VALUABLE TIPS FOR THE WATER GARDENER
* In designing your pond, make sure it is at least twice as large as you originally planned. The greatest complaint we hear is "I didn't make it big enough!" The larger the pond, the easier it is to maintain! Take your garden hose and lay out the perimeter of the pond---it is particularly good for those of us who have problems visualizing dimensions!
* Everything is always easier if you have the right equipment. So when you are selecting a pump, make certain that you have the flow you need at the height you are pushing water. Flow drops significantly each foot you are from the pump. Better too strong a pump than too weak. Filters should also accommodate more volume of water than the actual gallons of your pond. Fish and plants put a strain on the system. Filters should be external, to make life easier!
* If you want clear water you need an ultraviolet sterilizer, added to a good pump and adequate external filtration system. You may think you can control this in the natural way but you will always have periods of algae bloom, and when you cover the pond with the amount of vegetation you need to clear the water, you will never see your fish!
* NEVER ADD TAP WATER TO YOUR POND WITHOUT USING A DE-CHLORINIZER! It's the best way to kill your fish. Don't leave your hose running--- buy an inexpensive timer for your tap. It's better than going out and forgetting you left the water on!
* Think of your pond as a big outside aquarium. It is not a natural pond, and in most cases, they are very green!
(And who needs a water buffalo!)
* Aquatic plants are an important part of creating a healthy balance in your pond. They use up the nutrients that algae needs to grow, they add oxygen to the water, hiding places for your fish (as well as food and spawning material), and make your pond more attractive!
*Populate your pond with 2 to 3 Japanese Trapdoor snails per surface foot. They are avid algae eaters that will clean the bottom and sides of the pond. This variety of snail will not eat your plants, as will other kinds.
*A waterfall or fountain spray can be an attractive feature to any pond but its purpose is really to aerate the water---this is extremely important in the heat of the summer when evaporation removes oxygen from the water. Koi happen to be voracious consumers of oxygen and you may need to watch to see if supplemental air pumps may be necessary!
*When acclimating new fish, float the closed bag just 10 minutes!
*When medicating fish in a tank or container out of the pond, add 2 lbs of un-iodized salt per 50 gallons of water. DO NOT ADD SALT TO YOUR POND---IT WILL KILL PLANTS AND OTHER LIVESTOCK SUCH AS SNAILS!
*Fertilize plants during the growing season (particularly with flowering plants). It really does make a difference. Spring fertilization is especially important for the water lilies. If you put floating plants in the pond, such as water hyacinths, it is even more important as they suck all the nutrients out the water!
*Most marginal plants like 2-4 inches of water above the pot. Set pots on shelves and elevate on bricks where necessary.
*Gray water and brown water can be caused by over feeding your fish. Give them only enough food they can consume entirely in 2 to 3 minutes and net any excess.
*Don't feed new fish for the first 2 to 3 days. "Hunger overcomes fear."
*Cover your pond with a leaf net in the fall and winter, and save yourself a big cleaning job in the spring.
*In colder climates, get an automatic pond de-icer - it will melt a hole in the ice and let gases, which are poisonous to fish, escape from the pond. Such de-icers are only activated when the water temperature drops to 32°F or less, but for prolonged cold spells they can be extremely expensive, unless you have the energy efficient ones we now have in stock (look under miscellaneous in the Pond Supply Section). You may want to look for alternative methods---such as aeration pumps and Styrofoam floats.
*Don't start to feed your fish in the spring until the water temperature reaches a constant of 50°F. Then in the fall, suspend feeding when the water drops below 50°F. Don't be tempted to feed them if we have a short warm up and seem to be hungry!