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Fish expel carbon dioxide as a by-product of breathing.  They also release waste products (goldfish are very good at this…lol).  Leaves, dirt and other debris including uneaten food also fall into the pond and sink to the bottom and decompose.  This waste produces ammonium compounds which are dangerous to the fish.  The fish can die if this level of poison gets too high.  If a pond has sufficient plant life these chemicals are absorbed by the plants.  The plants might even convert some of these chemicals into food items for their own needs.  I found that my pond stayed so much cleaner once I had established plants in the water making it so much easier to maintain my pond.

Decomposition is caused by anaerobic bacteria (non-oxygen breathing lifeforms).  They release nitrites into the water, which are lethal to fish.  However, they are converted to nitrates by aerobic bacteria (oxygen breathing lifeforms).  The plants absorb the nitrates.  This is known as the nitrogen cycle.  Ammonia is one of the lethal by products of this cycle.  See by chemistry class at college paid off, I remembered something!

The tricky part is keeping this all in balance.  The least expensive way to maintain water condition and clarity is to have a 25% water exchange every other week.  This removes a lot of suspended debris and dilutes dissolved gases and chemicals.  It is time consuming though to do this, and usually tap water is chlorinated so it must be left to stand for a day or so for the chlorine to dissipate into the air, or it must be sprayed in a fine jet to achieve the same result (this is the way that I do it, because I can’t think of a way to hold the water for a day or so).

A better way to maintain a healthy pond is to use a pump, filter or aerator to help keep a pond safe from stagnation and pollution.  (My pond always looks very dirty after a day of rain, makes you wonder about acid rain).  So please try to include plants in your ponds layout and plan on adding some type of aeration pump, even if you have a waterfall.


The best pond is one that copies as best as possible the natural conditions found in nature. You will want to make sure you have an equilibrium and it takes work to create a suitable balance. Just filling up a pond and expecting to be able to leave it to itself just won’t work. Fish in the wild don’t live in the same water every day without having some kind of continuing moving water. Fish and water plants (and other organisms in the water) need oxygen to keep them alive. Always remember that the warmer the water the less oxygen it contains. I learned this the hard way when I only relied on the waterfall to aerate my pond and when the temperatures went up over 80 degrees I didn’t realize until it was too late that my fish were under distress and were hanging out at the top surface of the pond, where wildlife (I think a raccoon) could easily grab 2 of them. I then found out how important it is to have an aerator in the pond and purchased one right away (I also had to purchase new goldfish). I didn’t realize at the time that the plants at night are taking in oxygen from the water and competing with the fish. Its important though to have these plants in the pond to filter and help clean the water. So learn from my example and don’t make the same mistake I did, have an aerator in the pond to keep your fish happy.

Water Celery plant for a pond.

Water Celery plant for a pond.

Koi or Goldfish in a pond do not necessarily co-exist too well, because the fish love to forage on plants.  Therefore the only solution I’ve found is to keep the number of fish low and the number of plants very high.  I hate to see people stock way too many fish in their ponds.  They don’t realize how stressful it is to the pond environment.  I also think that for wildlife passing by a pond that’s overstocked has to be easy pickings for the poor fish that are already overstressed.  Fish need space to move around (and places to hide from predators), and water plants need a chance to be able to survive.  Some pond owners prefer to screen their plants in the pond away from their fish (a strong plastic mesh fencing for example) on a pond shelving.  You might want to think about shelves while your pond is under construction.

I keep water celery in my pond, along with water lilies, irises.  This year I’m trying to grow water punks (not sure what their technical name is), I loved those as a kid.  Water celery is prolific, which I like since the fish will eat it.  Over the spring the water celery that I had grew up through the rocks and made a nice little field (see picture above) that I didn’t really want so I am going to remove that patch and relocate it to the lake I live near as we need some water plants for there and they won’t cost us anything.  I had planned on doing that this morning but its raining like crazy outside so I guess that will have to wait for another day.

I will talk more about water plants another day, enjoy your week, and share some of your pond experiences with us, I’d love to hear them.

Pond Landscaping

Pond Landscaping

This is my most asked question:  “How should I start a pond?”

The first thing before doing anything is to research different pond ideas.  I looked at pond books that had lots of pictures and also searched online.  Once you have a pretty good idea of what you want the next step is to plan in detail the entire yard area that you plan on using.   Then draw it all out on paper (I used graph paper) try to get as close to scale as you can.  Add all the elements to this drawing:  rocks, boulders, plantings, where you want the waterfall, etc.  A true landscaper would try to achieve a good variety of shapes and colors to make it interesting all through the year for an all seasons appeal (I learned this after completing my pond, so now I use it when helping others build their ponds).

With my drawing plan in hand I go outside to the site I picked out and map it out on the ground using stakes and string to see if all my ideas would actually fit into the spot. Some things might have to be changed during this part.  Also keep in mind that plants grow so make sure you allow for that growth in your plan. Make sure you pick plants that can handle the location (do they prefer sun or shade?) Also remember to avoid invasive species (like weeping willows and if you plan on using any bamboo keep in mind how fast they spread (they are hard to contain but they make a great screening.)  Something you can add if you feel you need more to you final pond is potted plants.   I added potted plants around my pond for a few reasons, to shade the pond a little in the late afternoon sun, to discourage some of the wildlife from hanging around on the side, to soften some of the looks of the rocks around the pond and so that my wife has a place to put more of her potted plants.

So remember to research before you even start to think about digging your pond, it will save on so much aggravation.  And to the next person that asks me this question, now I can refer them to this post.

Oh, and before I forget, here is a book that my wife purchased for me off of Amazon on garden ponds that I would recommend.  It has some nice ideas and good pictures.  For those with smaller ponds (like me) you can always scale down the ideas you like.

My Frog the Temperature Gauge

My Frog the Temperature Gauge

I call my frogs my temperature gauges.  They are never around in the cold or even just cooler weather.  As soon as the temperature warms up for more than a day… there they are.  It gets cooler again a day later and they’re gone until it warms up.  I find myself looking for the first siting of the frogs.  And today I found one and grabbed my camera to take the above picture.

Frogs have been around a long time…. at least 190 million years  when dinosaurs were wandering the Earth (during the Jurassic Period) that is a long time time. I’ve heard frogs referred to as living fossils from Earth’s past (sharks, alligators, crocodiles, and my favorite… dragonflies are other creatures that also fit this category.

Let’s see what else I remember about frogs from my college days…  Frogs don’t drink water, they absorb it through their skin… A group of frogs is called an army… some frogs act like possums and play dead to get away from predators… In North America, the Bullfrog is the biggest frog, they can weigh more than a pound and can live up to 30 years… Frogs have teeth only on their upper jaw and the roof of their mouth and they swallow their prey whole…  Frogs can jump more than 20 times the length of their body.  Frogs have round ears on the sides of their heads.

Ok that’s your lesson for today…lol  Thanks for stopping by.


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