For many pond owners, having fish in their pond is the main reason for creating a water feature in the first place. Plenty of pond owners have been keeping aquarium fish for years and decide to expand their hobby to the outdoors. Others see fish as a beautiful addition to their water garden. No matter your motive for owning pond fish, you’ll enjoy this satisfying hobby for years to come. You might be surprised at the affinity you acquire for your fish and find them to be just as important as a pet dog or cat. You may even decide to name them! And just like your furry friends, your finned friends need a little special care and should be given proper nutrition to survive and thrive. Learn what you need to know about feeding koi and pond fish.
To Feed or Not to Feed
Feeding koi is a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy. After you first bring your fish home, they’ll be a little shy and won’t seem interested in what you’re feeding them. They might even hide among the rocks and caves for quite a while. Don’t worry too much about this; just sprinkle a little food in the pond and move back. After a few minutes, they’ll likely take an interest in the food. Try to be consistent when feeding. Feed them at the same time from the same location and they’ll become conditioned to your visits.
Since everything you put into the pond is going to be broken down and removed by the filter, it’s important to remember to only feed your fish high-quality food that is specifically designed for the fish in your pond. Feeding them low-quality food can lead to water quality issues like green water, string algae, and poor water conditions.
Many pond owners also choose to offer their fish a treat now and again. If you want to do the same, try a little fresh watermelon and watch your fish go crazy. Other options include small orange slices like mandarin oranges or Honey Nut Cheerios. Keep in mind that the natural ecosystem has to deal with every bit of food that’s not consumed and left in the pond. So, be careful not to overfeed.
Two Minute Rule
A good rule of thumb is to only offer what your koi and other pond fish can eat in two minutes. The decision to feed your fish is up to you. Many pond owners never throw a single piece of food into their pond. Your pond will produce food for your fish to eat and also help create a balance between plants and fish. Larger fish, however, need more food than small ones, so they may look to your plants for snacks if not fed enough. Not to mention, feeding koi and pond fish adds fun and enjoyment to your life.
Choosing the Best Food
Studies have been done comparing the digestion of protein from various sources in fish and found that fish proteins were the best digested and assimilated by fish. Simply put, fish eat fish.
Fish are adapted to the consumption of others in their food chain, so fish proteins are the best choice of food. When you look at a bag of fish food, the first ingredient listed should be fish or other aquaculture proteins.
Are Plant Proteins Bad?
Plant proteins aren’t necessarily bad when feeding koi and pond fish. They provide other nutritional value such as fiber, plant protein, and carbohydrates (energy). Plant proteins shouldn’t replace aquaculture proteins, but when used in conjunction with each other, it’s beneficial because proteins in corn, soy, or wheat are very different from proteins in a food ingredient like shrimp or blood meal. So, you might see fishmeal listed as the first ingredient, and then wheat germ, soybean meal, or corn gluten meal lower on the list. This is perfectly acceptable and nutritious.
Assessing an Ingredient Label
Ingredient labels can be very exciting, or very misleading. They can be exciting because they seem to report excellent ingredients and real care and attention in manufacturing. Misleading labels use techniques like ingredient-splitting and foreign laws to confuse the consumer. So let’s assess a label together in nine steps:
Protein source – Look for blood meal, fish meal, squid meal, shrimp meal, herring meal, or other aquaculture protein as the first ingredients. These are the best protein sources for fish.
Purpose of plant material – If you find a food that has no aquaculture protein, but two plant proteins, then the manufacturer is trying to get less expensive plant ingredients to do what fishmeal should be doing. But, if you find a food with fishmeal as the first ingredient and then wheat germ or similar, they are using the plant ingredient for protein and energy, letting the fishmeal carry the bulk of the protein requirement, which is as it should be.
Protein percent – Because of the simplicity and shortness of the tract, koi can’t digest more than 32 to 36 percent protein in one pass. Feeding more than that isn’t necessarily a bad thing because fish will simply pass what they don’t digest – it’s just expensive to pay for it.
Fat content – Find a fish food with between three and ten percent crude fat. The high end of this range is good for smaller (young) fish, and the lower end of the range is good for adult fish.
Ascorbic acid – Make sure ascorbic acid, or L-Ascorbyl-2-Phosphate is on the label among the trailing ingredients. It will represent a very small part of the diet, but it should be added to any milled food.
Immune boosters – Some foods are made with immune boosters. Look for any combination of the following supposed immune-boosting ingredients: optimum, aquagen, nucleotides, torula yeast, brewer’s yeast, bee propolis, colostrum, aspergillus niger, beta carotene, lactoferrin. These may perform as promised, and certainly don’t hurt, but don’t depend on any particular ingredient as a miracle supplement or lifesaver. Just recognize that the addition of these items represents the manufacturer as a little more attentive and knowledgeable, and the food worth a little extra money.
Color enhancers – Are there color enhancers in the diet? Look for terms like spirulina, bio-red, beta carotene, canthaxanthin, marigold petals, xanthins, shrimp oil, synthetic and non-synthetic carotenoids, or color enhancers on the label. Shrimp oil is the most expensive and performs well or better than synthetic carotenoids but is acceptable. Spirulina cannot push color unless the fish are exposed to sunlight and have the genetics for color. None of these color enhancers are hazardous to fish, but they can make a fish with a yellow head more yellow, or a fish with a tendency towards pink, pinker. No color enhancer can replace the irrefutable contribution of genetics and sunlight.
Ash content (if stated) – Some fish food manufacturers will tell you the “crap” content of their food. Ash is what’s left behind when you incinerate (or the fish digests) the food. It’s almost all carbon and mineral. So, the higher the ash content, the less likely one is to appreciate it. Generally, when ash is high, a smart label guy would just leave it off, and they are allowed to skip this information because it’s not required on fish food bags.
Because your finned friends live in a manmade water garden, they depend on you for proper nutrition and sustenance. Learning how to shop for the best quality food, the proper time to feed them, and what treats they enjoy can ensure your friends stay healthy and increase your enjoyment of your backyard pond. Now that you know the basics of feeding koi, you can enjoy your fish for many years to come.
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Which type of pond owner are you? Do you love fish and enjoy keeping koi as pets? Or maybe you’re an avid gardener that desired a pond so you could expand your outdoor plant and flower options. The majority of pond owners choose a pond in order to enjoy its overall beauty in addition to the soothing sound of the waterfall and/or stream. Regardless of which type of pond owner you are, it’s important to understand why you need plants in your pond and how they enhance the overall ecosystem.
Plants Play An Important Role In An Ecosystem Pond
Aquatic Plants provide beauty and naturalization while offering the plant enthusiast a whole new world of plant choices. Most importantly, they help balance the pond ecosystem by providing valuable biological filtration that removes nitrogen, ammonia, nitrates, and other minerals from the water that algae would otherwise feed and flourish upon. All this minimizes pond maintenance, leaving more time to enjoy your beautiful water garden. Without hardworking aquatic plants, your pond would not be able to function as its own little ecosystem.
Aquatic Plants Provide Food and Shelter
The plants in your pond provide food, shade, and protection for the fish, wildlife, and aquatic life that live in and around the pond. They also provide areas for fish to spawn and a safe place for frogs and toads to lay their eggs. But plants don’t even need to be in the pond in order to help your wildlife. Plants placed around the edges of your pond attract birds looking for food and shelter, while blooming plants attract beneficial insects, butterflies, and others to your watery paradise.
Waterlilies, the most popular of all aquatic plants, spread a multitude of leaves across the surface that shades the water. This natural umbrella comes in beautiful hues of green, providing shade that keeps the water at a comfortable temperature for your fish, as well as aids in preventing algae growth.
Aquatic Plants Add Visual Beauty
Aquatic plants also provide pleasure to the pond lover. There’s something special and delightful when seeing a frog pop its head up between the lily pads, or watching him pause on top of the round leaf. Equally interesting is spotting a dragonfly zipping around the pond and coming to rest on a waterlily bloom. This euphoric paradise wouldn’t be possible without the plants.
Being in the presence of all of the lush plantings creates an atmosphere of a tropical paradise without the expense and travel time of a formal vacation.
What Happens If There Are No Pond Plants?
Eliminate plants from the ecosystem pond and what you have is the equivalent of a lawn without a landscape. Not to mention, you’ve greatly reduced the beneficial filtration in the pond. By itself, clean and clear water has an attractive quality, but in order to make it naturally clear, plants are an absolute necessity.
A common misconception is that pond plants are hard to grow and difficult to maintain. The fact is, most aquatic plants are easy to grow provided they’re planted at the right depth and are receiving the proper amount of sunlight for that particular plant.
Aquatic Plants are Nature’s Filters
Each type of aquatic plant has its own set of requirements for optimum growth. The more a plant grows, the more food it needs. Pond plants thrive off the same nutrients as algae, so when they’re larger and consuming more nutrients, they’re starving algae of its food source. The more your plants consume, the less algae you’ll have in your pond. Bonus!
Some plants prefer to be planted in the stream because they thrive on higher oxygen levels that exist in moving water. Other plants prefer calm, still-water environments. Each aquatic plant species has its own requirements for water depth. Some prefer to grow in deeper areas of the pond, while others will only tolerate getting their feet wet in very shallow water. Having a good assortment of plants whose roots reach different depths, consuming different nutrients at each level of the pond, will provide your pond with broad-spectrum filtration.
Mix It Up with a Variety of Aquatic Plants
It’s always best to select a variety of plants for your pond. Mix it up and have fun with the colorful array of flowers, textures, and plant heights. Variety is what makes a water garden so interesting!
For an exciting color palette in your pond, try different varieties of waterlilies. And don’t be afraid to invest in tropical waterlilies, too. They come in unique colors and some bloom at night which is an advantage for people who work during the day. When you head out to your pond for a bit of relaxation after work, your night bloomers will greet you with open petals: welcome home!
When it comes to marginals and floating plants, there is an almost overwhelming array from which to choose. You can go with old standbys such as pickerel plant, cattail (dwarf is best for most backyard ponds), lizard’s tail, etc. Or you could try more exotic options like cardinal flowers, cannas, taros, and rushes.
Now That You Know Why Plants are Important in a Pond
Learning a little more about the role of plants in your pond is important to help you better understand the ecosystem you have in your very own yard. When it comes to keeping plants in your water garden, remember to stay educated and have fun. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new plants, but for best results, read up on their requirements before adding them to your pond.
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In the ever-evolving landscape of home improvement and renovation projects, hiring the right contractor is a crucial decision. However, the current economic climate has brought about significant changes in the way contractors operate. From pricing structures to initial interactions, contractors have adapted their approaches to meet the demands of a shifting marketplace and utilize advancing technology. In this blog post, we will explore the key changes in hiring a contractor, including the shift towards charging for estimates, requesting photos, and seeking a budget from clients.
Traditionally, contractors would provide “free estimates” to potential clients, often based on a preliminary on-site inspection of the project. This involved saying goodbye to their family, leaving their home, and driving to someone else’s home, typically in the evening or on the weekend when the homeowner was readily available (in addition to the contractor's already full work schedule). On the client’s end, this involved setting the appointment for when they can be home or take time off work, making sure they are actually home during the timeframe that the contractor said they would be arriving, and waiting around for the contractor to arrive – or maybe not show up at all, creating a frustrating, time-consuming process.
We all know that nothing in life is free. The contractor’s time and gas money expended on these “free” estimates would simply be built into their pricing for all of the people who actually hired them. With rising costs of labor, materials, fuel, and operational expenses, experienced contractors have now started charging for on-site estimates. This change helps them cover the time and resources involved in accurately assessing the project's requirements.
While it may initially seem unfamiliar, paying a reasonable fee for an experienced contractor to provide a comprehensive and well-informed estimate can save clients from unexpected costs and ensure a more precise project evaluation. It also creates a contractor-client relationship right from the start so that the contractor views each prospect as an existing client and not a “suspect” who might just be gathering the traditional three estimates or simply picking their brains.
A good place for homeowners to research what their project may cost is on contractors' websites. If a contractor doesn't have pricing on their website, you might want to keep searching. This harkens back to building a transparent relationship between contractor and client.
With advancements in technology, contractors are increasingly asking clients to provide photos or videos of the project area, or any existing water feature if renovation is the goal, before initiating the on-site process. This allows them to assess the scope of work more effectively without physically visiting the site initially. Photos provide contractors with essential details, enabling them to identify potential challenges like access issues, determine the necessary equipment, and evaluate project feasibility. It streamlines the estimation process, saving time for both parties involved. It also increases the likelihood that the client will find a contractor who is truly a good fit for their project, taking some of the guesswork out of the process.
Seeking a Client Budget
In the current economic climate, where costs can fluctuate rapidly, contractors have started requesting a budget from clients upfront. By understanding the financial limitations and expectations of clients, contractors can tailor their recommendations and proposals accordingly, again saving time for both parties. This collaborative approach fosters a transparent working relationship and ensures that the proposed scope of work aligns with the client's financial parameters. Contractors can offer alternative options or suggest cost-saving measures to optimize the project within the specified budget.
Importance of Detailed Contracts
As the economic climate becomes more uncertain, both contractors and clients recognize the need for clear and comprehensive contracts. Contractors are placing increased emphasis on developing detailed agreements that outline project timelines, payment schedules, change order policies, and dispute resolution mechanisms. This approach ensures that both parties are protected from potential misunderstandings or disagreements throughout the project duration.
The insertion of an expiration clause is not unheard of these days, either. This clause is becoming more common as contractors deal with surprise price changes while waiting for the client to be ready for them to start their work. This clause simply says that if the project start date is delayed beyond a certain date, the project may need to be re-bid. Most of the time, this doesn’t come into play, but protects the contractor’s bottom line so that they are able to make a fair profit, which in turn enables them to continue to be in business to provide service after the sale.
The hiring process for contractors has undergone notable changes in response to the current economic climate. These changes reflect the need for contractors to adapt their pricing structures, improve efficiency, and foster better communication with clients. While adjustments such as charging for estimates, requesting photos, and seeking a budget may initially feel unfamiliar, they ultimately benefit both contractors and clients by improving project accuracy, managing expectations, and enhancing transparency.
As clients navigate the process of hiring contractors, it is important to recognize that these changes are driven by a desire to provide better service and deliver successful outcomes. Open and clear communication, along with a shared understanding of the project scope and budget, will help establish a strong working relationship between contractors and clients. By embracing these changes, homeowners can confidently embark on their renovation projects while contractors can ensure that they deliver high-quality results in a cost-effective manner.
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Adding plants to your pond can enhance its beauty, provide shade, improve water quality, and create a more natural ecosystem. Aquatic plants look amazing during our Phoenix summer months when all of our terrestrial plants are looking parched. The diversity of that aquatic plant life can be improved through plant exchanges with other pond owners. Pond people overall are generous and we love to share! Plant exchanges are common in pond clubs, during garden tours, etc.
If you're considering introducing plants from another person's pond into yours, it's advisable to follow some best practice procedures to ensure a successful transfer, as well as minimize the risk of introducing unwanted pests or diseases.
At The Pond Gnome, we have strict policies in place about processing the aquatic plants that come to us through donations or plant thinning during pond service. Only when they’ve been through the processing operation, do they then go into our greenhouse for introduction into the ponds that we build or maintain.
Generally, gather relevant information about the plants, including their species, growth habits, maintenance requirements, and any potential pests or diseases associated with them. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions and prevent any unwanted surprises. A quick search engine scan should do the trick if the pond owner doesn't know. You’ll want this information in order to put the right plant in the right place. For example, you don’t want a 3’ tall and wide plant in the front of your pond that might block your view into the pond. And some aquatic plants do better in calm deep water, while others prefer shallow riffling water.
Quarantine and Inspect
To minimize the risk of introducing pests, diseases, or unwanted critters into your pond (via eggs), it's a good idea to quarantine the plants (just like you would do for a new fish introduction). Keep the plants in a separate container filled with pond water for a couple of weeks. Take this time to observe the plants for any signs of pests, diseases, or abnormalities.
Rinse and Clean
Once the quarantine period is over, thoroughly rinse the plants using fresh water to remove any debris, sediment, or unwanted organisms or eggs that might have attached to them. Be gentle during this process to avoid damaging the plant's delicate roots or foliage.
Choose the Right Planting Location
Identify the ideal planting location within your pond based on the plant's specific requirements and growth habits. Some plants prefer deeper water, while others thrive in shallow areas or along the pond's edge. Consider factors such as sunlight exposure and water movement. Proper placement will promote healthy growth and prevent overcrowding.
Plant the transferred plants in your pond by gently placing their roots into the rock substrate or anchoring them in appropriate containers, depending on how your pond is built. Ensure the plants are firmly secured, preventing them from floating away or becoming dislodged or blowing over in a monsoon. Take care not to damage the plant's roots during planting, as healthy root systems are vital for their establishment and growth.
Monitor and Maintain
Regularly monitor the newly added plants for any signs of stress, disease, or adverse reactions to the location. Keep in mind that aquatic plants typically look a bit sad right after transplant, so have a bit of patience here. Prune the plants when necessary to control their growth and prevent overcrowding – and don’t forget to thin the roots occasionally to avoid water displacement leaks. By providing proper care and attention, you'll ensure the plants thrive and contribute positively to your pond ecosystem.
Adding plants from another person's pond to your own can be an exciting way to diversify your aquatic garden. By following these best practices, you can minimize the risk of introducing unwanted pests or diseases while promoting the successful establishment and growth of the transferred plants. Remember, maintaining a healthy and balanced pond ecosystem is key, so choose your plants wisely and provide them with the care they need to flourish.
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Having a koi pond can be a wonderful addition to any backyard or garden. However, can be an expensive and time-consuming hobby that requires a significant investment of resources, including money, time, and effort. This is especially true if you don't include low-maintenance as part of the design process. As such, the question arises: is having a koi pond considered to be a luxury?
Luxury is a subjective concept, and what may be considered a luxury for one person may not be for another. Some people may view a koi pond as a worthwhile investment that brings them hours of joy and relaxation, while others may see it as an unnecessary expense (some people feel the same way about a pool).
The Koi Pond “Standard”
First and foremost, building a koi pond requires a significant financial investment. Depending on the size and design of the pond, the cost of materials, labor, and equipment can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on whether you’re building it yourself, or hiring a professional. Additionally, maintaining a koi pond can also be expensive, depending on how it's designed and built, as it requires a constant supply of electricity to run pumps and filters, as well as regular water testing and the purchase of high-quality fish food -- unless you have a pond built specifically to be low-maintenance.
Aside from the financial aspect, a koi pond also requires significant time and effort to build and maintain. Building a koi pond can take several weeks or even months, again depending on whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring a professional. Once the pond is built, it must be regularly cleaned and maintained to keep the water quality high and the fish healthy.
Despite the cost and effort required to build and maintain a koi pond, many people view it as a worthwhile investment. For those who enjoy spending time outdoors, a koi pond can provide a sense of peace and relaxation. Watching the colorful fish swim gracefully through the water can be a calming and meditative experience, and many people find that caring for their koi brings them a sense of fulfillment and joy.
Whether or not a koi pond is a luxury depends on one's individual circumstances and priorities. While it is true that building and maintaining a koi pond requires a significant investment of resources, including money, time, and effort, many people view it as a worthwhile investment that brings them joy and relaxation. Ultimately, the decision to build a koi pond should be based on one's personal preferences and financial situation.
Not all Koi Ponds are Built EQUALLY
It also depends on the type of koi pond that is designed and built. There are literally hundreds of ways and thousands of choices in equipment, liner, etc. Here at The Pond Gnome, we choose to work WITH Mother Nature, not against Her. In keeping with this philosophy, we use Aquascape equipment and keep our water crystal clear using only natural bacteria and enzymes. We can do the latter because we create a complete ecosystem within the pond, and the koi (and/or other pond fish) are an integral part of this. Our clients are some of the happiest koi pond owners we know!
So, if you’re considering a koi pond as a respite to a techno-filled world, check out what The Pond Gnome does, and give us a shout with any questions or concerns you may have. We even have occasional events and tours where you can experience a bit of living the pond life for yourself.