Catch a Falling Leaf!

post time October 18th, 2019 member PondMeister

Autumn brings beautiful colors and changes to your garden landscape. Though falling leaves look pretty floating on the surface of the pond, eventually they will sink to the bottom and affect your water quality.
As leaf matter decomposes, the balance of your water changes and can become toxic for your fish.

Netting your pond is a simple choice for leaf control. It doesn’t take much time to set the net up over your water garden, and the hours of future work it saves you is priceless.

If you choose not to net your pond, you’ll need to make sure that you’re checking the pond’s skimmer basket every couple of days to remove the pile-up of leaves. Luckily, this is an easy task and doesn’t take much time. Once you pull the leaves out of the basket, be sure to toss them in your compost pile.

Finally, if you failed to net your pond and all those colorful, floating leaves have found their way to the pond’s bottom, you’ll want to remove them before they decay into ugly sludge that has to be cleaned out in the spring. Grab a long-handled pond net and scoop the debris from the floor of your water garden. Or if you don’t mind getting your feet wet, wade on into the pond and fish them out by hand.

Whatever your strategy to combat the onslaught of beautiful fall foliage that floats into your pond, you can rest assured that your efforts to control it now, will be well rewarded come springtime.

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Preparing Your Pond for Cooler Temperatures

post time September 16th, 2019 member PondMeister

From the experts at Aquascape

When fall comes knocking at the door, many people breathe a sigh of relief with the arrival of cooler temperatures and less muggy days. Autumn is a beautiful season for enjoying your pond or waterfall, but there are a few things that need your attention to ensure your fish and plants return in a healthy state next spring.

Fall Pond with Pergola and Bridge

Fallen Leaves

When the leaves begin to fall, many of them will end up in your pond. Even if tree is several feet away, the wind will eventually pick them up and deposit them on the surface of your pond. If not removed by you or the skimmer, those leaves will sink to the bottom of the pond and start to decompose and create toxic gases. This can harm your fish during winter and cause water quality issues come spring time. Be sure to net your pond to make the task of leaf control much easier! You’ll thank yourself when the weather warms up once again.

Finned Friends

Do you have a pond thermometer? Now is a wise time to invest in one. During the fall season, feed your fish a steady diet of Aquascape Premium Cold Water Fish Food. You can safely feed your fish until the water temperature drops below 50 degrees, at which point you need to cease giving them food. When water temperature dips below 50, your fishes’ metabolism starts to slow down and they no longer digest food properly. Don’t worry. They won’t starve since they’ll go into hibernation for the winter.

Fall Koi Pond with Bridge

Aquatic Plants

At this time, dying foliage of your aquatic plants should be removed. You don’t want spent flowers and leaves dropping into the pond and decaying. Hardy water lilies should be cut back to just a couple inches above the crown. If your hardy lilies are potted, move them to the deepest part of the pond to over-winter. Tropical water lilies won’t survive the winter and should be treated like annuals. Remove them from the pond altogether.

Taking just a few minutes to perform these pond chores will result in healthier water and fish for next year’s pond season!

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A User-Friendly Guide to Fixing Pond Leaks

post time May 28th, 2019 member PondMeister

Thanks to Aquascape Pros for this helpful article

This is the time of year to enjoy the delights of your pond. But after a long winter, you might start to notice a slight drop in water level and wonder if have a leak in your pond. In this article we will explain how to identify and fix leaks so you can repair the problem quickly and efficiently.

Is it Evaporation?

Evaporation is caused by water turning into a vapor and escaping from your pond. The amount of water loss will vary according to the region of the country and the time of year. Ponds that are located in areas of the country with moderate temperatures and high humidity can expect to see 1 to 1 ½ inches of water loss per week during the spring and summer. Most of this evaporation should be replaced naturally by rain. However, if you live in an area with high temperatures and low humidity, it’s possible to see 3 inches or more of evaporation in a week.

The quantity and size of your waterfall(s) also affects the amount of water that is lost. Regardless of the climate, a 4’x 6’pond with a 20-foot stream and 5 feet of cascading waterfalls may lose as much as 2 inches or more every day. Splashing and moving water has greater exposure to additional evaporation than does the still water in the pond. If that same pond was 16′ x 21′, you’d probably never even notice the additional evaporation because it’s a larger pond.

If your pond is experiencing a loss of water at a more rapid rate than normal evaporation, you likely have a leak.

Find That Leak!

Look for any low edges around your pond. Settling at the pond’s edge is the most common cause of a leak, especially if you own a new pond. Typically, the low edges are found around the stream and waterfall where settling may have occurred after a few rainfalls. These areas are usually built up during the construction of the pond using the soil from the excavation, and are prone to some settling.

Your first line of defense is to carefully inspect the edges of not only your stream and waterfall, but also the perimeter of the pond. As the dirt around the stream or waterfall settles, it can create low spots that may cause water to escape over the edge of the liner. Keep your eyes peeled for wet mulch or gravel, or muddy areas around the perimeter of your pond – this is a dead giveaway that you have a leak. If you find a spot that’s leaking, all you have to do is lift the liner up and push some soil under it in order to raise the edge. Bingo – leak fixed!

Another possibility is that water is splashing out of your stream. To fix a “splash leak,” all you have to do is adjust a few of the rocks under and around your waterfall. This contains or redirects the splash and effectively eliminates your splash leak problem without a lot of effort on your part.

How to Fix a Pond Leak

Make a visual assessment of your stream or waterfall. Rocks and excessive plant or algae growth inside the stream, or even in your biological filter, can restrict the flow of water and divert it over the edge of the liner. Plants and algae should be maintained by trimming them back in order to let the water pass freely.

Still Leaking?
If you’ve done all of the above and your pond is still showing signs of a leak, don’t panic! You just need to do a little more investigating. Start by shutting your pump off for a day so you can determine the approximate location of the leak.

Make sure the pond is filled to the appropriate level.
Unplug the pump.
Let the pond sit for 24 hours.
If the water level drops, then you know the leak is in the pond.

When the Water Drops
To find out where the leak is occurring, allow the water level to continue to drop. The level where the water stops dropping is the level where the leak is located.
Concentrate your search around the perimeter of the pond at the level that the water has stopped dropping.
At this point, you may want to consider calling in a pond professional to locate and repair the leak, but you can do it yourself if you enjoy working in your pond:

Begin removing any rocks around the perimeter of the pond at the level where the water stopped and check for evidence of a puncture or hole in the liner.
When you find the hole, cover it with a self-adhesive EPDM Liner Patch.
Now you can replace the rocks, fill the pond back to the top, and enjoy!

Steady and Level
If after turning off your pump for 24 hours you find the water level remains the same, then it is safe to assume that that the leak is not inside your pond. Your next step is to check the pipe, the plumbing fittings, and the pump connections for leaks.

Another possible culprit is the faceplate of your skimmer, if you have one. If the water level stopped dropping above the bottom of the faceplate, you should investigate the skimmer. It may not have sealed correctly.

If the Leak Is in the Skimmer …

Investigate the skimmer faceplate without disassembling it.
Simply move a few rocks around the front of the skimmer and slide your hand behind the liner, feeling for wet soil around the opening of the skimmer. If the soil is saturated, then the faceplate may have not been installed properly and might be the source of the leak.
Remove the faceplate, clean all of the old silicone off the liner, and refer back to the skimmer instruction manual on proper procedures for sealing the skimmer faceplate to the skimmer.
Finding and fixing your leak doesn’t need to be a frustrating, complicated process. Start with the most obvious possibility (low edges) and work through our list to find your leak and repair your pond. You’ll soon be back to watching your friendly fish swim about the growing water lilies.

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GFCI Safety Info

post time March 3rd, 2019 member Laura

Electricity and Water Don’t Mix – Following the Proper Safety Measures is a Must

–Written by Joe Holz, International Sales Manager at Kasco Marine

A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) is a device designed to sense and shut off power (trip) when electrical current takes an alternate path to ground (leakage current). These devices save lives and are required in many everyday locations like your bathroom, kitchen, exterior outlets, etc., and their use is critical when it comes to putting electrical equipment in your pond or lake.

There are two main levels of GFCI devices; human/personnel rated and equipment rated.

  1. Human Rated GFCI devices will trip when a 4-6 ma (milliamp) current leak is detected.
  2. Equipment Rated GFCI devices will trip at a 30ma current leak. There are some adjustable equipment rated GFCI devices that can go as high as 100ma. Understanding these levels is very important and using the correct one is a must!

Muscles in your body can begin to seize, or contract, with 10-25ma of current. Your heart can stop with 60-80ma of current. With those numbers, an equipment rated device might be enough to prevent your heart from stopping, but muscles will likely seize and prevent a person from being able to swim to shore if they are in the water. An adjustable GFCI set at 100ma could very well allow enough current leakage to stop your heart without tripping.

120V and 208-240V Considerations

Proper GFCI protection is important and Kasco takes a conservative approach by using GFCI devices with 5ma trip level in all 120V and 208-240V single phase and 230V 3 phase fountain control panels. Although our aerators and circulators do not come standard with a control panel, optional control panels are available with GFCI protection. Aerator and circulator instructions direct users to ensure they are used with proper GFCI protection.

480V Considerations

480V 3phase power is a higher voltage than the UL classification for human/personnel rated GFCI protection.  Kasco does provide 30ma GFCI protection in our 480V control panels, as a human rated GFCI is simply not available.  Since this falls outside the UL classification for human/personnel rating, it is a requirement to validate any install site for safe use prior to selling any 480V 3 phase units.

Proper GFCI Practices

How do you know you’re safe? Here are some quick tips and items to look for before, during and after an install.

Test GFCI’s RegularlyThe National Electric Code (NEC) states that GFCI’s should be manually tested when first installed, then monthly using the TEST button on the device. This goes for the outlets in your bathroom and kitchen as well as the GFCI device in the fountain control panel.

DO NOT Bypass a GFCI
Unfortunately, a common “fix” for a tripping GFCI is to bypass the GFCI and use a non-GFCI protected device. Even certified electricians have been known to do this. DO NOT do this. The GFCI is there for protecting human lives as well as the equipment. If it’s tripping, we need to diagnose the reason for the problem, not simply remove the “alarm.”

Do Not Work on Non-GFCI Protected Equipment
If you notice a GFCI has been bypassed or removed, don’t work on that unit until it is re-installed and operating properly. If a customer or electrician has removed the GFCI, have them reinstall it before you begin to work on the unit.

Never Enter Water With Equipment Plugged In
Even with a properly functioning GFCI, it is never advised to enter the pond or lake with a unit plugged in. Unplug the equipment prior to entering the water for equipment service or for swimming.

Use a Stray Voltage Detector
If you have an install on a pond or lake with many other electrical devices in and around the pond, it is a good idea to use a stray voltage detector prior to entering the water. These can be found online or at pool supply stores and will float in the pond to allow you to detect any voltage issues, even if the Kasco unit has been unplugged.

Use Human Rated Protection It is more expensive and there is a greater likelihood of nuisance trips using a human rated GFCI with only a 5ma leak trip level. However, what’s the cost if you don’t? The injury or death of an employee, customer, or even a pet would be tragic. It’s always best practice to be safe and ensure the equipment you sell and install will not harm anyone.

Bench Service and Repair
For the safety of all technicians, any service center doing bench work MUST have human rated GFCI protection to test and run the equipment.

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A Pond for All Seasons

post time February 11th, 2019 member Laura

Our website displays the tag line “Creating tranquility and balance in your own backyard.” We have helped hundreds of customers do just that!

Here are the key factors to ensure a naturally-balanced, low maintenance pond throughout the year.

Circulation: Make sure your pond pump is the correct size for your pond and waterfall. A pump provides valuable aeration to the water. Several variables need to be considered when choosing a pump, such as the size of your pond and the height of your waterfall. Aquascape makes it easy to select the right size pump using their Pond Pump Selection Guide.

Filtration: Make sure your pond has both a biological filter and a mechanical skimmer. The biological filter is the start of your waterfall and adds beneficial bacteria to your pond. The mechanical skimmer is similar to a pool skimmer, removing surface debris such as leaves and sticks. Ideally, you want to position the biological filter and skimmer at opposite ends of the pond. This ensures movement throughout the entire pond so you don’t end up with stagnant areas.

Rocks and Gravel: Ponds can be made various ways. Some are created with concrete, others with a simple pond liner. We believe in an ecosystem approach to the pondering lifestyle and use rocks and gravels in our ponds, after installing underlayment and liner. Gravel provides much-needed surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow. Your fish will graze on these bacteria, as well. The gravel won’t be a breeding ground for muck and debris if you ensure that your low maintenance pond has the proper pump and filtration. The ecosystem works together so it’s important not to eliminate any of the elements.

Fish: While fish keeping is fun, your finned friends play an important part in the overall ecosystem of your pond. They eat algae and their waste becomes fertilizer for your pond plants. Too many fish, however, can pose a problem. A good rule of thumb is to limit your fish load to no more than 10” of fish per 100 gallons of water. So if you have a 20 fish at various lengths totaling 300” when combined, then you need a 3,000 gallon pond.

Plants: Plants play a critical role in the pond’s ecosystem due to their filtering capabilities. Plants absorb nutrients from fish waste and help starve algae of its food. During hot summer months, make sure to have at least 40% of your pond’s surface covered with plants. You can accomplish this with waterlilies and various marginals like mosaic plant, or floating plants like water lettuce and water hyacinth.

Start with the basics and create a naturally balanced pond with a combination of proper circulation, filtration, fish, plants, and rock and gravel. Then enjoy the “tranquility and balance in your own backyard.”

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Tips for a Healthy Summertime Pond

post time August 8th, 2018 member PondMeister

Reprinted from Aquascape

The beauty and joy of a pond makes summer more memorable and relaxing! Make sure your water feature is healthy and functioning optimally throughout the warmer months. When water temperature rises above 80 degrees this summer, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

Health of Your Pond Fish

Keep an eye on your fish. Do your finned friends appear stressed out, gasping for air close to the water’s surface or especially close to a fountain or waterfall? Warm water has a low capacity for holding oxygen, while cooler water can hold very large amounts of oxygen.

Warm pond water and increased activity go hand and hand, and that increased activity also means your fish require more oxygen when less oxygen is available, thus creating a vicious cycle. Stressed fish often begin to develop diseases, and soon enough you’ll have a domino effect.

Add oxygen to your pond by placing an aerator or AquaForce® pump in your pond. You can also install a fountain with a pump if your pond doesn’t have a waterfall or stream. Make sure all areas of the pond are skimmed and the water circulated. And keep in mind that waterfalls, streams, and even fountains play a huge part in the oxygenation of the water in your pond.

Beat the Heat

There are some preventative measures you can take in order to keep your pond from becoming a warm, unhealthy mess. It all starts with a well-designed water feature. Depth, plant coverage, shade, and circulation should all be considered when designing and building a pond. A minimum depth of two feet is suggested; the bottom of the pond will remain cooler.

You’ll also want to stock your pond with a lot of plants to provide shade for the fish. A good rule of thumb is to provide plant coverage of approximately 1/3 to 1/2 of the pond’s surface area.

Perhaps one of the most important parts of pond design is circulation. If possible, you’ll want to place your biological filter and mechanical filter across the pond from each other, so that your pond receives optimal circulation.

Additional Summer Pond Tips

During the hot summer months, you can use some of these tips to help keep your pond performing optimally:

  • If you feed your fish, feed them in the morning and be careful not to overfeed. Uneaten food decays faster in warmer water and can pollute the pond.
  • Be sure to remove dying leaves and flowers before they have a chance to decay in the warmer water.

The bottom line is that you need to keep an eye on your pond and let your fish and plants do the talking. If you have a balanced ecosystem, you’ll find it much easier to maintain the health of your pond, fish, and plants.

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Tips for Planting Your Pond

post time May 30th, 2018 member PondMeister

Reprinted from Aquascape

From colorful water lilies that dance on the pond’s surface to aquatic Forget-Me-Nots that hug the edges of your water garden, it’s the amazing pond plants that put the “garden” in “water garden.” You can apply many of the same tips and guidelines you use to create your terrestrial flower beds. Things like color, height, and planting conditions are things you’ll want to consider when it comes to naturalizing your pond with plants.

1: Create Interest with Variety. Random placement of plants with varying textures and colors will create more interest than using plants that have all the same growth habit or leaf shape.

2: Play with Colors. Choose colors you like best and consider the type of lighting your pond receives. Yellow, orange, and white help brighten shady areas, while cool blue and violet tone down the intensity of the sun’s rays.

3: Go Green. A soft, calming space is created by using different textures and shades of green foliage. The combination is effective on its own, but also looks great when accented only by white flowers. You can also play with color based on leaf selection alone, since you’ll find aquatic foliage in a range of colors such as red, purple, yellow, and several variegated combinations.

5: Short in Front, Tall in Back. This might seem like a no-brainer, but always put shorter plants in front of taller ones.

6: Group Plants Together. Interior decorators tell you to group like objects together when decorating your home, to create visual impact. Use this same principle when planting your pond.

7: Consider Each Plant’s Needs. Be mindful of how much sun your aquatic plants require, along with their planting depth. If a plant requires full sun, that’s a minimum of 6 hours of unobstructed (ie not dappled shade) sun per day. If you’re not sure what your plant needs, ask the pro at your local garden center or search online for information.

You’ll want to ensure an interesting mix of aquatic plant types for your water garden. Plant a few marginal at the pond’s edge, include colorful water lilies or even a lotus, add floating plants like water lettuce, and include submerged plants to help add oxygen to your pond. Variety is the spice of gardening life, so don’t be afraid to experiment.

 

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A Challenge for the PondMeister

post time April 11th, 2018 member Laura

A customer recently posed an interesting question: how to cover an unsightly area where there was an old diving board and a power box. The area looked like this:

The Pondmeister accepted the design challenge! He suggested using an Aquascape Patio Pond to cover the diving board area and a faux log cover for the electrical box.

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But why stop with one good idea? We reached out to our experts at Blue Thumb Ponds and Easy Pro for their suggestions. They had lots of good tips to offer.

Brandt at Blue Thumb wrote:

One of our old Oasis Aqua Boxes may work for her area. The Oasis is tall enough that it could go over the power box and  long enough to cover both. The customer would be able to choose any vase, fountain, triple column, or GFRC Boulder to go on top of the box as it will hold up to 3000 lbs with the aluminum grates. 

The customer would want to enclose the box with patio blocks, or other stone to hide the black box. If they don’t cement the blocks in, they would still have access to the power box if needed.

 

 

 

Easy Pro responded:

Of course, hiding electric with water is not ideal, but if it were my patio, this is what I’d do.

Any of our statuary vase kits or the two small basalt kits – Bevel Sided Basalt Fountain 16″  or Set of 3 Keyed Spillway Basalts 6″, 12″, 18″  that come with the RBH29 or RBH23 basins. Then just frame around it to hide it, and everything else they want hidden, leaving access of some sort to the power outlet should they ever need to access it, it’ll be convenient to do so. Basically, instead of burying the basin in the ground, they’d just frame around it to hide it.

What would YOU do?

 

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Aquascape Tips for Fall and Winter Pond Maintenance

post time November 20th, 2017 member Laura

Have you ever noticed that your pond water is clearer in the fall? This is typically due to cooler temperatures and full, lush plants. To keep your pond looking its best throughout the fall and winter season, follow our helpful, easy-to-follow fall and winter pond maintenance tips.

Fall and Winter Pond Maintenance – Prune yellowing leaves off all of your plants. Your lilies – tropical and hardy – should still be going strong, at least until the first heavy frost.
Stop fertilizing plants when the weather becomes cooler. This lets the plants know the season is coming to an end. 

When the water temperature is around 50 degrees F, stop feeding your fish. If you continue to feed them, you might create health problems for your finned friends, since their digestive systems are beginning to slow down for the winter.

As leaves falls from nearby trees, you’ll need to empty your skimmer’s debris net every day to keep up with the influx of leaves. Some leaves will undoubtedly sink to the bottom of the pond; try to remove as many as you can. However, a few left in the pond will give insects and frogs a place to over-winter.

If you leave too much organic matter in your pond, the water may turn brown. If this happens, remove the excess debris and add activated carbon to clear the water.

As the temperature gets colder and your plants expire, cut back the dead plant material and remove the tropicals. Cut back the cattails above the water level, or better yet, leave them up to see how magnificent they look in the winter.

If you’re fortunate enough to live where it stays warm all year-round, you’re set for the winter. If you live up north where the surface of the pond freezes, you’ll need to prepare for winter by deciding whether you want to keep your pond running or shut it down.

To shut your pond down, first unplug your pump and pull it out of the water. The pump should be stored in a frost-free location, submerged in a bucket of water to keep the seals from drying.

If you have fish, a small re-circulating pump or pond aerator that bubbles at the water surface is necessary to oxygenate the water. In all but extremely low temperatures, the bubbling of the pump will also keep a hole open in the ice to allow for a gas exchange, keeping your fish alive. It is not necessary to oxygenate the water or keep a hole open in the ice if you don’t have fish.

If your area experiences long periods of extremely cold weather, you may consider adding a floating pond heater and de-icer. Controlled by a thermostat, the unit only runs when the water temperature is at or below freezing, heats the water to just above that, and then shuts off again. Ask your installer or local supplier for products to help your pond during the winter.

If you use a floating de-icer, place it away from the bubbler. The movement of the water from the bubbler can move the heated water away from the de-icer, making it run more than necessary.

You can also choose to keep the waterfall running. This will require a little babysitting to make sure an ice dam does not form, which could cause water to run out of the waterfall’s basin. You will also still need to replace water loss so the pump can continue to function properly. This extra effort during the winter will reward you with the most beautiful ice formations and patterns around the falls and stream beds.

The most important thing is to have fun with your water feature all year long. Keep some of these key maintenance issues in mind, and it will be smooth sailing.

Please watch Aquascape’s Brian discuss Winter Issues

 

 

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Add a Fountain Feature!

post time September 7th, 2017 member PondMeister

I’ve been watching a neighbor’s landscaping project over the summer. They have done a lovely job with pavers, plantings, and lighting. The final touch was addition of stone bubbling fountains, one in front of the house and one on the back patio. As I walk by ( and peek!) I am enchanted by the sight and sound of the running water. I stopped to compliment them on their project, and they told me they are delighted that the water attracts more birds and butterflies. They used a landscape team to set up their fountains, but it is possible to install a simple fountain yourself. Once in place, these fountains and bubblers are easy to maintain.

There are so many options in fountains- stone fountains, bubblers, basalt rock columns, vase fountains.

We have recently added a lot of new fountain kits from Blue Thumb Ponds. Take a look at all their items here.
Easy Pro Tranquil Fountains are also a great choice, offering affordable fountains in many styles.

Fountains work by pumping water contained in a large, in-ground reservoir up and through your fountain, allowing the water to flow back into the reservoir.

Fountain kits come complete with the decorative stand, basin, pump, and plumbing kit.

 

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