Proper planning and construction are essential to Pond Design
It is well known that constructing a well-designed pond will not only increase its effective lifespan, it will also make maintenance less time-consuming.
Pond design is divided into three categories:
- Structural and Mechanical Integrity
- Proper Water Quality
To achieve the full potential of a pond, all three aspects must be met in complete unity.
Aesthetics: Designing the pond to look just as expected, Beautiful! Making sure the pond follows its given theme, natural or formal. This aspect of the design is something a good pond installer can see beforehand through precise visualization. Pond & Landscape is claiming to do the most attractive work.
Structural and Mechanical Integrity: Designing the pond to be properly and securely built. This includes the excavation process, liner or concrete installation, all existing plumbing, and filtration systems, and especially rock work (making sure that all stones are tight and secure with no chance of wobbling, tipping or falling apart into the pond). Leak prevention is a very important part of the design. Leaks can be found in both plumbing and the more common, poor rock work. The professional pond installer takes his time to make sure the pond is built flawlessly.
Proper Water quality: This aspect of the design is the most overlooked – Designing the pond so that the actual structure of the pond does not adversely affect pond water quality. Such as the proper location of stones and gravel as well as the necessary promotion of beneficial bacteria colonization found in a proper filter system. Water quality is the most important part of the design. Below are the improper and proper methods as well as a precise description of the nitrifying cycle.
Improper Method: Building a pond with stone and/or gravel on the bottom.
Stone is to be used around the perimeter of the pond and on the rock shelf where marginal plants will be planted. Small boulders tapering down the sides are fine to do however the floor should be clear of gravel that can cause entrapment. The popular philosophy is that beneficial bacteria (explained in the “nitrifying cycle”) will grow in this gravel and help the pond. Nothing can be further from the truth. Sediment or “detritus” in the pond will settle to the bottom working its way into the gravel. Detritus consists of fish waste, uneaten fish food, dead plant material, and all existing organic matter. Since there is no movement or circulation “through” this gravel it becomes stagnant and anaerobic (non-oxygenated). Toxic bacteria such as Aeromonas or pseudomonas bacteria (which can eat fish) will now grow in this gravel. The by-product of this bacteria and muck existing in the gravel will create poor water quality. Examples of this will create abnormal increases in ammonia and nitrites, as well as parasite infestation and excessive algae blooms (green water). Eventually, a methane gas called hydrogen sulfide, a deadly gas that will easily kill the fish in the pond, will exist. Bacteria additives are sold to the pond owner on a consistent basis to break down this sludge. This sludge can not be completely broken down regardless of any additives and will eventually need to be removed. Remember, the floor of the pond is rubber not earth so natural decomposition can only occur so far as there is no earth to absorb decaying material. All the bacteria the pond requires already exist in a proper filter system.
Proper Method: Removing or never installing gravel will prevent the toxicity problem from occurring. This will allow more water volume to existing (the rocks take up mass that water cannot occupy in the pond) as well as increasing overall pond circulation. This allows the pond owner to stock the pond with more fish. With a bottom drain or maintenance vacuuming, the pond bottom can stay clean. The gravel present in the rock shelf area is not “anaerobic” because the roots of the marginal plants keep the gravel aerated through their movement and growth. These plants also eat all the nutrients (caused by organic debris) present in the rock shelf, thereby cleaning it. Ponds that have a clean bottom will actually look better than a gravel bottom because Koi are meant to be viewed over an opaque or non-reflective surface to bring out their colors. A bare liner will create this view. A “beneficial” algae will eventually coat everything in the pond including the rocks, thereby losing the stone’s aesthetic value. In short, the pond acquires a black look anyway. This design is much more natural-looking because it will actually create the illusion of an undetectable depth or “bottomless” view to the pond, making it look absolutely outstanding.
Nitrifying Cycle: This is a must-know for every pond owner. The nitrifying cycle is how nitrifying bacteria comes into existence in the pond and helps us. For without it no pond could ever exist. It needs four requirements: (1) Food/ammonia (2) temp. 55 degrees – 85 degrees F (3) Area to colonize and live/filter media (4) high levels of oxygen.
Fish create ammonia (NH3) primarily through their gill respiration and through their waste. Ammonia is also created by any other organic matter such as fish food, leaves, decomposing plant life, and all other debris. Nitrosomonas is the first bacteria that will convert ammonia to its next available form known as nitrites (NO3). Nitrites are a derivative of ammonia and is still very toxic to fish. Nitrobacter, the second bacteria to exist, will break down these nitrites to its next available form which is nitrates. Nitrates (N02) are available plant food for aquatic plants and are not harmful to fish even at relatively high levels. Aquatic plants consume nitrates, consequently cleaning the water of all pollutants. All of this takes place inside a properly built biological filter. Without this miracle of nature, your pond has no chance for success.