Monday, June 19, 2017

10 Pond tips to get more experience

1. Werner's Pond Rules
1. Do not overstock your pond-- 20gal. for each 1 in. of fish, more, if you do not have a filter and pump. 
2. Do not overfeed your fish--cut the manufacturers recommendation by 75% 
3. Do not stop your pump and filter--except for cleaning, you will lose aeration and beneficial bacteria. 
4. Do not place gravel or small rocks on the bottom of the pond--they will trap all manner of debris and eventually kill your fish.
5. Do change 10%( More if your pond is overstocked or under filtered) of the pond water monthly--this will flush out some of the harmful nitrates, ammonia, salt etc.. this is not the same as topping off your pond, you're actually exchanging water. 
6. Do test your water once a week--this will alert you to the first sign of problems, we make it easy with our 5 in one test strips.
  A few words--Every Pond is different, every Pond Keeper has different needs and ideas. What works for some pond keepers. might not work for others. Different areas of the country require different approaches.
  A pond is NOT and NEVER will be, a natural body of water, it's more like a large Aquarium, with it's own eco-system with one major difference. You cannot control the ponds environment, but must work with it to achieve a natural balance. 
  Pond keeping is not rocket science it's common sense. Our 36 years experience in Aquarium keeping and Pond building, has given us unique insights into this great hobby, we've made most of the mistakes . 

Unlike the fly-by-night's or the mass merchandiser's Buy and get the H*** out, philosophy, we care about our customers! We are willing to share and support you every step of the way to your dream, that's why we say: "POND-ON" .

2. Bio- Media Primer
Bio Filtration takes place in all the nooks and crannies of your pond, including your pipes, liner and tubing. The brown slimy deposits that accumulate in your pond plumbing are colonies of beneficial bacteria creating what is known as the nitrogen cycle. For years, "lava rock" has been used as a bio  filter media with good results. There are however, much more efficient, tested and proven media on the market today which will do the same job in much smaller containers. 
  The commercially available "lava rock" has nothing to do with lava or rock, it's burned coal clinkers that have been colored. Real lava rock, also called pumice, is extremely soft and abrasive and not suited for filters.
  Lava rock is NOT (Hasn't been for 20 years) the best available media for bio filters. The clinkers, a by product of burning coal, while being porous, will clog unless you have a very good pre filter system and do not allow water to flow through them, which wastes valuable filter space. All the little nooks and crannies in the faux Lava Rock eventually become clogged with algae, mulm, sand etc. making the effectiveness the same as throwing pieces of granite into your bio filter. With most homemade bio filters there is a certain redundancy built in (bigger is better) so it will take some time for the bio filter to lose it's effectiveness.
  Lava rock is cheap, yes, but over the long run it could be another maintenance nightmare. We've cleaned many a lava rock filter and I can tell you, that trying to clean this media with anything less than a steam power washer, will not get it back to it's original surface area.

Surface Area and Packing Density
While surface area measurements will give you some information, the way the media packs into a container, should also be taken into consideration. Strapping tape, for instance, is impossible to pack efficiently, whereas nylon pot scrubbies will pack much better into a container resulting in more surface area with less space.
Bio-Fill, rated at: 160, 250 ft2/ft3; Bio-Ball, rated at: 98 ft2/ft3 ; Bio-Barrel, rated at: 26, 33, 44, 64 ft2/ft3 1 cu.ft. of Lava rock = 16sq.ft. surface area ,1 cu.ft. of Bio Balls = 64 sq.ft. surface area  1 cu. ft. of Open Cell Foam or Japanese  Matting = 120 sq.ft. surface area, Nylon pot scrubbers =1 cu.ft. 370 sq.ft. One ounce of Activated Carbon has an estimated 30,000 square yards of surface area.
  For the do -it -yourselfer, some bio media to consider in order of effectiveness and cost:
Nylon Pot Scrubbies (see picture), Plastic Strapping Tape Springflow media and PVC Shavings.
  I purposely omitted the bio-balls, bio squares and baked ceramic media, Matala Fiber and Kaldness media because of their high cost and in the case of Kaldness media, untested by me. The effectiveness of a bio filter is controlled by the surface area of the bio-media, bio bugs need a constant flow of oxygenated water past them, to be able to eat, breathe and reproduce. More surface area provides more habitat, therefore, in any container you can substantially increase your surface area by using the right media.
  I recommend cleaning the bio media only if you can see a 1/4 " build up of mulm, and then cleaning it with pond water, as chlorinated water will kill most of the bacteria and cold water will retard their growth. You should keep the filter material moist while servicing your filter, as drying will kill most of the bacteria.
Comment---I've been using the nylon pot scrubbies for close to 30 years now. When I first started building filters, I used everything I could think of, including cut pieces of well pipe, hair curlers, plastic shotgun shell wads, strapping tape etc. Every other media worked to some degree but after much trial and error, I found nylon pot scrubbies to have certain advantages:
1. They are produced for food contact, and therefore, you can be pretty sure, no harmful chemicals are used in their production.
2.After Laboratory testing they were shown to have more surface area than most media, except for some of the ceramic media i.e  Siporax tm, or activated carbon. The sintered medias and A/C, however, have a clogging problem with DOC's creating a bio-film and clogging the pores, which then must be cleaned manually.
3. They do not allow, unlike strapping tape or bird netting, by virtue of their construction, large gaps with no bio filtration, or compacted areas trapping dirt and debris. You get maximum, even, coverage in the smallest container possible.
4. They last for a long time--I still have 12 Year old systems running with the original nylon pot scrubbies, they lost most of their color, but look like they'll last a lot longer yet.

3. Do You Really Need a Filter?
Filters come in all shapes, sizes and prices. Ponds can be without filters or high tech systems that operate on timers and remote controls. To help you decide which filter you need or not, let's cover the types that are available.
Water Changes--10% weekly water changes (more if the pond is overstocked) will do wonders for the longevity of your pond creatures. If you've never thought of water changes as a filter, you may wish to rethink that position. Water changes will do everything a filter can do, plus you are removing harmful waste products and built up toxins.

Pre-Filters--Can be a wire or plastic cage, or even large pieces of rock in a container. The main function of a pre-filter is to keep large debris and leaves out of your pump impellers. The larger the surface area the longer it will take to restrict water flow.

Particulate Filters--Can be made from foam, cotton batting, Japanese matting, scrubbies, Vortex settling tanks, anything that will trap particles. 2 or 3 stage filters are not uncommon and use progressively finer materials to accomplish waste filtration. All-in-one filters i.e. sponge types with bio-media, or bead type filters will work at their optimum when partially clogged, because finer particles are filtered.

Chemical Filters--Pressurized containers, for optimum flow through characteristics, that actually change water chemistry by additions of Activated Carbon, Zeolites, or resins etc.. Using non pressurized containers will work, but only at a 26% efficiency compared to pressurized.

Biological Filters, Trickle Filters--Can be made out of any suitable container, packed with media such as scrubbies, PVC shavings etc. that will allow maximum surface area for Bacteria to come in contact with the cleanest water possible, to expose the bacteria to maximum Oxygen and food. The water should flow thru, rather than across the media and should be above the pond rather than submerged to allow the maximum surface area and oxygen absorption possible. More oxygen will allow the bacteria to multiply and convert the harmful chemicals faster. In these systems, beneficial oxygen loving bacteria, colonize any exposed surface area to speed up the nitrogen cycle, converting harmful Ammonia and Nitrites to Nitrates.

The order listed should be the order these should be employed in your system, i.e. you should have pre-filtered and particulate filtered water, before it goes thru your bio-filter, otherwise the beneficial bacteria will will get covered with mud and debris and cannot survive.

Veggie Filters--Veggie or plant filters are our imitation of a natural filtration system. If built correctly MORE veggie filters will do all of the above type of filtration except chemical. One serious drawback, however, is their inability to correct filtration problems quickly. You will have to wait for the plants to grow before you have an effective filtration system. Another drawback is the lack of filtration in the cold months, since most of your plants will have gone dormant. It is possible, however, if you keep good records and have good knowledge of plant growing cycles, to keep veggie filters operating in anything but the coldest months, with only bio and particulate functions

Ultraviolet Lights--U.V. Lights filter nothing. They destroy floating Algae spores, otherwise known as "Green Water", that flow past the U.V. bulb. Medicinal Grade U.V's will destroy bacteria, but are way too expensive to use in a pond environment. Algae blooms, or green water, indicate a lack of filtration, overstocking, poor filter maintenance, lack of water changes, overfeeding or all of the above. While U.V. lights can be used as a temporary fix for green water, the dead Algae has to be removed from your pond via mechanical filtration, as it will deteriorate and further rob the pond water of valuable Oxygen.

In general, none of these filters, are needed in a pond, but do serve to enable us to keep fish longer and healthier. A filter forces you to remove the waste products when it's cleaned. Be aware that in a non filtered system, over time, depending on your stocking levels and debris influx, the debris build up in your pond will rob the water of Oxygen, lower your Ph levels, build anaerobic sediment, and reduce Kh levels. Freshwater fish, including domestic Koi are incredibly hardy creatures and can survive for years at less than optimum conditions, but bad water conditions are the number one reason of dead or diseased fish. On a non filter system, water testing is of paramount importance to allow you to stop problems before they happen.
Koi can live an average of 80 Years in a lake, 40 Years in a Pond, but unfortunately, the average life span is 2 Years unless the owner is willing to learn how to keep them.

4. Filter Channeling

Channeled swimming pool type filters have media, i.e. sand, diatomaceous earth, gravel etc. that is unsuited for a pond situation. Because of the relatively large particles produced by a pond, i.e. fish mulm, rotting vegetation, leaves and dead algae, a filter with the fine media above, will clog very quickly, sometimes in hours, will not be able to be backwashed effectively and with the pressure of the pump, will  open channels in the media. 
  These channels range from the size of pin to the size of a quarter and can be compared to a blood artery. When channeling occurs, the water flows through the channels at a much faster rate than normal and the increased flow will tend to widen the channel and carry some of the previously trapped particles back into the pond. We then have the problem of the pond water not being filtered at all and some of the trapped waste going back into the pond.

Swimming pool type pond filters, such as the Predator (tm), get around these problems by careful selection of media and modifying the internal plumbing components to increase your time between and duration of backwashes. As with any system, you can overwhelm the filter with overstocking, overfeeding and infrequent bottom and filter cleanings. Filter systems that suffer from owner neglect, will pay you back with green water, channeling and dead fish.

5. Pond Filters for Sale
A new, patent pending, Media, while giving 750 Sq. Ft. of surface area, eliminates the previous clogging and backwash problems.
Ultima II 1,000 gallon filter
$360.00  fob factory
Ultima II 2,000 gallon filter
$568.00  fob factory
Ultima II 4,000 gallon filter
$854.00  fob factory
Ultima II 6,000 gallon filter
$1120.00 fob factory
Ultima II 10,000 gallon filter
$1350.00 fob factory
Ultima II 20,000 gallon filter
$1650.00 fob factory

6. Pond Predators
Wading, fish eating Birds
Herons, Egrets, Night Hunting Herons(small), Kingfishers---Fly over your pond and will land 10 or so feet away from it and walk in. They use stealth to catch their prey and  will sit at the side of your pond motionless until a fish swims into view. They will then catch the fish in their beaks with a lightening fast stab. They will return to your pond until they catch all your fish. The small night hunting Heron is the smartest of all, he will try to crawl under nets and avoid the Scarecrow(tm).
Raccoons---Are nocturnal hunters and good swimmers. A sure sign of a Raccoon attack are parts of you fish, usually the head, left on your lawn and pots of plants knocked over in your pond.
Possums or Opossums---Are also night hunters,but normally will not bother pond fish.
Snakes---Will try to catch fish in your pond, but normally only catch frogs or tadpoles.
House Cats---Well fed House cats very rarely attack your pond fish, however, if a fish is sick and lethargic and can be caught easily, House cats will not hesitate to accept this free meal.
Feral or Wild Cats---Abandoned cats have to hunt for their food and will, if hungry enough, swim to catch your pond pets.
Pond Netting, which is almost invisible until you are within a few feet from the pond is almost 100% effective. Plastic Decoy Fish in conjunction with a hiding place such as an inverted milk crate or black drain pipe will also work.
 The Scarecrow, motion and heat sensing device, that uses a 10 second stream of water is also very effective.
Other devices such as strung fishing line over the pond, bottle rockets, reflective tape or CD's hung over the pond, life size Heron decoys are only marginally effective.
Hava-A-Hart Traps--Can be bought at Pest Control stores. In some states, the ASPCA will rent or even loan you a trap. Canned Sardines placed in the trap next to the pond work very well on all mammals. Caution--Wild animals may carry Rabies, especially wild cats or Racoons. When carrying or handling the trap wear heavy leather gloves, or better yet, pull the trap by a rope.

7. Dynamics of a Pond
Water is a very remarkable substance.  The extraordinary properties of water have a direct existence of our fish.  A fishes body is composed of more or less than 80% water.  So it is easy to envisage fish as a volume of water separated from a volume of water (pond) by a thin membrane (the skin).  The most insignificant changes in the pond environment will therefore, have a direct and almost instantaneous influence on the life of our fish.
  Each and everyone of these influencing factors, let's call them - IFS - is dynamic.  This is very important to remember when dealing with pond situations.  Sometimes we create problems which are not really there.  During the course of a 24 hour day each IF has a natural dynamic change.  These dynamic variations can be recorded and a daily pulse can be observed.  As the seasons change so do some of the parameters - the most obvious is temperature.  A pond or water system has a natural bio-rhythm of life which fish have adapted to.  At any point of time, during the day or year, a measurement of one or the other IF will be different when compared to another measurement taken at a different time of the day or year. 
  These fluctuations or dynamics should never be viewed in isolation.  A single reading on a test kit will present a distorted view of what is really going on in your pond.  You may be panicking for nothing.
alt has important benefits if used correctly, but should be looked on as a medicine. Unfortunately, as in many things with this hobby , the information presented to the starting hobbyist is confusing, too technical, flawed or just plain incorrect. It has gotten so bad that some customers we get in our store ask how much salt to add,  before they even build their pond.
  All living things use salt as part of their chemical composition and fish are no exception. Fortunately most well and city water contains enough salt to enable the fish life cycle to take place and to protect against nitrite spikes, without any help from us. The closer you live toward the ocean the more salt concentration will be in your drinking water, i.e. here in Florida the measured salt level is 0.074% in our area.

If you must use Salt
  Treating your pond's water: A starting treatment would be an .03% dosage, 25lb per 1000gallons. Rock, ice cream or water softener salt is preferred, although Iodized salt can be used. Iodized salt will not, contrary to popular myth, affect your fish health. In Aquariums it will turn your water cloudy. This percentage is not harmful to most plants, but will retard their growth. You can safely double the dosage.06% 50 lbs to 1000 gallons, but any plant should be removed for the duration of the treatment. A salt dip at 3.0% can also be utilized, but only for very short periods.
  Impurities such as salt will decrease oxygen saturation levels. 4 pounds of salt per 100 gallons of water will decrease oxygen saturation levels by about 1 mg/l.
  Using Salt for prophylactic reasons accomplishes nothing and is in fact, an irritant to your fish, making them build up a thick mucus coating. Salt inhibits the growth of plants even at low levels, and should only be used if disease or parasites are present. 

9. Un'Rockin' Your Pond
Our experience has proven that a rocked pond will eventually create an anaerobic bacteria bed under the stones due to lack of water circulation. Anaerobic bacteria, among other things harbor diseases and produce hydrogen sulfide gas which is deadly to fish, once released into the water column.
  The time frame can be as little as 6 months to 6 years, depending on your stocking levels, filter systems, outside pollutants and feeding habits.

  If you absolutely love the rock look, a 1 layer 3-4inch rounded flat river stone , will not present you with the problems you are currently facing and give you water circulation between the rocks. Remember to keep it to 1" layer. We have experimented and built under-gravel filters with PVC and up flow systems, unfortunately, these systems will only delay the inevitable as the holes will clog and the gravel will channel, in as little as 6 months.
Cleaning your rocked pond
  Your choices for your present rocked system are limited to removing and washing and sterilizing the rock and the bottom of the pond once a year (Remove your fish to a holding tank BEFORE you attempt to remove ANY of the rock) to rid it of the anaerobic bacteria. Or remove the rock completely forever. Unfortunately these radical procedures will also remove your beneficial bacteria from the top of the gravel. If you do this in small stages, the effect on the bacteria bed will not be as drastic, however, you will have to keep your fish out of the pond for an extended period.
  I would opt for radical cleanout with a bottled bacteria treatment.
  Your filter should also be checked for channeling and clumps of material since you are eliminating a lot of the beneficial bacteria bed if you decide not to replace the rocks with one layer. The best way would be to add a trickle tower after the system.
  Once you have done your cleanout, you should monitor your pond daily for 6 days, by testing the water parameters PH/Ammonia/Nitrate/Nitrite/ and take appropriate action if the parameters are out of range.
  For the least amount of stress, reintroducing your fish should be a slow process--replacing 10% of the water in the holding tank, every day for 4 days until your tests are equal in both your holding tank and pond.
10. Pond Kits
If you clicked this page you may be surprised to find nothing for sale here. Unfortunately, in this hobby, when you are dealing with an eco-system no one-size-fits-all. Our experience has taught us that pond kits are not suited to the vast majority of customers,  and include low or no quality filtration systems, liners and pumps at high power usage and prices.
 Each customer is different, each location is different and each customer has different ideas about stocking and maintaining their system. While a kit may seem to be a good purchase initially, it's really designed for the quick and easy installer who usually has no experience, and leaves the customer with a maintenance nightmare.
  Every one of our customers get the benefit of our 38 year experience, we help you design a custom system with your  needs in mind. Surprisingly the cost of our superb quality systems is lower than most of the pre-made systems and will certainly give you a more pleasurable ponding experience with quite a bit less maintenance.
Here's an example:
Major Supplier
1 750 GPH Pump
1-10x15 Liner
1-set of fountain heads
10ft Vinyl Hose
Werner's Water Gardens
1-750 GPH pump
1-10x15 liner
1-set fountain heads
1-10 ft. flex hose
1-Pond start
You save $50.41 and have quality, custom designed products.