Never Pray for Patience
Have you ever been told never to pray for patience, because it will not be simply granted, but taught to you? And how often have you heeded that advice? Some things give you no choice; however, those are the things that tend to be the most rewarding!
Patience is a Virtue!
An ecosystem pond teaches patience. Mother Nature has a way of deciding exactly when she will turn things around, and not until. Most of the ponds that we install do great right from the start, especially when people follow the instructions given. We tend to say that it’s like getting a puppy. You just have to have a bit of patience and coax it along. Getting impatient and adding quick-fix “chemicals” is the equivalent of smacking that little puppy on the nose with a newspaper for being a baby and just doing what puppies do. Most experts agree that is not the best approach to training.
All of our clients who have followed instructions and had patience are rewarded with gorgeous living ponds that delight them every day.
Don’t You Just Love a Problem That Fixes Itself?
It’s funny how a pond can be pea-green for days on end, and then go crystal clear overnight. It happens all the time. Or be completely algae-ridden one day, and be clean as a whistle the next. Typically these turn-arounds take place the day after they've called us to come look things over to see what's wrong.
Using Mother Nature’s formula for the life cycle will surprise you like that. If you’ll add the beneficial bacteria & enzymes, allow the plants to grow and thrive, not be in a hurry to add a bunch of fish or turtles, or other aquatic higher life forms, you’ll be amazed at how the pond just fixes itself one day. And stays that way.
We have a couple of stories of clients who “just couldn’t wait” to throw large Koi into their brand new pond. The large Koi, doing what Koi do, ripped all the young and yet-un-established plants out of the pond right away. With nothing to take up the nutrients cast off by the fish, the pond goes green. And then they’re shocked and upset by the results of their impatience. The pond eventually overcomes the initial impatience, but it takes a whole lot longer than if they’d just had a bit more patience in the beginning.
Nature finds a way
Sometimes things go wonky in an ecosystem pond. From wind storms. From some chemical being accidentally introduced by your weed guy or pest guy, etc. From a dead organism or rotting plant that was left unchecked. Once the problem is found and corrected, a healthy ecosystem pond will come back from just about anything. Once again, patience is key.
Working with Mother Nature, and not against her, definitely takes some getting used to. We’ve become a society whose first inclination is to throw a chemical or pill at something instead of addressing the root cause and fortifying the immune systems to stay healthy. Same goes for ecosystem ponds. Fortifying the good guys (beneficial bacteria, plankton, etc.) will allow it to overcome just about anything.
Case in point: a client with a brand-new baby ecosystem pond built for her beloved Koi had a painting contractor spill an entire bucket of paint into the pond. She was devastated! Well, believe it or not, the pond actually overcame that issue, and it didn’t take nearly as long as feared. Once the paint sunk to the bottom, it was pumped out and fresh water was added. Happy ending: the pond cleared up, AND the fish survived!
If you can control yourself and have some patience with an ecosystem pond in its genesis phase, you will be rewarded with years and years of pleasure! Have patience with the plants, and they will thrive. Have patience adding fish, and the entire pond will flourish. Have patience with the water quality, and it will give you stunning views. See more examples of the results.
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 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.
Requests for a recreational pond, or a swim pond, or a natural swimming pool are increasing every day! People seem to have had enough of chemicals in their life. We understand this new trend and have always preached against chemically-dependent landscapes, using integrated pest management techniques instead.
The terms for these larger human-interactive bodies of water are often used interchangeably. The terms and descriptions in this article are based on how WE define them.
We deem a recreational pond to be simply a large ecosystem pond. Some people just want lots of Koi. Some people want to be able to wade in a bit, which would be necessary for gardening the feature. Some folks want game fish so they can practice their fly-fishing techniques.
A recreational pond starts in the size category of about 25’ x 30’, and includes a skimmer or intake bay, biological filter or constructed wetland, and is typically a 2-pump system. The plants and fish are contained within the pond itself. It is NOT designed for regular human swimming activities, as the pump is a submersible and the filtration system is designed for aquatic life, not human activity. You can get into any ecosystem pond, provided is designed and built properly for ingress and egress, for gardening activities, etc. However, we sell these as “landscape water features not intended for swimming.”
Budgets for this category begin around $40,000, and of course there are lots of options.
Swim Pond or NSP (Natural Swimming Pool)
A swim pond is a bit of a sticky subject as far as Arizona law is concerned. Arizona law currently does not have anything on the books for “swim ponds.” As it stands now, all bodies of water for human interaction over 18” in depth are considered “pools” and subject to those standards and restrictions.
A swim pond is a very large ecosystem pond, which would include at least one skimmer or intake bay, needs a constructed wetland for filtration at least 1/3 of the size of the pond, can have a separate pond area for the fish, and requires that the pumps be located outside of the feature. Yep, this is going to take up a little more room in your yard.
A natural swimming pool (NSP) is a whole different animal! The natural pool trend began in Europe several decades ago. Since then, they’ve been slowly gaining popularity in the United States, Australia, and other regions with sunny climates. Unlike a traditionally rectangular, chlorine-filled swimming pool, a natural pool is often designed to imitate pools, ponds, or other bodies of water in the wild with irregular shapes, rocks, waterfalls, and boulders.
This requires a pretty big yard because you’ll need a separate pump area and a very large regeneration zone for filtration.
An NSP is NOT cheaper than building a conventional pool. In addition, there will be a cumbersome permitting process, which Arizona laws are still not quite equipped to handle, so it’s going to be a hassle and take some time. But it can be done if you’re up to the task.
Budgets for this category begin around $85,000.
Pros & Cons of Swim Ponds or Natural Swimming Pools
There are a lot of things to think about when considering these types of water features.
If you’re considering any of these types of water features, here are a couple of cool videos about what goes into the design, construction & maintenance of recreational ponds, swim ponds, and natural swimming pools.
As a responsible contractor, we believe that you should have the WHOLE story. Here are a couple of resources for further research on concerns with recreational ponds, swim ponds and natural swimming pools:
Pond Itch is a concern in any open-air natural body of water, but can be avoided by simply hosing down or showering off immediately after being in the water. Ducks are actually the main perpetrator of this problem, as they transport this from pond to pond during their visits.
Brain-eating amoeba is a concern in warm fresh-water environments; however, this is a rarity that can be avoided by not putting your head under the water.
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Design of an indoor pond
The type of filtration will depend on what kind of aquatic life you’ll host. Goldfish would likely be the easiest to deal with. Turtles would add the most maintenance.
You’ll need a controlled overflow to the outdoors or the sewer system so that you don’t flood the house.
Plants for an indoor pond
Aquatic life for an indoor pond
Servicing an indoor pond
Here’s a great video of an indoor pond created for a unique pet store:
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