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Fish pond debris

Fish Pond Debris

There are many things that I’m sure any fish pond would hate (if you could ask them…only kidding, I’m not crazy) and this is my way to kill a pond list.

The picture above shows tree debris floating in the water.  Seeds from oak and maple trees are everywhere right now.  I scoop out any debris I see each morning as a matter of habit.  Fall is the worst when the trees lose their leaves.

Tree limbs – Tree limbs are great as long as they’re attached to a tree, but when they fall into a pond they become a problem.  There’s always that chance they may rip the liner.  And some types of tree limbs can be toxic to fish when they sit in the pond water.   I always take out any sticks or limbs right away as soon as I see them.

Little kids skipping rocks off the surface.  The quickest way to kill a pond or any body of water for that matter is to fill it up.  Most people don’t think much about it, but for every rock, stick, or boulder that you throw in, that’s less space in the pond.  A pond is always dying… as debris is always trying to fill it in, so it always needs care to help keep it alive.

Too many fish can present a big problem for the cleanliness of the water and it stresses the fish out.  I’m sure the raccoons love it, easier pickins.  I chose not to have too many fish, just keeps the water cleaner and the pond easier to maintain.

Rocks precariously stacked around the pond (I thought at the time they were stacked just fine, but the wild animals showed me otherwise.).  I’ve had rocks that I’ve arranged around the pond to hold the liner in place and make the pond look pretty fall into the water when stray cats or raccoons go for a drink of water which from at first made loose rocks fall into the pond.  The finally made a nice little landing for themselves to easily reach the water. I ended up leaving this drinking shelf as is, it wasn’t a problem for me and there were no more rocks falling into the pond.

Stagnant water – A pond is at its best when it has a running source of water.  I’m sure the stream fed pond is best, but there’s not many of us who has the luxury of a stream running through their back yard to feed their pond.  That’s where the waterfall or some type of filter comes in to move the water and filter out some of the impurities.

Lack of plants – Ponds need plants to filter and clean the water. Its the most natural way to do it.

Salt and lawn chemicals – Be careful what you spread around your pond, it could leach into it.  Lawn chemicals, weed killers, or salt spread on the sidewalk nearby could all end up in the water, especially after a good soaking rain.

Keeping a pond away from a septic tank is good to insure that no runoff leaches into the pond.

Dogs – Certain breeds of dogs love to swim, and ponds have to be inviting.  But they can really do a lot of damage to the liner, plants and freak out the fish.  My youngest dog, Georgia, would love to get near the pond (she’s part lab) luckily she can’t reach it.

I had a lot longer way to kill a pond list in my head before I started typing this, and I’m sure I’ll think of them as soon as I post this.  I’ll add them at another time if they kick in my mind.

 

 

I just wanted to share a video with you of the pond.  I filmed this a week or so ago, and yes the pond needs some spring cleaning but I was just enjoying the moment and decided to video tape it so I could share it with you.  I want you to get an idea of why I enjoy my pond so much.  This is the second year that I’ve noticed 2 frogs that have moved in, which I enjoy and I can’t wait to hear their chirps at dusk (I can hear the ones down the street).  The goldfish are also enjoying the arrival of spring which has been slow to get here.  I hope you enjoy the video of Dons Fish Pond as much as I do.

 

The right spot for a pond site  is so important.  You want to really look over your backyard BEFORE you start to dig. I can’t emphasize that enough, learn from other people’s (and my own) fish pond mistakes. Here are several things to consider:

How is the slope of your backyard?  This is important because you don’t want to finish up and then discover that a heavy downpour of rain will ruin your pond site.  A few years ago I had a neighbor that was so proud of the goldfish pond he put in, until the first heavy downpour washed all the dirt from above the pond into the garden, and his wife wasn’t too happy seeing some of her newly planted flowers floating in the water.

Are there any underground pipes or wires that you might accidentally hit when digging the hole? This could be very costly if you hit an underground water or gas line. Or as I mentioned previously, the first spot I picked uncovered a hidden water run off container?, or as I like to call it my bomb shelter  that I didn’t know existed.  This is another example of a pond site gone bad …I often wonder what else is underneath our yard.

Will the spot you pick afford you the best view of your finished pond?  You want the best spot to be able to really enjoy your pond.  A friend of mine put his pond spot in the back corner of his lot.  He picked this spot because he had planned on adding a picnic area next to it, but then realized the ground was too damp for days after a good rain (it was a low lying area) so he changed the picnic area and he’s also considering changing the pond spot and filling in the old one which will be a lot of work for him (and me too as I know him he’ll ask me to help). Bad pond site selection… watch out for those wetland areas.  In nature, ponds are found at the lowest level of a terrain.  If your garden is sloping down away from your home, you can create an artificial situation by building up rocks around the pool.  The pond will appear to be in a low point of the garden.  Excavated dirt from the pond can be used to help with this effect.

Is there some shade and not direct sunlight all day long?   I found this out the hard way, as my pond does get a lot of sun, which will encourage the algae growth. This might not have been my best pond site selection choice, but in my case I picked the location just off the deck so we could enjoy our morning coffee watching the goldfish swim, I was also limited in my choices by a small yard. Both the fish and the pond benefit from direct sunlight, but some shade must be available.  Tree branches that overhang the pond shed leaves into it but they also provide shade.  I have trees next to my pond, which I enjoy because of the shade and because I love trees so I just keep a net nearby to scoop out any leaves or branches that fall in.  Some branches might be toxic so you’ll want to get them out of your pond when they do fall in.

Do you have enough room to fit everything?  Pond site selection also should take into consideration the total finished pond, not just the hole.  Will you have plants around the pond?  Plants will need the space to breathe and grow.  You will need room around the pond for these extras to make it look natural as though it has always been there.

So now you’ve seen some examples of why pond site selection is so important.  You should study the movements of the sun and the shadows created at different times of the day before siting the pond.  I know, this is a lot to think about, but I just want you to be aware that its more than just picking a spot that you want, it has to be the right spot too.  Just want to save you some aggravation.

 

After so much time going by without any rain it was such a pleasure to FINALLY see a rain storm arrive over the pond last night.  The rain came down hard a few times, but the pond survived the storm as did the goldfish (I haven’t seen the frogs yet but I’m sure they survived too).  We needed this rain so badly in our area and I’m sure the plants around the pond are very happy.  The pond was noticeably higher this morning too.  The weather has been so strange lately but I am so grateful for finally seeing rain (sorry if I’m repeating myself, but I’m relieved).  I’m going to have to get out to the pond when the weather clears up again and drain and replace some of the pond water as I haven’t done that in awhile and I’m sure the goldfish would appreciate the cleaner water.  That’s all I’ve got to say on this post… Happy to see the rain over the pond !

 

 
Two Pond Filters

Two Pond Filters After Rinsing

The weather is finally staying warm enough that I decided to clean up the pond and reconnect the waterfall.  I used to empty out most or all of the water (that was when I brought the goldfish in) but this year I left the goldfish in the pond, plus I have frogs that have decided to make the pond their home so I don’t want to mess with all that as I want to encourage the frogs to hang around.  Now that I have plenty of pond plants, the pond is staying much cleaner now anyway so the readying of the pond should be much easier.  These are the steps that I took:

1.  Skim off all the floating debris or any leaves, etc. that I can get to around the sides or bottom.

2.  Get rid of what dead celery plants (or other plants) floating in the water that I can.

3.  Take the rocks off the top of the waterfall container and pull out the 2 waterfall filters (I use 2 filters in mine even though you only really need two, I figure 2 will filter out more debris and dirt, and hose them down plus the rock sack that sits in the top water fall basin (I will talk about these in another post).  I also wash down the extra charcoal filter pads.  Then I reinstall everything.  I will then take the pump out of the water bucket that I store it in for the winter (I store it inside the house so it doesn’t freeze over the winter) reattach it to the pump hose from the pond that leads up to the waterfall and stick the pump back into the basket with stones (after I’ve washed the stones in the basket to get rid of any debris).  This sounds so easy as I write this… but the pain in the neck part is getting down on the ground (I miss my youth), reattaching the hose to the pump (with a flat head screwdriver) then balancing the basket with the rocks while trying to cram the pump into the rock basket (I usually take out some of the rocks and then put them back in with the pump in the basket) then cursing as the hose falls off the pump because I didn’t tighten it properly so I end up groaning and take most of the rocks out of the basket, reattach the hose to the pump, cram it in the basket, refill the basket with the rocks… then find that I can’t get the pump to properly sit in the basket because I am limited in how I can move the pump because the hose does not allow much room to move… so I finally end up dumping out the entire basket of rocks, sticking the pump in the basket, and then dropping in all the rocks.  Then when ready I have to gingerly drop the basket, with the pump and rocks inside to the bottom of the pond.   Whew, finished.  Then I have (while groaning) to stand back up without falling in the pond (this is no easy feat as the side of the pond I have to do all this on does not afford me much space).

4.  Go plug in pump and watch waterfall turn on.   Okay I just plugged it in (and the electricity is working) but no pump.  I unplugged it and then replugged it back in… still nothing.  Oh no, the pump is bad… I then had to pull the basket back up, pull out the pump, tried to plug the pump in again… still no good.   No waterfall today and a trip to the local pond supply store for a new pump.

What I just learned:  Next time try the pond pump FIRST before dropping it into the pond.

So the waterfall saga continues…

 

 
Digging the pond exposes an underground room

Digging the pond exposes an underground room. What is it?

Okay, slow down and relax.  Before you decide to run out and buy all the pond items you will need, first sit down and ask yourself these questions:

1.  Can you afford it?  For the men out there:  Will your wife go along with your plans?  I put this as number 1 because I know how you may think it’s the greatest idea that you just came up with to build a big pond in your back yard… but I would bet your wife might just have other ideas for the money or the spot you’ve picked out.  So you might as well bite the bullet and include her in the decision, to avoid aggravation and lonely nights down the road.  Maybe take her out for dinner or bring home flowers… or will that tip her off that you’re up to no good?  You can always do what I did and make it sound like it was her idea from the end of last summer.  “Remember when you brought up how nice it would be to have a pond with waterfalls and Koi fish in the backyard…”  I was lucky that my wife was pretty cool about the whole thing.  So our pond now became a plan.

2.  Do you want to build a pond yourself, or hire someone to do it.  Of course having someone else do it for you is a great way to go if you can afford it, but its also a lot more expensive.   Most of us can’t afford the luxury so you might have to, like I did, do it yourself.

3.  If building it yourself, are you prepared physically for all the back breaking work?  I had to dig the hole (no small feat to contend with huge boulders stuck that get in the way and have to be hauled out of the hole. Then I had to buy rocks to build around the pond… and guess who had to haul them from the front yard, where they were delivered, to the back yard pond site.  I swear those rocks were having babies as I was working on the pile… so many rocks to move.  I tried to hire the kid up the street to help, but he just looked at me with a blank stare.

4.  Do you have a spot picked out?  If you do, physically pick yourself up off the couch and go out and look at it.  It’s amazing at how big a spot can be in your mind and then when you go to actually look at it, it shrunk.

5.  Visualize the spot you picked out and measure it out.  Make sure the pond will fit with all the borders and plants included in the layout.  Draw it out on a piece of paper, make a note if anything needs to be moved, like your wife’s garden (not a good idea).

6.  Ponds do require some upkeep, are you willing to keep doing the extra work and don’t stick your wife with it, she has enough to do.

7.   Make sure that you’re digging into a safe area… where no gas lines, water or sewer lines, etc. are located.  Don’t do what I did.  I just started digging.  What could possibly be underground in the back yard.  After digging a huge hole I hit a cement slab, that was next to other slabs… huh?  I removed the dirt from one slab that was at least 5 feet long and cautiously lifted it up, not knowing what might pop out.  Wow a huge room was under my deck and under the spot that I wanted to put the pond. I took my camera and snapped a picture, which showed a pipe coming in from the top of one side.  I was excited, I thought I’d found a bomb shelter (after all the house was built in 1945) and I don’t think it was a septic tank (too clean inside) so who knows what it is.  I carefully put the slab back on, covered it back up while filling up my hole and then had to move my pond over (uh oh, closer to my wife’s herb garden).

8.  What type of pond do you want and how big?  Do you want a waterfall?  Keep in mind, that if you do go for a waterfall make sure you have the type of neighbors that will tolerate it.  What is nice and calming for you might be an annoyance to them.  I’m lucky, my neighbor liked the sound of ours so much, she had one put in her yard (she was smart she paid someone to do it).

9.  If you have young children will you be able to safeguard them from the pond?

10. Do you need permits from your town or prior approval?  Better check your town codes before you start digging.  Some towns require a certain setback from neighbor’s properties.

Ok, if I didn’t scare you away already or make you want to rethink your decision my next post will be how to build a pond, or should I say at least how to build a pond the way that I did it.

Don

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