will have your own ideas about how you want your pond to look, which
fish and plants you intend to keep, whether you want a waterfall or
fountain etc. I am speaking from experience when I recommend you do
as much planning and research as you can before making vital decisions,
decide on pond position in your garden, pond size, volume and depth.
Are you going to keep Koi, or standard goldfish, which plants if any
would you like to keep. If you have young children you should cover
or fence off the pond, this can be done without detracting from the
asthetics of the pond. You will need to decide on which equipment your
going to use, this will include pond liner, pond pump, pond filter,
ultra violet clarifier, pond lighting, and how will this will be installed,
Your pond pump etc, will need an electricity supply, this will need
some thought, access to pond and filters for cleaning and maintenance
will be required. The pages and guides I have put together should answer
the vast majority of your questions, please read these and if you have
any further questions use the contact us page, and I will answer your
questions at my earliest opportunity. Happy reading!
Common Pond Problems
Unlike lakes and rivers, ornamental garden ponds are generally of small
size with limited depth. Therefore they can warm up more quickly than
natural bodies of water; they also have greater sunlight penetration
and a higher concentration of nutrients. These conditions stimulate
the growth of algae, which cause greenwater problems. These conditions
can be reduced by maximising pond volume, minimising stocking levels,
placement of pond away from direct sunlight, or blocking sunlight using
canopies or pergolas, not overfeeding fish, and using correct food ie
wheatgerm during cold periods. The best way of preventing greenwater
after taking all these considerations into account will be to utilise
the correctly rated pump, filter and UVC.
Pollution Caused by Fish Waste
Compared with natural ponds, garden ponds are usually heavily stocked
with fish, which are fed more than they would normally find to eat
in their natural habitat. Fish produce waste in proportion to the
amount of food eaten. This waste is both solid and dissolved; this
pollution is increased by the decomposition of plants and uneaten
food. If these waste products are not removed they will eventually
have a detrimental effect on your fish. Filtration is the key here,
your filter should be large enough to cope with the demand placed
upon it, if you wish to have large stocking levels, and you are intending
to feed large amounts of high protein food in order to grow your fish
to impressive sizes, then purchase a large efficient filter that can
cope with these demands. Closely monitor your fishes behaviour, watch
for anything unusual, this will be a sign that things are not as they
should be, follow the pond feeding guidelines on this website, and
remove any uneaten food or decomposing plant matter.
Herons are the number one enemy of fish ponds. Besides catching and
eating healthy fish, they injure others which die later. They are
most troublesome in spring when they have young to feed, not in winter.
They are no longer fooled by fake "decoy" herons. Deter
them by putting a trip-wire around the pond or using an electric heron
alert, or cover the pond with a net. Herons are less of a problem
in towns or where a pond is close to tall fences, a shed or a greenhouse,
as they need a long, shallow flight path before landing.
Lack of Oxygen
Both green water and pollution can reduce the level of oxygen in pondwater.
However, relatively high concentrations of oxygen are necessary to
support healthy fish. The introduction of air into pondwater i.e.
aeration, raises and stabilises the level of oxygen in the water.
In addition the turbulence created by aeration will remove toxic gases.
During the summer months when water temperatures rise lack of oxygen
can become a problem, suspect this if you see your fish gasping at
Planning your pond
|Choosing the right type of
pond for your own needs is the important first step. If you have a patio,
your pond could be the focal point or it could be the centre feature
of your landscaped lawn. It could also brighten a gloomy or neglected
corner of your garden.
If you are interested in natural water garden you could create an almost
totally natural pond, rich in native plants and a haven for all types
of aquatic life. But remember such a pond would have a natural appearance
and typically is not suited for ornamental fish because of the lack
of proper filtration and it's vulnerability to predators such as herons.
Another area of importance will be to decide whether you wish to keep
beautiful plants and common ornamental fish in your pond or whether
you are considering the possibility of a beautiful Koi pond. Because
the site and construction for both ponds are very different you will
be much more successful with your pond if you commit to a type of pond
before you begin excavation.
The shape of your pond takes on two different styles. An informal pond
has no straight edges and no symmetrical shape and may be designed to
blend in with the contours of your garden landscape. Alternatively,
a formal pond does have a regular shape and can be raised above the
ground using brickwork to draw the eye to its symmetry.
Both types of pond are ideal for keeping aquatic plants and pond fish.
A waterfall and a fountain or other moving water feature would usually
compliment such pools.
No matter what size you plan your pond to be, you
will always wish you had made it larger. A pond 100 sq ft of surface
area or larger provides an ideal amount of surface area for many
varieties of aquatic plants and fish. This is not to say however
that a smaller pond or a container garden cannot be enjoyable or
interesting. The minimum depth should be 18 inches for ponds with
plants and ornamental fish that are not Koi. However, if you are
in a colder climate or are keeping only Koi your depths should be
3 ft or deeper. The proper depth will enable fish to survive the
winter more easily and keep them cool in the summer months. A shelf
of 12-18 inches wide and about 9-12 inches below the surface can
be created for the placement of marginal plants and some other potted
Once you have decided on the type of pond you would enjoy, it's
time to decide where to locate your pond. Locating a pond where
there is too much sunlight should be avoided. Sunlight promotes
the growth of algae and may cause the temperature of the water to
rise dramatically during warmer weather, decreasing oxygen levels.
To avoid this problem, position your pond where it will receive
some shade, especially during the afternoon when the sun is the
strongest. 5-6 hours of direct sunlight is ideal for most ponds
with plants and ponds that are less than 18 inches in depth.
Beware of siting your pond beneath trees or near their roots to
avoid leaves falling into the pond and potential root damage to
the liner. As well as being unsightly, rotting vegetation in the
water may adversely effect the quality of the water, which could
cause harm to the fish. Another important consideration will be
to site your pond close enough to an electricity source so you can
incorporate a pump, filtration or lighting.
This can be either a rigid pre-formed pond or a flexible sheet liner.
Both are easy to install and extremely durable. A pre-formed pond has
the advantage of ready made planting shelves and areas for placing submersible
pumps though a flexible liner allows you more creativity and a more
individual design. Pre-formed ponds tend to be limited in size, when
choosing a liner purchase a good quality preferably butyl liner with
a 20 year plus guarantee, protect the underside of the liner by removing
sharp rocks, and placing a thick layer of soft sand beneath the liner.
A pump is essential for circulating water through filtration systems.
Pumps are also used for creating moving water displays such as waterfalls
or fountains which, as well as being attractive features, will help
to maintain oxygen levels during warm weather. Your pump should be able
to pump at least half of the pond's water volume per hour. There are
a wide range of pumps on the market, bear in mind the pump will be running
24 hrs a day, so check out the pumps wattage, low wattage=low running
costs, If you choose a solids handling pump you,ll have less maintenance,
and no prefilters to clean, they are also good at removing debris from
the pond bottom, to the filter were it can be removed.
Your filter keeps your pond water clear and healthy, they will use both
mechanical and biological filtration to achieve this. Biological filtration
utilises bacteria on the pond filter media to break down fish waste
and organic matter. Mechanical filtration captures particles in a physical
filter for removal during filter cleaning. A good pond filter will achieve
both. Your garden pond filter should filter half the pond volume every
hour at a minimum. Garden ponds that are exposed to the sun for more
than 6 hours a day, or have Koi, should have a slightly larger filter
to cope with this extra demand.
An Ultra-Violet Clarifier is highly effective in keeping your pond free
of water-borne algae which will make the pond water green, free-floating
single celled algae cause green water in ponds. This algae is too small
to catch even with an effective mechanical pond filter. UVCs expose
the algae particles to enough UV light so that they clump together (flocculate).
These larger particles can then be easily filtered out as they pass
through the pond filter.
Lighting can really add a creative dimension to your pond at night.
Lighting can be inserted into the pond, behind a waterfall, in a fountain,
above the water, and even placed around the perimeter of the pond.
Being able to see your pond at night can add a warm, relaxed mood
or feeling to your garden. Pond lights are simple to install and will
enable you to create magical effects at night time.
may seem obvious, aquatic plants are different to land based plants,
because they have evolved to live in wet even submerged conditions.
There are three principle groups of aquatic plants, all with specific
Marginal or Bog plants - These are essentially the plants that stick
up above the surface of the water and provide height to the pond. They
can be planted into waterlogged ground or more commonly into plastic
planting baskets, which are then placed into the water.
Planting Depth: 6 - 8 inches
Care: Plant into planting baskets using aquatic compost,
when the plant starts to die back in the autumn / fall, cut back the
plant to ensure that the decaying plant material does not pollute
the water. Feed once a season with an aquatic root fertiliser. Cultivation:
Generally these plants can be cultivated by division in the spring,
although because of the huge number of plants in this section it's
best to consult your nursery.
Hardy Examples: Water Iris, Pickeral Rush, Arrowhead,
Tender Examples: Papyrus, Umbrella plant, Water Cannas
Floating Plants - These floating plants have extensive
root systems that dangle into the water from the surface, these root
systems provide ideal spawning areas for fish like goldfish. They
often reproduce by budding and as such can be very invasive.
Planting Depth: Allow to float unplanted on the surface
Care: They only care required is for tender variety
if they are needed the following season. Take a strong plant in the
early autumn and keep in pond water in a well lit frost free greenhouse.
Periodically replace the water with fresh water. Stratiodes (the water
soldier) sinks to the bottom of the pond in the winter and rises again
in the spring.
Cultivation: Because these plants bud so easily,
they can be cultivated by cutting the offspring away from the parent
to produce a new plant.
Hardy examples: Water Soldier
Tender Examples: Water Hyacinth, Water Lettuce
Oxygenators - These are plants that are not very visable, as they
are present under the water. But they can fulfil a useful role in
the pond. They absorb nutrients, and can help to reduce the growth
of algae in the pond. Calling them oxygenators can be a misnomer as
although they produce oxygen during the day, they absorb it again
at night. Oxygenation is best achieved using a pond pump.
Planting Depth: up to 18"
Care: These plants are usually purchased in clumps
unpotted, and they do best when they are potted into planting containers
with aquatic compost and dressed with pea gravel. Depending on the
size of the container you should get 3 - 6 bunches per pot. You should
have one bunch for every 2sq feet of pond surface.
Cultivation: When the plant becomes too big, simply
cut a length off and plant up into a fresh container.
Examples: Anacharis, hornwort, cabomba.
Deep Water Plants - These plants have leaves that
float on the surface and roots that are firmly placed in containers
on the bottom of the pond. Water lilies are generally the best known
aquatic plant. They are available in an enormous assortment of varieties
and colours. Other plants like lilies are available.
Planting Depth: Variable up to 3'
Care: These plants should be in water that is at a depth specific
to the variety in question. They should be planted in a generously
sized container rich in nutrients, the compost should be covered with
Pea Gravel and larger stones. If this does not prevent your fish from
digging up the compost in their quest for food, then try enclosing
the whole container with an old pair of nylons. These plants need
regular feeding if they are to flower prolifically throughout the
whole season. Dead leaves and flowers should be removed or else they
will rot and pollute the water.
Cultivation: The lilies can be propagated by cutting
sections from the rhizome, and planting in fresh compost . This should
be done when the plant is entering the growing phase, not at the end
of the season.
Examples: Many varieties of hardy, tropical, and night blooming lily,
also water hawthorn, water fringe, water snowflake, and water poppy.
For many people keeping fish is the main reason for
having a pond. There is something intangible yet amazing about seeing
fish in a pond, it will give the pond a magnetic draw, and they will
become a source of constant pleasure for many years.
Family Name: Cyprinidae (carps and minnows)
Length: Max 30.5cm (12")
Weight: up to 0.9kg (2lb)
Identification: (Asiatic form) greenish when young changing to golden
red as an adult, body shape variable, head scaleless, no barbels.
Habitat: Densely weeded lowland rivers, lakes, and ponds.
Breeding: Eggs laid on water plants in June and July, they take 7
-9 days to hatch, the young fish stay attached to the plants.
Note: Goldfish are the most common pondfish. Goldfish
are inexpensive and fast growing. They are available in a variety
of patterns and body shapes. Goldfish need a pond that has a minimum
depth of 18" but a pond closer to 2'6" is more acceptable.
However the more unusual varieties are less hardy than the true goldfish
Koi Carp (Cyprinus carpio)
Family Name: Cyprinidae (carps and minnows)
Length: Max 150cm (4' 11")
Weight: up to 36kg (80lb) usually less
Identification: Scaleless head, body can be scaled or unscaled depending
on the variety, as can colour , mouth toothless and has two barbels
at each side.
Habitat: Large lakes and major rivers in slow flowing lowland areas
Breeding: Late spring in shallow sun warmed areas over dense vegetation.
The eggs are attached to the plants.
Note: Koi are the most rewarding of pond fish. They
are available in a bewildering selection of varieties. Don't be put
off by the Japanese names of the fish or by the high prices that they
can fetch. If you see a fish you like in a pattern you like at a price
you can afford - buy it. The most important thing is the health of
the fish, a £2000 fish can die as easily as a £2 fish.
That aside, Koi can grow to 3' if conditions allow, they are fast
growers and can consume a lot of food. They are avid rooters in pots
and as a result can make the water dirty if an effective filter is
not installed. The depth of the pond should be 3' minimum
Winter Pond Management
|One of the biggest problems in the Autumn
and Winter is when leaves begin to fall from the trees above. If these
leaves get in the pond and decay it will throw off the ecological balance
of the pond. Remove by using a net to skim the leaves off the surface
of the pond.
As the water temperature falls we should be feeding
our fish less as their metabolism slows down. After the water temperature
drops you should decrease the amount of food given and feed only once
a day. Once the temperature drops below 10 degrees C you should stop
feeding altogether. Cold-water fish such as Goldfish and Koi cannot
digest food properly below these temperatures. They will happily munch
on algae and other natural foods if the water does warm up occasionally.
Do not allow your pond to completely freeze over,
make sure you have a small area free from ice, as organics decompose
in the pond they can produce toxic gases that can become trapped in
the pond if it is covered by ice for more than a few days. Do not
break the ice as the shock waves created can damage or kill your fish.
Defrost a small area using warm water.
As plants are starting to die back, any dead and
dying leaves should be removed,
place plants deep enough in the pond to keep the roots from freezing.
PUMPS & FILTERS
It is advantageous to keep your pump and filter running
through the winter. The bacteria in your biological filter will not
be active at low temperatures but it will remain alive as long as
you keep it supplied with oxygenated water. When spring arrives and
the water temperatures begin to rise the bacteria can start to work
immediately keeping the water quality healthy for your fish and helping
to control the algae. Should you choose to run your filter through
the winter it is a good idea to minimize the water circulation.
Pond Feeding Guide
Many, many people only buy one kind of fish food
and feed that to their fish all year round. However, this is not necessarily
the best option for the fish or your pocket. Pond fish extract different
nutrients from their food at a different temperature. In the case
of protein the uptake of this nutrient is limited during the cooler
months and much higher during the hot summer temperatures. Foods have
now been developed with this in mind and Wheatgerm foods which are
low in protein but more easily digested, have been developed for Autumn,
Winter and Spring feeding; whilst growth foods, which are high in
protein are available for summer months. Below is a rough guide of
what to feed and when.
You should only feed your fish enough food to allow them to feed for
five minutes. Any more will be wasted and end up as waste in the pond.
If a fish is fed until it is full, 30% of fish food will come straight
out as waste. The five minute feed can be given four or five times
a day, at regular times during the day in the summer months.
Pond Feeding Guide
ICH - White spot disease. Any parasitic infection
is usually easy to cure if treated quickly with an effective dose
of copper. If the dosage is too low, not all parasites are killed
and re-infection results. If treatment is delayed, the parasites may
become so numerous that they choke the gills and the fish suffocates
or the fish becomes so weak it cannot recover. Treatment should continue
for at least 4 days and a good rule of thumb is to treat the system
every day until no sign of infection is visible, then treat one more
Signs of a parasite infestation are:
1. Visible spots, usually white. 2. Rapid or heavy breathing. Some
parasites will attack the gills before any can be seen on the fins
or body, and the fish may die from suffocation. 3. Scratching. If
a fish constantly rubs against objects in the system and looks like
he is trying to dislodge something, he is probably trying to rub something
off and it is probably parasitic.
OODINIUM: This is actually a form of algae
parasitic on fishes.
ANCHOR WORMS: These are easily visible and look like little
sticks about 1/4" long protruding from the body or fins. They
are firmly attached and when pulled out may hold onto a piece of flesh.
FISH LICE: Are crustacean parasites with similar treatment
as per anchor worms. They are about one quarter inch flattened discs
with rasping mouth parts and hook-armored legs capable of damaging
fins and skin.
LYMPHOCYSTIS: This is a virus that lives off of impurities
in the water while attached to a fish. It does not live off the fish
like ICH, but may kill indirectly by interfering with gill movement,
swimming ability, or eating.
BACTERIA: Bacteria grow erratically and are often white or
milky in appearance. A bacteria infection may be localized or may
be evident on several areas of the fish. Bacteria infections are likely
to be found in or around open sores or any area where the fish has
lost it's protective slime coating.
FUNGUS: Fungus spreads evenly, starting from a central point
and growing in an outward pattern. Several areas may grow outward
until they overlap and give the appearance of a bacteria infection.
Fungus is white with a velvety or even hairy appearance. It is most
likely to be found on the mouth, eyes, or tips of the fins.
POPEYE: This is a symptom, not a disease caused by a specific
organsim. It is manifested by swelling behind the eye(s), or in the
eye(s). The swelling may be caused by many factors but is most commonly
caused by bacteria.
SWIM BLADDER DISEASE: The swim bladder is the organ which allows
a fish to stay at any level in the water column without sinking or
floating. The swim bladder may fail from damage by bacteria, parasites,
genetic faults, or blows and/or bruises. When the swim bladder fails
to function the fish loses it's ability to swim normally and may swim
sideways or even upside down.
DROPSY: Dropsy is a name given to any disease that causes a
fish to swell so much that the scales no longer lay flat against the
body of the fish. By looking down on a fish you can easily spot a
case of dropsy.
SUFFOCATION: Rapid breathing or gulping near the top of the
tank may mean a fish is not getting enough oxygen. This may be caused
1. No air circulation. 2. Temperature is too high. 3. The water surface
is covered. 4. Parasites. 5. Overmedication burning gills, rupturing
blood cells, causing too much mucus production.
BRAIN DAMAGE: Fish may show any unusual symptoms. This should
be only offered as a diagnosis after all other possibilities have
been ruled out. Erratic, jerky swimming or spinning are common signs
of brain damage. Brain damage can be caused by parasites, bruising
(concussion), high or low temperatures, or toxins.
TOXINS: Symptoms look the same as brain damage, but all or
most of the fish in the system are affected at once. Spinning is the
most frequent sign of a toxin.
OPEN SORES: These can be caused by:
1. PH that is too high or low. 2. Scraping on rocks or other objects.
3. Bites. 4. Parasites. 5. Internal infections reaching the outside.
6. Net damage during handling.
Koi Fish Anatomy
|Eyes - The eyes are just forward of
the gills. Koi can see in two directions at same time - to either side
of the body as well as above or below on each side.
Nostrils - The nostrils are just forward and slightly
above the eyes. The nostrils are used purely for scent.
Barbel - The barbels located are located on the upper
lip of the koi and contain many sense receptors to help locate food.
Gills - Gills have a similar function to the lungs.
The gills are served by a series of fine blood vessels. As the water
passes over the gills, oxygen is absortbed through the blood vessels
and then transported directly to the body. Carbon Dioxide is return
to the water via the gills.
Fin (Pectorial) - The pectorial fins are paired and
located on the lower sides of the koi. They can be used to rotate
the koi almost on the same axis, this is done by one fin working in
the other direction to the other. The also act as the main braking
fins, they achived this by placing the fins out to provide a large
surface area to the water. They also use them when looking for food
to stir up the bottom.
Liver - The liver helps remove waste from the blood
and controls the use of digested food. It also produces bile which
is used in the digestion and absorption of fat.
Gall Bladder - Located just below the liver, the
Gall Bladder stores bile and releases it to help with digestion.
Fin (Pelvic) - The pelvic or ventral fins are paired
and located on the lower sides of the koi approx mid body. The pelvic
fins enable the koi tp rise or descend as it swims, you could say
they act as hydrofoils.
Spleen - The spleen produces lymph cells (a yellow
fuild consisting mostly of blood plasma and white blood ceels) and
stores red blood cells.
Repoductive organs - The internal sex organs of the
male are the testes and the ovaries of the female. In both the male
and female they are located below the swimbladder. Eggs and sperm
exit the boby via the gonopores which is located just in front of
the urinary opening. The gonopores are connect by the gonoduct.
Anal Pore - The anal pore is located just forward
of the anal fin. The waste products of the koi's digestive system
are expelled via the anal pore. Water in the form of urine is also
expelled via the anal pore.
Urinary Bladder - The urinary bladder plays an important
part for the koi. As the salt content of the koi is higher then that
of the water in which it lives the koi's body is continually taking
in water which tries to equalize the salt concentation, this is known
as osmosis. As a result of this process the koi must release the excess
water, otherwise it would blow up like a balloon.
Anal Fin - The anal fin located just forward of the tail and is primary
Caudal or Tail - The caudal (tail) acts as the koi's
rudder and can be used to gain maximum speed/thrust.
Swim Bladder - The swimbladder, located just below
the backbone consists of 2 different size chambers. Fish adjust their
position by inflating or deflating these chambers, this changes the
density relative to the surrounding water. In conjunction with the
auditory system it controls the fishes orientation, level at which
they swim etc.
Dorsal Fin - The dorsal fin located on the top of
the koi is the major stabilizing fin. It works in a similar fashion
to a keel on a ship by keeping the koi upright. Koi can lower the
dorsal fin to create a more streamlined effect when the koi needs
to move at faster speeds.
Lateral Line - The lateral line runs roughly along
the mid-body of the koi. The lateral line is a row of special pores
that open into a channel which runs to the head and brain of the koi.
The channel is filled with a viscous solution which is extremly sensitive
to vibrations in the water.
Ears - Fish have internal ears that repsond to vibrations
within the water. The auditory canal is connected to swin bladder
and is used for balance.
Mouth - The mouth of Koi are located in an inferior
position - not quite at the tip of the head but slightly below. This
indicates that it has bottom feeding habits.
Colour - The colour variations in koi is determined
by the amount of guanin cells (reflective tissue) in the skin below
the scales (dermis). The guanin cells contain waste by-products of
the bodies metabolism. The outlayer (epidermis) cells contain colour
pigments, these are Erythrophores (contain red or orange pigment granules),
Melanophores (contain the black pigment melanin), Xyanthophores (contain
yellow pigment granules). Their placement in the skin will determine
the colour of a koi. The more complete the guanin cell layer, the
more metalic the apperance of the koi as and if this layer is partially
or completly missing more colour are visable deeper.
Mucus Layer - The mucus layer covers the entire external
area of the koi. The mucus layer provides protection for bacteria
and fungus and gives the koi there slippery feel. It is therefore
important that you hands are wet before handing koi, to ensure that
the mucus layer is not damaged.
Digestive System - The digestive system of koi is more or less like
that of any higher animals but differs from many as the koi doesn't
have a stomach as such. Food enters via the mouth and is crudly crushed
by the pharyngeal teeth (bony projections from the gill supports).
From there it passed into esophagus and then into the intestines.
The anterior part of the in intestines are swollen and look a lot
like a stomach. The intestines long and coiled, usually 4-5 times
the length of the koi. The is due to the fact the the vegetable matter
eaten by the koi require more time within the body to be broken down
so that the goodness is released. The intestines exit the body at
the anal pore.
Nervous System - The nervous system of a koi consists
of optic and other sensory nerves that radiate from the head. Fine
fibers at the nerve endings transmit and receive message to the koi's
brain, which is relatively simple. The koi's spinal cord helps protect
the central nervous system which extends to all parts of the boby.