Pond Fish Love Air!
Have you ever seen your fish hanging out under your waterfall in your pond? Of course you have! They love the highly oxygenated water provided in that particular spot.
Aeration for your Koi and other pond fish is essential to their health, especially during our long hot summers here in Phoenix. Pond aeration can be accomplished by a properly-built waterfall, a fountain element, or an aeration device.
99.9% of the ponds that we build come with a waterfall, but that may not always be enough. Some folks add an additional fountain element for the aesthetics, but the bonus is that it adds aeration to the pond, as well.
We’ve found aerators to be so beneficial that we’ve started using them as an alternative to floor jets in a pond.
What are the Benefits of an Aerator?
An aerator provides additional life-giving oxygen to your pond. An aerator benefits all aquatic life, from large Koi all the way down to heterotrophic bacteria: the good guys that need to thrive to keep your water crystal clear and healthy for the upper level aquatic life forms. There are no drawbacks.
Aerator vs. Predator
Aerators are also terrific diffusers that can act as predator control. The water disturbance produced by the aerator obscures the view into the pond from would-be predators. But you can control this by simply turning it off when you are outside enjoying the pond. This video shows you how that looks:
How Much Does an Aerator Cost?
Not only is it less expensive to purchase than buying an additional water-moving pump, but it also uses less energy, making it more cost-effective on a daily basis. Basically, it’s less expensive to move air than it is to move water.
The average DIY kit runs somewhere around $175 to $500, depending on pond size. We install professional-level aerators for between $400 and $2500. The professional-level equipment is a more heavy-duty version, including more substantial, weighted plumbing.
All life needs oxygen, and we highly recommend aerator devices on ponds, especially if you have large fish. It’s a life-saver!
Is a high pH bad for my Phoenix pond?
Pretty much everything you read regarding pH for backyard ponds is focused on a perfectly controlled environment for the fish. Here in the Arizona Sonoran desert, with our hard, alkali water sources, attempting to keep the water in your backyard pond at a neutral pH is impossible. People will drive themselves crazy with this effort, when in fact the pond fish can handle a wide variety of water conditions, including our high pH. Yes, even Koi. We are not, however, talking about raising show Koi. We are all about wet pets here at The Pond Gnome. Show Koi require a very different environment than what we build & maintain.
But I tested the pH!
Just like a blood test is simply a snapshot of a small moment in your life, if you test your pH in the morning, and then again in the evening, you will get two different readings. Whaaaaa?!?! This phenomenon is due to the photosynthesis activity by plants and algae, just like your blood test is dependent on when you last ate, and what you consumed. Honestly, ain't nobody got time for that! AND large sudden swings in pH can be detrimental to your pond fish's health.
What's the right pH for a Phoenix pond?
We have seen fish do well in pH values ranging from 7.2 all the way up to the mid 9's. The fish do not like rapid swings in pH; however, they have the ability to acclimate to our high, and naturally fluctuating, pH environment just fine.
Should I try to adjust the pH in a Phoenix pond?
We never recommend attempting to adjust your pond pH with acidifiers, as the rapid pH swing is a potential fish killer. Buffers are a different story. Buffers can help control pH swings and are probably (theoretically) helpful to fish health and happiness, although we have no proof of this. Most of our clients just leave it to Mother Nature and she seems to do OK with it on her own. :-)
OTHER POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
USING SALT IN PHOENIX PONDS
HEALTHY PONDS HAVE FILTRATION
FOAM IN PHOENIX PONDS
NEED HELP WITH YOUR POND OR WATER FEATURE?
Value in Professional Pond Maintenance -- What's in it for Me?
Many of our clients are pretty handy people, or gardeners in their right. They do all their own pond and water feature maintenance with very little, if any, help from us, except maybe their annual cleaning. They don’t feel that they need professional pond maintenance, as we have blogs and videos on just about everything they need to know. We love those clients, and do our best to enable them to be the self-sufficient kinds of folks that they want to be. We even teach an annual DIY Cleaning Seminar the second Saturday of every February, which they can attend for free.
For our clients who want more help than that, or just want the luxury of a worry-free pond, we offer maintenance programs to suit just about any need: weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly. We like to say that we have programs for folks who want to do a little, a little more, or nothing at all!
So, what’s the value of having your pond or water feature professionally maintained? Is the service worth your hard-earned money? We have a whole bunch of clients who certainly think it is! So, here’s the rundown on why you might want to consider professional pond maintenance:
It will actually get done – consistently
You can enjoy a cocktail in peace without your spouse nagging you about pond maintenance
You don’t have to stick your hands into freezing cold water in the winter
You don’t take a chance on getting a sunburn during the summer
You won’t wrench your back pulling out a stand of plants that you let get out of hand because you were busy doing other things
You’ll have more time for all your hobbies, like your project car, biking, hiking, fishing, boating, b-ball, shopping, golf, etc.
You can spend more time with the family (this is totally up to you)
You’ll have more time to spend on the rest of your garden/landscape (or you could hire that done, too)
Having someone trained to monitor and maintain your aquatic plants and occasionally check up on your other aquatic life (frogs, toads, etc.)
Having someone checking on all of your water feature equipment and letting you know when they see something amiss before it becomes a disaster. While we can’t predict everything, we can head off a lot of issues with regular maintenance.
Peace of mind while you’re traveling – no worrying about the water level in your water feature, or your pump going out without anyone home, or your yard flooding unexpectedly, etc.
You can come home at the end of a crappy day and NOT have to do anything before you pop a top and decompress in the backyard by your pond, waterfall, or stream
If something goes wrong, we’ve got your back because our Platinum Program includes free emergency service, and our other programs include priority consideration for any service outside of your normal visits
It’s got to be done anyway, so why not treat yourself a little? Sit back & enjoy!
So, what do you think? If you’re interested in professional pond or water feature maintenance, let us know!
My wINTER Pond Is Different
Yes, every pond is an individual when it comes to how it will act in the Winter, or any other time of year, for that matter. Differences include: age, size, depth, filtration, fish load, additional wildlife load, exposure to sun and wind, adjacent terrestrial plant life, amount and variety of the aquatic plant life, and a plethora of other micro-climate variations. Add to this how much fish food gets thrown in the water (any, a lot, none). It all goes together to make up the body of water that is your pond.
CYA Statement: Every article or blog that we write is based on the rules that we understand in average circumstances in the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan area. Your pond is an individual, with a unique set of circumstances, so please understand that what we discuss in any of these articles is the rule of thumb and may not be precisely descriptive of what you are experiencing today in your own personal backyard pond.
Fish and Water Temperatures in A Winter Pond
With winter temperatures, as the water dips down below 55 degrees (water temperature follows the nighttime temperatures, NOT the daytime highs), we recommend you stop feeding your fish. In colder water, the fish don’t metabolize high protein food like they do in the summer, and if it goes through their digestive system too slow, it could begin to rot inside them and result in a fish kill. We get a couple of calls a winter from people who have literally fed their babies to death. It's a very sad thing to have to tell people.
As always, natural treats like zucchini, melon, lettuce, oranges, and even Cheerios, can be given.
Algae Blooms in Winter Ponds
We don't freeze over here in Phoenix (typically, that is), so we tend to experience a big algae bloom in the Winter. We just had a caller this week tell us that we must be wrong about this because she had always heard that algae was more of a problem in the hot weather. She is not wrong, and neither are we. What’s the deal then? Our ponding system relies on a healthy ecosystem full of micro organisms and zoo plankton to keep the water healthy and clear. In a healthy ecosystem pond, zoo plankton are very active and do a great job in the warm weather, but they hibernate in the colder water temps. How much will YOU get? Well, that goes back to that ponds are individuals thing.
Using copious amounts of beneficial bacteria in the winter is a waste of money. It does nothing to combat the algae. Beneficial bacteria is for cloudy water, not algae blooms. You can use other water treatment products, but take care to use them during the day, and never in the later afternoon or evening, because they steal oxygen from the water at night, which could kill your fish.
The algae can also be hand-weeded out, and even used in composting operations or as mulch around plants because it's full of nutrients. But remember: aquatic life likes a little algae to snuggle up in during the winter.
Plants in a Winter Pond
DO NOT thin or trim back your aquatic plants too severely just yet. In Phoenix, we technically have a chance of frost through the end of February. Many years, that seems practically impossible, but we've been surprised from time to time, so better safe than sorry.
Your annual cleaning should be done when the water is COLD. So, plan to do that before the end of March. We provide that service, or you can certainly do it yourself.
Before you know it (and for those of us getting older, it seems to be in the blink of an eye), the water will begin to warm, your fish will become more active, and your aquatic plants will burst forth with new life. Then, we can all start complaining about the heat again...
Is there anything that lasts a lifetime anymore? It seems that everything either wears out or needs replacing or upgrading within a few short years, especially if technology is involved. So, with technology increasing exponentially, do things just need updating/upgrading faster because of it? Or are things being made cheaper nowadays? Or are we being trained as consumers to expect things to have to be replaced more often?
Our grandparents had ONE refrigerator that lasted them their entire life. Now, we have to buy new appliances every 10 years, it seems. The more gadgets involved (ice maker, water dispenser, built-in screen), the more things that can go wrong. Is it the appliance, or have we gotten lazy about maintenance?
We’re told that computers shouldn’t be expected to have more than a 2-5 year lifespan. So, as soon as we have a bit of an issue, we immediately check the purchase date. “Oh, yep, it’s over two (or three; or five) years old. Guess I have to go buy a new one.” The over-the-counter ones are sealed units – can’t replace parts, just dispose of the whole thing.
Rarely do you meet someone who has kept and drive just one car for their entire life. Cars are all computerized nowadays. The GPS systems need upgrades and downloads. You can’t just pop the hood on a newer vehicle and adjust the carburetor because it’s running too thin or too rich. It needs to be hooked up to another computer to tell you what to do. Tires, of course, need replacing every 40,000 miles or so, and many of the newer vehicles have some pretty pricey replacement requirements!
TVs are getting better and “smarter” all the time. We just replaced our 12-year-old one with a new “smart TV.” As a result, we were able to get rid of a bunch of peripherals, too, because this new TV did it all “in-house,” so to speak. Well, that certainly cleaned up the look of the living room. There really wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the old TV, but we thought we should “upgrade” because it was getting “old.” I guess we fell victim to that consumer training thing...
Ponds & Water Features
So, how’s your pond doing? It is not a maintenance-FREE item, nor is it the one thing in life where upgrades/updates don’t need to be made throughout its lifetime. If nothing else is expected to last forever, how could a pond or water feature be expected to do so when it’s outside in the elements?
If you have a rigid water feature system, like concrete, you’re probably going to notice some cracking and leaking around the 10-year mark or so. We don’t freeze and thaw much in Phoenix, but our ground still moves a bit, and that causes rigid things to crack because they don’t exactly go with the flow. Unfortunately, patches to these systems are very temporary, if effective at all, and most are pretty ugly. If you’re having this problem, you might want to consider remodeling or replacing it with something that lasts a bit longer.
If you have a pre-formed tub that’s having leak problems, there is no patch or fix. You’ll need to replace it with another one, if you can find that exact size and shape again. Or consider replacing it with an upgrade.
We began installing flexible ecosystem ponds and water features 20 years ago. The vast majority are still up and running and the owners are happy campers. However, we’ve had some upgrades/updates over the years. Some time ago, we had to do hardware change-outs from the metal scews that came with the system to stainless steel because the old hardware disintegrated after many years in our Arizona hard water (electrolysis). Plant roots have wreaked a bit of havoc over the years: sides of skimmers have been crushed or warped inward; root balls have grown inside plumbing where a tiny hairline crack allowed entry; roots have snuck into the water features themselves and caused major leaks.
It’s safe to say that ponds need a bit of upgrading occasionally, too. Even water feature “technology” is making leaps forward. For example, the skimmers that we’ve been installing for the past few years were huge upgrades from the old style: the new ones have debris baskets with a convenient handle, rather than a cumbersome net. The newest Signature Pro-Series Biofalls® is designed to be stronger and easier to service and grow plants in than its predecessor.
A couple of new things coming this next year are lights and pumps that can be controlled from your phone. Oooh, ahhh!
Stay tuned for more information. If you’re not on our mailing list, you might want to subscribe to stay abreast of cool new things coming along in the industry.