my simple design and my re introduction

settianoApril 23, 2013

My name is Karen and I used to post cautiously on here about 8-10 years ago. At that time it kind of seemed as if you did things exactly as others told you or you were sometimes reprimanded. I wandered to other pond forums and pretty much found them similar and this one was the friendliest so I lurked a lot and sometimes shared my experiences.
I love this hobby. You can never ever stop learning and experimenting. The "pros" can tell you the best things to do one year and the next yeara lot of those things change (yay!) within reason of course :). What I really learned and enjoy is that even though there are different opinions on how to do this hobby, each opinion has very interesting merits.I would read fanatical facts on filtering and plumbing and pumps and with angry warnings to never veer from these instructions only to find the most beautiful pond with the most beautiful fish living bereft of all of these concepts. I loved those mind blowing moments when I would just stare into small pea green ponds packed with 30" healthy koi and talk to owners with ideas and thoughts I had never considered. I picked up ideas from everybody, applied them, and fell on my face repeatedly. But every single one of those ideas has stayed in my mind to circle around to new thoughts and new errors lol. And then I moved from Washington to Kentucky.
For 5 years I stared at my earth garden until I could handle it no more and paid for a day of back hoe! We dug a hole exactly 23'x43'x4' deep, lined it, and watched the liner slide into the hole when the clay earth melted beneath it like jelly! So I put down my pride and hired a guy to fix my mess and he created, while I was at work, the pond to horrify every pond expert in any forum anywhere! Every "rule" you could violate in the internet koi people expert manual, he did it quite successfully! But it worked for a bit.
So here I am back in gardenweb reading your posts and playing with my crazy big pond hoping to learn more. My "aquascapes" pond is being redesigned, probably into something equally strange (grin). The submerged dead 100 lb electricity sucking basement sump pump which we found in the skimmer box is being replaced by a sequence 4000 (thanks to you guys who shared the suggestion). The beautiful waterfall is being redesigned with massive plant baskets to add to filtration. And finally I have added a huge terraced veggie filter after reading about the use of water hyacinths in water treatment facilities.
Its a pretty pond now and I am becoming proud of it. My fish stock is at 23 and I will do my best to keep it that way. I have a few koi that would scare the bejesus out of your chihuahuas in that they are pretty big and can be very friendly.
So anyway I came back because this forum was the best. This time I will not flinch when you find out I have no bottom drain or when you find out that I kind of like bog design for filtering or when I share that I feed my fish catfish food from the feed store. :) (shows thicker skin). It seems a little quiet in here. I see posts that go unanswered for a bit. Maybe its because the season is just starting.

Anyway I am really interested in the idea of the use of hyacinths for water filtering. Apparently they are awesome for both biological and mechanical filtration so I am putting them everywhere (no worries they will be controlled). Because I like my waterlilies, I created round floating island barriers out of bendable black pvc and anchored them so that they do not move out of their intended territories. I find that the hyacinths are not yet attempting escapes and am very happy about this.

So thats my story...I will hang here unless I find it is dead.
I hope your day is going as pretty as mine!

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Holly_ON(6a Ontario)

Well said Karen. All my favourite forums seem to have lower traffic. Facebook seems to be a contributing factor. I have had puddles to ponds for ten years and have the same thought myself about the "experts". What works for some can be helpful but not always. Each pond is unique and from year to year flexibility is needed. Some would shudder at my aquascape pond but it works here. I do not have koi but admire those who can. Unfortunately my pond fills my yard so expansion will be limited to a pondless waterfall in the front.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 12:22PM
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I was taught to shudder at aquascape ponds. When I found out that mine was one I kind of freaked but it actually did okay until almost a year when the pump died. A lot of people out here have them. My neighbor has one that is 4'x8'x3' deep and has about 20 large koi in it. I bought two fish from her which were almost 30" long and they were healthy. Looking at that pond made me wonder about all of the warnings. I guess I just have to say that it's an interesting journey full of new things to learn.

I'm curious as to how facebook has affected the pond forums. Personally, I find facebook more social than educational.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 2:54PM
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Welcome back Karen. I have only been here for about six months and look forward to your posts. It is a bit slow here but better than the others I have looked at.
Why don't folks like Aquascape ponds? I have had mine for 7 years and have been very happy with it. My only regret is I wish it was a bit larger. The only problem I have is Raccoons and maybe the occasional long legged bird ;-(

This post was edited by Mike56 on Wed, Apr 24, 13 at 0:09

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 4:30PM
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I don't know why the pic didn't post the first time.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 4:34PM
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Hi Karen and all. First let me say to you Karen, don't forget that you still have a couple of big albino catfish coming your way. Just haven't have a decent weekend to go fetch them from their current home.

Let me ask what you all define as an aquascape pond? Is it that a pond that has gravel in the bottom and rock work on the sides? My first two ponds I designed following the instructions that the Aquascape provided with their equipment. They worked fine and my fish did well in them. The only problem I had was keeping the bottom clean and when I finally closed one down and removed it the gravel was covered with anaerobic bacteria and smelled awful. It didn't seem to be a problem as long as I didn't muck around with it. My last pond did not have any gravel or rock work in it and honestly, I couldn't tell any difference in the water, just a lot easier to clean the bottom. I don't plan to put gravel in the bottom of the one I'm putting together now either.

I do plan to have a bog filter, against the advise of the pro's but have had one in the past and I just like it, maybe because I like the things I can grow in it.

I have been advised by the pro's that I should not have plants in a KOI pond. I think maybe they are just thinking about raising prize show Koi. What I really want is a nice water garden with lots of plants and lots of nice Koi that I can enjoy. I love it when my fish come to eat out of my hand and let me "pet" them. Just can't wait to get my pool to pond conversion done so I can get all my fish here.

Looking forward to enjoying this forum and sharing pond stories and experiences with you all.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2013 at 9:34PM
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Mike, your pond is really amazing!!! In Washington we had heron and raccoons too. I guess the only reason we don't have them here is because we are not so much country.
My first indoctrination against aquascapes was from the pond store where I learned about how to create my pond. Basically I was told that the design was more for pretty than fish health. I had two crusty mentors, Mark and his mom Mary, there who were my fish gods. They taught me about bog filtration. The concept was that a bog area must be at least 1/3 the surface area of the pond meaning my entire yard. Mentioning bogs in this forum at that time was like dropping a sardine into piranha! That and my absent bottom drain :) But Bonnie Hale talks about bogs and she is a well known fish person.

So anyway I was shocked when I saw that aquascapes pond with all of those healthy fish in it. I guess the bottom line is that maybe there is more to learn and what works for one person does not for the other.

Mike, your creek looks like a bog filtration. Is that one of it's functions?

Joe, I want to see your bogs when you get them done! Did you know daylilies love them? Mint, corkscrew rush, blueberries, water hibiscus, an orange avens, ferns, hosta (ugh), lots more. I am trying strawberries in my veggie filter because I read that they can be grown hydroponically.

have a nice day !

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 12:29PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Hey, there. I am happy to see both old and new ponders posting. The more the merrier as far as I am concerned. The people posting here are not always experts but are usually willing to discuss problems without the condescension some other forums are plagued with.

I agree that no two ponds are alike and what seems to work in one pond may not apply to another with the many different setups although there are some things that are universal such as water quality.

The big reason Aquascapes hasn't had a lot of enthusiasts here is because of the mulm buildup under all those stones on the bottom. If you are not persistent in cleaning the bottom it does build up and can be a big problem. It seems to matter more in a small pond than in a big one. The amount of mulm varies because of what goes into the pond. I can't use stones on the bottom because of the numerous trees in the yard. I use a larger than normal Skippy because I think I must over feed my fishies and I really have too many of those. Both add to the mulm problem.

Aquascapes wants to maintain your pond. Repeat business has to be their main business objective. The money is in the repeat business. That is fine for some people but not for everyone. I personally like to work with my pond although I don't mind some help once in a while. Since most of the maintenance is done by me, I like to keep it as low maintenance as possible. So, no stones on the bottom for me.

I gave up on water lilies for the most part because of the Koi. They eat the things and dig up what they don't consume. Most of my plants are in pots, out of the reach of the Koi. Other fishies don't do that kind of damage. To give the small fishies some underwater cover I finally went to plastic plants attached to shelving grids. They last a long time and I wait for the big sales at Hobby Lobby to stock up. I have to keep adding live hyacinth and other floating plants.

I keep waiting for the discussions to start on frogs. Those are always entertaining.

Bogs have received a lot of positive posting since I have been here. I wish I had the time to do one but I would have to create a whole new pond.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 3:37PM
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Well the Aquascape folks must be very unhappy with me. I have not had them back since the pond went in 8 years ago. I do all my own maintenance too. I have never drained my pond for a "clean out". I just keep after the leaves with a net so they cant accumulate and rot on the bottom. I do have a large catfish though to help with the work ;-) My deep spot is only about 4ft X 1.5ft and knee deep with a fish cave at both ends. At the end of each season I remove about 5 gallons of extra gravel from the deep spot that always seems to migrate there. I like it to be at about 1.5 inches so the fish have the max space to sleep the winter away. The fish don't seem to bother my lilies or arrow heads but I cant have any floaters.

The stream has no plants in the water due to a rise of 10 ft and run of 30ft making for very fast water. I would like to have a bog but like fish so much I cant bring myself to take away any swimming space. If I was to dig a new hole I would just fill it with water and more fish ;-)


    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 11:28PM
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One more showing both caves.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2013 at 11:31PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Hey, Mike. I had thought about including a couple of extra sentences in my last post and didn't because I thought it was going on too long and was going into my fallback position of lecturer.( Too much a mommy who was expected to explain everything, I'm afraid.)

Imagine how pleased I am that you posted a photo that illustrates that missing thought exactly! How nice! By design or not you created a situation that puts the topography of the pond bottom in almost constant motion that prevents the mulm from becoming solidified into an anaerobic mess. The vibration combined with water movement and gravity may even be providing a kind of sweeping action in slow motion with the heavy stuff going to the deep end while the lighter stuff gets stirred up and circulated through the filter.

When I tried to find out the best placement for my waterfall, what little info available said to put it at the deep end without any explanation of why. I assume that is because in nature the deep end is often under the waterfall since it would constantly be digging. In our artificial ponds there is no actual need to recreate that hole. I wish I had followed your example so that the bottom stones might be more practical. Maybe the available info has changed since then. I think I may make a few changes this fall. (My pond is not what you would call pretty. I like to experiment so I rely on plants for pretty.)

I wonder what percentage of successful Aquascapes ponds have the waterfall at the shallow end?

Mike, just how dirty is that 5 gallons of stone you remove each year? How do you remove it? I assume you put it back under the waterfall. Does it develop the typical packing and flow pattern that settling filters develop?What angle is the slope, not the stones, the liner? Is there a bottom drain? how often do you clean the filter? What type of filter?

I'll probably think of other questions.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 3:48AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

have been keeping fish since the mid fifties but mostly in aquariums and never ventured int "water gardening" until my move to florida . Even then was mostly to raise tropical fish fry and as a storage area for rainwater
Still find the greatest limitation is the inability to see the fish from the side and the control that you have with aquariums .
most ambitious idea was a "seep wall" trying to replicate
those fantastic waterfalls you see in rainforests . Not really an outdoor project even for florida lol
Anyway water gardening has been the most enduring interest over the years Have cut back two two ponds and 3 aquariums concentrating on the aesthetics rather than the cost and productivity
two types I've always wanted tto try are saltwater and an acrylic above ground but not going to happen lol

Right now my interests are in a shady marsh garden centered on tropical plants ratner than fish while the above ground will house my VERY ordinary GF lol gary

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 4:44AM
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Mike, thanks for the extra pictures! If I were you I would LIVE out by that pond! it is truly beautiful!

Sleepless, your explanation makes sense! My pond guy was not happy that I refused a rock bottom. My concerns were that we had already hit the water table and I did not want further liner slides and I had heard from some other pro somewhere that koi can get injured on the rocks. I also knew that cleaning would be difficult.

And yes, now that I think about it the local aquascapes guy, expects to get calls for maintenance each year at a cost of around $600 a pop. He didn't create these ponds so that we could do them ourselves, at least he thought he didnt. So I guess its like hiring a landscaper service. For me, it was the only help I could get. He emailed and called frequently asking if we needed help until I opened up the filter box and discovered lava rock instead of his promised bio balls. At that point he got very irate and stated that lava rock works far better. I know it works, I just wanted something I could clean myself that was lightweight and I hate being lied to.
I still won't go into some weird bias totally against aquascapes but I do believe that the customer should be listened to and there should be no assumption that this will be an on-going costly service.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 11:23AM
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Thanks for the exchange.

Quote; "Just how dirty is the 5 gallons of stone you remove each year and how do you remove it? I assume you put it back under the water falls"
I put on my pond shoes and get in with a bucket and a plastic one quart mug. Then scoop up the gravel and transfer it to the bucket. I redistribute the gravel to the other two levels of the pond. The lowest spot is not very dirty. No muck, just small bits of hard black stuff (leaf stems and parts left over from winter maybe?). They are light enough that they suspend when stirred up and get pulled into the skimmer.

"Does it develop the typical packing that settling filters develop? What is the slope of the liner? Is there a bottom drain?"
No packing. No slope to speak of. It has three stepped depths, 6" then 18" then 24". Under the falls is about 18". There is no bottom drain. The gravel migrates from water turbulence under the falls and my fish always poking around in the gravel and pushing it from the upper to lower levels.

"How often do you clean the filter? What type of filter?"
I guess its the typical Aquascape setup. A skimmer with basket, filter pad and submersible pump. A 2" line goes to an off the shelf Bio falls with 2 filter pads and bio balls.
I empty the skimmer basket as needed to keep the water flowing through it and wash the filter pad only once or twice per season. I don't clean the filter pads in the falls until I shut down my pump for winter. This may be shocking to some people but I let the good bacteria do the work. I also never drain the pond and clean it. Most of my maintenance time is spent tending to the plants (cutting out the ugly stuff ) netting out every leaf that I can find till shutdown in the fall and rearranging rocks.

Mike K

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 1:22PM
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I do spend countless hours looking at my pond falls and fish. When we bought this house years ago it had a 10X20 covered patio. I would sit and look at the hill outback and think how nice it would be if it had a stream and pond on it. I could just see it in my mind but didn't know how to make it happen. One unusually warm winter with no snow I did some searching on the net and found local pond contractors. I called them and requested a quote that January. The all thought I was crazy. One guy wanted a deposit of $200 to come and give me a quote. And he thought I was crazy! Another came right out and gave me a quote based on my vision. I gave him a check and he marked it out in the grass that day. He said he would start next week even though only a crazy person would do a pond in January. Very cool!

Well you guessed it two days later we got our first snow storm of the season so we moved the start date to March first. Three days after that I had my dream.

That spring I added a 17X20 blue stone patio connecting the covered one to the pond. You can see the nice flat rocks in the pics that are part of the patio. Now I can sit with a glass of wine rain or shine day or night and enjoy it all. It has lots of hidden lights for night time viewing.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 2:33PM
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Just totally awesome!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 3:38PM
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Okay its been awhile since I knew how to post pictures but here is my pond and my veggie filter and my waterfall/veggie filter.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 3:47PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Sorry, Karen. All I get from Photobucket is ERROR.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 5:14PM
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Karen, I would love to see your pics. If you copy and past some to your desk top, type something into the message box in "post follow-up" so its not empty, then look above that box you will see "image file upload" and click on the browse button it will pull up everything on your desk top. Find the pic and highlight it then click on open and you are done. Don't forget to prevue it before you post to make sure its the pic you mean to post ;-)))
If you edit your text you will lose the pic and need to reattach it all over again.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 5:48PM
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Hello Karen,...we are in similar circumstances,...I too followed this forum years ago while I quietly cared for my 2000gal pond in a way that worked for me. I moved almost 3 years ago and was so excited to have almost 2 acres to devote to pond and surrounding gardens!! Well here I sit 3 yrs later without a pond.
I find myself starting the planning stage again,....we have a painted diagram in the grass and have reserved the small excavator, the digging begins in less than 2 weeks!
I'm going to use a bog pond to filter a 20'X12'X3.5' fish pond. It worked well for me in the past so I'm going to try again.
Looking forward to new ideas and tricks shared on this forum!

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 6:57PM
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This seems to be the year of starting over. Me, too. Retiring in September and can then spend nearly unlimited time on my ponds. I have three that flow into each other, or used to until I had a liner break and never had time to fix it. The top pond is a veggie filter, with falls into the middle pond with 1 nice koi and a couple dozen goldfish about 3 inches long that seemed to just "appear" (Somebody got busy one year.) It stops there now. The third pond holds water but is out of the circulation. I've had this setup for about 10-12 years, but I want to "re-do" and maybe have a stream also. I will post as I go and can't wait to see what you all have done, too. :-)

    Bookmark   July 13, 2013 at 2:09PM
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sleeplessinftwayne(z4-5 IND)

Oh, I tried to get into the photos again and it worked. Must have done something wrong the first time.

Nice pond. Feels comfortable to me. Of course I am jealous about the size but then I am an old woman and have to keep my enthusiasms in bounds. Just fed the fishies. They are already feeling the heat coming on tomorrow or maybe the raccoons have been visiting.

I heard the cat food bag rattling, being moved last night, looked at it and out of the end waved a raccoon tail. I yelped and it came to attention then shot out of the door it had pushed open. Thank goodness the bag was almost empty.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 1:36AM
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