Seasonal Pond and Water Garden Health Tips

Healthy pond setting using a header pond and UV clarifier to keep the water clear.
Healthy pond setting using a header pond and UV clarifier to keep the water clear.

Your pondkeeper customers have worked hard this spring to get their pond into top form for the summer. With the clean-up and preparation done, pond owners will begin to focus on keeping their pond water healthy throughout the season. Remind them of the various factors that can affect the health of their pond. While most consider filtration to be the number one way to clean water, there are several other aspects to a healthy pond. Water treatments, UV clarifiers and the food pond fish are fed, all add to the overall health of the ecosystem.

Filtration for life

Most pondkeepers know the benefit of total pond filtration: mechanical and biological. However, this is the perfect time to educate them about the importance of filter maintenance and how it relates to the overall health of the ecosystem. Many will turn on their filtration system and leave it for the season without giving it another thought.

Remind your pondkeepers that the filter must be kept clean to ensure it does not stagnate and prevent the nitrifying bacteria from converting ammonia and nitrite into nitrate. Poorly maintained filters will quickly deprive the biological media of oxygen, leading to a build up of dissolved waste (nitrite is particularly likely to rise). Regular cleaning of mechanical filter media is recommended.

Header Ponds

When considering filtration systems, be sure to explain to your customers the benefits of a “header” pond. Plants are a very important part of a healthy filtration system. However, many pondkeepers don’t want to overload their pond with plants, yet at the same time, they realize plants are an integral part of their pond health. “Header” ponds solve this dilemma.

A “header” pond is the smaller pond that feeds the waterfall that flows into the primary pond. Usually a “header” pond is located above the primary pond and is filled with many plants that have extensive roots. Water hyacinth is a good plant to place in the “header” pond; mainly because its many roots act as a natural filter. Additionally, one water hyacinth floating on the pond surface can quickly become hundreds, overtaking a pond during the summer. Therefore, your customers may want to confine water hyacinths to a “header” pond –– and keep them from overtaking the larger, primary pond.

Waterfalls, Streams & Fountains

Water features such as fountains and waterfalls make attractive additions to any pond. The site and sound of moving water adds an extra dimension to a garden and enhances “pond appeal.” According to a market research study conducted by TetraPond, 68% of pond owners have included a waterfall when constructing their pond. Waterfalls remain the most popular decorative accent among pond owners.

As another option, innovative waterfall filtration advances have combined filtration with the action of a waterfall in one unit. The waterfall filter disappears into the landscape, which creates an easy install for the pond owner. As the water passes through the filtration unit, it provides sight, sound and beneficial filtration in one.

68% of pond owners have included a waterfall when constructing their pond.
68% of pond owners have included a waterfall when constructing their pond.

Some pondkeepers are not aware that, in addition to beauty, water features also serve a fundamental purpose. Waterfalls, fountains and streams help oxygenate the pond and provide a biofiltration benefit. If the pond contains fish, remember that there can never be too much oxygen. Additionally, waterfalls and streams provide surface area for beneficial bacteria to colonize and help convert harmful ammonia into relatively harmless nitrates. As a rule of thumb, the pond’s entire volume should be circulated in one hour. The more circulation, the healthier the pond will be.

Nutrition and Water Quality

What your pondkeepers feed their fish directly impacts filtration and the quality of the water. Good filtration is important for the removal of dissolved and solid waste from the pond. However, it’s important to recognize that a major source of this waste is the food being used. The quality and quantity of food being fed will determine how much solid and dissolved waste is introduced to the pond. Logically, it will therefore also determine how much work the filter has to do in order to keep the environment healthy. A good quality food can make it much easier to manage the quality of the water, and is equally as important as good filtration and regular maintenance.

The digestibility of a diet depends on the quality of ingredients and manufacturing processes used to make it. If a diet is not well digested, not only will the fish receive less nutrition but greater amounts of solid waste will be produced. This has a number of implications for managing water quality, which will have a negative impact on fish:

• The decomposition of solid waste will use up additional oxygen.

• As solid waste is broken down it will release dissolved waste such as ammonia and phosphate.

• Solid waste will clog equipment, reducing its performance and necessitating increased maintenance.

• Certain disease-causing microbes multiply on solid waste, so the potential for a disease outbreak may increase.

Standard Tetrapond UV Clarifier.
Standard Tetrapond UV Clarifier.

Remember there’s a wide range of prepared foods that are convenient and easy to use. They are available in flakes (for smaller fish) and pellets or pond sticks (for medium and large fish). To help customers choose the ideal fish food, recommend food that softens quickly on contact with the water, ensuring easy digestion. This is especially important since goldfish and koi do not have teeth.

Fish should be fed one to three times daily and only as much as they can consume within five minutes. It is critical to recognize that fishes’ nutritional requirements change throughout the year. For optimal fish health and nutrition, recommend adhering to a seasonal feeding cycle that uses proper feeding formulas for each season and promotes a balanced diet.

Important reminders about maintaining good water quality:

• When a severe water quality problem is detected, encourage customers to undertake an immediate water change that is roughly 30 to 50 percent of the pond’s water volume. For less severe water problems, a change of 15 to 25 percent should suffice.

• Remind customers that seemingly harmless tap water also poses a threat, as it contains chemicals and heavy metals that are dangerous for pond fish. It’s important to recommend water treatments that neutralize harmful chlorine and chloramines and bind and detoxify the heavy metals commonly found in tap water. Some tap water treatments also provide a colloid coating for fish, protecting their sensitive gills and membranes and helping wounds heal quickly.

• Keep a good quality general pond fish treatment on hand so you can treat any emerging problems. The most common diseases at this time of year should respond well to treatment.

• Explain to your customers the clear water benefits of an ultraviolet (UV) clarifier. UV Clarifiers eliminate suspended microscopic single-celled algae that cause green water and destroy its reproductive ability. Remind them that it is simple to connect a UV clarifier to an existing filtration system.

• Water quality can also be improved by adding a water feature, such as a fountain, waterfall or spitter. One hundred percent of your pond volume should be at least circulated in one hour by your pond pump. Water features aid in circulation in an aesthetically pleasing way. Additionally, waterfalls provide surface area for beneficial bacteria to colonize and help harmful ammonia into harmless nitrates. Be sure to have several options available for your pondkeeper customers.

Healthy water is the most important aspect of pondkeeping. Remind your customers how food, filtration and regular water testing will help your fish to stay healthy throughout the entire pond season.

About the Author

Curt Nuenighoff, TetraPond, serves as the pond products manager and is responsible for product development, business strategy, merchandising and marketing in North America. Nuenighoff earned an MBA from the University of New Haven and a BS from the University of Connecticut in Marketing.

TetraPond is an international leader in water gardening products, with its US headquarters in Blacksburg, VA. TetraPond offers a complete line of products for pond enthusiast, including pumps, liners, filters, UV clarifiers, water treatments, books and fish food.

For more information call:

1-800-526-0650, or visit: www.tetrapond.com

or email:Curt.Nuenighoff@tetra.net

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