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Your Water Gardening Specialists!

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Frequently Asked Questions...

ALGAE

LEAKS
NO WATER FLOW
ANIMALS

ALGAE

Your pond is a natural eco-system that supports plants, fish, frogs, tadpoles, micro-organisms, dragonflies, birds and other wildlife. Algae, just like the rest of your eco-system, is part of nature. Algae is very beneficial. It will help remove fish wastes and toxins from the water. Some types of algae will actually help the clarity of the water. The key to maintaining your pond is not to try and eliminate string algae, but to keep it in "BALANCE". [ Top ]

Types of algae:
There are hundreds of types of algae throughout the world. However, the two types of algae that most water gardeners experience are suspended algae and filamentous (string) algae. Suspended algae consists of millions of microscopic algae floating throughout the water. This causes the water to turn green or "pea soup" colour. Filamentous algae or string algae forms long and short hair-like strands. It attaches itself to rocks, gravel, plants, or any surface area it can find in the pond. Suspended algae can be virtually eliminated and string algae reduced by properly balancing your pond. [ Top ]

Balancing algae:
Algae, a single celled plant requires nutrients and light to survive. Reducing algae's requirements will result in less algae. How do you reduce algae's requirements? It's simple. Follow the recipe for a well-balanced pond. A well-balanced pond includes the following:

  • BIOFALLS™ - supports large colonies of bacteria and enzymes. The bacteria and enzymes use up nutrients and help break down fish waste (nutrients) and organic debris (nutrients).
  • Skimmer - the skimmer removes and collects leaves (nutrients) from the top of the pond.
  • Rocks & Gravel - Provides surface area for bacteria to colonize. Turning your entire pond into a biological filter that will break down fish waste (nutrients) and organic debris (nutrients).
  • Plants - Plants have the same requirements as algae. They directly compete with algae for nutrients and light.
  • Fish - Larger Koi (greater than 10") will eat a tremendous amount of string algae.
  • Bacteria - using bacteria in your pond to boost mother nature's ability to balance your pond. [ Top ]

Yearly cycle of the average pond:
Most ponds will notice a similar algae pattern throughout the year. Do not be discouraged in Spring if your pond has string algae problems. Be patient while your pond wakes up from its winter slumber. The pond will need to balance itself out. During the spring there is an abundance of nutrients in the pond. The algae will be reduced as the bacteria and plants re-establish themselves and start using up their share of the nutrients. Some ponds take longer than others do, but string algae will noticeably diminish as the season progresses. [ Top ]

Algaecides:
NEVER USE ALGAECIDES IN YOUR POND!!!
Algaecides only temporarily cure the problem. The algae is killed off, sinks to the bottom, and begins to decompose. The decomposing algae releases all of the nutrients that it has taken up, creating a nutrient rich environment for the next wave of algae. The next wave of algae, about a week later, is larger than original, due to all of the nutrients available. Using algaecides will only cause your pond to become "chemically dependant". [ Top ]

Algae control methods:
Plants:
Plants are probably the most important addition to your pond, since they directly compete with algae for nutrients and light. Add a wide variety of plants to your pond. This not only creates a natural look, but also helps reduce the algae in different areas of your pond.

Place water hyacinth and water lettuce in your BIOFALLS®. These floating plants reproduce rapidly using up enormous amounts of nutrients. Remove the older floaters when they start to over-run your BIOFALLS®. The discarded floaters make great nutrient rich compost for your garden.

Plenty of bog and marginal plants should be added to the pond. Plants such as cattails and iris take up large quantities of nutrients. They are hardy and will be back each spring to help you balance your pond.
Cover the surface of the pond by planting lilies. Lily pads float on the top of the pond, soaking up the warm sunlight. The lily pads will reduce algae by preventing sunlight from reaching the deeper portions of the pond.

Don't overlook oxygenators! They soak up nutrients and sunlight directly through their leaves. Think of them as nutrient sponges. [ Top ]

Physical removal:
Physically remove clumps of string algae if it begins to over-take the pond. Pull or cut away the algae where it is attached. Think of it as "weeding the pond".

Don't overfeed fish and have some larger Koi:
Fish food that is not eaten by fish will decompose in the pond and increase nutrient levels. Only feed the fish amounts that they consume within a few minutes. Koi greater than 10" eat string algae. [ Top ]

Fix leaks:
Tap water can have an abundant amount of nutrients in it. Continually adding large quantities of tap water to compensate for a leak can actually promote algae growth. Fix water leaks when they are discovered. See section on finding water leaks.

Control run-off:
Never use lawn fertilizer or insecticides on trees around your pond or on areas of your property that will drain towards your pond. Lawn fertilizer and insecticides will cause large nutrient blooms, as well as, severely threaten the aquatic life inside your pond.

Remove debris:
Keep your pond free of debris. Don't let the skimmer debris net over-fill with leaves. Decaying leaves and seeds in the skimmer will contribute to unwanted nutrients. [ Top ]

LEAKS

In order to find a leak, you have to first determine if it is actually a leak. Some water loss is normal, and that can vary depending on your location. In the Midwest, 1" a week during mid-summer is normal. In Arizona, 1" a day can be common. If a rapid water loss is witnessed, the first step is to turn off the pump. Once off, let the water seek its own level and mark its location on the skimmer faceplate. check the water level in 24 hours. If there is no change in the water level, the pond can be ruled out, and the waterfall and stream are probably to blame. To find the leak, turn the pump back on, fill the pond to the proper water level, and watch for another 24 hours. You should notice a drop in the water level. The first place to look in this situation should be the stream or waterfall. It only takes; a small trickle of water over a 24 hour period to cause a drop in the pond's water level. In order to find the leak, pull the gravel and mulch away from the liner's edge, and look for a low spot. When it is found, simply build the liner back up with some soil and compact firmly. Continue searching to rule out multiple leaks. Be sure to check the area around the waterfall for splashing water outside of the liner, as it cascades over the stonework.
If the leak is found to be in the pond, let the water continue to drop until it stops. Once it has leveled off, remove all the stones at the new water level and look for a hole in the liner. This type of leak is not that common and could be avoided if the liner is examined for holes before installation. Once located, use cover tape to repair the hole. [ Top ]

NO WATER FLOW

A lack of water coming our of the BIOFALLS® can be symptomatic of several problems.

  1. Skimmer net is full of debris limiting water intake into the pump.
  2. The pump intake is clogged with debris.
  3. Not enough water in the pond.
  4. Skimmer weir is stuck or blocked, which would not allow enough water to flow into the skimmer.
  5. Water Hyacinths in BIOFALLS® are blocking the water flow out of the BIOFALLS®.

Solutions:

  1. Clean out the skimmer net.
  2. Remove and clean pump intake.
  3. Fill pond to proper water level.
  4. Remove obstacle from skimmer opening.
  5. Thin out plants. [ Top ]

ANIMALS

The two most common predators around ponds are raccoons and herons. Raccoons are generally not a problem to your fish if the pond is 2' deep and 8' wide with some hiding places for the fish. They may, however, go into the pond and walk around the first plant shelf looking for food. Herons are not as common, especially in subdivisions or heavily populated urban areas. If they do visit your pond, you will notice what patient and excellent hunters they can be while probably stealing some of the fish. The best solution we've seen for predators is the scarecrow or yard cop. These units are connected to a water source and use motion detectors to pick up the presence, of an intruder. Once detected, they will shoot several blasts of water, scaring the predator away. These units retail for about $100.00.
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Enhance your pond...

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1.- Use native plants -they will usually grow more happily, need less work, and they're what local wildlife has adapted to.

2.- Garden in layers, with a higher canopy of tree branches, lower canopy of bushes and small plants - this offers a variety of shelter.

3.- Provide good access to the pond, with shelves, rocks, and gravel so creatures of all sizes can get to the water comfortably.

4.- Choose plants that earn their keep by providing beauty, shelter and food in more than one season.

5.- Plant clumps of flowers, especially those that you can see the bees and butterflies love.

6.- stay away from chemicals such as insecticides and herbicides.

7.- Plant ground cover under trees to maximize shelter.

8.- Create safe travel routes between food and water. This becomes doubly important if you see a hawk hanging about.

9.- Try to connect your pond area visually with other natural plants and trees in the area.

10. Make your pond attractive to you. It's there for your pleasure after all. The more time you spend beside it the more you will understand its workings and become part of it.