McDonald’s has been selling virtually the same menu since I was a kid: burgers, fries, shakes and chicken nuggets. But suddenly, in the last several years, their menu has new “healthy” items to choose from, including salads, fruit and chicken wraps. Mickey Dee’s even has “designer” coffees now.
When a major player like McDonald’s changes their menu after 50 years of the same stuff, you have to wonder why, right?
The answer is pretty simple. People are researching, learning and changing their minds about what they want to put in their bodies. With all the information on the Internet at our fingertips, consumers are gobbling it up and changing their eating and buying habits. (Pun totally intended.)
McDonald’s realized that if they didn’t change with the times and provide “healthier” choices and designer coffee, they would leave money on the table, lose a big market share and ultimately lose customers.
Not to be outdone, Carl’s Jr. has lettuce wrap hamburgers, Del Taco now offers Turkey Tacos as a healthy alternative and Starbucks offers fresh fruit and salads on their coffee menu to capture market share. Did you know the junk food quick-stop convenience store 7-Eleven now offers a line of health food, designed by world-famous Beachbody trainer Tony Horton?
The Internet Has Consumers Stepping Up
What should this tell us as pond designers and contractors? Our consumers are stepping up and learning. Our clients are studying, absorbing content and information. Consumers want better, healthier and longer-lasting choices. This applies to every aspect of their lives. And it spills down to their pets—and more importantly, to their ponds.
Step Up Your Koi Habitat with Life Support
This has become a common topic of conversation with potential new pond owners. They want to know the “healthiest” choice for the koi that they plan to acquire, or they want to upgrade their existing koi habitat to something healthier and easier to maintain. Their Internet research has taught them that these beautiful creatures can live more than a hundred years if kept in a healthy, well-maintained environment.
As a pond contractor, you want to give your clients all the right information to keep their koi healthy enough to live a very long time. Keeping water quality as pristine as possible is the first of many steps to make this happen. Options for a healthy habitat with easy maintenance can create add-on sales for your project, helping to boost your bottom line.
UV, Filters, Skimmers and Air
UV units at the right wattage control not only algae, but also undesirable bacteria to help prevent bacterial infections. Tangential pond returns help keep areas from stagnating and allowing debris to build up. This helps keep better water quality.
If there is gravel on the bottom of the pond, a filtration system installed below the gravel can break down and consume debris, reducing maintenance while improving water quality.
An effective, fish-friendly pond skimmer, flowing at the optimal speed with a correctly working weir, helps to remove debris that hits the surface of the pond before it can get waterlogged and sink to the bottom.
Another simple add-on, an aerator, can have significant impact on your pond habitat as a whole. A properly sized air diffuser run by an aerator or air compressor can change the flow of your entire pond. Positioned correctly, aeration creates a current that can move debris along the pond bottom, where it can be picked up by a bottom drain or even a skimmer.
On the topic of bottom drains, a simple add-on to a pond designed with a bottom drain system would be a settlement tank or sieve to separate solids. Removing fish waste, plant material and excess food before it is ground up by the pump and jammed into your filter media? It’s really easy to explain the benefits this system offers to a koi habitat.
Keeping It Fresh
An extremely simple yet often-overlooked technique for keeping water healthier in your pond is a water change routine. Implement a system for your clients to easily do water changes with the installation of an advanced waterfall filter with an air-assisted cleaning cycle. Or, plumbing a tee and ball valve in line after the pump can make a water change so easy a child can do it. This terrific maintenance routine is most often seen in the aquarium world, but really should be adopted by the pond community as well. The nutrient-rich water removed from the pond can be used to irrigate nearby landscaping, and the clean water you would typically water the landscape with can be added to the pond. Win-win.
Moving bed filters harness the power of “supercharged” beneficial bacteria that convert dirty water to clean water. The beneficial bacteria on moving bed media are highly effective at consuming the waste produced by koi, and are very effective at handling fluxes in ammonia levels due to additions of new fish or an overfeeding problem caused by a fish sitter.
In other industries, such as medical, automotive and education, it is a requirement to continue learning in order to keep up with advances in technology. You’re not still using a flip phone, are you?
If we follow that example in the pond world, we will be doing a great service to our industry. Any Business 101 class will tell you that if you are not growing, you are stagnating … and in the business world, that equals “out of business.”
By empowering yourself with the knowledge of how each of these systems and technologies work, you can improve water quality—and most importantly, keep a pond clean and clear for many years to come. You will help not only yourself, but also clients, future customers—and most importantly—koi.