HOW DOES ONE FIGURE OUT WHERE TO PUT THE POND?
I recommend you put the pond where you can see it from the back porch, kitchen window or through a window while eating. However, don't put it in the low part of the yard. When it rains water will drain into the pond. Lawn fertilizers and chemicals will dump into the pond and upset the balance. Also, avoid putting the pond under trees. Most water garden plants need full sun and falling leaves cause trouble when they decay in the pond. Use a garden hose to outline the pond's shape and then measure it for a liner. Liners mostly come in predetermined sizes. It will save you a lot of money if you adjust the dimensions to fit the liner. Sometimes shaving six inches or so off the size of pond you want will enable you to purchase a much cheaper liner than if you have to go up to the next liner size. It is best to figure this out before the digging begins.
DON'T USE HACKETT STONE IN YOUR POND
I love hackett stone. We use it extensively at Talking Leaves to border flower beds. But keep it out of your pond. That touch of rust color is from the iron in the rock. That iron, according to several ponders, can leach into the pond water. And iron can be harmful to pond life, especially fish.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BRIDGES?
Pour a concrete foundation for your bridge if it will involve much weight. Otherwise it may sink into soft soil.
Make sure a bridge makes sense. If six steps can take you around the water the bridge spans, it won't be believable. Bridges across streams are inherently more believable than bridges across ponds.
Consider a handrail on only one side of the bridge. Then one can dangle toes into water on the other side and feed your fish more easily, especially if you plan the transition from stream to deep water at the edge of the bridge.
Don't forget that in Houston, wooden decks grow mold which becomes slippery very quickly. And because the wood is over your water, common chemical cleaning techniques to get rid of the mold may drip toxic materials into your water.
If you are making an arched bridge, don't make a uniform arch. If you do the step up and the step down will be too steep and slippery. Ease the arch at each end to make a transition curve.
HOW MANY FISH WILL MY POND SUPPORT?
It depends on whether or not you have biologicl filtering. Without it the general rules are (1) one inch of fish per square foot of pond surface or (2) one inch of fish per five gallons of water. Be sure and figure this on the adult size of the fish. And don't forget to consider what you are going to do with the inevitable fry.
I have not read anything on pond capacity when you have biological filtering except that such filtering allows one to exceed the standard recommendations.
HOW MANY SUBMERGED PLANTS WILL I NEED?
The general rule is one bunch of submerged plants per square foot of pond will greatly help keep the water clear.
WHAT ABOUT EPDM ROOFING LINERS?
I haven't decided yet about whether roofing EPDM liners are the same as EPDM liners sold by aquatics dealers. Many on the "rec.pond" usegroup claim that a liner is a liner is liner. They say that the "fish safe" claims of certain liner sellers are just an excuse to raise the price. I haven't taken a stand on this controversy yet.
WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF USING LOW WATTAGE PUMPS?
Low wattage pumps, such as the submersible pumps by OASE are expensive to purchase. But they are energy efficient far beyond most other pumps. OASE has published a study on the yearly cost in electricity for various gph's and the wattage of the pumps involved.
For example, in the 300 gph range the Oase "Aquarius 8" pump uses 20 watts and costs $17.52 per year at $.10 kilowatt hour rate for continuous use. The Cal Pump "A320 Niagra, at 172 watts, costs $150.67 per year. The Little Giant "2E-38N-WG" uses 100 watts and costs $87.60 per year to operate. (Please note: I have not independently verified Oase's numbers.)
Some argue that this is a pay me now or pay me later situation. I disagree. They payback in electric savings can occur very quickly.
Further, I want my maintenance costs to be as low as possible. That initial outlay in setting up the pond is a one-time event. Once paid, it is a dim memory. The monthly increase in the electric bill is a totally different matter. At least to me.
CAN I TURN OFF THE WATERFALL DURING PART OF THE DAY?
Don't turn your waterfall and biological filter off at night. Just before dawn is the time the oxygen content of the pond is at its lowest. Aeration of the pond at this time is most important. Those fish you see in the morning gulping at the surface may not be hungry. They may be oxygen starved.
Also, many biological filters are hooked into the pump which supplies the waterfall. If the pump supplying your biological filter is turned off the beneficial bacteria in it will die rather quickly.
WHAT ABOUT ULTRA VIOLET STERILIZERS?
A UV sterilizer sounds good as a way to prevent the pea soup effect which occurs each spring when free-floating algae gets out of balance as the water warms up. UV sterilizers can kill that algae and keep this imbalance from occuring. Also, UV sterilizers are helpful in controlling certain fish diseases. Unfortunately, the UV bulb is effective for only a year. Even though it still glows, it has to be replaced yearly to be effective.
WHAT ABOUT A CONCRETE LEDGE AROUND THE PERIMETER OF THE POND?
I like the idea of making a concrete ledge around the perimeter of the pond so edge rocks can have a firm footing. Such a ledge also helps insures that you don't dig the pond bigger than the plan. But I want the concrete edge to be around four inches below the water level. This will allow the liner to be completely hidden. The liner will go on top of the ledge and up the outside of the "bank." Rocks will hide the liner. Even if the water level drops up to three inches, the liner will be unseen, and protected from UV light (which will extend its life). One disadvantage of the ledge approach is that it does not allow a "shallow" area for a more natural look. On the other hand, possums, cats and various fish eating birds don't like 90 degree dropoffs, which helps insure old age for your fish.
HOW MANY PUMPS DOES ONE NEED?
At least two. The regular one and at least one standby pump to replace the main pump if it breaks or to add oxygen via an airstone in an emergency. Also, many ponders have one pump dedicated for the waterfall and one for the biological filter.
WHAT ABOUT UNDERWATER LIGHTING?
It is hard to make underwater lights look natural. That's because light from under water is not natural. However, above-water lights, hidden in plants yet shining on the water, can be magic. A light behind a waterfall is not "underwater," but it can also add drama. On the other hand, one is not always after a "natural look" in your pond, and underwater lighting is dramatic. So it depends on the style of pond you are after.
CALL THE POWER COMPANY BEFORE DIGGING
Always call the power company before digging your pond. And the gas company. And the telephone company. People have died from hitting power lines while digging the two to three feet necessary for a pond. And a broken gas line is also dangerous. Your utility companies will usually come out for free if you call them.
WHAT IS A TWO POND SYSTEM?
If you have a "two pond system" connected by a stream you can use the small pond as a giant biological filter. Stuff it with underwater plants (such as ananarchis). This give you lots of natural help with balancing the pond yet leaves more of the big pond free of plants to allow reflections of lights and views of the fish.
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