Saturday, October 07, 2006

Taking Care Of Your Beautiful Garden Pond

By Anne Clarke
Keep a pond looking great by following certain seasonal, as well as typical guidelines When it is time for the colder air to take over, pond care will still be necessary if you want to maintain the good condition of your pond. Autumn can bring challenges for pond care.
The first point I need to make about pond care in autumn leaves that fall into the pond will decay if not removed. Perhaps you can skim the surface of your pond to remove them. However, this method of pond care—once fall is really kicking in—may have to be done many times throughout the same day.
One better idea, in my opinion, for keeping falling leaves out of your pond is to purchase a cover for it. Perhaps just a small canvas big enough to cover the water, nothing fancy, you can set it up with stakes or stones.
Try to keep as much sludge out of the pond during the colder months. There will be slime, decay of water plants and other plant debris, and you will certainly need to perform the proper pond care to keep your pond from becoming an enormous chore when the warm seasons begin.
If you have fish in the water, for great pond care, be sure to feed them less. This is because when the cold approaches the fish will eat less due to a slowing metabolism. Extra fish food in your pond can contribute to the bacterial problems that often develop during the winter. Someone who wants to provide great pond care for his or her pond will want to make sure that, by using good pond care, he or she will keep as few bacterial sources away from the water as he or she possibly can.
For your fishes, pond care is very important. You can provide foods for your fish, which contain a protein content of twenty-five to thirty-two percent. A wheat germ based food is good fish pond care. During this time of year the food easily digested.
Pond care spring and autumn food is an excellent choice for you to maintain your pond at this time of year. When you practice the proper pond care, you will definitely be glad you did.
These are only some of the guidelines for pond care. Depending on your individual pond care needs, the advice I have just given may vary. For example: even if you have no fish in your pond, certain pond care is still especially important.
Anne Clarke writes numerous articles for websites on gardening, parenting, recreation, education and home decor. Her background includes teaching and gardening. For more of her articles about ponds, waterfalls, and more, please visit Ponds and More.
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Landscaping Tips: Koi Pond Aeration Needed for Healthy Fish

By Carlo Morelli
Fish keepers know that koi pond aeration is an important element in a healthy garden pool. Animals need oxygen, and fish are no exception. Koi fish literally breathe the oxygen that is dissolved into their water. A lack of oxygen in the water is the number one reason for koi to die unexpectedly. To get that needed oxygen into the water, a system for koi pond aeration is needed.
Two factors affect the amount of oxygen in the water. Allowing algae to grow in the pond depletes oxygen and having too many fish for the size of the pond does the same. Either of these conditions require koi pond aeration be supplemented.
Waterfalls are a common addition to the backyard pond. Besides being pleasant to hear and to look at, the tumbling of the water increases the amount of oxygen in it. Waterfalls are a useful part of koi pond aeration. When the weather warms up, though, a small waterfall is not enough to provide adequate oxygen for your fish.
In the summer, especially if the temperature goes over 80 degrees F., koi pond aeration becomes very important. Large waterfalls, fountains, and other ways of keeping water moving, should be used day and night when it is hot.
There are also bubbling devices that can be placed in koi ponds to provide aeration if installing a waterfall is not practical. Especially in the bottom of the pool, koi pond aeration is a necessity, since this area is farthest from the surface. An air pump is needed to use these bubbling devices, which include airstones and rings.
Airstones are ceramic stones that attach to the hose from an air pump. The pump pushes air through the porous stone, which forces bubbles through the water. The stones are natural looking and sit on the floor of the pool, providing koi pond aeration where it is most needed. Several airstones can be used with the same pump.
An air ring also sits on the pond floor. It provides several outlets, through which the air bubbles up, providing koi pond aeration. Stones, rings, and electric waterfalls should be left on throughout the night for the koi to receive a healthy oxygen supply.
Carlo Morelli writes for, where you can read more about koi pond designs and ultraviolet pond filters.
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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Landscaping Tips: Japanese Garden Fundamentals

By Carlo Morelli
The Japanese style of landscaping has the goal of recreating the serenity of a natural environment. Fundamental ingredients used include carefully placed stone, statuary, bonsai, and fish ponds. Bonsai is a traditional technique of training small trees to encourage their growth into certain shapes; it is one of the Japanese arts. Relaxing strolls through the garden are laid out with formal paths.
A number of basic guidelines apply when planning Japanese landscaping. The first being that plants and other elements not be located symmetrically. Nature is asymmetrical. Flowers and trees don't naturally grow lined up in rows or in square formations. The impression to aim for is a space that does not look man-made.
Another guideline of Japanese landscaping is that it must not be crowded. Because yards can be small, sometimes people want to fit in as many plants as possible. This can easily end up looking chaotic and messy. Just like with the Japanese sense of interior decorating, a minimum of plants cleverly arranged can generate an innate harmony of visual calm.
A roughly triangular pattern appears commonly in Japanese landscaping. For example, there are three plants you want to plant, the largest is located first as an anchor point of the triangle. The next largest becomes the second point on the triangle, and the third largest plant the other point. This arrangement helps balance the aesthetic mass of the three elements.
Symbolic meanings are associated with plants and other elements used in Japanese landscaping. Deciduous trees, for example, like the colorful Japanese maple, stand for the change that is constant all through life, since they show a different aspect of themselves every season. On the other hand, evergreen trees stand firm and stable. In order for something always to be in bloom in the garden, flowers are often planted that will bloom sequentially. The colors seen in a Japanese landscape garden tend to be pastel and subtle. In fact, subtle is a good word to keep in mind when planning out your Japanese landscape garden.
Carlo Morelli writes for OnlineTips.Org, where you can read tips on Koi pond kits and home and garden stone landscaping.
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How To Design And Build A Fish Pond

By Alison Stevens
Building a backyard fish pond is a big undertaking that involves a fair amount of hard work and, as it will be a permanent feature of your garden, it is worthwhile spending some time in the planning stage.
So before you rush into the garden with a shovel, pause for a while and think about your fish pond design and the type of pond that you want ...
Natural Pond - follows the curves and forms of nature and may include an outcrop of stone or a natural beach. This will often allow planting at the edge of the pool and can create the impression that the pond was there long before the rest of the garden or the house were constructed.
Formal Pond - a geometric design works best when there is a relationship in design and materials with the buidings that are close by. It will usually be symmetrical in design and could be rectangular or square in shape and may have a paved edge. Formal ponds are often planted but usually with artfully chosen plants rather than the wilder plantings of a natural pond.
Raised Pond - a formal pond can also be construced above ground from bricks, blocks or stone. There will be less waste to carry from the site, however the cost of the construction materials will be higher than an in-ground pond.
Once you've decided on the type of backyard fish pond spend some time working out possible locations and mark out the locations with a garden hose or a length or rope. Take into consideration the amount of light in different locations. If you want to grown water lilies you will require four to six hours of direct sunlight on the pond during the day. Shade is fine for fish-only ponds. Check the overhanging trees as these could also be a source of pond pollution. If you must build a pond beneath a tree at least try to avoid deciduous trees - the leaves will create a lot of pond waste.
When deciding on the location of your pond avoid the temptation to locate the pond in the lowest point in the garden. The low point can be subject to flooding in heavy rain and will often collect runoff from the garden. This may carry fertilizers and organic debris into the pond.
A pond for goldfish or aquatic plants need only be around two feet deep although more depth may be required in very cold areas to prevent the pond freezing in winter. If you want a koi fish pond it will need to be at least three feet deep or more.
The biggest mistake that water gardeners tend to make is to build a pond that is too small. Your finished pond will appear much smaller than your original layout!
If your backyard fish pond is to be dug out rather than raised consider how you will remove the excavated material. It may be possible to use it in another part of the garden, alternatively you may need to have it removed which can be difficult and expensive.
Assuming you are going to build a sunken pond the next step is to start digging! Dig the pond to the desired shape and dig a shelf around the perimeter of the pond about one foot deep and one or more feet wide. Dig the remainder of the pond. If you are planning a waterfall dig the pond with a slight slope away from the waterfall.
Line the excavated pond with underlay. This is to stop the flexible liner from being pierced by sharp stones. Pond underlay can be made from geotextile or old carpet, providing it is non-organic and non-rotting can be used to save money. A butyl rubber pond liner is laid on top of the underlay. Position to liner evenly in the pond and try to minimize the folds and wrinkles. Leave an overhang of at least six inches. Avoid walking on the newly laid liner as much as possible. If you must walk on it wear socks!
Fill the pond and try to ease the wrinkles out of the liner while the pond is filling. Arrange coping stones around the edge of the pond and fold the liner up behind the stones ensuring the edge of the liner is above the water level. A more natural edge can be created by planting shallow-water plants around the edge of the pond. You may need to consider cementing the coping stones in place if the pond edge will be subjected to much foot traffic.
Now sit back and enjoy your new garden pond!
Alison Stevens makes it easy to design and build your own fish pond. Discover the secrets to fish pond success in her new e-book "How To Build Your Own Garden Pond" and for the latest fish pond articles check out the Fish Pond Tips blog
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Water Pond Safety

By Christopher W Smith
Who would have thought that a small water garden could be anything but safe? However, a couple of measures of precaution can help ensure that your magical water garden stays safe for everyone, including your goldfish! Remember, that if your water garden is deep enough for goldfish or koi, then its more than deep enough to be dangerous for toddlers.
Here are a couple of things to consider:
Depth of Your Pond:
The ponds edges provide you an opportunity to increase safety around the water pond. Put a shelf or ledge around the sides of your pond that is at least 1 foot deep to provide an easier escape for a child that has fallen in. You may also want to consider placing boulders around the side, which will provide some added leverage for the child to pull themselves out.
Watch Your Children:
Just like you wouldnt let your children swim without a lifeguard or adult supervision, never leave young children unattended around your water garden pond. While the fish will provide enough curiosity, remember that same curiosity may tempt them to get too close to the edge to get a closer look, raising the risk of them falling in, hitting their heads on the edge of the pond, or even drown. A child can drown in less than 6inches of water.
Reduce The Slippage Factor
Just like your local pool takes preventative action (such as enforcing a no running rule), you can also take action to ensure pond safety. Consider using a slip resistant material to ensure that smooth edges around your water pond are not a hazzard. You may also want to look at creating railings along walk ways. Ask your local building authority on suggestions on how to lower the risk of someone slipping on the edge of your water garden.
Local Building Codes
During the planning stages of building your water pond, you should have contacted your municipal building authority to ensure that your plans abide by the local building codes. Do you have to build a fence around your water pond (ponds built with a certain depth require fences). How large of an area can your water garden pond be, and what other legal considerations should you make?
Safety is something that normally doesn't immediately pop into your mind when building a water garden pond, however, it should. Its impossible to ensure that your water garden will be completely safe, however, will that be any consolation for your inaction if something were to happen? Plan ahead and you'll ensure that your water garden is accessible and a joy for friends and family alike.
We can help you with your water garden ponds supply needs.
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The Truth About Mosquitos and Water Gardens

By Keith Davitt
When I give presentations on water features, many people ask, “What about mosquitos?”
Given what they can carry, the concern is real and legitimate. The truth, however, is that there need be no fear of breeding mosquitos whatsoever, for any kind of water feature. Here’s why.
There are both biological and mechanical means for ensuring that not one mosquito breeds in your water feature. If the water is moving, as in a stream, a wall fountain, a tub garden with a fountain or a small pond with a waterfall, the mosquitos will not lay their eggs there. It’s a high risk situation for the larvae and newly hatched so they just don’t do it.
If you have a pond with still water, simply put in a fish or two. These don’t need to be mosquito fish (Gambusia affinis) either. Ordinary pond fish or Koi will eat the larvae and I’ll tell you how I first discovered this. I built a pond for a man, filled it with water and let it sit over the weekend to ensure there were no leaks. On Monday there were thousands of mosquito larvae squiggling about, going from the bottom to the top and down again. I bought three small pond fish and put them in. The next day there was not one larvae left.
The presence of fish ensure no mosquitos. But there are other means too. There is a naturally occuring bacillus called Bti you can add to your pond. The mosquito larvae eat them and die, yet it is not harmful to pets, fish, wildlife or humans. You can buy it as Mosquito Dunk or Mosquito Bits.
If you like the idea of encouraging various forms of wildlife, there are several natural predators to mosquitos and their young. Toads can consume quite a quantity of mosquitos and can be encouraged to make a home of your pond garden. Dragonfly nymphs can be purchased and will wantonly devour mosquito larvae. Because Dragonflies have a very long (up to two years) nymph stage, a few added to your pond now and again not only will prevent mosquitos from hatching, they will reduce the mosquito population.
If you don’t like the idea of more creatures in your garden, get a propane powered mosquito trap. These have a tremendous range and will also reduce the overall mosquito population of your area as the mosquitos are attracted by the scent, drawn into a trap from which they never emerge.
One or more of these methods will ensure that you can have your water feature without ANY risk of breeding mosquitos.
For more information on ponds and water features of all kinds, visit us at
Keith Davitt is an internationally recognized landscape designer and garden builder and author of four garden design books and numerous articles. You can see more of his work at To download his free report on landscape professionals and how to identify which of the seven different categories is best for you and your garden needs, go to
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Keeping the Balance of Nature: Pond Water Maintenance

By Brett Fogle
You might be tempted to let Mother Nature, tend to your backyardpond, and who could blame you? After all, she does a pretty goodjob of taking care of really big ponds, so why would yourbackyard ecosystem pose much of a challenge to her?
Unfortunately, the fact is your backyard pond is only going toget some cursory attention from Mom; the rest of the work isgoing to be left up to you.
In the "real world" chlorinated water doesn't find its way intoponds very often. "Big" pond water passes through a great manynatural filtration and oxygenation systems, and the various fishand flora work together to keep the pond clean and fresh. Ourbackyard ponds don't have quite that much help, so here's whereyou need to step in:
If you are going to keep fish then you absolutely must remove alltraces of chlorine from your pond before your favorite Koi set uphousekeeping. Pond fish cannot live in chlorinated water so don'teven try. There are many products available to remove chlorinequickly, or you can opt for the old-fashioned, natural way if youhave the time to spend.
If you opt for 'a la natural' then expect to wait about 8 to 10days for the chlorine to dissipate. You will need to make surethat your pump and filter are running and that you have set up anaerating method such as a waterfall or "splasher" to bring oxygeninto the water. Make sure that the pond is exposed to plenty ofsunlight (the natural enemy of chlorine), and use a chlorinetesting kit to check the water daily.
Me? I just drop some de-chlorinating product into the pond andcheck back the next day.
Even if chlorine is totally removed, you still have nitrite andammonia to worry about. These two toxic buddies are byproducts offish waste and can wreak havoc with your Koi's health. After awhile Mother Nature will kick in some help by allowing beneficialbacteria colonies to develop that enjoy eating nitrite andammonia for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They won't be present innew ponds, however, unless you buy some bacteria starter kits tokick start the process.
Your garden pond could become overtaxed, ecologically, if you addtoo many fish too quickly. Start out adding no more than two perweek so that the newly introduced bacteria do not get overwhelmedby the waste that will be produced.
Just when you think you've got it all under control that uglything called "pH" raises its head. Testing for pH levels is alsovery important since neither plants nor fish will survive verylong if the pond's pH is out of whack. Your pH test kit shouldshow a reading of between 6.8 and 7.4. You can add the properchemicals to raise or lower if as neccessary.
Speaking of test kits, get one that will allow you to test thepond's salt levels as well. Unless you're raising baby Sea bass,too much salt is not a good thing.
After your pond is fully established, Mother Nature will lend abigger hand and you can settle into a routine of testing everythree of four weeks unless something serious, such as flooding,has occurred in between.
Brett Fogle is the owner of MacArthur Water Gardens and several
other pond-related websites
and He also publishes a free monthlynewsletter called PondStuff! with a reader circulation of over9,000. To sign up for the free newsletter and receive our FREE'New Pond Owners Guide' visit MacArthur Water Gardens today!
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Planning a Water Garden...

By Gordon Goh
A water garden is the area of your landscape that will provide you with relaxing sounds of the water, while adding to the overall details of your landscape. The water garden is a project that you must 'plan' for continued success. If you are lucky enough to have the room in your lawn for a water garden, you are already one step ahead of many gardeners! Let's talk a little about how to plan for your water garden. A few important factors about placement of a water garden that often are forgotten are:
Do you have children in the neighborhood? If you have or live near children, you will want to keep your water garden in an area that will be close to your home. You will want to be able to see what is 'going on' by the water. Children are curious and they love water! Being able to see your water garden will save you worry later after the creation of your water garden even if the children are in the yard.
Do you have a natural spring in your lawn area? When planning a waterfall in the water garden, the use of a natural spring or water source is going to make the continued success of your water garden much easier. A water garden is possible with a waterfall even if you do not have a natural spring or water source, but it is a little more 'work' to create that special effect. You can find more information about this in another article on this site.
The lay of your land is important. While we will discuss this in other articles as well, planning your water garden around the lay of your land is important. If you are lucky enough to have a flat lawn, you can plan your water garden in various areas. The landscape that includes hills and slopes are a little tricky but using the slope in your lawn, you can create the water garden that takes care of that little 'wet patch' at the bottom of the yard!
Most water gardens are an addition or extension of the natural landscape. To encourage and invite your guests to the water garden for picnics, for chats, and for just sitting in pleasure: Plan the water garden so it's visible from the walkway to your home. The water garden that your visitors and guests see while entering your home adds value to your home and to your conversation!
In planning your water garden, use a sheet of paper to write down what you want to gain from your water garden. Start your list by using personal reasons, value reasoning, enhancing, or changing the overall look of your landscape. Alternately, you may simply want a place for solitude. These are the desires you'll write on your list. From this list, you can better plan 'where' your water garden will suit you and your ideas.
Gordon Goh is author of the free, informative website Simply Flower Garden offering quality useful tips for flower garden lovers.
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Proper Goldfish Feeding

By Carl Strohmeyer
A quality Koi and goldfish food starts with quality aquatic based ingredients. Fish derive their energy from fats, not carbohydrates (although cereal is needed as roughage). also the ammino acids that make up proteins should be ones that can be easily metabolized by fish. Soy proteins and feather meal that are used by many foods are of poor quality. An analogy I used in another blog to compare ammino acid (protein) quality is this: You can achieve the protein analysis of many pet foods with a pair of leather shoes, yet leather shoes are for the most part, made up of undigestable proteins that will eventually lead to renal (kidney) failure in fish.
It also should be pointed out that no one food should be fed alone (including Sanyu). A balanced diet for goldfish should also include Spirulina Flakes and Brine or Mysis shrimp (which have a natural laxative for goldfish). Frequency of feeding is also important, think of goldfish as under water horses, they are regularly grazing, unlike say a lion. The point is that goldfish have long digestive tracts, not unlike horses, and if not kept full, they can develop gas (that is also why the brine shrimp and spirulina are important). Try and feed your goldfish at least two or more times a day (if more often, feed less per feeding).
Sanyu Vital is a complete diet to provide all necessary nutrition for goldfish and koi. This food is formulated to meet the diet requirement for goldfish and koi. The raw material used is selected from vegetable based, high carbohydrates and less protein ingredients are easily digested. Feeding this food will result a rapid colour enhancement.With various vitamins and minerals added ensure the fish stay healthy and vital. Although this food contains soya meals (a poor source of protein in fish), it derives the majority of it's proteins from quality sources such as spirulina vegetable proteins and fish meal.
Vegetable protein extract, fish meal, soya meals, rice bran, wheat flour, corn meal, carotenoid, lecithin, vegetable oil, vitamin A, C, E and important minerals and trace elements
*A quality food (another is Spirulina 20 Fish Food Flake),
*Changing water (20%) once per week,
*Keeping a ph of 7.2- 7.6,
*Proper mineralization and electrolytes, using products such as Wonder Shells.
*Proper filration (including germacidal)
*And proper tank size (one average adult goldfish per 4-8 gallons, depending on filtration)
Sanyu Tropical fish and cichlid food is similar in quality, but with a higher concentration of aquatic based proteins (such as shrimp meal) and less vegetable based ingredients.
TropicalFish Food Ingredients:
Fish meal, shrimp meal, dried yeast, wheat flour, corn meal, fish oil, carotenoid, inositol, vitamin A,C,D, calcium iodate, iodine, magnesium and other elements.Analysis: Protein 37%, Fat 3%, Fibre 4%, Moisture 10%
By Carl Strohmeyer
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To Salt or Not to Salt Your Pond

By Brett Fogle
The important question of whether or not to add salt to your pond is often confusing for beginners and forgotten by experienced pond-keepers. To newbies and pro's alike we have this to say:
"Add Salt Today to Keep the Fish Doctor Away"
True, there are some negative effects of higher salt levels on plants in the pond, but overall we think it is absolutely the very best thing you can add to your pond in terms of keeping your fish happy and healthy. Salt acts as a natural 'stress coat' and essentially thickens the slime coat on the fish's body - which is it's own natural defense system against bacteria and parasites.
Salt is also very effective in killing bacteria and parasites in the pond. When added in proper doses, salting your pond can dramatically reduce the threat of disease affecting your fish.
It's just like with humans - we are always exposed to the common cold cells in their body, but can usually resist if their immune system is strong. Similarly, pond fish and KOI are always exposed to some degree of parasite and bacteria presence in the pond, but by keeping their immune system strong and their slime coat thick, you shouldn't have any problems.
Pond fish actively maintain a natural balance of electrolytes in their body fluids. Electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, chloride, calcium and magnesium are removed from the water by chloride cells located in the gills. These electrolytes are essential for the uptake of oxygen and release of carbon dioxide and ammonium across gill membranes.
The lack of electrolytes can cause serious health problems to the fish. Pond Salt is an all natural salt, providing the essential electrolytes fish need to survive. Pond Salt is not just a table salt ( sodium chloride ). It is made from evaporated sea water. Evaporated sea water contains the necessary electrolytes pond fish need.
How Pond Salt helps Improve Gill Function to Reduce Stress....
During periods of disease and stress, healthy gill function is disturbed. This can lead to the loss of electrolytes through the gills, sometimes called osmotic shock. Osmotic shock interrupts healthy gill function by reducing the intake of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide and ammonium from the fish. Pond Salt reduces the risk of osmotic shock by supplying natural electrolytes through the chloride cells in the gills.
Nitrite Toxicity
Overcrowding and overfeeding can lead to elevated nitrite levels especially in newly set-up ponds. The nitrite ion NO 2 enters the gills and prevents the blood from carrying oxygen resulting in nitrite toxicity or "methemoglobinemia". Pond Salt will temporarily block the toxic effect of nitrite.
All natural Pond Salt is safe and non-toxic to all pond fish when used as directed. Pond Salt can be used safely with Pond Care water conditioners, filtration materials and fish foods.
Directions for Use:
1. When used as a general tonic for fish, and as a stress reducer, add 2 -1/2 cups full (728g) of Pond Salt for each 100 gallons (378 L) of pond water. Sprinkle salt evenly around the perimeter of the pond. Avoid any contact between salt crystals and pond plants. If this is not feasible, pre-dissolve salt first.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Once added to a pond, salt does not evaporate and is not filtered out. Pond Salt should only be added as directed; with each water change, or when fish have been treated with medications.
2. When used to reduce stress in separate treatment tanks or during fish transportation, use 4 tablespoons full (95.2g) of Pond Salt for each 10 gallons (37.8L) of water.
For the health of your pond and environment, it is important that you test pond water regularly. We recommend Aquarium Pharmaceuticals Dry-Tab Master Test Kit for Ponds to test for pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.
For more information about Pond Salt, click here:
About The Author
Brett Fogle is the owner of MacArthur Water Gardens and several pond-related websites including and He also publishes a free monthly newsletter called PondStuff! with a reader circulation of over 9,000 pond owners. To sign up for the free newsletter and receive a complimentary 'New Pond Owners Guide' for joining, just visit MacArthur Water Gardens at his website.
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Preliminary Considerations Before Building Your Own Backyard Garden Pond

By Gerry Fung
This article is geared towards the beginner water gardener, who is comtemplating the installation of his/her first garden pond. The key to a successful do-it-yourself project is to gather as much relevant information that you can. To follow are some preliminary considerations and design tips that must be taken into account, before embarking on a water gardening project.
1. Location
Install it as close as the house as possible to maximize enjoyment. For safety reasons, make sure that there are no underground utilities where you will be excavating. Check with your local utility company before you begin digging.
Be sure to consider the slope of the land and the location of the pond in order to avoid rainwater runoff. If the pond is located in a low-lying area, lawn fertilizers and other chemicals can wash into the pond and harm the fish and plants.
To grow healthy aquatic plants, you will require adequate sun exposure. Most aquatic plants require four to six hours of sunlight per day to ensure healthy growth.
2. Size
Make your pond as large as possible, to give you flexibility when you later fill up the pond with fish and plants.
3. Purpose
Do you want to focus on growing water lilies? If so, locate the pond in full sun. Do you want to raise pond fish? If so, shady areas would be preferred.
4. Edging
You can edge your pond with stones, boulders, plants, beaches, and docks. Plan ahead how you would like to edge your pond.
5. Style
Natural style ponds are built to create the illusion of a mountain stream with waterfalls. Larger boulders and flat stones can be used in combination to create the look of a naturally formed stream. The sound of falling water can be fine-tuned through the careful arrangement and placement of stone.
Urban ponds are typically smaller in area, and are designed to fit well in smaller backyards.
Koi ponds must be able to accomodate fish that can grow to about 2.5 feet in length. Many koi ponds have no plants because koi have a tendency to eat certain types of plants. You must plan for an extremely large pond, and provide adequate surface area for the absorption of oxygen into the water. Ponds for koi must be at least 3 feet deep to provide room for mobility. They also require filtration to keep the water clean.
Next, you must make a decision on the type of pond that you want.
Pre-formed ponds come in a variety of shapes, usually with plant shelves built in. They are ideal for first-time pond builders because they are extremely durable, and less susceptible to tears and punctures. Furthermore, their sturdy pond lips ease the task of leveling during installation. Preformed ponds are easy to install and clean, but require more skill to fit the hole in the ground with the shape of the pond. When properly supported, preformed ponds are ideal for above-ground, indoor, and patio setups.
Flexible liners are ideal for the more experienced water gardeners. They allow for easy and very forgiving installations, which consequently promotes greater creativity. Because you can create various shapes with liners, it is possible to construct larger, and deeper configurations (when compared to preformed ponds).
Concrete installations usually require a professional installation. Concrete is a medium that tends to crack as the ground freezes and thaws.
Use a garden hose to lay out your garden pond shape on the ground. This will allow you to experiment with the size and shape of your pond. Once you have a plan for your water garden, it is important to get your design on paper. The design drawing is paramount because it will help you to make an accurate estimate of the material you will need. The diagram also will allow you to plan for the placement of all the accessories. Be sure to take into consideration the space that rocks and aquatic plants will take in the final design. The pond may appear much smaller visually after all the ponds and rocks are added. At this point, you should also plan for the amount of plant material that you may need to landscape the pond.
Finally, it is now time to make a list of materials required. These materials can be purchased from our online store. In our next article, we will provide detailed instructions on how to install both liner and preformed ponds.
This article was reproduced with permission from
To view the complete article (with pictures), please go to
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Koi Keeping Basics - What You Need To Learn Before You Begin With Koi

By William Kelly
The trouble with keeping Koi is that it's one of those hobbies where you need to know everything about it before you begin doing anything.
This is because the consequences of making a mistake, one that is fundamental, right in the beginning are considerably more onerous than with many other hobbies. If your pond for example, is badly built and develops a leak, say after a year, it will cost you substantial money and effort to resolve the problem. Not to mention the strain your Koi will take during the process!
Do not jump in and build your pond until you are intimately familiar with the following terms:
Mechanical filtration and why sand filters are badBiological filtrationThe Nitrogen CycleNitrifying bacteria - what they are and what they doDenitrifying bacteria - what they are and what they doHeterotrophic and autotrophic bacteriaOrganic and inorganic waste products - what they are and what happens to them
Notice that I said you! Not your dealer and not your pond builder. You and only you! You are the one who has to live with the results. Your dealer will sell you more kit, your pond builder will build you another pond but the success of your pond rests with you! References to other systems that the dealer has sold, or other ponds and filtration systems that the pond builder has built count for very little. Plenty of people before you have bought the wrong thing - that doesn't mean that you should too! The Koi keeper in each of these 'references' is the ultimate determination of success or failure and this can only be measured in years or better, decades.
I will cover these issues in upcoming articles. Once you understand all this, you will be far better equipped to tackle Koi keeping. In the worst case scenario you may decide to settle for a small aquarium, but rather that than end up with a disaster and poorer in both spirit and pocket.
The principle of avoiding fundamental mistakes applies equally with filtration systems. As a Koi keeper you are bound to make mistakes but don't make the expensive ones that are the toughest to cure. Seek advice and search for facts. Koi keeping is not about smoke, mirrors and snake oil. It is in fact a highly scientific hobby which means that it is in fact easy to establish whether you are being led by the nose or not. Facts are either scientifically provable or they're not. Getting to the facts can sometimes be a challenge on its own! Try a sand filter salesman to see what I mean.
The real crunch in the hobby though is that Koi are tough fish. If Koi were as flimsy as say an exotic species like Discus, which require highly specific water conditions, it is doubtful that the hobby would ever have taken off. It takes a lot to kill off a Koi and a less than adequate filtration system may only strike in years to come, when something completely unrelated sets off a chain of events that culminates in weakened Koi that are then simply wiped out by the inadequate filtration system.
The poor Koi keeper is left wondering what happened. He then proceeds the way of many before him, with a shovel, lots of sand and a determination to fill in what was once a treasured feature of his garden, his Koi pond.
I am not a Koi pond builder or construction expert. I do however know what is needed in a Koi pond and would suggest that if you are serious about keeping Koi your pond has to be at least 10 000l. Smaller than that please consider keeping goldfish if you don't want to regularly bury Koi. Koi grow too big to be kept confined in smaller environments than 10 000l.
As with all things Koi, bigger is better. Size counts for everything, even with the Koi themselves. Bear this in mind when it comes to selecting your filtration equipment. If you do your homework into the hobby and you do things properly the first time, your Koi will live and prosper and they will grow. This increase in growth places an increased demand on your filtration system. It sounds obvious, but a 40cm Koi 665 grams on average is very different from a 90cm Koi that can weigh 8448 grams on average. That's twelve times the weight of Koi and twelve times more filtration load!
It still amazes me that people still buy bio filters that are 'rated to treat XXX l of pond water'! Such a rating is completely and utterly meaningless. My biggest problem with it is that it is deliberately misleading to the detriment of the purchaser. What if there is only one single fish in this pond? What if there are a hundred? What if these fish are all 10 kg or heavier? What if they're Koi and not goldfish?
The only meaningful rating is one which indicates how many kilograms of Koi fish weight the bio filter is capable of handling, and at what speed (rate) the bio filter is able to breakdown wastes. It's no good if the bio filter takes three days to remove the wastes produced by Koi - no Koi would be very happy at only being fed once every three days! Remember too that Koi on a weight for weight basis produce about twice as much filtration load as goldfish do - Koi are not known as the 'pigs of dams and rivers' without good reason!
My advice is that any bio filter offering a rating based on pond volume is seriously flawed. Stay away. The designers of these so called bio filters have made a guess as to how many fish would be living in such and such a pond volume, and worse, they've guessed how big these fish are. Even worse, if they have made all these guesses, do they in fact know how many milligrams of ammonia the filter is capable of removing per hour at a specified flow rate and under what conditions? My guess is that they have no idea. In modern Koi keeping, this is nothing short of genocide. The one thing that I can promise you is that once your fish load exceeds these guesses, the only certainty is that your local Koi graveyard is going to be doing a lot more business!
There is no substitute for homework when it comes to Koi keeping. It's a lot of fun and tremendously rewarding to see the results in action. Don't be put off, the processes are not that complicated to understand. All it takes is time. Don't be afraid to ask questions and get second opinions.
Do your homework and be rewarded. Fail to do it, and be condemned!
William Kelly
William Kelly is a Koi hobbyist dragged into the business kicking and screaming. He runs as a koi keeping information website hopefully that helps with a deeper understanding of what it takes to keep Koi happy and healthy.
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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Easy Pond and Water Garden Construction

By Lee Goins
Today’s successful water garden usually is designed as an ecosystem that uses a balance between fish, plants and bacteria keeping the water clear. The type of pond I’m talking about is self-contained (not fed by a spring or stream) and between 100-900 sq ft; a backyard water garden that is easy to maintain and adds value to your lifestyle and property. 20 years ago the typical do-it-yourself water garden was a muck-filled cesspool waiting to happen, while the successful koi pond required deep water and unattractive out of the pond filtering equipment. Thanks to a better understanding of the pond ecosystem and some equipment ideas borrowed from the pool equipment industry, anyone with the ability to dig, make things level, and move rocks and dirt around can create a beautiful living water garden if they use proven equipment and methods.
Now I will admit that there are other ways that can work; But none of the other pond construction methods have the successful track record I’ve seen with pond installs using this system.
The basic elements for this system are underlayment, liner, rocks and gravel, skimmer, fill valve, pump, plumbing, biological filtration, plants, fish, and bacteria.
Here’s a simplified explanation of how this works as an ecosystem. Fish eat insects and plants and then the fish waste spreads through the system . The skimmer draws water off the top layer of the pond helping with circulation and aeration while trapping floating debris in a net. The pump is situated under the net in the skimmer and pumps up to a bio-filter. The bio-filter is often designed to be incorporated into a waterfall. The water enters the bio filter and rises up through filter media that is colonized by bacteria. The bacteria converts the waste into forms less harmful to the fish and less conducive to excessive algae growth. The waterfall or stream add more aeration that the bacteria and fish need. The plants uptake more of the nitrogen and some oxygenate the water. The rocks and gravel provide more area for bacteria and protect the liner from UV rays.
Sheesh! Every time I set out to give a simple explanation of a pond ecosystem it still takes 10 sentences. Suffice it to say that all the parts work together to make your pondkeeping easy!
I use the word easy as a relative term. Compared to the work and rebuilding you may experience with other methods this is the easiest way I know. But there is still a good deal of work in pond construction. Obviously you need to dig and shape a hole in the ground and move some heavy items around. A well trained crew with everything needed on-site can install a pond in a day. It may take a few weekends for a homeowner to do the job himself, depending on their ability, time, and conditions.
Some key points:
Size: It’s best to have it at least 6 ft across. Bigger is better. 16 x 11 is a good medium size. Generally people regret not making the pond larger when they are done with their first one.
Location: There is a tendency to put ponds in a place where water already collects in the yard. This isn’t always the best idea. Groundwater running into the pond can create problems. If possible bring it right up near the patio where you can enjoy the fish and flowing water everyday.
Electric and plumbing: Don’t overlook the need for a GFI outlet near the pump and a water source to keep the pond topped off. Most kits for some reason don’t include a fill valve, but it really is important since on a windy day a pond can easily lose an inch of water. Left unattended this can lead to the pump running dry in the skimmer for a long period causing possible damage. The ponds level of course won’t drop below the skimmer opening.
Lets go over the basic steps for installing this type of pond system.
Decide the size of the pond and order a kit with all the necessary components. Layout the shape of the pond with something like a garden hose. Leave it out there for a while, move it, think about where the falls and different plants will be. If you are building a stream do the layout for it too. Level ground isn’t a problem since you will be excavating enough soil to buildup around your waterfall filter. Paint an outline with orange marking spray paint.
Make arrangements for getting the variety of rock and gravel you will be using.
Position your skimmer and BioFilter. The skimmer should be on the opposite side from the falls or stream to create circulation. Then lay the flexible PVC, or kink-free pipe between the skimmer and waterfall filter. This is so it can be covered during excavation instead of trenching it in.
Establish a firm compacted and level base for the Waterfall filter, perhaps leaning slightly forward, depending on it’s design. If you have help they can be working on digging the pond while you get this right, or vice versa.
Hook up the plumbing to the filter and backfill around it. It’s a good idea to have someone stand in the filter while it is being backfilled to prevent it from shifting out of position on the base.
Examine any slope of the land and establish where the water level will be; usually a couple inches below grade. Finish digging the pond relative to the water level. A rotating laser level is the ultimate tool for this, though they are expensive to rent. Patiently checking string levels in all directions can get the job done also. Include shelves for marginal plants and keep the sides and shelves level. The deep part of the pond should be around 2 ft or a little less. Any deeper and most towns swimming pool codes kick in with fence requirements. Unless you intend to keep a great number of koi this will be plenty deep for your fish. Planting pockets for water lilies can also be dug now. These pockets create a plantable depression in you liner for later. You can either plant directly in these pockets or hide your planters in them covering with gravel creating a more natural looking pond.
Excavate the position for the skimmer so it will be on a firm level base that gets it into correct position relative to the water level. Recheck everything. All the measurements and levels. Make sure the pond is free of sharp objects and unfold the underlayment into it. Start in the deep area pushing the underlayment into all the shelves and pockets. The EPDM rubber liner is then installed in the same way, making sure that it extends far past the waterline (settling will occur) and above the openings on your skimmer, filter, stream etc.
Add rock and gravel. Pre-washing the stones can help with a clean install or you can hose them down in the pond while pumping out the dirty water. Use larger stones at the base of each wall that forms a shelf, building up with smaller ones. Cover flat areas with 1"-2” gravel…absolutely no more than that. If you have extra gravel don’t be tempted to just use more in the bottom of your pond. This is for biological reasons I won’t go into now. The rock should have your liner pretty well pulled into position now so you can make final adjustments on your skimmer and attach the liner to it according to the manufacturers instructions.
Start filling the pond. Now the fun of building the waterfall and stream. Make sure you have plenty of slack running up to the falls opening before you attach it and make any cuts. Also take care to avoid folds in the liner as you twist downstream. Folds in the stream liner are a common source of leaks and why a very wide liner for a stream is recommended. Dry stack stones as in a wall up the front of the waterfall filter. Using black waterfall foam or some other type of expanding foam to seal the space between the rocks. This makes the water flow over the rocks instead of disappearing into the cracks between. Black waterfall foam is nice for blending in with the rocks. The basic outline of the stream should have been established with excavated soil from the pond, but some digging of different catch pools may be necessary and you may need to build up more of a berm at the waterfall. Rock in the sides of the stream and cover the bottom with gravel as in the pond. Use the waterfall foam to seal in rocks wherever a cascading effect is wanted, using flat rock to form the lip of falls and sealing under them.
Install the pump, install the overflow plumbing and fill valve in the skimmer. When water level is high enough and all the waterfall foam is dry, (you can assume your hands will be covered with the stuff, but try to avoid it because it is very difficult to clean off!) try out the pump. You will then need to refill the pond as it will take a large volume of water to fill the plumbing, falls and stream. Once you are happy everything is as it should be, cut the excess liner away. Leave several inches of liner for settling and possible adjustments.
There are plenty more nuances to building a pond but this should give you a decent feel for what a water garden project entails. The kits we sell include a decent installation manual and I’m happy to answer any questions as are many other pond enthusiasts.
A garden center manager, writer, builder of water gardens, musician and webmaster; Lee Goins is often called on as an expert in landscaping and gardening. Lee's site The Garden Aquatic offers products and advice to make water gardening easier. His garden and landscaping site is
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