Spring Cleaning your Pond
by Shane Stefek- President Water Garden Gems
Your pond is a beautiful place. It takes a little effort to keep it beautiful, but more importantly what does it take to keep it beautiful and healthy and when the time comes to clean it, how do you protect the ecosystem? There are many ways to clean a pond...and most are wrong! Be wary of attacking it yourself without knowing what you are doing. Time and time again I hear the famous story of "I lost some fish this Spring when I cleaned my pond...I always do..." Why? Let us talk about your pond ecosystem and then we will discuss the proper ways to clean and care for your pond while you protect your fish and their environment in which they live.
The first thing we need to understand is your pond is not a pool. It has a liing ecosystem in it and that in large part is what keeps it beautiful. You want to protect that ecostem and that means no powerwashing, no harm cleaning chemicals, and preferably do not dry out the sides of the pond or the filter system. We want to get in, clean out the junk and get out as fast and possible and without disrupting any more than we have to. There are certain aspects of the pond we need to seperate from each other and discuss to better understand what and how we should clean...
1)Bottom sludge is made of fish waste and decomposed bio materials...we don't need or want this in the pond. Your pond cleaning should focus around removing your sludge more than anything else. Nitrates grow in the sludge as do fungus, bacteria, and protozoas. We want to remove this as often as possible. Properly built Koi Ponds have bottom drains for this very reason...constant removal of wastes into the filter so there is minimal to no sludge accumulation. If you are not currently using a Sludge Digester, you need to start and this will reduce your build up and need to clean your pond as frequently. STRATA Organic Digesters
2)Algae is not a bad thing. It can be an ugle thing and it is ok to remove during your cleaning in certain situations and to a certain point. Algae on waterfalls and in streams can be removed so your water feature is prettier and ready to give you all the enjoyment and beauty it had when it was built and this actually could be powerwashed if applicable or otherwise scrubbed off with a bristle brush. However, the carpet algae on the sides of the pond is actually a major part of your healthy pond ecosystem so you should leave it intact and preferably not allow it to fry out too bad while you are cleaning the pond. If you seperate good from bad algae and protect the good algae, your pond will be healthier and will rebound faster from the cleaning.
3)Filter Cleaning should not be done at the same time the pond cleaning is done. If you are disrupting the pond ecosystem, you do not want to also disrupt the filter ecosystem. Keep in mind your pond filtering agents are living beneficial bacterias that require moisture and oxygen. You are killing much of your beneficial bacteria in your pond when you clean it so you need to protet the bacteria in your filter. Wait a couple weeks to clean the filter until the pond stdarts to gain back some of it's filtering bacteria.
OK...so how do we clean a pond? Your method of cleaning determines whether or not you need to remove your fish first. If you are going to stir up the sludge in the pond and force the fish to breath it, you should remove them first. However, if you are using a pond vacuum or have a method to cleaning remove the bottom sludge without releasing all those toxic gases throughout the water table, you can do so without removing the fish and thereby reducing the amount of stress the fish are incurring. I recommend pond vacuums for this very reason...safer for the fish. Also, they are easy to use so you are more likely to keep the bottom of your pond cleaner. INVEST IN A VACUUM
The type of vacuum is determined by the needs of your pond...presence of leaves, how bad the sludge is, amount of time
If you are going to do a full emptying of the pond, here are a few helpful hints and steps to help you better protect your fish:
1)Remove the fish into a holding tank and give them moving water or an aerator. Fill that tank with the pond water and keep them in the shade
2)Use a sump pump to empty the pond and scoop out/clean out all the sludge in the bottom of the pond.
3)Clean whatever waterfall/feature you are going to clean...no chemicals.
4)Leave the sides alone so the the beneficial bacteria can survive.
5)Fill the water back and add your high level dechlorinator as the water is filling up...as soon as possible so you are neutralizing the chlorine as it enters the pond and before it kills the bacteria you left in the pond. USE THE GOOD STUFF! Fritz ACCR for example is a dechlor/dechloramine/heavy metals control/ammonia blocking agent...all in one! It's what we use here on our fish. ACCR other great products to protect your fish
6)Return your fish once your pump is running and the Dechorinator has had time to circulate completely through your pond water neutralizing all the bad additives.
We do not want to clean our ponds...the fish donot want us to mess with their ecosystem. If you need to though, you must for their health. Let me however recommend you talk to us about your filter system, organic digestors, fish load, aquatic plants, and more ways of creating a healthier pond that does not require spring cleanings.
You may also want to learn more from other blogs like Winterizing Your Pond and Easy Pond Cleaning. Shane's Blogs
Buy the Finest Quality Goldfish
by Shane Stefek, President - Water Garden Gems
When adding the next choice goldfish to your tank or pond, you want to make sure you are buying high quality fish that are strong and healthy. Their health and longevity of life will be determined by their bloodline and their environment.
Quick and Easy Waterfalls
by Shane Stefek, President - Water Garden Gems
In building a pond or water feature, often the most difficult and frustrating detail is creating the waterfall. In a waterfall, you want a realistic look and feel, the proper sound created by the correct cascading of levels in your waterfall, and a lead-free construction so you have no worries of draining your pond one day if something goes wrong. How about a waterfall you can have up and running in under 30 minutes!!!
How to SIZE up your Pond
by Shane Stefek, President - Water Garden Gems
It is one of the most important pieces of information you can know about your pond…HOW BIG IT IS. We size up ponds in gallons and everything from the pump and filtration to fish load, fish health, and the times when you need to treat your pond for parasites rely on your understanding the volume of your pond.
Benefits of Water Gardens, Ponds, and Fountains
Water Features are one of today’s hottest trends in landscaping. High maintenance, boring, cookie-cutter grass lawns are being transformed into beautiful, impactful, low maintenance water features. Home owners are looking for ways to separate their living space from the norm and with so many custom design options from water gardens to Koi ponds to disappearing water features, they can make their backyard become their unique Oasis Paradise.
Custom Cut Pond Liners
...Make your project easier and cleaner...
Need a pond liner? Visit Water Garden Gems! We custom-cut pond liners for your specific application off full size rolls so you know you are getting the liner you need. EDPM Rubber liner and .20mil PolyEthylene liners available in all sizes cut just for you on the spot. Nowhere else in Texas can you find custom cut liners! No job is too large or too small. We have the liner ideal for you.
Koi Pond Aeration
Aeration is one of the most important aspects of koi keeping and also one of the most overlooked. Every living thing in the pond need high levels of oxygen, especially during the warmer months. Just adding a small waterfall simply won't be enough for most koi ponds. There may be enough oxygen for the koi to survive, but they won't thrive.
BOG FILTRATION - The ultimate filter option
...let me prove it to you...
In helping thousands of people better enjoy their ponds, there are some underlying issues that are common throughout a high percentage of pond owners and probably the greatest request of all that I receive is for a higher level of filtration that is easier to maintain without spending a fortune. Welcome to BIOFILTRATION. A Bog filter is the ultimate "natural" filtration...no chemicals, not even a man-made concept...we are talking about filtering your pond how God built in the filtration for river, streams, and lakes...by using your natural filtering elements.
If your water lilies are not blooming as well as you would like or the pads are smaller than they were earlier in the season, it may be time for a little TLC on your part. You can easily revive the bright colors and quick growth of your plant and enjoy them at their peak performance for months to come.
Farm Pond Aeration
Adding Oxygen solves your pond problems
Farm ponds can range in size from small 1/8th acre tanks to large stock “lakes” in the many many acres and millions of gallons. Depth can also vary from unfortunate shallow water that warm up quickly and possibly go dry in the heat of the summer to 20’ deep tanks that can grow large varieties of fish and plants and provide water for liverstock regardless of the amount of rainfall. Regardless of pond size, shape and purpose, issues can arise and regardless of the issue, there is one great answer for creating a healthier, cleaner, clearer pond…AERATION.
Main issues in farm ponds:
4)Stunted fish growth
There are two options for aeration…surface aeration and subsurface aeration. Subsurface is a much better option as it diffuses more oxygen into the water table, getting a higher level of oxygen saturation in your pond and getting oxygen at all depths. Floating surface aerators can provide a nice visual fountain effect, but are not effective in aeration the depths of the pond and thereby not providing adequate aeration results.
There are a few main reasons we aerate ponds. First, all fish and plants require oxygen in the water to survive and grow. We want to make sure there is ample oxygen, especially on hot, windless days and nights during the summer. Second most important and related to the oxygen levels in the pond is that we want to keep the water as cool as we can because oxygen molecules hold in cooler water better than in hot water. So by cooling the water, we are not only adding the immediate air bubbles, but they are getting more completely saturated into the water and staying in the water table longer. Using subsurface aeration takes this element one step further by pushing air to the bottom of the pond and having the aeration bubbles rise up through the different depths of the pond we are in fact pushing the cooler water from the bottom of the pond up to the top and displacing the warmer surface water back to the bottom of the pond for cooling. What happens within a few days is a unifying of water temperatures throughout the depths of the pond. Instead of having 90 degrees surface temperature and 65 degrees bottom temperature in a 10’ pond, we will have 78 degrees throughout the pond. This is a very healthy ecosystem set up for your fish. This also brings us to another critical purpose of adding an aeration system…by equalizing the water temperature, we eliminate the potential for “pond turn overs” and fish kills due to anaerobic gas exchange. Add to these three ecosystem benefits that now your fish and plants will grow faster, healthier and have higher immune systems due to the higher oxygen levels because as the O2 levels rise, fish metabolism increases, leading them to feed more frequently, grow faster, and have more nutrients in their systems for strong immune systems.
Now after the basic reasons to aerate a pond, we have a series of sub-benefits…clearer water created from having more beneficial bacteria and enzymesas well as healthier filtering aquatic plants due to the added oxygen levels; reduced smell issues with the pond as you will no longer have decaying plants due to lack of oxygen in the summer; healthier amounts of Diatoms to breakdown bio and fish waste on the bottom, reducing sludge build up; and lower nitrate levels from increased plant and bacteria life.
Whether you are fighting water clarity, fish kills, odor, stunted fish growth or hot water, aeration is your first answer. Check out Water Garden Gems to get the proper sized system from pump and tubing to frame and diffusers so you get the most out of your investment. Located outside San Antonio, Water Garden Gems specializes in water gardens and ponds. We have helped countless ponds with Oxygen issues...we can size up your pond for you in minutes. Aeration done wrong is not helpful...so let the experts help you so that you invest wisely.
Truly successful garden ponds contain both plants and fish. Not only aesthetically crucial, a balanced biotope created by the interaction between plants and fish will ensure proper water conditions.
It can be difficult to choose to next great addition to your pond…and stressful when you don’t really know what to look for…so here are a few helpful hints to get you started…
PREMIER STAINED CONCRETE FOUNTAINS
@ WATER GARDEN GEMS
For the best selection of high quality Concrete Fountains in Central Texas and by far the cheapest prices, Water Garden Gems is where to shop!
You can browse and purchase on-the-spot from the assortment onhand or you can special order from the catalog and have the fountain shipped to your home!
8' Tall Mustang Fountain
Small Kissing Doves Three Angels
THESE FOUNTAINS ARE THE PERFECT CENTER PIECE FOR ANY YARD, COURTYARD, CIRCLE DRIVE, PATIO, or GAZEBO!
Flat Rock Falls Fountain
St Augustine Kids Under Umbrella
Old World Fountain
...this is just a sample. There are small fountains, patio fountains, indoor fountains, concrete benches and statuary.
Stained Concrete in your landscaping is the ideal way to create long lasting impact that can be enjoyed by you and your family and friends all year around for years and years to come.
Fountains come with pump and plumbing, including fountain seal putty and plastic shims for leveling. Easy to install! The large Mustang fountain took us less than 30 minutes to complete!
STRING ALGAE CONTROL is here!
There is a fairly new product on the market that has really caught my eye! The reason for this…it CONTROLS STRING or “Hair” ALGAE! Most all of us have dealt with this Algae issue before and for some reason, this winter in Texas it is really bad. Where it is harmless in small amounts, it can grow out of control and clog up your intake pipes, slow down your waterfall, and even stop your pump. In fact, I cleaned out a customer’s pump today that stopped completely because of String Algae getting into the impellor and prohibited the pump from pushing water. A good cleaning and the pump worked great again, but left to grind for the day and it may have burned up the pump for good. So finding a product that helps control and eliminate this nuisance from our ponds is something to get excited about!
Custom Cut Pond Liners
Water Garden Gems is the perfect place to get your pond liner in Central Texas.
Have the size liner you need custom cut off huge rolls so that you get the closest to perfect size possible and not waste money on excess liner or on shipping costs.
Custom Cutting is free of charge and they will even help you figure out the size of liner you need for your project.
** Specializes in EDPM Rubber Liner for ponds so you have expert advise that understands the product and how to build ponds. You have a professional assisting you free of charge!
** Discounted pricing for wholesale/professional contractors and for large liners or complete rolls.
** Wholesale pricing to resale businesses...pricing based on volume
** Can ship your liner if needed to your home or business.
** Will teach you how to install the liner properly and carefully as well as how to use the tape when joining two liners.
Also available is the felt Underlayment, patch tape, seem tape and double-sided tape for adhering liners together
Rolls are kept instock in the following sizes:10', 15', 20', 25', 30', 40', 50' wide
No project is too large or too small. From 4' wide streams to 100' wide Koi ponds and everything in between. Build a bog filter waterfalling into a stream and then dropping into your Koi pond. The experts can size up each liner and teach you how to splice them together for a leak-proof pond that you will love!
Thinking about a concrete pond? Concrete is great, but it should not stand alone. There are very few concrete ponds and fountains that do not acquire a leak within the first 5 years due to water pressure and ground shifting...Doing concrete is fine, but you should do what the expert professionals do and place a liner underneath as your gaurantee watertight seal. If the concrete slits, you still hold water but you can have the look of concrete! Easy to install for fountains as well...just ask how!
Liner Types: EDPM 0.45mil Rubber Liner (preference and use by professionals)
PolyEtholene 0.20mil Liner (thinner and light weight, not as tough)
PVC 16'x16' 0.20mil Package Liner ($79.95)
Felt GeoMembrane Underlayment (8mil felt protectant pad for liner)
Double Sided Liner Tape
Single Sided Seem Tape
Every pond needs some character, perhaps a "wow", and even some fundamental "protection" from the predators. Adding a Gator, Croc, or Hippo is sure to bring you all three of these and more! New items for your pond that will be a splash this season...
Why you need a UV Clarifier
If you fight with green water in your pond, you probably are constantly looking for a chemical additive to clarify the pond, adding more and more aquatic plants, doing excessive water changes, draining the pond more than you should, and working way to hard to get the clear pond water you want...All that goes away when you install a UV Clarifier System into your pond. Now is the time to start ENJOYING your pond and stop working so hard to keep it clean.
I have built many ponds...some without UV systems and some with...and I will never build or own a pond without a UV Clarifier again. Let my experience and expertise help you help yourself acheive the crystal clear pond you desire without work, chemicals, and hours of research.
>>>Now you want to size your UV to your pond...adding the wrong size system will be a waste of your money so let the specialists assist you in your choices. Brand, Watts, Pump flow rates, amount of sunlight, fishload and plantload all go into choosing the right system to give you what you need so you do not want to grab something off the internet blindly...this is a critical piece of your pond system that takes some thought...
How do UV Clarifiers work???
UV Clarifiers work to clear your pond as water is pumped through the unit and around the UV impregnated mercury vapor bulb and then back out into your pond. When the water passes by the bulb, the UV is vaporized into the water, altering the molecular structure of the algae and prohibiting it from finishing it's lifecycle and multiplying. This quickly kills the algae in your pond that are preventing you from seeing through the water and are causing your water to have that pea-green soup appearance.
UV Clarifiers and Sterilizers effectively kill algae, bacteria, and many protozoa, making your pond clearer and healthier for your fish without harming your beneficial bacteria in your pond or in your filter as those are not passing through the UV unit. They also ease the load on your filter as there are less algae, etc particles in your pond to clog the filter up and thereby it can hold a higher amount of other particles like ammonia, nitrates, fish waste, and more.
Well worth the money, these UV Clarifiers will create the beautiful pond water you want and you will not have to buy algaecides to keep your suspension algae under control...just replace the bulb each year and enjoy the crystal clear water in your pond!
If you already own a UV Clarifier...
You know how awesome they are and how great they work to maintain clear water with minimal to no work making it happen. UV Clarifiers give you more time to enjoy your pond...but don't forget that bulb only lasts about a year as the UV radiation burns off the bulb and the bulb needs to be replaced.
We recommend to replace in January-February before the water starts warming up and the first green algae bloom begins...often before February ends...come out and get your replacement bulbs and don't worry about green water this year or adding chemicals to your pond!
IF YOU DON'T HAVE A UV CLARIFIER...
Come talk to us and we can help you choose the unit you need, size necessary for your pond and ecosystem, and even set it up with pump or diversion kit for you to take home and install in minutes. We had multiple customers last year call us after 3-4 days to tell us their ponds were CLEAR...3 days!!! That's all it takes if you have the right system for your pond.
We can help!
Give us a call...(210) 659-5841 today
If you are not looking forward to draining your pond and cleaning the muck out of the bottom again next spring, you are not alone! Luckily you do not have to…there are some great products on the market that will reduce your work in keeping your pond clean throughout the seasons.
Add Water Lilies to your Pond
Whether you have a Water Garden, Koi Pond, shallow stream, or a backporch water barrel, adding water lilies might be the best thing you can do for the ecosystem, water quality, and your enjoyment.