Pool to Bird Sanctuary


PROCESS, Wildlife
Artcl.: Tx.WaterGardening
Convert Sw. Pool
Conversion Ideas
Mosquito Fish
Nurseries, Supplies
Native Plants
Pond Conditioner
New Patio Ideas
Organic Pond

Pool Pump
Skamper Ramp
Texas Pools
Wildlife Hab.

Aquatic Plants
Aztec Arrowhead
Floating Plants
Ginger Lily
Green Taro
Lemon Bacopa
Mexican Papyrus
Water Clover
Water Lilies
Water Lilies
Water Mint
Water Primrose

Azolla (mosquito fern, duckweed fern, fairy moss, water fern) is a genus of seven species of aquatic ferns in the family Salviniaceae. They are extremely reduced in form and specialized, looking nothing like other typical ferns but more resembling duckweed or some mosses.

Azolla is a highly productive plant. It doubles its biomass in 3–10 days, depending on conditions, and yield can reach 8–10 tonnes fresh matter/ha in Asian rice fields. 37.8 t fresh weight/ha (2.78 t DM/ha dry weight) has been reported for Azolla pinnata in India (Hasan et al., 2009).

Azolla filiculoidess (Red Azolla) is the only member of this genus and of the family Azollaceae in Tasmania. It is a very common native aquatic plant in Tasmania. It is particularly common on farm dams and other still water bodies. The plants are small (usually only a few cm across) and float, but can be very abundant and form large mats. The plants are typically red, and have very small water repellent leaves. Azolla floats on the surface of water by means of numerous, small, closely overlapping scale-like leaves, with their roots hanging in the water. They form a symbiotic relationship with the cyanobacterium Anabaena azollae, which fixes atmospheric nitrogen, giving the plant access to the essential nutrient. This has led to the plant being dubbed a "super-plant", as it can readily colonise areas of freshwater, and grow at great speed - doubling its biomass every two to three days.

Video: JUST BEGINNING. Swimming Pool to Fish Pond Conversion Video #1 note: vietnamese mint

Video: Converting your swimming pool to a pond. Central Texas Gardening--Austin, TX.

The fish need sand to lay their eggs. At the deep end they built an island to replicate a pond bank, supported by cinder block and metal framework. Underneath, the pump sits at the very bottom of the pool. To have good clean water, it is better to situate your pump deep. Tubing runs up to the surface for a waterfall effect. The fish nesting area is beneath the island, where the pump is.

In the shallow end they placed rocks and gravel. The fish need gravel to lay their eggs.

They added lots of cinder blocks for fish to hide, etc. They created shallow places around the pond for more plants. Louisiana irises, cannas; water lilly roots can go 5 or 6 feet down.

Permaculture Garden - 6 Reasons To Have a Pond

1. It's one of the best pest management elements you can have. It attracts beneficial insects, frogs, dragonflies, snakes and lizards which manage your pests.

2. The waterfall is an antidote to noise pollution. It also oxygenates the water.

3. Ponds make a home for fish, plants, and microbiology: an aquaculture system.

4. The water in the pond is alive with nutrients which can be used to water other parts of your garden.

5. It creates a microclimate by absorbing heat during the day and giving off heat at night.

6. Ponds can be used to create biomass which can be used in the garden as mulch. Or as a food source for ducks.

Building a Backyard Pond by Converting Your Swimming Pool This sounds a crazy idea but many people in Sydney Australia have made these conversions which are being promoted as part of the WildThings urban wildlife program developed by Ku-ring-gai Shire Council. The justification is that many swimming pools are not used very much when the kids get older and the owners find pools a real chore to maintain. Pool maintenance is also very expensive.

There are basically three main options: either fill it, let it go green and yucky or transform it into something else. Pools are very expensive to remove. If you fill them in you may lose a lot of value if you decide to sell the property.

The good thing about converting the pool into a pond is that it keeps water in the pool and it is reversible. Sure it is a major cleaning job, but it can be done.

You can put the filtration system and pumps into mothballs, because if its done properly it will virtually look after itself. You can add native fish and frogs (some will find it themselves). The birds love it as well. Adding fish provides a natural way of controlling mosquitoes.

You can transform the surrounding decking and upgrade the landscape features to add shade and seating, so you can enjoy you new native pond. Adding a small water spout or a mini waterfall fills the backyard with the lovely sound of falling and splashing water. This helps to circulate water in the pond and keeps it aerated right to the bottom.

This article provides a step by step guide for transforming your backyard swimming pool into a delightful backyard pond.

Benefits of Converting a Swimming Pool to a Pond

  • Turning off the filter and pool pump, and cost of chemicals can easily save you up to $1,000 a season. You also avoid the cost of repairs and replacements ( plus water costs in some localities).

  • The conversion is reversible

  • Water quality is generally well within official recreational waters standards (for creeks and lakes) and you an swim in it if you want to.

  • Mosquitoes are not a problem provided you add some fish or a water fountain or waterfall to keep the water moving. Most mosquitoes only breed in shallow stagnant water and having a slight movement discourages them. Fish love to eat the larvae.

  • Maintaining a pond is not expensive or time-consuming - almost nothing compared with a pool. You avoid all the daily and weekly time spend fiddling with the chemicals, cleaning the filters and removing leaves from the pool.

  • You can promote biodiversity in your own backyard by adding water plants and fish. Local frogs will move in and birds will love it as well.

Questions and Answers about Converting Pools to Ponds

Will the pond water smell? Pond odor is not generally a problem once the pond ecology is established with the plants keeping the nutrient levels under control. The surface area of a pool is large and this makes sure that the water is kept well oxygenated. It is only stagnant water that smells. You can boost the aeration of deep ponds with an aquarium style aerator or a small pump for a fountain or waterfall. Just ensure that the inlet is drawn from the bottom of the pond. Huge reservoirs are kept circulating with simple aerators. Circulation stops the pool going stagnant which causes most smells.

Is the water safe? University tests have shown that the water in converted ponds meets Australian recreational water guidelines. The water is generally "clean" enough to swim in if that is what you want to do. But the water does not meet drinking water guidelines.

What about Safety Fences? Leave the fences in place and the gates secured, as the pond is just as much as a hazard as a pool.

Will a pond damage my pump and filter? Pumps and filters have limited life (10 years maximum) and will probably need to be replaced if and when you may want to convert the pond back into a swimming pool. You won't need them and so you should probably sell them. Keep the pump, or buy a fire-fighting style centrifugal pump for draining the pool for plant maintenance, and water rejuvenation. Filters and pool cleaners can be mothballed for later use.

Are Aquatic Plants necessary? Yes, plants are essential because plants act as natural filters and recycle nutrients that would otherwise feed algae (cause the water to go green and smell). Ideally aquatic plants will occupy about 50% of the pool's area. You may need to add structures on which the pots containing the plants can be placed. Leaving the plants on pots is a good idea because you can move them around an remove them when it comes time to restore the pond to a pool. Also the pots can contain the soil need for the plant roots. Many floating plants don't have roots. You can source suitable plants from your local pond supplier.

Does the pond ecosystem really keep the pool clean? Rigorous testing in the EU has shown that most of the many thousands of ponds that have been tested EU standards for both health and water clarity. Contamination from birds can make the water unhealthy.

Do You Need to Retain the a filter? No. This is not required as particulates tend to settled out and the water can be a little cloudy but still healthy.

If the pool turns green, will it stay that way? The pool may go green initially but will clear when the pond ecosystem is fully functional. You can buy various non toxic remedies for green pond water. Keep the pool scoop for removing leaves and dead pieces of algae and any rubbish that blows into the pool.

When can I add fish? Let the pool settle down for a while before adding fish. The best type are the local native fish which are fun to catch at your local stream of lake. You can also buy goldfish and other exotic species. The native fish may breed in the pond and become self sustaining. You can periodically add more fish to maintain the numbers. If you are really adventurous you can add trout fingerlings!

Key Steps for Converting your Swimming Pool into a Healthy Pond

Step I: Stop Adding Chlorine and Reduce Salt Concentration

If you stop adding chlorine, after a week or so, the pool will be ready for plants and fish. The chlorine in the pool may be toxic before then. Switch off the pump and filter and put them aside. The pump may be useful for draining the pool... Lowering the water level makes it easier to set up plants in the pool.

Step 2:The preliminary construction phase and addition of plants

Lower the pool level a little and make adjustments to the landscape surrounding the pool by adding rocks and boulders, pot plants to add shade. You can also add the plumbing for a waterfall or fountain.

Adding a pond conditioner can also be a good idea. [Nature's Pond Conditioner...

9/3/16 ordered. Shippled 9/8: Fulfilled 08 Sep 08:36 UPS #1ZEW80290340097334.

You also need to add plants to the pond in their pots. You can buy these from local nurseries of pond suppliers. Most plants need shallow water, so apart from placing them on the steps and shallow parts of the pond you will need to add some underwater framework or shelving to support the pots. This can be made out of plastic water pipe and fittings - with end caps left off to allow the water in. Putting a few stones on the base will kept it stead and upright.

You can also add water-resistant timber or concrete black structure. Using plastic water pipe you can also make floating frames that can be pushed around into different parts of the pond. There are many floating species of plants that don't require roots in pots. Once established the plants will soon spread. You want 25-50% of the surface of the pond with some plant growth (not complete coverage).

Step 3: Islands and Submerged and Protruding Logs and Branches

Mini islands can be added to the pond using raft like structures made from timber with plastic water pipe used as floats. Adding logs and branches that protrude through the surface is good for insects and wildlife. Islands and logs are not only attractive but provide refuges and structural diversity for wildlife.

Step 4:Tempering the Pool before Adding Animals

Once you are happy with the pool and you have added all the structures and plants, refill it with water and leave it for about one week to settle down. Run the aerator, fountain or waterfall pumps to help circulate the water.

It is also a good idea to treat the new water with a pond conditioner to adjust the pH. Then it is time to add native fish caught in the local stream of lakes or goldfish. Always remember to allow the water containing the fish to gently adjust to the temperature of the pond before gently pouring the fish in. Local children love to catch fish in local streams and rivers that can be added to the pond. They may also catch frogs and tadpoles to add to the pond. However frogs will generally find their own way to the pond during wet weather.

Step 5: Topping up the Water level

Rainwater is the best type of water to use, but standard reticulated water can also be used. If you need to add a large amount of tap water remember that the chlorine can kill plants and fish and so it is best to add a little at a time over several days.

this was an in ground pool--- .

A pond that is managed as a pond (water and plant centered) needs no filtration and no water changes except those to replace evaporation. A pond managed as a fish pond with a biological load many times above it's balance point would need filtration and water changes on a regular basis to remain healthy.

As long as the pool is managed as a water garden...plant centered with just a very small fish load to control insects it needs no filtration, no water changes. I have had liner ponds from 50 gallons through thousands of gallons and never once did I have a filter on them...they all stayed clear and clean.

Video: All in One! Natural pool, fish pond and veggies using skimmer instead of water lilies to control algae.

CONVERT YOUR ECO-UNFRIENDLY SWIMMING POOL INTO A BIOLOGICALLY ACTIVE AND ATTRACTIVE FISH FARM! Swimming pools get a bad rap in enviro-circles, and for good reason. They cost a great deal to construct – using a lot of CO2 intensive materials in the process – they waste huge amounts of water and energy for maintenance, use chemicals to keep them clear and ‘safe’, and they take up a lot of space that could be utilised for more productive purposes (like growing veggies!). Many people also just find them a lot of work to look after, which is especially annoying when their usage is often only seasonal at best.

Eating from the pool didn’t seem to be the primary goal for Vanessa and Justin, but rather to create a closed loop biological system that would add beauty and diversity to the rest of their Permaculture system.

How they did it

After draining the pool, they set to cleaning it of contaminants by scrubbing the inside with vinegar and rinsing it clean. This is important or the fish you introduce could die. Before introducing fish, however, plants need to be established, as well as the all-important oxygen-generating algae. Algae forms on its own when allowed, and the best plants to introduce are those you’ll find in natural freshwater environments in your area (lakes, ponds, rivers) as these are best suited for your climate.

Justin and Vanessa even introduced a couple of plants that are regarded as ‘pests’ by many government authorities – like salvinia, a fast spreading floating fern. Rather than a pest, the plant serves a purpose here as chicken feed, and its characteristic of spreading fast just means the chickens have a good supply of it!

Another plant introduced is azola – which is very high in nitrogen due to its special relationship with a nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium. This makes it an exceptionally good mulch (azolla is said to increase rice yields significantly – "as much as 158 percent per year"). Of course, they also introduced plants that are great for human consumption – like kangkong, water chestnut and watercress.

At the moment the pool is essentially a closed loop biological system. The plants feed off the nutrients supplied by fish and bird droppings, the fish feed off the plants and insect larvae (like dragonflies, etc.), and the algae regulates the CO2/oxygen levels. Zooplankton and mollusks (snails) feed on the algae, the crustaceans (shrimps) feed on the zooplankton, and the fish feed on the mollusks and the crustaceans.

Oh, speaking about snails, if anyone spotted the blue hoses at top and thought I really should have pulled them out before taking any pictures, let it be known that I was going to do just that, but got stopped in my tracks. These hoses also serve a purpose – snails cling to the outside, and also live inside the hose, and it’s from these hoses that the fish like to feed.

As mentioned, algae is very important for the health of the pool – but you can have too much of a good thing. Algae blooms are to be avoided as they can suffocate life in the pool. A balanced algae population can be regulated in three ways: 1) reducing nutrient input (i.e. harvest some fish), 2) reducing light (i.e. add a translucent shade, or a living vine, over part of the pool), or 3) simply scoop some algae out if you get desperate and use it for mulch or compost.

The biggest thing stopping a decent increase in the fish population is oxygen. To regularly eat from the pool, Vanessa and Justin would need to incorporate a water filter/oxygenation system – which is something they’re looking at doing next. As you can see from the pictures, the water in this particular pond is rather ‘natural’. A biological filter would make the water clearer – so, if you wanted, it could still retain the pool’s original purpose (swimming!). Increased oxygenation also tends to keep algae from getting out of hand.

A bio-filter doesn’t need to be too complicated or expensive. Water could be pumped out of the pool and through a gravel trench, and then back into the pool (a solar pump could be utilised). As the water passes through the gravel it gets filtered/cleansed (by the algae that will develop there) and oxygenated. Reeds growing on the gravel aid in making the biological filter itself a closed system.

As well as the general aesthetic and the potential for increased food security and health, pools like these also contribute to the health of the garden in general as they attract a greater diversity of wildlife. Vanessa and Justin now have regular visits from predatory creatures, including white-faced herons and even the australasian bittern, a threatened species.

Essentially, a pool like this is a great example of the very essence of Permaculture – working with natural synergies, and finding ways to make them work for ourselves and the environment. Where modern agribusiness concentrates on chemistry, Permaculturists deal in biology. Instead of reductionist science, which would take just one element and pull it apart to its base chemical ingredients before we look up thinking we understand something, this kind of management takes a broader view.

UTILIZATION OF MACROPHYTE BIOFILTER IN EFFLUENT FROM AQUACULTURE "water hyacinth is one of the many plant species we use as a low impact bio filter. When we harvest it, it makes a fine fungal based compost. We use azola as well."

How the Pump Works

How Your Pool Pump and Filter Work

Skamper Ramp

Skamper Ramp “Get the pet water safety device that keeps pets and animal passersby safe day or night, even if people aren't around.”

Instructions on website are sketchy, so I emailed them.

Email from Gamma2:

The ramps come complete with all the necessary assembly hardware for proper installation, except they do not have the screws/bolts for wood or masonry decking.

Super Skamper Ramp

If you do not plan to tie your Skamper-Ramp to existing fencing or cover anchors, we suggest a 1/4" pan-head stainless steel screw that is 1 3/8" long and a plastic or lead concrete anchor for sinking into your concrete pool deck.

For a wooden deck, or dock not utilizing existing cleats, we suggest a 1/4" pan-head stainless steel screw that is 1.5" long (or 2" carriage bolt).

Hardware for attaching the D-ring-clips to the pool deck HAS NOT been supplied due to the wide variety of deck types and materials as well as uses of Skamper-Ramps. Your local hardware/home improvement store or pool service company is a great resource to help make the appropriate selection.

Q. Are there alternative anchoring methods? A. For Skamper-Ramp owners who don't want to drill into their decks, it is possible to use alternative tie down points such as pool cover attachment points, skimmers, railings and water levelers.

There are many creative ways to attach the ramp. You just want to ensure that the ropes are not spread too far away from being parallel, that the back and wings have a surface to rest snuggly against, and that the force is downward (diagonal vectors) so it does not pull purely horizontally (or it will pull out).

Skamper Ramp in Garden / Possum escaping

There is no one right way to install a Skamper-Ramp, but two criteria are critical: 1) a few inches of the round nose end need to be submerged so that the white breaks the water surface so the animal will see the white while swimming, even in stress; and

2) it needs to be snug to a rigid, flat, vertical wall so that a critter or pet on the end of the Skamper-Ramp has something to brace against. It is the open-box-end and stabilizing wing-strips that provide rigidity and robustness, especially when braced against a vertical element, that makes it work.

The most important point about the installation is to have the Skamper-Ramp as snug to the pool edge as possible, while still having a few inches of the nose end of the ramp underwater. To accomplish that, there are two sets of holes for threading the connection rope through, one above the Skamper-Ramp name and one below, in order to accommodate deep copings or flush edges.

Frog Log How to Keep Frogs, Chipmunks, Lizards and Other Animals Out of Your Swimming Pool

We developed and now distribute a single product, The FrogLog. The FrogLog is a simple, cost effective device, that allows most small animals to escape from any swimming pool. We have a 110% money back guarantee. By ordering here, you have access to the inventor by phone or email.

How the FrogLog Works: Simply place the floating platform in the water and place the weighted fabric pouch on the pool deck. The FrogLog is not permanently attached and can be placed and removed in seconds. Animals instinctively swim to the edge of the pool and circle the edge, seeking a way out. The animal will bump into the FrogLog and climb out of the pool.

Nurseries, Supplies

Rainbow / Millberger / *Nature's Pond / BioFilters / Mailorder: Hemphill's Garden and Aquatic Center / Bioverse / *Crystal Creek Pond Supply /

Rainbow Gardens 8516 Bandera Rd @ Guilbeau Rd. San Antonio, TX 78250. 210.680.5734 Open M-Sat 9AM to 6PM, Sun 10AM to 6PM. Shorter hrs. in winter.

See file:///C:/Users/cglass/Downloads/Water-Gardening.pdf
Water Gardening in Texas, from TAMU
A water garden should be located:

n In full sun, or as much as is available.
n At the most level site available.
n Within easy access to water and electricity.
n Where it can be appropriately viewed from the house.
n Where the water can reflect the beauty of the surrounding landscape.

A water garden should not be located:

n Where it is in a position to catch leaves falling from trees.
n In a low spot in the yard where heavy rain could flood it.
n Where soils are prone to saturation which could cause the liner to float.

Floating leafed plants: Usually water lilies.

Plant enough to cover 50 to 75 percent of the surface area of the pond, or approximately one for every 10 square feet of surface area (there are dwarf varieties for barrel gardens).

Floating leafed plants will cover the surface of the water to a point that will, if done correctly, limit the amount of light reaching the depths of the pond holding algae growth in check.

Submerged plants: Submerged plants are the oxygenators of the pond—a must if your pond is to be healthy and support fish.

Submerged plants may become aggressive if plantedin earthen ponds... Roots of these plants are not used for nutrient or water uptake, but for anchorage, so oxygenators may be potted in gravel.

Submerged plants should be stocked at a rate of one bunch per 2 square feet of surface area, in groups of 6 to 12 per pot depending on the size of the pot. Caging these pots is often advisable if the pond is to contain fish, which tend to forage on submerged plant foliage.

Free floating plants such as duck weed, water lettuce, and water hyacinth, though not necessary, add the finishing touch to anatural appearing water garden. These plants move with the breeze and produce an ever changing appearance for the pond. Functionally, they add to the oxygenators and produce varying casts of shadow that the pond owner and the fish will appreciate.

Bog or marginal plants Though most are not grown for their flowers, some bog plants offer help for those unable to site their pond in sufficient sunlight for the majority of water lilies. Some plants can tolerate as little as three hours of direct sunlight. Some grow best in constantly moist to soggy soils, while others actually grow in standing water.

Plants for the bog garden or for margins of the pond add height and drama to the water feature; lotus, sagittaria, and dwarf bamboo add unique foliage, where iris, cattails, and sweet flag have unmatched upright linear texture.

Plants to surround the pond Many of the bog plants can be used in areas surrounding apond. Other plants for use around the pond should be of acharacter that their reflection lends drama to the pond.

Colorful flowers, attractive bark or fluted trunks, or other winter aspects can add to the seasonal interests of a pond. Avoid plants such as walnuts and willows that have leaves with allelopathic characteristics.

Planting the Pond: Planting the pond is the most exciting time and one of the most crucial.

Spring is the best time to complete this task. Plants bought for the pond should be in top condition and installed immediately upon receipt if possible. Therefore, do not purchase the plants until you are ready to plant, or if ordering through the mail, plan their arrival carefully. Many mail order dealers ship their plants at only certain times of the year.

Plants bought from a garden center are often potted and ready to be placed in the pond. If not, or if you purchase your plants from mail order houses, they will come to you bare root, wrapped in plastic containing moist organic media or paper. These plants should be removed from the media, washed, and potted immediately upon receipt. Plan ahead and have your soil, fertilizer tablets, pots, and burlap, if you are using baskets, ready ahead of time.

Fish: Fish are not necessary for the balance of the pond, but their presence will greatly increase the speed that it is established. Further, fish eat many of the undesirable visitors to your pond, keep submerged plants pruned, recycle nutrients in the system, and add immeasurably to the beauty of the pond.

Fish should be stocked at a rate no more than 1 inch of fish per 3 to 5 gallons of water in the pond. Fish attain a greater size, do less damage to submerged plants, and remain healthier if stocked at rates below the capacity of the pond.

When first introducing fish to the pond, put the fish still inside their sealed bag into the pond allowing 15 minutes for the temperature to equalize between the bag and the pond before releasing the fish. If it is a sunny day cover the bag to prevent overheating.

Goldfish: Are smaller and by far the most popular fish for pond use. They are less expensive, come in many colors, and range from 10 to 12 inches at maturity. Goldfish will breed in your pond thus increasing in numbers over a period of years. This may present a problem for small ponds.

Frogs: Frogs are good for the pond; they supply tadpoles which are efficient scavengers and food for fish and dragonfly larvae. Also, the adults in conjunction with the fish control the mosquitoes and other insect problems.

Snails: There is some controversy over including snails in the pond. The Japanese black snails may not help keep the water cleaner, though they do slowly eat away at the algae. They are, however, fun to watch for and they will not get out of the pool and damage any other plants in your garden.

Unwanted guests: In most instances, if you have stocked your pond properly and maintain the health of your pond inhabitants, there may be the occasional unwanted “Diving Water Beetle” or “Water Boatman,” but these and others pests can be kept in check by the predation from larger fish and frogs.

See file:///C:/Users/cglass/downloads/Gardening-for-Wildlife.pdf
See file:///C:/Users/cglass/Downloads/Gardening-for-Wildlife-2.pdf
See file:///C:/Users/cglass/Downloads/Aquaponic_Information.pdf

Includes HugelKulture

Because of its three-dimensionality, a HugelKulture raised bed garden combines the multiple functions of rainwater harvesting, catchment, and irrigat-ion using no cistern, pumps' or pvc pipesi Done properly, there may be no need to water all summer!

Milberger Nursery: Water Gardens (210) 497-3760; 3920 N Loop 1604 E, San Antonio, TX 78247. nursery@milbergersa.com Hours of Operation: Monday - Saturday 9:00am - 6:00pm Sunday 10:00am - 5:00pm [inside 1604 at Bulverde Rd., past 281. Map

Compared with other types of gardens, water gardens require a minimum of attention. There is very little weeding, certainly no watering, and there are fewer insects or diseases which attack the plants.

Day-to-day care of water garden plants during the summer is mostly a matter of grooming. If there is an over-production of foliage, trimming is necessary. All discolored or torn leaves or dead blossoms should be cut and removed, stem and all, close to the roots.

Clear water is usually the primary goal of any water gardener. In a new pond, however, the water is seldom clear for very long. This can be rectified easily if the pond is of the correct depth, has a good filtration system, and correctly chosen plants and wildlife are stocked in sufficient numbers. Given enough time the new pond water will clear.

If algae has become a nuisance, much of it can be washed down the drain or over the sides of the pool by using the garden hose and a rake. During the summer one should watch that other plants such as the submerged aquatics do not grow too rampant and take over the bottom of the water feature.

The worst thing to do is change the water. Replacing the water will only delay the developing balance of the new pond’s ecosystem. only nature can correct. When fertilizing the lawn, take care not to contaminate the pond.

Mailorder: Hemphill's Garden and Aquatic Center Ships anywhere in Texas. 1-888-766-3725. in Fallston, Maryland, Harford County

Nymphaea 'Trudy Slocum' [night bloomer] / Nymphaea 'Trailblazer'

Nymphaea 'Trudy Slocum' ZONE 8 - Free blooming white lily with waxy green leaves. This large night bloomer is a profuse bloomer

Nymphaea 'Trailblazer' Zone 8 - Very dependable, soft yellow blossoms surrounded by lush, green foliage.

Nymphaea 'Islamorada' / Nymphaea 'Midnight'

Nymphaea 'Islamorada' ZONE 8 - This hybrid developed by Brad and Bruce McLane has multicolored petals. The purple blooms have delicate white speckles on the petals. Very productive.

Nymphaea 'Midnight' ZONE 8 - Dark purple flowers have almost 100 petals. The stamen tops become small petals. One of the best

Nymphaea 'Islamorada' / Nymphaea 'St. Louis Gold'

Nymphaea 'Anne Emmett' Vigorous, compact growth with abundant green and yellow blossoms

Nymphaea 'St. Louis Gold' ZONE 8 - Olive green leaves with rich yellow blossoms. Outstanding bloomer. A very versatile cultivar

Nymphaea 'August Koch' / Nymphaea 'Blue Beauty'

Nymphaea 'August Koch' ZONE 8 - Soft lavender-blue blossoms rise above deep green foliage. Profuse bloomer. Viviparous. Long flowering season.

Nymphaea 'Blue Beauty' ZONE 8 - Large, rich blue flowers with dark speckled buds. One of our all around favorites. Profuse bloomer. Always in demand.

Nymphaea 'Ruby Red' / Nymphaea 'Pink Pearl'

Nymphaea 'Ruby Red' ZONE 8 - A viviparous, pink day bloomer that has a very long season and is very hardy. Compact growth.

Nymphaea 'Pink Pearl' ZONE 8 - Semi-double soft pink blossoms. Profuse bloomer with rich green leaves. This plant is easy to produce.

Ginger Lily / Mexican Papyrus
Ginger Lily ZONE 8 - height 4ft to 6ft - Flowers September White flowers have an incredible, delicately sweet fragrance. Tall graceful foliage and root are spicy, sweet when broken.

Mexican Papyrus Cyperus giganteus ZONE 8 - 8' to 10' - Showier and more upright than Egyptian papyrus. An awesome specimen plant. Excellent for natural filtration in large ponds.

Water Primrose / Aztec Arrowhead

Water Primrose Ludwigia peploides ZONE 8 - 2' - Flowers June, July, August, September - Creeping shiny ovate foliage. Bright yellow flowers persist most of the summer. Vigorous.

Aztec Arrowhead Sagittaria montevidensis ZONE 8 - 2' to 3' - Flowers July, August, September - Strong, showy rich-green foliage. White flowers with burgundy markings and bright yellow centers. Likes deeper water.

Lemon Bacopa / Green Taro

Lemon Bacopa Bacopa caroliniana ZONE 8 - 2" to 6" - Flowers June, July, August, September - Dense green foliage is covered with delicate blue blossoms that persist all summer. Intense lemon scented foliage

Green Taro Colocasia esculenta ZONE 8 - 3' TO 4' - Masses of large dark green leaves. Matures to 4' tall if wintered indoors each year.

Two Leaf Water Clover / Water Mint

Two Leaf Water Clover ZONE 7 - 6" - Shiny leaves dance delightfully on the surface if placed near a waterfall or fountain. Water beads sparkle on the foliage. An exceptional plant.

Water Mint Mentha aquatica ZONE 6 - 1' - Flowers August, September - Wonderfully aromatic foliage and lilac-pink blossoms make this variety a favorite. Quick surface cover. Great for natural filters and new ponds

Bioverse It's amazing to see the difference when comparing these ponds before using the products to after. Many of my clients want an "all-natural" alternative to treating water with chemicals, and this is a great option. This treatment method also nicely compliments wetland plant community restoration, since it doesn't harm desirable emergent and transitional native plants.

AquaSpherePRO Biodegradable - 50,000 gallons

Designed to prevent pond issues before they arise, promoting pond health. This newly released addition to our AquaSphere product line is all-natural and 100% biodergradable. It‘s the same great product just with less hassle, you just gently toss the sphere in your pond.

Sphere ships complete with our 24/7 30 day PROFormula. Will treat smaller fresh water ponds for up to 30 days on a 24/7 basis. Currently experiencing issues with algae and weeds? Please, view the “Pond Treatment Wizard” located on the lower left portion of the home page for step by step guidance.

Our Price: $35.79



Pond Supply Water Garden Supplies including Kits, Pondless Waterfalls, Pumps, Filters and Treatments

Love Your Pond natural ponds, fish guide, plant guide, etc.

Nature's Pond

*Nature's Pond Care see video. Totally natural and safe.

Ordered 1 qt. 9/3/16... was $54.44 with shipping [$14.49]

1/2/17 Order SRU3052 for same. $55.25

Nature's Pond Care Program

Nature's Pond: Overview and Results

Nine Months Later


Plants for Water Gardens

Plants for Water Gardens
Water Plants Garden Time TV

The Ultimate Backyard Water Garden
Ponds, Watergardens & Waterfalls: Chapter 7 Plants, Fish and Water Care
Water Garden Pond Design ThePondDigger



CRYSTAL CREEK POND SUPPLY LLC Pond Plants Floating plants.

9/6//16 Your receipt number for this payment is: 3694-2739-9323-6270. for Red Stemmed Parrot's Feather and Hardy Floating - Frogbit

CRYSTAL CREEK POND SUPPLY LLC Pond Plants Floating plants.

9/6//16 Your receipt number for this payment is: 3694-2739-9323-6270. for Red Stemmed Parrot's Feather and Hardy Floating - Frogbit

SHIPPING IS TRAUMATIC FOR PLANTS! - They need water as soon as possible to prevent transplant shock.

1. It is important upon arrival of your plants to put them in a plastic tub of some of your pond water (not tap water) and keep them in a shaded area outside with indirect sun exposure for a day before placing them in your pond. The roots of the plants start drying out during shipping. The roots need to get restarted pumping water to the leaves again before they are exposed to full sun. A leaf has no way to get moisture from a root system that is partially dry and not pumping fluids yet. Full sun exposure the first day may burn the leaf for lack of liquid cooling in the plant capillaries. You can accidentally kill a healthy plant by putting it in direct sunlight when it is just out of the shipping box. Be sure to follow these instructions!

2. Whatever you do, just don't sit the box aside for any length of time after you get it. An extra day or two of sitting around without water and light may well kill the plants.

3. We guarantee the arrival of healthy, viable plants. If you should receive a plant that appears to be in unhealthy or damaged condition, we must be notified within 24 hours of your receipt of the plant.

4. Some plants varieties are light sensitive and may appear slightly brown, limp or lifeless from the stress of shipping. They will come back fine if you take care of them promptly.

PLANTING FLOATING OXYGENATOR PLANTS - These are the easiest to plant. Just lay them in the pond! Shade them in pond water for a day before exposing them to full sun. If you want to contain them so they don't float into your skimmer you will need to make a floating fence for them. An old Hula Hoop spray painted flat black, with a large fishing weight anchoring it in place, works very well. Or you can get some clear plastic tubing and connect it in a circle making it air tight. Place your floaters in this area to keep them where you want them. IMPORTANT - Koi love to nibble on floating plant root tips! Always keep some floating plants in the top of your waterfall box to replace the ones the koi tear up.

In my opinion, the #1 plant for fast growth and powerful water filtration is the water hyacinth and the jumbo's are the best way to go. In fact many cities in the USA use them to prefilter the waste water in their water treatment plants. If you put them in direct sun the first day the leaves have no fluids and the sun will burn the leaves. But once they are acclimated you can put them anywhere you wish. We have many customers who order full boxes (1 full box is 25 jumbo plants) each year. In my opinion, they are the best floaters for any purpose and the rest of the floaters are good, but not the high powered cleansing factories like hyacinth. However, if you have Koi they love to nibble on hyacinth root tips. Always keep some in the top of your waterfall box to replace the ones the koi tear up! Periodically the hyacinth will get their root masses entangled and it is suggested that you pull the root masses apart to encourage new growth. UNABLE TO SHIP TO TEXAS.

Frogbit, Frog's Bit, Frogsbit (Hydrocharis morsus-ranae) is a miniature floating plant with smooth shiny green heart-shaped leaves 1-2” across. Leaves are deeply notched at the base with thick spongy tissue in the center and on undersides. Frogbit looks similar to a small water lily, although, the name comes from how it resembles the chin of a frog in the water. Tiny cup shaped white flowers with a pale yellow center in July and August. Frogbit does best in still water with full sun to shade. Can be very aggressive with fast coverage and require periodic thinning. Frogbit will root where ever possible. Remove dead or dying foliage and flowers as they appear. Hardy to zone 7 or higher, winterizing is only possible indoors.

Water Hyacinth / Frogbit

Sensitive Plant (Neptunia aquatica) Desirable creeping plant with small delicate diamond-shaped leaves that float on ponds surface. This aquatic plant Mimosa pigra is also called the Catclaw mimosa. Sensitive Plant grows to height of 6" and spreads to 36". It belongs to the family Fabaceae and is a native plant of the US. The Sensitive Plant should be treated as an annual aquatic. At night as the name suggests the sensitive thin and narrow leaflets fold up. Foliage also closes slowly when touched or injured. This species has been widely introduced as an ornamental plant. This pond plant propagates by seed or by cutting. Sensitive Plant blooms in summer with yellow Sweet Pea like flowers. Set out after the pond water has reached 70º F. Needs full sun to partial shade. Colorful yellow flowers in summer. The plant should be planted in soil 3-8” in depth, but can be floated on the waters surface. Zones 9-11.

Large Leaf Sensitive Plant (Aeschynomene fluitans) A larger variety of the sensitive plant can spread 6’ to 8'. Large Leaf Sensitive Plant is a very desirable plant with diamond-shaped leaves for surface coverage and can be trained up onto rocks. This giant aquatic plant Mimosa Pigra is also called the Catclaw Mimosa. It belongs to the family Fabaceae and is a native plant of the US. The Large Leaf Sensitive Plant is a perennial aquatic but, over time it may need to be replaced in an artificial pond environment. At night as the name suggests the sensitive thin and narrow leaflets fold up. Foliage also closes slowly when touched or injured. This species has been widely introduced as an ornamental plant. This pond plant propagates by seed or by cutting. The plant should be planted in soil, but can be floated on waters surface. Large Leaf Sensitive Plant blooms August and September with yellow Sweet Pea like flowers. Like most aquatic plants, to grow at its best, the Large Leaf Sensitive Plant needs a lot of good light and it will grow quickly. Set out after the pond water has reached 70º F. Plant in soil, allowing the stems to float on the waters surface. Hardy to zone 8 or higher.

Sensitive Plant / Large Leaf Sensitive Plant

Parrot’s Feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) a member of the water-milfoil family (Halo-ragaceae), an aquatic perennial has a silvery-gray color in shade, and lime green colored in full sun. Parrot’s Feather with it’s feathery texture is a must have for your pond or watergarden. It softens the edges of the pond and adds oxygen to the water. When fish are spawning the trailing stems and roots provide structure for the eggs to cling to and a wonderful place for baby fry to hide. The stem and leaves can grow up to a foot above the water surface, giving the appearance of small fir trees. Fish are not known to eat Parrot’s Feather. It can be grown in pots or floating on ponds surface. Pot Parrot’s Feather with 3-12" of water over the top of the pot. Can also tuck plants in rock crevices in steam beds, or water falls where it will take root and grow out across the pond. Older stems tend to become less attractive, snip off the tips, and throw back in the water or push back into planting material. In a few days it will quickly grow new roots. Quick and easy growing in full to partial sun. Plumes will grow to about 8 inches tall while the roots will filter the water. In the evening plants will close up and drops of water form on plant that sparkle in light. Hardy from zone 5-11, can winter over indoors put cuts from plant in a bowl of water with water-soluble fertilizer located in the sun.

Red Stemmed Parrot's Feather (Myriophyllum Brasiliensis) is a very adaptable plant. Similar in habits to the green stemmed Parrot’s Feather it is a newer dwarf form. Attractive red-stemmed foliage that grows up out of the water with brilliant color contrast. Stems are red-blue which can intensify with sun exposure. Red Stemmed Parrot's Feather is excellent for oxygenating and maintaining clean and healthy water. It also provides a protective environment for small fish and wildlife. Water depth 0-18” over the top of pot. Water depth can be from 0" to length of mature stems up to 3 feet. Hardy to Zone 5.

Parrot’s Feather / Red Stemmed Parrot's Feather

[Common] Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) T Floating water hyacinths have glossy bulbous leaves on top of spongy leaf stalks. Orchid-like flowers are on an occasional single spike, usually a striking blue to purple in color. Water Hyacinth is one of the most beautiful and popular water plants for ponds and water gardens. Fish find use of the long stringy roots for protecting eggs and spawn. These efficient roots help water quality by filtering out impurities naturally keeping water clear. Water Hyacinths are delightfully fragrant in bloom. Set in vases, Hyacinths are ideal for growing indoors. Float these water plants on the pond surface. Hardy zones 9-10.

Jumbo Water Hyacinth larger in size these water garden plants provide instant coverage and water filtration. Beautiful Orchid-like flowers are on an occasional single spike, usually a striking blue to purple in color. For maximum surface coverage the Jumbo Water Hyacinth is the way to go. One plant averages about 1 foot wide by about 16 inches high. Just take them out of the box and float on the top of your pond water in a shaded area at first. Then move them into sun. The water hyacinth feeds off of the nutrients in the water. It is hard to conceptualize how spectacular and big these plants are. These plants will provide a very dramatic change in the beauty and coverage of your pond.

Common Water Hyacinth / Jumbo Water Hyacinth

Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) a non-native Water Lettuce is a free-floating plant with lots of spongy, light green leaves. No planting is necessary. The leaves are covered with tiny hairs and arranged in a spiral pattern from the center of the plant. Water lettuce leaves are 1- 6” wide and are ribbed with veins through their length. Water Lettuce will grow in sun but prefers partial shade during heat of the day and will multiply quickly in warm water. Flowers are seldom seen and hidden between the leaves. Water lettuce can be very aggressive grower and will form thick floating mats. Water lettuce should be controlled so they do not cover the entire pond to prevent oxygen depletions. Submerged portions of these plants provide habitats for many invertebrates. These invertebrates are used as food by fish and other wildlife species. CANNOT SELL IN TEXAS

Water Lettuce

Floating Plants

What Are Floating Plants: Types Of Free Floating Water Plants Floating pond plants are unusual in the plant world because they don’t grow with their roots in the soil like other plants. Their roots hang down into the water and the rest of the plant floats on top like a raft.

If you’re looking to decorate your backyard water feature, floating plants for ponds can give the area a cool, natural look with very little effort. In fact, these plants are so carefree that many of them should be thinned each year to prevent them from overtaking the local water system.

This unusual group of plants takes all their nutrients from water, bypassing any need to have their roots in soil. They’re often food for local wildlife, like duckweed, or provide protected spaces for fish spawning, like parrot’s feather does.

Water lettuce and water hyacinth are two of the best-known varieties. If you have a larger pond or another enclosed body of water, learning how to use floating plants can go a long way toward your man-made feature look more natural.

Salvinia and water lettuce can create the same problems of growing into a large mat, keeping sunlight from the lake bottoms and using all the oxygen in the water, killing off fish and wildlife below.

NOTE: The use of native plants in a home water garden (referred to as wild harvesting) can be risky if you have fish in your pond, as most natural water features are host to a plethora of parasites. Any plants taken from a natural water source should be quarantined overnight in a strong solution of potassium permanganate to kill any parasites prior to introducing them into your pond. That being said, it is always best to obtain water garden plants from a reputable nursery.

Amz. comment
Question: Do the plants go directly into the pond?
Answer: Yes, but make sure you can add some rocks around the roots or they may get sucked in to the skimmer. Once they put down longer roots they should stay in place.

CRYSTAL CREEK POND SUPPLY LLC Pond Plants Floating plants.

9/6//16 Your receipt number for this payment is: 3694-2739-9323-6270. for Red Stemmed Parrot's Feather and Hardy Floating - Frogbit

SHIPPING IS TRAUMATIC FOR PLANTS! - They need water as soon as possible to prevent transplant shock.

1. It is important upon arrival of your plants to put them in a plastic tub of some of your pond water (not tap water) and keep them in a shaded area outside with indirect sun exposure for a day before placing them in your pond. The roots of the plants start drying out during shipping. The roots need to get restarted pumping water to the leaves again before they are exposed to full sun. A leaf has no way to get moisture from a root system that is partially dry and not pumping fluids yet. Full sun exposure the first day may burn the leaf for lack of liquid cooling in the plant capillaries. You can accidentally kill a healthy plant by putting it in direct sunlight when it is just out of the shipping box. Be sure to follow these instructions!

2. Whatever you do, just don't sit the box aside for any length of time after you get it. An extra day or two of sitting around without water and light may well kill the plants.

3. We guarantee the arrival of healthy, viable plants. If you should receive a plant that appears to be in unhealthy or damaged condition, we must be notified within 24 hours of your receipt of the plant.

4. Some plants varieties are light sensitive and may appear slightly brown, limp or lifeless from the stress of shipping. They will come back fine if you take care of them promptly.

PLANTING FLOATING OXYGENATOR PLANTS - These are the easiest to plant. Just lay them in the pond! Shade them in pond water for a day before exposing them to full sun. If you want to contain them so they don't float into your skimmer you will need to make a floating fence for them. An old Hula Hoop spray painted flat black, with a large fishing weight anchoring it in place, works very well. Or you can get some clear plastic tubing and connect it in a circle making it air tight. Place your floaters in this area to keep them where you want them. IMPORTANT - Koi love to nibble on floating plant root tips! Always keep some floating plants in the top of your waterfall box to replace the ones the koi tear up.

pond photos

pond photos

William Tricker, Inc. oldest water garden specialist, Ohio, 1-800-524-3492.

Azolla (Azolla caroliniana). Very small floating plant, often called fairy moss, with tiny scale-shaped leaves. It provides a thick lacy velvet carpet of floating bluish-green or, in the autumn a brilliant crimson congested foliage that is very beautiful. An interesting characteristic of Azolla is that it has a mutual living relationship with alga that "fixes" or prepares nitrogen from the atmosphere for the tiny plant as food. [Mosquito ferns. Azolla is a genus of seven species of aquatic ferns in the family Salviniaceae. They are extremely reduced in form and specialized, looking nothing like other typical ferns but more resembling duckweed or some mosses. Wikipedia]


The Pond Guy Floating Plants--Water Hyacinth, Frogbit, and other floating plants filter the nutrients that cause excessive algae growth. They also provide shade and cover for fish and other aquatic organisms.


The Pond Guy Snails 101--Japanese Trapdoor Snails , also known by the scientific name Viviparis malleatus. Snails are invertebrates called gastropods. They are scavenging herbivores that feed on algae and other organic debris. Japanese Trapdoor Snails get their name from the hinged fingernail-like plate that seals the shell's opening, offering protection from drought and predators.

Japanese Trapdoor Snails / adult and babies

These snails are dark in color and vary greatly in size, but usually arrive to your door dime-sized. They are cold-weather tolerant, making them a perfect addition to most water gardens.

In order for these snails to have a positive effect on your water garden, we recommend a group – or escargatoire – of at least 10 snails per 50 square feet of pond.

Japanese Trapdoor Snails can be male or female. How do you know if you can name them Jack or Jill? Just take a look at the antennae. Antennae on females are the same size, whereas male have one that is shorter. This shorter antenna also doubles as a reproductive organ.

After their travels, your snails will need a bit of time to get used to their new home. Just like fish, it is best to acclimate them slowly, especially in chilly early-season waters. Add some pond water to the bag and float or hold them in the water for a few minutes, out of direct sunlight. Once acclimated, leave them in a shallow area and let them work their way into the deeper sections of your pond. If they float, don't worry; air occasionally gets trapped in the shell. As long as the trapdoor is still in place, your snails are alive and the air will work its way out.

When hungry, they will nibble on the algae, leaves, excess fish food, and other decaying matter. As with any aquatic critters, your snails need oxygen. Keep it flowing with an aeration kit, so your gastropods stay happy – you will also have a healthier pond!

HARDIER THAN THE AVERAGE SNAIL Though little, Japanese Trapdoor Snails can handle temperatures down to 0°F. Unlike other snails that use a snail's version of a snorkel to get air from outside the pond, Japanese Trapdoor Snails get oxygen from the water using their gills. Therefore, during winter they can stay in the warmer water at the bottom, rather than coming up to the frigid surface.

Fish Pond Info--Snails

Water Lilies

Video: Care of Lilies : Planting Instructions for Water Lily Pond Plants
Care of Lilies : How to Take Care of Lily Pads
Be Green 2: Water lilies are easy to grow note Mosquito Fish
Planting a hardy Waterlily 2012 for maximum flower production
Waterlily Database
Grow Hardy Waterlily Without Pot
How to plant waterlilies - The English Garden magazine rinse your pea gravel or it will change the pH of your pond
Repotting an overgrown Hardy Waterlily

Mosquito Fish - Gambezi

Mosquito Fish The western mosquitofish (Gambusia affinis) is a species of freshwater fish, also known commonly, if ambiguously, as simply mosquitofish or by its generic name, Gambusia, or by the common name gambezi. There is also an eastern mosquitofish (G. holbrooki).

Mosquitofish are small in comparison to many other freshwater fish, with females reaching an overall length of 7 cm (2.8 in) and males at a length of 4 cm (1.6 in). The female can be distinguished from the male by her larger size and a gravid spot at the posterior of her abdomen. The name "mosquitofish" was given because the diet of this fish sometimes consists of large numbers of mosquito larvae, relative to body size.[3] Gambusia typically eat zooplankton, beetles, mayflies, caddisflies, mites, and other invertebrates; mosquito larvae make up only a small portion of their diet.

Mosquitofish were introduced directly into ecosystems in many parts of the world as a biocontrol to lower mosquito populations which in turn negatively affected many other species in each distinct bioregion. Mosquitofish in Australia are classified as a noxious pest and may have exacerbated the mosquito problem in many areas by outcompeting native invertebrate predators of mosquito larvae.

Several counties in California distribute mosquitofish at no charge to residents with manmade fish ponds and pools as part of their mosquito abatement programs. The fish are made available to residents only and are intended to be used solely on their own property, not introduced into natural habitat. On 24 February 2014, Chennai Corporation in India introduced western mosquitofish in 660 ponds to control the mosquito population in freshwater bodies.

Mosquitofish can survive relatively inhospitable environments, and are resilient to low oxygen concentrations, high salt concentrations (up to twice that of sea water), and temperatures up to 42 °C (108 °F) for short periods.[11] Because of their notable adaptability to harsh conditions and their global introduction into many habitats for mosquito control, they have been described as the most widespread freshwater fish in the world.

Mosquitofish were intentionally introduced in many areas with large mosquito populations to decrease the population of mosquitoes by eating the mosquito larvae. However, most introductions were ill-advised; in most cases native fish had already proven to supply maximal control of mosquito population and introducing mosquitofish has been more harmful to indigenous aquatic life than to the mosquito population. Introductions outside the mosquitofish's natural range can be harmful to the nonnative ecosystems. Mosquitofish have been known to kill or injure other small fish by their aggressive behavior and otherwise harm them through competition. They are now considered just slightly better at eating mosquitoes than at destroying other aquatic species.


How a cute little frog can sound so big


Red Firespike (Odontonema strictum) in left foreground, Tree Crinums mid and Bougainvillea hedge in rear

Crinum Lily [Crinum spp.] South Florida: With its commanding presence, the exotic crinum lily enhances more formal to wildly tropical landscaping.

Crinum Lily or Spider Lily Zones: 8 - 11; Large perennial herb with tunicate bulbs, often with long necks, stalkless, often clump forming

Origin: Tropical and subtropical Asia and Africa, some species come from Florida and the dryer regions of South Africa and the arid Middle East
Zones: 8 - 11
Height: 5' or more
Rate of Growth: Fast

Crinum (Giant) Lily / Crinum (Giant) Lily Flowers

Soil Requirements: Average, well-drained soil
Water Requirements: Requires regular watering
Nutritional Requirements: Balanced liquid fertilizer monthly
Light Requirements: Full sun to partial shade
Form: Clump forming herb
Leaves: 5' long, light green, fleshy, thick
Flowers: Bisexual, white, pink red, some striped or multicolored, summer-fall, some fragrant at night
Fruits: Capsule, green, spherical, seeds globose

Red Crinum (Giant) Lily / Red Crinum Flower stalk

Pests or diseases: Leaf spots, caterpillars, grasshoppers
Uses: Border, pot plant, bedding plant
Bad Habits: Foliage damaged by frost, but recovers rapidly
Cost: $$ -- Very reasonable
Propagation: Seeds are slow to germinate and reach flowering size, division recommended

Red Crinum flowers / Red Crinum flower close-up

Pond Conversion Ideas & Plant arrangements

[left] Natural Pond Balance Eco-System Formula - 5 elements: Oxygenating Grasses, Water Lilies, Pond Fish, Water Snails, Bog Plants of Small aquatic plants / from Fish Pond Construction

from Fish Pond Plan possibilities

from Fish Pond Construction

Pond Duckweed Control from Fish Pond Construction

Design from Pond Construction possibilities

Pond plan & plants ideas / Pond waterfall plan possibility

Water lily in pond / Pond plant Elephant Ears or Taro

Pond plant levels / Pond plan & plants ideas

Pond plan & plants ideas / Pond plan & plants ideas

Patio possibilities / Patio possibilities

Aquatic plant types & levels in water/ Aquatic plant arrangement in pond & pond possibility

Aquatic plant arrangement in pond / Pond ecosystem illustrated [hojas is leaves]

Illustration of aquatic plant placement / Pond plan possibility

Pond plan idea / Aquatic plant levels/supports w/inches deep shown Bigger

Pond plan possibility / Pond plan possibility

Pond plan possibility / Aquatic plant support idea & levels

Aquatic plant support idea / Water lily planter illustrated

Water lily planter illustrated / Pond ecosystem illustrated [hojas is leaves]

Pond plan & plants possibilities / Pond plan & plants possibilities [click here to enlarge

Waterfall design idea / Waterfall and patio design idea

Pond Waterfall plan possibility / Water lily planting details

Patio Change/Plan Ideas

Cheap Patio Ideas

Patio Ideas

Smart inexpensive Patio Ideas

Walkway or Patio & landscaping ideas

1 & 2 Inexpensive Patio Pavers / Textured concrete blocks

3 & 4 Samples

5 & 6 Samples [both involve placing soil & plants between house & patio

7 & 8 Samples

9 & 10 Samples

11 & 12 Samples

13 & 14 Samples

15 & 16 Samples

17 & 18 Samples


Photographer Captures The Multi-Colored Magic Of Hummingbirds

Native Plants

Native Shade Plants



Wintering Your Pond in Central Texas WGG is in Marion, TX.

Winterizing your pond can be critical to the health of your fish during the winter and during the warming transition into Spring as well as your Pond Ecosystem will be cleaner and benefit from properly being "put away" at the end of the growing season. How to winterize your pond depends on your climate. I am going to focus this educational blog on central Texas...

Your fish and plants will go dormant to an extent for 2-3 months, your water temperatures will get into the 50's, and your pond is very unlikely to ever ice over more than 24 hours. If you have never winterized before, you need to start!

If you have always done a "spring cleaning" of your pond where you empty it and clean out the muck and sludge and start the filter fresh every March, you need to stop! Hopefully I can help you create and maintain a healthier pond year 'round...and it can start today with a good and proper "WINTERIZING".

Winter pond / Hornwort & Parrots Feather for winter hardiness

First, let's list some MYTHS about the winter...some false myths:

-Your fish hibernate during the winter
-Your pond does not need maintenance during the winter
-Your pond has a healthy ecosystem naturally during the winter
-Spring is the best time to clean out your pond
-Spring is the best time to add Koi to your pond
-You should not add fish during the winter
-You need to heat your pond during the winter
-Your fish can die from cold water
-You should turn your pump off before each freeze

These are not true...so if you have been living by these in the past, now you can quit.

Pre-Winter Cleaning:

You want to complete a pre-winter cleaning of your pond for numerous reasons...by the end of the growing season, you have a good amount of sludge on the bottom of your pond, algae on the sides that is about the die from the cold termperatures coming, fish waste and biowaste filling up your filter and pump lines, etc.

All of this will sit and toxify the water through the winter if it is left in the pond. That does not mean the first winter you leave it all in there your fish are going to die...but we want our fish to be living in high quality, clean water...and that requires a little work on our parts to give them that and keep their health and immune systems high.

The fish's immune system will be lowest during and coming out of winter so we want to avoid parasite, protozoans, fungus and bacterias as much as possible...best way to do this is a clean pond and good Oxygen levels. So here is the simple Pre-winter cleaning regimen for our climate:

Ideally, 30 days or so before your water temperature drops to 60 degrees…

-Remove all sludge, fish waste, and leaves from the bottom of the pond. You do want these going through biological breakdown over winter in your pond

-Do a 20-30% water change to remove excess Nitrates and add a good dechlorinator that deals with ammonia as well.

-Deep Clean your filter…pads, bio balls, etc. Replace with new media pads, etc to remove extra Nitrates

-Start slowing down the feeding routine to reduce fish waste going into winter and to prep your fish for further food reductions when temperatures drop

-Optional treating for Flukes and Parasites going into winter can protect your fish when their immune systems are low


Organic sediments (leaves, fish waste) on the bottom of your pond creates anaerobic zones that can have odors and worse create breeding grounds for parasites, fungus, and toxic gases.

Poor water clarity and water quality will result from sludge build up and severe cases can lead to disease and fish loss due to the amount of toxins in the pond.

Sludge digesters are packed with living enzymes and beneficial bacterias that breakdown and convert the sludge and nitrates to safe proteins, water and oxygen creating a win win for everything in the pond.

Keep your fish and your aqua ecosystem healthy by maintaining the water quality on a routine bases. Your fish will be less likely to get sick in a healthy, stress-free pond that has the right mix of bacteria, algae, oxygen, and nitrates so make sure you test and adjust accordingly. There are many products that will help you gain clarity in your water so you have a more beautiful and enjoyable pond that are safe for your fish and plants as well.

Algae Fix

Crystal Clear

Fritz Aquatics

Laguna Warm temperatures, intense sunlight, and the accumulation of organic waste are factors that can contribute to an unattractive pond. Laguna offers a number of products that can help offset the results of these environmental conditions.

Strata There are many myths regarding the benefits of bacterial treatments. Organic Digester natural pond treatment is extremely powerful, that is all that needs to be said! Organic Digester is composed of both multiple bacteria as well as enzymes!! It is so strong, that it can save you up to 10 times the cost.

Tetra Water Treatment


Leaves can be your worst ENEMY in the fall and winter. As they fall to the bottom of your pond and decay into sludge, they take oxygen and add toxins into the water. Coupled with the decrease in beneficial bacteria during the winter, decaying leaves can create nightmare water quality issues for your Koi. Nets for Sale


Your aquatic plants need a little care in the fall as they go dormant, and then nothing until they return back in the Spring. The care they need is dependent on what kind of plants they are.

-Tropical plants…like tropical lilies, Papyrus, mint, and many taros, etc need to be protected in the winter so moving indoors or into the garage in a bucket is wise.

-Perennials are hardy and will most always be fine in our winters…Hardy Water Lilies, Iris, Palms, Rushes, etc. These need care by the plant type, but in general trimming the browning folage so it does not decay into the pond and making sure the pot is cleaned of String Algae, etc as needed so as not to seed winter algae varieties

Keep in mind while the plant top may go dormant, many plants grow roots in the winter so Spring repotting is always recommended.

It is not recommended to repot aquatic plants until Spring at which point new soil, fertilizer, and a root hair cut is recommended.

There are good plants to add to your pond for the winter...plants that grow in the cold water rather than go dormant.

Hornwort and Parrots Feather are our choice. Call us for ordering details. 210-659-5841


There is a correct way to feeding your Koi this winter. Feeding is based on water temperature so a simple water thermometer is a great addition to have going into the colder months.

-You want to stop feeding when the water temperature drops to 55 degrees

-You want to feed in warm water…above 60 degrees and when you know the water will stay above 60 for 3-4 days.

-You want to feed a Wheat-Germ based food as it is easier and quicker to digest.

-Once your water temperature drops to 65, start slowing down how much you feed to work your fish onto a smaller diet over time


The BLUE HERON is your primary predator during the winter. This migratory bird makes it’s home in Texas during the cold winter months so you need to protect your pond! They are more patient than your fish are smart so it is up to you to keep them from getting to your Koi and Goldfish.

Netting your pond with a fish-safe pond net is always the best option for winter protection. These nets come in several sizes and can be staked into the ground and hang over the pond in a non-invasive manner so you can still enjoy your fish, but the predators cannot.

Decoys are also great options...From Blue Heron to Crocodiles...decoys can add protection and character to your pond.


Feeding, Fish Metabolism, Beneficial Bacteria, Ammonia control, Oxygen levels all work together

@65 degrees - slow down feeding, plants start going dormant, algae growth stops

@60 degrees - Feed occassionally when you see fish are active, beneficial bacteria will become ineffective, metabolism slows way down, Ammonia levels become a concern if fish get stressed, Tropical plants very likely to die off.

@55 degrees – Stop feeding your fish as their metabolism declines to nothing, most Tropicals will not tolerate, Any ammonia and Nitrites in water will not be consumed by bacterias.

Laguna Floating Thermometer / 4' Floating Crocodile decoy

Water Temperature is everything...you need to watch as winter is coming on and then again as Spring is nearing. Don't jump from full feeding to no feeding, and back again...ease into changes and adjustments...but make sure you do.

Plant Life for Water Gardens Plants available for use in water gardens are many. Choosing these is a pleasure, but there are certain considerations to be taken into account.

Most considerations, such as water depth, amount of sunlight, and how each species relates to its surroundings should have been considered during the design phase.

Floating leafed and submerged plants are necessary for a healthy pond and must be included in your selection. The following is a partial list of cultivars of readily available plants by use group.

Much more info... cover later.

Aquascapes Unlimited Bucks Cty., Penn. "The most complete source for native herbaceous wetland and ornamental aquatic perennials." [wholesale]

Pond Plants R Us water hyacinth, For Tx we suggest Giant Sensitive Plant as an alternative to Water Hyacinth and Water Lettuce.

Texas Water Lilies Waller, Tx. Wholesale and retail. Near Houston; halfway between Houston and Brenham

Organic Pond

Texas Ponds and Water Features in Austin & Houston.

Organic Pond Ecosystem

The ecosystem-based pond we install for our customers was developed almost twenty years ago by a team of pond builders and has been studied, honed, and perfected over the years to be the most easily maintained, natural looking, and readily customizable pond system you can own.

The ecosystem pond that Texas Ponds and Water Features installs in our water features was developed by a team of professional pond builders and has been used in hundreds of thousands of water features all over the country since then. The system was originated and has been perfected over the years, not by writers of water gardening books, but by people who actually design and build ponds for a living. When a system doesn't work right, we are the guys that have to come out and fix it and learn from the mistake.

To set the historical stage, equipment manufacturers (and thereby their customers) in the Water Gardening industry have evolved from two primary sources....1)The water filtration industry (waste water treatment)....and 2)The swimming pool design/chemical sterilization orientation. The water filtration people (comprised mostly of engineers) figured that whoever made the best filter would win the race for clean water. That was and still is the predominant orientation to the water gardening business. The pool design/sterilization crowd tried a different route. Their strategy was to add chemicals to pond water to sterilize or alter it. This is where all the UV light sterilizers and pond chemicals come from. These people promote a sterile and chemically-dependent pond. These systems are definitely not natural. Either of these approaches will require far more mainenance time from the pond owner as well as costing far more in the long run.

The ecosystem pond brings a third orientation to the Water Gardening industry. This one aims to work in harmony with Mother Nature (not against her) by creating a balanced ecosystem in the first place! This low-maintenance organic, holistic, and naturalistic approach to keeping our customers' pond water clear separates us from other water garden installation companies in the state. And the fact that the proper installation of this system can actually reduce mosquito populations makes it the perfect system for Texas.

The greatest benefit of creating a balanced ecosystem in your pond is that the system actually does most of the routine maintenance for you! The skimmer holding the pump continuously sweeps the surface clean, depositing most windblown debris in a catch bag for easy removal. Additionally, as the water is pumped through the Biofalls filter, millions of microscopic beneficial bacteria go to work scrubbing the pond clean of the suspended algae that causes green water. In the pond itself, the plants growing with their roots planted directly in the gravel substrate of the pond take nutrients directly from the water, helping to prevent string algae blooms. And pond fish naturally graze the rocks and gravel for organic material that they can eat, keeping the bottom clean in the process. By combining both mechanical and biological filtration, the pond's own ecosystem does the maintenance for you, reducing your work and increasing your enjoyment.

Texas Ponds and Water Features exclusively installs Aquascape's Ecosystem Pond System for our clients, designed and installed by our own team of well-trained, experienced pond professionals or working in conjunction with your own trusted landscaper. We are Certified Aquascape Contractors, having installed more than 100 ponds using this system, and completing numerous hours of classroom and field training and having our work and our customer service evaluated by other water gardening professionals..

Aquascape Components


The BIOFALLS(R) is an up-flow biological filter and waterfall all in one!

A biological filter is basically a large container used to house as many beneficial bacteria as possible. Some people do not mind a box or barrel sitting alongside their pond dumping water out through a pipe. But for our natural-looking water features, this simply won't do. By combining the filter with the falls, we get the functionality of a biological filter and the beauty of a waterfall.

The water is fed from the pump through a flexible PVC pipe to the bottom of the BIOFALLS. It first enters the 'swirl chamber' where any solids are allowed to settle out. It then rises up through the filtrataion media where it comes in contact with millions of beneficial bacteria which 'scrub' the pond clean of green water.

The cleaned water then re-enters the pond by spilling naturally over the waterfall stones. This action also helps aerate the pond water, which is important for the health of the fish and bacteria.


An awesome invention that substantially reduces pond maintenance, the CleanSweep Skimmer allows the pump to sit inside and skim surface debris from the pond as it operates. All you need to do is empty the catch bag and periodically rinse the filter pad. Depending on the amount of surface debris your pond has, you can spend as little as 5 minutes per month emptying your skimmer.

An automatic overflow valve is positioned in the back to route excess rainwater away from the pond.

The CleanSweep Skimmer is an invention that performs several functions in a low-maintenance pond. It will be buried in the ground at pond's edge and only the faux-stone lid will be visible.

In addition to skimming surface debris from the pond, the skimmer also protects the pump from clogging by channelling the pond water through two pre-filters before it ever reaches the pump. There is no chance of a malfuntioning bottom drain emptying your entire pond and leaving your fish stranded with this system.

Pumps from 1500gph to 10,000gph are available and have been designed exclusively for use in a pond skimmer.


AquaClearer brand beneficial bacteria naturally balances the pond and keeps it clear and healthy. This is a natural bacteria found in all natural bodies of water. We just want a concentrated amount of bacteria in the filters faster than nature would build them up on her own, so we add AquaClearer.

The bacteria serves several functions in the balanced pond ecosystem. First off, it competes directly with algae for the free-floating nutrients in the pond water. The stronger and healthier your bacteria colonies are, the cleaner and healthier your pond's water will be because there are not enough nutrients in the water to support the suspended algae that turns pond water green.

Bacteria also works in the ecosystem to convert the harmful ammonia into ammonium nitrate, which is plant fertilizer. The plants, their roots unconstrained by pots, take all the nutrients they need to thrive directly from the pond's water, literally starving algae out of the entire system.

Green water occurs when nutrients are available for suspended algae to form. Literally millions of single-celled algae are suspended in the pond's water, tinting it a deep emerald green.

Adding a pinch of AquaClearer once a week in the winter and once a month in the summer will keep your pond crystal clear all year round.

Plant Pockets

Plant pockets in the pond's initial excavation provide places for lilies to grow and eliminate the need for unsightly pots. Plant pockets, around six inches deep and filled with soil promote health in plant development by allowing the roots to spread through the surrounding gravel unlike containerized plants, which can quickly become root-bound. Marginal plants do not need pockets and are rooted directly into the gravel substrate of the pond. Eliminating plastic pots helps complete the natural look of our water features.

Rocks and Gravel

Rocks and gravel are an integral part of a balanced pond ecosystem. Rocks and gravel reduce pond maintenance by greatly reducing muck build-up. Bacteria on the rocks and gravel break down organic debris on the bottom of the pond, eliminating most of it from the system. Rocks and gravel are also beautiful to look at, making the pond appear much more natural than a water feature with black liner showing everywhere. They protect the liner from UV rays, doubling its life-expectancy. In addition, rocks and gravel protect the liner from damage from above and serve as ballast during high ground water condidtions.

Small boulders are placed along the vertical walls of the pond, helping to stabilize these areas against hydraulic pressure when the ground gets wet and heavy.

Gravel has been added to cover the horizontal surfaces of the pond, hiding all the light cables and liner and making the inside of the pond look as natural as the surrounding open spaces. We'll rinse all the rocks and gravel before filling the pond.


Fish, such as Koi, Comets, and Goldfish can be successfully kept, and even bred, in water that is only two feet deep as far north as Zone 4 (MN).

The fish keep the pond clean by eating excess algae that may try to form on the rocks of the pond as well as organic material that finds its way to the bottom. You never need to feed the fish in a system like this, although you probably won't be able to resist tossing them a handful of pellets every now and then.

The ammonia in the fishes' waste is converted by the bacteria into ammonium nitrate, which is fertilizer for the plants! They look beautiful and I wouldn't have a pond without them, but the fish also play an equally important role in the balanced pond ecosystem.

Keeping fish in your pond will provide endless hours of entertainment for you and your family. Fish also reduce pond maintenance rather than increase it.


Wildlife Habitat

How ‘Bout A Backyard Wildlife Habitat? by Matt Boring In this time of undeniable climate change, many of us are thinking more about how to reduce the size of our ‘footprints’ on the natural world. Since most of us live in suburbia now, it’s not like the average person can go out and put up a giant windmill to generate clean electricity, but there things you can do on a smaller scale to make a difference. If enough people start thinking, and more importantly, acting along these lines, it can spread out like ripples in a pond, and change the next generation’s attitude about the fragility of the natural world.

The Natural Resource Conservation Service also promotes the Backyard Wildlife Habitat program to encourage people to plan their properties in such a way that the natural species that were most likely living in that area before it was cleared to make a subdivision are given back a piece of the habitat that was taken from them.

The idea behind this plan is to encourage not only using plants native to the area you’re in, but also plants that provide shelter and food, such as Pyrocantha or other berrying plants.

An organically-functioning water garden will not only create an ecosystem within and around itself, it will also invite many different bird species to drink and splash around in the waterfalls and shallow areas. Even a small yard can have big possibilities as long as you don’t think of your space as flat.

It’s a three-dimensional space that includes everything from the bottom of the pond to the tops of the trees. Visit their website to learn more about planning and implementing a Backyard Wildlife Habitat. They also have tips for encouraging nature without inviting mice, etc.

Although most of my pond customers go organic and many have had some great yards for bird watching, none has gone to the point of getting their backyard actually certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat until I met Martha last year. I knew which house it was as soon as I turned onto her street in Pearland TX.

There was not a bit of turf in her front yard. The whole yard was trees, plants, and flowers, everything nicely spaced, weeded, and neatly arranged with the plants’ mature size taken into consideration. This way the plants are allowed to take on more of what their natural shape is so they look better with minimal pruning. I’ve always thought it stupid to plant a shrub that wants to be ten feet tall into a space where you want a three foot tall shrub, then have to go in and butcher the plant 4-6 times a year to keep it that size. It deprives the plant of whatever natural beauty it had and by doing so, it says that shrub selection is not important— you’re just gonna hack it into the shape you want anyway. It’s got a kind weird man vs. nature vibe to it.

Martha had her backyard certified as a wildlife habitat before I met her, but she wanted a bigger source of water for the birds that visited her hard. We put in a nice little pond with a waterfall to provide a nice soothing sound when she sits out on the patio and positioned it so that she could watch it out the window when she was in the house.

Recently I went back to check on things and was so impressed by the way everything had come together that I asked her if she wouldn’t mind writing a couple of sentences about her experiences with the Backyard Wildlife Habitat. I figured I could take those sentences and try to fashion an entertaining article around them, but when I read her words I knew I wanted to leave them just the way she wrote them. She has quite a nice writing style. She’s also included her e-mail address so that you can ask questions about her experiences.

Backyard Habitat

It is a modest 30'x60' backyard in suburbia but rick with living creatures from denizens of the soil, pond dwellers, jumping, creeping, crawling and flying inhabitants. For five years it has been guided by an organic philosophy and a desire to be part of the natural process for this postage stamp plot of earth.

The goal is vital soil population and a robust ecosystem within the confines of a neighborhood and homeowners association. The process is rewarding, and the results give varied pleasure season by season. Nature’s rhythms can be experienced and relied upon to give constancy and structure to the circle of life. My role is facilitator not dominator.

Some backyard residents like the frogs, toads, anoles, skinks, garden snakes, spiders and wasps stay year-round although resting or renewing during the winter months. Others are visitors for a season.

In the spring and fall the hummingbirds patrol their favorite native honeysuckle and salvia on their migration north or south. Butterflies begin and end their life cycle with the appropriate flowers and plants. The process of a caterpillar “changing clothes” in its tiny dressing room is still a miracle.

This past summer a 6'x15' natural pond was added with a shallow “beach” area for birds to enter and exit easily. So far the birds have preferred the flat rock under the waterfall where they shower and preen on a hot summer afternoon. The toads and frogs wasted no time finding the new water supply and have staked a claim. With underwater lights, the night activity can be observed from a window. Red, black, green and red-jeweled dragonflies are drawn to the water source and continue their life cycle in and out of the pond.

An active ecosystem is a feast for the senses. There is anticipation of the natural pattern, surprise with the unexpected and always an ongoing education for all that take time to look and listen.

A Question of Balance, by Matt Boring: The Natural Water Gardener What can we do to bring some of that balance back into our daily existence? Water gardening is one good way, and by really getting intimately in touch with the nature in our own backyard, we can spread some of that understanding and appreciation for the local and global ecosystem into the rest of lives and into the lives of our friends and neighbors. Please allow me to explain.

Those of us who practice organic water gardening with a balanced ecosystem approach know how relaxing it can be to have Mother Nature help keep our pond water clean, clear, and healthy. Our ponds are there for us, not the other way around.

They stay clean on their own by virtue of the theory behind their design, a design based on nature’s own freshwater ecosystems. A balance is attained between the plants, fish, and beneficial bacteria living in the biological filter and on the rocks and gravel– just like in natural waterways.

As long as the pond’s ecosystem stays balanced, our pond water will be clear. And it’s precisely because they stay clear on their own that it’s easy to tell if something goes out of balance. It’s just like a natural creek. It should be clean and clear, but if an overabundance of fertilizer run-off from neighborhoods and golf courses gets into it, it can quickly clog with algae, sometimes choking out the aquatic inhabitants within.

If something goes out of balance in an ecosystem pond, the first symptom will usually be an excess of string algae. It’s no big deal. It shouldn’t be something that’ll kill your fish. It’s just a natural indicator that something isn’t quite right within the system. Maybe you’ve been feeding the fish too much or you’ve made the mistake of fertilizing the aquatic plants. Perhaps there’s a small leak that’s developed due to settling, causing the automatic fill valve to continuously add fresh water, and therefore fresh nutrients, to the system. It could just be one of those times of year, usually a couple of weeks in the spring and fall, when the climate changes and the plants and bacteria aren’t competing as actively for the available nutrients in the water.

After a while we know our system well enough to know if it’s a symptom showing that something’s wrong or if it’s something that will go away after the system re-balances itself after a climatic change.

If you choose to attack the symptom, let’s say suspended or string algae, and ignore the root problem (an unbalanced pond), you’re most likely setting out on a long, expensive, and frustrating journey.

Rather than merely treating the symptoms, we should go to the root of the problem. Any time you have excess string algae or green water there is only one root problem– too many available nutrients in the pond water! If nutrients weren’t available to the algae, it couldn’t grow– it’s that simple.

We can then check for leaks, adjust how much fish food (if any) we’re adding, reduce the fish load, add aquatic plants, or whatever we know our individual system needs. No one knows their pond’s system better than its owner and no two are exactly alike.

Only the owner knows if he or she is feeding the fish more than before, or if their aquatic plants are starting to go dormant for the winter. They should also be aware of whether they’re having to add water to make up for leak-associated water loss. The effort required to fix the problem is minute, once you’re aware of the problem, and you are soon able to return to relaxing beside your pond– not working on it!

Choosing Plants for Your Pond, by Matt Boring If you’re a novice water gardener, don’t let the plants scare you at all. They’re easy to plant, easy to take care of, and best of all, never need watering or fertilizer! Aquatic plants come in an endless variety of heights, colors, and textures. Different plants grow from different depths in your pond, so it truly becomes a three-dimensional garden. That’s another good reason I construct my ponds with several levels.

The plants also serve an important part of the balanced ecosystem of your pond. You see, the ammonia in fish waste is converted by the bacteria and enzymes in the biological filter to ammonium nitrate, which is natural plant fertilizer. It’s not as toxic to the fish, but it still needs to be gotten out of there or it will cause an algae bloom. You see this happening in natural and farm ponds a couple of times a year.

That’s where the plants come in. Most of the plants in the water garden are planted directly into the gravel substrate of the ecosystem pond. Their roots are allowed to grow unconstrained by pots. The plants will perform better for you this way, but more importantly, their roots will spread out into a giant natural filtet, becoming a magnet for the free floating nutrients in your pond water. The less nutrients available in the water, the less chance you have for out-of-control algae that makes your water the color of pea-soup or forms large strings across the pond. The key is to achieve a natural balance between the plants, fish, and beneficial bacteria in the ecosystem.

A word of warning, though. There are some plants that are extremely aggressive in some parts of the state because it doesn’t get cold enough to freeze them back sufficiently in the winter time. They will soon take over an average sized back yard water garden and you’ll soon have more garden than water. Avoid letting giant pennywort, water celery, and water lotus out of their pots or you’ll be sorry. I’d recommend avoiding the giant pennywort altogether.

By all means, don’t avoid the water lotus, though. Place it in the pond and disguise the pot with rocks or stick a decorative pot down into the pond and place the plastic pot with the water lotus into that pot. Unless you have an extremely large pond, I wouldn’t advise letting the full size cattail out of its pot either. Not only will it spread too quickly, it has extremely powerful roots and is about the only plant I know of that may be able to force itself through the liner.

There are many stores that will tell you not to let any plant out of its pot, but those people are not giving you advice on an organic water feature, so you may have to shop around for your plant guidance or shoot me an e-mail and if I don’t know the answer to your particular question, perhaps I can at least point you in the right direction.

We typically plant oxygenating plants like hornwort and water thyme in the lowest level of the pond, usually at about a 2' depth. Simply use the gravel in the pond to weight them down. They’ll soon root in on their own. They give the fish a place to hide and they soak up excess nutrients in the water like a sponge. In the daytime, they may not draw the viewers’ attention much, but at night, with the underwater lights on, they take center stage along with the fish.

On the second shelf of the pond, which is around a 16-18" depth, we excavate planting pockets when we’re digging the pond. Once the liner’s in place, these pockets become the home for water lilies. I let my lilies out of their pots, leaving them in their soil, and covering that with gravel. Some people leave them in the pots, set the pots in the pockets, and cover with gravel to match the surrounding shelf of the pond. They find it easier to remove the lilies for dividing later. I find that if a lily’s grown too big, it’s easy enough to reach down into the gravel and break a piece of the rhizome off. You can toss it in the compost pile or give it to a fellow ponderer. The second shelf is also a great place for the water lotus.

The lotus is truly the crown jewel of the pond. Its blossoms are one of the most beautiful found in nature. They are usually found in gentle pastels. Some even change color as the days pass. The seed pod is very ornamental, resembling a giant shaker and is often found in flower arrangements, both dry and fresh. Get them into the pond early in the year so you can enjoy their blooming season. Lotus will also hold its round, lily-like pads out of the water. They have a waxy texture and water beads and rolls around on the leaves like drops of mercury. They are a fun plant to watch in a gentle rain, as raindrops splash from one leaf to another and eventually disappear into the pond.

Marginal plants are found in the most different varieties. Many of the terrestrial plants we’re already familiar with will grow in this level of the pond. Ruellia, Mondo Grass, Iris, Canna lily, and even Texas Star Hibiscus are included in this group. Marginal plants do best with their feet in only a few inches of water, so we plant these in the top level of the pond. Simply push the gravel aside, remove the plant from its pot, rise off the excess soil, and plant it in your pond, covering the roots with gravel. Taller plants may need some additional support until their roots take hold, but will soon stand on their own.

Tall plants such as Iris, sweet flag, dwarf cattail, taro (looks like elephant ears), umbrella plant, and even some rushes and reeds provide vertical interest to the waterscape. I generally plant tall plants on the back shelf of the pond so they don’t block too much of the view.

The next level of plants include pickeral rush, lizard’s tail, duck potato, red or purple creeper and the like. Think of them as the shrubs in your landscape. They are medium height, not as tall as the tall plants (trees), but taller than the groundcover (grass).

The lower growing plants are great for the front edge of the water garden and for around the sides of the waterfall. They will typically spread out, never getting too tall, and help naturalize the sides of the pond by covering some of the rocks along the edge. Some of these plants include creeping Jenny(moneywort), Bacopa, pennywort, and parrot’s feather.

Parrot’s feather will also float on the surface, helping to shade the water. Since floating plants such as water hyacinth and water lettuce are illegal in Texas, parrot’s feather makes a nice substitute. Planted in the Biofalls, it will soon grow to fill the top, helping to completely disguise the source of your waterfall.

Dragonflies, Turtles and Frogs, Oh My! By Matt Boring “If you build it, they will come.” This famous line from a movie about baseball applies surprisingly well to what happens when you install a naturally balanced pond system in your yard.

Frogs, toads, dragonflies, butterflies, birds, even the occasional turtles and salamanders will soon move into the area to take advantage of the new aquatic real estate. In other words, you never know who’s gonna show up. I’m consistently amazed that the variety of life that will take up residence in and around a backyard pond.

It goes to show that the ecosystem doesn’t stop at the water’s edge. It continues outward and upward from the microscopic plankton that spend their whole lives in the pond’s water all the way up to migratory birds who may only stop once to get a drink and bathe in the stream on their way to unknown places far away.

As undisturbed natural habitat disappears at seemingly ever-expanding rates, it becomes increasingly important for us as humans to give a little something back to nature or else risk losing some of our local wildlife species forever. Gardening organically and landscaping with native plants is a good start. The organic gardener and native landscaper believes in being a good steward to his or her part of the earth, helping to maintain some balance of nature while eliminating harmful runoff of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides from their speck of land. To further encourage native wildlife in the area, water should be provided in some way whether it be in the form of a birdbath, fountain, or pond.

Ponds naturally draw frogs and toads to the area. Sometimes a family of frogs will take up permanent residence in your pond. I’ve seen up to three different varieties of frogs living in a single backyard water feature. They’re great swimmers, gliding underwater as easily and swiftly as the fish. And yes, it’s true that they’ll sit on your lily pads, floating on top of the water to get some sun and warm their bodies or to catch an insect that ventures too close. When you surprise them, you’ll see them jumping back into the water from all over the pond. Their gentle ‘ribbit, ribbit ribbit’ in the evening will take you back to those long-ago summer nights in the country.

Toads live on land but are drawn to the water to mate and lay eggs. Generally after dark you’ll hear them coming from all over the yard to converge at the pond’s edge. Their call is a bit more harsh than the frogs’ and they home in on each other with the sound. They are not good swimmers, seeming to doggy paddle across the surface of the pond, but must enter the water to lay their eggs.

Their eggs look like long strings of clear goo with black dots in the strings. Frog eggs look more like a clump of clear goo with black dots in it. Within a few days, those black dots will be swimming around your pond. Watching them day by day, you’ll see their little legs emerge and their tail slowly disappear. Once they grow big enough, they’ll move out into the grass eating insects to sustain themselves and grow to full size. They’re quite effective at keeping unwanted bugs out of your yard and garden.

Dragonflies naturally flock to a body of water as well. If you’ve never had a pond, you’ll be absolutely amazed at how many colors in which they are found. I’ve seen them in black, black and white, black and yellow, orange, blue, green, blue with green heads, purple, maroon, and even bright red. I’d never seen a bright red dragonfly in my life until I started building ponds and now I’ve seen them at several of my water features.

Dragonflies are voracious mosquito eaters and it’s good to have them around. You’ll see them in the evenings, skimming over the grass eating mosquitoes as the start to emerge. They also swoop down to the pond and flick the water with their thorax, although I don’t know why. It’s very entertaining though.

They like to perch on vertical plants such as cattail, Iris, and some rushes. Like frogs and toads, dragonflies also reproduce using the pond. They mate in the air, the female lays her eggs in the water and the offspring hatch there, spending part of their lives in the pond as nymphs.

When the time is right, they’ll crawl up one of those cattails, shed their skin, and like a butterfly, open their delicate wings for the first time. They have to sit still until their wings dry, but will soon venture off on their first test flight.

This year I finally saw some turtles in the pond. They were both red eared sliders. Turtles are naturally migratory so if they do show up in the pond, they probably won’t stay. Unless your pond is specially designed to keep the turtles in, they’ll likely leave you at some point, looking for that elusive greener grass on the other side of the fence. It’s very neat, however, to see an animal of this size in your water feature that you didn’t put in there.

In the mornings and late afternoons, the birds show up. Some of them bathe in the waterfall and stream area, opening their wings and splashing around insanely like energetic little kids at a hotel swimming pool. Others, such as mourning doves approach with more caution, feeding on the ground for a while, inching ever close to the water’s edge. They seem to be trying to sneak up on the pond, but are really just checking the area carefully before lowering their heads to take little drinks of water, then raising their beaks up to let it slide down their throats. Of course you’ll see different birds depending on where you live and depending on how much natural water they have access to in your area. This June was especially dry where I live and I saw many more birds than normal at my pond. It feels good to give nature a helping hand when you can.

To Gravel or Not To Gravel, by Matt Boring One of the biggest controversies in organic vs. traditional water garden philosophies is the use of rocks and gravel in the pond itself.

People who use other systems insist that rock and gravel in the pond makes the pond impossible to clean, it’s dangerous to the fish, it harbors anaerobic bacteria, interferes with the bottom drain, and other things that may not be suitable to print here. They usually insist that ponds should be built out of concrete or with the black liner exposed and possibly a ring of boulders or flagstones around the top edge.

However, as someone who builds ponds for a living, I can tell you that a properly-designed and constructed organic water feature must have rocks and gravel in it. And I can tell you that all the things the nay-sayers are saying are based on the fact that the methods employed by organic water gardeners may not work in a traditionally built system, so they can’t perceive that they’ll work for us either.

However, I contend that when you design a system that encourages Mother Nature to just do her thing, you can have a much more beautiful and lower maintenance water feature that does contain natural rocks and gravel. I’ve built close to a hundred ponds and every one of them is lined with the stuff.

There are several reasons to rock an organic pond. First off, the rocks and gravel offer suitable surface area for millions of beneficial bacteria to colonize in the pond itself, in addition to those in the biological filter. These bacteria help break down the fish’s waste and convert it to usable plant fertilizer. In effect, when you construct your water garden with rocks and gravel, you turn your entire pond into a giant biological filter, constantly working to keep your pond clean and your water clear.

A plain black liner will not be suitable surface area for this kind of colonization. That’s why you tend to see a lot of sludge build-up in black liner ponds that don’t have a bottom drain. This sludge must be removed each year during the clean out. Organic ponds seldom have even 1/8" of sediment built up in the course of a year.

Let’s address the issue of bottom drains since it came up. Certainly a graveled pond bottom would interfere with the proper functioning of a bottom drain. However we don’t use bottom drains for a couple of reasons. First off, we don’t need them. Bottom drains help get rid of the sludge that forms on the pond’s bottom. We don’t get that sludge, so there’s no need to drain it out.

Secondly, why cut a hole in the bottom of your liner if you don’t need to? It’s just a ticking time bomb waiting to spring a leak. And if it does it when you’re not around, it can drain your pond and leave all your fish high and dry.

A properly built pond with a skimmer can only lose 3-4" of water before it shuts off the pump, leaving your fish in plenty of water. When we need to drain the pond, which is no more than once a year, we can stick a pump in the bottom of the pond and pump it out, giving you the effect of a bottom drain without the risk.

It’s true that if you have too much gravel on the bottom of the pond, it can harbor unwanted bacteria. But by using no more than 2" of gravel, there is a healthy balance of all the natural bacteria. Anaerobic bacteria are found in Mother Nature’s water systems too. They’re just in a healthy balance with aerobic bacteria.

Rocks and gravel also serve other important and useful purposes in a water garden. By building the pond in several levels and lining the walls of each level with small boulders, you get much more structural integrity than in a pond with the sides dug straight down. When the ground around the pond gets wet, it tends to swell up and press in on the sides of the pond. A rubber-lined pond has nothing to help support its structure. But a shelved pond supported by rock has plenty of strength to handle this pressure.

Putting a row of boulders around only the top edge of the pond is even worse because these tend to sink over time and, rather than support anything, they actually help collapse the walls of the pond.

Lining the entire pond with natural rocks and gravel also protects the liner from harmful UV rays and can double the life of the liner because of it. UV rays are killers not only to our skin, but also to the EPDM liners. In fact UV rays are the number one factor in liner deterioration. And since you can’t ArmorAll the bottom of the pond, you better try to shade the liner as best you can. The liner I use has a twenty-year warranty and a forty-year life expectancy. But by hiding it from the UV rays, I can just about count on eighty to a hundred years. That becomes a very important difference when you’re the customer.

In an organic pond, plants are a very important part of the natural filtration of the pond. Rather than keeping their root systems in pots and having to add plant fertilizer to the system, we let most plants out of their pots, where they are forced to take nutrients directly from the pond’s water. They literally starve the algae out of the system!

In order to let the plants out of their pots, you have to have something for them to root out into. That’s another important reason to have gravel lining your pond.

In traditional water gardening, you have to add plant fertilizer to the potted aquatic plants. This usually causes an algae bloom from the excess nutrients suddenly introduced into the water. Then you add chemicals to kill the algae. There’s no such thing as balance. It’s definitely not what nature does. In nature who feeds the fish, fertilizes the plants, and adds the algae killer?

What are the Koi and other fish supposed to do in a garden pond? These guys are natural bottom feeders and their instinct is to root around on the bottom of a body of water looking for organic material to consume. That’s why Koi have those little whiskers on the sides of their mouths, so they can feel around in murky water.

In a traditional pond, these little guys have nothing to do all day but swim around and around. I’m sure they don’t like rooting around in inches of their own waste, so they just swim around bored. They may even knock over your aquatic plants trying to root around in the dirt or gravel that they’re potted in.

However, in an organic pond, their job is to keep the pond clean. You can watch them all day mouthing the rocks and gravel of the pond, spitting the gravel back out, and picking up more. They’re not bored at all. It’s a lot more natural and I feel it’s less stressful to the fish. And since they’re also an important part of the ecosystem, we want to keep them as healthy and happy as we can.

Finally, using rocks and gravel in a water garden simply looks better and a lot more natural than not using them. All the customers I’ve ever had wanted to put a natural looking water feature in their yards. I’ve never had anyone ask for a swimming pool for their fish. By using tons of natural rock and gravel in their ponds, I’ve given them what they wanted– a low-maintenance, natural-looking, naturally-functioning ecosystem that almost takes care of itself and looks great doing it.

Water Gardening the Organic Way, By Matt Boring Many people would love to have a beautiful water feature in their yards but are afraid to, having heard horror stories traditional ponding has inspired– stagnant green water, endless and expensive maintenance, daily testing of the pond’s pH, measuring and adding chemicals that are both costly and confusing, mosquitoes, not to mention the smell!

Organic water gardening frees you from the chains of traditional ponding by creating a balanced, living aquatic ecosystem that is nearly self-maintaining.

Did I mention checking your water chemistry, dissolved solids, and pH, measuring and adding chemicals, or cleaning out or backflushing your filter? No, because with the advent of natural organic water gardening, those chores have been eliminated, leaving you the time to enjoy your backyard– not work in it.

Since its commercial inception in the early nineties, installation of the all-natural ‘ecosystem pond’ has been gaining steady acceptance in the water gardening world. These ponds work with Mother Nature’s own natural processes, not against them. The result is a natural looking water feature that needs very little regular maintenance, won’t breed mosquitoes, requires no chemicals or test kits, and provides a clear healthy environment for the plants and fish within.

Basically, it works like this: The fish in the pond graze on the thin layer of string algae that forms on the rocks of the pond. They are naturally bottom feeders and are doing what nature designed them to do. Their waste is broken down by the millions of beneficial bacteria living in the pond’s biological filter as well as on the rocks and gravel of the pond. The bacteria compete directly with the algae for available nutrients in the water and, in addition, convert the harmful ammonia in the fish waste into ammonium nitrate, which is plant fertilizer.

Most of the plants in the ecosystem pond are planted directly into the gravel substrate of the pond, which not only looks more natural, but allows their roots to stretch out to become a huge network filter, soaking in nutrients like a sponge. Together with the bacteria, they literally starve the algae out of the system, leaving the water clear and healthy, not sterile and chemically-dependant.

The biological filter is completely hidden inside the waterfall and the pump is housed in an in-ground skimmer which keeps it from clogging and also removes leaves and debris (including mosquito larvae) from the surface of your pond, depositing the debris in a basket for easy removal and drowning the larvae.

You don’t have to feed the fish or fertilize the plants, nature takes care of it for you. All the surfaces of the pond are covered with rocks and gravel so you don’t see anything artificial, just rocks, fish and plants. Your all-natural, organic, holistic water garden requires an average of only 5-10 minutes every other week from you and cleaning only once every year or two to stay healthy and clear all year round and in return will provide you with endless opportunities for enjoyment, relaxation, education and entertainment each and every day of the year.

For the organic gardener, ponds hold some additional benefits. Believe it or not, water gardens typically require less water than the patch of turf they replace, saving an important resource. The addition of a water garden with it’s surrounding landscape reduces the need for mowing, saving your back as well as creating less air pollution. Natural water features attract insect eaters, including frogs, toads, dragonflies and birds, helping keep your garden free of pests without the use of pesticides. The leaves and organic debris from your skimmer basket are perfect for the compost pile. And the nitrate-rich water from the spring clean-out is the perfect all-natural way to give your grass and garden a little jump-start each spring.

Winter Pondering, by Matt Boring The good news is that an aquatic ecosystem will continue to operate naturally through the winter.

you can leave the pump on the entire year. Remember, if your pond has a skimmer, the water level can only drop a few inches before starving the pump, so the pond will never completely drain down to the point where your fish are in trouble.

Waterfalls and streams surrounded by snow and ice look quite striking, so unless you have a problem with ice, I’d recommend leaving them on through the winter.

The fish more or less ‘hibernate’ in the lower part of the pond. They are endothermic, or cold-blooded, so their bodily functions slow way down when it’s cold outside. You shouldn’t feed your pond fish when the water temperature drops below about 50 degrees anyway. They may eat the food, but can have trouble digesting it and feeding them during this time can lead to intestinal blockage and even the death of the fish. Koi and other pond fish can easily survive the winter in a two-foot deep, in-ground pond in most of the United States and Canada.

Your plants may go dormant, but in most climates in North America, the majority of them will return next spring to once again beautify your pond area... Down here in southeast Texas, we don’t have that kind of problem. In fact, in a mild winter, many of our aquatic plants will stay green all year. During our spring cleaning of the ponds we usually have to divide aquatic plants that have gotten too big rather than replace plants that have died from the cold. Still, enough pants go dormant to effect the balanced state of the pond ecosystem. Even if a plant stays green, it may not be in a growing or blooming phase of its growth–the time when it’s taking in the most nutrients from your pond’s water, and so may be doing little to help balance your system.

During this time of the year as the aquatic plants slow down their intake of free-floating nutrients, the bacteria in the biological filters also slow down. This means that the system that was removing the excess nutrients from the pond water and keeping the string algae in check is not operating at the level that it once was. During this period of the year, string algae may make its triumphant return to your pond water. Even though the pond will soon re-balance itself to the cooler conditions, you may experience a bit of an algae bloom during this transitional part of the year.

You can go to your local water garden retailer to look for ‘cures’ to this problem. They’re likely to have shelves full of products to reduce, eliminate, or kill algae. Some may say that they’re eco-friendly, while others may scream at you to “Call a doctor immediately if ingested.” How can you fight the battle without doing harm to your aquatic plants and fish? Is there a better way— a natural way, even?

The good news is that organic barley straw has been shown time after time to be effective in controlling algae, especially string algae. It’s not a revolutionary idea, having been used in Europe for centuries to control algae in lakes and large ponds. In the last decade, it’s made its way to the lake management arena, where they were looking for an eco-friendly way to reduce algae.

Recently, the success of barley to reduce algae has made it a staple of the water gardening industry, especially to those of us who practice and promote organic water gardening. The beauty of the barley straw is that it is completely friendly to the environment and to the ecosystem in which it is used. Studies have shown no negative effects on higher plants. There is also no evidence that barley straw poses any harm to the fish or invertebrates in the ecosystem. In fact, fish farms and hatcheries that have tried barley for algae reduction report a possible connection between the use of barley and improved gill function and fish health.

Inquiring minds may wonder how it works. Very simply, when the straw is placed in the water, it soon begins to decompose. One of the byproducts released into the pond during decomposition is a chemical that effectively breaks down the cell walls of the algae. Some of the humic substances released from the barley, when combined with oxygen and exposed to sunlight, form a certain peroxide. Studies have shown that it’s this peroxide that breaks down the algae’s cell walls. Studies have also shown that a constant low level of this peroxide will reduce the capability of the algae to form new growth. So there’s actually no harm in leaving barley in your pond all year round.

Even though it sounds like a miracle cure, barley straw isn’t a quick-fix. It takes four to six weeks for the barley to begin breaking down enough to produce the chemicals needed for algae reduction. However, after that, the barley can remain effective for up to 8 months, depending on the size of the barley bale you use.

For my customers, I recommend placing an 8-ounce barley bale in the Biofalls and adding a new one about four times a year. That way the old one is still working when we put the new one in since the new one will take a few weeks to get going. Placing it in the Biofalls also means that the barley is exposed to the highly oxygenated water it needs to be effective. It’s also easy to conceal in the Biofalls. You can just let the plants grow to cover it. I’ve even seen the barley sprout right out of the bag and grow in the top of the Biofalls, adding to the natural look of the area.

Naturalizing Your Water Feature, by Matt Boring For those of us who strive toward making our backyard water gardens look like a piece of nature’s work rather than our own, there are several tricks of the trade that come into play. Besides using natural stone and gravel in the pond to hide the liner and give beneficial bacteria a place to colonize, there are things that you can do outside of the water feature to achieve a natural look. Incorporating one or more of these tricks into your water garden’s area will help you make your pond look as if it was there before the house was built and you simply landscaped the rest of the yard to feature the existing natural water feature.

The waterfall(s) should be angled so that they can be viewed from as many of these view areas as possible. Streams or waterfalls with multiple drops can use twists and turns so that the shimmering glint of moving water catches your eye from just about any angle from which the water feature can be seen. Usually I try to bring the pond part of the water feature as close to the house or patio as possible so that you can watch your outdoor aquarium in action.

Your fishy and froggy new friends will entrance you, educate you, and make you laugh. It’s best to watch this underwater entertainment from up close. Plus, the relaxing sound of moving and falling water will relax you. You should have it within earshot of open windows and screen doors on comfortable evenings when the fireflies are just starting to show up and flash the cool green glows of summertime.

Here are some other tips to help your naturalize your little slice of paradise..........

Consider the mature size of the plants you install. Don’t plant something that’s gonna grow large between your view areas and the water feature just because it’s proportional when you bring it home from the nursery. Instead.......

Create a natural looking screen with taller plants behind the pond. You can really help complete the illusion of being out in nature if you can’t see that privacy fence when you look at your pond.

Use a mixture of evergreen and perennial plants so that the area will change seasonally, but some plants will hold their foliage all year long.

Contrast foliage and flower colors and textures.

Use flowering perennials that have different bloom cycles to create an area with constantly changing colors.

Variegated foliage can really brighten up a shady area and really looks cool when reflecting the golden glow of the pond lights at night.

Install some plants close to the pond and stream, but no closer than is practical. You’ll be sorry if you plant a Magnolia tree with an eventual spread of 30 feet or more on the edge of your 11-foot wide backyard pond. That’s an extreme example, but you get the idea.

Use some plants that slightly overhang the pond’s edge to help lose the hard edge of the pond.

Install some plants that grow in or out of the water inside your pond’s edge and plant the bank with the same plant to eventually eliminate the edge of the pond in that area and blend it seamlessly into the surrounding landscape. * Stay away from extremely aggressive plants when doing this or you risk these plants trying to take over!

Flowering plants tend to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Plants that produce berries tend to attract birds and are more attractive after leaf drop.

If there’s room, use low-growing ground covers between the pond and the main outdoor viewing area. (Turf is a ground cover.) As well as looking attractive, they will help hold the soil and prevent weed growth.

Most color plants are more effective in masses. Of course, size everything appropriate to your yard and water feature. Remember......

Stay in proportion to the size you have to work with.

Ornamental grasses have interest 10-11 months per year and can really help create the mood you’re looking for. Clumps of grass, even after they’ve turned brown for the winter lend a natural look to the area and look great with their seed pods covered with snow. Hey, it snowed in Galveston a couple of years ago so anything’s possible.

Use low-maintenance plants around a low-maintenance organic water garden to reduce the time you have to spend maintaining your back yard.

Use plants to hide the water source. My ponds are built using a BIOFALLS biological filter rather than sticking a hose or pipe between two stones. Like in natural waterfalls and streams, where water fills a low area and then spills over at the first available opportunity, this filter fills from the bottom. The water rises up through the filtration media, which houses millions of beneficial bacteria, and spills over the lip of the waterfall to begin its journey back to the pond. Filling the open top of the BIOFALLS with Parrot’s Feather or Hyacinth (where legal) hides the water source and looks more natural.

Collect moss from the woods or behind your air conditioner or wherever you find it and put it in areas where the waterfall keeps it constantly moist. (Not WET— from my own experience)

Add an old weathered log to the area, even placed to look as if it had fallen there, hanging over or into the water. Dig the other end into the ground if you have to.

My own preference is to use native plants whenever possible. This helps insure a low-maintenance pondscape as well as reducing or eliminating the need for additional watering, once they’re established. A typical water garden will use far less water than the same area planted in turf, especially the popular and thirsty St. Augustine.

It also reduces the chore of mowing, is much more entertaining and educational and, properly done, adds more value to your property. Of course, if you’re going for a tropical or some other theme, this may not fit your goals.

Don’t worry about it too much. Plants can always be moved or replaced if they’re not working out the way you want. Not every plant will thrive in the location we want it to, no matter what the book or the plant’s label or the guy at the nursery says or even what our past experience with the plant tells us.

Above all, have fun. Water gardening should be a fun relaxing experience. If it’s not, you may be working too hard at it. My own water garden could be ignored for weeks at a time (to be perfectly honest, not in leaf-drop season) and still looked great.

Rainwater Capture and Waterfalls, by Matt Boring Wow, I'm so excited about the role of water features in future green technology that I almost can't sit still to type this article for you. I just got back from an advanced water feature training class in Ft. Worth. I attend several of these per year to learn new things from other pond builders and share things that I've learned with them.

This time we were installing a revolutionary new prototype for rainwater capture combined with a waterfall.

Everyone knows that rainwater is the best water to use on your plants. Besides its lack of chlorine, it contains more nutrients and micro-nutrients essential for healthy plant life. Eighty percent of rainfall in urban areas runs off into storm sewers rather than soaking into the ground.

By capturing rainwater before it enters the sewer system it can be filtered, stored, and used later on residential or commercial properties. Currently, most rainwater capture systems direct rainwater from the downspouts right into above-ground cisterns. Some utilize traps so that heavy items such as small stones can settle out before entering the main storage chamber.

When you want to use the rainwater, it is discharged via a gravity-fed faucet near the base of the cistern. The more water in the unit, the higher the pressure would be at the faucet. This is usually fine for watering small gardens but for other uses was impractical. Besides, when the water was in the cistern, it sat stagnant—a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

But just as the Model T eventually led to the Lexus, a new generation of rainwater harvesting systems is about to hit the market. The new (in fact, not even out yet) RainXChange System from Aquascape is about to change the way the world thinks about rainwater capture and storage.

First, a large excavation is dug over five feet deep. The excavation is lined with a fabric protective underlayment and then with the same liner we use in our ponds. Then the intake manifolds and snorkel units that will house and allow easy access to the pumps are installed so that water can be pulled in from the very bottom of the excavation. This project will use two large pumps so it has two snorkels.

Next, the excavation is filled with a matrix of modular plastic tanks. The more water you want to hold, the bigger the excavation and the more tanks you use. This one will hold around 2500 gallons.

Catch basins are then dug into the ground under each downspout from which you want to catch the rainwater. These catch basins contain both a first-flush rain filter that should be cleaned annually and a settling chamber that allows solids to settle out. The filtered water is then routed to the underground storage area already constructed.

On top of the water storage matrix, large boulders can now be set or a patio constructed or planting areas can be restored. The point is that this matrix is strong enough to drive a semi truck over, so you can do pretty much whatever you want as long as a small area is left open at the base of the waterfall to allow the water back underground.

From the other side of the water storage area a smaller overflow matrix will be constructed. When it rains and the underground chamber is full, excess rainwater will drain into the smaller underground chamber, this one without liner, that will allow the water to soak out into the ground on all sides rather than simply adding to the water that's running off the surface.

A hill is being built from fresh soil as pond-less waterfall is constructed behind the underground water storage area. The rainwater stored in that area will now be pumped from the bottom of the matrix to Biofalls units at the top of the hill and will return via the waterfalls. This keeps the water nicely oxygenated and since the water underground doesn't sit stagnant, mosquitoes won't want to breed in there.

It's a great way to put something beautiful in your landscape and do something that's good for the environment at the same time. It's also good because it reduces demand on municipal water systems. And if you don't have room or want a waterfall in your yard, the RainXChange System can also be used with spilling urns, stones, or other statuary.

'But,' as Ron Popeil said once, 'Wait! There's more!' You may be asking yourself, 'How do we get that water up out of the ground when we want to use it, pump it out by hand like the pioneers?' Not hardly. An electronically-controlled pump is attached that sucks water from the waterfall pipes and out through a regular hose bib, better known as an outdoor faucet.

When you turn it on, the pump senses the drop in pressure and kicks on, supplying you water under a constant steady pressure. This allows you to use a variety of spray nozzles, water hoses, or other attachments more reliably. A low water cut-off switch keeps this pump from turning on when the water level in the basin is too low so the pump won't be damaged by running dry.


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what fish eat algae When it comes to the question of “what fish eat algae?” the response is vast because there are so many different types of fish and aquatic animals that will consume various types of algae, the kind you get really depends on your tank and your needs.

The Siamese Algae Eater. These fish are great for eating algae and cleaning out your fish tank because they tend to eat types of algae that other fish don't like, mainly brush algae and thread algae. ... Siamese Algae Eaters are great for community tanks because they tend to be very friendly.

Twig Catfish / Siamese Algae Eater

Green Water – This is the first kind of algae you may find and it is actually the rarest of them all, not to mention that it’s the worst too, which is why we’re getting it out of the way. Algae eating fish won’t eat this stuff and it’s very hard to get rid of, often warranting a complete overhaul of your fish tank and the changing of water.

Green Slime – This is perhaps the most common type of aquarium algae, but it’s also the kind that is seen the least by enthusiasts because it is eaten by almost all fish.

Thread Algae – There are various types of hair or thread algae and they all take on the appearance of thin strands that wave about in the current.

Green Dot Algae – This is a very common type of algae that forms in green dots along the glass of your aquarium as well as the fixtures. It isn’t too bad when there is only a little of it, but it can quickly multiply to create a thick layer on the glass. Unfortunately most fish will not eat this algae, and the ones that do won’t have a big effect on it.

Blue/Green Algae – This is also a common type of algae found in fish tanks and is of course blue or green in color. It doesn’t attach well to the surfaces in the aquarium and tends to float around. The real problem with this type of algae is that it is not edible for most kinds of fish due to its toxicity.

As well there are different snails(like the Zebra Nerite Snail) and other creatures that will eat algae all day long too. In our opinion the very best algae eating fish out there is the Twig Catfish.

Zebra Nerite Snails

The Twig Catfish is most likely the best algae eating fish out there, mainly because it has a ravenous appetite and ill consume virtually any type of algae that may appear in your fish tank. This fish is so hungry that if you don’t have enough algae in your fish tank you will have to supplement its diet with algae tablets; that’s how good this fish is!

Twig Catfish / Siamese Algae Eater

Something that needs to be noted is that the Twig Catfish does quite well with other peaceful fish such as Rashoras, Pencil Fish, Hatchets, and Tetra Fish. On the other hand they don’t do so well with more aggressive fish such as Barbs and Cichlids.

These fish also don’t do well when there are big changes in the consistency of the water so be careful to keep the water at the same parameters when housing the Twig Catfish. As a base line, the Twig Catfish should be in a tank that is at least 70 liters in size. The question of “what fish eat algae?”, especially the number one choice, is best answered by saying that the Twig Catfish is your number one option.

The Bristlenose Peco is a type of catfish and they are voracious eaters. These things will eat pretty much any type of algae that they can get their sucker mouths on. That being said, of course this fish is a sucker mouth, something which makes them ideal algae eaters. If these fish don’t have enough algae to eat you will need to supplement their diet with algae tablets or other green foods because if they don’t have enough algae to feast on they will begin to eat the plant life in your aquarium.

These fish require water at about 25 degrees Celsius with a pH level of 7, as well the water needs to have a moderate current and be well oxygenated too. The Bristlenose Pleco is nocturnal and therefore likes dark spaces and areas where they can hide under during the daytime.

These fish are also very peaceful and usually don’t cause problems in community tanks unless they are threatened by larger predatory fish. As well, seeing as the Bristlenose can grow to up to 15 cm in length you will need to house this fish in quite a large tank for it to be comfortable.

Common Plecos are sucker mouth fish that will feast on pretty much all types of algae that grows on plants, the substrate, and other aquarium fixtures. One of the most important things to note is that these guys can grow up to 60 cm in length, meaning that they are only ideal for extremely large tanks which are over 300 liters in size.

Common Plecos

These fish can be somewhat problematic because they do tend to eat many other smaller fish. Also if they don’t have enough algae to eat they will also begin to eat the plant life in the tank, not to mention that you will most likely need to feed them greens. A good thing about the Common Pleco is that they do very well in a variety of water parameters which makes them easy to house.

On the other hand they can be quite destructive due to their big heads and the ensuing head butts as well as their large tails, often ripping up plant life and substrate. The Common Pleco only does well in tanks with fish of the same size because if a fish fits in its mouth it will most likely eat it.

Malaysian Trumpet Snail: These things are great for eating pretty much all types of algae as well as dead plant, animal, and food debris too. The main thing they are used for is actually to aerate the substrate which is yet another bonus. Malaysian Trumpet snails are good indicators of bad water quality because when the water is bad they will try to head to the top of the aquarium out of the water.

Malaysian Trumpet Snail

On a side note, these things need to be kept in waters that are fairly high in alkaline levels because they require it to rebuild their shells.

WHAT SUCKER FISH TO CLEAN KOI PONDS? Most sucker fish, or algae eaters, are tropical or semitropical fish from South America. They are not well-adapted to extremely cold water, which is the perfect environment for koi. A few varieties of sucker fish can survive mild winter weather changes, but none will withstand below-freezing temperatures. This means that typical sucker fish are ideal for outdoor ponds only during warm months.

Bristlenose Plecostomus With more than 700 plecos known and more being found regularly, it's tough to say which species would serve a koi pond best. The most commonly known are the bristlenose plecos, of the Ancistrus genus in the Loricariidae family. Ancistrus temminckii is the smallest of the plecostomus family, measuring a maximum of 5 inches. The albino bristlenose pleco is smaller, at a maximum of 4 inches. These fish eat algae and are comfortable in a range of 68 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They get along with other fish.

Black Japanese Trapdoor Pond Snails
An alternative to sucker fish for outdoor ponds are trapdoor snails. These large, live-bearing snails eat algae and withstand freezing temperatures with ease. These snails also devour decaying fish food, fallen leaves and various other muck from the bottom and sides of the pond. These snails grow to around 3 inches long. Measure the area of the pond and figure one snail for 3 square feet of pond.

Black Japanese Trapdoor Pond Snails

DIFFERENCE IN KOI VS. GOLDFISH Koi and goldfish have plenty in common. Their feeding needs are about the same, as are their breeding habits. Both are popular fish for stocking outdoor ponds, and both can be kept indoors. Koi will end up costing you more money, though. Not only do they require filtration systems for the water, they can be priced in the thousands of dollars, whereas goldfish may cost $5 to $50 or even just a little change. They may seem identical, but they have plenty of differences.

Physical Features
Many of the physical characteristics of a fish will help you determine whether you're looking at koi or goldfish. Their dorsal fins differ. Starting at the top, the dorsal fin of the koi is curved out; it's curved in on the goldfish. If that isn't obvious enough, consider the whiskers. Koi have barbels around their mouths and chins, feelers that resemble whiskers, while goldfish have no barbels. The body shapes and sizes of the two fish differ, too. Fully matured goldfish are typically 8 to 12 inches, growing to 16 inches at their largest. Koi that size would be considered very small, as they grow to full sizes of 18 inches to 4 feet. As for body shape, koi are shaped essentially the same; goldfish, on the other hand, can have different tail and body shapes and may have one of three different eye types.

Different Purposes
Goldfish have been kept as pets much longer than koi have. Around 11 A.D., people in southern and central China began breeding them for their beauty and the tranquility and harmony they engender. Koi were initially kept as a source of food because they were easy to raise and care for. Koi farming started in the 1820s in northeastern Japan.

Goldfish in Ponds and Tanks
Goldfish do not have the aeration and filtration requirements that koi do, and the calculation for figuring their water volume needs, whether in a pond or a tank, is based on weight rather than length.

INFORMATION ABOUT KOI & GOLDFISH PONDS Koi and goldfish are closely related. They are both members of the carp family with origins in China more than 2,000 years ago. They have the same dietary and environmental needs and are both easy to care for as long as the water in which they live is maintained within a healthy balance of pH and chemicals, kept clean and clear and the algae strictly controlled.

When stocking your pond for the first time, choose small, juvenile fish since they are far less expensive than full-grown koi. Feed them a high-quality pond fish diet and equip the pond with an efficient filter. Since ponds vary vastly in size, shape, type and depth, it's impossible to come up with a "one size fits all" rule for them, but basically, as long as you keep the natural balances of elements in check by testing the water regularly with test strips and adding chemicals as necessary, you will be able to keep your pond and fish in good health. If you live in an area with wide temperature extremes, such as cold, harsh winters and warm, humid summers, the pond should be very deep so the fish can dive deep to escape colder water and shaded to afford respite from the hot sun. Shading will also keep direct sun off the pond, which is an important strategy in avoiding algae, which can ruin your pond and kill your fish.

Your supplies should include a net for pulling debris or dead fish from the pond and pond decor that affords the fish places to hide. Real plants provide oxygen and keep the pond free of bacteria while helping to fight algae blooms. Provide a stone or gradient for a hapless frog or mouse to use to find its way out if it falls in the water. Use goldfish flakes for smaller fish, and pellets as they grow larger. Invest in a good pond filter, and change the filter and charcoal every three to four months. Add algaecides as necessary to avoid algae or to kill existing algae blooms. If the pond is in proximity of sprinklers that use city water, check the levels of chlorine, nitrites and nitrates in the water on a weekly basis. The presence of a functioning fountain and natural evaporation, however, usually keep chlorine levels in check. Adding a few algae-eaters, two or three for every 10 gallons, will also help keep algae under control.

Do fish eat algae in ponds?
Goldfish and koi eat string algae as well, but they prefer other foods. These fish eat algae during the winter months when the pond is frozen. During that time, goldfish and koi won't eat flake or pellet foods but will nibble gradually at the algae.

Common Goldfish

Anacharis floating water plant. Anacharis Plant Care, Leaves, Roots, Stems & Propagation Anacharis has a reputation of being adaptable to a wide range of water conditions. An Anacharis plant may be called Brazilian Water Weed, Waterweed or Elodea.


Floating Anacharis: For as easy as planting Anacharis is, floating Anacharis is even easier. After the rubber band is removed and the stems are trimmed as necessary, just float the stems in the water. All things being equal, floating Anacharis grows faster than planted Anacharis because more of a floating Anacharis is closer to the light source. Anacharis plants have a reputation for being good at drawing their nutrients from aquarium water. Its also suggested that this efficiency allows Anacharis plants to out compete some forms of algae for the nutrients needed for their growth.

An Anacharis plant can be a live vegetation dietary source. Some Cichlids, Goldfish and Apple Snails may be very interested in eating it.

Anacharis [Egeria densa] Many fish keepers just call it "sea weeds" or "bunch plants." They use it in their aquaria and ponds. School teachers (especially third-grade teachers) always ask for "elodea." They feed it to their crayfish. College and university biology instructors ask for that "thin leaved plant that shows how photosynthesis works."

Anacharis moves up and down in the water depending upon water temperature and light. In your tank you may see tiny bubbles of oxygen escaping from your anacharis leaves. In the wild, this product of photosynthesis causes anacharis to float (unless well rooted) on warm, sunny days and sink on cool, cloudy days.

Water Cleaner. Anacharis eats fish wastes -- carbon dioxide, nitrogenous, and phosphate wastes. You can do fewer water changes, however, fewer water changes also slow the growth of anacharis. How do you "cycle" a goldfish bowl? Throw in a bunch of anacharis.

Green Side Up. Although anacharis eventually grows roots, it takes in most of its food directly thru its leaves. This makes anacharis an excellent algae competitor. It will do its best to starve out algae (and other higher plants) which makes it a noxious weed in the eyes of many states and some countries. Remember Babbington's curse? So, you're not supposed to toss your excess anacharis in your local waterways.

Worth Pondering. Pond keepers use anacharis as an aerating plant as well as an algae competitor. Remember the photosynthesis kicking out the oxygen bubbles? In a shallow pond in the sun, anacharis will usually double in size in two to three weeks -- right up to the day you add your koi.

Home, Sweet Home. Angels and other fishes quickly learn to work their way thru the strands of anacharis. Most fish feel more secure in planted aquaria. A nice stand of anacharis strands makes your fish feel more at home. Anacharis is a definite piscatorial de-stressor.

Anacharis Threats. We just mentioned African cichlids and apple snails. Other anacharis eaters include koi (big time), uarus (also big time), sometimes plecos, and crayfish/yabbies. Medications -- copper and anti-biotics -- plus any dyes or floating plants that cut off the light will also adversely affect anacharis. Oddly enough anacharis can crowd itself out. You may need to add some fertilizer over and above your fish wastes.

Petsmart 5219 De Zavala Rd Ste 102 San Antonio TX 78249. (210) 561-0644. To right of I10 go to Vance Jackson, turn left, on your left immediately.

Pet Solutions online orders, fish, supplies, aquatic plants

Blueridge Koi & Goldfish Farm Wholesale?

Video: Goldfish Tragedy goldfish are very adaptable and hardy. Buy the common ones. Live up to 20 years.

Petco 12651 Vance Jackson, Ste 119, San Antonio, TX 78230. 877-1426. South of DeZevala on left of VJ. Behind Kogi Korean Grill.

Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery in Cedar Park, Tx.

How To Turn A Rusty Pool Spa Into A Beautiful Pond

Send comments to co@dadbyrn.com, Colby Glass, MLIS, PhDc, Professor Emeritus