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TIPS on How to Design a
The Pond Doc's Tips for Incorporating Low-Maintenance to Your Pond's
While Maintaining Clear, Clean and Healthy Pond Water
It's easy enough to build a pond.
Throw a liner into a hole then fill with water. Put in a pump and
re-circulate the water over a small waterfall. They show you how to do it
all the time on those Home and Garden Television Shows. What the shows don't do
is go back to that pond a month later and see what kind of trouble the
pond-owner is having. They don't show people pulling leaves and gunk out
of the pump to get it to flow again. They don't show the pond-owner
cursing while struggling to clean nasty filter pads. They don't show the
fish dying or how the water turns green and cloudy.
There's a simple answer to
low-maintenance -- if you don't want any kind of fish life in it or if you don't
care that it's turning into a cess pool. You can choose not to put a
filter on it at all. If you don't install a filter on the pond the filter
will never need cleaning. -- But the pond will never be clean. The
pump, as it takes in water, will clog up with debris. You don't ever need
to unclog a pump if you don't install one on your pond. -- But then you have a
swamp instead of a pond that breeds mosquitoes and bad bacteria.
The trick of low-maintenance pond
construction is to think external. Use an external filter to keep your pond
clean and healthy, an external pump to keep it flowing and an external UV Light
to keep it clear. Just the fact that you've located the equipment where
you can easily get to it is half the battle.
The Bead Filter
The External Pump
The Bottom Drain
The Eduction Jet
The UV Light
- The #1 Most Effective Piece of Equipment to Make
the Pond Low-Maintenance is a Bead Filter
Cleaning filter pads is a
time-consuming smelly part of pond husbandry. It literally take
hours out of your time each week. If a filter is effective it WILL
need cleaning. Bead filters (like our
ProBead™) are excellent for
trapping dirt and keeping the pond clean - to boot the filter media is
cleaned by backwashing. It take only 5 minutes per week and all you
need to do is turn a handle. With a bead filter you say "goodbye" to
those nasty, hard-to-clean filter pads.
- Never Use a Submersed Filter if You Want
If a bead filter is not in the
budget or too big for your small pond, you should still opt for an
external filter. There are two reasons for this. One, is the
fact that a submersed filter is most likely too small to be effective
anyway - no matter what the label says. Two, whenever you lift an
underwater filter clouds of dirt puff out of the filter pads and puts the
dirt right back into the pond. Kind of defeats the purpose of a
filter, doesn't it?. For small ponds we recommend the BioForce and
for ponds over 600 gallons we recommend the ProBead.
- The 2nd Most Low-Maintenance Pond Equipment
Component is an External Pump
Constantly having to lift a heavy pump that's clogged up with debris out
of the pond is no one's idea of low-maintenance. When an external
pump clogs (which all pumps DO) you don't have the back-breaking chore of
pulling out the pump. You simply turn off the pump, unscrew the top
of the leaf basket, shake out the debris, screw the top back and turn on
the pump. Wa-lah! You have running water again and you didn't
have to change into your work clothes to do it!
- Install the Right Bottom Drain - Correctly!
When using an external pump you
must have a way to pull the water out of the pond. There are several
drain methods available -- bottom drains that install through the liner,
vacuum bottom drains that sit on top of the liner and strainer baskets
that cover the end of a hose to prevent fish from being sucked into it.
The most low-maintenance method is installing a 3" bottom drain through
the liner. Both the vacuum bottom drain and the strainer caps are
unable do as good of a job as one installed into the floor of the pond.
Even a 2" bottom drain with the anti-vortex cover isn't as good as the
black-domed 3" bottom drain because it traps leaves and large debris at
the cover and doesn't allow it to go out of the pond and into the leaf
basket of the external pump. That trapped debris has to be pulled
off periodically with a net or pole of some kind so there's a little more
work to it. Although the 3" dome allows leaves and large debris to
leave the pond it also sucks in small fish so one has to accept that he
will need to rake off the top of the 2" periodically if his fish are less
than 6" long.
Where the bottom drain is located can mean the difference between a
"self-cleaning" pond and one that needs attention. It should be
placed at the deepest part of the pond and the floor of the pond should
slant gradually down to the drain to encourage all the debris to fall
toward the drain. It should be installed half-an-inch lower than the
pond's floor and be located as far away from the water return as possible
to encourage healthy water circulation.
- Use Eduction Jets to "Sweep" the Floor of the
Eduction Jets have another purpose
other than providing koi with a fun place to play. They guide the
water and you can use them to effectively sweep debris down to the bottom
drain. Just aim them in the right direction.
- Don't Trap Dirt in the Folds of the Liner
Think about how your water will
flow inside the pond when you are installing the liner. Make sure
that when you fold the liner that the fold is on the backside of the water
current. In other words, if the water flows toward the fold it will
force dirt into the fold and traps it in the pond. If the water
flows over the smooth part of the fold the debris will not be trapped.
- The Bigger the Pond - the Easier to Maintain
I know it sounds weird - but it's true. The smaller the pond the
more the water parameters will change. For example, aquariums are
notorious for pH crashes. pH is less stable in smaller bodies of
water. When there is more water it takes longer for ammonia and
nitrites to build up so less maintenance is needed to keep the water from
becoming toxic. In larger bodies of water the water temperature
changes slower so abrupt changes in the weather do not affect the pond as
much., The pond will "look" good longer. Just like a small
room will get cluttered quickly, so will a small pond. Build the
pond as big as the space will allow and make it deep to hold more water in
- DO NOT Line the Bottom of the Pond with Rocks!
We can't say this enough!
Dirt and debris get trapped within the crevices of the rocks and will
never be able to leave the pond. It is a cleaning nightmare and,
because you cannot clean it out, the junk will fester with bad bacteria.
Although you might not see this hidden dirt, I assure you, it is there and
it is lurking.
- Keep it in the Clear - Install a UV
Nothing - absolutely nothing - will
keep the pond as clear as a UV. Don't spend your precious time (nor
waste your money) on chemicals and methods that do not work. An
ultraviolet water clarifier (or UV Light, for short) when sized correctly
for your pond and installed with the proper flow rates will clear up the
pond and you won't have to do anything but change the lamp once a year and
bring it inside for the winter.
- Skim Off the Top
Prevent the need for cleaning up
sunken leaves from the floor of the pond by installing a skimmer. A
skimmer pulls leaves and other debris off the top of the water before they
have time to fall to the bottom of the pond. Occasionally, when the
basket of the skimmer is full you need only to dump out the contents of
the basket to once again free up the flow. We prefer and suggest
using only the fish-safe skimmer. A side-skimmer can be retrofitted
easily for use with an external pump so that your existing pond can be a
little less trouble and more low-maintenance.
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