As we transitioned from spring to summer and now shifting to the upcoming fall, you may have noticed at some point, a slight drop in your pond water level.
For many experienced pond owners, this can be a common occurrence. However, for a novice owner or someone who’s never experienced water loss before, this may be a caution for concern. Rest assured, no matter what end of the spectrum your expertise falls upon, there isn’t a need to panic, but there is a need to investigate.
Understanding the basic principles of identifying and fixing leaks will help you repair the problem quickly and efficiently.
Evaporating Pond Water
First, let’s have a look at what evaporation is and what it isn’t. Evaporation is defined as the process of turning from liquid into vapor. So is it possible that your pond water is simply disappearing into the air? Sure is!
The amount of water loss will vary according to the region of the country and the season. Ponds that are located in areas of the country with moderate temperatures and high humidity can expect to see 1 to 1 ½ inches of water loss per week during the spring and summer. Most of this evaporation should be replaced naturally by rain. However, if you live in an area with high temperatures and low humidity, it’s possible to see 3 inches or more of evaporation in a week.
Does your pond have a waterfall?
If yes, then you can factor in “splash evaporation” as a potential culprit.
The quantity and size of your waterfall(s) also affects the amount of water that is lost. Regardless of the climate, a 4’x 6’pond with a 20-foot stream and 5 feet of cascading waterfalls may lose as much as 2 inches or more every day!
Why? Splashing and moving water has greater exposure to additional evaporation than does the still water in the pond. If that same pond was 16′ x 21′, you’d probably never even notice the additional evaporation because it’s a larger pond.
What is Not Evaporation? Evaporation is not filling up your pond all the way at night, and waking up the next morning to find the water lower by six inches. If that’s the case, you are now in leak territory. If your pond is experiencing a loss of water at a more rapid rate than normal evaporation, you most likely have a leak. But no worries, we are here to help you find it!
Low Pond Edges
Settling at the pond’s edge is the one of the most common causes of a leak, especially if you own a new pond. Finding a low spot in the liner can be tough because the pond liner used in ponds and waterfalls is covered with stone, plants, rocks, gravel, etc.
What is the definition of a low edge? A low edge or “low spot” occurs in ponds where the ground settles in an area, typically not a large area, and pond liner is too low allowing a small amount of water to go out of the pond.
Usually, the low edges are found around the stream and waterfall where most of the settling may have occurred, especially after a few rainfalls. These areas are usually built up during the construction of the pond using the soil from the excavation, and are the most subjected to settling.
So what’s your first move?
The first line of defense is to carefully inspect the edges of not only your stream and waterfall, but also the perimeter of the pond. As the dirt around the stream or waterfall settles, it can create low spots that may cause water to escape over the edge of the liner.
What to look for?
Keep your eyes peeled for wet mulch or gravel, or muddy areas around the perimeter of your pond – this is a dead giveaway that you have a leak.
If you do find a spot that’s leaking, all you have to do is lift the liner up and push some soil under it in order to raise the edge- Voila! Leak fixed!
Just like “Splash Evaporation”, a similar possibility is that water is splashing out of your stream. This is what we call “Splash Leak” in the pond world. To fix a splash leak, all you have to do is adjust a few of the rocks under and around your waterfall. This contains or redirects the splash and effectively eliminates your splash leak problem without a lot of effort on your part.
Obstructions in the Stream and Waterfalls
If the above theories have been explored and it hasn’t resolved the problem, it’s time to check for obstructions in the stream and waterfalls. Rocks and excessive plant or algae growth inside the stream, or even in your biological filter, can restrict the flow of water and divert it over the edge of the liner. Plants and algae should be maintained by trimming them back in order to let the water pass freely. If you’re not a fan of pulling string algae out by hand, there are products like EcoBlast Contact Granular Algaecide that can be applied to the affected areas.
You’ve followed all the other steps and your pond is still showing signs of a leak?
It’s not time to panic, it’s just time to dig a little deeper! Not literally of course, you just need to do a little more investigating.
The first step, shut off your pump for a day so you can determine the approximate location of the leak.
Next, follow these simple step by step instructions to evaluate the cause of the leak:
a. Make sure the pond is filled to the appropriate level.
b. Unplug the pump.
c. Let the pond sit for 24 hours.
d. Let the water level drop, then you know the leak is in the pond.
When the Water Drops:
To source where the leak is occurring, allow the water level to continue to drop. Where the water level stops dropping is the level where the leak is located!
Concentrate your search around the perimeter of the pond at the level that the water has stopped dropping.
At this point, you should probably consider calling in a professional, especially if you’re a newbie to pond ownership and maintenance. A professional can quickly locate and repair the leak in a timely manner. But if you’re an experienced pond owner and enjoy working on and in your garden, it’s certainly a project you can tackle with a little effort and time.
Begin removing any rocks around the perimeter of the pond at the level where the water stopped and check for evidence of a puncture or hole in the liner.
When you locate the hole, cover it with a self-adhesive EPDM Liner Patch.
After, you can replace the rocks, refill the pond back to the top, and enjoy the fruits of your DIY labor!
Steady and Level
If after turning off your pump for 24 hours you find the water level remains the same, it is safe to assume that that the leak is not inside your pond.
Your next step is to check more internal issues:
check the pipe, the plumbing fittings, and the pump connections for leaks.
Another possible common culprit is the faceplate of your skimmer, if you have one. It may not have been sealed correctly. If the water level stops dropping above the bottom of the faceplate, it’s a pretty good indication the skimmer seal is the problem.
If the Leak Is in the Skimmer …
a. Investigate the skimmer faceplate without disassembling it.
b. Simply move a few rocks around the front of the skimmer and slide your hand behind the liner. Feel for wet soil around the opening of the skimmer. If the soil is saturated, then the faceplate may have not been installed properly and might be the source of the leak.
c. Remove the faceplate, clean all of the old silicone off the liner, and refer back to the skimmer instruction manual on proper procedures for sealing the skimmer faceplate to the skimmer.
The entire process of finding and fixing your leak can be time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be frustrating or complicated. Starting with the obvious and easiest assessments like the time of year, low edges or splashing while meticulously working through our list will help you figure out the problem while removing anxiety and annoyance. You’ll be back to enjoying your peaceful pond and all the serenity it brings soon again!
Before you dig your Memphis, TN Fish Pond, you need to do a decent amount of planning. Logistics are just as important as dreams when it comes to your beautiful water feature.
We recommend considering these four things when planning your own Memphis, TN Fish Pond:
Some water features just aren’t good matches for some land. Digging a pond out of bedrock probably isn’t your best option. And a steep incline might be better suited to a waterfall than a large pond.
Consider what would make the most of the area’s natural beauty by taking an honest look around your property. Many folks start out thinking they want one thing but discover the ideal water feature for their yard is something different. Don’t be afraid to adapt your plan.
When planning your Memphis, TN Fish Pond, think about the views from inside the home. Watching cascading water through a large window can be amazing, even when weather conditions are less than terrible.
Also consider where you’ll be viewing your water feature from when you are outside. You may have a neat hill towards the back of your yard, but the further away from your home, the less likely you’ll use and enjoy your water feature. We suggest finding an area where you regularly spend time that’s close to your house. Areas near a patio, a deck, or even a hammock can be ideal spots.
A healthy pond ecosystem strikes a delicate balance, and filtration is an important part of the cycle. Mechanical and biological filtration components remove suspended debris and excess algae that cause toxic gases like ammonia.
Rocks and gravel in the pond provide places for beneficial bacteria to live. A skimmer will protect the pond pump, which helps keep the water circulating. Beneficial bacteria will cultivate in areas of your filtration like in the media mats. too.
In turn, these bacteria help keep the water clear of fish waste and organic debris. Finally, aquatic plants will absorb nutrients that algae feed on and will release oxygen into the water. This keeps fish happy.
Memphis, TN Fish Pond: Sun vs. shade
This can be a tricky one, especially in winter when the trees are bare. But envision your space in summer. How does the sun move across the land? Is the area heavily shaded or in full sun?
A water feature amidst a shade garden can be beautiful, but consider the amount of leaf debris coming down in autumn. Excess leaf buildup in your water feature can make it more challenging to maintain a healthy ecosystem.
A water feature in full sun may be less susceptible to leaf debris, but algae can thrive in these conditions even with adequate filtration. Remember, too, that your fish will want a break from the summer sun’s heat. Incorporate aquatic plants to cover some of the surface or install a fish cave to provide respite from the sun. A balance of sun and shade is a good thing, and you probably want to create your feature where it will get at least a little bit of both.
No matter what your Memphis, TN Fish Pond plans call for, Dreamscapes is happy to help! Contact us for more information.
What's My Fish Feeling?
Cooler water can hold large amounts of oxygen, that is not the case for warm water, as it holds less oxygen. As the warmer weather approaches, and spring thawing has already occurred, your fish become more active. Increased activity means the fish require more oxygen when unfortunately, less oxygen is available to them.
Fish aren’t the only pond inhabitants who increase their activity in warmer water. When things start getting hotter, biological activity increases. Just like humans, stressed fish are more susceptible to diseases when they’re not feeling their best. Since most pond owners stock their water gardens with cold water fish, it’s even more imperative to be aware if your pond is becoming undesirably and uncomfortably warm.
Fish aren’t the only living things that can be negatively affected by warm water conditions. Your pond plants might start to show the effects of high heat. Water lettuce and water hyacinth can turn yellow and burn. Even the leaves of hardy waterlilies (Nymphaea) may begin to burn and turn brownish in extreme heat since they are cold season plants.
The severity of your lily pads deteriorating and wilting is extremely problematic, as it can cause further warming of pond water. Since the leaves of a waterlily help shade the pond and keep it cooler, maintaining the plant’s health is a priority.
Stop the Fish Fry
If your pond has overheated even once in a typical summer season in your area, chances are it will happen again. Applying a few proven adjustments to your pond can help make all the difference to beat the heat.
Depth: Perhaps making your pond deeper is a long-term plan to consider. Ponds with a depth of two feet or more have an advantage over shallower ponds, as the bottom of the pond will remain cooler and the fish can hang out at the lower depth.
Shade Cover: Shade is another important long-term fix. Shading your pond can be quick, easy, and beautiful. If your waterfall is exposed to direct sun, add shrubs, trees, or other landscaping features to provide cover and make your water garden look more natural. Aquatic plants help cool a pond provided one-third to one-half of the pond’s surface area is covered.
Circulation: Finally, circulation is key to keeping the pond cool. A larger capacity pump can be part of the solution. Keep in mind that also adding a waterfall or stream can play a huge part in oxygenating of pond water. These elements increase the pond's overall circulation, keeping temperatures down.
Pond plants are an essential element in any aquatic environment, including your pond. Not only do they add visual interest and charisma to the landscape, they also can supply food and shelter. Many plants also help to act like an organic filter soaking up pollutants, while oxygenating the water. The struggle most gardeners face is how to keep their Koi from turning their precious pond plants into an afternoon appetizer.
We know most pond owners love their Koi just as much as their pond plants. What’s not to love? Their beautiful, playful and even a little magical. Just having a koi pond in your yard, brings a sense of calm and peace. So, of course we want them to be happy, but not at the cost of destroying those lovely lilies. What’s the solution?
Three’s a Crowd...
Well not exactly, but for starters, having the proper koi-stocking density for your pond is crucial. If you have too many Koi in one area, they will compete for everything- especially food. A good rule of thumb when it comes to stocking koi is to have no more than one inch of fish per 10 gallons of water.
For example, you can have 150 inches of fish in 1,500 gallons of water, which is about five koi. But please keep in mind, they will grow over time. You should base your formula on their expected adult size, not the size when purchased. If you do not provide your koi with adequate room, not only will they live a more stressful life, but your plant health and water clarity will also suffer.
Understanding your Koi
The most important part in striking a harmonious balance in your pond, between your koi and aquatic plants, is simply understanding koi behavior. Keep in mind, Koi are very curious creatures and they explore their surroundings with their mouth. If you notice that your Koi are rooting around the base of your plants, simply block them from doing so, by moving larger rocks around the base of the plant. Making sure the rocks are heavy enough that the fish cannot move or shift them.
Oftentimes, fish will browse on plants if they’re hungry or if they have nutrient deficiencies from something they may be lacking in their normal diets. To address this, feed your fish more regularly. If your koi are well fed, they won’t eat as many plants. The good news, given the choice between a tasty, high energy pelleted food, or green vegetation, your koi will opt in for the tastier treat, every time. We suggest feeding your fish once or twice a day, for about 5-7 minutes at a time to fulfill their appetite.
When choosing your food, the pellet size should be the size of the pupil, (the black part). Start by tossing in a few pellets, gradually adding in more over the course of the next 5-7 minutes. The idea is to create as little excess waste as possible, which is why the ‘slow and steady’ technique is preferred for feeding, as opposed to throwing in large handfuls.
Without question, plants in your pond add to the beauty and interest to the space. And in all actuality, fish and plants have a mutually beneficial relationship, that happens quite naturally. When the two elements are combined, it makes for a calmer, cleaner and healthier pond environment. With just implementing a few simple techniques and keeping to a regular feeding schedule, you’ll find that harmony is possible. Contact us for more information
The “Simple Science” of Keeping Your Memphis Pond Clean!
Any good Memphis pond owner knows the importance of a clean pond. However, not every pond owner knows how to ‘tackle the task’ of keeping it clean. Even if you don't fully understand the importance and benefits of keeping a clean pond, at a minimum everyone enjoys the aesthetics of one. Keeping your Memphis pond clean doesn't need to be a complicated chore, just follow our simple formula of tips to ensure a clean pond all season.
Overcrowding... Simple, Don't Do It!
Fish, like most animals, really thrive and enjoy life when they have space. If you have more than 10” of fish for every 100 gallons of water, your pond is likely over-populated.
What's the problem with crowded conditions? The excessive fish waste can cause an imbalance in the pond water and cause it to be polluted. If you do have too many gilled friends in your pond, consider finding some of them a new home. Honestly, they'll thank you!
Beware of Excessive Feeding
It's important to feed your fish a proper diet, but when you feed fish more than they can actually eat, it poses a big problem for the pond environment. Any uneaten food is left to decay in the pond.
A good rule of thumb for feedings is once per day, and no more than they can eat in 2 to 3 minutes. We also recommend that you remove all excess food from the pond after each feeding.
Create the Ideal Environment
We love the organic look just as much as the next ‘pond person’, but too many plants are a problem. Sure, plants create a great visual interest to any pond but keep moderation in mind.
At season’s peak, you should have no more than 40% to 60% of the surface area of your pond either covered or shaded by plants. When there are too many plants, it can cause oxygen deficiencies at night due to the photosynthetic process, when the plants take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide.
Be mindful of plant growth as the the season surges on, and scale them back if they are exceeding the recommended percentage.
Size Matters... When Choosing the Right Pump
Size does matter when it comes to your Memphis pond pump. Pumps are not "one size fits all", so you should make sure to have the required size for your specific pond. What’s the easiest way for finding the right size you need? The pond should be circulating the entire pond’s water volume a minimum of once every hour.
You should also periodically make sure your pump’s flow isn’t restricted by any debris. Sticks, leaves and even excess food are known culprits that can lead to a blockage. Be careful not to pump water higher than it was intended. Every pump does have its own flow limitations.
Still unsure which pump is right for you? Simply refer to the chart on the outside of the pump’s box to make sure you’re making the right choice for your pond.
Proper Filtration is Paramount
The importance of selecting and installing the correct pump, is equally matched to the function of a pond’s filter.
First, your filter should match the size of your pond. Remember, most manufacturers rate their filters based on ideal circumstances, so if you exceed those conditions, your filter becomes less effective. It's always recommended that you go up a size, when installing your filter so that it can handle more than the capacity of your pond.
Also it's important to remember to clean your filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Keep Calm and Cool Down
The "lazy days" of summer are quickly approaching, so have a plan in place for keeping your pond "cool" when the temperatures start to rise.
Did you know when clean pond water exceeds 75º Fahrenheit, it has a more difficult time retaining acceptable levels of dissolved oxygen? It's true and this is why it’s so important to have your pond shaded by aquatic plants (see tip #3). Just like all living things, fish need oxygen to survive. So when the pond heats up, oxygen levels drop and your fish are now stressed. If you do notice your fish at the pond’s surface gasping for air, add an aerator to help them during times of extreme heat.