This article is to explain and expose a few basic pond myths:
There is this uneducated myth that gravel and stones on the floor of an ornamental pond are somehow beneficial. This is beyond an uneducated assessment of real science. I remove anywhere from 5-20 yards of river stone from ponds every season, these are ponds that I inherit. EVERY single customer has supported this idea after seeing the positive effect of the removal of stone. Every one!!
Let me explain:
Organic debris or properly known as “detritus” falls and settles on the pond floor.
This material is dead algae, uneaten fish food, fish feces, dead plant matter, general sediment from runoff, etc. Basically any material that wants to decompose. Via gravity, this material works its way into the gravel. This material now becomes “anaerobic” or “non-oxygenated” or without oxygen. I will explain why..
For the gravel to house and colonize nitrifying bacteria there “MUST BE MOVING WATER DIRECTLY PASSING THREW THE GRAVEL AT ALL TIMES” I believe its 15 ml per gallon of water per hour must physically pass straight threw the bio-media (the gravel in this case) to maintain bacteria growth. This is not happening now, is it? The water is taken from the pond via the surface and returned via the surface and the gravel is left stagnant. Beneficial bacteria do not exist in this zone of the pond. At all…only disgusting layers of muck and putrid smelling material will occur. Dangerous bacteria are known as pseudomonas and Aeromonas bacteria will grow in the gravel due to low levels of oxygen. This bacteria will eat fish. Also, the gravel is a great place for fish parasites to breed and live. Which also eat fish. Once we removed the gravel and thoroughly cleaned the pond, with a pond vac like a professional, my new customers were astounded by my accurate assessment of the pond and how I transformed it into something truly amazing. These customers will attest in great detail that gravel removal is correct. Why do these “hacks”, as I call them, install gravel? I’ll explain..
1) Gravel justifies more cost. The gravel is cost, the machine time is cost and labor to shovel it in is cost. All of which is to be profitable to the pond company.
2) They are generally unethical. These “hacks” could care less about fish health or being actually educated, but rather run there mouths about foolish idiotic myths, just to sound smart and make a sale.
3) They are just taught ignorantly and improperly. Period.
4)”Gravel protects the liner from UV radiation” More contractor ignorance! EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) is completely UV resistant. Completely!! Firestone will tell you this. These liners have sat on rooftops for decades without degrading. Also, UV is refracted and deflected by the water column. Hence zero effect to EPDM. Zero!
5) It looks great! Wrong, all stones will be covered by an algae patina or slime growth of some kind hence covering the appearance of the stones and losing sight of them. The fish look amazing over the black liner popping their colors to the viewer plus giving the pond an undetectable depth of the water. Sorry but not one customer has ever complained about the look and all have agreed it looks better without the gravel on the bottom.
Our second myth: UV Light harms and kills beneficial bacteria: I guess this industry knows nothing about beneficial bacteria, so I will educate..
UV kills what passes threw it, nitrifying bacteria is stable. It does not ambiently float freely in the water column to pass threw the light, its stationary on rocks in streambeds, in a viable real biofilter, even in the plumbing and in the pump but always clinging to a media source that provides a home for it to thrive but always it is stable. So it doesn’t move threw the light to be killed. Ever. Also, the flow rate on UV to kill bacteria is very slow-moving, the UV has to have all water volume going threw the light at least every 3 hrs. to kill plankton algae. To kill bacteria, the flow rate must be much slower, hence not functioning to kill algae. So, in turn, any bacteria they may escape and float in front of the light will not be affected by it as it is moving too fast.
All information I have mentioned above is not a myth or made up, these are real scientific facts. And they are undeniably true. I would gladly debate these topics with any so-called pond experts. I have 25 yrs in the industry. That’s a lot of years. I respect the fish and the customer too much to tell such fabrications of the truth. These “HACKS” as I call them have taken over. Like an epidemic of con artists. And they are everywhere and only growing. They have polluted my industry with lies and stories. Their work is faulty, leaky ponds, terrible looking rushed stonework, and thoughtless consideration and classless business practices. I am not asking but telling.. “I want the “hacks” to get out my industry!!!’ Please leave!! Leave honest trusting homeowners alone, stop wasting their finances on your slipshod work ethics and mythical sales pitches. Leave real pond building to the very few real pros that care and take their time to do things right and most of all… scientific.