Has the tank sprung a leak? Water running down the walls? Soggy carpets? No, this time the sound is actually welcome, especially sitting in the garden on a bright sunny summer afternoon. No, we don't have a stream at the bottom of the garden, just a pond. We moved to Camberley seven years ago. The house was about the fourth one we saw. You know that feeling, immediately you walk through the door and you just know this is The One. And we hadn't even seen the garden. We had moved from Southport. It had been a painful move for me. I chose to live in Southport. My wife was born there. I loved the town, still do and would have happily stayed there for the rest of my life. However, there were many reasons why we needed to move, so move we did. Our old house had been a big Edwardian semi with masses of character, close to Hesketh Park. The garden had been quite small, without any significant features. Mostly it was a playground for the kids' rabbits. Entirely walled, they couldn't escape. They owned the garden and terrorised the local cats. The new garden was a whole different proposition. Larger with developed flowerbeds, loads of trees, both in the garden and on the surrounding properties... and a pond. Now, as ponds go, this one wasn't the most impressive I had seen. It just sort of... sat there. We left it a couple of years whilst we tuned our attention to other more pressing things. But, eventually we could ignore it no longer. Something had to be done. Now. As ponds go, this isn't likely to put The Serpentine to shame. Little more than four feet in diameter and three foot deep, it was really nothing more than adequate for a few plants and about a dozen goldfish, definitely not Koi Carp territory. We also have an annual visitor in the form of a frog. I'm sure it's not the same one each year but never has a year gone by without one! What it really nee
ded was some movement. The choice really was between a fountain or a waterfall. Whatever the choice, what was needed was some oxygen into the water, both for the plants but more especially for the fish. Also, the water could do with some cleaning; definitely a touch murky. The pond is set in the corner of the garden, a large bay laurel sits behind it, right in the corner, and provides some shade and protection from the potential attentions of passing herons. I pondered for some time (sorry, couldn't resist that). Eventually I decided on a waterfall, even though a fountain would have been simpler. The picture of a waterfall tumbling out from under the laurel felt just right for the location. In fact, a double basin waterfall could be accommodated and that's what I decided to do. The design required a fair bit of work. The two basins weren't too difficult to construct. There were some suitable large rocks more or less in place already. I dug out a couple of holes on the bank. The basins were to be lined with concrete. I set a large rock into concrete between the two basins in order to provide a mini-waterfall between the basins and to allow the water to run over it and collect oxygen on the way. I formed some chicken-wire into the basic shape of the basins and set them in place in order to provide reinforcement and strength so as to resist any cracking and leakage. The concrete was deposited onto the wire. And, as it was arranged about an inch above the soil, the concrete dropped through and so embedded the wire within its structure. I now had about a two foot drop into the pool, one foot from the top pool to the bottom and one foot back into the pond itself. Now all I needed was a pump to raise the water from the pool to the top of the waterfall and a filter to clarify the water as it passed back via the waterfall into the pond. Looking for value for money I chose the Hozelock Titan 2000 pu
mp. This is totally submersed pump. The pump itself is encased within a round outer container, which is totally perforated with small slots to allow the water to pass through. The slots are large enough to allow silt to pass through but small enough to prevent baby fish being sucked into the pump. The pump is rated at 2000 litres per hour with a,lift of 24 inches, just enough for my design. The pump cost about £80. For the filter I chose also a Hozelock product, the Bioforce 2200 UVC. This is rated also to handle 2000 litres an hour and so is the correct match for the pump. It is a drum-shaped filter, with pumped water entering the body at the top and the cleaned water returning also from the top. This enabled me to part bury the filter in the soil under the laurel, out of sight. The filter has a sponge through which the water passes to remove the silt and pond-weed which would otherwise leave the water cloudy and unhealthy for fish. The water passes through the sponge from the outside. In the middle is an ultra-violet light, which causes the bacteria and algae to coagulate and so get filtered out on the next pass or sink to the bottom of the pond. The filter was about £35. The pump and filter are connected by 25mm black plastic hose, which gives adequate capacity to produce a generous flow of water. The hose is concealed as best as possible by the rocks and plants around the pond. You can find more information about these products here: http://www.hozelock.com/UK/aquatics/home.htm The improvement on the quality of the water in the pond is evident. Certainly the fish (goldfish, about 10 of them) seem happy. However, it isn't the solution to all pond problems. There is one that even this equipment cannot solve. We suffer from a rampant pond weed that is the bane of my life. It is a fine, green, hair-like weed that grows prolifically and does its best to swamp everything else
in the pond. I have tried various preparations but to no avail. I simply have to, once a week, dip into the pond and scoop it out. There appears to be no other solution. This weed attaches itself to everything that doesn't move, so at least the fish are safe. However, the water plants that sit on the ledge around the pond get covered in it. The weed seems to thrive in high nutrient water so topping up the pond with tap water is not a good idea. I am thinking of buying a water butt and collecting the rainwater off of the roof for this purpose instead. There is a new product that has just come onto the market that is claimed to solve this problem. It's called the Oasis i-tronic. It works by dosing the water with ionised copper as it passes back to the pond. I have no more information about it nor any indication of its effectiveness. One thing is clear is that it is very expensive at around £160. I don't think I'll be buying one just yet! If you want to find out more then visit this website: http://www.oasis-water-gardens.com/frame15new.html After running the waterfall for a year it was clear that I had a leak. When the waterfall was running I was losing water from the pond. There was no evident cause for this. I could only assume that the concrete or some of the rocks were porous and water was seeping through when the water was running. No water was lost when the water wasn't running. I needed to clean out the waterfall basins of the debris that had gathered over the season to I allowed the basins to dry out completely and then brushed on Thompson's Water Seal Ultra. Now, this product does say ?Don't use on ponds?! However, I reckoned that as I wouldn't be using it on the pond itself it probably wouldn't hurt. I did make sure that the preparation had a couple of weeks to dry thoroughly before using the waterfall again. It has made a difference. I don
't lose more than a fraction of what was disappearing before so I guess my diagnosis must have been correct. Neither the plants nor the fish seem to have been affected by the treatment. A pond does make a big difference to a garden. A pond with running water is even better. I am very pleased with the effect it has in ours.
I love ponds. They are a big part of my life. Ponds will give you relaxation and joy. But in order to get this you need to keep your pond up to scratch. They are quite complex and there are lots of ways to achieve a good quality pond. I have three ponds. I have a small 2ftx4ftx3ft deep pond, I have a 10ftx9ftx3ft deep pond and a koi pond, which is 13ftx6ft5ft deep. Ponds come and you can make into different kinds. You can make formal, semi formal, informal and semi informal. You can make them out of liner, concrete or buy a performed pond. In order to keep a healthy pond there are 4 rules you must follow: DON’T OVER STOCK DON’T OVER FEED YOU MUST HAVE A PUMP YOU MUST HAVE A FILTER BOX AND UV (ultra violate light) When your pond starts to mature or after the first year you may experience duckweed, blanket weed for pond sludge. Out of the three blanket weed has to be the worst. It is terrible stuff. It clogs up the pump and smoothers your plants and fish. The first way to get around it is to fill your pond with 2/3 of pondweed e.g. Canadian pondweed. This will starve the blanket weed of oxygen. The disadvantage to this is that you can’t see this fish as well. This has to be the cheapest way. The next way you could get rid of it is to buy chemicals to kill it, after you have added the treatment and it starts to die, you must remove it or this will rot and start the cycle all over again. The next way is to by a filter box with really strong magnets on it this is highly affective. Another affective way is to buy a pulse machine. This is wire wrapped around the tubes into the filter box, a pulse meter sends pulses of electricity and kills the blanket weed. The number one way to kill blanket weed is to buy a sand filter, these work by sand swirling around in a tube with the pond water, these kill all types of algae. Pond sludge looks horrible and causes a filter box to clog up if it cant take t
he waste. The best way to get rid of pond sludge is to buy a pond vac. This is basically a hover that sucks out the dirt. You can buy a less expensive one than an electric on called a trident mini pond vac, this works via the hosepipe. The best way to get rid of duckweed is to get it all out with a net and then buy some treatment to kill the spores off. To stop green water you must buy an UV this will clump the algae together and then the filter box will take this out. If you have a lot of debris around the pond the rather than having a fountain pump, buy a solid handing pump. This will take particles up to 10mm. In order to have fish you need to have oxygen, so build a waterfall or have some sort of splashing water. If you are going to keep koi you need a lot of oxygen. I would also say have a lot of plants in your pond as this will also make oxygen. If you stick to all of this you will have a healthy pond.
The greatest source of delight in my small garden is the pond. With a shrubbery on three sides and a little rill falling into it, it contains 2000 gallons of water and is 4'6"deep. Beneath the tranquil surface swim eleven fish, three of which are over 20 years old. This is the reason that there are only 11, since their size is such that I don't advertise their presence and they need room. This sparkling haven needs maintenance. Nothing too heavy, just the pump filter rinsed out if the rill slows and the main filter box cleaned once or twice a year. The bulb of the UV lamp, which kills algae, is replaced annually in the spring. I cannot use plants to oxygenate since the fish eat them as soon as they go in, just as they consume anything unfortunate enough to fall in, and I find quite a few empty snail shells in the bottom. During an op I wrote some months ago on pondfish preservation, I said that I never use chemicals. I don't care what reassurances are on the packet, I have seen too much heartache caused by an "expert" friend dumping anti-this-that-or-the-other into the water. So what about blanket weed, the scourge of the pond keeper? Blanket weed is in fact not a weed. It is a thriving and cosmopolitan community of various algaes, impervious to the UV lamp which keeps the water clear of the normal green stuff which clouds the pond in sunlight. During the summer months blanket weed grows at a rate which makes triffids look like starved lichen. These "weeds" are produced in a dark green fibrous mass which floats out from the sides of the pond and covers and clings to everything, even the submerged pump. It also creates a thick, slimy green sludge in the filter of the pump, thus slowing the water return to your pond. Take a large net and drag across the bottom and you will bring up a thick mat which, when you grab hold to relieve the weight on the net, then just keeps coming. I have pulled upthis stuff by the yard and it is very
heavy, so much of it is there. Since I don't want to inadvertently throw any small wildlife which may be sheltering in it into the dustbin, I leave it to dry out. I started doing this when I found a sweet little newt hidden in some I had pulled out. The blanket weed then dries to a green brown cardboardy substance. This is the stuff I must prevent from choking my beloved pond. It doesn't do the fish much good either, although I have seen them grazing on it. They line up facing the sides of the pond and the loud sucking noises can be heard from the house. The product I have used safely and effectively for years is Interpet Pond Balance. This is a non-chemical formula which balances the water, thus encourages growth of your pond plants and at the same time leaves no environment for blanket weed to grow. Any of this dastardly weed already established dies and breaks down. For this reason it is best to remove the pesky stuff if possible before dosing, as oxygen levels could drop during this breakdown. Alternatively use an air line or fountain. To be honest I just turn up the flow of my pump and have had no problems. Pond Balance can be found on the shelf of most good fish and pond nurseries, generally among other products by Interpet. Here I would emphasise that you shouldn't mistakenly pick up Pool Balance. I have not found this to work as effectively. Look for a green box with a picture of a lily pool on the front and a mauve flash. The Interpet logo is in white and distinctively placed on the top left hand corner. The pretty pink crystals inside the box are sealed in polythene and a plastic measuring spoon is supplied. Also within is a small leaflet with easy to read instructions for measuring the area of your pond and for dosing. The contents are enough for 3 treatments of a 500 gallon pond (2250 litres). The instructions tell you to use one measure of Pond Balance for each 80 galls (360 litres), these to be put into a bucket o
f warm water and stirred until the crystals disperse and I use a watering can, kept specifically for the pond, instead of a bucket. Then all you need to do is spray evenly over the water surface. That's it. The leaflet does tell you how to measure the capacity of your pond. We are told that the water may cloud for a couple of days, but I have never noticed this. Repeat the dose every ten days until the problem is eradicated then once a month until the summer is over. The chemistry of your water will determine how long this takes and how often you may need to use it. I dosed my own pond three days ago and am already seeing results. In fact I shall have to keep an eye on it because, with the loss of blanket weed, the foam filter in my submerged pump will no longer become clogged. " Lovely" you may say, as the water rushes so much faster back into the pool. In fact, if I don't turn my pump down, the main box filter will overflow with the now faster circulation through the system. The price I paid 3 days ago was £7.40, which I think is good value as it does what it says, and I am left with a safer environment for my fish. This morning when I checked, the blanket weed was already looking decidedly sickly and beginning to fall away fronm the sides of the pond. Should you be interested, the 3 twenty year old plus fish are a deep golden ghost carp, golden tench (medium sized, but huge by GT standards) and a crucian carp with a fantail, although I accept that this last is certainly a crossbreed. As well as some rather flashy looking koi are two mirror carp, of the proportions you would expect from these food fish allowed to grow as pets over quite a few years, and a couple of baby mirror who were unplanned and are already threatening to outstrip the koi in size. Sometimes I swear their food bill in the summer is higher than that for my dogs. Pond Balance is as much a part of my pool maintenance as the filters and saves me the horrid, and never completely su
ccessful, chore of pulling the weed out by hand. Interpet have a website at http:/www.interpet.com. At the moment this is not available, but should be soon. This opinion was donated to the FORCHARITY account by Aefra. If you'd like to read more about this initiative go to the FORCHARITY profile page where all will be explained!
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After many years of living in my current house, i decided that it would be nice if we had a pond in our garden. We have a very big garden, and no small children, so there was nothing preventing us really. Our first attempt at a pond however, was a bit of a disaster. Its not as easy as it looks, and we were on a pretty tight budget. After looking around garden centre's, we decided to go with a small pond liner. We started by digging our hole. There was a little debate over the location. We decided to put it by a fence, so it was away from our washing line. It is shadowed by the fence, but if we put it anywhere else, we wouldnt be able to see it from our patio. The digging was very hard work, due to us living at the bottom of chalk downs. After many long hours, we had dug a hole, basically. We lined this with the pond liner we had brought, and lined the edge with red and yellow bricks used for patios, so the liner didnt slip back into the hole. We didnt line the bottom with sand, but we did take out any stones that could have pierced the lining. This wasnt very successful at all, and the lining ended up with a hole in, and was a complete disaster!! Next summer, we had a little more money, so we decided that our pond was first on the list! Again, after searching around, we decided to go with a ready made shape. This is made of some kind of strong plastic. It is also on 2 different levels. It cost about £50, but is worth its money. It is approximately 6 foot, by 2 foot. We used our "hole" from the previous pond, to use for the lower level, and then we just had to dig out the higher, and wider level, thankfully not reaching the depths of the chalk in the garden!! We finished this off using wooden border roll instead of bricks, and we have plants surrounding our pond, and have an arch over it. We have a small fountain also, and the sound of the trickling water is very relaxing. The final effect is lovely, and v
ery nice to look at in the summer, while all the flowers are blooming, and the plants are growing up round the arch. The upkeep of this type of pond isnt very time consuming. The plants need weeding from time to time, and the pond needs refilling due to evaporation. The hard work put into it, is definately worth it in the end
Do you have a pond in your garden already? If so, all well and good. If you don’t, but have a garden and/or certain amount of lawn, creating one is easy. If you’re starting one from scratch, where you site your pond is important. Unless your garden is large, your choice in the matter will be restricted. Depending on room for manoeuvre or lack of it, the ideal solution is to place it where it is well seen for obvious reasons. An open site, sheltered from strong winds, is best. If you can avoid putting it under or too close to a tree, this will save you work when it comes to dredging out leaves every autumn. Moreover, the shady conditions of ponds under trees will result in poor plant growth. At this point, I should add that we were daft enough to create our pond in the corner of our lawn soon after we moved to our present house, only a few feet away from a hornbeam tree about 15 ft high. Having learnt the lesson too late, we now put a couple of old fruit nets across the top in October for a few weeks, though it’s not very effective. Next, mark the shape of your pool out roughly, and dig out the earth. The shape is up to you, though personally I think an uneven one looks more natural. A depth of at least 15”-18” at the deepest point is advisable; the more shallow, the more likely it is to be attacked by algae. It need not be the same depth all over, and it’s preferable not to make it so. Firstly, it’s easier to dig out an area with sloping sides; secondly, if you plan to have plenty of aquatic plants in it, steps or shelves (in a rough sense) allow for the positioning of these at different depths; thirdly, should hedgehogs come to drink and fall in, they will find it easier to get out from a shallow edge.A depth of 3'6" plus will keep the water warm longer and an airline will keep an area free from ice. Do spray the water in when filling as this disperses chemicals into the
air. There are several different ways of lining a pool: ± Polythene – very flexible, but even heavy duty polythene has a short life expectancy (less than two years). Once punctured by anything sharp, it is impossible to repair, but cheap to replace ± PVC – as it contains nylon for added strength, more expensive than polythene, but more durable, can be stretched and punctures are repairable. ± Concrete – once the most popular method as it is solid, but is inflexible, will fracture in extremes of temperature, and difficult to repair if earth below it settles or moves ± Fibreglass – like concrete, rather inflexible, but more durable. I should add that my brother-in-law constructed ours this way as he worked with a boatbuilding firm at the time and was able to obtain us some for next to nothing! Once you have your pond, unless you are in the middle of a particularly wet spell, you’ll need to fill it. Rainwater is best; if the heavens will not obligingly open for you on cue, take some from the nearest tank or butt below your drainpipe if you have one. Tapwater from indoors is the easiest solution, but this contains calcium which damages plants, as well as producing algae and duckweed. Spraying the water in when filling is preferable, as this disperses chemicals into the air. Once full, give it a week to ten days to stabilise, before you think about adding aquatic plants. Plant life is a technical and complex topic which would require a lengthy separate opinion to do it justice, but to summarise it briefly, it includes: Δ Submerged aquatics, which grow beneath the surface of the water and are useful for producing oxygen beneficial to fish and other pond life. Δ Fixed floating aquatics, whose roots are anchored in baskets or mounds of soil, but whose foliage floats on the surface. These include water lilies, which add a welcome splash (excuse pu
n) of colour. Δ Free floating aquatics, which need no soil and lie on the surface of the water. Δ Marginal aquatics, which grow in shallow water and must be planted in baskets placed on submerged shelves. Goldfish can be an asset, though they are very much an optional extra. We put half a dozen in ours, but they were gone in a few weeks, probably thanks to a sharp-eyed heron. (Is there any other sort of heron?) Other friends have had the same problem, though I am told that an imitation bird has been known to deter the real thing. Whether you would expect to fool predators all the time, or whether you think introducing plastic birds is only one step away from the naffness of Garden Gnome City (as I do), is up to you. Alternatively, herons should leave you alone if the pond is sheltered so they can't fly out quickly if disturbed. At any rate, we haven’t bothered to restock. If you want frogs and newts, you don’t need to introduce them. Rest assured, the amphibians will find you – or find it. This really is one of the hugely satisfying joys of having a pond in your garden. Unless you’re very unlucky, come early February you will find frogspawn there by day, and hear the croak of mating frogs by night. A few weeks later the jelly will be dissolving as the tadpoles hatch. Come summer, you will not only have maturing frogs and newts, but also probably dragonflies, water beetles and water boatmen. A few large stones or small rocks at a shallow edge or corner of the pool will provide the frogs and newts with shelter, particularly in hot weather. How much maintenance does your pond need? The perfectionists may take issue, but I'd say the simpler your pond, the better. Firstly, Mother Nature is a sturdy creature, provided she is not wilfully bludgeoned beyond the point of no return. Secondly, unless you have plenty of time on your hands, you want to have something you can e
njoy and which needs only a minimum of attention. Leaves will need clearing out in autumn, unless you have no trees for miles around and unless you are prepared to go to the trouble of putting particularly fine netting across. Duckweed will have to be removed nearly all the year round, either by hand or with a thin mesh sieve – and do check carefully for tadpoles or newts in season. If you're rolling up your sleeves and taking accumulated gunge out by hand, it makes good compost, but wash your hands afterwards – it doesn’t half pen and ink! In cold weather, remember to break the ice every morning. If you have fish in the pond, pouring a small amount of boiling water on the surface is best - gently does it. Literally 'breaking the ice' with a rock is quicker, but can send shockwaves which will risk killing them. During heatwaves or prolonged dry spells, water will be lost through evaporation and needs to be replenished. Going back to the question of depth mentioned above, 42" or more will keep the water warm longer, and an airline will keep an area free from ice. If you have small children, they will almost certainly share your fascination - especially when it becomes a game of 'spot the biggest tadpole'. However, for all the obvious reasons, keep an eye on them. Accidents can happen. At the time of writing, no planning permission is required to create a pocket-sized pond near your house. Given the recent extraordinary stories about jackbooted busybodies at the Environment Agency intending to license compost heaps, maybe it’s not far away. Heaven preserve us. This, I think, covers the basics. Greater detail can be found in books on gardening and/or pond life, from the whys and wherefores of plants to the provision of accessories like fountains and – if you must – lighting. (If you really want a pocket Chatsworth or Petit Trianon, and all the work t
hat goes with it, that’s up to you). I have beside me ‘Gardening Techniques’, Christopher Brickell (RHS, 1998, 1 85732 976 7, £8.99), but there are several other books on gardening and/or pond life which will do the job just as well. Even if you don’t, rest assured that you have something in your garden that you created or helped to create yourself. More importantly, remember that, although it may only be that metaphorical drop in the ocean, you’re doing your own little bit for the maintenance of the world’s environment. [Acknowledgements: shortly after I uploaded this opinion, two members made suggestions in the comments box and I have incorporated these above. My thanks to both.]
I have in my pond fish of a size which prevents me from advertising their presence, much as I would like to. I don`t wish to be targeted by fishnappers. Three of these fish, a ghost carp, golden tench and fantailed crucian carp (I know!- That is what I was told it was) cost me only a couple of pounds each over 20 years ago, when I bought them to enhance an indoor aquarium. Others, a mixture of koi and mirror have been in my pond from 7 to 15 years. In that time I have only occasionally lost a fish. I have been told that I have "green fingers" where fish are concerned. But it has to be more than luck. A good friend of mine is an enthusiastic amateur with a knowledge of koi which I could never hope to match. Her pond is 13` long, the minimum suggested depth of 18" and she has all the magic gear that goes with it. Yet every few years she loses the lot. I believe I know why, but daren`t say so as she has always refuted my way of doing things. Her husband has a pond which is little more than a smallish hole in the ground about 3` deep, with a brick surround, where he keeps the fish that his wife doesn`t want to breed. These happily thrive with little attention. Why? My pond is of reasonable size. It is just over 11` long and the width I can`t measure without danger of falling in as there is a shrubbery behind. But it is deep, almost 4'6"`. Once heated by the summer sun, it remains warm for longer. There is safe room beneath the ice in winter for the fish. I do have a good quality submersible pump. The rest of the system is simple and inexpensive. It was installed by my late husband. Being a true Yorkshireman, Malcolm was a generous soul who, for all that, would not spend his money on anything which could be reproduced just as well by his own hands. The filter box is a large plastic header tank he found in someone`s skip. They were only too happy for him to take it and he came home with that wonderful grin which said he
had a bargain. The pipes came from a plumbers` merchant as these are a fraction of the cost of those in the fish nurseries. The whole works are hidden behind a trellis and then run back through a narrow rill to splash as a mini and natural looking waterfall. The filter medium is about an inch of shingle in the bottom of the box and cut up plastic pipes to which detritus sticks. Now to the bit about fish survival. Unlike my careful friend, I do not put chemicals in the water. Gill is constantly inspecting the fish and then deciding that she should put anti- this -that- and -the -other in the water. If fish have missing scales but are swimming around upright and happily I leave them. I deal with blanket weed with a product called Pond Balance which is non-chemical and balances the water in a way which kills and then deters blanket weed. I am waiting for this to be added to the cat for another op. This is all I have ever used. Do buy a UV lamp to prevent the formation of algae which is what turns the water green in sunlight. This device contains an ultra violet bulb which is set in the piping leading back to the pond. The bulb, costing about £9, should be replaced every six months. I just turn it off from it`s separate electrical connection each winter and replace in the spring. Do not touch the bulb with your fingers when connecting as fingerprints will interfere with it`s effectiveness. The UV causes the algae to form into clumps and the first time you use it, remove any algae which has settled to the bottom of the pond. Cover the lamp and *never* look into the light. I leave some silt on the bottom. This gives shelter, particularly in the winter, for bottom living or shy fish. My golden tench disappears each winter into this silt. If you feel that you need to clean the pond, only empty it by about a third and then use the spray from a hose to refill gradually and allow any chemicals in the water to disperse into the air. Many water boards
will advise through local newspapers when they put chemicals into the water supply. Do not overstock. I have only 11 fish, although they are enormous. I tried to advise a neighbour with a new pond not to put too many fish into his new toy. He promptly drove down to the nearest fish supplier and came back with twenty and dropped them in. Sadly, very few survived. Should you wish to add another fish, try to quarantine it for a week or two in a tank. A good quality floating fish food is all you need to keep them healthy. I have been known to drop in the remnants of a can of tinned salmon (before I went veggie) just to see their frenzied joy. But this is rare. Although I like to feed my fish by hand I do not touch them, tempting as it would be to stroke my pets. I never feed my fish once the water has dropped beneath 55 degrees as the feed could remain undigested in their gut. Gill tells me that modern fish feed takes care of this. But I don`t take a chance. In fact the fish become sluggish in the winter and once the temperature has dropped they are not fed again until the late spring. There is enough natural feed in the pond if they need it. I am fortunate that my garden is small. Any heron will not risk being unable to fly clear quickly enough if disturbed. So I watch a heron fly over every morning with pleasure rather than anxiety. Netting would be the only answer otherwise. Another tip is to keep an airline running. Such a simple device is effective for two survival reasons. A thunderstorm in the summer can suck the oxygen out of a garden pond and large fish can be seen at the surface trying to breath. An airline bubbling away in a corner can make the difference. During the winter there is generally a small area of ice-free water around the airline. I am not an "expert". My only maintenance is to wash out the sponge filters within the pump when the water inlet slows and cleaning out the filter box o
nce or twice a year. A final tip. Do not put the pump actually at the bottom of the pond. A tennis ball sent over my fence by nearby children landed in my filter box, which I had left uncovered. It floated against the outlet and stopped the water returning to the pond. The result was that the water overflowed overnight and I found the fish in a foot of water. If the pump had not been on a shelf, they would have died in an empty pond.
A long time ago, a few weeks before my girlfriend and I confessed our true feelings for one another, we were in the garden of the house she was staying in. I took a pond snail out of the mucky pond at the bottom of the garden and placed it on her hand, whereupon it started sliming and rasping its way up her arm (oh yes, I know how to seduce the ladies). She screamed, but in her eyes was that wonder that I loved so much in her, and for the first time I felt a glimmer of hope that maybe she loved me. Many years later I built a pond in the back garden of our house. As always, the spontanaeity of the moment disallowed any preparation, so it was a rather disastrous effort. I dug a hole, put a bin liner in it, filled it with water and hoped for the best. Months later, and still no sign of the wildlife that I'd hoped would make the pond their home. It transpired that the plastic in bin liners secretes chemicals into the water, making it uninhabitable for all but the hardiest of creatures. I had also built it under a sycamore tree, which meant that come Autumn it was full of stinking, rotting leaves. So I tried to clear the leaves with a rake. Of course, I tore the bin liner with the rake and all the water ran out. So I had to re-build the pond, this time using clear plastic sheeting and putting two layers of it down, just in case. But I was rather disappointed with the new pond. The water was a dark, cloudy brown, and the only signs of life were dozens of gnat larvae wriggling about in a curiously pointless frenzy near the surface. I dismissed it as another failure. But within a year the murky waters began to attract wonders. Dragonflies began to visit, whirring like prehistoric helicopters over our heads, on what became almost daily patrols. We marvelled at their fierce eyes, the crack-crack-crack of their wings, and above all the darts of colour they flashed before their eyes. One September night w
e were sitting on the bench by the pond. It was a still night, the silence accentuated by our own reflections, which I suspect were shared ones. Reflections on change, on growing apart. Plop! We both peered through the shadows at the pond. There was definitely something there. "Its a toad" she said, then disappeared. The toad hoisted itself slippily out of the water, then squatted still as stone in front of me. She returned with a candle, which she handed to me. I held it out hesitantly, desperately afraid of hot wax dripping on the creatures skin. In the warm, wavering glow it was hard to distinguish its colours, but I could see from its features that it was in fact not a toad. "Its a frog" I said. She smiled, gazing in wonder. As I watched her delight, I remembered that day I placed a snail on her hand. And at that very moment she said, "Do you remember the snail?" And our gazes turned from the frog to each other. The frog stayed awhile, breathing gently, then crawled into the bushes. We've never seen it since, but tonight I'm sure its out there, having another midnight swim. And I remember the wonder in her eyes.
I am six months away from building my pond. I have had a dilemna for a while now. During the design of the pond, with it's bottom drain, side return and gravity filter, the main part of the pond came under question. Should it be Brick built or made with a liner??? The brick built option would possibly make the bottom drain and side return easier to install and maintain. Whereas the Liner pond would be simpler to install and would allow greater versatility in the shape and design of the pond. After much investigation, visitations to local Garden Centres and Koi showrooms, it has come to my attention that there have been vast improvements in liner quality. It is now possible to install the drain and return into a line without concern. Now that is possible to construct my required design with a liner, my pond will now be constructed with one.
There is nothing worse than finding something dead in your pond, and it can happen all too ofen. Here are a few tips for avoiding these unpleasant discoveries. Hedgehogs often drown in garden ponds. These creatures can swim, but have very short legs and, once they fall in, often cannot get out again. To avoid finding drowned hedgehogs, place a few stones on the edge and in the water, creating steps that hedgehogs can use to get out. This can also be useful if you have over inquisitive cats. Ice - when the water freezes over, your fish may well survive, but any frogs or toads in the pond won't. To avoid having to fish them out later, melt the ice with a few drops of hot water from the kettle - it is worth doing this every day when there is ice, as there is little that's more grim than dead frogs. Use hot water sparingly to avoid killing off anything else. If you do have to remove something a fishing net is good, or if you have to improvise, a sieve tied to a bamboo pole works very well - there's a lot to be said for keeping unpleasantly smelling things a good few feet away from you. If you have goldfish, raids from cats may be a common problem. From experience, fish can survive a surprising amount. If you need to revive a fish, place it in shallow water and add more water until it floats. Do not put it straight back in the pond as this will sometimes finish them off. Allow the fish to recover in a bucket or sink. Return to the pond when you are sure that it is alive and well. Keeping birds out is difficult without putting up some huge construction, I can only refer you to the seive on a pole option. Normally birds do not tend to get into ponds unless they are fishing. Plastic herons will sometimes keep the real ones away. On a more serious note, ponds and small children do not mix well. Do not leave small children unattended where there are water features. Building a small wall around the pond, or
better still building a raised pond can help avoid accidents, or paddling. Enjoy your pond!
Just a quickie. In the hope that my experience can prevent someone out there burning out a pump motor, and incurring the expense of a replacement. I’ve put this in a general category, because although it is about pond pumps, this little lesson applies to all pumps, rather than any particular make or model I recently constructed a water feature for a client, not of the preformed variety (Boo! Hiss!), but built lovingly by hand, stone by granite stone, bound by suitably-waterproofed mortar. The pump was a Blagdon P4000, if I remember correctly, but the make is irrelevant here. It was installed in a concealed sump at the base of the structure, and supplied water to the top pool of four, at a head of about 2.5 metres. On the day of reckoning, it worked perfectly, cascading over four pebble-filled granite pools and disappearing back into the hidden sump below. (Mind you, I could write a book about the jobs which went wrong!) Anyway, a few weeks later, the client called to say the pump had stopped. Eh? Momentary panic re. guarantees, warranties etc. But it was a problem easily solved. It could happen to anyone, even you. And it maybe already has. Did you know that a pond pump gets coated in limescale, just like the element of a kettle? If you live in a hard-water area, your pump will slowly scale up and lose efficiency, until one day it simply stops turning. The danger then is, if you don’t spot it quickly enough, it will burn out the motor. Then you have a real problem. Preventative maintenance is the answer. If yours is high pH, or alkaline, or limey water, use a kettle descaling product to soak the spindle of your pump once a year or so. Most pumps (Blagdon and Lotus, certainly) have motor covers which just twist off or unclip. REMEMBER TO DISCONNECT THE ELECTRICITY FIRST! With the cover off, you will see one small central bolt. Undo this, remembering tha
t it will almost certainly have a left-handed thread. Draw out the spindle, descale, rinse, reassemble. All ready to go again, without the risk of burning out the motor. And why did mine seize up so soon after installation? Fresh cement. The thing was up and running before the mortar was properly cured, or “Gorn orf” as Tommy from Ground Farce would say. So all the alkaline efflorescence from the cement made the water so limey it was almost white. And the innards of the pump were as encrusted as the barnacly hull of a Spanish Galleon. Another lesson learned.
My pond is a hive of activity at the moment as the frogs have returned. Every time I look out of my kitchen I see at least 2 fornicating frogs. Usually though there are about 4 intimate couples floating about on the pond. All of their efforts have paid off and they produced frogspawn a couple of days ago. We have only had our pond for 18 months and have frogs, toads, common newts, and great crested newts calling it home. I am particularly proud of the Great Crested Newts, as these are an endangered species and are highly protected in this country. I must admit the first time I spotted one in the garden I thought somebody's pet had escaped as they are about 15cm long and look like a lizard. All this is not bad for a 3ft x 4ft pond and it shows that we must be doing something right to attract all these animals. I was thinking of writing about how to build a pond but I honestly think that you need a book to guide you with this. There are so many options and variables that I would not be able to cover everything, it depends very much on what you want. What I will do is share some tips that have helped to make our pond a successful wildlife pond.  Don't build your pond too close to trees, as when the leaves fall they pollute the water and upset the nutritional balance. A few leaves will do no harm and will eventually provide frogs and newts with mushy cover at the bottom of the pond.  Do not place your pond in full uninterrupted sun as it will become too warm and adversely affect any wildlife. 4-6 hours of sun a day is ideal.  Use liner to create your pond rather than using a pre-formed pond. Wildlife find the liner much easier to grip onto and you can create much gentler slopes than those on pre-formed ponds, this makes it much easier for the animals to get out of the pond. If you don't like the look of the black plastic cover the edges with jute sacking and it will soon blend in. The other advant
age is of course the price as it is a lot cheaper than the pre-formed ponds.  We have stones around the edge of our pond which are slightly in the water, covering the liner and enabling the frogs to climb out and bask. In my opinion sandstone is the best material to use as it soaks up the water and stays damp. Moss will soon grow on this forming an ideal habitat for insects to live on, in turn providing food for the frogs. We also found that when the froglets (tadpoles with legs) climb out to bask they get stuck on smooth, dry stones and end up dying, especially on gravel. This makes the rough, wet sandstone excellent for basking on.  Don't have fish. Fish have a tendency to eat the tadpoles and baby newts as well as their food sources i.e. insect larvae. We have found that having fish also makes the pond harder to maintain as it gets dirtier a lot quicker due to uneaten food and natural waste products. In 18 months we have never needed to clean our pond or add chemicals, yet it still remains crystal clear and has the perfect PH value. Cleaning out your pond is unnecessary unless there is something drastically wrong and it can damage the pond's ecosystem. Small pools should only be cleaned once every 5 years, larger ones once every 10 years.  Have plenty of underwater plants, these help to keep the pond cool by shading it on sunny days as well as acting as oxygenators. These plants also play a vital role in maintaining water clarity by starving algae. I recommend Callitriche hermaphroditica (autumnal starwort) as this provides a haven for insect life as well as an ideal spawning area for newts. Aim to keep at least a third of the water surface plant free.  Daphnia or water fleas are a main food source of tadpoles and newts. We found that when we had our pump on they all disappeared. We later found them all stuck to the filter. We have since switched the pump off and introduced a bag of daphni
a that we bought from our local fish shop.  Create a habitat outside of the pond, amphibians spend as much if not more time out of the water than they do in it. We have plenty of rotting logs and stones around the pond providing shelter and basking areas. Through out the garden in unseen areas we have piles of bricks, coping stones, hollow logs and leaves. Again these provide shelter and an area for insects to colonise.  Be aware that the nitrates contained in concrete and fertilisers can cause the water to turn green and reduce the oxygen levels. Therefore keep all such substances away from the pond including compost, weedkillers and insecticides. Also be wary of slug pellets as these may cause harm to the animals that eat the slugs.  To keep algae at bay fill a washing tablet bag, an old pair of tights or another suitable container with barley straw. This is available from pet shops at around £1.29 for a bag. Place this into the pond, as well as keeping the algae away it will eventually sink and become another habitat for your wildlife.  Don't be tempted to go and get grown animals or spawn from the wild. The grown animals will not stay as they will try to return to their original pond for spawning. If you import spawn into your pond you always run the risk of transferring disease. Look at the amount of wildlife we have in our pond in just 18 months. If you have created the right environment for them they will come by themselves just be patient and believe me it pays off as the feeling of satisfaction you get knowing that they chose to live with you is immense.  Frogs spawn from the end of February until at least mid March and in about 12 weeks they will be small fully formed frogs. Be aware that when you mow your lawn there could be dozens of little frogs hopping happily about. Keep a close eye on where you are mowing or you could be having frogs legs for dinner!! A lot
of the hints and tips that I have given you are what we have learnt through trial and error. We enjoy our pond and its inhabitants so much that we are considering building a larger one next to it to encourage even more wildlife. The reason the Great Crested Newt and other native pond creatures are endangered is that there are fewer and fewer ponds in the wild and the only available ponds have fish in, therefore they have a smaller chance of survival. To put it into perspective there is an area of land not far from us that had been earmarked for redevelopment recently this has now been halted. The land will remain as it is with its pond as they found a Great Crested Newt here and by law they are not allowed to move or disturb it. So please think twice before you buy fish for your pond and think of all the free wildlife that you could have instead. There is a book that I will recommend which will help you to attract wildlife into your garden and that is 'RSPCA Guide to Garden Wildlife' by Val Porter it is published by Collins and costs about £8. ISBN 0-00-413383-8
Ponds are a wonderful addition to any garden, the sound of running water and watching your fish swim about on a hot sunny day is one of the simple pleasures in life. However most people think you just add fish and that’s it however they can be very time consuming and getting it right is not an easy task as I my self a beginner found out. I have a 4ft by 6ft pond which is around 4ft deep at the lowest point, I inherited it with a house we bought, at the time it only contained goldfish, quite large some black some orange. I decided I wanted a koi carp so chose a beautiful gold 4 inch koi that cost me around £25. It was a joy to watch it jumped and ate more than any of the other fish, however After only 2 weeks I noticed that it was off colour and hardly ever came up for food, I then noticed the goldfish were all covered in White spot, This I had already come across in my tank at home and had lost fish to this. We promptly emptied the pond, not an easy task trying to catch 30 fish in a net! and put them in a water butt. We cleaned the entire pond out then refilled it and treated the water. Some of the fish were pretty bad so we decided to destroy them as their fins were too damaged. Next came the treatment, formalin which is available at pet stores, this is excellent but you must dose it correctly according to volume of water. Then the surprise ingredient! 1tsp of cooking salt (NOT TABLE), per gallon. Leave this 7 days then redoes after removing a third of water and replacing it. I was very sceptical and did lose several more fish in the mean time. However the others started to improve and the white spot gradually disappeared bit by bit, until they made a full recovery. I then replaced the lost fish with 4 more baby ghost carp and 2 shabunkins. These ghost carp grow rapidly and 6 months on you will have a decent sized fish. The main thing is to keep checking your fish for any disease signs an
d treat as soon as you see it, however in my case the white spot appeared almost overnight. The other main things your fish need are plants and oxidation, the plants can be bought from garden centres in various different varieties, some float and some such as the weed are sunk to the bottom. These give off bubbles so giving your fish more air. A pump is a must especially for carp this can be in the form of just a fountain in the centre of the pond or you can attach a hose and run it to a waterfall or other added feature. Algae is a big problem to the pond keeper, it can deplete oxygen levels and apart from anything else spoils your view of fish, a filter with a UVA light is one answer or you can add barley straw to the pond or failing that special preparations from the pet store. Winter means your fish will slow down and eventually partially hibernate, this is the time to turn the pump off to leave the water still, you can feed low temperature fish food, should the winter be particularly mild or your fish are still actively seeking food. However you should never feed for the sake of it. Ice must be melted if your pond freezes as this causes a build up underneath of harmful gasses, the best thing to do is to put a ball in your pond which will leave an air hole, however if it does completely freeze then you must melt a hole with warm water, never break the ice as this sends shockwaves out which can kill your fish. Well I hope this has been of some help to you, if you have any queries then please email me and I will be glad to help if I can.
Some competition prizes can be more trouble than they are worth, and I sometimes wonder if the pond-liner and pump combination that turned up a few years ago is one of them. If you are considering such a feature then read on… Mine is not the biggest of ponds (about 8’ x 4’ x 3’6” deep) but it took me five hours to dig the hole from heavy clay soil – hardly a job you can do in an afternoon. You also have to take into account the time it takes to lay the electric cable for the pump from the pond to the house (encased in narrow plastic piping to avoid accidents when digging), pot up the aquatic plants, cat-proof it all and make everything safe if you’ve got kids. And then you have to maintain it all, particularly if you are going to keep fish in there. I am not entirely keen on the idea of keeping fish in an artificial environment, but improving the lot of some who have it worse anyway seems like a good idea. When my mother-in-law announced she was fed up with the three who had swam in a tiny tank in her kitchen for some years, I was pleased to be able to give them a home. It would appear that they are happiest in cramped conditions, because within twelve months mine were all doing what fish do naturally, with reckless abandon, and there are now twenty-eight of them. And counting… All this free loving demands a lot of energy, and these little breeders seem to do well enough during the summer months on flake food or pond pellets, but they are also fond of the odd piece of brown bread and any cucumber slices that are going begging. In the winter, the fish are largely dormant, and the detritus and vegetation that inevitably accumulate throughout the year is enough to meet all their nutritional needs. The arrival of summer in our neighbourhood is no longer marked by the sound of the season’s first lawn-mower, but by a series of screams indicating that I have decided it is warm enough
to give the pond its annual clean-out, and have encountered The Frogs. One I can deal with, but when they are leaping around my hair in numbers it’s a different story. Others are probably made of tougher stuff than I am, but from my point of view, cleaning-out-the-pond day is a calendar fixture I could do without. On the plus side, it has provided hours of entertainment for the kids – “That one scared her, she jumped higher than *he* did!” My husband has tacked wire netting on a wooden frame all the way round the pond so that the kids can see in without actually falling in. Very sensible too, but I can’t help thinking that if he was the one who had to haul buckets of water over the fence every year, then he would have realised that a gate somewhere along it’s length would come in handy… In the old days when we still had three fish I’d just throw the water onto the vegetable plot, which led to one of them spending four hours under a radish on the hottest day of the year (and surviving!) before I’d even noticed he was missing. Nowadays, we have abandoned the allotment look, so I have to stagger the length of the garden with each bucket of smelly water before throwing it down the drain. Because I can never be sure just how many fish are in the pond most of the time, each bucket has to be sieved into another one to catch any escapees before the water is tipped away. While they are happy enough to fling themselves suicidally in front of next door’s cat, you will find that getting them to see the wisdom of swimming into your net is another matter entirely. This year one of mine had taken refuge in an empty lager can which had fallen to the bottom of the pond during a family barbecue, and was extremely reluctant to come out. Experience has shown that gentle persuasion is usually enough in such situations, but as a last resort an empty threat involving Captain Birdseye will usually see th
e offender swimming around with his mates again in a bucket. The bucket should be left to stand for a while beside the pond to allow the temperature of the water to equalise before adding the fish. There aren’t many things that pond fish complain about, but sudden changes of water temperature are one of them and they are liable to show their disgust by simply dropping dead on you. Once you have cleaned and filled the pond again, wait for an hour or so before returning them for the same reason. The chemicals present in tap water will also upset your fishy friends, but additives to neutralise their effects are widely available, and should be used at each water change. Another common additive is supposed to inhibit the growth of algae in the summer, and therefore prevent the water from turning green, though I have never found it to be all that effective. Within days you are looking at pea soup again, and the fish are probably wishing you’d spent the money on throwing them another can of lager. Hot, thundery weather can dramatically increase carbon-dioxide levels in a small pond – you can redress the balance and add oxygen to the water by turning on the fountain. Pump filters need de-gunging too (as often as once a week), and it’s usually the case that when your fish are at the surface gagging for breath, your pump is out of action and you haven’t got the will to fumble around in the murky depths in attempt to clean it. At times like this, putting a hose quickly over the surface will do just as well. Winter brings it’s own challenges too. According to the experts, you’re supposed to float a tennis ball on the water to stop it freezing over. In practice, the ball usually blows around the pond until it wedges fast against one of the rocks or plants at the side, and you are left with the task of sliding at speed down an icy path with a saucepan of boiling water when the pond freezes over. Anyone
similarly coming to grief with their balls might find it worth knowing that you should never use force to break the ice – fish are very sensitive to the shockwaves that are generated and can easily be killed in this way. The usual method of dealing with a frozen pond is to stand your saucepan of boiling water on the ice until it melts a hole sufficient for any build-up of toxic gases to escape. There’s no denying the incredible feeling of peace that can come from just looking at pond fish idly doing nothing, or sharing with your child the magic moment when a silvery-blue dragon fly comes to inspect the proceedings. Nights when candles flicker around the edge of the pond as a focal point to a summer party are the ones that get remembered for a long time afterwards, but if you are tempted by the thought of such idyllic scenes, don’t let these ideas blind you to the amount of work involved in creating them. Should you choose to go ahead, there are plenty of good books written by experts around with far more information than I can give, but I hope these experiences of an ordinary family have been helpful in allowing you to come to your decision.
Last Year I had to take a large tree out from my garden it was old and dying. I decided that the time was right to put in a pond(children were old enough to keep away from it). Well once the tree was out I had the start of a hole so it was only a matter of digging. For anyone thinking of building a pond, a word of warning there is a lot of soil left afterwards. I was able to spread some around the garden and found that neighbours were also able to make use of some as well. This is handy as it costs a lot to dispose of soil now (new landfill taxes). Now I read that you should mark out the ground before digging, but I ignored that and found that it is as easy to get the shape in your head and work until it feels right. It is important to create shelves though (plants need different depths) and also try and get part that is 4ft deep. Another thing that I created was a sloping edge so any hedgehogs falling in could get out. For lining the pond there are many ways, I eould suggest a book before you start.I chose to use a pvc liner and that needs to be lined underneath. The experts suggest using sand. I used old carpet and loft insulation instead. All in all it took about three weeks to get the pond completed. I then discovered that to sit in the garden in the evening with a beer is so relaxing. Within a week of the water going in the first frog took up residence. A year on the pond has matured well, the fish spawned as did the three resident frogs. The children have watched and learnt a lot from the new wildlife in the garden. Oh and my cats love drinking from it, I am sure they think of it as fish soup.