|FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What questions should you ask before building a pond?
A: How deep? How many gallons? Koi? Goldfish? Koi and Goldfish? Where in the yard? Plants? Waterfall? Stream?
Be sure you do your homework and you will end up with a fine installation to be proud of, and you will save yourself time, money and unnecessary stress.
Q: Will I learn all I need to know from this FAQ?
A: NO! A pond-er never “knows-it-all”. By sharing knowledge and experimenting in their own ponds, the most seasoned pond-er will still acquire new knowledge as time goes on. This FAQ is just one place to get information; we highly recommend that you check out other avenues such as: reference books, pond seminars, check with your local pond club. There are endless resources, you just have to decipher it all and make your own decisions.
Top 15 Pond Myths Revealed!
1. Predators will eat your fish.
There is a fear in the water gardening community that raccoons and other four-legged predators will go swimming in your pond and help themselves to a meal of Koi, Shubunkin, and goldfish.
Raccoons generally won’t swim. That’s not to say that they never swim, or couldn’t stand on the side of the pond and go “fishing”. Most fish will swim to a deeper part of the pond when a predator is threatening them.
The one predator with genuine credentials is the blue heron. These tall long-legged bird can easily wade into your pond and help themselves to any tasty looking fish, and fly away with a full belly. They are a protected species, so they are off-limits if you see one and plan to protect your pond!
Giving your fish a good place to hide is one way you can easily protect them. Plenty of lily pads can give them some protection and minimize the threat of blue herons. Other protection methods is including a cave like structure that can be built during the excavation of your pond. Rocks are also essential in creating these hiding places for your prized fish, creating crevices and miniature caves for places to hide.
Predators, are a valid concern for the pond owner, but in no way should impede the building of your water garden.
2. Rocks and gravel make it difficult to clean your pond.
Rocks and gravel offer a natural place for aerobic bacteria to colonize and begin to “keep house”. This bacteria breaks down fish waste and debris that turns to sludge and accumulates in the bottom of smooth bottomed ponds.
So, contrary to the myth that rocks and gravel is harder to clean, it actually helps the pond clean up after itself, keeping your pond bottom, muck free.
3. UV lights are the best way to keep your pond water clear.
UV clarifiers are certainly one way to keep your water clear, but not the only or natural way. If you have a pond that is naturally balanced, with a good cir-
cle of life, you don’t need UV at all. In a natural setting, the fish eat the plants, producing waste which gets broken down by aerobic bacteria growing on rocks, which, in turn, is used as nutrition by the plants. A naturally balanced pond is low maintenance because it maintains itself.
4. Your pond must be at least 3 foot deep to maintain Koi.
There are many two foot deep ponds in the country that are overflowing with happy and healthy Koi. This myth is wrong, because even a two-foot deep pond will only freeze about 8 inches down in cold weather because of the insulating properties of the earth. A pond that is too deep may also be considered a swimming pool by your local government, and fall into strict guidelines and codes. Lastly, more digging means more work, and water, and more additives to treat algae and fish illness.
5. Koi can’t be kept in a pond with plants.
In a naturally balanced water garden, Koi and plants complement and need one another. In nature, fish feed on plants and plants rely on the broken down fish waste for nutrition. It’s known as the circle of life, and to imply that Koi and plants shouldn’t be placed together is to ignore nature.
6. You have to bring your fish inside for the cold months of winter.
Fish do fine during the coldest months of the winter, as long as you give them a few things. Two feet of water to swim in, oxygenate the water, and keep a hole in the ice with a bubbler, allowing the natural gasses to escape from under the ice is all you need to do to have a successful winter pond. The fish will hibernate on the bottom of the pond, and slowly wake up when the weather gets warmer in the spring.
7. Your pond water must be tested on a weekly basis.
This myth comes from the aquarium industry. With their smaller bodies of water and small overall size, it makes it much harder to balance. A well-conceived natural pond should balance itself and required no testing what-so-ever.
8. A water garden in your yard means you will have a lot of
Mosquitoes will generally only lay eggs in still, stagnant water. If mosquitoes do lay eggs, when the larvae hatch, the fish in your pond will consider them a treat and will eat them off the water’s surface. Your skimmer will sweep up whatever the fish miss. Another option is to use a natural mosquito repellant.
9. You can’t have Koi in a pond that also has rocks and gravel.
Koi are actually a fancy variety of carp, and all carp are bottom feeders. They love to swim along the bottom of the pond and scavage everything along and on the rocks. In natural settings, it’s not uncommon to find rocks and gravel along the bottom of a pond, not a rubber liner, so why think about changing Mother Nature’s design.
10. Having a pond may decrease the value of your home.
Everyone knows that the resale value of a home with a swimming pool could be deadly. However, in the opinion of some real estate agents, ponds can be a great addition to your home. With water features becoming more and more popular, your can bet that the demand for them will also grow. A home that has one may eventually even be sought out by some buyers.
11. Liability or safety concerns.
It’s natural to have certain concerns when it comes to your home and safety of loved ones, but it is important to remember that a professionally installed water feature has steps that lead into the pond. The first is only ankle deep, the next is to your knee, and the deepest part may just come above your knee. A pond is not constructed like a swimming pool. We do recommend that you make your neighbors aware of the water garden and educate your own children and friends about the safety of any body of water. Your water garden is as safe as you make it with education and awareness.
12. You can use a timer on your pond.
This one is definitely not true. Your pond is a living, breathing ecosystem that needs constant oxygen, just like you. If your shut your system down, then you can never have a sufficient growth of beneficial bacteria to fight algae, and your fish will have a hard time breathing.
13. It’s necessary to drain and clean your pond regularly.
If you fail to follow a natural plan for your pond, then yes, this is true. But if you follow the plan of Mother Nature, then in reality, this should only take place once a year (at most). Clean outs should occur in the spring, before the weather warms and bacteria has a chance to set up.
14. Bottom drains work best if you have Koi.
Claimed by many koi keepers, water will lack sufficient oxygen levels at lower levels, and this is detrimental to your prized koi. In truth, avoiding a pond that is more than two feet deep provides very little difference between the upper and lower water oxygen levels. The problem with bottom drains is that they have a tendency to promote leaks, possibly leaving your fish exposed, and this is a problem to avoid all together.
15. The more filtration the better the pond.
You can over-filter a pond. Tight filter pads in your skimmer pick up the smallest particles of debris, causing you to be cleaning the filters consistently. You don’t need to have drinking quality water to sustain fish and plant life. If you can see a dime on the bottom of your pond, then the water clarity is just right for your fish to survive, with minimal headaches for yourself.
BONUS: You can’t be a Koi hobbyist and a water gardener.
Not true! You can raise beautiful koi in a beautiful natural water garden. There are koi hobbyist who have the perfectly balanced ponds, and raise fish with no chemicals, sterilization, and a nice balance of plants. These koi can grow up to be just as beautiful and healthy as those in traditional koi ponds, and you will love them just as much, since you raised them yourself.
More than anything else, being an observant pond owner takes time and learning from Mother Nature. Nature is what it takes to have a successful water garden. Whatever happens in nature should be happening in your pond.
If there is a golden rule in pondering it is not to mess with Mother Nature, because you will lose.
Check out our pond education page for differences between water gardens and koi ponds