Questions regarding pond clairty and plants

Lori_Carlos(5B)May 19, 2011

Our neighbour has a rather large pond (maybe 3000 gallons if I had to guess) It runs year round even here in Ontario with our brutal winters. His fish usually survive and it's so amazing but it isn't exactly the same type of pond that I am shooting for. Our pond is only 940 gallons. We have struggled with algae and trying to get the pond clear after having to empty it and start over after losing everything this past winter. We have managed to get it nice and clear but our neighbour has expressed to us that he doesn't feel it should be that way. His is more.... I don't know how to put it, um... green? Not bad green, but more algae etc. He basically said that there are 2 types of ponds, and if we are striving to have a clear pond then we are doing well. I really don't understand what he means. So what I'm wondering is, are there different types of ponds? Also, we have 3 hornwort plants on the bottom of our pond that the fish love to hide in. I would say they cover about 20% of the bottom of the pond. We also have 2 hyacinths and 3 water chestnuts floating around on top. I am planning to get a couple more water chestnuts but what about the hornwort? Should we get a couple more? I understand that the floating plants shouldn't cover more than 60% of the water but what about the ones on the bottom? Can we have too many? What will happen with too many or not enough?

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Don't worry about what your neighbor said, I sure
don't know what he means by two different kinds of
ponds,(except for green ones and clean ones) and most likely wishes his pond was clear.
Does he always give left handed compliments? LOL...

For plants that are good water purifyers, I recommend
hyacinths, with their long flowing root system they
are the best. Hyacinths are also used in sewage plants
to purify the water...If you don't have big koi, hyacinths multiply quickly.

Also frequent water changes, adding water each week 20 to 25% to your pond,using the hose and letting it just overflow...that is how we
exchange our water, only we add water daily, and estimate that we exchange about 25 to 35% each week, which may
seem excessive to some.
Frequent filter cleanings when needed, will help to keep your pond clean.
good luck, and enjoy your pond, Joann

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 8:06AM
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Thanks Joann!! I think I'll get another couple hyacinths.
What about the hornwort? Are the 3 enough or should I get another 1 or 2? At least 4 of the fish (the 2 koi especially) seem to hide under them constantly? If I put more, I'm afraid I'll never see them. Lol

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 11:01AM
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How about water lettuce, that's another great cover
and also one of my favorites.
your fish will eventually come out of hiding for food.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 11:19AM
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I had hornwort for a short time when I was just starting out about 5 years ago, because that's always one of the things that newbies are told to do. The fish ate it, played with it, pulled it to pieces, and most of the remaining pieces ended up in the skimmer, ;-) I never replaced it and don't think it's needed.

I agree with Joann on the hyacinth. You can't do better than hyacinth for a surface cover and nutrient strainer. She and I both have large koi and I know I can't keep it in my pond (the koi eat the roots), but I do place it in my large waterfall box to help purify the water. Those long dangling roots really do a great job.

I, also, have no idea what your neighbor means by two kinds of ponds. But every pond is different and the needs and requirements for one might not be the case for the other. I'm surprised he doesn't think a clear pond "should be that way." My pond is crystal clear due to the high filtration I have. There is no reason why a pond should not be clear if that is how the owner likes it.

I'm guessing that your koi are babies, probably under 4" long? Don't worry, in a surprisingly short time, they're going to be too large to hide. The youngsters do hide, it's a survival technique, of course. I still have some half grown koi that will swim under my larger two-footers.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 11:24AM
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Joann.... I did want to get some water lettuce but they were sold out when I went. I will get some this week.
Nancy?... Yes, the koi are only babies. They are probably about 3.5 to 4 inches long. It's so funny how they stick together too. When one comes out, the other is right behind it and then they both scurry back again. My water hyacinths don't look very good. I think the shubunkins are eating them. Do they do that? I know you mentioned that koi do, but will the others? The roots are great but the leaves and bulbs are not so nice looking right now.

The other thing I was wondering about is worms? We have had a ton of rain, pretty much 6 days out of the past 7 here and we noticed worms in the bottom of the pond. Should we scoop them out? Are they harmful to the fish?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 12:26PM
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It's probably still a ittle cool. The hyacinth will pick up when the water warms up. You can check the roots by lifting them out of the water to see if they've been nibbled. I don't know if shubies will bother them or not.

When your koi get bigger, they will eat the worms that find their way into the pond. Until then, I would scoop them out. If they drown, they will decay and could interfere with the water quality. They are not harmful to the fish, though.

A note on water lettuce. Water lettuce does best in shade or part shade. Full sun will fry them in the heat of summer. Hyacinth is a better choice for a sunny pond.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 3:01PM
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Our fish love worms, we feed them worms every chance we get. They are 100% protein.

Our koi devour our hyacinth, but, pretty much leave
the water lettuce alone.
We have a small bio pond where we rotate the hyacinth back and forth between the ponds. If we
left the hyacinth in the big pond all the time, the koi would destroy them, as they love to eat the bulbs. So,
a couple of days in the big pond and a couple of days
in the little pond works fine.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 3:03PM
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Shubunkins, and Watonai, wakin, Sarassa Comets and Koimets will yank every root off the hyacinths but don't seen to eat them because they will end up in the skimmer everytime. And the worms should not drown. A couple years ago I planted my lilies in clay soil I got from our property. I put stones on top to hold the clay in. The fish rooted in the baskets and dislocated all the stones to the bottom of the pond and rooted most of the clay out of the baskets. I found tons of earthworms everytime I did a water change at the end of the hose. I cursed those fish because they would not leave the plant baskets alone. Little did I know until later that I had planted earthworm factories in the baskets. And the fish were having a ball. And the worms did not drown..

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 7:27PM
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*And the worms should not drown.*

You learn something new every day! I assumed they were air breathers.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 8:03PM
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It's very difficult to have lilies in a pond with large koi. The love to dig in the roots and they have a keen
sense of smell and can smell a worm a worm a mile away. :)

Try this -- get a wire planting basket, the kind that has the moss in it.
Remove the moss and invert the basket over the lily pot and wire the wire pot to the plastic lily pot. Pull the lily pads through the wires...

This will keep the big koi from digging the lily roots,
as pictured below.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 8:45PM
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Here is a clearer photo.
Note that the basket goes way down
over the plastic pot -- that houses the lily.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 8:57PM
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Re clear ponds. Cliff and joann's pond has been going great guns for years. Note how clear their water is. Most people are looking for that. My approach might not be suitable up north. I am in North Carolina zone 7. the pond freezes over in the winter. I have a stream with tons of plants as well as lillies and aquarium type oxygen generating plants in the pond. I only have goldfish that I specifically got to see motion to indicate depth of clarity. I only have a pump and a perhaps not working skippy filter. I believe almost all of my filtration is coming from the multiple plant root masses in the stream. My pond is completely clear. In past years I had a good deal of string algee, but in this 4th year there is NO algee. I don't intentionally do water changes either, although there is sometimes a leak in the stream where the liner has sagged or a dog or person has crushed the edge. These leaks are usually small but take a week or two to find while I use added water every few days to top off the pond.

I think the plants are THE answer.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 10:43PM
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Cliff and Joann's pond has been an inspiration for a lot of people, including me. And I incorporated the suggestion about the wire planter basket into my own pond several years ago, and it does work! Before I tried it, I had gravel and soil all over the pond bottom, and the lilies, totally denuded of their roots, would be in the skimmer after being dragged out by the koi. Peace reigns in my pond now. Each spring when I lower the tropical lilies into the pond, the koi swim over to investigate, but they can't get to them now.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2011 at 8:43AM
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Lori don't forget about floating islands to create cover for the fish and help with filtration. They are natures small little bio-filters and provide hiding places for dragonfly larvae and resting spots for toads and frogs. I love to plant impatients in mine for a season of color in the pond. This year I planted magenta and white impatients. I also have islands with watercress, yellow flag and creeping jenny. They are cheap and pretty.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 9:07PM
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I feel so pond stupid but what are floating islands? I'm so new to this that I feel really dumb :(

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 8:34PM
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People make floating islands filled with plants, and they
float freely around the pond.
I don't have any, but I think they're made using styrofoam.
Perhaps someone that has one, can provide a photo and
directions on how to make one.

I forgot to mention an excellent aquatic plant for purifying
a pond long as you don't have
big koi, it will spread like crazy, and be a big aid in
keeping your pond clear. Tie a bunch together, rubberband
it to a rock, and let it sink to the pond floor.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 6:18AM
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