The internet has a wealth of information for pond owners, whether you are looking for pond ideas, building your first water feature, or trying to figure out what is causing your pond algae. But not all the information on the internet is helpful. And when it comes to ponds, often incorrect or misleading information is even easier to find than solid advice. Along with our friends at Aquascape, we debunk some of the most common pond myths out there.
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1. I want my pond located in the lowest part of my yard
Contrary to some popular opinions, locating your pond in the lowest part of your yard is problematic. A low-lying pond is susceptible to potentially toxic run-off from fertilizers, weed killers, and other undesirable contaminants. To keep your pond and fish healthy, place your pond in a high, visible location.
Your pond will not only be healthier, but it will also likely be in a better viewing location for you. Position your pond close to your house so that you can see your pond outside of your kitchen window or when you are entertaining friends on your patio.
2. It’s necessary to drain and clean your pond regularly
Don't create more work for yourself! Ponds do take effort, but maybe not as much as you think. As soon as you release your pond into the wild frontier of your backyard, bacteria are at work trying to balance it. Natural systems such as the nitrogen cycle work to eliminate toxins in your pond, making the environment more hospitable to fish and plant life, not to mention prettier to look at.
Ideally, you only need to be completely emptying your pond once a year in the spring (or the fall if you are not keeping your pond over winter). Partial water changes, topping up pond water, cleaning equipment, and changing filters are a part of regular pond maintenance, but full clean-outs are not necessary more than once a year.
3. The more filtration, the better the pond
Don't get us wrong: filtration is a good thing for ponds. Helpful for removing particles that can break down and release toxins, filtration keeps your water fresh and clear. However, as with most things, there can be too much filtration in your pond. Too-fine filtration mesh can create real problems for you. Fine filter pads may be necessary in the short-term to help clarify murky water, but can cause more work for you when they become clogged on a daily basis.
Ponds are outside. We need not apply the same clarity standards as we do with our indoor aquariums. You should be able to see a coin on the bottom of your pond, but need not worry about fine particles. The best way to achieve a clear, healthy-looking pond is through a combination of the right types of pond filters, such as: UV sterilizers for green water, skimmer filters for surface debris, and a pressure filter for free-floating debris.
4. I have liability or safety concerns
Safety concerns are nothing to be trifled with. However, their are still some misconceptions when it comes to the safety of backyard ponds.
Most professionally installed ponds have graduated depths, unlike many pools. This means that your pond starts with a small shelf, which is likely only ankle deep, and gradually gets deeper. While most backyard ponds are only a couple of feet deep at most, you have the freedom to create a pond with whatever depth you choose.
If you are still concerned about liability issues with an open pool of water, consider installing a pondless waterfall. There are countless pondless waterfall ideas out there that can give you a stunning water feature without the safety concerns.
5. Your pond must be at least three-feet deep in order to keep koi
Many people love majestic and exotic koi, but choose not to keep them in their pond because they fear it is too shallow. This simply isn't true. Even in cold climates, like most of what we have in Canada, fish can survive over winter in ponds that are only 2 feet deep. Often, the ground surrounding the pond will insulate the water so that it does not freeze all the way to the bottom. Pond winterizing products keep portions of your pond's surface open to encourage gas exchange.
Other options include keeping your koi fish over winter in an indoor pond so that they can be enjoyed all year round.
6. You can’t be a koi hobbyist and a water gardener
No need for snobbery here! Water gardening and koi keeping go hand in hand. You need not be an expert in koi to keep some of these hardy, ornamental fish in your pond. And if fish are your passion, creating a beautiful habitat for you and your koi to enjoy should be second nature.
7. Predators will eat all of your fish
If you build your pond right, you don't have to worry too much about natural predators. Number one: fish do have their own instincts. If a fish feels threatened, often it will swim to a deeper, sheltered area of the pond.
However, there are a few things you can do to aid your fish:
- Include live water plants, such as lilies, marginals, and floaters to create natural shelter
- If you don't want to use live plants or as a supplement, use plastic pond plants. There are many natural-looking lily pads and other plant shelters.
- Use decoys. A decoy fish or predator can deter potential predators from feasting on your pond's residents.
- Include natural rocks in your pond design. In the wild, fish hide behind rocks and in caves to escape from predators. Recreate these conditions by including natural rock in your pondscape.
8. UV lights such as those in the UltraKlear™ UVC are the best way to keep to keep your pond water clear
UV sterilizers (clarifiers) are fantastic. Easy to install and relatively inexpensive, UV sterilizers are one of the quicker, easier ways to clear water. But they aren't the only way. Clear pond water is doable without any fancy equipment. If your pond's nitrogen cycle is balanced, you will not need a UV sterilizer at all.
9. The presence of rocks and gravel makes it difficult to clean your pond
Quite the opposite! Rocks and gravel contribute to the biological filtration in your pond. Rock and gravel bottoms offer a natural place for aerobic bacteria to colonize and set up housekeeping. This bacteria breaks down the fish waste and debris that would otherwise accumulate in the pond and turn into sludge.
10. You have to bring your fish inside for the winter
Common pond fish such as goldfish and koi do fine during the coldest of winters as long as you give them two feet of water to swim in, oxygenate the water, and keep a hole in the ice with a pond de-icer, allowing the naturally produced gasses to escape from under the ice. See How to Winterize Your Fish Pond (Video).
11. You can use a timer on your pond pump.
While it might seem like a good idea to cut down on energy costs, if you turn off your pond pump at night, you could be doing your pond harm. Your pond is a living, breathing ecosystem that needs constant oxygen, just like people do. If you shut your system down at night, then you will never have sufficient growth of beneficial bacteria to fight algae blooms, and your finned friends will have a hard time breathing.
On the contrary, you can shut down a Pondless Waterfall system, whenever you like because there is no ecosystem depending on the circulation.
12. A pond means you will have a lot of mosquitoes
Mosquitoes prefer to lay their eggs in still, stagnant water. If you do find your pond water is stagnant in areas (stagnation would likely cause it to smell as well), you may want to increase the circulation by upsizing your pond pump or cleaning out a clogged existing pump.
Even so, if mosquitoes happen to lay eggs in your pond and the mosquito larvae hatch, the fish in your pond will consider them a treat and will pick them off the water’s surface with great enthusiasm.
13. Koi can’t be kept in a pond that also contains plants.
In a naturally balanced ecosystem, koi and plants complement and need one another. In nature, fish feed on plants. As a result, the fish produce waste, which is broken down by aerobic bacteria on the bottom of your pond, and then is used as fertilizer by the plants to grow and produce more natural fish food.
However, koi can present some interesting challenges to plant keeping. To keep inquisitive koi from disrupting all of your water plants:
- Koi love to dig, so plant lilies in deep pots with a standard (shallow) layer of soil to discourage digging
- Use plant shelves to keep plant roots above water and plant baskets to protect roots
- Use fast-spreading, inexpensive floaters such as duckweed or parrot's feather as decoys
- Keep prized plants in harder to reach locations
14. Your pond water must be tested on a daily basis.
Mother Nature never tests her water, and her ecosystem does just fine. A well-conceived, naturally balanced water garden normally requires no testing either. Unless you are experiencing problems, once-a-month water testing should be sufficient to catch problems.
15. You cannot have a pond in an area where there are a lot of trees.
Yes, you will have more leaves in your pond in the fall but, by the same token, the shade provided by the tree(s) will help minimize algae blooms in the summer. If you have a skimmer sucking the top quarter inch of water off the top of your pond, it will pull most of the leaves and related debris into the skimmer net. Or, use a manual skimmer net to remove leaves and debris yourself.
16. Having a pond may decrease the value of your home
Everyone knows when it comes to the resale value of your home, a swimming pool can be deadly. However, in the opinion of some real estate agents, ponds can be a great addition to your home that can add beauty to your landscape and might even pay dividends. Home resale values can be such a subjective thing. In the end, if a pond would add value to your home for you, it's a worthwhile investment.