Thursday, June 5, 2008

Blooming Ponds, Means Blooming Algae (Green Water)

This is peak season for pond owners and garden pond builders. All the plants are blooming and the fish are very active. Our fish will come to the top of the pond when someone is around in anticipation of being fed. My son loves to feed the fish every morning when we get to the office. My other son says, "fish" every time we are close to the door or outside. We have a very pretty pond and waterfall here at the office that is very low maintenance. We are blessed with a good balance in the pond and the water stays clear. Unfortunately we are in the minority because most people call us this time of year begging for help with their Green Water.
Green water ("PEA SOUP") is caused by suspended algae in the water. The sunlight blooms this microscopic algae along with all the other plants in you pond. This algae also feeds off of waste products produced by the fish. The more fish you have the more likely you will have an algae problem. So what to do about this one will ask.
If you want to solve the problem and not keep treating it then a ultraviolet light is the way to go. The problem a lot of people face when choosing a UV is the want the cheapest unit they can find instead of properly sizing a correct size unit out for their application. There are a few things we like to know before suggesting a size. #1 how big is your pond and the second question we always ask is what size pump are you running. Obviously if you choose a small unit for a large pond it will not work. Also when considering your pump there are a few things to keep in mind. If you use a small UV unit with a large pump pressure you risk the chance of blowing the seals on the unit thus rendering it useless and voiding the warranty. Also if you run the water thru it too fast you will not get the clarification you need. Most UV units have 2 rates of flow. A clarification rate and a sterilization rate. For clarification the rate is usually a faster than for sterilization. The water needs to be slowly passed by the light in order for it to disrupt the life cycle of the blooming algae in the water.
Another thing to consider with maintenance of a UV light is to regularly change your bulb. It is recommend to change your bulb once a year, usually at the start of season. Sometimes it may still be burning but it will lose it effectivity. When using a UV, also remember if you add bacteria or other treatments you need to shut down the UV for 18 hours after in order to let the treatments work or bacteria to thrive. The light can also disrupt these treatments just like it disrupts algae.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New Year, New Ponds!

With a new year comes ideas of wanting to build a new pond or water feature. In January the idea comes up and people may start researching the idea. Research is good. Get an idea of your plan and what materials you need. Keep in mind that when searching prices in January that they may change by the time you get ready to build. Most suppliers put out their catalogs the first of the year. Upon receiving catalogs, many times a retailer may have to increase their prices due to an increase in cost of products.
There is a lot of helpful information on the internet regarding pond building. Also remember their are many opinions out there. There is not 1 way that is correct but there will be a way that is best for each person. Ponds can range from very small to very very large. If you are planning your first pond the best thing to do is buy a pond kit. A Pond kit typically has everything you need to build your pond except a few things like rocks, fish and the labor of course! Pond kits usually have the liner, underlay, skimmer, filterfall, tubing, fittings, handifoam and bacteria. Kits range from economy to high end. They really are the way to go for a first time pond builder. There are many size kits available to fit what size pond you may be looking for. If you are not sure what you want or need, find a supplier out there who will take the time to talk with you and answer your questions.
Don't wait till the week before you want to start the project to order. Likely everyone else is wanting to build their pond in the spring just like you. Order your products several weeks before you think you need them. There is always a rush in the spring for pond products. While most suppliers try to keep a good stock, it is impossible to have everything all the time. Beat the rush and order early. You will more likely catch items in stock and receive them quicker.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Please Read Instructions before Using!!!

I am always fussing at my husband when we buy something that needs to be put together. First thing he does is pull everything out and starts trying to put it together. I on the other hand like to make sure all the parts are there and then follow the instructions step by step. We usually end up working together and getting it together. I read the instructions, get the parts needed for each step and then he assembles it.
Well you may wonder what in the world does this have to do with ponds and water gardens. I promise I am going to make a point with this. It is that so many people would save a lot of time and headache if they would first read the instructions to whatever they may be using or putting together. You would think some products are a no brainer. Well I promise you that even on those products there has been someone who did not read and then had problems. So here are a few things to know that perhaps get looked over in manuals:
  1. Skimmers & Filterfalls- People often do not read everything regarding these and miss the part where it says. During the winter if you expect freezing water, empty the water out of your unit. Why? Freezing water expands which could equal busted unit. This also applies to any type of filter that has water in it. Either inside or outside the pond.
  2. Pumps- Boy there are a lot of things I could say here, but I will just name a few. 1st never, never, never cut the cord on a pump. This always voids the warranty. It says it plain and clear on every pump manual I have seen, but I can not tell you how many times someone has called us wanting us to replace a pump even though the cord has been cut. We can't do it. The manufacturer will not honor a warranty if a cord is cut or if the pump has been disassembled. Don't take the pump apart thinking you can fix it. More than likely you can't so just leave it alone. Then only time you would take something apart would be on some of the magnetic drive pumps and then you can take off the volute to check the impeller. But only that nothing else unless specifically told by the manufacturer.

These are just a few of the problems we have run into through the years of dealing with ponds. There are many others but these were the top 2 I could think of this morning.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Running your waterfall thru the winter

We often get asked about keeping a waterfall running during the winter. Here where we typically have mild winters it is possible and we do keep ours running. One must use common sense when deciding if it is appropriate in their location. Obviously if you live in a place that gets hard freezes then don't keep it running. If you are able to keep it running in the winter here are a few things to watch out for just in case.
The running water is good during the winter if at all possible. If the water does start freezing, keep an eye on it. Once you start freezing in the fall watch to make sure the water is not diverted out of the fall or pond by the ice. This could quickly drain your pond and result in burning up your pump. Also if the waterfall continues to form ice and keeps freezing more and more, then you need to consider shutting off the pump.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Storing pumps in the Winter

Just one quick thing on storing your pump for the winter. I know that a lot of people will disconnect their pump for cold weather. Remember that most all pumps have seals and gaskets in them, so it is best to store them in water. Just get a 5 gallon bucket, fill it with water and put your pump in it. Keep this in a basement, mud room, utility room, etc.... The purpose of this is to keep your seals from dry rotting.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


Wow I woke up this morning to frigid temperatures. I said I would regularly post some tips for winterizing ponds so here goes another tip. Floating pond heaters are typically designed to keep a hole in your pond not designed to heat all the water. These usually are round units that keep a small circle open in the surface of your pond. What good does this do you might ask. The purpose is to allow toxic gases to escape your pond. If frozen over the toxic materials are stuck in the pond, however with a hole in the ice these materials are able to escape. I always recommend along with this pond heater is to add a small pump to help circulate the water. Just run a small piece of pvc, tube, etc.. up to the surface just to oxygenate and circulate a small amont of water. I do realize there are parts of the country this will not work because of the extreme cold temperature. Another option besides this is a good aeration system.There are several other things I want to talk about and will try to hit all the questions I usually receive each year.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Winter Approaching

Winter is swiftly approaching and has made a big arrival this week in some places. Many questions regarding winterization pop up as the weather changes. I will try to address some of the popular questions over the next few weeks. One common question that comes up is: "When should I stop feeding my fish?". Well for many parts of the country the time has already arrived. Here in the southcentral US it is just now getting that time. A good rule is in the fall to change their food to some sort of autumn or winter staple food. These foods usually have less protein and prepares the fish for cooler water temps. As the water tempeture drops the metabolism of the fish slows so they are not able to metablolize the protein as they do in spring and summer temps. Around 42 degrees F (6 degrees C) you need to stop feeding your fish. This is just a few thoughts I have on preparing the fish for winter. I will follow up in a few days with more suggestions on winterizing your watergarden. If you can think of any issues you would like me to discuss just let me know and I will try to help. Thanks and enjoy the beauty of your pond during this winter season.