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Do you have a pond?

Jeannie Nguyen
March 3, 2014
I used to have a pond growing up as a kid, at my parents house. We also had six Koi fish! I remember my parents struggling a lot with the upkeep, what are your best tips for keeping a pond clean?

If you have photos of your pond, share them with us! Be sure to tell us if you have fish, and your best cleaning tips.

Potting Shed at Augusta Residence · More Info
Comments (29)
  • rwright9474
    Our pond is more of a small lake - sunrise and sunset create amazing displays. :)
  • PRO
    Sustainable Dwellings
    Nice farm pond line with nice huge trees. Waterlillies in it in season.
  • PRO
    Chicago Roof Deck & Garden
    Preventative cleaning. Do your best to keep leaves out in the fall. Also bio filtration and bacterial can help cut down on the need for chemicals.
  • PRO
    Barnhart Gallery
    Yes, most early springs, when the snow melts and the ground is still frozen, we do. In the garage.
  • PRO
    Dragonfly Ponds & Patios LLC
    I would highly recommend looking into some sort of filtration. On a small contained pond like this with fish it is very important to have constant filtration similar to what you would have in an aquarium.
  • vintagebookie
    We have a small pond in the ground just outside my exterior door. We have it about 25 years and it has given us more joy than perhaps any other home exterior improvement.We have about 10 large goldfish in different shades from Silver to gold. We have a small waterfall and use a pump filtration system 9 moths of the year. The 3 winter months we turn off the pump and waterfall and put an electric heater in the pond to keep it from freezing.Changing the filter material twice a year is the only maintinance. Hearing the waterfall from inside my home is a daily pleasure. We add some plants every spring.
  • Leann Henshaw
    I have learned the hard way that putting a screen or netting on the tope of the water saves lives; the lives of the fish, that is! We didn't realize that our new neighborhood had a large assortment of creatures that appreciated our newly installed 'snack bar' until the fish had mysteriously vanished!
  • honeyspoilsme
    HERON - You just need a large plastic heron. You can buy at pond stores or go online. Just move him every so often so the birds, especially other herons, don't get used to him. Also, make sure you have some kind of cover, like a few plants, so the fish can hide. If you have a shallow pond, plants are really important because the fish don't have the depth of the water for protection. Now, if you have a predator of the 4 legged variety - that's a whole other story! You might have success if you can build the area around the water up by using rock that make it difficult to perch and cling to. Good luck!
  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    I have two ponds, one is called Portage Lake and the other is Lake Michigan.
  • PRO
    Tumber & Associates
    click for a few photos of ponds we have created...similar techniques used as in above comments.
  • PRO
    Tumber & Associates
    Trees close by = shade.
    Water plants/lilies to accomplish this too.
    Circulating water (water falls, fountains etc) over natural stone or gravel to feed the naturally occurring helpful bacteria; other biological filtration.
    Try to create/imitate a real ecosystem, ie: with fish, frogs, plants...and create a protective 'cave' or spot for them to hide in.
    If possible, collect organic debris (leaves) -manually or with a filter similar to a pool skimmer.
    Make your pond deep enough to allow the bottom to stay cooler & offset warmer temperatures for algae blooms.
  • onthecoast1
    My filtration system was so hard to maintain in my 2 indoor freshwater aquariums that I talked myself out of an outdoor koi pond......maybe one day when things are a little less hectic. My grandparents had a 2 foot deep rectangular shaped pond with 2 old koi in it -- other than scoop out huge oak leaves a couple times a year, they did nothing to it. Didn't have a filter or anything, and it would freeze over in the winter. Every year we would think the 2 fish would die, but they'd be swimming around again come spring. Most unreal thing ever. It was dark and filled with brown algae and gunk.....but the fish seemed to love it and the water seemed clear towards the top. We sold that place eventually with those 2 fish still in there......
  • okdokegal
    There is a tradeoff between gin clear water and happy fish...

    We have had ponds for about 20 years in three different houses... on the order of several thousand gallons, full of fancy goldfish, koi, water lilies, and pond and marginal plants. We are used to the idea we will have a week or so of mountain dew bottle green opaque water in the spring; and hair algae is a way of life. Our ponds are always 'about 90% done' as in the edging and around them landscaping never seems to get finished... but. It's early evening, and you step up to your pond edge at the area kept open so you can see and feed, call your fish and scatter the offerings and they come up to be a riotous colorful group of happy fish, it's great.

    Herons are protected, they think your pond is snackbar... we had good success with the fence around it (we do swimming pool securing even though they are not deep enough for that) and stringing monofilament line overhead in 3x3' squares (one nice tall center pole to grow some morning glories up to help hold up the 'tent') as when they try to land, if a wingtip brushes something they can't see they will not land. [friends of ours tried to string a line of mono 1' high around their pond despite descriptions on doing the overhead lines, and they had a down sloping 1/3 acre yard, so the birds had plenty of place to land and walk up for lunch] Plastic herons they laugh at. Sensor water sprinklers, work a time or two (come on and spray water when the sensor trips). Plastic birds of prey, they laugh at too. (that place we were less than a mile from a Heron Preserve, don't even think of looking crosseyed at one)

    Bears you are on your own. Raccoons don't take no for an answer. Some friends reported putting out gravy-train dog food worked, 25# bag a week as a bribe for the raccoons.

    Allowing a high energy dog to be your guard at night can help, unless or until it learns to fish. Herons like to come the hour before dawn, raccoons two hours before dawn. Raccoons will fish, and take a bite out of every fish they catch, empty your pond, and lay all the fish out neatly. They will go after your prized $150 new release just purchased water lily, walking on the pots to get out to THAT one and chew it to a flinder. If it doesn't die, they will return a few more times to target that lily until it's compost. Raccoons will attack your water feature on your back deck 3' from the door.

    Best is to put a high tunnel over your pond; keeps the critters out, can extend your water lily bloom season; if you are in a colder climate can help ease the winter temperatures for your hibernating fish; and with the right mesh over in summer, no hail damage to your water plants.

    Two things to deal with city during water rationing and neighbors... a pond takes 25% less water than the equivalent amount of bluegrass, surface area, and that is considering topping off and a quarterly nearly totally empty and refill. Pond water during cleaning and water change, that is great stuff to green up your lawn. It is NOT catching runoff for the surface area of your pond, it is considered the same as it 'soaked into the ground' not 'rainbarrel or catchement device'.

    If you have fish in the water you are not going to have mosquitos. Koi and goldfish consider mosquito larvae 'candy'. If there are mosquitos in the area either someone has something collecting water in their yard or a close by drain has standing water (one place city had 'under surface' ducting for the water drains to go through some intersections, and those would collect water and breed mosquitos. I would have neighbors over for bbq, escort everyone to a house over at the corner, and dump in a couple of mosquito dunks in those drains. Mosquito issue would disappear.)
  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    I would not recommend gin in the pond no matter how happy it makes the fish.
  • gobbitt
    Mark. You're being awfully silly. I can almost hear you cackling to yourself after each of those one liners.
  • PRO
    Mark Bischak, Architect
    I suppose you would recommend vodka??
  • acroteria
    No, we don't have a pond but the neighbour behind us has an uncovered swimming pool that hasn't been tended to in 3 yrs.....does that count?
  • noma
    We've had our Koi pond for almost three years. It is eight feet square by five feet deep. It is overstocked with eleven nice size Koi, but we compensate for that with extensive filtration.
    Before we started building, we did extensive research on filtration and construction methods. I found some Koi forums; Koiphen is my favorite, and took to heart the knowledge and expertise the forum members have to offer.
    Following their guidance, the most important thing we did was to pipe the pond water to the first filter with an aerated bottom drain in the center of the pond which gravity feeds the water to the first filter. The one we use causes a vortex action which separates the solids from the pond water in the outer ring of the filter then brings the water through a screen and then through a plastic media for bio filtration. The water exists the filter, is drawn through a pump, and is then pumped through a sand and gravel filter that filters out the finest particles and then sent back to the pond. Because our pond is covered, we get very few leaves in the pond. Instead of a big built in skimmer like a pool would have, we use two small floating skimmers.
    What we did sounds like a lot of work,and it was, but maintenance is very simple. We flush out the filters once a week which gives us the recommended 10% water change a week, and the fish are happy and healthy.
  • honeyspoilsme
    Thanks for the information on your pond - it solved a problem we were having with ours. We also followed your advice and joined "Koiphen." Looks like it will be a very information site. We also enjoyed your pictures.
  • PRO
    Mint Design
    We have a pond that is 8x20 and 2.5' deep. We have a recirculating pump and a small frog fountain both of which run year-round. We have a floating heater for the winter. The sides of our pond are about 18" high so are comfortable for sitting. We have raccoons but from the top of the side ledge to the bottom of the pond the depth is over 2 feet so they cannot get deep enough to fish. We also have some hollow stones which provide hiding places for the fish. We did have a problem with a night feeding heron for 3 years or so but he never emptied the pond completely and seems to have moved on. We stocked our pond with ordinary and fantail goldfish which have multiplied and grown to as much as 10 or 12 inches long. We have had the pond for about 18 years and have it drained and cleaned annually in the spring before the babies hatch. We have some perennial plants and lilies and replace the tender lilies in the spring when the pond is cleaned. We do not have deciduous plants near the pond however we cover it with a black net in the autumn to collect any leaves that blow into it. Occasionally we put a harmless black dye into the pond if algae starts to be a problem. We thoroughly enjoy our pond and cannot imagine our garden without it. Our pond is in the city so we treat the water with "stresscoat" when the water is changed or added as well as during or after a major rainfall.
  • noma
    Thank you honeyspoilsme for the kind comments. I am so glad to help.
    If you go to the forums tab on Koiphen and scroll down, you'll see the pond construction and filtration section. The first headings are stickies with great information including the 55 gallon drum sand and gravel filter sticky. That's the one we used. There is just so much to learn about keeping the pond water healthy for my fish, I still refer to the site on a regular basis. The bright green that you see behind the fish is actually the carpet algae on the bottom (5 feet down) and sides of the pond. It's a sign of a healthy pond by the way. :)
  • profmiss
    What a beautiful space you have!
  • dclostboy
    I've got a cement pond if that counts :)
  • jilliehj
    We live in S. Florida and have a small pond made from a concrete basin with a natural stone boulder as the waterfall (pipe running through it. We don't have fish as we have cats, Nuff said, but we do have a cacophony of frogs. Unfortunately my hubby and I differ on how we like it to look. Personally I like the natural look, but he likes the super clean "gin clear" look. Over the 6 years since it was constructed, we had had lilies and papyrus plants in it, tried lava rocks, all kinds of filters etc, but struggle to keep the algae down to reasonable amounts. Consequently, hubby cleans it out completely every two or three months, using chemicals etc. He has tried every natural remedy he has come across but now we have no plants and the pond is empty, just a concrete bowl which makes me sad. Any tips to help reduce maintenance, persuade hubby that algae can be good, and advice on reducing ultra violet issues etc would be most appreciated!
  • okdokegal
    There will be no compromise that gives you gin clear all the time. It just doesn't happen where you have a bioload and sunlight. Algae is a way of life with a pond. Best you can hope for is a healthy pond; with fairly clear water and happy fish and healthy growing plants. Filter maintenance is a way of life, as is cleaning hair algae (the curse of ponding). If my water is not bright opaque green other than that week in the spring; I'm doing good; if my fish show up amongst the lily leaves and I can see them for six inches or so below the water, the water is fairly clean. A scooped handful of water I can see the lines in my palm, if I scooped a drinking glassful it would not be clear but fairly close to it.

    If I have constantly murky water I have a) overzealous koi making a mess in the potted plants I just put in the water and no they won't stop it if you put big ragged boulders on top the pot dirt. b) big duststorm. c) filter needs a major clean. d) leaf-fall just happened and I need to get scooping e) time for the couple times a year get in there and suction the mulm off the bottom or run the bottom drain is needed for same reason f) too many fish or not enough filter or both; need to up the filtration capacity and/or decrease the fish population. One ten inch fish puts out a lot more bioload than ten one inch fish. g) overfeeding fish h) using too much or the wrong kind of fertilizer for the water plants. I) water PH screw-ups (this is not common but common enough to mention--usually caused by f, g, h)

    Koiphen is wonderful. If you have a pond you should join.
  • noma
    We live in the FL Panhandle so also have the heat and sun -- and occasional torrential rains. It's not unusual for us to have over 5 inches of rain in a matter of a few hours and not be a tropical system.
    That is why we built a raised covered pond. It's protected from runoff water and heavy rains -- both of which can play havoc with PH and water chemistry. The 5 foot depth and UV protection cover also protect the water from excessive heat and temperature fluctuations. The pond walls are straight down and are lined with insulation board under the underpayment and box shaped commercial grade pond liner. Even with highs of 98* + in the summer, and a low of 15* this winter, the pond water never went higher than 85* or lower than 57*.
    I did have a UV clarifying filter on my pond when new to combat the single cell algae. It's what causes the "pea soup" algae. I hadn't replaced the bulb for two years, so didn't put one back in the system when I added the Sand and Gravel filter this year. We'll see how that goes. :) I had the string algae the first spring only. So far, the water's up to 70* and have clear water with just carpet algae -- the good stuff.
  • noma
    Here's some examples of UV clarifiers
    Helps explain them too. :)
  • PRO
    Spring Creek Aquatic Concepts
    The best way to attain a clean pond is to consider water cleaning before the pond is ever designed. Start with the best design and your frustrations will never start. The more you know, the less you have to do.

    We hear many rules about ponds. Our designs break them all. Fish are very happy in our clear waters. http://www.houzz.com/projects/613395/Natural-Garden-Pond
  • PRO
    Spring Creek Aquatic Concepts
    There is an interesting irony when uv sterilizers are used. If you also add bacteria, the sterilizer is killing that bacteria and adding even more to the biological load on the pond. We do not use either one, but it is something for people to consider. You also may enjoy reading our thoughts on what makes a pond natural http://www.aquahabitat.com/natural.ponds.html

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