Your Atlanta Water Garden, Pond, Outdoor Living, and Kool Stuff in General Store
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Acclimate – definition - basically means getting used to new conditions. Drastic change in the environment will stress most living things. So fish need to be introduced into a different body of water slowly. As an example you can let the bag they are transported in float in the new pond until the temperatures equalize. You could also say that a pond needs to acclimate to a change of a larger fish population. The bacteria of the pond would need to ramp up to take care of the new waste. Rapid changes in pH, temperature, fish loads, etc. can cause stress to the organisms in a system.
Acidic - definition - having a pH value less than 7, the lower the pH the more “acidic” the water is.
Activated carbon – definition -is a carbon material that is used in the purification of water. Activated carbon is very porous with a large surface area for absorbing contaminants. Activated carbon is also used to remove chlorine. Activated carbon would be considered a type of filtration and would add to an overall filtration effort.
Aeration – definition -is the process of adding of oxygen into the water. Typically by exposing maximum water surface to air, oxygen can enter the water. Waterfalls, jets, etc. all mix air with water. In deeper ponds it can be a good idea to pump air directly into the bottom of pond and have it diffused up through the pond. The prime reason for aeration is that the aerobic or oxygen using bacteria are the most beneficial in keeping water clean. By having more available oxygen in all areas of the pond, the populations of these oxygen dependent beneficial bacteria can be drastically increased.
Aerobic – definition -means requiring oxygen. In ponds this usually refers to those bacteria that require oxygen – Aerobic Bacteria. These bacteria are usually the best “pond cleaners.” Their population is increased by oxygenating the water more, thus the more oxygen in the water the better chances it has of being cleaner.
Aeromonas – definition - a type of fish disease. Aeromonas is an ulcer or sore caused by harmful bacteria. Stress and/or parasites can contribute to this infection. The sores can look like a round hole in the side of a fish.
Air Pump - definition - (aka Air Compressor) – is a device used to push air through a hose or pipe. At the discharge end of the hose is a diffuser. The diffuser splits the air into a profusion of bubbles. The advantage of an air pump is that the aeration can happen in deeper parts of the pond. The principle is that while you can splash water at the top of the pond for aeration using a waterfall or a jet, the oxygen molecules are not driven down in to the deeper parts of the pond. Bottom aeration allows for oxygen to have a profusion of bubbles that spread upward and outward. Aeration is also used to supercharge biological filters so that more intense populations of bacteria can be developed. An air pump is a good back up to keeping the pond aerated when the jets or waterfall are turned off. In many winter situations an air pump can keep ice from forming solid across a pond.
Algae – definition - are tiny simple plants that are almost always present in water. There are two big groups of algae that are found in the pond. Single cell algae which are floating algae, and multi celled algae. When discussing algae be prepared for some confusement as there are lots of different common names for the same algae and the same algae can look a little different from area to area. Algae are not automatically a bad element in a pond. Algae are typically volunteering to grow in those environments where there is available nutrients to feed them. Floating algae is often not popular in ponds and other water features because they turn the water green and many people do not like the aesthetics of a greenish pond. String algae, blanket weed, and slime algae are three large categories of multi-cellular algae. String algae and blanket weed are two forms of filamentous algae that most pond hobbyist especially consider as being unsightly and obnoxious. Balancing and filtering the pond so that these algae are minimized is one of the goals of most filtration systems. When the pH is high (say above 9 or 10) algae usually has an advantage over other life forms (such as beneficial bacteria) and flourishes. An overabundance of algae in the pond can also be caused by excess nutrients such as organic debris like leaves and mulch from outside the pond, spent flowers and leaves from pond plants, and/or too big a fish load (too many fish, over feeding the fish.) A shortage of other plant types to metabolize the available nutrients can allow for a nutrient excess for the algae. Hair algae or string algae can be unsightly and cause problems with water flow. If a large population of algae is chemically killed or dies in the pond suddenly, oxygen can rapidly drop in the pond possibly endangering a fish population. Like any plant, algae needs light to complete photosynthesis. Shading a pond with water lilies and submerged aquatics can help minimize algae growth. Because of improvements in filtration, it is a fairly recent expectation to have pond water without the green effect of algae. The colorful fish we enjoy in pond were bred for centuries so that the fish color would be bright enough to be appreciated in greenish water. Vanishing water features (disappearing water features) are popular because they minimize algae growth by covering and masking water from sunlight. Using chemical (algaecides) and ultraviolet lights to kill or manage algae in a water feature will remove the visual problem of the algae, but these methods do not address the removal of the excess nutrients which caused the algae in the first place.
Algae Bloom – definition - at certain times of the year events can occur which can cause a rapid growth of floating algae. This profusion of green algae in the pond is called a bloom. An algae bloom can typically happen in the spring when the spring warmth allows for the algae to grow. The water in ponds in the spring is typically high in nutrients because leaves and other nutrients have been moving into the water since fall, but the cooler temperatures has only allowed a minimum of biologic activity to metabolize these nutrients. This lack of beneficial biological filtration all winter while organic content increases sets the stage for an explosive growth of algae during a spring warm up. Typically if left to its own course the algae bloom will starve itself down and as the rest of the biology in the pond catches up the pond often clears. Any spike in the nutrient load of water can cause an algae bloom.
Alkalinity- definition - is a measure of the buffering capacity of water, or the capacity of bases to neutralize acids. Waters with low alkalinity are very susceptible to changes in pH. Waters with high alkalinity are able to resist major shifts in pH. Measuring alkalinity is important in determining a waters ability to neutralize acidic pollution from rainfall or wastewater. Alkalinity does not refer to pH, but instead refers to the ability of water to resist change in pH. The presence of buffering materials help neutralize acids as they are added to the water. These buffering materials are primarily the bases bicarbonate and carbonate.
Ammonia - definition -NH3 is the primary waste product produced by fish. Ammonia is extremely toxic to fish. The nitrogen cycle is nature’s way of reducing the danger of ammonia. This cycle of nitrification use several steps to break down ammonia into nitrogen compounds that can be metabolized by plants.
Anaerobic – definition - means without oxygen. In ponds these conditions usually happen where water is not exposed to oxygen for instance in the deeper areas of a pond or in a pond that has no water movement or aeration. This term also is also applied to those bacteria that can live with less oxygen. Anaerobic bacteria are usually the bacteria that help digest the sludge that can develop on the bottom of a pond. Anaerobic bacteria activity can develop a rotten egg odor. This is from hydrogen sulfide being produced. Hydrogen sulfide in sufficient quantity can be dangerous to fish. It is important to not allow for the bottom of the pond to have sand or gravel that can build up and hold a quantity of hydrogen sulfide.
Anaerobic bacteria - definition - the bacteria that help digest the sludge that can develop on the bottom of a pond. Anaerobic bacteria are beneficial in that they are able to digest organic matter in areas where aerobic bacteria cannot.
Anchor worms – definition - A parasite that attacks fish. Often know as lernea, they are elongated y shape creatures that emerge from under the scale of fish. The fish will flash, or swim eradicate against things in an effort to knock the worms off.
Annual – definition - commonly referred to as those plants that cannot survive the winter of an area. These plants would have to be replaced “annually.” A plant may be an annual in one zone and a hardy plant in another zone.
Aphids – definition -are insects that are tiny and oval in shape. These pests attack the leafy portion of plants. They will stick their mouth part into the plants and if left untreated could actually destroy the plant.
Aquatic plants – definition - refers to those plants that can grow with their roots constantly submerged in water. Many aquatic plants are heavy feeders and respond prolifically to recommended fertilization.
Automatic Fill Device – definition - is a term to describe a plumbing component that typically can detect when water is low and add water automatically. There are several successful designs for an automatic fill device. They can use mechanical floats or electronic sensors to monitor water levels. These sensors then open or close a valve that is on a water line. While automatic fill devices are not necessary and do add another step in water feature construction, they take some maintenance out of the water feature. Adding water to a pond is not that much work, however these devices help avoid the negative of going into a beautiful garden and seeing what should be an attractive water feature tarnished by water hoses stretched out every where or worse the pond is low because of lack of attention. Some auto fill devices do not work properly if there is too much pressure on the line, a pressure reducer need to be minimally set below 50 psi.
Bacteria - definition - bacteria are living things that are neither plants nor animals, but belong to a group all by themselves. They are very small--individually not more than one single cell--however there are normally millions of them together, for they can multiply really fast Pond keepers refer to “beneficial bacteria,” which is a description of those bacteria that help water quality by breaking down waste and toxins. By encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria a pond keeper is encouraging “biological filtration” and is being pro active in helping improve water quality.
Balancing a Pond - definition - (aka Balancing Nature, Water Balance) – This is fairly soft term that can point to a couple of things. One it can mean making sure that the KH of the pond is in check and that pH does not swing up or down radically. The term usually means that the pond has enough desirable plants and beneficial bacteria that can absorb the nutrients as fast as the organic load comes in on average. If you think of water quality as a see saw in a playground, we have the good guys –(beneficial bacteria, oxygen, filtering plants and neutral ph) - on one side of the see saw and we have the bad guys – ( debris, organic load, extreme ph, low oxygen) - on the other side of the see saw. When the good guys are stronger, or at least at equilibrium, we have good water quality. When nutrients rise faster than the good guys can keep up we have ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, and phosphates for algae. Algae will be the first opportunistic plant to take advantage of this buffet. (Nature loves a free meal!) In balancing a pond we try to make sure that conditions are always in favor of the good guys thus the good water quality. We can stack nature into the favor of the good guys by having more filtration, increasing the plant population, increasing bacteria, fixing pH, etc. But it can equally mean decreasing the fish population, using less fish food or higher quality (less waste) fish food, and removing other elements that may be adding to organic waste in the water. Frequent testing of your water pH, oxygen, ammonia, nitrites and nitrates will give you the best picture of your water quality and how your pond is balancing.
Ball Valve – definition - is a valve used to regulate water flow through a pipe. It is has a ball like center piece that rotates inside the valve. It allows for complete flow when fully open. Ball valves are typically stronger than Knife Valves and can handle the stress of being partially open.
Barb – definition -refers to a plumbing fitting that is inserted inside a pipe and has a shape that anchors itself. Barb fittings are used with flexible pipe, hoses, or tubing. Barb fittings should be used in conjunction with a clamp aka “worm gear clamp” aka “hose clamp.”
Bare root – definition -refers to plants that have the soil removed from their roots for transplanting purposes. Plant nurseries often use this as a technique to allow for easier shipping and handling of the plants. Plants that are bare rooted are in a delicate state and extra care needs to given to them. Typically the larger the plant the harder it is to successfully bare root it.
Barley straw – definition - is used as a natural method to control the growth of string algae. The theory explaining the success of barley straw includes thoughts that the straw releases hydrogen peroxide and possibly enzymes as it decomposes. The use of barley straw was originally started by farmers who used the straw in water tanks to help keep the water clear for their livestock. The Tennessee Valley Authority has used barley straw in their nuclear power plant cooling ponds to help with water quality. Barley straw is usually sold by the bale, bag, or extract.
Bead filter – definition - is typically a pressurized filter that has plastic beads or other shaped plastic particle as the filter media. Bead filters often look like the sand filters used on swimming pools. They are a water tight “can” with a filter media that the water is forced though by the pump. Because the bead media is larger than sand it is more porous and does not clog as quickly with organic build up. Sand filters used for pools would typically clog when dealing with a bio active water feature. Sand filter often rely on chlorine (poison to a pond) to dissolve the organic material that can lodge in the media. Bead filters primarily provide good mechanical filtration but minimal biological filtration. Bead filters are washed typically by turning a valve and backwashing or flushing out the filter. Some use air compressors to help this back wash. This backwashing can be a convenience over cleaning the mats in other types of filters. As “open” filters depend upon the water using gravity to flow past the media, the filter has to be located so that gravity can get the filtered water back into the pond. Since pressurized bead filters can have water moving under the pressure generated by the pump through the media, the pressurized bead filter can be located above or below pond water level (typically outside of the pond.)
Beneficial bacteria – definition - pond keepers refer to “beneficial bacteria,” which is a description of those bacteria that help water quality by breaking down waste and toxins. By encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria a pond keeper is encouraging “biological filtration” and is being pro active in helping improve water quality.
Biological Filter - definition - (Biological Filtration) –
Blanket weed- definition - is a common name for a type filamentous algae. There are thousands of varieties of filamentous algae so accurately defining them can be difficult. Every region may have a different common name. However blanket weed can refer to Pithophora.
Bog - definition - (Bogs) – Is wetland type ecosystem. In water gardening this term covers a type of water garden or an area of a water garden that has soil or gravel pretty much at water level. The soil can dip down to expose some water and it can rise up to benefit those plants that prefer "less wet feet." Rather than have the water stay still in the bog, often with a little design and plumbing the bog can be developed as an Up Flow Bog Filter, which is a great way to filter a pond. If you build a bog as a standalone feature, unless you add some water movement to the feature you could definitely be in for a "wild natural ride." One other comment is that a lot of the plants that thrive in bog conditions are pretty aggressive. Unless you raise and lower the gravel or soil in the root zone in relation to water, you might end up with one species that wins the "battle for the bog." However, selective plant removal could balance the bog plantings. As a design tip if you are using a bog around your pond it might be interesting to break up the bog in smaller independent bogs so that each bog can display one or two species with out competition.
Bog garden- See Bog
Bog plant - definition -plants that prefer their roots to be constantly moist but not are not deeply submerged. Different bog plants can have slightly different depth requirements.
Bottom Drain – definition -The term bottom drain can refer to a component or closable opening in the bottom of a pond that can drain the pond for various reasons like cleaning the pond. Most home owner ponds do not have a gravity type drainage system for their ponds. However “bottom drain” is commonly a term used for the water suction point in the bottom of a pond and can be part of the filtration system. In koi ponds and other deeper ponds it is desirable to pull water from the bottom so that the water is mixed and all water is filtered. Sometimes the bottom drain is used to pull debris from the bottom of a pond for removal as well. “Bottom intake” would be a less confusing term for this component. It is very important to realize that when you are installing or managing a pond with a bottom drain or a bottom intake, that you are dealing with a component that could drain the pond completely if it somehow fails. Unless provisions are made to prevent this or unless this event is caught in time, this can be fatal to the entire fish population.
Breaker unit - See GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)
Buffer – definition -When dealing with water quality, buffer refers to a substance (usually carbonate or bicarbonate) that can dissolve in the water to help stabilize pH. Alkalinity of water is a reference to buffering conditions. KH is a measurement system for water hardness or buffering.
Bulkhead – definition - refers to a special plastic fitting that provides a watertight seal through a plastic container or a flexible pond liner. A bulkhead fitting is one way to penetrate a liner, skimmer, or other flat surface and still maintain a water tight system.
Bushing - definition - a part that is glued or threaded into a fitting such as a coupling or elbow to adapt to a different pipe size. These are sometimes known as a pipe reducer.
Check valve – definition - (Foot Valve) - used to provide flow through a pipe in one direction only. When installed between a filter and the pond, it keeps the dirty water in the filter from flowing back into the pond if power is lost. They are also used to keep an external pump primed if power is lost.
Chemical Filtration – definition - while typically not thought of for a living water feature, there are some additives that are relatively benign which chemically bind up compounds and debris. Some chemical filtration additives are called flocculants. Flocculants simply bind small particles of debris together forming larger particles. When the aggregated particle is large enough it can settle out of the pond or be caught in a mechanical filter. Another safe chemical filtration scenario would be those compounds that bind up other compounds chemically. Phos-x is a successful material that absorbs phosphates from the water. As phosphate is a key nutrient that algae need to grow, this chemical process helps clear the water.
Chloramines - definition - are a fairly new additive some public water works are adding to the city or counties water. Obviously while it is deemed as an asset to public health, it is dangerous to fish. Unless you are sure about your municipalities drinking water make sure the de-chlorinator or de-chlor you are using remove both chloramines and chlorine.
Chlorine - definition - This is the old standby chemical used to sanitize public water by destroying harmful bacteria and organisms in the drinking water. In minute quantities chorine is deemed not harmful to humans, however the same amount of chlorine can damage your fish. One of these reasons why the fish are more sensitive to chlorine is that they breathe it in through their gills. Chlorine is very dangerous to humans when we breathe it in as well. On a dark note, chlorine gas was the first choice of the Germans in WW1 to kill the enemy in trenches - thus making it the first choice in chemical warfare and the Geneva Convention was started in response to its use. We point this out because we want to make sure our customers are doubly aware of the danger their county or city drinking water can have on their fish. While a small amount in a pond is probably negligible, danger occurs when some one is topping off the pond with the hose and lets it run too long. Or when some one does not season or break in a new pond. It is best to be safe and to use a de-chlorinator or a carbon filter.
Chlorophyll - definition - (not to be at all confused with chlorine or chloramines) Chlorophyll is the green pigmented substance in plant cells that is integral to photosynthesis. And as we know from our 5th grade science class the food chain start with photosynthesis- plants combining sunlight with nutrients to produce living cells, which are eaten by other things, and on and on. One of the most primitive and effective plants to use photosynthesis is algae. By combining the nutrients in the water with sunlight algae is often the first plant to volunteer for the free meal. So when we see our pond is green, it is just little one cell plants filled with chlorophyll having an all-you-can-eat buffet. In order to minimize this algae feeding frenzy we typically need to focus on our biological filtration.
Coupling - definition - (piping or plumbing) is a very short length of pipe or tube, with a socket at one or both ends that allows two pipes to be joined together.
De-chlorinator- definition - (De-chlorinate) – removes chlorine from water. Many municipalities add chlorine to the public’s supply of water for safety reasons – the chlorine acts to minimize or kill bacteria and minor plant growth. However if added in sufficient quantity to a pond this water can be dangerous to fish and other desired organisms. Because we are supporting life in these various kinds of ponds, it is important to first de-chlorinate the water before introducing life. Fish’s exposure to chlorine and chloramines damages their gills and the effect can be a slow decline in health to death. It may not be possible to see the damage to fish gills with the naked eye from outside the pond. Any time we change out or add tap water to the system, it is important to de-chlorinate.
De-Icer – definition - a mechanical unit placed in the winter pond to maintain a hole in the ice, which forms on the pond surface during freezing conditions.
Detrimental Release – definition -Releasing exotic species into the environment. When a pond has a direct discharge to a lake or stream, do not stock the following: Koi, goldfish, hybrid water lilies, non-native lotus, and other exotic species. Unless you have designed a trap to stop their movement into natural waterways. Likewise, do not release your pet fish or non-native plants into other waterways. Some people consider such a release as being kind to the animal or plant, but it is quite the opposite. This is disrespectful to the environment and to responsible pond hobbyist.
Diffuser - definition - A device that is used at the end of an airline to break up air into smaller bubbles. Diffusers can be mats, air stones, or porous hose. The theory is that the more you break up air into smaller particles, the more oxygen is available to be absorbed into the water.
Direct Drive Pump – definition - a pump whose impeller is connected directly to the motor
Disappearing Fountain – See Vanishing Water Feature
Division- definition - Separating plants so each has roots and shoots in good growing condition. When using plants to filter water it is important to remember that younger plants grow more aggressively (thus filter better) than mature plants, so by dividing plants we are turning older plants into younger plants.
Dormant - definition - inactive phase for living organism where biology slows down for some plants, animals, and bacteria. It is most often brought about by cold weather. Fish slow down their metabolism during the winter season. Bacteria, pathogens, and parasites slow down as well during the winter. As the water warms up in the spring, the pathogens can move faster and create problems for your slowly awakening fish. Thus your fish may be more susceptible to infections and/or parasites during the arrival of warmer weather.
Emergent plants - definition - have their roots anchored in the pond substrate, and their leaves flowers emerge above the water’s surface. In the pond industry, they are also known as ‘marginal’ or ‘bog’ plants. They can be found in nature growing along the margins of lakes, ponds, and streams. Water Iris, Reeds, Rushes and Cattails are good examples of emergent plants.
Enzyme – definition - a protein that helps speed up a chemical reaction. In a pond, enzymes are used to help with the breakdown of organic debris
EPDM – definition - it stands for ethylene propylene diene monomer; commonly known as “rubber liner”. This is the flexible sheet of membrane that provides the waterproofing for a lot of ponds. The advantages of this material really helped make water gardening affordable. Developed primarily as a roofing material, EPDM is very flexible and ultra violet light resistant. With that being said, a pond builder has to be careful that the EPDM being used in his project is rated for ponds. According to one manufacturer the EPDM made for ponds is made with more attention given to the raw materials being used. Just like you can buy tuna for your cat and you can buy tuna for your family, the tuna canned for human consumption is made with higher standards. Some people try and save money by using a roofing EPDM. Hopefully they are not feeding their children cat food to save money as well. Seriously, you may not have fish health problems if you are using a roofing material but you could. And after all the hours of plumbing, rock setting, etc. what would you then do? So make sure you only use fish or pond rated EPDM when building a pond. Some of the drawbacks on EPDM are that it is relatively heavy and for really large ponds it requires seaming. Probably 90 percent of the water gardens built in the last 10 years have used EPDM. However, there are other liners available that have their own advantages.
External Pumps – definition - External pumps are pumps that are located outside of the water feature and most often require a dry operating condition. External pumps can be self priming but typically the pump will work best if it is set at a level such that there is always water “flooding” into the intake side of the pump. So as a rule of thumb you do not want to set the external pump in a situation where it has to pull or suck water. Remember, pumps are designed to push water. They literally cram water into a pipe until the water moves forward. But they do not pull very well because the vacuum or suction that the pump creates is merely a by product of their pushing action. Eventually when pulling water at some point the water will start “shredding apart.” That is also why it is best not to run an intake line (suction line) to an external pump for long distance. If an external pump has a plumbing problem it is usually on the intake or suction line side. After you have found a suitable location for the external pump, some owners want to enclose the pump with a housing (“dog house,”) or some other cover to protect the pump. Also the discerning gardener will want to keep the pump out of sight and sound. For industrial or agricultural pumping applications seeing the pump is not a big deal but hiding the pump can be critical for a water feature. Owners buy water features to have magic in the landscape and seeing a pump is a real negative. In larger projects the site can be so full of sidewalks, windows looking out, etc., that there may be no decent place to hide the pumps. This is when an underground vault for the pump is an option. However be aware that if you go underground with an external pump you have to provide a way to service the pump, a way to ventilate the pump, and way to drain the rain water from building up around the pump.
Female Pipe Thread (FPT) – definition - Threaded pipes and fittings have a threaded portion inside the part. The male threaded part twist and connects to the female threads.
Filamentous algae - definition - thread, strand, hair like. This word is often used in conjunction with descriptions of those algae types that are multi cell.
Filter - (see Filtration)
Filter Media - definition - the material in a filter that either traps debris in a mechanical filter or provides surfaces for beneficial bacteria in a biological filter. Most media can function as either, at least to a certain degree. Biological filter material is usually defined by how much surface area is available for beneficial bacteria to grow. Mechanical filter media is usually defined by how small of a particle it can capture.
Filtration – definition - Basically filtration is the simple process of removing, restricting or changing “stuff” that you don’t want. The range of items, particles, and chemicals that filters work on is so wide that “stuff” is really a pretty good word. There are three different groups or types of filtration: mechanical filtration, biological filtration, and chemical filtration. These types are often used in different combinations.
1: Anything that removes “stuff”, collects it for later removal or changes it in an acceptable direction is part of a filtering system. When you pick a leaf off the pond with your hand, you are part of the filtering system. Once we had a friend who said he did not filter his pond. He was asked what he did instead of filtering and he said all you have to do is use a dip net every day. He barely smiled when he was called a human filtration system.
3. If you don’t want to filter it out of the water- don’t put it in the water or at least try to keep it out. Don’t allow ground run off to enter the pond. This can carry lawn fertilizer, unwanted organic debris, and dirt in general. Don’t plant unusually messy trees around the pond. Don’t throw excessive fish food into the pond. (You may want to even only use fish food and koi food that are higher grade, i.e. more food and less filler -the more filler the more fish poop – the more you have to filter.) You may even want to net your pond during heavy leaf drop periods.
4. Everything blows across the surface of the earth stops when it lands on a body of water. And it is surprising how much “stuff” is constantly moving around in the outdoors. You can be proactive in shielding your pond from debris. Sometimes a small wall, and some well placed boulders and plants can snag debris before it enters the water. And again temporarily netting the pond can help during leaf drop.
6. The selection of a filtering system depends upon several simple factors:
a. What is you desired standard or quality of water. This translates in how clear or what size particle you want to remove. This question usually considers what type animal or plant, if any, the water feature is designed for. Obviously a human needs different water quality than a lotus.
To discuss this, the first two points (a, b) are pretty straight forward. You might have already determined the quality you want in your water feature and the size of your pond (gallons in the pond) is basically a math function. The third point is a little more subjective, but if you anticipate feeding a lot fish so they grow as really fast, or if there is a lot trees around the pond, or if you live in a warm area that has a really long growing season and a short or no winter, then you could say you anticipate a higher than average debris potential.
If you have a larger pond, and you want the water to be very clear, and you want to put a robust koi population in to it, and you want to seldom clean the filter, then you should shop for a very optimum filter system.
By the same token if you want a smaller pond and you don’t need very clear water then you can take advantage of a more simple system.
Hopefully this helps you make decisions.
Thankfully our product lines include kits and recommendations that are already sized and rated for typical performances at specified size features. When you have questions, we want you to ask. Send us an email or give us a call.
And a little more theory about filtration: In our opinion it takes less consideration to have a sterile water feature (bio-inactive) than it takes to have a live water feature (bio-active.) And we are by no means promoting a sterile water feature because being lifeless they can be so boring! However, when a water feature is sterile all we have to do is to have a plan to kill almost every organism in the water. Typically in swimming pools this is often done with chlorine, in some fountains it might also be done with copper based additives. In a swimming pool we add enough chlorine to kill all minor organisms but we lighten up enough on the dosage such that the family dog or swimmers do not have health problems. This type filtration is relatively simple to do. In fact chlorine not only kills organisms it actually oxidizes or burns their remains away. With a chlorinated system there is not much of a worry about the filter system clogging with algae growth. That is one reason why you do not want use swimming pool equipment on a pond. On the other hand, in a live water feature (sometimes called living water feature or living pond) we are trying encourage one type of life to flourish while trying to minimize or exclude other types of life. We are trying to balance the life forms in the pond into a direction we find favorable. Some people say, “I am not going to do anything to the pond, I am going to let Mother Nature balance the pond.” No doubt Mother Nature will balance the pond, but to Mother Nature’s discretion and definition of balance. And Mother Nature’s idea of balance may not meet the pond owner’s aesthetic goals! So when we talk of a live water feature, we are talking about a selective filtration system where we have to consider how to stack the balancing act such that Mother Nature leans in our favor.
Fish Food - definition - Koi and Goldfish are omnivorous, which means that they will eat anything they can fit in their mouths. When in the wild or in more natural ponds with lots of algae and mud bottoms, these fish will do very well on their own and require little to no supplemental feeds. However, once they are put in an artificial setting which is filtered to be kept clean and algae is kept to a minimum, many of the natural foods are removed and they become dependent on their keepers for nutrition. It is important to give your fish a healthy diet. The use of high quality fish food will produce less fish waste, which is always a benefit to maintaining pond clarity. The use of staple food for the everyday diet is recommended and affordable. For transitioning the fish to the dormant winter phase a wheat germ food is recommended. Koi can also be supplemented with live food such as Duckweed, Algae, Romaine Lettuce, Earthworms, Shrimp, Grasshoppers, and Daphnia. To maintain fish health fish should be given a variety in their diet.
Fish lice - definition - free swimming, green disk like or circular parasites that attach to fish. Fish lice can be visible to the naked eye. Among the symptoms used to diagnose fish lice is that they will leave red marks where they attach to the fish and the wounds are spherical and often inflamed and swollen. The fish may rub against objects trying to scratch off this parasite. Fish lice can be dangerous to the fish and can be treated. Wounds are spherical and often inflamed and swollen
Fish Pond - definition -is a live water feature that is a pond whose primary focus is to enjoy and display fish. Fish are easily the most popular animal to culture in a pond. A fish pond may or may not include plants, fountains or waterfalls & streams in its design.
Flex PVC – definition-flexible version of PVC (polyvinyl chloride); this pipe uses the same fittings as standard schedule 40 rigid PVC. One of the advantages of using flexible pipe is that because there are less angles there is less turbulence or friction loss.
Floating Algae – definition – known as microscopic algae, also called phytoplankton, are tiny, free-floating algae that gives pond water a green color. Floating algae are the primary producers of dissolved oxygen in pond water. Float algae often is unpopular with pond owners. In some parts of the world a greenish pond is o.k. and then some people do not want any green water at all. While floating algae is not intrinsically bad, too much of it can be harmful. Floating algae can undergo excessive blooms when the water warms up. A sudden die-off of microscopic algae blooms can be caused by a change in water temperature or a stretch of several overcast days or algaecide or simply the algae starving itself out. This sudden death can deplete dissolved oxygen levels in ponds to a critical level for the survival of aquatic organisms.
Floater- definition- (see floating plants) plant that lives and grows free floating on the surface of water. The foliage may rise above the water surface while the roots act as a ballast to keep the plant floating correctly. Water lettuce and water hyacinth are a few examples of floater. One good thing about floaters is that as they do not absorb nutrient from a soil base, their entire leaf surface is generated by nutrients in the water, thus help keep the water clear. One bad thing about floaters is that without some sort of restriction, they can move in the pond and can clog skimmers. They can be considered prolific, but that usually only happen when the nutrients are available for that kind of growth. A pond owner typically could consider the removal of excess plants as a pretty easy filter cleaning. Because many of the plants may not be native, they should always be segregated and separated from natural waterways.
Floating Islands – definition - also called Island Planters. These are components that are added to the pond to display plants. Their value is that they can extend the planting palette to those plants that might like to have access to water but do not like having their roots submerged. With floating islands you can not only add unique plants to the pond but you might also be able to stretch the plant display season with plant that are more cold hardy or have more cool weather interest. Plants used in the floating islands can be annual, perennial or woody limited chiefly by the plants horticultural requirements and the owner’s creativity. Floating Islands offer the advantage of providing additional predator shielding in fish ponds. Equally Floating Islands can add more biological filtration to the pond. They also create an element of shade which will aid in the battle against floating algae.
Floating plants – definition- (see floater) are those plants which grow in water, but are not rooted in the substrate. These are the plants that live and grow free floating on the surface of water. The foliage may rise above the water surface while the roots act as a ballast to keep the plant floating correctly. Water lettuce and water hyacinth are a few examples of floater. One good thing about floaters is that as they do not absorb nutrients from a soil base, all of their growth is generated by nutrients in the water, thus this process helps keep the water clear. One bad thing about floaters is that without some sort of restriction, they can move in the pond and can clog skimmers. They can be considered prolific, but that usually only happens when the nutrients are available for that kind of growth. A pond owner typically could consider the removal of excess plants as a pretty easy filter cleaning. Because many of the plants may not be native, they should always be segregated and separated from natural waterways.
Flocculent – definition - Is a material or compound that can be added to the pond which can cause tiny suspended debris to bind and clump together. The clumped matter then can sink to the pond bottom or make a particle large enough to be trapped in the filter. A flocculent can be a quick fix to occasional cloudy water.
Fountain – definition - an element of a water feature using water movement as its primary focus. It may support life (bio active) or it may not support life (bio inactive.) It may be formal or informal in style. Fountains can be interactive for play. The term Fountain is used to describe jets in ponds as well as tiered statuary that is plumbed for water movement. A water feature can be a pond with a fountain.
Friction Head – definition - the pressure (in feet) required to overcome resistance caused by liquids traveling through pipes, fittings and other restrictive elements of a hydraulic system. As water moves through pipes the more it bounces or hits resistance the more turbulence occurs. This turbulence slows down the water and is could be called friction loss. Pipes that are ribbed on the inside would have more friction head than a smooth pipe the same size. A 90 degree (elbow) fitting would add more friction to water movement than two 45 degree fittings. Friction head is calculated with the use of charts. It is important to calculate friction loss, especially as your water feature becomes larger or more sophisticated as the amount of friction loss you have will be important to know in the sizing your pump. All the people who move water through a pipe have to consider friction loss, irrigation contractors routinely have to consider this.
Fungus – definition- an organism that feeds on plants and animals by absorbing nutrients through its outer cells; some types will grow on fish, commonly appearing as cotton-like growth. Fungus on fish is usually caused by Saprolegnia. This is the most common type of fungus. The healing ulcers on fish often become infected with fungus. Fungal infections are never primary infections. When there is fungus look for stress, trauma, and/or poor water conditions.
Gallon- definition- Unit measurement of volume, In the U.S. it is equal to 231 cubic inches, or four quarts or 3.785 liters. By US definition a gallon of water would weigh approximately 8.4 lbs weight (depending upon temperature.) With the British definition it is 277.274 cubic inches or 4.546 liters)
Gallons of Water in a Pond - definition- this term is used to properly design a pond and to maintain a pond. This number is needed to help determine how much water the filter system needs to push in order to turn the pond over. This figure is also important as it determines dosage of water treatment products or medicines. Because many water features are irregular shapes and have irregular bottoms, it wise to do a complete fill up with water using a metering device to most accurately count the gallons. A less accurate way to calculate gallons of water in a pond is to calculate the surface area of the pond in square feet and multiply that square footage by the average depth of the pond. This will give you cubic feet. You can put 7.48 (round it off to 7.5) US gallon of water in a1 cubic foot space and that is why you multiply the cubic footage by 7.5 to get total US gallons.
Gallons (US) in a Cubic Foot - definition-There are 7.48 gallons of water in a cubic foot (for ease of math this is sometimes rounded off to 7.5.)
Gate Valve – definition- used for fully opened or closed operation. They are not used for regulating flow. (see Knife Valve)
GFCI – definition-Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, is a fast-acting circuit breaker designed to shut off electric power in the event of a ground-fault within as little as 1/40 of a second. It works by comparing the amount of current going to and returning from equipment along the circuit conductors. When the amount going differs from the amount returning by approximately 5 milliamperes, the GFCI interrupts the current. The GFCI is rated to trip quickly enough to prevent an electrical incident. Some codes dictate putting the location for a GFCI protected electric receptacle for a water feature to be between 5 and 20 feet from the water’s edge, and one foot above the existing grade. You can recognize a GFCI because it is usually an electrical receptacle that has a reset button. Not only should water feature equipment use GFCI, but use of GFCIs would make using any electrical device safer. Consider this when you are using electic drills, saws, etc. GFCIs are typically inexpensive for the home owner and most new homes are already equipped with these receptacles.
Gills – definition- These are the side vents on fish through which fish breathe. Gills are vascular organs comparable to lungs used in aquatic respiration. Gills can be burned by chlorine in the water.
GPH - (Gallons per Hour) - definition – is another measurement for how much water is being moved. 1 GPH would be 1 Gallon of water Per Hour. GPH is typically used to describe the flow of smaller pumps. One good thing about talking in terms of gallons per hour is that if your pond is 3000 gallons and you want to turn the pond over 1 time an hour for filtration, your filtration pump will need to produce 3000 GPH, so you would look for a 3000 GPH pump.
GPM - (Gallons per Minute) - definition – is one way to measure how much volume of water (in US gallons) is being moved every MINUTE. 1 GPM would be 1 Gallon of water Per Minute. GPM is typically used on larger size pumps. It is important to not get GPM confused with GPH (Gallons per HOUR) or you will have a systems that is 60 times faster or 1/60th as fast as you wanted!
Ground Water– definition – this term refers to water that is beneath the surface of the soil.
Ground Water Runoff – definition – this term is significant to water features as it describes the pattern of water that moves across the ground due to rain or irrigation. This ground water run-off can carry fertilizers, pesticides; soil or other debris that can contaminate the pond and affect water chemistry (water quality.) For optimum water quality the water feature should be sited so that ground water runoff does not get into the feature. Those water features that require runoff as a means of make up water will require more careful filtration or a more forgiving standard of water quality.
Habitat - definition – is the environment in which an organism exists. In building a water feature it is important to decide what organism will be present in the system. Sometime an animal may be a pet fish or turtle or whatever and never leave the pond. However, the pond can also be a habitat enhancement that attracts wildlife such as birds, butterflies and dragonflies.
Habitat Pond - definition – is a live water feature. It is a pond whose primary focus is the animal and plant species that visit it or live in it. This style of pond can be created to further accommodate already existing wildlife or to attract species the owner might wish to bring to an area. Again many ponds may fit into several categories. A fish pond may add to the habitat of frogs and birds. However, it is good to know that you can build a pond for the simple purpose of enjoy seeing and hearing wildlife. For many people this is a very positive notion as opposed to being “owned by a pet.” It has often been said that water is the number one attractant of birds into the landscape. The benefits of an appropriate habitat pond can be immediate. For instance the mosquito is very adept at living in mans constructed environment. The mosquito can reproduce and proliferate in water left 24 hours in a gutter, a toy, or just a rain puddle. Meanwhile, those mosquito predators we need to control the mosquito need a more permanent and dependable water habitat. The dragonfly and the frog both can require two years in water to mature. Equally adding more birds decreases the mosquito population. So to a degree by having a proper habitat pond we can help rid ourselves of those pests that benefit from the decline of an ecosystem. As populations and urban developments continue to decrease our natural habitats and environments, helping fulfill the needs of wildlife is a worthy justification for a pond. In fact there are reports that in England prior to the growth of the ponding hobby that certain species of frogs were all but extinct. By adding to the habitat with ponds, these species have been able to be replenished.
Hair algae- definition – Is a multi – cellular algae which is another name for a string algae which grows on the sides of the pond. This type of algae is also sometimes called moss algae and can be quick growing and can also be seen around the waterfall of your pond. See string algae for more information
Hardy - definition – Typically, refers to the ability of a plant to withstand winter cold, but it can refer to an organism’s ability to withstand other environmental extremes. See zones for more information about plant hardiness.
Hardness - definition – quality of water mostly caused by amounts of Calcium and Magnesium. See KH, pH, and alkalinity for more information.
HDPE - definition – High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is a thermoplastic made from petroleum. This liner has extremely high puncture resistance, tear resistance and UV resistance. It is a much lighter weight material than EPDM. Because of its weight it can be made in larger dimensions. It can also be ordered in different thicknesses. Because it is less flexible and stretchy than EPDM, it is sometimes not used for smaller ponds.
Hose Clamps- definition – Hose clamps are used to keep tubing attached firmly to the barb side of a male insert. Hose clamps are typically used when plumbing with flexible pipe.
Hybrid - definition – Plant or animal derived from cross breeding two different species. In water gardening many water lilies are cross bred for outstanding color and performance and are hybrids.
Hydrogen peroxide- definition –In water gardens hydrogen peroxide is a compound used to increase the dissolved oxygen content of water and is used to stimulate aerobic biodegradation of organic contaminants. Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent and is much more benign than chlorine. Hydrogen peroxide is infinitely soluble in water, but rapidly dissociates to form a molecule of water [H(2)O] and one-half molecule of oxygen.
Hydrogen Sulfide - definition – Hydrogen sulfide is toxic to fish, especially in warmer water temperatures. It forms when bacteria feed off decayed organic matter and is trapped under the sludge layer. Hydrogen sulfide emits a rotten egg odor, and gas bubbles of hydrogen sulfide may escape when the sludge is disturbed. These gas bubbles may also release carbon dioxide, methane, and other noxious gasses, lowering the level of oxygen present in the water. If you were to put leaves, grass, pine-straw into a jar full of water, close the lid tight and let it sit for a while, when you open it up it will have a rotten egg smell. This the sulfur smells of hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide can be especially dangerous in those ponds that have a deeper gravel, sand or sludge bottom. If this gravel bottom is greatly disturbed it will emit toxins into the water that can put your fish at risk.
KH (or the Carbonate Hardness, alkalinity) - definition – is the measurement of carbonate and bi-carbonate ions in the pond water. One way to think of KH is the ability to resist pH swings. This is sometimes “buffering” the water. The ideal range for KH in a pond is between 7 and 13 ppm (parts per million). See pH, and alkalinity for more information
Knife Valve – definition – Is a valve use for opening or shutting flow through a pipe. It has a blade like center piece that slides up and down sort of like a window. It is weaker than a ball valve and may have trouble with the stress of being partially open. (a.k.a.: Gate Valve)
Koi - definition – (Cyprinus carpio) The original Japanese word koi simply means "carp," including both the dull grey fish and the brightly colored varieties. The average Koi can grow to 24-36 inches. They can be distinguished from goldfish by their barbels which look like whiskers. It is not unusual for a small Koi to grow 2-4 inches a year in a backyard pond. Certain factors will affect the growth of the fish, such as the size of the pond, the amount of aeration, and feeding methods. Koi do not have to be expensive nor do they have to be much trouble. Because the fish can live reportedly up to 200 years of age and can grow to greater than 3 feet in length, koi often become very much “a part of the family.” It is as easy for some people to become attached to a koi as it is for other people to become attached to a dog or cat. For this reason koi keepers will often be very enthusiastic about their fish’s well being.
Koi Pond - definition – is a live water feature. It is a fish pond, whose primary focus is koi.
Lily - like aquatics - definition – are plants that grow like water lilies but do not belong to the species ‘Nymphaea’.
Live Water Feature – definition – a water feature which supports life, thus is considered bio-active. The National Association of Pond Professionals (NAPP) places all water features into two categories: Live Water Features (bio-active) and Sterile Water Features (bio-inactive.) A pond would always be a live water feature while a swimming pool would be a sterile water feature.
Lotus – are aquatic plants that belong to the species ‘Nelumbo’. It is an emergent plant. It has submerged running rooted tubers, and leaves and flowers which stand above the pond’s surface. Although it has a shorter bloom season than the water lily, lotus is a very popular and revered pond plant!
Magnetic Drive Pump – definition – pumps whose impeller is not connected directly to the motor. Instead the motor and impeller are each connected to magnets. As the motor spins its magnet, the other magnet spins which causes the impeller to turn. Because of this separation the motor can be completely sealed, thus magnetic pump drives are less likely to add oil to the pond and usually the impeller is easier to change.
Make Up Water - definition – this is a term used to describe that water that has to be added to a water feature to keep the water feature full. Every water feature is going to have water loss evaporation. Even during the winter, water is going to be absorbed by the air. If you have a waterfall or jet you are going to accelerate this mixture of water into the air. To keep the water feature at its best operating level, you add some “make up water.” You can add the water manually or use Automatic Fill Devices (those components that can detect when water is low and add water automatically.)
Male Pipe Thread (MPT) - definition – male pipe thread; connection type using male (outside) threads
Manifold Box – definition – This is a box that helps distribute the water so it can spread out before it falls down a wall (water wall) or waterfall. Unlike a waterfall filter box, a manifold box typically refers to those waterfall boxes that do not have any mats or filtering responsibility. This absence of filtering allows for the box to be smaller. This makes manifold box a good way to display water in tight areas. Sometimes manifold boxes are referred to as “spillways”
Marginal Plants - definition – these are plants with roots fully immersed in shallow water, and foliage at or above the surface. They do best in the shallow area of a pond. In designing a pond you can incorporate shallow areas to display these plants. Some marginal plants are also good for Up Flow Bog Filters.
Mechanical Filter (Mechanical Filtration) - definition – is any object or machine whose function helps to collect debris usually for later removal. Mechanical filters are most commonly mats or pads, brushes, baskets, screens, beads, nets, or gravel. In an up flow bog filter and in a vanishing water feature gravel can provide mechanical filtration. Some people expect a mechanical filter to mean a man made machine but if a well placed bunch of limbs can catch a chunk of debris in the water for later removal then those limbs are providing mechanical filtration and are mechanical filters. Mechanical filter devices can also serve to protect pumps from that debris which can cause clogging, overheating and pump failure. Pond skimmers are a kind of mechanical filter. Bead filters are a type of mechanical filters. Waterfall filter boxes provide mechanical filtration. Dip nets are mechanical filters! Using maximum flow rates through filters will cause an increase in cleaning frequency. Removing the debris at the proper time in a mechanical filter also reduces the cleaning frequency of some bio-filters. Pond skimmers are a kind of mechanical filter. Some mechanical filters also provide biological filtration. The size of your mechanical filter is relative to how often you want to clean it. Obviously the larger it is the less you have to clean it. Because of this you cannot have too large of a mechanical filter.
Media - definition – see Filter Media
Nitrate - definition – NO3 -form of nitrogen. Nitrate is the third phase fish waste goes into as it moves through the nitrogen cycle. Fish waste starts out as ammonia(, turns into nitrite and then turns into nitrate. It is the nitrates that can be absorbed by plants. The nitrification cycle is powered by beneficial bacteria.
Nitrite - definition – NO2 - a form of nitrogen that is produced from ammonia during the nitrification process. Nitrite is extremely poisonous to fish.
Nitrogen -definition- (N) is a odorless and tasteless element. Nitrogen is in all amino acids and thus nitrogen is essential to all living organism. Nitrogen is so prevalent that it makes up 78 per cent of the air we breathe. In the common description of fertilizer: NPK – nitrogen is represented by the N and is usually considered the element that helps plants grow and be greener. Too much nitrogen can have adverse effects on plant growth.
Nitrogen Cycle - definition – is the natural cycle that converts ammonia to nitrite to nitrate. This cycle plays a vital role in every live water feature. The Nitrogen Cycle starts with ammonia. Ammonia (NH3) is a waste product excreted by fish and also resulting from the breakdown of decaying material (Nutrients.) It is toxic to many life forms and injurious to fish. Beneficial bacteria break down ammonia, and convert it to nitrite (NO2), which is also toxic. Then other specialized bacteria convert the nitrites to relatively harmless nitrate (NO3). The nitrates are the form of nitrogen which can be used by the plants as food.
Nutrients - definition – (Nutrients in the Pond, Pond Nutrients) – is usually referring to those compounds that develop from dead bugs, rotting leaves, fish waste, dead algae, pollen and any organic matter that decays in the water. These compounds basically form a food broth or nutrient level that encourages algae growth. Successful pond keepers encourage beneficial bacteria growth and favorable plant growth to out compete the algae for these nutrients.
Organic matter - definition – A common definition refers to that matter in the pond that is a waste product of a living organism, or a dead living organism or some dead part of an organism. Common organic definitions refer to those things that are not mineral or synthetic. Fish food is a source of organic matter, frog eggs are organic matter, leaves are organic matter etc. As this organic matter begins to decay and becomes sludge like or dissolved or suspended in the water it becomes nutrients.
Oxygen - definition –(O) is the element that is essential to life. In the pond it is important because it allow for a larger population of aerobic bacteria, and because aquatic animals depend upon there being enough free oxygen in the water to survive. While oxygen is found in a lot of the molecules in a pond (H20, C02), it needs to be by itself (02) to be available. Plants take in CO2 and release 02. Exposing maximum air to maximum water by using waterfalls, fountains, and air pumps increases the oxygen level in water. Remember hot water holds less oxygen than cool water, so aeration is especially important in the summer. Some well water is low in oxygen.
Parasite - definition – an organism that lives by feeding off of other organisms (host organism.) In a parasitic relationship the parasite always benefits but often the host can suffer. Anchor worms are a form of parasite. Often parasites carry other diseases to the host.
Pathogen - definition – any organism that causes disease. It is broad descriptive label for organisms that can cause disease including fungus, virus, protozoan, and bacteria.
pH – definition - is the measurement of acidity in the pond. pH is a measurement of the free hydrogen ions in the system. pH is measured on a scale of 1 to 14, but the pH required for life lies between 5.5 and 8.5. On the pH scale 7 is absolutely neutral. A number that is higher than 7 indicate that the pH is more basic or alkaline. A number that is lower than 7 indicate that the pH is more acidic. The ideal range for pH in a pond is between 6.8 and 8.2. High pH can stress fish, inhibit plant growth and curb the beneficial functions of bacteria and other microscopic organisms in the pond. Algae have a much greater tolerance for high pH, and thus do well while others struggle. The general biology of adding organic material to the water will typically add acidity to the water thus lowering pH. The use of cement in construction can affect pH if only temporarily by raising the pH. Some water sources may originate with a higher or lower pH, so it is wise to know what the pH of your source water is. The KH and pH values are very important water quality factors. They are interdependent and greatly influence the performance and health of plants, fish, and other inhabitants in a pond. When treating water chemistry in a pond, first address the KH (buffering capacity). Carbonates will buffer or moderate pH so that it does not get too low or too high. Adjusting pH is much more effective when carbonate hardness is optimal. When there are excess nutrients and/or the pH is high, algae thrive.
Phosphate- definition – (Phosphorous) an essential element to life and a major plant nutrient. In a fertilizer NPK phosphate is the P or the second ingredient. Can burn roots; promote algae if there is too much. Removing phosphate by using a compound that ties up phosphate is a unique way to combat algae.
Photosynthesis - definition - the process by which green plants use light to synthesize organic compounds (carbohydrates) from carbon dioxide and water. In the process oxygen and water are released. Photosynthesis is the start of the food chain. Animals rely on the food produced by plants during photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is an essential ingredient in photosynthesis. Because sunlight in a requirement, it is simple to see how shading water with lilies or storing the water in vanishing fountain reservoirs minimizes unwanted plant growth. See Vanishing Water features.
Plant Origins – definition - In order to protect native ecosystems it is important to understand the origins of the plants we use. The Federal Government has provided us with definitions as they relate to plants. Here are three we as pond hobbyist should know. When enjoying alien species and invasive species we need to be most careful in their placement and removal.
Planting Shelves- definition - are constructed levels beneath the water surface that afford different levels for aquatic plants to dwell, since different plants have different depth requirements. Another advantage of the planting shelf is to give easy access into the pond for maintenance. One problem with the shallow planting shelves is that they give raccoons and other predator’s easy access to the inhabitants in the pond. Planting shelves can be sculpted in the excavations dirt form prior to liner installation. Equally they can be constructed carefully above the water proofing.
Plants as Filters - definition – Maybe the number one filters in the water garden are the plants- they are the most natural way to compete with algae in the water garden. The best plants to compete with algae are: Submerged aquatics and floating plants, because they take in the available nutrients directly into their leaves, and water lilies, because they shade the pond and reduce algae photosynthesis. An overabundance of algae in the pond is a symptom of excess nutrients. See Phytofilter
Planting Zone – definition - There are 11 planting zones, or "USDA Plant Hardiness Zones," in the United States and southern Canada. The USDA planting zones are regions defined by a 10 degree Fahrenheit difference in the average annual minimum temperature. To put the definition in layman's terms, the higher the numbers, the warmer the temperatures for gardening in those planting zones. It is important for any gardener to be familiar with the planting zone of the garden.
Pond - definition - a live water feature. The dictionary defines a pond as a body of water smaller than a lake. The National Association of Pond Professionals (NAPP) defines a pond as a bio-active or live water feature.
Pond Filtration System – definition - the systems that work together to establish a desired water quality. Pond filtration systems typically use a combination of mechanical filtration, biological filtration and sometimes chemical filtration. See Filtration
Pond Liner - definition - typically refers to the flexible membrane that is the waterproofing basis for most ponds. The introduction of these durable products was the great catalyst that helped make ponds affordable to the greatest number of people. Today's popular pond liners are tough and are Ultra Violet resistant (meaning they do not have to have any kind of cover.) The two pond liner types that are the most popular in today’s market are: EPDM (a rubber like product) and Reinforced Multi Layered HDPE (a more plastic like fabric product.) The nice thing about pond liners is that they take the shape of whatever form you want your pond to be. Basically dig a hole, add an underlayment, and lay the liner into the excavation. It is sort of like making a bed but inverted. Some people like to walk across the bottom of the pond in their bare feet before they put the liner down. That way if they feel something sharp they can address it before they put the liner down. There are numerous creative ways to cover and decorate the liner once it is installed. Some people use loose rocks, but this is often not favored because the rocks can capture debris. Make sure that the pond liner you use is rated "fish safe" as some dealer will pass off lower grade roofing material to unsuspecting buyers.
Pondless waterfall – definition - See Vanishing Water Feature
Pond Salt – definition - Pond fish actively maintain a natural balance of electrolytes in their body fluids. Electrolytes such as sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, and magnesium are removed from the water by chloride cells located in the gills. These electrolytes are essential for the uptake of oxygen and release of ammonium and carbon dioxide across gill membranes. The lack of electrolytes can cause health problems in pond fish. Another reason to use salt in the pond is that some fresh water fish parasites have a low tolerance for salt. Sometime fish health procedures even include dipping a fish in a more concentrated solution to knock back parasites. Pond salt is an all-natural salt, providing essential electrolytes necessary for the health of the fish. Pond salt is not just a table salt which maybe iodized and very harmful to your fish. Make sure you are careful in you measurement and that the salt you are using is rated for pond use. Some pond salt is made from evaporated seawater.
Pot bound- definition - See Root Bound
ppm - definition - abbreviation, parts per million. PPM is used in measuring minute amounts of chemicals in water.
Pressure Reducer - definition – a device that will reduce the pressure of the air or water through the pipe. Sometimes just turning a valve will not reduce pressure. Pressure Reducers are usually used with automatic fill devices as too much pressure can cause the valve to fail. Pressure reducers are used when to much pressure can harm plumbing, most plumbing devices and pipes have a limit of pressure for which they were designed to handle.
Pump - definition - a pump is a mechanism or machine that is used to push a material through pipe, hose, or other channel. In water features we are primarily referring to water pumps, but air pumps are also used. In fact during construction, some water feature contractors may even use a concrete pump. We bring this up because it illustrates the wide range of pump used in the world and the importance of understanding that every pump is designed for a specific use. As you read through this glossary, you will have more confidence in making a qualified decision from our quality pump selection. See our article on Pump Selection.
Root bound – definition - Root bound refers to a condition of plant in a container (or super hard soil) where the roots can not spread out for healthy growth. When a plant is root bound the top of the plant will be stunted and it may not flower as well. Root bound plants are not as effective at filtering water as plants that are growing vigorously. Water lilies and iris are a few water garden plants that respond well to having their roots divided and repotted.
Runoff – definition - (sometime referred to as Ground Water Runoff) - water that flows over the ground after a rain. This term is significant to water features as it describes the pattern of water that moves across the ground due to rain or irrigation. This ground water run-off can carry fertilizers, pesticides; soil or other debris that can contaminate the pond and affect water chemistry (water quality.) For optimum water quality the water feature should be sited so that ground water runoff does not get into the feature. Those water features that require runoff as a means of make up water will require more careful filtration or a more forgiving standard of water quality.
Salinity - definition -amount of salt dissolved in a given volume of water.
Season the Pond – definition - (a.k.a. Breaking in the Pond) this is a term used to prepare the new pond (and even the drained and scrubbed clean existing pond) before introducing life to the pond. With a new pond it is important to clean the pond and condition pond water before adding plants and fish. Sometimes the pond is allowed to have some time for chlorine to leave the water, construction debris to settle, make sure the mechanical systems and waterproofing are working and to allow for some biology to start growing in the water. This is “seasoning the pond.”
Siphon - definition - it is a process where water can flow through a tube or a pipe uphill and then downhill. Siphons only work in water tight tubes and as the water is released on the lower side it create a vacuum in pipe which continues pulling water through the pipe. Sometimes pond owner will leave a water hose in the bottom of the pond to fill the pond and then someone will disconnect the water hose and the pond water will siphon out of the pond through the water hose.
Skimmer - definition - a device that pulls or skims floating debris or foam off of the water surface. Skimmers can function as a mechanical pre-filter. Some skimmers are large enough to house a pump. This type of specialty skimmer is very popular with ponds as it performs several good functions. When you can easily pull debris off the surface of the water by using a skimmer, it makes cleaning the pond less trouble and you do not have as much decaying organic material in the pond.
Slime Algae – definition - is a common name for a type of filamentous algae. There are thousands of varieties of filamentous algae so accurately defining them can be difficult. Every region may have a different common name for the same plant. However, Slime Algae can refer to Spirogyra. This algae looks like a floating mass of green and some times looks like it attaches to surfaces because it will drifts in the water into objects. This algae rises and sinks periodically because of gas bubbles. It is slimy and soft to the touch. It can have a little more odor than other filamentous algae. It is sometimes confused with a type of slime that is actually a bacteria growth.
Slime coat - definition - is the mucus-like covering over fish that helps protect the fish from harmful organisms. This coating can be enhance by the used of slime coat enhancing products.
Sludge - definition - muck settling in the pond bottom or trapped in filters; made up of many organic debris including fish waste, partially decomposing plant material, etc.
Spawning - definition - the reproductive process of female egg laying and male fertilization in fish
Specific Animal Ponds - definition - this is a live water feature or pond established for a specific animal. While most people quickly think of goldfish or koi has the cultured inhabitants of a living water feature, some people desire ponds for different animals. In our experience we have worked with clients on trout ponds, duck ponds, catfish ponds, an rehabilitation beaver pond, swan ponds, and turtle ponds to name a few. Just like a dog pen is not typically appropriate for housing a horse, every pond inhabitant has unique biological needs to keep it healthy, to keep it from being damaged and to keep the animal from damaging other stuff. This translates into making sure the animal is thoroughly researched and the pond, surroundings and filter system are especially designed to accommodate that animal. Remember that the biology desired determines the water feature design.
Static Head- definition - it is the vertical distance (in feet) from the source of the supply (e.g. surface of the lower pond) and the high point in the system (for instance the waterfall). It is important to know your static head when you are sizing your pump.
Sterile Water Feature- definition - it is a water feature that does not support animal or plant life. A Sterile Water Feature would be bio-inactive.
String Algae – definition - is a common name for a type of filamentous algae. There are thousands of varieties of filamentous algae so accurately defining them can be difficult. Every region may have a different common name for the same algae. However, string algae can refer to Cladophora. This algae has cotton texture to touch and is delicate looking in strands. It has a soft light/grass green color. It grows rapidly in unstable, moving water and can often be found on waterfalls, stream beds and near pond returns and skimmer. It can grow several inches a day in the summer. Koi will feed on some varieties string algae. Moss algae and hair algae are two other names for this type of algae.
Submerged aquatics - definition - are plants that grow primarily below the water’s surface. Most prefer to be rooted in the substrate, although not all. A good example of a rooting submerged aquatic is Anacharis or Elodea. A good example of a submerged aquatic which needs not to be rooted is Hornwort
Submersible Pump -definition - (or Submersible Water Pump) – is a term used to describe a water pump designed to be placed under water. They have been called “submergible pumps.” The submersible pump offers advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of using a submersible pump is that by placing the pump in water you can easily hide the pump. Plus, if the water feature basin is filled with water then the pump is always primed. Many of the skimmers used for ponds are designed to provide a convenient place for the pump. Submersible pumps may need some housing, grating, or mesh to pre-filter debris from getting into the pump. While the submersible pump is convenient to install, it becomes a little more trouble to service. You cannot easily hear or see what is going on with a submersible pump while it is the water. With large pump applications, the pump may have to be hoisted up and/or the pond may have to be drained just to check for clogs. In most residential situations the owner will have to put his hands in the water to pull the pump up. This may not be a problem for some home owners but others will not like getting their hands wet. Submersible pumps can often be more expensive than external pumps because they have to be manufactured to be water tight. While it is always a good idea to use a GFCI for any electrical connection, a GFCI extra important be used with submersible pump.
Transformer - definition - device that converts electrical current. Typically these convert household 115 volt electricity to 12 volt for pond lighting.
Tropical - definition - frost free climate with high temperature and humidity typically 75°f to 90°f daily. If your planting zone has freezes you could expect a “tropical plant” to die during the winter. Tropical lilies do not bloom until water temperature reaches approximately 70 degrees.
Turn the Pond Over- definition - (a.k.a. Turn the Water Over, Turn Over) – this is a term used to describe how often the total amount of water in the water feature is passed through the filter system. A perfectly sized filter system will be of no benefit if the water does not pass through it often enough. An example would be if a pond had 1000 gallons in the pond and the filter system pumped 1000 GPH (gallons per hour) then it “turns the pond over” once per hour. If the pond’s filter system pumps 500 GPH then a pond with 1000 total gallons in it would “turnover” once every two hours. For all filtering systems the more you turn the water, over the more frequently you are cleaning the water. The larger the pond more you have to pump to turn the water over quickly. But thankfully a larger body of water maintains a more consistent water quality than does a small body of water. So it is fair to say that the larger the pond the less you may need to turn it over. If you can turn it over once an hour that is optimum for a small pond, as you approach a 10,000 gallon pond once every two hours may be sufficient. Most swimming pool codes require that the pool’s water is turned over once every four hours. These are rules of thumb. Obviously the turn over of the pond depends on how intense the fish load is or how much waste is going into the pond. If you have high ammonia level or high nitrite levels, the problem may be that your filter size is inadequate or you are not turning the water over fast enough.
U.V. Lights- definition - (a.k.a. Ultraviolet lights, Ultraviolet lamps, UV lights, UV sterilizers) - are lights that look like fluorescent lights and can reduce green water algae (floating algae) in the pond and improve the water clarity. U.V. lights could barely be considered filters, as they do not help resolve any of the nutrient overloads which caused the algae in the first place. U.V. lights may be thought of as primarily a cosmetic fix on a ponds water condition. U.V. lights do not help reduce hair or string algae only that floating algae that is pumped past the bulb.
Underlayment - definition - this a term used to describe a geo-textile or fabric that is specifically selected to protect the liner. Where ever the liner goes down, the underlayment goes down first. A good underlayment is thick enough to give the liner a little cushion and is strong enough to minimize the risk of sharp rocks puncturing the underside of the liner. Some people also use the underlayment on top of the liner before they set rocks, or pour concrete. An added advantage to a good underlayment is that it provides extra support for the liner for times when weight is placed on top of the liner. Underlayment is very inexpensive when compared to having the problems of a liner puncture. Some people try to make their own underlayment out of newspapers (which will not hold up) and old carpet (which could also rot or have hidden tacks.) After a few years of experience one thing you will never see a pond professional skimping on is underlayment.
Union - definition – is a plumbing fitting used for connecting and disconnecting purposes. The fitting couples 2 sections of pipe together and then can be unthreaded to disconnect the two pipes. It is often used on plumbed equipment so one can have the ability to remove components without cutting the pipe.
Up Flow Bog Filter- definition - (aka up-flow bog filter) - This filter system is a very natural way to filter a pond. In a short description, an up flow bog filter is basically building a bog that is plumbed with a perforated network of pipes on the bottom. This network is connected to a water pump. Golf ball size gravel is added over this pipe. Water is then pump from the pond through the gravel. The total depth of the gravel needs to be at least 1'. This larger size of gravel is used to keep the gravel bed porous. A decorative layer of smaller gravel can be added over the first gravel. The bog is then planted with select emergent and marginal plants. The size of this filter is large compared to media filters like bead filter or filter mat or waterfall filter box. Typically 15% (25% if you have a fish load) of the ponds surface. The principle is that as the water flows from the pipe network in the bottom of the bog, the water is exposed to the many intricate surfaces areas of the gravel for biological filtration and some mechanical filtration. The plants planted in the top of the bog provide added filtration. These plants metabolize the nutrients in the water into leaf surface. As you remove plant growth and thin your plants, you are cleaning your pond! We are typically cautious about recommending gravel on the bottom of the pond as the voids can fill with debris and an anaerobic condition can develop. But the difference with an up flow bog filter is that we are pushing and moving water and debris upward rather than letting it just sit on the bottom.
Up Flow Filter - definition – describes a filter system where the water is pumped under a media that is in a box or chamber and as the water rises up through the media mechanical and/or biological filtration takes place. Up flow filters are cleaned by removing the media and cleaning it. Up flow filters are open filter system, so the water requires gravity to flow back into the pond. The boxes used as water fall box filter are up flow filters. Up flow bog filter is another popular form of this filter.
Vanishing Water Feature – definition -it is a water feature that does not have an exposed basin of water. It is often called “disappearing water feature” or “pond less water feature.” The vanishing water feature can have a waterfall that flows in to a water proof basin that has a top cover of rocks. Almost any desired element can be used to display water in a vanishing water feature. Urns, statuary, spitters, jets, and spray nozzles are a few of the ways water is displayed with a vanishing water feature. The vanishing water feature is good choice for people that want to enjoy the sound, sparkle and movement of water but do not want to maintain a pool or pond. Some of the advantages of a vanishing water feature are:
Variegated - definition – typically refers to a plant coloring that is blotched, edged, or striped with yellow, white, or a cream color. In the water garden people enjoy variegated Sweet Flag and variegated ribbon grass.
Velocity - definition -it is the speed at which something is moves. In water plumbing we usually are referring to how fast water moves through pipe. Usually referred to in feet per second (FPS.) Every type of pipe has a maximum velocity for which it is designed. You should design your pipe size so that the water does not create a lot of friction or turbulence by moving too fast through a small diameter pipe. Velocity is calculated using a chart that compares gallons per minute to pipe diameter.
Venturi - definition – is the effect of creating a vacuum by pumping water through a pipe. Some pond vacuums use the venturi effect to pick up debris off the bottom of the pond. One of the more popular uses of the venturi effect is to use the vacuum created by a water pumps discharge to suck air into the pond. This is a venture aeration device that helps with pond oxygentation.
Viviparous - definition - plant reproduction, new plant forms attached to the parent plant Water hycanith are viviparous.
Volume - definition – Is a measurement of how much space an object occupies or how much space is in a container. In calculating the water volume of a water feature it can be expressed in gallons or cubic feet. There are some simple formulas for getting a general volume of a pond. For a rectangular pond you would calculate the volume by measuring length x width x depth =cubic feet. Multiply cubic feet by 7.5 would give you water volume in US gallons. The formula for a circular pond: 3.14(pi) times the radius (in feet) of the circle squared times the depth (in feet) would give you the cubic footage of the pond. Then convert to gallons by multiplying by 7.5. Of course most ponds have a much more irregular surface and depth so volume calculation can include doing several formulas and using lots of averages. The absolute best method of calculating a pond would be to use a water meter on the hose when filling the pond. Once you have the ponds volume you will be able to better calculate the amount of additives to use and filtration turnover.
Water Feature - definition –is a garden or landscape element which displays water. Water feature is the broad category which includes swimming pools, fountains, ponds, streams, etc. Water features may be bio active (live water feature) or bio inactive (sterile water feature.)
Water Garden – definition - it is a live water feature that is a pond whose primary focus is the plants. It may or may not include fish, fountains or waterfalls & streams in its design. Planting shelves afford different levels for aquatic plants to dwell, since different plants have different depth requirements. Water Gardens are often desired so owners can enjoy the remarkable beauty of water lilies, the lotus plant, papyrus, and iris just to name a few.
Water Pressure – definition - Water pressure is the force of the water available in a water supply system. Usually expressed in PSI (pounds per square inch.) The water pressure can be generated by the height to the municipalities water tank or it can be generated by a pump. Too much water pressure sometimes can cause component failure. Just turning a valve does not necessarily decrease pressure. Pressure reducers help check too much pressure.
Water Quality - definition - is a term that refers the state of water. With pure or distilled water being the highest standard of water quality, it is a level that is not realistically sustainable in a water feature. Thus appropriate water quality is determined by the owner's desires and the water features biological and safety needs. What might be appropriate water quality for one water feature would be a failure for another and visa versa. Typically water quality would be the judged by its clarity, pH, KH, ammonia, nitrites, floating algae, clarity, chemical additive content (like chlorine), etc. Even the odor of the water may be a factor in acceptable water quality. Water quality is good if it is acceptable for that water's use. In a fish pond, a pond keeper might say: "The pond has excellent water quality because its ph is near 7, the KH is on track, and there are approximately 6-18 parts per million of dissolved oxygen in the water, the ammonia/nitrites/nitrates are in line, the water has good visibility and the fish are healthy."
Watercourse – definition - a horizontal flow of water. It could be a stream, but may more often be used to describe a more formal or architectural looking channel of water.
Waterfall - definition - a steep descent of water, usually over rocks and naturalistic in style. Waterfalls can be designed in conjunction with swimming pools, all types of ponds, sterile water features, and vanishing water features. Waterfalls can be a replication of a natural water fall or can be a characterization of a waterfall. By having different water patterns in a water fall, different sounds can be produced. In a live water feature waterfalls can enhance filtration by adding oxygen to the water. In a sterile water feature waterfalls can tax the water feature because the aerating of the water encourages chlorine to escape as gas. Waterfalls are typically appreciated as icons for fresh, moving water in an idyllic setting.
Waterfall Box – definition – (see Manifold Box) is typically a box that is used to collect the water discharged from a pipe before the water is released over a waterfall. A waterfall box may not have filtration; rather its value is to release the water in a wider more controlled discharge.
Waterfall Filter Box – definition -is typically a combination manifold box and up flow filter. This popular component not only provides a way to “organize” the water from a pump before releasing it down a waterfall or a stream, but it also helps clean the water with filtration mats or some other filter media.
Waterfall Tank- definition -see Manifold Box
Water lily- definition - (a.k.a. Water Lily) – Water lilies belong to the species ‘Nymphaea’. They are plants which have rooted rhizomes, typically 6 – 30” below the water’s surface (although water lilies can adapt to varying depths – just remember they need to be able to get light through the water.) They prefer quiet waters, and may have issues near waterfalls, fountain sprays or jets. Their leaves and flowers grow from ‘tips’ or ‘crowns’ on the rhizome to float on the water, and in some cases the flowers rise slightly above the water. The lily leaves or lily pads help to shade the water. These plants have a long bloom season.
Weir - definition – Is an opening or water channel. It is measured by the width. For instance you might say, “ I want the weir to be 2 feet wide and I want water 1 inch deep moving through it” The term is often used to refer to the spillway width of a waterfall or the opening on a pond skimmer.
Zone - definition – basically mean area. In planting, we refer to hardiness zones. In a pond sometime different depths of the pond are referred to as zones. This is done so that different areas of the pond can be identified with depth requirements for differing groups of plants.