Fishponds add fascination for aquatic fans

May 27, 2011
Article By Brian J. Lowney
Fur, fins and feathers

Fascinated by the life aquatic? If so, late spring is the perfect time to install a fishpond.

An outdoor home for fish can be as modest as a plastic container the size of a litter box or as grand as a professionally designed structure with waterfalls and other enhancements.

“Ponds are pretty to look at and people enjoy watching fish,” says Richard Rego of Swansea, a marine animal expert and tropical fish hobbyist.

“It’s another form of gardening, too.”

Goldfish, carp and koi are among the most popular pond fish. Other varieties include golden orfe and tench.

“All of these are cold- tolerant that can survive in a pond in the winter,” Rego says.

During the summer, outdoor fish build up enough fat to survive through their winter dormancy, when they get little or no food. When water temperatures dip below 50 degrees, fish cannot digest their food.

“Once the warmer weather arrives, the first inclination that fish have is to breed and then they eat to put on weight for the next winter,” Rego says. “If the fish are healthy going into the winter months, they should survive.”

All fishponds require regular maintenance, which varies according to the size of the pool. While rain does help replenish water that’s evaporated, owners must check water levels, remove algae and feed fish, Rego says.

Owners should be prepared to pay additional electrical costs incurred by fountains, waterfalls and lights, Rego advises. He also points out that while fishponds are often installed to enhance property, they can also be a detriment because many prospective buyers don’t want to deal with the responsibilities and costs of maintaining a pond.

Rego warns against introducing native wildlife — frogs, turtles and fish found in local waters — into backyard habitats.

“You run the risk of introducing disease and parasites,” he warns, adding, “Frogs won’t stay where they are replanted.” Sometimes, he notes, inquisitive amphibians will discover and relocate in the new habitat.

To enhance the beauty of a pond, owners can install cultivated lilies and other water plants available at a garden center.

He warns pond owners never to release excess koi and other fish into the wild because they become easy prey for waterfowl, storks and osprey.

“The biggest pests are great blue herons,” Rego says. “They are notorious for finding koi ponds and wiping them out in a few days. For them, it’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet.”

To protect fish, he recommends placing a protective net over the pond to ward off predators.

Once temperatures rise, fishponds run the risk of becoming mosquito breeding grounds.

To avoid this problem, Rego suggests biological insecticides to control pests and a test kit to keep track of water quality.

Property owners should also put a fence around the pond to prevent accidents.

“Read books and magazines, visit garden centers, get some design ideas, learn about fish and have a lot of fun,” Rego says.


Water garden supplies to make a pond beautiful

May 20, 2011

The right water garden supplies come together to make a beautiful water garden. A water garden can be many different things for different people, including a shallow pond, fountains, waterfalls, decorative rocks, lights and plants. It can be built into the landscape, in a patio container or even indoors. One thing all water gardens have in common is moving water. Building a water garden can be simple or complex, but even the simplest designs require a few supplies.

Water gardens need something to hold the water. This can be in any container that is watertight or lined with plastic to become watertight. It can also be a garden pond, lined with a flexible or rigid pond liner. Some water gardens do not have an apparent water basin, instead visible water moves through a fountain or waterfall then disappears to a hidden basin below where it a pump moves it back up to the top. This type of water feature is called a disappearing waterfall.

All water gardens need a pump to move water through the display. Even water gardens simply consisting of shallow ponds decorated with stones or aquatic plants must have a pump to circulate water to oxygenate it and prevent stagnation. For this application, a small pump that will circulate the volume of water in about an hour is sufficient. The size of pump necessary for water gardens with fountains or waterfalls depends on the amount of water it must move and the distance it must move it.

Pond Filters are another necessary part of many water gardens. Any water exposed to the air is subject to accumulating debris. If left alone, debris will decompose and eventually turn the water murky and toxic to plants and animals. If the water garden is home to fish such as koi, it is even more important to have a filter to clean the water of fish waste and uneaten koi food, to maintain a healthy environment. Mechanical filter pads remove debris and suspended particles from the water. Biologic filters consist of living organisms such as microbes within a filter media that digest and remove dissolved pollutants from fish waste and decomposing organic material. Chemical filters such as carbon and zeolite purify the water chemically.

Water gardens introduce the sound and sight of water to a backyard or any location. They can add texture, depth and appeal to the landscape with not only water but also lush greenery, decorative rocks and nighttime lighting. The water garden supplies needed — a liner, pond pump and filter — are affordable and readily available at any pond or garden supply store.

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Supplies required for your pond

May 2, 2011

Taking care of one’s pond is sometimes an intensive task but is almost always very enjoyable. Depending on whether one has fish, plants or both in their pond, the amount of pond supplies required will vary tremendously.

Fish Pond Supplies

Fish pond supplies will be required to ensure that one’s fish have a clean and healthy environment in which to live. Some of these pond supplies have to do with the maintenance of the pond and others have to do with keeping the fish healthy themselves. Koi fish are particularly sensitive to their environment; it would therefore be advisable to keep vital fish pond supplies for immediate deployment.

Vacuums are used to keep the bottom of the pond healthy just as they are where swimming pools are concerned. The vacuums used for ponds are generally able to handle the debris and other particulate matter that collects in ponds.

To keep the water itself healthy, one will need one of the various filters on the market. These come in several varieties. Basket filters pull the water through materials which remove particulate debris. An important pond supply is the bacteria used for biological filters which remove algae and harmful organisms from the water. UV filters accomplish a similar task but without the requirement of continuous additional pond supplies, as they operate by frying organisms with ultraviolet radiation. One will need to purchase these filters and any additional garden pond supplies based upon the water volume in their pond.

Another pond supply that one needs on hand is a net which can be used to retrieve larger debris from the water. Particularly in the autumn when leaves are blowing around, one needs to make certain that their pond doesn’t become polluted with refuse. Having a permanent net over the top of the water to catch windblown debris is also a good idea.

A pond aerator ensures that one’s fish have enough air to breathe.  They work on the same principle as do their smaller cousins which are seen in indoor aquariums.

There will inevitably be organisms that begin to grow in the water. To remove those organisms, one will need to use various chemical pond supplies. There are chemicals available that inhibit the growth of both bacteria and algae. One will also need to use a dechlorination chemical to remove chorine from the water when new water is added to the pond. Like humans, fish do not like chlorine built up in their water and it must be removed. Some people use kosher salt to remove algae from their ponds. This can only be done when the fish are safely removed to another location and it must be taken out of the pond before the water is put back in. Generally, the fish pond supplies that allow this task to be done without removing the fish are much easier and just as effective.

Pond Pump Supplies

Pumps are such a vital pond supply that they deserve their own section. There are several different types of pumps available on the market. The biggest difference between the types available is whether they’re placed above or below the water.

Make certain that any pump purchased can circulate the full volume of the water within the space of an hour. It’s best to purchase a pump that is a little larger in capacity than what’s needed rather than to hope a smaller pump will do the trick.

If one happens to be using a submersible pump, station it on a milk crate or another porous, raised surface. This ensures that, should the pump malfunction, that it will not completely pump the water out of the pond and thus kill the fish. A spare pump might be a good pond supply to have in case of pump failure.

Pond Filter Supplies – Beneficial Bacteria

There are bacterial agents which can be added to the pond which are helpful in retarding the growth of algae and other impurities. The good bacteria also kill off the bad bacteria which can ruin the health of the fish. This should be added from time to time to ensure that algae has no nutrients on which it can feed and to break down fish waste.

The waste added to the water by fish can result in toxic levels of ammonia. These bacteria break that waste and ammonia down into harmless materials which are beneficial to the health of the pond. This is an important pond supply to have on hand.

Pond Supplies in Kit form

Many of the most common garden pond supplies can be purchased as kits. This can save money and make it easier to ensure that one doesn’t forget a vital element of their pond maintenance. Make certain that the kit has adequate material for the volume of one’s pond. It may be necessary to purchase additional quantities of pond supplies individually to accommodate the needs of a very large pond. It’s also best to keep some garden pond supplies on hand in case an emergency happens to present itself.

Certain times of year will require more maintenance than others. For instance, algae will almost certainly rear its ugly head during the spring when the waters become warm for the first time of the year. It’s best to have spare pond supplies like a pump on hand, as well, in case one happens to break down at an inopportune time when a replacement cannot be purchased.

Depending on where one lives, it may also be advisable to purchase simple pond supplies such as a pond thermometer and a pond heather. Pond fish can survive in the Florida winter.

One may also consider purchasing a fake heron to place near the pond. This will discourage other birds which prey upon fish from turning one’s pond into a restaurant.

Another nuisance associated with water is mosquito infestation. While one’s koi or goldfish will certainly enjoy snacking on insects, it may be necessary to add a biological agent that kill off these pests. These water pond supplies are generally not at all toxic to any other life forms and can ensure that one’s backyard doesn’t become a breeding ground.

To prevent overlooking an important pond supply make a list of all the pond supplies one will need on a regular bases in addition to the pond supplies one might require in case of an emergency.

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