July 25th, 2011
I am surprised when I speak to customers how many people do not know how their filters work to keep their ponds clean. It is very simple.. Bacteria. A well seeded filter will have a good growth of bacteria. The bacteria eats up all the extra nutrients and will starve out the algae. Pretty simple. But the bacteria needs a few things to stay alive and thrive as well. First and foremost is oxygen! You must keep water running through your filter 24/7. Not 5 hours or even 12 hours a day- 24 hours a day! Other wise the bacteria starts to die and becomes fertilizer for the new algae when you turn the filter back on again. Pretty yucky. Next, it helps to clean your filter with pond water instead of fresh water as the fresh water will again kill the bacteria. If you need more or have killed your bacteria there are some very good seed bacteria. Sunland Water Gardens carries many different well tested bacterias your can purchase and add to your pond to keep your filter running happy and healthy!
Let’s make a water garden!
June 7th, 2011
There are many new trends surfacing in gardening, and water gardening is one of the main new interests. Water gardening can be in the form of waterfalls, ponds, fountains, all of which can be enhanced by rock work combinations and lighting, plants, and fish. Water gardening doesn’t have to be a pond or natural water source either, it can consist of just a plastic tub, basically anything that can hold water.
The most important thing to consider in water gardening is probably the spot chosen. Since plants and fish both need plenty of sunlight, places in direct light away from trees and bushes is the best place. This will also help prevent leaves and debris from collecting in the water.
When planning for a water garden first decide the size you want. This will depend on how much money you are willing to spend because water gardening can get a bit expensive if you opt for a large garden full of plants, rocks, fish, and lights. Also consider the size of our property, and the amount of time you want to spend with maintaining your water garden.
When you choose what type of aquatic plants you wish to have, remember that the plants should only cover about half of the water. Plants can be free floating, submerged, or marginal. Which you choose is all a matter of personal preference. Some plants are good for their scent, some provide more oxygen than others and will keep the pool health, and some are just beautiful. Fish are not only nice to look at but they are also very beneficial. Fish help keep debris at a minimum and help in controlling larva and other insects.
One of the main difficulties in water gardening is keeping water clear of algae. Algae problems are usually caused from too many nutrients in the water from feeding fish too often or from over fertilizing plants. If ponds are made correctly and are maintained properly algae problems and control will be kept at a minimum.
All garden pools regardless of size will need maintenance throughout the year. With proper planning you can ensure a healthy balance between living and decorative features of a water garden that can almost care for itself with simple maintenance inputs from you.
You can get rid of algae by reducing on the nutrients that cause the algae by cutting back on feeding and fertilizing, planting more plants, installing a filter system, or replacing existing water with fresh water. There are some chemicals that can be used, like copper compounds, but overuse can kill plant life and fish.
Water gardening doesn’t take anymore time than regular gardening, but obviously isn’t near the same thing. You may be the type person who couldn’t grow a flower if you tried but would be excellent at water gardening. If you are looking for a way to occupy some time or to beautify your yard, water gardening is an excellent way. We can help you plan, build and maintain your pond. We have everything you will need do easily do it yourself. At Sunland Water Gardens we have been doing ponds for over 30 years. If you have any questions our expert staff can happily walk you through every asspect of water gardening! Call 818 353 5131 for more pond info!
Keeping Fish Healthy
May 23rd, 2011
In order to be successful at keeping or treating goldfish and koi, you must first be sure that you are providing the fish with the best possible water conditions. At Sunland Water Gardens we can help you will all aspects of balance and pond cycles. Just call 818 353 5131.
Many times, bad water quality is what causes fish to become diseased in the first place. The following are the water quality parameters that must be adhered to in order to be successful.
Toxic chemicals from your water supply – Chlorine and chloramines are both commonly used to disinfect public water supplies. Both are lethal to fish. They can be easily eliminated with commercial water conditioners that are available to neutralize these poisonous compounds present in tap water.
Temperature – Temperatures should be between 65 and 85 degrees. Goldfish and koi will thrive below 65 degrees, but disease treatment is much more effective at higher temperatures because the fish’s immune system is functioning better. Be sure to keep your holding facilities in the shade if possible to avoid high temperatures.
Dissolved Oxygen – Fish need oxygen in the water to survive. A lightly stocked pond may not need additional aeration. If you have more than just a few fish in your pond or holding tank, additional aeration may be needed. You can purchase air blowers, airstones, or paddle type aerators made for the purpose.
Inexpensive oxygen test kits can be purchased at most pet shops. Levels need to be above 6 ppm at all times.
Ammonia – Ammonia comes from fish waste or decomposition of uneaten food. Ammonia levels will quickly rise to lethal levels in a system with new or uncycled filters (see “The Cycle” for further information). Levels need to be maintained as close to 0 ppm as possible. If levels are consistently above 0.5 ppm, you need to decrease stocking densities, feeding, and /or increase filtration. The combination of high ph and high ammonia is especially dangerous because with each 1 point increase in ph (for example from ph 7 to ph 8 ) the ammonia present is 10 times more toxic. (Ammonia is 100 times more toxic when you go from ph 7 to ph 9). You cannot smell or see high levels of ammonia. You MUST use test kits.
Nitrite – Bacteria in your filter system consumes ammonia. However, a byproduct of this is another toxic chemical called nitrite. It must also be monitored. Aim for 0 ppm. Anything above 0.15 ppm is stressful to the fish and can cause disease. To correct high nitrite levels, increase water changes and filtration, decrease feeding and stocking densities. You can also add uniodized salt, 3 lbs/100 gallons, to decrease the toxicity of nitrite. Nitrite accumulation will quickly kill fish in systems without fully cycled biofilters (see The Cycle).
ph – ph is the measurement of hydrogen ions in your water. Aim for ph of 7-9. Fish can survive at a lower ph. However, at this point, you are dangerously close to a ph crash, resulting in severe stress to your fish. Remember that as the bacteria in your filter does its job, it will gradually “use up” the carbonates in the water, resulting in a declining ph. Therefore it’s important to continually monitor your ph. A ph above 9 is not harmful by itself. However, if you have any ammonia in your water, it is much more toxic (see the ammonia section). To increase ph, add sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) @ 1 teaspoon per 10 gallons until the desired level is reached. Lowering ph is a little more difficult. Adding peat or vinegar is somewhat effective. Ponds with “pea-soup” water in them will have wide fluctuations in ph due to the photosynthesis of the algae. Elimination of the green water will correct the problem. New concrete holding tanks leech out lime and will cause high ph. Let them cure for several weeks before adding fish.
“The Cycle” refers to the sequence of events that take place in all new biofilters during the first few weeks of operation. It’s important to understand the process so that you can avoid stressing your fish during the beginning of the season. During early spring, retailers who keep their fish outdoors are faced with the following scenario: You want to start bringing in fish to sell, but your filter is either new or has been shut down for the winter. In order for your filter to become functional and mature, it has “to cycle”. The process usually takes 6 to 8 weeks. Fish produce a highly toxic chemical called ammonia. As it is produced by the fish a family of beneficial bacteria called Nitrosomonus will start to grow on your filter media and consume the ammonia, converting it to another harmful chemical called nitrite. As nitrites become present, a second kind of bacteria, Nitrobacter, will start to grow and consume the nitrite, converting it to relatively harmless nitrate. When you first put fish into your system, the ammonia will get very high, very quickly. During this period, keep stocking densities low and do lots of water changes. As the ammonia levels decrease, nitrite levels will increase rapidly. During this period, keep stocking densities low, do water changes, put salt in @ 3-4 lbs/per 100 gallons to reduce the toxicity of nitrites. When levels of both ammonia and nitrite bottom out, you have a mature, fully functional biofilter, capable of processing all of the wastes from your fish. You can now slowly increase stocking densities. To speed up the process, add filter media from a mature filter.
April 23rd, 2011
Mosquitos can spread the severe, and in some cases deadly, West Nile Virus and they also unfortunately love standing water. This can become quite a problem with ponds and water gardens, especially ones that are inhabited by or are near critters or other smaller animals.
If your pond ever experiences an influx of mosquitos, we recommend introducing Mosquito Fish into your pond, which will greatly reduce the amount of mosquitos and the frequency in which they will wander around your pond.
If you need more information on Mosquito Fish, or to purchase them, please contact us!
Pumping Out Savings
April 23rd, 2011
Think you can’t save “at the pump”? Think again! Many exterior pond pumps qualify for rebates from your electric company. Sunland Water Gardens has pumps that use a fraction of the electricity but has the highest GPH rating available and you can even get a rebate with the pumps as well! In most cases, the pump will pay for itself in less than a year!
Stop by our location or call for more info!
April 23rd, 2011
Trying to figure out where to start when designing your perfect water garden? Start with realizing your emotional and creative goals:
How do you envision your perfect back yard paradise? Do you imagine hearing the soft sound of frogs in the background, or maybe the buzzing of a bumble bee humming by your pond? There are so many ways of working with water that the problem isn’t finding a pond design that will work for you, but rather having to make a final choice among several types of pond styles that you want. Every yard has that ‘perfect’ spot for a pond.
Imagine the perfect pond or waterfall. Is it a focal point in the garden or a destination spot? Are family and friends gathered ‘round? Do gentle, brightly colored Koi call your pond home? Or is it covered in an eye catching water lotus? Write down not only what you see your pond being, but how you feel when you envision it. Writing down these moods, feels, and ideas will generate a list that you can always call on to make sure that your in-progress pond is everything you want it to be.
Hummingbirds, Dragonflys, and Butterflys
April 23rd, 2011
So you’ve filled your pond with some lush bog plants and beautiful flowers. You’ve also added some critters and Koi to round out the ecosystem. What other unique additions can you bring to your pond? How about hummingbirds, dragonflies, and even butterflies? All it takes is a little running water.
Hummingbirds, dragonflies, and butterflies are attracted to areas with running water, especially one as ecologically varied as a water garden. You can build out something elaborate like a permanent waterfall, or opt for something simpler, like an independent standing fountain. Either way, the cool flowing water will be a magnet for even more fantastic critters.
Baby, It’s Cold Outside
April 23rd, 2011
Cold weather can be a tricky and intimidating factor in sustaining the life of a water garden. Don’t fret over your Koi; they will not suffer or be affected by the change in weather. Rather, special attention should be paid to tropical lilies and many bog plants, both of which won’t fare well in harsh weather.
Pull all of the less hardy plants or flowers in your pond out of the water, wrap them in plastic, and move them to a warmer spot. The “migration”, coupled with normal care and maintenance will keep all of your plants alive and healthy until Spring decides to return!