For clarity issues, Rapid Clear, a flocculent that is 100% safe for fish, plants or wildlife, can be used. This product is a fast acting treatment that can solve cloudy water in just a few hours by physically causing the particulates floating in the water to clump together into larger particles that can be filter out.
There are several other effective products that you can use to help clarify the water. A combination of our Beneficial Bacteria, EcoBlast and SAB is the ultimate way to have perfectly balanced, clear water. The Beneficial Bacteria for Ponds/Dry and SAB both help consume excess nutrients in the water, break down decaying organics and reduce sludge and odor issues. SAB also includes a powerful phosphate binder that locks up this nuisance nutrient. These two products can be used as often as once a week.
The new Aquascape UltraKlean pressure should be place beside the pond (not inside the pond!). A pump sitting inside the water will push the pond water through the UltraKlean, exposing the water through biological filtration, a high-output UV bulb, and then back into the pond. Using this method, the UlteaKlean will allow you to have clear water and the low maintenance water feature you have always wanted!
The Aquascape UltraKlear® UV Clarifier is ideal for eliminating green water on new or existing ponds up to 5,000 gallons. Learn about the features and benefits from Scott Rhodes, The Product Guy, and what separates Aquascape’s UltraKlear® apart from the rest.
There are many other factors that may be the cause to these water clarity issues. Temperature (Has the temperature fluctuated in your area lately?), the location of the pond (direct sunlight/shaded) and the surrounding environment (mulch, trees, plant life, etc.). If you continue to experience problems with your water, please feel free to call The Pondmeister.
While fish certainly bring joy to any pond, they can also bring headaches to water quality if you go overboard when stocking fish. Too many fish creates an imbalance in the pond’s ecosystem so you’ll want to make sure you know about the number and size of fish in your water garden.
Obviously, the pond needs to be large enough to support fish and their growth. Pond fish generally need 10 gallons of water for every inch of their length, and you have to be ready for them to grow larger, so be careful not to overstock no matter how tempting this may be! Some pond experts go so far as to recommend only one-half inch of fish per 10 gallons of water as a maximum stocking density.
On occasion, you may encounter ponds crowded with 2 or even 3 inches of fish per 10 gallons of water and the fish seem to be fine. However, the density and ecological strain of this loading turn these ponds into fragile systems. The pH tends to sag, the fish tend to grow more slowly, and disease can become a common occurrence.
It’s very difficult to salvage sick fish in a pond that’s overcrowded. Most likely, Mother Nature will eliminate some of your fish to achieve the ideal stocking density based on the system the fish are in, and then the remainder may recover.
One of the common misconceptions consumers have today about pond ownership is that maintenance is tedious and time consuming. This simply isn’t true when proper steps are taken to create an ecosystem pond that works with Mother Nature, not against her.
In addition to plants, fish, aeration, rocks and gravel, a low-maintenance ecosystem pond requires adequate filtration to help keep the water crystal clear. Three types of pond filters are available on the market and include biological, mechanical, and sterilizers. Biological filters use bacteria to break down pond wastes, converting them into less harmful compounds that can be used as aquatic plant fertilizers. Mechanical filters trap and remove debris and sediment. Water sterilizers pass water through a tube that houses an ultraviolet bulb, killing living microscopic particles in the water.
A good biological filtration system, teamed with a proper mechanical filter to remove solids before the water enters the biological filtration unit, is the most effective way to filter water. With adequate biological and mechanical filtration, the need for sterilizers is eliminated altogether, thereby ensuring a natural ecosystem pond.
The Job of a Skimmer
The main function of mechanical filtration, or skimmer, is to remove debris before it sinks to the bottom of the pond and decays. The skimmer also houses and hides the pump and plumbing from view, as opposed to being placed directly in the pond where they become an eyesore. The skimmer won’t drain the pond if a possible leak occurs in either the plumbing or waterfalls.
There are two main types of skimmers: box skimmers and floating skimmers. Both types filter the water by removing floating debris and waste before it’s had a chance to fall to the bottom of the pond. The box skimmer is the predominant type of skimmer on the market today because it’s easy to maintain.
Box-style skimmers come with either vertical or horizontal filter mats. Horizontal mats prove to be the most effective, while providing the least amount of maintenance. In addition to frequent cleaning, vertical mats need to be constantly monitored to make sure there is enough water in the pump chamber for the pump to operate properly. An advantage of horizontal filter mats is that they lay flat so there is no sagging and they don’t lose their shape. They also never clog to the point of preventing water from passing through, so the pump chamber does not run dry.
As water enters the skimmer, the large debris is removed and the water is then further filtered through the horizontal mat. The pond water then travels through the plumbing buried underground, up to the biological filter where it’s further treated before re-entering the pond.
Biological Filtration Goes to Work
The biological filter receives water that has already passed through the mechanical filter, or skimmer, typically placed on the opposite side of the pond. The water enters the biological filter via flexible pipe located near the base of the unit. The water then flows from the bottom to the top of the filter, traveling through filter media housed inside the unit. The filter media helps with the removal of fine to medium-sized particles. The larger debris was already removed by the skimmer.
As the biological filter fills, it will overflow and cascade over its waterfall lip, cascading down rocks that have been set to create a beautiful and preferably natural-looking waterfall. The waterfall creates aeration for the pond, assisting in the circulation and health of the water. If a slower, stream effect is preferred, the unit simply needs to be sunk lower into the ground.
Biological filters on the market today range in size. For larger ponds, multiple biological filters can be incorporated into the design.
The Science Behind the Design
Mechanical and biological filtration are critical to processing the many types of nutrients found in a water garden system, including fish waste, uneaten fish food, leaves, and runoff from lawns to name a few. High levels of ammonia (a form of nitrogen) are highly toxic to fish and are a major contributor to prolific algae growth, and so they need to be carefully controlled. In water gardening, the primary nutrient that biological filtration utilizes and renders usable is nitrogen.
In biological filtration, nitrifying bacteria, known as facultative bacteria, absorb ammonia, and turn nitrites into nitrates, which are less dangerous. These bacteria require oxygen to live, so it’s important for the pond’s pump to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If the pump isn’t running, the waterfalls aren’t flowing, and aeration is eliminated from the necessary equation to maintain an ecosystem pond. Keep in mind that if the pump shuts down, the bacteria will quickly use up all of the oxygen and die. This isn’t a good thing.
Nitrates are then removed from the pond by another biological filtration method known as de-nitrification. This process occurs only in anaerobic (without oxygen) areas of the pond. That’s why it’s not necessarily bad for some areas of the pond to experience minimal water flow (such as on the bottom of the pond, under an inch or so of gravel). The bacteria that live in this area of the pond turn nitrates into nitrogen gas, which is released into the atmosphere. Nitrates are also absorbed by aquatic plants and algae during their growth processes. A pond without aquatic plants will prove to be a maintenance nightmare.
For any biological filtration to work, there literally needs to be billions of bacteria working to purify the water. They prefer to anchor onto things, which is why surface area is so important. More surface area means more bacteria, and more bacteria means better biological filtration. Surface area is provided by filter media, rocks, and gravel. A pond with gravel on the bottom will contain more surface area for bacteria, as opposed to a pond with exposed liner on the bottom.
The Role of Aquatic Plants
Another important component to pond filtration is the use of plants. Many gardeners add a pond to their landscape for the variety of aquatic plants available, and while their beauty is certainly an aesthetic asset; a critical benefit is the work these plants do to help filter the water. Plants help purify pond water by reducing nutrients, filtering out sediments and absorbing toxic compounds through the process of phytoremediation.
If these excess nutrients are not removed, algae will feed on them, resulting in green water, string algae, or both. Algae control is not the only way plants help create a low-maintenance ecosystem pond. Submerged and marginal plants also provide food, shade, and protection for the fish and other wildlife that live in and around the pond.
Oxygen is one of, if not the most vital element on the face of this Earth. Read any science journal you can find or even look it up on the Internet. You’re not going to find anyone that will dispute that fact. The truth is that oxygen is vital to many different organisms on Earth, not just humans.
Our watery friends are no different. They just get the oxygen from a slightly different source than we do. Fish and aquatic plants get oxygen from the water, so your pond is bursting with life because of the oxygen in and around it.
How Does It Get There?
Yes, the formula for water is H2O, but the formula’s oxygen contribution alone isn’t the only oxygen present in your pond. Just because oxygen is a part of the formula, doesn’t mean there’s enough of it to sustain aquatic life. The oxygen actually comes from several different sources, but the most common is good old-fashioned absorption. Oxygen from the atmosphere is absorbed into the water. Agitation at the surface and splashing (as in a waterfall or pond aerator) increases the absorption of that oxygen into the water because of the expanded surface area created.
Another way that oxygen gets into the water is through aquatic plants, but you certainly can’t rely on aquatic plants to do all the work. It’s a double-edged sword, really. Lots of folks know that plants with submerged foliage can produce massive amounts of oxygen. When the sun shines on them, they use carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. But plants don’t grow much by day, so they store that energy. When they grow at night, they use that stored energy, producing carbon dioxide and using up oxygen. In other words, when nighttime hits, submerged plants (a.k.a. oygenators) are not your fishes’ friends.
Some of the best oxygenators (also known as submerged aquatics) are fast growing plants with lush foliage that grows under the water line, including anacharis, elodea, and cabomba, as well as a not-so-favorite plant, algae.
Oxygen is Essential
Once the oxygen is present in the water, it is used by aquatic plants and animals for respiration. Respiration is a key to their growth and survival. Oxygen is even used by bacteria to help break down dead plant material. So how much oxygen is needed for fish to survive? Minimum levels should be at 5 parts per million (PPM), allowing the fish to live a few days, but levels of 8 PPM would be more desirable. Levels of 11 to 14 PPM are the best. Keeping fish means maintaining a suitable oxygen level. It’s certainly as important as the very water in which they live … water is not enough.
Keeping Your Cool
Pond owners in colder climates always seem to get the short end of the stick in other areas of water gardening, but in the case of oxygen levels in backyard water features, they’ve got a bit of an edge. In case you don’t remember from Chemistry 101, colder water (under 60° F) dissolves (or carries) more oxygen.
Regardless of whether you’re in a warm or cool climate, you’ll want to be careful with your fish during clean-outs. Putting fish in a tank or tub in the heat of summer for a clean-out can be risky. If you don’t aerate or agitate the tank or vat, or the tank or vat is in the sun and heating up, your fish may be in danger due to low oxygen levels. You can simply aerate or agitate water that’s over 75° F. An air stone makes this task simple and easy. For a little extra help from Mother Nature, pick a nice, shady spot for the fish to hang out while you do the dirty work!
Where Does It Go?
Hot weather isn’t the only villain in the dissolved oxygen saga. There are a few common ways that oxygen levels get reduced. The most obvious is fish and plant respiration, which is why it’s so important to make sure you don’t overstock your pond. One inch of fish per square foot of pond is the recommended stocking number, keeping in mind that fish grow and you need to save room for them.
Bacteria are also culprits in oxygen respiration, and beneficial bacteria have especially voracious metabolisms when it comes to consuming oxygen. Your pond’s bacterial flora consumes more oxygen than your fish could ever attempt. So basically, the very things you need and want in a pond consume the most oxygen. Isn’t that ironic?
Less common ways that may cause dissolved oxygen levels to fall include decaying algae, treating with chemicals, and the depth of your pond. Algae eats up oxygen as it rots away, consuming massive amounts of the precious element. If your fish are sick, you may also want to keep an eye on the oxygen level of the water. The use of certain chemicals in the pond for treating fish diseases can consume a lot of oxygen. It’s a good idea to agitate the water while treating the fish.
Also, the depth of your pond plays a role in the available oxygen in the pond. Ponds over five feet deep, for example, will have low dissolved oxygen levels at the bottom. This will be true unless there is a means to bring the bottom layer of water to the surface.
Testing One, Two, Three
If you catch fish gasping for oxygen at the water, you may want to look into the oxygen level. There are a couple test kits on the market that can help you find out if your pond is up to par with oxygen.
Finally, don’t forget that ponds are meant to be a relaxing oasis, providing relief from the troubles of the day. Running out and testing a pond every day is not relaxing. If the oxygen level in the pond is good, there’s no need to try to improve the levels. The fish and plants in the pond get used to their surroundings and have probably already adjusted to the pond’s chemistry. Just remember that favorite pond pets are just like you, living and breathing the same air … just a little bit differently!
In the fall, water is almost always very clear because of the cooler temperatures and the full, lush plants. Enjoy the good water quality! Here are some things that you can do to keep your water garden looking good. Note: Several of the steps do not apply to Pondless® Waterfall systems.
There may be an increasing numbers of yellow leaves this time of year, so prune them off all of your plants. Your lilies – tropical and hardy – should still be going strong, at least until the first heavy frost.
Stop fertilizing when the weather becomes cooler. This lets the plants know the season is coming to an end.
When the water temperature is around 55 F? (10? C), stop feeding your fish. Continuing to feed them could cause health problems or death for them, since their digestive systems are beginning to slow down for the winter.
As leaves falls from nearby trees, you’ll probably have to empty the debris net every day to keep up with the influx of leaves. Some of them will undoubtedly sink to the bottom, 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 it gets colder, your aquatic plants will have all but died for the season. Now you can 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 be 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 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 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 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 Pondless® Waterfall/ Pond basin. You will also still need to replace water loss so the pump can continue to function properly (see “The Water Level” above). 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. In the meantime, stay warm!
Credit to Aquascape pros for this helpful article.
Rocks, like plants, have a dual role in both the aesthetics and function of a water feature. Different types of rock can greatly affect the design of your pond. Let’s talk about aesthetics first since rock selection is critical to the look of a pond or waterfall.
With so many types from which to choose, and taking into consideration the dramatic difference in indigenous rock across the country, it is impossible to name one type as the best for a water feature. However, there are some general guidelines to help you choose the right rock for the situation.
Use Rock that Occurs Naturally in the Area
When you use rock that’s indigenous to the region, you’ll be better able to tie the features in with the surrounding landscape. An added bonus is that the rock won’t have far to ship, thereby reducing your cost of materials.
Avoid Mixing Different Types of Rock
You want a cohesive, natural look to the water features you create, so it’s best if you use the same type of rock throughout the project. Too many types make the pond look thrown together and unattractive.
Use Varying Sizes of Rock
Make sure to get a variety of sizes when choosing rocks for your next project. A good rule of thumb is to use the 1:2:1 ratio. 1 part small rock, 2 parts medium rock, and 1 part large rock. The varying sizes of rocks help to give each other scale. The large stones look large because there are smaller stones around it, and vice versa. Not to mention, this is the most natural look for a pond or waterfall.
So what about the role that stones play in a water feature? Rocks add support to the structure, and when used to line the bottom of the pond, help protect the pond’s liner from harmful UV rays. Finally, rocks and gravel give beneficial microorganisms a place to grow.
As we approach the dog days of summer there are things that you need to remember about your water feature in order to keep a balanced ecosystem pond along with happy fish! Take a moment to refresh your memory with these critically important tips. 1. 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 built in.
2. 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. Choose from a wide variety of Aquascape Fish Food.
3. Be sure to remove dying leaves and flowers before they have a chance to decay in the warmer water.
4. Aquatic plants such as waterlilies help provide fish with shade from the heat of summer sun, cooling the water and making algae control easier too.
Is there really a leak?
Often, people do not realize how much water can evaporate from a pond during the days of summer.
The Midwestern states typically lose 1 to 1.5″ of water each week.
Pond owners in the hot, arid Southwest have reported evaporation levels in excess of 3″ a week.
Remember, these are averages. Some ponds may not experience evaporation levels this high. Other ponds with large pumps pushing high volumes of water, or ponds designed with multiple waterfalls and a lot of cascades and splashing may have evaporation rates much greater than these.
Colorful lilies transform your pond into a beautiful water garden. Read on for great tips from the Aquascape experts.
Two basic methods exist for planting water lilies. You can incorporate plant pockets within the pond itself, or use Aquatic Plant Pots. The method you choose should be considered prior to pond construction. The actual planting of the lily will be the same, however, regardless of your chosen planting option.
The first thing you’ll want to do when planting water lilies is to determine the size and location of the lilies. Water lilies adjust their growth to the size of the area they’re planted in. Size the plant pocket or aquatic pot according to the size of the pond. As a general rule, your plant pocket should be 16” to 18” wide by 6” deep. If you choose to use an aquatic plant pot, Aquascape’s Aquatic Lily Pot is a great choice.
In a large pond, you may want the lilies to grow larger. Planting them in even larger plant pockets provides them with enough space to grow proportionate to the size of the pond. The size of the plant pocket in a larger pond should be about 24” wide.
If you choose to plant water lilies using an aquatic pot, your hole in the pond should be just deep enough so the top of the pot is level with the bottom of the pond excavation. Allow a little extra room on the sides for folds in the liner. Ultimately, when the floor of the pond is graveled, it will have a flat, consistent appearance with no pots showing. If you are installing a water lily in an existing pond that doesn’t have planting pockets, you should create a ring of rocks around the lily pot to hide it.
Water Lily Placement
Placement considerations are important, too. Water lilies do not like heavy water movement or water splashing on their foliage, so they should not be located close to a waterfall or the base of a stream. Also, the lily should not block the flow of water and debris into the pond’s skimmer.
Planting the Water Lily
After the liner is in place and the pond has been rocked, clean out any gravel that has fallen into the planting pocket. If you’re using an aquatic pot, place the pot down into the hole you created and fill the area around the pot with gravel so the pot isn’t visible.
If you’re planting the lily directly in the pocket, fill it to within one inch of the top with Aquascape Pond Plant Potting Media. Avoid using any type of potting soil that contains other added media, as it will float in the water. It’s also important to make sure the soil has not been treated with any type of chemical that might harm the fish.
Fertilizing Water Lilies
Fertilizing water lilies on a regular basis is highly recommended to optimize their beautiful blooms. Time-released, granular fertilizer mixed into the soil at the bottom of the pot or plant pocket is a great way to fertilize lilies at the time of planting. When fertilizing existing water lilies, tablets are a great option since you simply push them into the soil.
Whichever fertilizer you use, be careful not to put it in direct contact with the plant’s roots. Instead, push tablets against the sides of the pot, away from the plant. Mix granular fertilizer in only the bottom of the pot or plant pockets.
Keeping Plants Healthy
To keep water lilies healthy and vibrant throughout the pond season, remind your customers to remove yellow or dead leaves, along with any spent flowers, on a regular basis. This prevents decaying foliage from sinking to the bottom of the pond and decomposing. Stems should always be pruned back as close to the water lily rhizome as possible.
Water lilies are the jewels of the water garden and are available in an amazing variety of types, sizes, and colors. Choose from our selection of water lilies to enhance your pond.
The year was 1988; we were in the 6th year of our hobby, we had a love/hate relationship with our pond as most pond owners did during the early years of the hobby.
The allure of a crystal clear pond was nothing short of a dream as it was only achieved the day after it was filled with fresh water.
As the season progressed the fish slowly disappeared under a cloudy layer of surface scum and green water not to be seen until the next year’s pond clean out. And what a mess that always was!
Our quest had begun!
How could we lower our maintenance and improve overall water quality?
We started experimenting and researching everything we could but this was pre-Internet, we actually had to go to the library to find information on our new found love affair with aquatic ecosystems…
Pond pumps are difficult to access if not using a skimmer.
Some of our challenges with our first concrete soup-bowl pond were:
Clogged pumps that sat at the bottom of our pond
The challenge of hiding the pump hose from the pond to the falls
The large quantity of debris that accumulated each year on the bottom of the pond (2-3″ of pond-scum)
The HARD WAY to skim clean a pond.
Clogged pump from in pond use.
Shazam! What do we find but a Family Handyman article on skimmers for ponds. Jackpot. It was a garbage can fitted with a pool skimmer. Finally a way to catch debris before it sank to the pond bottom, hide the pump outside the pond AND… get the pump tubing outside the pond without trying in vain to hide the pump discharge pipe. That pipe could now be buried outside the pond as it headed over to the water fall because the pump itself could be installed outside the pond.
Garbage can skimmer
If there was just one filter I could choose when installing a pond, hands-down it would be a skimmer. Here’s why: A pump is necessary to create circulation for filtration and to create a waterfall (one of our favorite pond features!). And as long as you’re going to have a pump why not move that pump outside the pond so it can move surface water to create a skimming action and be easily accessed for service. Also, and this is HUGE. ALL PONDS ACT LIKE DIRT TRAPS. As the winds blow the currents carry all manner of dust and debris that are captured by the surface of the water. All this dust and debris like leaves and seeds in particular, get trapped by the water and soon sink to the bottom of the pond. Once there they will foul the water, turn into “pond scum” and are very difficult to remove without draining the pond. Even bottom drains which do help keep deep ponds cleaner cannot clean the entire bottom of a pond without jets, aeration and other complex and costly additions. But by simply placing and hiding a pump outside the pond the simple power of that pump in a well-designed skimmer filter will PREVENT most pond debris from ever sinking into the pond by skimming the surface while this debris is still floating on the pond’s surface. Skimmers are essential to keep any body of water as clean as possible and there’s no better filter for reducing pond maintenance and keeping the water safe for your fish!
Original Skimmer design.
I’ve heard and understand arguments that moving the pump outside the pond impairs full top-to-bottom pond circulation. On shallow ponds like water gardens that are two feet or less deep this is not an issue. The skimmer alone will create enough current in the pond to ensure full circulation. On deeper ponds that are 4 or 5 feet deep jets or bottom drains can be added to ensure optimal circulation.
Placing the pump in the deepest area draws currents from the waterfall, but not the far end of the pond. Locating a skimmer on the opposite end from the waterfall ensures full pond circulation.
Also locating the skimmer on the perimeter will automatically increase the overall circulation of the pond versus having the pump located on the bottom in the deepest point. Ideally place the skimmer on the opposite side of the pond from the waterfall for optimum circulation.
A skimmer acts as a safety system for your pond and fish, if any type of water loss or leak occurs in the piping system, waterfall or stream; the skimmer will only allow the water loss to occur in the top 6″ of the pond or basically to the bottom of the skimmer opening. When the pond water level reaches that point no more water will enter the skimmer so the pond will stop draining! When the pump or bottom drain are located on the bottom of the pond they will completely drain the pond of water during a leak leaving the fish high and dry! I’ve heard many a horror story of just that happening and it’s truly tragic.
The skimmer is also the perfect measuring device; the skimmer opening will show the optimum water level so there’s no guessing what the water level is.
The skimmer is a solid connection point for a waterfill device; the water level can easily be established using the skimmer opening as a measurement. Later in its evolution we added the overflow fitting to deal with excess water.
A skimmer has multiple barriers in place to keep critters from getting to the pump compared to putting a pump directly in the pond.
When we tore out portions of our classroom concrete pond to fix the leaking basin and ugly pond edges, we also added a new garbage can skimmer complete with its own set of wheels. We followed the directions from the article and added a net bag that we purchased from a dry cleaner. It was a laundry bag that was quite strong and suitable for catching the debris our new skimmer would collect from the pond’s surface. We purchased a swimming pool skimmer with a 6″ opening and built-in plastic weir that floats on the surface of the pond. This is a very valuable part of the skimmer design as the floating weir ensures optimal surface flow so most of the pond debris gets pulled into the skimmer net or filter pads before it can sink. We modified the standard swim pool skimmer by cutting off the circular collection basket behind the weir. In swimming pools this is where the external pump is attached. We much prefer to use submersible pumps so by cutting off the collection basket we could then simply attach the weir and holder to the face of the garbage can, inserting a submersible pump into the garbage can under and behind the debris and filter pad(s).
Our new cobbled-together skimmer worked great but the pump, a Little Giant #6 (3,000 gph), had a protective screen to prevent debris from damaging the impeller. That screen clogged every week but we still loved this skimmer. After all, the pump was now OUTSIDE the pond so lifting the pump out of the skimmer was pretty easy. I even installed a flexible radiator hose on the pump discharge and tied a rope to the pump. That way we could just pull up on the pump rope and access the pump & screen for cleaning without taking the plumbing apart or having to wade into the pond. What a maintenance boon!
Pumps could now be accessed easily.
Even though the skimmer worked just as planned we still felt the need to add more filtration. The skimmer was really a mechanical skimmer removing most floating debris before it would sink where it could foul the pond. I thought if we added a filter pad or pads to the skimmer we’d have a large surface area biological filter and that would help clarify the water and process the fish waste safely.
Skimmer cleaning pond of maple seeds
Well we soon found out that since our pond was 1,000 gallons the biological capabilities of this skimmer were still a little too small. (Next week we’ll review the evolution of our BioFalls). However the filter pads did add a huge benefit; the small debris that used to slip through the debris net was caught more effectively by the filter pads. So now the pump lasted much longer before the pump screen needed cleaning.
Also, when a skimmer is used in conjunction with a Biofalls® or any biofilter it increases the efficiency of the filter:
A skimmer’s pre-filtration will protect the biofilter from collecting excess organic debris so it will effectively breakdown fish waste. The biggest problem for biofilters is clogging with too much waste which does not breakdown efficiently. A skimmer also uses water from the surface of the pond which has the highest available dissolved oxygen content. High dissolved oxygen is very important for efficient bacterial utilization of nitrogen compounds(fish waste).
We installed close to 100 ponds with this crude garbage-can skimmer but only one customer ever complained about this kind of “home-made” filter. And when he did I visited with him and told him if he could find a better skimmer we’d install it No Charge. We never heard from him again! By the time we had installed this many skimmers our business had grown to the point that we could afford tooling to build our very own custom Aquascape skimmer. We turned to a plastic manufacturing technique called “rotomolding” as the tooling was relatively inexpensive while the quality of the product was superb. A plastic charge of powdered product was introduced into a mold and the mold was heated and rotated. When the plastic melted it spread out inside the tooling to form the skimmer box. And it concentrated most at all the corners giving us exactly the strength we were seeking. No longer did we need to encase our skimmers in plywood like we did for the garbage can model – LOL. We tested this rotomolded housing by filling it up to the skimmer opening with water and letting it freeze solid. It passed with flying colors!
Winter freeze test
Here’s one of our original drawings to show our customers how the Aquascape skimmer was designed:
Original Skimmer diagram
At Aquascape we’re proud to say this same plastics company we started with in 1994 is in Wisconsin – so we’re able to use an American company for most of our molded plastic products to this day! And year after year we still run into fully functional garbage-can skimmers when we upgrade/enlarge ponds for our past customers – some of these skimmers have been running over 20 years and they still don’t miss a beat!
Notice the Seal of Approval from the National Pond Society? Sadly that organization and their PondScapes publication is not around anymore but we joined up with them in 1994 to help further the causes of our industry when it was just getting off the ground. We’ll do another blog on that group one of these days.
Autumn leaves look beautiful near the pond. But once they fall, there is a lot of clean up required to keep the pond free of debris and rotting leaves.
The easiest way to keep the leaves out and simplify your fall clean up chores is to install netting over the pond. Here are a few tips for covering your pond.
Do it Yourself: # 1 Supplies; 3/4″ or 1″ PVC pipe, 12 -18″ rebar pieces & netting. We recommend Ultra Pond Netting, available in 15′ x 20′, 20′ x 20′ or 20′ x 30′.
Bang rebar along outside edge of pond approximately 18″ away from water’s edge and approximately every 3′ starting and ending about 2′ past the pond on each side, leave about 6″ sticking up.
Take the PVC pipe a stick one end on the rebar and CAREFULLY bend the PVC pipe over the pond and onto the opposite piece of rebar (I do mean carefully, if this slides off and catches you it hurts, once the pvc pipe sits for awhile bent it stays better)
Next stretch your netting over and secure to the ground with pegs. On wide ponds we will also place a support piece in the middle of the pond, using a 5 gallon bucket and clean gravel.
In both installation methods, watch for sprinkler lines, electric lines, pond plumbing lines.
Netting with smaller holes reduce the amount of debris that gets stuck in the net. When properly cleaned & stored, our nets are still being used after 4 years. Don’t use deer netting! It will only bunch up in a big ball and twigs will easily get tangled in it.