from curious or hungry decorative pond fish.

A common question customers ask is if added gravel will actually cause more maintenance. This is not really the case. Adding gravel in your pond actually hides muck so it is not always visible, creates additional surface area for bacteria to accumulate in order to keep your pond muck free and provides a more natural landscape look actually brightening your pond’s bottom and helping to make your fish more visible.

Addition of gravel to your pond is a quick and easy transition. Ideally you will want to add a layer of stones that is 1-2 inches deep. Making the gravel any deeper will allow muck and debris to settle between the stones and out of reach from the natural bacteria. Choose stones that are smooth and rounded so there are no added risks of sharp edges which could puncture the liner. Also make sure the stones you add are not too small such as pea gravel which would get packed together trapping in debris or be picked up by pond vacuums or other maintenance tools. Ideally you will be looking for stones around 1” in diameter. Proper planning and installation will the key to successfully having gravel in your pond, and following the guidelines above will ensure your success.

Pond Talk: Do you have gravel in your pond? Why or why not?

Pond Logic® Muck Defense®

17 Responses

  1. I appreciate you explaining how gravel can help in a pond by creating more surface area for bacteria. It’s important that you can find a way to get a hold of enough gravel for a pond project like this. I’ve heard that gravel pits are good places to go pick out what gravel you prefer and in just the amount you need.

  2. Has anyone attempted to adhere a thin later of pea gravel to a hard liner and what was used. I was thinking about using silicone. Any ideas?

    • Hi Kathleen – Unless you are attempting to cover the sides as well there is no need to adhere the gravel to the liner. I would also use a little larger stone as pea gravel can pack more easily trapping debris in the bottom of the pond. If you are doing this for aesthetic appeal you may be able to use pond armor epoxy which could be spread evenly over the area but I don’t know of anyone that has attempted to do this before.

  3. how did you make your biofilter out of a rainbarrel

  4. I tend to agree that the benefits of gravel are overrated.
    You can’t vacuum and muck tends to accumulate.
    Stirring it up during my spring and fall cleanings does help and generally clarity is a matter of proper filters not gravel. Gravel or not, my pond is clear.

  5. This is disheartening. I am planning on putting a pond in during April and thought the gravel looked great in other ponds I looked at. Does the same theroy hold true with bigger river rocks on the bottom?

    • Hi Joe,

      We successfully have gravel/riverrock in the bottom of both of our ponds as do many customers, however each pond and pond owner is different. Do any of our other blog readers have a positive pond experience with gravel or river rock in their pond?

  6. I added rocks to my pond (against my neighbors advise) and ended up having to take them all out the following year. I drained the pond (3200 gallons) and the smell that arose from just moving the rocks to haul them out was unbearable. And the muck that had accumulated underneath was even worse. I felt so guilty having realized that my koi were living in such a filthy environment. I’ve replaced the media filter and added a larger biofilter (which I designed myself out of a rainbarrel) and my water is almost completely clear and it’s only March. I would stay clear of the rocks if you’re going to have koi in the pond.

    • Hi Chi,

      Thanks for your comment. How thick was the rock layer in the bottom of the pond?

      • I used the big river rocks… so I estimate it was about 2″ – 3″ thick. I loved the look of the pond with the rocks. Now that they’re gone, I can’t see my darker koi as well. I’m even beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t try it again now that I have a bigger biofilter. I could always take them out again if it doesn’t work. What are your thoughts on that?

  7. I agree with Linda. I added stone to my pond and finally had to take them all out. The muck and algae were a nightmare and I could not get the water clean…it took me two years and I spent a small fortune until the water was clear. There were times that I wasn’t even sure there were still fish in there because I couldn’t see them. Once I took out the stones, bought a vacuum (thanks Pondguy) and some algaecide (thanks again) and a brand new biofilter on the advice of the PondGuy, the problem began to work itself out. So grateful I found you guys on line…what a life saver for my pond!

    • Gravel? are you crazy! I have river rock on the bottom of my pond and gravel at one time. I removed the gravel because it was way to hard to keep clean. Besides that I use the pond vac that I purchased from pond guy(which works great) and it was a nightmare sucking all the gravel up. I kept the river rock but a down side is you cant see the pretty colors on the rock anymore due to the algae/muck that sticks to the rocks but the fish and snails like it.

  8. I wondered why you don’t make the pond liner with a pebble or rock design on it. Then no need for rocks to catch debris, just a pretty pattern. Our inground pool liner was offered with patterns.

    • Hi Linda,

      We actually did carry a liner in the past with a decorative stone pattern, unfortunetly the quality of the product was not as good as the 45 Mil EPDM rubber liner. Having real rocks in the pond also does help hold the liner in place and give added stability to the pond. Great suggestion though and we will keep our eyes open for a possible future product, Thank you.

  9. gravel in the bottom of ponds is a nightmare, allowing aggressive plants like lily’s to grow freely in the gravel is a horrible mess, the amount of gravel in the bottom only helps to hold the naturally blown debris that a skimmer will not get, this muck will not aid in the viability of the bacteria needed to keep the pond healthy, allowing for anerobic bacteria to thrive,
    eventually the rocks will grow algae and the pretty rocks look like crap,read Joe Cuny’s article in the AKCA magazine click on Joe Cuny’s and the article, Mr Cuny was in charge of the San Franisco area water department that took care of millions of gallons of water, it was his job to keep the water healthy he studied chemistry to say the least, he is also one of the foremost experts in Koi. He hates the gravel theory, as well Koi experts, not water gardeners that have koi in their ponds, but Koi experts. Gravel in a man made pond is a disaster,

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