Questions and Answers
Aeration – Should I get an aeration device?
Beneficial bacteria’s effectiveness is enhanced by the use of an aerator. Proper aeration also adds to the overall health of the pond and can get rid of the “bad” types of bacteria growing in deep waters where there is no oxygen and sludge build up is great.
Bacteria – Pond bacteria, what are they and why are they in your pond?
Bacteria are microscopic unicellular organisms. They are spherical, rod-like, spiral or threadlike in shape, often clumped into colonies. A very few species of bacteria cause disease, most perform essential roles in nature. You could not digest certain types of food, for example, without the help of bacteria flourishing in your digestive system. People sometimes get nervous when they hear the term “bacteria”, because they have only heard the word in connection with diseases. The bacteria that you will add to your pond water are entirely beneficial.
Concrete – Do I have to use concrete in my pond?
No, the liner is made of a durable waterproof material that makes the pond look natural.
Eco-System – How do I balance my pond?
Plants are probably the most important addition to your pond, since they directly compete with algae for nutrients and light. Add a wide variety of plants to your pond. This not only creates a natural look, but also will help reduce the algae in different areas of your pond. Place water hyacinth and water lettuce in your falls. These floating plants reproduce rapidly, using up an enormous amounts of nutrients.
Plenty of bog and marginal plants should be added to the pond. Plants such as cattails and iris use large quantities of nutrients. They are hardy and will be back each spring to help you balance your pond. Cover the surface of the pond by planting water lilies. Lily pads float on the top of the pond soaking up the warm sunlight. The lily pads will reduce algae by preventing sunlight from reaching the deeper portions of the pond. Don’t overlook oxygenators! They soak up nutrients and sunlight directly through their leaves. Think of them as nutrient sponges. Physically remove clumps of string algae if it begins to overtake the pond.
Eco-System – My sprinklers cause water to run in to my pond, how does that effect my eco-system?
Sometimes water and soil may flow into your pond from rain or sprinkler systems. Use your hose to test the edges of your pond and make sure that the water is being diverted around your pond, not in it. Never use lawn fertilizer or insecticides on trees around your pond or on areas of your property that will drain towards your pond. Lawn fertilizer and insecticides will cause large nutrient blooms and will severely threaten the aquatic life inside your pond and may be harmful to your aquatic friends.
Guarantee – Is there a warranty on the pond liners?
Yes. The pond liners have a 10 year warranty against breaking down or cracking.
Leaks – What are some of the common causes for leaks in a pond?
Animals, kids, gardeners and over-grown plants can move rocks so that they deflect water out of the pond or force the lip of the liner below the water level.
Punctured liner by animals (or golf shoes!). This is extremely rare and can be fixed easily with a patch kit from Sunland Water Gardens.
Overgrown plants in the stream or waterfall may cause water to rise above liner level, which will result in a loss of water. Just thin out the plants to allow the water level to return to normal.
Maintenance – Should I skim out dead or decaying leaves?
When plants decay they create nutrients in the water. Make sure all the leaves are swept up in your skimmer or by hand. In the wintertime some plants may go dormant or even die. You must trim or remove the plant waste or algae will find it’s way in to your pond.
Maintenance – What weekly pond maintenance do I need to do?
1. Check skimmer box.
2. Remove debris from net, if necessary.
3. Rinse out filter pad, only if necessary.
4. Check that fish are healthy and active.
Ponds – How do I identify leaks in my pond?Turn off your sprinklers for a day, then do the following steps:
1. Look for a wet spot at the edge of the pond or stream.
2. Temporarily remove the plants and rock to reveal water flowing over liner.
3. Pull up the liner so it is above the water level.
4. Pack dirt and small rocks behind the liner to keep it in position, then replace rocks and plants.
Algae – I have dirt in my pond, is that bad?
Dirt is a fertilizer, which has nutrients for the algae to feed on, so remove any dirt from your pond.
Algae – My water is murky, like pea soup, what is it?
This is a free swimming microscopic algae. The algae particles are too small to get caught in the skimmer. It’s very hard to miss this type of algae because it’s so cloudy it resembles pea soup (hence the name). This algae cannot be physically removed via net or other instrument, other than draining the pond (which doesn’t handle the problem, but makes it worse). Pea Soup Algae feeds off of phosphates which are found in tap water. The easiest way to rid yourself of Pea Soup Algae is to get more biological filters or a UV light. Both are guaranteed to work. As well as adding more plants as they feed on the same things as the algae does and will starve it out.
Algae Handling – What is Algae Fix?
Algae Fix helps kill the string algae spores and coats the string algae making it harder to create food.
Algae Handling – What is barley?
Barley straw pillows are placed in your bio-falls, or anywhere water passes through it. As your bacteria digests the barley it lets off a natural hydrogen peroxide that kills algae which is safe for plants and fish. Barley pillows last 3 months and are great for string algae prevention.
Algaecides – Should I use algaecides for my algae?
The main rules for algae are: don’t use any algaecides. Algaecides will kill the algae as well as your plants. Algae can be handled by addressing its causes and being patient enough to try the solutions. Most chemical treatments are even hazardous to humans. Algaecides are only a temporary cure for the problem: algae is killed off, sinks to the bottom and begins to decompose. The decomposing algae release all of the nutrients that it had taken up, creating a nutrient rich environment for the next wave of algae. The next wave of algae, about a week later, will be larger than original, due to all the nutrients available. Using algaecides will cause your pond to become chemically dependent as well as unbalanced.
Bacteria – Does bacteria kill algae?
Adding bacteria and enzymes to use excess nutrients helps but doesn’t always control a severe algae problem. Adding high doses of either will not help kill your algae. Bacteria needs a place to live. They live in your filter, on side sides of your pond on rocks ect. But if your filter is large enough it can take a very long time for your pond to balance correctly. Just remember DO NOT DRAIN YOUR POND – this starts the progress all over again.
Bad Algae – What are the drawbacks to algae?
1. At night uses up all the oxygen, thus lowering the water quality for the other plants and fish.
2. Not very pretty, and makes it hard to locate fish and plants.
3. With overgrowth make cause other plants to die due to absorbing their nutrients, light and oxygen.
4. Algae decay increases the amount of nutrients in the pond.
Definition – What is algae?
Algae are microscopic plants. Though they are small, they are very strong plants. Like all plants algae require nutrients (fertilizer), light, oxygen, aqua (water) and heat. There are in excess of thirty thousand different species in fresh and salt water. The most common types that occur in ponds are string algae,surface algae and green pea soup.
Definition – What is surface algae?
This is the good algae, it lightly covers the rocks and makes the pond look more natural. Also this algae provides about 60% of the oxygen in the water. It is quite easy to remove, just scrub with a scratchy side of a sponge.
Good Algae – What is good about algae?
1. Provides shade for the fish, thus protecting them from predators.
2. Makes a great egg shelter for fish, snails, frogs, newts, dragon flies etc. etc.
3. In the winter time string algae is about the only thing the fish eat.
4. Is a great food source for small fry.
5. Great ;daytime source of oxygen for the fish and animals.
Pond Health – Can I use salt in my pond??
A salt solution used to loosen the grip of the string algae, making removal 10 times easier. Salt also kills the algae. Do not over dose your pond, too much salt can cause your plants to die. Salt does not evaporate out of your pond, so only add more when you do a water change.
String Algae – How do I remove string algae?
Either hold the algae and cut it out with scissors, or twirl around a stick to grab all of the algae.
String Algae – I have a new pond and the Green Pea Soup Algae is driving me crazy. What should I do?
You must wait it out because your eco-system has not been established yet. Every time we install a new pond there is a lot of nutrients in the tap water for the algae to eat. Also the bacteria hasn’t established itself yet so it can starve the algae. This exists up to 2 months, but it will clear as the water equalizes. The typical types of algae for new ponds is both String Algae and Green Pea Soup Algae.
String Algae – What are the steps to properly removing string algae?
We use a combination of 3 products: Barley Straw, Algae Fix and salt. These products work great for lessening your algae growth. I have found that the best results are if you use all three products together. First put in the Barley Straw (which takes 1 month to activate). Then put in the salt to uproot the algae. Wait 10 days, then fully remove all the string algae by hand. Next put in some Algae Fix and continue to do so once a week. Only replace the salt every time you do a water change.
String Algae Defined – What is string algae?
String algae is mostly found crowding your marginal plants, in the stream bed, and sometimes in bad cases it will grow on the bottom of your pond. String algae is really hard to pull out of a pond because it clings to rocks, plants and everything else.
Breeding – Do Koi fish breed?
Yes, when around 8-12 inches they will tend to breed. The first sign is that your female fish will become large with eggs and the males will start to frantically chase the females around. Koi breed once a year around spring time when the temperature changes. Be careful though, female Koi can get badly hurt, or die, from the male Koi bashing her on rocks. You should make sure your pond has lots of plants around for the female to lay her eggs in. You can also buy some spawning mats, these mats are layers of soft fibers used to prevent injury.
Color of Fish – Can pond fish see color?
Yes, koi and goldfish can see color. This is because their retinas are generously equipped with cone cells, which are responsible for the ability to perceive colors.
Exotic Fish – Can I put goldfish in my pond? Is it ok to mix goldfish and Koi?
Yes, they get along very well. Many Koi purist believe because goldfish need less oxygen than Koi do that if their pumps went out their Koi would die first. This may be true but if you have a good pump and do not over crowd your pond this will not be an issue.
Feeding – How often should I feed the fish? And how much?
During the winter months (any time the water temp is below 55 degrees) your fish will not eat much if at all. But during the warmer months it is important to feed them once a day. Typically
you should feed them the amount they will finish eating in 5 or 6 minutes. If they eat the food in 1 minute you know you can feed them a bit more next time. If they are taking 20 minutes may be you should not feed them as much next time.
Feeding – When should I not feed the fish?
Don’t feed the fish when the water is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit because their metabolism is slowed down and won’t be able to process the food.
Fish – What is a cold water fish?
Because pond fish do not require any extra heat, the term cold water comes from fish that do not come from a tropical environment.
Fish Trivia – How many eggs do Koi lay?
There are many factors that determines the amount of eggs a Koi will produce. Diet or the fish’s state of health age and size can affect it. For a Koi in good health an approximate figure is about 45,000 per pound of fish. Don’t worry, the other Koi fish will eat most of these eggs.
Fish Trivia – My fish seem scared when I feed them, will that change?
First you must get them to notice that you are the one feeding them. After they see you, take some steps back until the fish feel comfortable to eat. After some time your fish will begin to trust you and you will not have to walk so far away. Once they are at the point where you put your hand out and they all come up to the surface, start to lower your hand in the water with the food. Before you know it they will be eating right out of your hand.
Healthy Fish – How do I choose healthy fish?
Look for a lively disposition, erect fins, bright colors, balanced swimming and a good appetite.
Hiberbation – Do fish hibernate?
Yes, koi and goldfish do go dormant in the winter time. Their metabolism automatically slows down when the temperature drops. You should not feed your pond fish while they are hibernating. Because of the almost dormant metabolism, the food will rot in your fish’s intestines causing them to die.
Koi Fish – Are Koi hardy?
Koi are not as hardy as the popular goldfish, but if you have good water quality and keep your koi’s stress level low you shouldn’t have a problem.
Life of Fish – How long do koi live?
The oldest koi that was found was over 100 years old!
Maintenance – What monthly pond maintenance needs to be done?
1. Examine and clean skimmer box.
2. Check for leaks around edge of pond.
3. Cover liner if it has become visible anywhere.
4. Add bacteria.
5. Trim any dead leaves from plants.
6. Remove string algae, if any.
Maintenance – What yearly pond maintenance needs to be done?
1. Test water
2. Fertilize lilies.
3. Clean out biological filter.
4. Seed biological filter with bacteria.
5. Add any products to buffer your pond’s water chemistry.
6. Add or remove plants.
7. Add algae preventive products (like barley ).
Number of Fish – What is the recommended amount of fish to put in the pond?
Our rule of thumb for amount of fish is to have 1 of fish for every square foot of pond surface area.
Procedure – How do I add new fish to my pond?
Float the bag with the fish inside of it in your pond for 10-15 minutes – this allows the water temperature in the bag to match that of the pond’s water. Then open the bag and add some of your pond water. Again, let the bag sit for 5 more minutes – this allows your fish to adjust to the pH in your pond. After that it is safe to release the fish into your pond.
Procedure – How soon can I start putting fish in my pond?
We recommend that you wait two or three days after the pond is filled and running before adding fish. Remember to always add water conditioner to remove chlorine/ chloramines from the water. No matter how long you let your pond set chloramines will never come out with out a removal agent.
Maintenance -What is chloramine anyway?
Chloramines are derivatives of ammonia by substitution of one, two or three hydrogen atoms with chlorine atoms. A good water conditioner will break this bond and release the chlorine and neutralize both the ammonia and chlorine. Then it is safe to add fish.
Size of Fish – Can large and small fish live together?
It all depends, on the species of the fish. Koi and goldfish are docile fish, but will still swallow a small fry if they can. Predators like bass and pike will devour all other fish that can fit in their mouths.
Stress-free Fish – How do I keep my fish stress-free?
1. Make sure you condition any tap water with a dechlorinator before adding large amounts by hand (e.g. with a garden hose). If you have an auto fill valve, then add a small amount weekly to make sure you do not stress your fish with chlorine/ chloramines.
2. Never feed koi old fish food.
3. Aeration – make sure your pond has proper oxygen.
4. Never over-stock your koi. The increased levels of ammonia and nitrite will stress out your fish.
5. Try not to chase your fish around with a net, unless necessary for medicating or quarantining if it shows signs of illness.
6. Make sure there is shade in your pond. Even if it is just shade from plants.
7. Keep predators out of your pond, such as raccoons, herons, etc.
Transporting Fish – How do I transport my fish?
Put your fish in a fish safe bag with 1/3 of it filled with your pond water. Add one or two drops of Stress Coat. Make sure the bag has plenty of air in it but DO NOT exhale in the bag. Store fish in cool place out of the sun. If you are purchasing new fish a reputable company will add oxygen to assure a safe trip home.
Tropical Fish – Can I put tropical fish in my pond?
It all depends on what is considered a tropical fish and a temperate fish. Some tropical fish can be added to your pond if they are acclimated correctly. Most tropical fish need a pond deeper than 2 feet so the water temperature can be regulated. There are a few species that can live in a pond year round without any problems (though this depends on where you live).
Unhealthy Fish – How do I avoid unhealthy fish?
Some signs that a fish is unhealthy are raised scales, a swollen abdomen, bulging eyes, ulcers, clamped fins, lack of movement, loss of balance, damaged fins and scales, fungal growths or the fish is scratching itself up against objects.
Winter – What do I do with fish in the winter?
Leave them in the pond! If the water surface ever freezes over, you just have to make sure that there is something keeping a hole open in the ice and the water moving. Some of our customers have reported that they moving water from the stream is enough to keep a hole open in the ice. The reason there needs to be a hole in the ice is to provide oxygen and allow gasses from the dormant plants to leave the pond.
Algae & Plants – Will plants reduce the amount of algae I have?
Yes. The more plants you have in your pond, the more nutrients are being used up in the water. Also the more surface area is covered with plants, the less amount of algae will be in the pond.
Aquatic Plants – Can I plant my aquatic plants directly in the pond?
Most aquatic bog plants are best left in their pots unless you have a soil or gravel bottomed pond. Plants in pots help to make it easier to clean your pond and will control the size of the plants. Planting in the gravel or pots helps with the eco-system, but you might have a problem trying to contain the plants. Without a pot constricting them, they will grow faster.
Aquatic Plants – Can some aquatic plants live out of the pond?
There are many types of plants that are both aquatic and terrestrial. Some take a little time to get acclimated to a different setting. There are some vine plants that do great outside the pond as long as the original root is still in the pond.
Aquatic Plants – How many underwater plants or grasses should I have in my pond?
For small ponds you should have about 20 (pieces) plants per square foot. For medium ponds use about 10 plants per square foot. And for large ponds use 5-6 per square foot.
Aquatic Plants – Should I just leave the aquatic plants in their pots?
Yes, most aquatic nurseries plug the holes in the bottom of the cans, this prevents the planting media from leaking out and does not hurt the eco- balance. This also creates an environment so that your plants are aiding to the eco-system.
Aquatic Plants – Are there other recommended ways to plant aquatics?
Use an aquatic planter basket, usually they are plastic with holes through them, sort of like a laundry basket. Then rinse out the plants root mass and fill the planter basket with small gravel. Then bury the plant in the basket.
Aquatic Plants – What are these little bugs eating my plants?
The bugs are called aphids. The best way to get rid of them is to get a herbal aphid control spray (make sure it is safe for fish and aquatic gardens). Also, you could always get a bunch of lady bugs, which eat them.
Aquatic Plants – What is the difference between a hardy lily and a tropical lily?
Tropical Lilies bloom 10 times more than Hardy Lilies, but go dormant in the winter time. While Hardy Lilies keep their foliage all year round.
Aquatic Plants – What is the recommended amount of plants to put in the pond?
For the recommended amount of plants, one should have 30-50% of the surface covered. We feel that you should have a good variety of plants. Put in a mix of marginals, oxygenators and water lilies.
Aquatic Plants – Why do I need plants in my pond?
Aquatic plants are a major part of your ecosystem. Look at them as a biological filter. Plants use nutrients from your water and keep it clean. Without them your pond would be murky and smell.
Eco-System – Do underwater plants help my eco-system?
Underwater plants are great at producing oxygen in the deeper parts of your pond. They also use up a lot of nutrients because they absorb through their leaves in addition to their roots.
Eco-System – How do floating plants help my eco-system?
Floating plants like hyacinth and water lettuce are quite vigorous growers and shade quite a bit of your pond. Their large room mass acts like a screen to absorb nutrients from the water as they pass. The floating plants do great in stream beds.
Maintenance – In the winter time my plants’ leaves turn brown, what should I do?
If some plants are not hardy in your area, you must trim back all the decaying foliage and sometimes remove the whole plant. Decaying plant mass just adds more nutrients in the pond. Which contributes to algae and green water.
Plant Health – How can I minimize the risk of introducing pests and diseases to my plants?
There are very few you have to worry about in regards to plant health.
Water Plants – Do you plant the plants in pots
We plant all the plants in pots, this keeps them from going crazy in your pond. They will get everything they need from the soil and it will make it easy to clean your pond as well as add fertilizer as needed though out the year
Water Plants – Is it true that plants breathe in carbon dioxide during the day and reverse in the night?
No, the truth of the matter is that green plants breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide all the time, both day and night. In addition they use up carbon dioxide and generate oxygen during the day, a completely separate process know as photosynthesis.
Winter – What happens to the plants in the winter time?
In the winter, most hardy plants will die back and go dormant. The tropical plants will need to be brought inside or treated as annuals in areas that have hard frosts.