Last Updated: 7/21/98
1800 gallon pond
50 gallon pond
16.5 gallon pond
For discussions of these fish for ponds, please go to my Fishy Page Too:
Goldfish, Koi, Mosquito Fish, Orfes, Rosy Red Minnows, and Fathead Minnows
For info on other animals (mammals, amphibians, insects, microorganisms, etc.) that may show up at your pond or that you might add, visit my Pond Animals Page. Included are dozens of species of frogs, toads, salamanders, fish (besides those above), snails, insects, and way too much to list there. This page is a great place to learn about species you may not know.
My Pond Pictures (construction, various views,
Problems With My Large Pond
General Care and Maintenance
Newsgroups, Catalogs, and Web Sites
A list of all of the plants sold in the six plant pond catalogs that I have, including Latin names,
which are native, planting depths, plants' heights, zones, sun preferences, flower colors, costs
through the various catalogs, and which ones I have tried.
Built 5/6/97 to 5/10/97.
~1800 gallons in full sun.
10'1" x 5' at slope of 6-10" deep + 10'1" x 4' at slope of 15-20" deep + 10'1" x 1.5' at slope of 19- 26" deep + 10'1" x 4.75' at slope of 25-27" deep + exit basin of 32" x 3' x 4" deep + waterfall basin of 3.5' x 3' x 5" deep.
45-mil EPDM liner.
Pennsylvania fieldstone around the edges, pea gravel and river rock in the shallow areas.
Nautilus 60 (2600 gph) pump through 15 feet of flexible PVC to a ~50 gallon biofilter (with ~20 gallons of lava rock on top of 3 cubic feet of bioballs all in nylon wash bags) over into a double waterfall with a total drop of ~5 feet. Half the water goes into a ~2 gallon pond and spills off of a huge rock. The other half goes down a stream and splashes out at various places. The pump is in a large plastic plant basket with holes and wrapped in an inch thick filter material. The floss holes must be large or it clogs in just one day.
Additional Pondmaster 1700 filter and Mag-Drive 700 gph pump in shallow end with a mushroom fountain to provide extra filtration, aeration, and circulation in summer. Because this filter clogs just two days after a new filter is installed, I have bought a Cyprio 1200 planter filter which should be setup and running by late 5/98 to replace the Pondmaster which I may use if I ever replace my 50 gallon pond.
Low voltage lighting - one floodlight on the waterfall and two walk lights by the pond.
Current Maximum Live Inventory
All of these fish are young and still small to moderate in size.
10 Common Goldfish
4 Comet Goldfish
1 Black Moor Goldfish
1 Calico Fantail Goldfish
2 Red Fantail Goldfish
1 Sarassa Fantail Goldfish
1 Shubunkin Goldfish
3 Butterfly Koi (one about 1 foot long, 2 about 4-5 inches)
15 Rosy Red Minnows (added as adults) plus hundreds of their offspring, now adults
100's of Rosy Red and Fathead Minnow fry and young adults born in the ponds and tanks, now as large as their parents
2 large (1 foot) Golden Orfe
4 new baby Golden Orfe - 4/98
7+ Green Frogs (from tadpoles)
1 Pickerel Frog (invited himself), back in March
In Spring - countless tree frogs and toads (tons of toadpoles this April)
2 Leopard Frogs (bought 4/98)
Unknown if any of the many trapdoor snails survived since never seen except dead ones
A few ramshorn snails may survive from the dozen or so added
Even with treated plants, a few pond snails snuck in
A few dozen ghost or grass shrimp clean the bottom and regularly show up in the filter floss
Microorganisms of many kinds abound (added and showed up)
~80 newborn spotted salamander larvae added 3/98, most gone by 6/98
Insects and dragonfly larvae abound
Note that my pond for some reason does not bode well for algae eating snails. I have plenty of suspended and hair algae. Perhaps there is not enough hard surface algae. As far as I know, all trapdoor snails died and only a few ramshorns have held on. The plant eating snails mostly eat my snowflake plants and lay light orange eggs all over plants sticking out of the water. They are the only snails thriving. The frogs are thriving on butterflies, bumblebees, moths, and baby minnows. Update: It's Spring and the only snails I have seen are pond snails I did not add. I believe that the raccoons may have been eating the snails since I have seen their prints in my smallest pond. Or, the snails may just have died; I will add some more soon.
I have added too many plants to list. You can visit my plant list to see which plants I have bought or collected in the wild. About half of the plants have died or were eaten totally. I have about a dozen two gallon pots of submerged plants (mostly anacharis) and about two dozen one and two gallon pots of marginals. I also have bought a lot of floating plants.
Watercress - I bought some from the grocery store without roots, stuck it in the gravel in my waterfall stream and catch pool. Voila, a wonderful plant for swift waters that removes nutrients from the water. It flowered in April and May 1998 with pretty little white flowers.
Lilies - Fabiola (pink, big but few flowers), Chromella (yellow, small), Comanche
(orange/yellow, big), Albata (white, very big), and William Falconer (red, small); all gorgeous
Lotus - Perry's Giant Sunburst (yellow), yet to flower :-(
Picture of my 50 gallon pond, taken 4/12/98. The things floating on the surface are toad eggs and some parrot's feather.
Built late summer, 1996.
50 gallon plastic rubbermaid tub in full sun.
90 gph Beckett pump, exits through a frog spitter - pump died on 9/12/97, replaced with an OASE (Aquarius 1) of similar strength.
Constantly changing. In 1997, I had about seven fathead x rosy red minnows born last Spring 1997 and their dozens of offspring which I moved to the large pond for the winter on 9/11/97. In Spring of 1998, I have a few hundred eggs and newborn white cloud mountain minnows and/or danios (4/25/98) and goldfish fry (4/30/98) that I have yet to see if any have survived. As of 6/98, a few white cloud fry are all I see. This pond is clear to the bottom (my big pond is only clear about 3 inches down)!
Green frogs from the big pond visit. Plus, there are insects and microorganisms present. When I cleaned the pond out on 9/11/97, it was full of leaches and tiny ramshorn-like snails as well as lots of baby minnows. The bottom half of the water was black. It was last cleaned in May, 1997. Now about 70 spotted salamander larvae are in there. Many have probably died due to starvation and the cold snap we had. In April 1998, the pond has a trillion toad tadpoles (toadpoles I call them) and at least one salamander larvae. By June 1998, I see just one salamander, a number of tree frog and toad tadpoles with legs (some are leaving), and a pair of green frogs. The male lets me pet him!
A small litter pan is planted with anacharis, bacopa, cabomba, foxtail, and hornwort.
Parrot's Feather is planted and thrives under and above water.
A single water hyacinth grows well but never blooms. I tossed them out on 9/11/97 since the deer had eaten all the leaves, and fall is coming.
I put in some small frogbit and some weird floating ludwegia species for the summer too.
Picture of the little pond, taken on 11/6/97 with lots of leaves in it.
~16.5 gallons in shade
45-mil EPDM liner, piece left over from big pond
Granite from property
Pond for birds, frogs, insects, and deer
Whoever shows up. A mosquito dunk prevents many insects though.
All die so I stopped adding them since it is too shady and the deer eat them.
Pictures will soon be available of my lotus and tropical lily tubs (no flowers yet though).
Set up May, 1998
Two 20 gallon tubs, half filled with dirt, topped with pea gravel, and then water
About 5 gallons of water in lotus tub and 10 gallons in lily tub
Mosquito fish - 6 adults and a few fry in lily tub, a few fry in lotus tub
Lotus tub (shallower, more surface area) -
Charles Thomas purple lotus
A few pieces off my snowflakes in main pond, hornwort, and duckweed
Tropical lily tub (deeper, less surface area) -
Colorato blue tropical lily that the mosquito fish eat so much I think it is dead (I really wanted a tropical lily flower :-( )
Neptunia, water poppies, green taro, anacharis, hair algae, and duckweed
My Pond Pictures
I am sorry that some of the photos are washed out. Our home scanner must not work as well as the one I used before.
Pond construction photos:
Before there was any pond at the site, taken facing south-west,
Sod removed and site cleared for construction, facing south-west, 5/6/97.
Hole, "where'd that big hole come from?," facing west, 5/6/97.
Liner in hole, facing west, 5/7/97.
Rocks, plumbing, etc. going in, facing east, 5/9/97.
Rocks, top waterfall, etc., facing south-west, 5/9/97.
Big pond photos:
Toads mating, first to show up at new pond, left arrow is toads, right
arrow is their eggs strung all over the pots, water was still clear because pond was new,
The large pond at two months old, facing north-west, July, 1997.
Lilies in my big pond on July 21, 1997. The two white ones are albata, the pink one is Fabiola, and the orange one at the top is a Comanche. The albata put out the most weight of leaves, the Chromella (out of sight) put out the most leaves (a smaller kind of lily), while the Comanche flowered the most. All flowered heavily except the Fabiola which only put out half a dozen flowers all season.
Top of waterfall, bad picture, will not scan well, facing west, 4/12/98.
Green frog and toad tadpoles, arrow pointing to frog, 4/12/98.
Waterfall with blooming weeping cherry behind, facing north-west, 4/12/98.
Overflow, facing north-east, 4/12/98.
Bog area and bench, facing south-east, 4/12/98.
Green frog on lily pad, 5/16/98.
**Best photo!! Iris and waterfall, facing North. Blue, yellow, and red iris in bloom, yellow and orange lilies in bloom, 5/16/98.
50 gallon pond, 4/12/98.
My newest tiny pond on 11/6/97.
There are many things I would like to change in the design of my pond and many problems that I have encountered. Because the pond is done, it would be too difficult for me alone to change. I had a landscape company who had built ponds before build my pond for about $7000. Many of the problems were due to miscommunication between the designer and work men and between the designer and I. There were also things that I did not consider at the time and now wish that I had. It would be better to build the pond yourself but I was incapable of hauling dirt and stones (took three men!) and could not do the physical labor. So here are some of the things I wish I could change or fix. Perhaps after reading these, I can save some heartache for any potential builders of large ponds. Plus, I like to complain! See the photos above to see some of what I speak about.
1. The pond was supposed to be 3200 gallons as in the blueprint. The workers made an error. They measured the inside of the water area in the blueprint and used that as the outside of the rocks. Huge slabs of Pennsylvania fieldstone rest from surface level to down to about two feet. The water comes half way up the stones. Thus, this method effectively hides the liner and allows for a lot of water loss before the liner would show. Due to the measurement error, the pond actually is about 1700-1800 gallons by my calculation. I should have measured the pond myself. I did make the workers measure it twice but, as I said, they used the inside on the blueprint as the outside on the actual pond. They lost about 1-2 feet in all directions.
2. Due to a similar problem as Number 1, the workers measured the depth from the top of the ground level. The problem is that the water stays about a foot below ground level when totally full due to an overflow. Thus, my pond lost about 10 inches in depth. The deep end, for goldfish and koi to overwinter in, went from the blueprint depth of three feet to 2'2".
3. Even though the pond was only about half as big as the blueprint, there was nothing written about depth or volume in the contract. It merely stated five days of labor, so much fieldstone, etc. Since they used the same amount of supplies and work, I was charged full price. The lesson: include volume and depth desired in any contracts.
4. Even though the water fall area is part of the main pond's liner (thanks to their making the pond half as big as planned), it still leaks at the top. Some large boulders (no way I can move them) get wet and water runs back into the mulch and dirt. Total water loss for all reasons (evaporation, splashing, backrunning, etc.) runs about an inch a week, two inches during drought or really hot weather.
5. Because the waterfall area and some of the walls were built on compacted dirt, the rocks have settled. This has resulted in dirt coming in, gaps where liner is easily seen, and some diversion of the waterfall's paths. I am not sure how one would prevent this. A backhoe compacted the dirt well. I am afraid that one day the whole waterfall will collapse and rip a hole in the liner. The spill rock must weigh a ton, literally. The rocks that were siliconed at the top to the biofilter have collapsed to almost 1.5 feet lower. I cannot find enough rocks to shove in all the gaps and holes. In May 1998, I bought almost $300 (1.5 ton) of rock to fill in the gaps.
6. With every hard rain, dirt and mulch enter the pond. This results in another algae bloom. Aside from building the pond level above ground level, I do not know how to prevent this either. The liner was brought up to ground level by the workers and held in place with the boulders. We plan to dig out the high side of the pond some, add a small liner, a rock wall, and build it up with rocks at the spot that puts the most dirt into the pond.
7. The overflow was set too low. I cannot adjust it myself without making it worse. The pond could hold another inch or so easily. The water level is about a foot below the top of the liner and ground level.
8. When water flows out the overflow, it does not follow the stream bed! The workers apparently never tested it. The water just flows into the mulch. The stream bed is virtually useless.
9. I wanted a stream bed that went to the edge of the woods, an overflow pond after the outlet, and a bridge. The workers suggested against this because I would need more liner, mosquitos would breed, and a bridge would look stupid respectively. Do not let other people tell you what you want in your own pond! I should have had them do it as I wanted. Granted, the stream and overflow pond would usually be dry, but it would look better than the short, wide pile of river rock I got instead.
10. The pump is connected to the biofilter/waterfall by 1.25" PVC flexible tubing. It is buried 1-4 feet under the waterfall mound. It is now partially clogged. If it ever needed replacement, a ton of rocks and dirt would have to be dug up and lots of plants torn out. The same goes for a PVC drain coming out of the biofilter. All parts that might need servicing should be accessible. I tried running a tube with brush attached through the tubing in March, 1998, but there are apparently buried nearly 90 degree turns in the tubing to add to my complaints. I got the tubing through but the brush only goes in an inch so we had to pull it back out. Even so, the tubing dislodged a lot of black crud and the waterfall speed increased afterwards. Any suggestions on how to clean this PVC tubing are most welcomed!
11. If the liner needed replacing, it would take two weeks. One week to move like 20 tons of fieldstone and tons of dirt to get to the liner. Mulch and plants would have to be moved as well as hundreds of plants and animals who would need pools for weeks. I hope that never happens!
12. The workers chose to put pea gravel and river rock in the bottom of the shallow parts (about 40%). This is good for aesthetics, koi rooting, and bug hiding. It is not so good after you think about it. I cannot vacuum these areas. Worst of all, I have to walk on the stones to get into the pond and service the filters and plants. I have felt down to the liner. Small rocks are already embedded in the liner. How long before a hole is punched? How will I know where the hole is? I cannot see the liner, just rocks. As an added problem, I often slip and almost fall over since it is hard to walk on an inch of large pea gravel when you cannot see beyond an inch in the water.
13. Because the pump tubing is embedded under ground, there is no way for me to add a leaf skimmer and/or UV sterilizer which I now very much would like to add. Prepare for future purchases when building the pond.
14. Around the edges of the pond, there is a shear drop of about a foot. This is great in keeping out herons, raccoons, cats, and other predators. It is bad though in some ways. Birds NEVER drink or bathe in my pond. Newly morphed tree frogs and toads cannot get out very easily. If a larger bird or mammal fell in, it would not be able to get out. Despite the cliff, the deer occasionally drink from the pond and eat all the parrot's feather!
15. You cannot see the pond life well since the water is a foot below ground level. You have to squat and squint.
16. A big problem is this. The pump is situated where the water is 1.5 feet from the ground. I cannot remove it or the filter around it for cleaning without getting in at the other end of the pond. I have to put on my swimsuit, get wet to my waist, get my arms and face all wet, no matter how cold the water, just to clean the pump. I have been doing this every week! The pump should be placed so that it can be easily cleaned. Due to the large cliff there, it is also impossible for me to remove the pump with filter without another person to pull it out from above.
17. The pump was also placed right next to the waterfall. Thus, the shallow end sort of stagnates. I wanted the pump at the other end but the workers said no since the tubing and plug would have to be a lot longer, the pump could not be as deep, and the pump would have to pump harder. I guess they were right for once. Nah, I have changed my mind. They should have dug a 2 foot pit in the bog area and put the pump there. It would have been serviceable from outside the pond plus the pond could never be pumped even close to dry! The tubing should have been right under the surface and a UV sterilizer in line too. Well, if the pond ever needs to be rebuilt and/or I ever make any money, then I will have it done like that.
18. The workers did not provide for any mechanical or chemical filtration. Mechanical filtration is very much needed. I surrounded the pump with floss in a plant basket with holes. This needs cleanly weekly and gets very dirty. I also have a 700 gph pump with filter in the other end. It clogs almost instantly and trickles out for the week. I have to change it weekly. After two weeks, the filter pads are just too clogged to be cleaned again. That was last year; this Spring, it clogs after two days and I can't afford the $10 replacement pads every two days! I plan on removing this filter completely.
19. Then, there is the proverbial, there is not enough room! The pond should be bigger! It was supposed to be almost twice as big!! If it is ever redone, it will be made bigger. That would be some undertaking!! : -)
General Care and Maintenance
During late Spring, early Fall, and Summer, I feed my pond fish twice a day with a variety of goldfish and koi flakes and pellets. During mid Spring and Fall, I feed them once a day (in the morning) with an easy to digest pellet and some flakes. Do not feed the fish over the winter. Usually, ponders say that once the water goes below 50 degrees F, you should stop feeding the fish. If you do not overstock the pond with fish and have plenty of plants, you need not feed at all. The fish can live off of insects, algae, and plants. Feeding them allows them to grow larger, have more surviving fry, and generally survive longer but it is not necessary. Most ponders do it as much to see and commune with the fish as to feed them.
The stocking level of fish depends on so many things: the species, the age of the fish, the capacity of the filtration, aeration, the number of plants, the climate, and the risks you are willing to take. Hardier, young fish in a pond with a lot of filtration, aeration, and plants in a moderate climate can be stocked at the greatest density. Of course, you can always stock fewer fish but it will not stay that way for long. Goldfish, koi, orfe, mosquito fish, and rosy red minnows will all breed. The fewer fish that you have, the more fry that will survive (assuming you do not have too many dragonfly larvae and other predators). Soon, your pond will be overstocked. Either let the fish live like that, expecting losses now and again, or give some fish away. You can sell them to aquarium stores too sometimes. For goldfish, you should have at least 30-50 gallons per fish, assuming a reasonable surface area. Koi need at least 100-200 gallons per fish unless they are really big, in which case they may need a lot more. Rosy red minnows can take as little as 3 gallons a piece but boy do they breed! Visit my Fish Page for more information on pond fish.
The more plants, the better, to a point. About 1/2 to 2/3 of the surface should be covered in plants. The larger the pond, the less coverage that you need. About one bunch of submerged plants per square foot is good. As far as potted plants, whatever you can fit in there is fine. Remember that while plants balance the pond, they also take up volume in the pond and space for the fish to swim. If floating plants (like water hyacinth or duckweed) or submerged plants (like anacharis) grow too much, you will need to remove some from the pond to preserve open space. These plants also may need removing so that lilies, marginals, etc. get enough space and light. Also, during the night, plants use oxygen. If there are too many submerged plants and not enough aeration, some fish may gasp for air. During the day, plants give off more oxygen than they use which is great for the fish. Remember that photosynthesizing algaes behave as plants. They are good in removing pond nutrients and providing oxygen during the day. They are bad since they may block the sun from other plants, prevent your visual enjoyment of the pond, and/or suffocate plants and fish over night.
This section is a work in progress.
Mechanical filtration is the removal of suspended debris including leaves, dirt, large algae like hair algae, pieces of plants, dead animals, etc. It can be accomplished by filter bags, floss, brushes, foam, strainers, vortex mixers, physical removal, vacuuming (see cleaning), and many other choices. I use floss around the intakes of my pumps. After biological filtration, this is the most important, especially if you would like to SEE the fish!
Biological filtration is the most important filtration for your pond. It can be accomplished with lava rock, hair curlers, bioballs, brushes, springflo, and dozens of other commercially available products. Anything that provides surface area for bacteria to grow in an oxygen rich environment will allow biological filtration to take place. While it will occur on all wet surfaces in the pond that have enough oxygen, such a colony could not support the large amounts of fish that most ponders desire. See my Fishy Page under the nitrogen cycle. I will add more to this section later.
Chemical filtration is accomplished with carbon, zeolite, or other resins. This chemicals remove organic compounds, ammonia, etc. from the pond. A healthy pond does not need chemical filtration as natural processes and water changes should be adequate. However, if you treated the pond and want to remove the medication, the ammonia spikes unexpectedly, or the neighbors pesticides ended up in your precious pond, chemical filtration may be needed in a hurry. Usually, mesh bags of carbon or zeolite can be added to most filters for such an emergency.
I do not have a ultraviolet sterilizer but I thought I would list here what I believe are some of the pros and cons of adding one to your filter system.
Kill suspended algae and actually see the bottom of the pond!!
Kill bad bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other pathogens.
Save fish from the above so the fish are healthier.
Due to the demise of algae, more nitrate and other nutrients for the higher plants.
Due to the demise of algae, more light for the submerged plants to grow and flourish.
Higher visibility allows the earlier detection of injured or sick fish, dead plants, holes in the liner, upset pots, and other problems.
Greater enjoyment of koi, goldfish, etc. due to the increased visibility.
UV kills good nitrifying bacteria so must be shut off during Spring to allow bacteria to get started and whenever there is a die off of good bacteria.
Kills good insect larvae, tadpoles, fry, daphnia, paramecium, other microorganisms, and whoever gets sucked in. This is the main reason I do not have it since I want all the small animals for a balanced natural pond. Providing good mechanical filtration before the UV prevents the larger of these animals from being zapped.
Initial start up of the UV would result in death of algae that would decompose creating a decrease in oxygen and an increase in hydrogen sulfide. Also, without their removal of nitrate, a nitrate spike would result in a fast growth of attached algas like hair algae which could clog filters.
Death of microorganisms and insects deprives higher organisms (your fish) of a vital natural food which improves their overall health and breeding.
UV's cost a lot of money initially ($150 to $500), a lot to run (electricity), and a lot for replacement bulbs.
The higher visibility of the fish also makes them easier targets for predators such as herons and raccoons.
Pond filters are notorious for becoming very dirty. Any floss, pads, etc. will need to be squirted off or even changed weekly in the warm months. Biofiltering materials like lava rock, rocks, balls, etc. will need to be cleaned a few times a year.
Cleaning the bottom:
Ponds under about 500 gallons, will probably need to be totally drained and cleaned every few years. I clean my 50 gallon completely twice a year. Larger ponds should be vacuumed or in some way cleaned of debris and dirt as often as the owner is willing to do it. I bought a vacuum driven by the water hose for cleaning my large pond. It works well and adds water to the pond while I am at it. I use a wet/dry shop vacuum for the smaller ponds.
The more water that you can afford to change, the better. Up to no more than 30% per week or two at most. The larger the pond, the less you need to change. My 1800 gallon pond gets changed when it rains as dirty water runs out the overflow. I also top it off every few days in the summer and every few weeks during the rest of the year. Because I have a well that is going dry, I cannot afford to actually pump out and replace water in the pond. A water truck filled it initially. Those with better wells or city water could change water more often. If you add city water, be sure to either add dechlorinator, let the water sit (where?) before using, or only change a little bit of the water. If you change less than 20% and provide aeration, dechlorination is probably not needed. Take note that some water sources are high in nitrates or phosphates and can actually result in seemingly dirtier water due to the resulting algae bloom. Water changes are really up to the owner. Rain, while it does change the water, can also yield algae blooms if dirt, debris, or polluted rain enters the pond. Dirt washes into my pond when it rains.
It is best to consult one of the books mentioned below, the pond newsgroup, or a pond web site for plant care. I kind of have a black thumb. Nonetheless, I will describe what I do. Also, visit my Plant Page for a long list of all of the plants sold in the four plant pond catalogs that I have, including Latin names, which are native, planting depths, plants' heights, zones, sun preferences, flower colors, costs through the various catalogs, and which ones I have tried.
I use Lerio pots that do not have holes. If you use pots with holes, you must put a layer of burlap in the pot or use soiless media. In my case, I plop in local dirt with the appropriate amount of fertilizer tabs and a few tablespoons of oyster shell. I do not add the fertilizer to submerged plant pots but I do plant them in dirt. The plants are soaked in potassium permanganate for a few hours. Then, they are rinsed and planted. The pot is topped with about an inch of medium sized pea gravel.
Lilies should have pots of about 5 gallons, lotus 7-15 gallons, and most marginals and submerged plants 1-2 gallons. Depths vary plant to plant but generally marginals go 0-3 inches deep, lotus 2-7 inches deep, lilies 6-24 inches deep, and submerged plants 12-24 inches deep. The depths are from the top of the pea gravel in the pot to the surface of the water on average. Thus, if you have pots that are 7 inches high, a marginal area of about 9-12 inches depth is best.
During growing season, I add one Pondtabb (a brand name) per gallon to the lilies, lotus, and some of the marginals about every 5 weeks. I never fertilize the submerged plants. Each week, I add some liquid plant food. Since my pond is so big and the liquid is expensive, I do not add the full recommended dose (only about 5%).
Whenever you see yellow lily leaves, remove them by snapping them at the base. These large leaves can really pollute the pond. Use pruners to cut dead and dying foliage from marginals. You can also remove spent lily blooms.
Most plants will need repotting every year or two. If you do not repot them, they will often stop flowering and may die. Either put the plant in a larger pot or divide it into a number of pots. Visit one of the pond sites below for lots of details on repotting. It is best to repot in the Spring but it can be done from mid-Spring to early Fall. The lilies, cattails, and rushes already have filled out their pots in my pond after less than a year. I had to repot the cattails which were totally root bound. Extra plants, especially lilies and lotus, can be tossed or shared with other ponders. If you have extras, send a message to the pond newsgroup (rec.ponds) and include where you are. You may soon be besieged with people wanting your excess plants.
The key to a successful winter is to keep the pond from freezing solid. The pond should also be at least a foot deeper than the ice line would ever be in your area. To keep an open area, you can use aerators, de-icers, or the pump. I intend to use a de-icer and to leave my pump and waterfall going over the winter. In small ponds and often in big ponds, it is best to put up the pump for winter. If it freezes, it could be destroyed. In this case, providing aeration with a Luft pump or using a de-icer becomes even more important.
Some people believe in keeping pumps in and some believe they should come out. The reasons to take it out include preventing possible destruction of the pump through freezing (especially if power fails and restarts), reducing disturbing the fish through motion, saving money on electricity, prevention of mixing possible temperature gradients, etc. Reasons to keep it in include helping to keep the pond from freezing, reducing stagnation on warmer days, getting a jump on building up nitrifying bacteria in late winter or spring, continuing filtration, prevention of death for any plants like watercress in the waterfall or stream, etc. Flowing water will not freeze. If you keep the pump in, put it near the surface but below ice. Keeping a pond de-icer near the intake helps. Burying tubing should reduce its chances of freezing. Providing lots of pots, rocks, etc. in which fish, etc. can take refuge reduces the effects of water motion disturbing the fish. In small ponds less than about three feet deep, the temperature gradient is negligible. I suggest removing the pump in Zones 5 or less, in ponds under 500 gallons (prone to freeze pump), or if you so choose. In warmer areas or larger ponds, there should not be a problem leaving the pump in the pond. Extra pumps, filters, UV sterilizers, carbon, etc. should be removed. A pre-filter and bio-materials (lava rock, etc.) can be left in as long as they do not impede the flow when left dirty through an entire winter. Outflows can be re-directed to just churn up the water instead of going down the waterfall if you wish. I think water running down a waterfall surrounded by snow is very pretty.
Cut all of the dying vegetation about an inch or so from the top of the pot. Submerged plants do not need to be cut back if alive. Most floating plants will rot and die or sink to the bottom to over winter. All tropical plants should be removed and discarded or overwintered inside with strong light. Move remaining pots deeper into the pond so that the plants' roots will not freeze. If the pond is too shallow or you do not intend to keep an open area in the ice, you can overwinter hardy plants inside too.
You can either bring the fish inside or keep them in the pond. If you bring them in, do it once the temperature goes down to an average of 50 degrees F or less. Stop feeding overwintering fish at this temperature. They will become less active and spend more and more time on the bottom. The fish will go into a sort of hibernation over winter. If there is an adequate size opening in the ice for air exchange, most of the fish should make it through winter. Weaker, young, old, small, and large fish are most likely to die. Remove their bodies as soon as you see them to prevent pollution of the water.
The following are the pond books which I own. They are great books but there are other equally or even greater books out there as well.
Water Gardening by Joseph Tomocik, Layla Productions, Inc., 1996. Excellent plant information.
The Pond Doctor by Helen Nash, Tetra Press, 1994. Excellent general pond information with specific suggestions. Other books by Helen Nash are reputed to be good as well.
Koi and Garden Pools by Dr. Herbert Axelrod, T.F.H. Publications, Inc., 1987.
Garden Ponds: A Complete Introduction by Al David, T.F.H. Publications, Inc., 1987.
1997-1998 and 1998-1999 Ponds and Watergardens USA Annual by various authors, Fancy Publications, Inc., 1997 and 1998 respectively.
Waterfalls, Fountains, Pools & Streams by Helen Nash and Eamonn Hughes, Sterling Publishing Co., 1997. Nice pictures to give you ideas, especially on streams.
From the Pages of MAKC News: Newsletter of the Mid-Atlantic Koi Club by various authors, MAKC, 1994. A collection of the best articles from the MAKC newsletters 1986-1994. A must- have for those of you with koi ponds.
The Audobon Society Nature Guides: Wetlands by William A. Niering, Alfred A. Knopf, 1992. An excellent book with color real photos of many of the animals which will make your pond their home.
Also see my fish page for other books specifically about fish.
Newsgroups, Catalogs, and Web Sites
Newsgroups to which you might subscribe:
Get a free pond catalog from That Pet Place in Pennsylvania by calling 1-888-THATPET. They have excellent prices on dry goods.
Get a free catalog containing live plants and supplies at great prices from Aqua-Mart in Florida by calling 1-800-245-5814.
MD Aquatic Nurseries has a huge selection of all sorts of live plants and supplies. The prices are very high but the pictures, descriptions, and selection of plants cannot be beat. Their number is 410-557-7615.
Lilyblooms will send you a catalog if you call 1-800-921-0005.
Another source I have yet to use is Webb's Water Gardens. They have plants and supplies. Also located in Maryland, you can get a free catalog by calling 410-879-3545.
Lilypons in Maryland will send you a catalog if you call 1-800-999-5459. They may charge for it. They sell lilies, lotus, marginals, fish, tadpoles, supplies, etc. Their prices are very high but you cannot beat their selection of lilies!
One can also get a free pond catalog from Pet Warehouse by calling 1-800-443-1160. Based in Ohio, they specialize in cats and dogs and aquarium supplies. They sell a few packages of pond plants as well as supplies.
I recently received a catalog from Petsolutions which includes a few pond supplies in their aquarium catalog. Also in Ohio, their phone number is 1-800-737-3868.
For those of you with large ponds, Zett's Tri-State Fish Farm & Hatchery in West Virginia sells mostly game fish in the area. Call 304-229-3654 for a free catalog. They sell bass, crappie, blue gills, perch, trout, sunfish, channel, bullhead, and white catfish, walleye, pike, minnows, shiners, goldfish, koi, snails, aquatic turtles, clams, tadpoles, crayfish, lilies, bog plants, and supplies. Unfortunately, I cannot buy from them because they only sell in huge quantities, usually 100+ fish.
Ever wonder about microscopic life in your pond? Want to start your new pond out right? Do what I did; add microorganisms to the pond. Send a self-addressed and stamped envelope to L.F.S. Cultures , P.O. Box 607, University, MS 38677 for information. I got Euglena, infusuria, rotifers, cyclops, Daphnia Magna, and Daphnia Pulex. There are also other companies that sell these animals to be used as fish food. I added them to not only eat and be eaten by animals but to eat suspended algae and unwanted gunk.
If you or someone you know works at a school, university, or at a science-related business, Carolina Math and Scientific will send you a catalog there. They will ship to individuals homes, just not send the catalog there. Some unusual live animals and plants can be bought there including salamanders (eggs, larvae, and adults), mosquito fish, Bluegill, daphnia, mosquitos, algae, and duckweed (yeh, like you want those!), butterfly larvae, and a lot more. Unfortunately, all their frogs are injected with hormones and other toxins for "study." Their number is 1-800-334-5551.
Do you have a BIG pond? Aquatic Eco-Systems, Inc. has large systems for fish farming and ponders with large ponds. Call 1-800-422-3939.
Aquatic Creations in Maryland carries a number of pond supplies including a lot of interesting filters and nice pre-formed ponds. Call 301-831-8200 for a free catalog.
Kellyco Water Garden Center in Florida carries a lot of dry goods. Their catalog includes hard to find excellent filtration systems, filter floss, chest waders, and complete pond systems. One can reach them at 1-800-327-9697.
Paradise Water Gardens in Massachusetts sells a wide range of supplies including pre-formed ponds and lots of varieties of water lilies and other aquatic plants. They also sell live fish including hard-to-find orfs. I just got their catalog and so have yet to order from them but foresee doing so sometime soon. Their number for a free catalog is 1-800-955- 0161.
Aquacenter in MS sells supplies for aquaculture. They do sell some things that water gardeners might need for big ponds like large systems and lower priced bioballs, etc. Call 1-800-748-8921.
Fairfield Garden Center in New Jersey will send a free catalog if you call 973-227-4449 or request one at their web site. They provide information as well as merchandise in the catalog.
There are just hundreds of places you could call to get free (or cheap) catalogs! These are just the ones that I have gotten. I am not affiliated with any of these companies.
Mid Atlantic Koi Club - I am a new member
Van Ness Water Gardens ($4 catalog)
Internet Pond Society (they have everything!)
John's Page - contains a large number of pond related links
AOU pond pages
Sharky's Pond Page