The beauty of a low maintenance pond is something everyone can appreciate. A flash of golden fish swimming in clean, clear water beneath the pads of waterlilies is a sight to behold and enjoy. Add the sound of a running waterfall and you have a dream come true in your backyard.
Keeping pond water clean and clear is the basis for a healthy pond that requires little maintenance. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to create a proper pond environment that benefits your fish and plants. Follow our not-so-secret steps to ensure a naturally-balanced, low maintenance pond throughout the year!
1. Filtration Should Be Top of Mind
More often than not, when answering questions about pond water quality, we find that people don’t have proper filtration installed on their pond; and some don’t have any at all! If you had your pond built by a Certified Aquascape Contractor, you should have no worries. But for others, you want to make sure your pond has both a biological filter and a mechanical skimmer. The biological filter is the start of your waterfall and adds much-needed aeration (i.e. oxygen) to your pond. The biological filter also contains filter mats and BioBalls Filtration Media that provides surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow. The bacteria competes with algae for food and will keep the water in balance.
The mechanical skimmer is similar to a pool skimmer, removing surface debris such as leaves and sticks. The debris is caught by the skimmer basket which is easy to remove and clean. The skimmer also contains a filter mat to help remove finer particles from the water that the basket doesn’t catch.
Ideally, you want to position the biological filter and skimmer at opposite ends of the pond. This ensures movement throughout the entire pond so you don’t end up with stagnant areas.
2. Ensure Proper Circulation
Make sure your pond pump is the correct size for your pond and waterfall. A pump should turn the water over in your pond once per hour, providing additional aeration to the water. Several variables need to be considered when choosing a pump, such as the size of your pond and the height of your waterfall. Aquascape makes it easy to select the right size pump with our online Pond Pump Selection Guide.
3. Include Rocks and Gravel
Ponds can be made various ways. Some are created with concrete, others with a simple pond liner. We believe in an ecosystem approach to the pondering lifestyle and use rocks and gravel in our ponds, after installing underlayment and liner. Gravel provides much-needed surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow. Your fish will graze on these bacteria, as well. The gravel won’t be a breeding ground for muck and debris if you ensure that your low maintenance pond has the proper pump and filtration. The ecosystem works together so it’s important not to eliminate any of the elements.
4. The Joy and Importance of Fish
While fish keeping is fun, your finned friends play an important part in the overall ecosystem of your pond. They eat algae and their waste becomes fertilizer for your pond plants. Too many fish, however, can pose a problem. A good rule of thumb is to limit your fish load to no more than 10” of fish per 100 gallons of water. So if you have a 20 fish at various lengths totaling 300” when combined, then you need a 3,000 gallon pond.
5. The Role of Plants
Plants play a critical role in the pond’s ecosystem due to their filtering capabilities. Aquatic plants absorb nutrients from fish waste and help starve algae of its food. During hot summer months, make sure to have at least 40% of your pond’s surface covered with plants. You can accomplish this with waterlilies and various marginals like mosaic plant, or floating plants like water lettuce and water hyacinth.
Rest Easy and Enjoy
And now you know the secret to a truly low maintenance pond. Start with the basics and create a naturally balanced pond with a combination of filtration, proper circulation, fish, plants, and rock and gravel. You’ll be amazed at how easy pond-keeping can be!
For more information, download our e-book, How to Keep Pond Water Clean and Healthy.