August 6, 2010

".............My New Pond Turned Green....overnight ! "

At one point or another, almost every gardener I know considered installing a pond or water feature. I include myself in this category, since I love water lilies. I can relate to every horror story of ponds-gone-bad-in-a-hurry, and hope I can uncomplicate the process a little. There are some basic steps to choosing the style, inhabitants, and maintenance needs for your water feature. Aquariums and ponds have some similarities. 
Water Lilies and Sagittaria at Pinecrest Gardens
Aquariums are more stable the larger they get, and the same is true for ponds. For instance, a 5 gallon aquarium can turn rancid very quickly if the electricity for the filter goes off, but the process is much slower in a 100 gallon aquarium. Similarly, the volume of water in a larger pond changes temperature and accumulates debris more slowly than a half-barrel of water would. The idea is to choose the largest water feature you can accommodate as the first step. Second, consider what will go into the water feature, such as border plants, water lilies, cichlids, koi, or other tropical fish. Your choice of fish and plants may dictate what kind of pond you should consider. The third step is to site the feature where it can get most of a day's sunlight; you can add shade easily, but making sunlight is much more difficult.Do some research before you add fish, since they have different needs or problems.
Water Feature at Pinecrest Gardens
Sagittaria pond plant
Koi uproot potted plants quickly as well as needing coolish , very clean, very well aerated water. This translates to a lot of water movement , tall plant pots, and great water filtration. African cichlids like warm water, leave potted plants alone, and are a bit less fussy about water aeration, but still need it. Some tropical fish like gouramis, mollies, paradise fish and swordtails can tolerate almost still water. In any scenario, consider choosing a substantial water pump and a basic outside filter for your water feature. The deeper the pond, the cooler the water will be. Cooler water grows less algae, but may be too cool for tropical fish, and difficult to grow water lilies. If you have a deep pond already, you can place some concrete blocks or bricks on the bottom of the pond to raise plants near the surface. Water lily pots should be no more than 10 inches below the water surface.
Once you've chosen the pond, the fish, the plants and the pump / filter combination, you can get the project moving. Install the pond, fill it, add plants, and run the filter / pump combo for a few weeks before adding fish. The pond will turn green quickly after you add plants, but will stabilize afterward. Add fish when the pond stays clear for a week. Provide empty flower pots or concrete blocks in the water for the fish to hide in. Remember that turtles eat both plants and fish, so think carefully before adding turtles to your collection. Once established, a pond is a wonderful addition to your landscape, but as with so many aspects of gardening, it needs careful planning to make it work.

Craig Morell
Pinecrest Gardens 
'Red Flare' waterlily by Craig Presnell


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