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.

How to keep a pond clean

April 27, 2011

1. Many of the reasons for cloudy water are because the pond is built improperly. The water level in the pond must be above the surround area. If it is not, run off when it rains will go into your pond. So all the dirt from roads, grass or lawn, roofs, and driveways will end up in your pond. If you have built your pond below grade, you will need filtration to keep the water clear. That filtration can be as simple as a submerged foam rubber filter, a container of lava rocks that the pump sucks water through or as extensive as an exterior bead filter with a UV light attached. But you will need filtration or your water will always be cloudy and algae filled.

2. If you have koi, you need filtration. Koi are magnificent eating machines. And the more they eat, the more waste they produce. Fish waste feeds algae and algae turn your water green. If you want to keep koi, think about a bead filter or at least an exterior sand filter.

3. If you have goldfish and feed them, you will need filtration. Usually a lava rock homemade filter will be sufficient, but sometimes, if you have a large amount of fish in a small pond, you will need a large filter system. As with koi, go with an exterior bead filter or submerged commercial filter system. If you balance your pond ecologically and do not feed your fish, you will need no filtration at all.

4. Cover half the top of your pond with floating plants. When sun hits water, algae form. Keep the water half covered and half as much water will be in the sun. Use water lilies or water hyacinths. Water clover or water poppies work well for natural cover.

5. Watch your bioload. If you have too many fish, the fish waste will not be absorbed by your ecologically balanced pond and the water will turn green. One linear foot of fish per 25-square feet of pond surface is a good rule to follow.
6. Know the pH of your water. If it gets on the basic side, algae grow and the water turns green. Usually this will fix itself if the pond is balanced. If it doesn’t after a couple of weeks, you can buy a commercial product to lower the pH or you can use muriatic acid. Be careful if you do. It can be dangerous.

7. If you find string algae or blanketweed, a common problem introduced into ponds, usually with new plants, a bale of scotch barley works to eliminate it. Be patient. It can take as long as a month to work. Always put another bale in the water before the old one is completely decomposed.

8. If blanketweed continues to be a problem, you can use a black dye for about 3 months to be rid of the stuff for good. Black water is great in a reflecting pool and water lilies look great swaying atop the black water. Your submerged vegetation will not be harmed.

9. You can use a commercially made product and they work well for blanketweed control. Just be very careful in the application because the algae clump at the bottom and can deplete pond water oxygen. If that happens, your fish will die.

10. If you are under a tree and your water is a brownish color, the tannin from the leaves is staining the water. The only way I have found to clear tannin is to use activated charcoal in your filter. You can find it in an aquarium store. Wash it first, put it in an old panty hose leg and put it in your filter. Change it when the water begins to turn brown again. Do NOT use the charcoal you barbecue with. It is not the same thing.

Ponds are the focal point of our gardens. We want our water to be clear and clean. The best way to do that is with benevolent neglect and keeping the pond balanced ecologically. But if you wish to feed the fish or keep koi, you must work a little harder for clear water. Using these few easy fixes will do that for you.

Article from Jan Goldfield, Yahoo Contributor:

Winterizing Your Pond

December 7, 2010

Putting your pond to bed for winter doesn’t need to be an arduous process. Sure, it’s sad to say goodbye to your finned friends for a few months, but following a few simple tips will ensure that your fish joyfully greet you again in the spring.

Remove leaves and debris
Putting a pond net over your water feature before leaves start falling from trees is the easiest way to contain and manage leaf control. Once all the leaves have fallen, simply roll up the net, discard the leaves, and put the net away until the next time it’s needed. Cool Ponds offers different sizes of pond nets, just measure your pond and stop by Cool Ponds located at 2001 Bayshore Blvd, Dunedin, FL 34698, or call 727-738-4974.

If you didn’t install netting, you’ll probably have a buildup of leaves and debris that need to be removed. A long-handled pond net makes an easy job of scooping the debris from the bottom of the pond. If you leave the debris on the bottom of the pond, you’ll be creating a bigger mess to face in the spring.

Trim dead or dying foliage
Stop fertilizing your aquatic plants. Trimming dead foliage helps remove excessive organic debris that would otherwise decompose in the water. Cut back hardy water lilies just above the base of the plant and cut back marginal plants that could droop over into the water.

Add cold water bacteria
Add cold water bacteria to help keep pond water clean and clear. Cold water beneficial bacteria contain concentrated strains of beneficial bacteria designed to work in temperatures lower than 50 degrees. Regular use of cold water beneficial bacteria will help maintain water quality and clarity, as well as dramatically reduce spring maintenance by digesting debris that may accumulate over the winter months.

Ensure healthy fish before winter
A well-balanced diet creates healthy, happy fish. You want to make sure your fish are in good condition before they go into hibernation. When the water temperature falls below 60 degrees, the metabolism and digestion of your fish begins to slow down. Cool Ponds carries Blackwater Creek Premium Cool Season Fish Food is scientifically formulated to properly nourish your fish during these lower temperatures. Be sure to stop feeding your fish when water temperature falls below 50 degrees.

Taking a little time and effort to prepare your pond for winter not only helps your fish survive their winter slumber, but makes your spring maintenance much easier. Be sure to follow these winter guidelines so you can experience the greatest joy from your pond when spring rolls around once again.

Must haves for the winter
Here is a list of items that Cool Ponds recommends for the winter season.

  • Pond Thermometer – (you need to know what your water temp is. Air temps & water temps can vary greatly.)
  • Pond netting – Covering your pond keeps leaves and debris out. Also, it keeps predators from eating your fish.
  • Blackwater Creek Cool Season Fish Food.
  • Cold Weather Bacteria
  • Laguna Pruning Tool

Winter Blow Out Sale

November 22, 2010

On Saturday, December 4th 8am to 5pm and on Sunday, December 5th from 10am to 3pm, Cool Ponds in Dunedin, FL will be having a huge Winter Blow Out Sale.

Below is just a sample of what the saving will be…

  • Spitters up to 45% off
  • Pressure Filters up to 45% off
  • Pond Plants, BOGO, buy 1 get 1 free (of equal or lesser value)
  • Koi Fish, buy 1 koi, get the 2nd koi 1/2 price (o equal or lesser value)
  • All rocks and gravel on sale (this includes washed crushed shell & rail road ties)
  • Stone Tables 40% off
  • Concrete bird baths 25% off

We have some items that have been closed out or discontinued and have been marked down up to 50%.

Stop by Cool Ponds early to get the best selection.

FYI… Winter Hours:

Cool Ponds will be closed on Nov 25th & 26th

Starting December 12th, Cool Ponds will be closed on Sundays.

Cool Ponds will be closed from Dec 24th until Jan 2nd. We will reopen on Monday, January 3rd @ 8am

Cool Ponds, 2001 Bayshore Blvd, Dunedin, FL 34698


Disappearing Pondless Waterfall Seminar

November 9, 2010

Cool Ponds has planned a “Hands-On” Build-A-Pond Seminar for those of you who want a waterfall but aren’t sure about a water garden or a Koi pond due to space, time or young children.

The Cool Ponds disappearing pondless waterfall system includes the waterfall, a stream, rocks, and gravel, but no fish and more important, no water deeper than an inch or two! That’s why it is called a disappearing pondless waterfall!

Disappearing pondless waterfalls are perfect for people who have young kids, people who travel frequently, schools, businesses and people with limited space. It’s called a disappearing pondless waterfall because the water does not form a pond, instead disappearing into an underground “pondless” reservoir beneath rock and gravel.

The water is pumped up to the waterfall, then down a stream and disappears into the “pondless basin”, which contains the pump chamber and pump. The pump re-circulates the water from the basin, back up to the waterfall. It is a totally self contained eco- system.

The Cool Ponds seminar will be held on Saturday, November 20th, 2010 from 8 am – 5 pm. Cost is $20.00 per person (kids are free) and includes lunch and refreshments. Spaces are limited and filling up fast. You must pre-register and pre-pay by either calling Cool Ponds at 727-738-4974 or visiting the Cool Ponds store located at 2001 Bayshore Blvd, Dunedin, FL 34698. The seminar will be held outdoors, on the job site, so please dress accordingly.