My pump keeps tripping my GFI!

post time April 2nd, 2014 member PondMeister


Unfortunately I get this question all the time. Once water has seeped through the seals and gets into the motor, the GFI will trip and shut-off the electricity. When I told our customer today that her pump was “Fried” she responded:

The Customer responded:

“If the pump is fried, why does it work like a champ when plugged into a different gfi outlet?”

Not being an electrician, I forwarded her question to the Tech people at Aquascape who answered with the following:

Aquascape Tech responded:

I have attached two links that I hope will help this customer understand. 

Basically if they value their life and the life of their loved ones they will use a GFCI breaker.  Choosing not to do so places them at risk of electrocution in the event of an electrical malfunction. Which is exactly what they are doing by bypassing the GFCI. This has been required in outdoor receptacles since 1973.

 If the pump trips all the breakers it is plugged into it is discharging electricity into the water and they can potentially be electrocuted.  Sometimes you don’t even need to make contact with the pond, if the ground is wet enough, to get a bad shock if pump is malfunctioning.  The reason the pump works in non GFCI outlets is that GFCI are designed to “trip” when they detect an electrical bleed.  It is a safety thing. 

Now sometimes the GFCI go bad and need to be replaced.  It is recommended to check your GFCI monthly. 

Here is a link to the consumer protection safety commission.  Richard you may want to put this link up on your site or FAQ for others who have questions.

Hope this helps answer their questions,


The Customer responded:

I have two outdoor gfci outlets.  It is the outlet on the pond that is tripping with the pump.  That outlet is still running the ion gen and the lights, however.  Once I plug the pump into it, it trips.  So, that outlet has enough juice to run both the ion gen and lights, but not the pump. 

I have plugged the pump into ANOTHER outdoor gfci outlet (via an outdoor extension cord) and it is running like a champ.   

My question: If the pump is bad, why does it run on ANOTHER gfci outlet just fine?


 To which Aquascape Tech responded:

Ah okay this is a different question.  There are a few possibilities. 

  1. The electrical line or quad box does not have sufficient amperage to handle running the extra pull from the pump.  A quick way to test is to plug a hair dryer into that outlet and turn it on.  Many hair dryers run a good bit of power.  I think mine is 1200watts, an Aquasurge 5000 pulls about 360watts.  If the dryer runs when the lights and iongen are on then it tells you the pump is bad but the outlet is sufficiently big
  2. It is not recommended to run the pumps on an extension cord because they can interfere with the “tripping” of a GFCI.  You could easily test pump at that other GFCI outlet by putting the pump in a large trash can with water in it and plugging it in.  If it runs like a champ still while submerged in water then I would assume the pump is fine and you might just have a finicky breaker and would suggest replacing the GFCI.
  3. Another possibility is that if the pump runs great in a trash can of water plugged into GFCI but trips once connected to plumbing, there could be an obstruction in pipe line that is causing the pump to work harder and pull more juice.  This is not very common, and would require that the pump was pulling almost to the limit of the GFCI.  I think this theory would be easily solved by the hair dryer test.
  4. Another option would be to unplug the lights and Iongen and just try and run pump…. If it trips that also tells you the pump is probably failing. 

I have had a few left field issues in my 10 yrs….  Sometimes breakers would trip and it turned out that the electrical line running to the pond was also running different appliances in the house, which would cause the circuit to overload.  I have also had people getting a shock when near the pond and they were convinced that it was the pump, but once the pump was removed they were still getting shocked.  It turned out to be an old live electric line that was for an old lamp post long gone.  The electricity was able to move through the wet ground (it was a spring issue)


My takeaway from this exchange and my experience, is that once a pump trips the breaker – BEWARE! Time for a new pump!



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Harsh Winter Fish Kill?

post time March 19th, 2014 member PondMeister

I have received more questions like this one below this year than ever before and asked Aquascape Tech for their response.

Frozen turtleQuestion:

“I lost a lot of koi this winter because of extreme cold conditions, thought I had enough aeration and de-icers apparently not  would like alot more info on how to prepare better for harsh conditions”

Aquascape Tech Answer:

“Hhmmm that is kinda of hard to answer with no information from that person. 

I think the best response is that this was an extremely unusual winter and the even the Department of Natural Resources has issued a statement that they are expecting to see large fish losses in natural stream and lakes due to this year’s extreme weather.  Aquascape will be reviewing their winterization suggestions, but sufficient aeration, and openings in the ice usually work.  When you have the 3rd harshest winter in 150yrs (Chicago) it is difficult to predict all possible scenarios.  

Low stocking levels and having healthy fish heading into winter is also beneficial.  If the fish are stressed going into the winter months they are even less able to handle a severe winter.”

The PondMeister’s Normal Answer:

“The fish are fine in freezing weather. It is not the cold that kills the fish – it is the gasses trapped by a frozen over pond that kills the fish.

The 3 ways to keep a hole in the ice are: 

1.            De-icer – These keep a hole in the ice allowing the gasses to escape

2.            Pond Aerator – A pump which sits outside the pond and pumps air into the water. The bubbles keep a hole in the ice

3.            Submersible Pump at Water Level – The bubbling effect of the water keeps a hole in the ice. 

In extreme winter areas, some people chose to select 2 or 3 of the above in case one method fails.

Of course once the water temperature drops below 55 degrees there is no longer any need to feed the fish as their digestive systems are unable to digest the food.”

Frozen pond


I thought Aquascape’s response was a great answer and illustrates that even if we take every precaution, sometimes our best efforts may not be rewarded.

Nature can be BRUTAL!

Category Pond News | 1 Comment »

Aquascape Rebate Offer!

post time March 15th, 2014 member Laura






Announcing the 2014  Aquascape Consumer Mail-In Rebate Program*
From March 15th – May 31, 2014, Aquascape is offering a rebate on various products.  Complete your purchase from ThePondOutlet, then fill out the rebate form and receive a gift card for $10-$50 depending on your purchase.
Eligible products include:

· AquaSurge® Pumps
· AquaSurge®PRO Pumps
· AquaForce® Pumps
· AquaForce®PRO Pumps
· IonGen™ System G2 (95027)
· 3-Watt LED Pond & Landscape Spotlight Kit
· 3-Watt LED Pond & Landscape Spotlight
· 6-Watt LED Pond & Landscape Spotlight
· 1-Watt LED Pond & Landscape Spotlight
· 1-Watt LED Waterfall & Landscape Accent Light
· LED Fountain Accent Light
· LED Fountain Accent Light w/Transformer

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Aquascape Waterfall Design

post time February 20th, 2014 member PondMeister

We have all the Aquascape products necessary for building a beautiful waterfall in your landscape.
Here is a great article from Aquascape. These useful tips will help you design and create a natural looking waterfall for your landscape.

Not only do waterfalls provide ambient sound for the garden, but they provide necessary aeration to keep an ecosystem pond functioning and looking its best.

Use a biological filter unit such as the Aquascape BioFalls® Filter
In addition to filtering the water, this type of unit is designed to make building the waterfall much simpler because it gives you a solid base or structure to build upon. You won’t have to worry about a leaky waterfall, and the extra support will allow you to naturalize your waterfall with larger stones.

Make your waterfall fit in with the surrounding area
If the terrain of your backyard is flat, a waterfall that pops up out of nowhere will not look natural. Keep your customer’s new waterfall in scale with the surrounding landscape and terrain by building a berm around the waterfall area. Several smaller drops of 4 to 9 inches or one drop – no more than 18 inches – will help blend your pond and waterfall seamlessly into the landscape.

The size of the stone should be proportional to the drop of the waterfall
The drop of the waterfall is the distance from where the water exits the biological filter to where it hits the pond. Some of the main rocks should be several inches larger than the drop of the waterfall. For example, for a drop of 12 inches, you should use rocks that are 16 inches in order for them to be in scale with the project.

The larger rocks should “frame” the waterfalls
Your waterfall will look more natural if you “frame” it with the largest of the rocks that you have chosen. As the water falls, it will hit the larger stones and find its path through the spaces between them – just like in nature.

The fewer, the better
Fewer rocks are better when building a waterfall. Three large stones are better than 12 small stones stacked up. Nature will provide you with some tips for designing and building your customer’s waterfall. You usually will see one very large stone, surrounded by few smaller ones, with the water running between them.

Twists and turns
Be sure to twist and turn the waterfall and stream so that there are new views and facets with every turn, which looks better visually. Take your time on this part – designing twists and turns can be the most fun part of building the waterfall.

Provide a room with a view
Ensure that you can see the waterfalls from inside different rooms in the house because no matter how much you love the outdoors, you will still spend most of their time inside. People often make the mistake of having their waterfall face the back of their yard. Try a view from the living room or kitchen – wherever your family gathers.

Softening the edges
The surrounding landscaping will cover most mistakes. The more plant material you can line the falls and stream with, the better. It will soften the hard edges of all the stone. Also, if you create a good, planted backdrop to your berm it will look as though it’s always been there. Make sure it flows into the rest of your yard.

Above all else, study nature
Be sure to study natural streams and waterfalls to find ideas and inspiration. That is where the greatest waterfall builders in the world gain their inspiration!

Now that you have read the information, watch the video! How to Build an Awesome Waterfall

Category Pond Products, Pond Tips | 0 Comments »

Aquascape introduces new UltraKlear UV Clarifier!

post time January 24th, 2014 member PondMeister

Scott Rhodes (Aquascape’s Product Guy)  introduces the new UltraKlear UV Clarifier which will be available in Mid-March.

This is quite a turn-about for Aquascape who have always preached an all-natural biological approach to keeping the pond clear. They still strongly believe in the natural approach but offer this as an alternative if all else fails to clear your water.

As most of you are aware green water and string algae is a factor of but not limited to in no particular order are:

• Too much sun
• Too many fish
• Feeding fish too much
• Not enough plants
• Fertilizer from the yard leeching into the pond
• Pump too small
• Poor filtration system
• Too much dead stuff at the bottom of the pond
• No annual spring clean-outs
• Not enough aeration

Please keep in mind that UV light ONLY addresses the green water issue and has absolutely ZERO effect on mossy green string algae. The IonGen is still the only product which absolutely eliminates all mossy green string algae

We recommend addressing the issues mentioned above first but if you are still having green water issues, this new UV Clarifier may be for you. It appears that Aquascape has improved on the UV light by making it much simpler to use and maintain.

We look forward to hearing your reviews of this new product on our site at UltraKlear UV Clarifier

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New 2014 Products from Aquascape

post time January 17th, 2014 member PondMeister

Scott Rhodes, Aquascape’s Product Guy, announces some of Aquascape’s exciting new products for 2014.

These include a new line of LED lighting with FIVE YEAR warranties and a new line of Pressure Filters.

These products are not available quite yet but should be arriving in February and will be posted onto our site as soon as they arrive.

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Blocking Fish from Skimmer

post time March 8th, 2013 member PondMeister

For some inexplicable reason, after 10 years, I had 4 different fish decide to go into my skimmers. Two of these ultimately resulted in deaths.

Of the major Skimmer manufacturers Atlantic Watergardens offers a product to keep fish out of the skimmer called the Gatekeeper 

I came up with a little simpler do-it-yourself solution using some left-over shelving from a prior project. The coated finish should not affect the fish and it seems the perfect size to let debris through but keep out my prized koi.


Just cut to the size desired and as you can tell from the video, just hook it over the skimmer and the lid will hold it in place. Be sure to sand the sharp edges to protect the liner from puncture. Rubber caps would probably be a good idea too.

Category Pond Tips | 4 Comments »

Spring Clean-out Tips from Aquascape!

post time March 2nd, 2013 member PondMeister

It’s almost that time again and we all wonder what steps we need to do to properly prepare our pond for the season.

Below are the steps that Aquascape advises for a thorough spring clean-out of a Skimmer/BioFalls pond:

  1. Drain the pond using a Clean-out Kit
  2. Pump some of water into container to hold fish during Clean-out.
  3. Disconnect Pump and Check valve in Skimmer and allow BioFalls to drain into Skimmer.
  4. Remove the filter mats and use the discharge water to rinse the mats (this keeps the bacteria alive in the mats).
  5. Walk up and down pond area and remove solid waste (leaves and other debris) by hand.
  6.  Re-arrange rocks that may have fallen.
  7. Drain pond to 6″
  8. 8. Catch fish with Net and gently transfer to Holding Tank.
  9. Add Aerator to insure fish have enough oxygen
  10. Use Pond Net over container to prevent fish from jumping out.
  11. Finish Draing Pond
  12. Use Pressure Washer and start at the top and work down.
  13. Pump out water at the bottom from pressure Washing.
  14. Finish cleaning Skimmer and BioFalls by hosing them down.
  15. Rinse the rocks and gravel. This will be the most time-consuming part.
  16. Cover exposed liner with Rocks and Gravel that have made it to the pond floor.
  17. Replace the Filters and BioBalls or Lava Rocks in the BioFalls.
  18. Replace the Filter mat and Debris Net or Basket in the Skimmer.
  19. Before re-filling, Check your lights and replace any bulbs or fixtures as necessary.
  20. If you have the IonGen that completely eliminates mossy green string algae, check the probe to see if it needs replacement.
  21. Start re-filling pond.
  22. Use Pond Detox to remove Chlorine and other heavy metals and prepare the water for the fish (Number One cause of fish deaths during clean-out is putting fish back in chlorinated water)
  23. Using Fish bags, float the fish for 30-45 minutes to acclimate the water temperatures before releasing them in the pond.
  24. Enjoy your pond for the upcoming season!


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Fowl Island? The new Over-sized Floating Duckhouses!

post time November 12th, 2012 member PondMeister

When we got two calls in the same week asking if we could make duck houses that were a little larger for geese or multiple families, we asked the Craftsmen at Heartwood if they could produce a taller Duckhouse with wider and higher doors.

To our (and our customer’s) delight, the first Over-sized Duckhouses have rolled off the production line.

Our good customer in Odessa Texas has created – what we call “Fowl Island” for her Geese and Ducks. Please note the differences between the traditional and the Over-sized Floating Duckhouses.

All of our customer’s have commented how easy to assemble these and orders typically ship within the week.

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Hurricane Sandy Preparation Tips from Tom Smith (Garden State Koi)

post time October 29th, 2012 member PondMeister
Although it is difficult to always be prepared for the things mother natures throw our way, there are a few simple steps to take to be prepared for the upcoming storm and its after effects.
Keep in mind that animals have their own survival instincts to handle these storms so we will focus on several of the ‘what if’s you might encounter.

Power Outage 

If the power goes out, the largest concern becomes oxygen for the fish.  One factor that is in our favor is that the water in your pond is relatively cool right now.  Colder water holds oxygen very well.   Note: most ponds fish populations will be fine with a power outage due to the cold water.  You will want to watch your fish closely to see if they are gasping at the surface.   This is an indication that the fish are stressed and struggling for oxygen.  You will want to take immediate steps to add oxygen to your pond.   A small air pump will provide the necessary oxygen to keep your fish alive.  The problem is what to plug it in to.   If you have a generator – great.   A battery back up unit will also run a small air pump for several hours.   Some customers use an AC/DC adapter and run it off of their car.   All of these are great solutions.   In case of severe emergency and lack of oxygen, hydrogen peroxide can be added to the pond to add additional oxygen molecules.  One pint per thousand gallons will keep fish alive for several hours.  Be careful not to overdose.   In the case of HP, more is not better.

Falling Trees/Branches 

With strong winds, pond owners can expect falling branches or even uprooted trees around their pond.   In some cases the branches can puncture your pond’s liner.   When and if this happens, wait to remove the branch.   In some cases the branch will keep the liner plugged and from losing water.  It also gives you the exact location as to where the hole is located.   These holes are easy to patch and repair.

Waterfall & High Winds

My suggestion is to turn off waterfalls that are used just for decorations.   The high winds of Hurricane Sandy can and will blow much of the water cascading over your waterfall outside the pond and can drain your system in a few short hours.  If you use your waterfall as the sole method for oxygen in the pond, keep it running for the safety of your fish.

Blowing Leaves/Nets

Because of the timing of this event, there will be tons of leaves blowing around your yard and into your pond.   At your earliest convenience, I suggest removing these leaves so they don’t create a long term problem.   I would expect leaf nets to be full and some tenting to be collapsed after this event, but with a little clean up most ponds will bounce back and be fine for the winter.   If you need help removing leaves, feel free to give us a call and our maintenance crew can provide assistance.

Catastrophic Pond Damage

Garden State Koi has several open tanks set up for customers that might experience severe adn catatrophic pond damage from the storm.   We are prepared to move and hold your fish in the following cases: house collapse, pond collapse, severe pond leak wherein the pond cannot hold water, etc.   Note: Power outage is not considered catastrophic although the results from losing power for an extended period of time can create a catastrophic situation for your fish – please be prepared to add oxygen to your pond.

Technical Support

I will be available on my cell phone for anyone that needs technical assistance throughout the storm.   Please feel free to give me a call if you need help with your pond, fish or a catastrophic situation.   We will be closed starting Monday afternoon at 12:00.   We do not anticipate opening again until Wednesday morning – but that might be in question depending on the damage in our area.

Please keep safe during this unprecedented storm!!!
Thomas Smith
Garden State Koi & Aquatic Center

845-629-8662  (Emergency Cell Phone)

Category Pond News | 2 Comments »
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