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- Frequently Asked Water Gardening Questions -

Plants
How do I plant my water garden?
What is the best plant to start with?
How do I plant the plants you sent to me?
Do the plants you offer for sale survive the winter?
How are plants shipped?
Do plants come with instructions on how to plant them?
What about winter care of water lilies?
How do I keep my floating plants out of my skimmer?

How much surface coverage will I get a single water lily?
When can water lilies be placed in the pond?

What water depth do you plant lilies?
Can water lilies be kept in the pond during the winter?

 

Pond Operation
How to Cycle (Start Up) a New Pond.
How do I get rid of Algae?
Fall Maintenance and Preparing for Winter
What is "Winter Kill?"
Can I switch my pond pump off at night?
Do I need aquatic plants in my pond?
Do I need a bottom drain?
Do I really need a pond filter?
Why does my water stay dirty, green or brown?
How do I test my pond water?
Why do I have to clean the skimmer filter twice a week?

Koi and Fish
How long do Koi live?
How do I take care of my new Koi?
Do I keep my Koi indoors for the winter?
Do I feed my Koi During the winter?
How do you prepare a Koi for shipment?
Why are Koi so Expensive?
I don't have a pond. Can I keep Koi in my aquarium?
What is the right amount of fish for my pond?

Water Facts
1 acre-foot of water = One acre of flat land with water one foot deep.
1 cubic foot of water =   7.48 gallons =   62.4 pounds
100 cubic feet of water =   1 ccf (std. bill unit) =   748 gallons
1 acre-foot of water =   43,560 cubic feet =   325,900 gallons
1 cubic foot per second (cfs) =   450 gallons per minute      
1 cubic foot per second (cfs) =   646,320 gallons per day      
1 cubic foot per second (cfs) for 24 hours =   1.983 acre-feet      
1 cubic foot per second (cfs) for 30 days =   59.5 acre-feet      
1 cubic foot per second (cfs) for 1 year =   724 acre-feet      
1 million gallons of water =   3.07 acre feet      
1 million gallons per day (mgd) =   1,120 acre feet per year      
1000 gallons per minute =   2.23 cfs      
1000 gallons per minute =   4.42 acre-feet per day      
             

Figuring How Many Gallons in Your Pond

Rectangle Shapes
Let's say your pond is roughly 8 feet wide, 10 feet long and 3 feet deep. Just multiply 8 feet wide x 10 feet long x 3 feet deep = 240 cubic feet. 1 cubic foot of water is 7.48 gallons, so multiply 240 times 1.48 and you get your answer 240 x 7.48 = 1,794 gallons.

Circle Shapes
If your pond is a circle use this formula (Radius x Radius x depth x 3.14) So let's say we have a round pond which is 12 feet across and an average depth of 3.5 feet. The radius of your pond is one-half the distance across it or 6 feet. The formula says take the average depth (3.5) times the radius x radius x 3.14. That is 3.5 x 6 x 6 x 3.14 = 395.64 cubic feet. Again we take 7.48 (gallons in 1 cubic foot) and times it by 395.64 which is 2,959 gallons or roughly 3,000 gallons.

Cheap and dirty trick for exact measurement! Place a 5 gallon bucket at your pond. Hook up a hose and take it to the bucket. Your pond may be uphill or downhill from your water spigot so it is important to keep the test bucket at the pond. Time how many seconds it takes to fill that 5 gallon bucket. Let's say it took 30 seconds. We know that for every minute we got 2 pails full or 10 gallons of water per minute. Start filling your empty pond. Let's say you started at 10am and at the pond got full at noon. It took you 2 hours to fill the pond or 120 minutes. Since we know that your hose pushes out 10 gallons per minute, that we just multiply 120 minutes times 10 gallons and it amounts to 1,200 gallons. Your new pond holds 1,200 gallons of water.

Proper Amount of Plants

Say the pond graphic above is 8' x 10' which is 80 sq'. Since we want 1/2 planted, that equals 80/2 or 40 sq'. We know that we need about 1 to 2 plants per sq' that we want to cover. That is 40 sq' divided by 2 which is 20. So then, 20 is the magic number for how many plants (bunches) we need. 1 bunch equals a big handful with floating and submerged plant orders.

The shortcut to all of this is to divide your total surface area in square feet by 4.
So, if your pond is 8' x 10' it is 80 sq' and 80/4 = 20 Plants (Bunches)
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Quick Guide to Order Right Amount of Floaters or Submerged Plants
Your Pond Size 1 Plant = 1 Bunch
Width in Feet Length in Feet Square Feet Your Ponds Total Square Feet∕4
6 10 60 60/4  = 15 bunches
8 10 80 80/4  = 20 bunches
10 10 100 100/4 = 25 bunches
10 12 120 120/4 = 30 bunches
       
50+ Plants? Contact Us for Discounts

PLANNING CONSIDERATIONS

  • Decide on your center piece "showcase plants" for a visual effect.

    • Most people choose lilies or lotus for this purpose.

    • Lilies and lotus don't like water splashed on their leaves. Keep them back from waterfalls and be careful when you water the yard.

    • New lilies may bloom in short order. The lilies we ship usually come with active blooms and the leaves (pads) are a few inches wide. The blooms may not open from transplant shock. This varies on a case by case basis. If the water is warm, and you plant carefully, the chances are good the blooms will become flowers.

    • Lotus generally will not bloom until the 2nd season. Some people follow our lotus planting advice and get blooms the first summer.

If you want water lilies or lotus to be in the center of your pond you will need to build something to rise from the bottom to rest the pot on. Make sure it is a stable platform. Below is a nice way to display a lotus as a featured plant in your pond and keep it at the right depth.

Koi Tip: Sunburn
Platform for Lilies, Lotus or Flowering Bog Plants

  • Decide on your "marginal plants." These are also called "bog plants." Marginal water plants as the name implies are those that occupy the edges (margin) around the pond. Most of these plants do not like to dry out. Marginal or bog plants are happiest growing in wet mud.

  • Decide on your "floating and submerged Oxygenator plants."

    • These plants are the "backbone" of what aquaculture plants are intended for. Filtering contaminates out of the water and producing new oxygen.

  • Lastly, algae eating snails make a great addition as they eat algae and scour the pond bottom for decaying material. They are not invasive egg layers and give live birth.

PLANTING YOUR POND PLANTS

IMPORTANT - Keep the newly delivered plants in a tub of your pond's water and out of direct sunlight for the first day. When you then start to plant them, the soil can be out of your flower or vegetable garden. Heavy soil with some clay is good. Avoid potting soils like 'Miracle Grow Planting Soil' as is too light and will float out of the pot. Dirt from your yard is just fine. Use any plastic or clay pot that you have. If the pots have holes in them, line the bottom of the pot with burlap, newspaper or some other heavy-fibered material. You don't want any holes in the pot as drainage is not an issue as the pot will be submerged in water. The most important thing is to keep your dirt/mud mix in one place. To prepare the soil mix the soil with water from the pond to make a nice thick mudpie. Then fill the pot that you have chosen to about 2" from the top with your mudpie mix. Newly potted plants can be placed in the shallow area until they become established and you can move them deeper. Keep lilies away from waterfalls and fountains as they don't do well with water droplets on the leaves. Follow any specific directions as noted on the plastic tags that come with the plants.

FERTILIZER - Put a fertilizer tab in the pot away from the plant root when you first plant and then again once a month. Some plants like Lilies and Lotus are big eaters and need 2 tabs a month. WAIT to fertilize lotus until the new sprouts are coming up as you don't want to burn the delicate plant tips.

PLANTING FLOATING OXYGENATOR PLANTS - These are the easiest to plant. Just lay them in the pond! Shade them for a few days before exposing them to full sun. If you want to contain them so they don't float into your skimmer you will need to make a floating fence for them. Just take a few sticks and form them into the shape you want and tie the ends together with fishing line. Lay the stick fence into the pond and lay the floaters inside of it. This will keep them located in one spot if you anchor the fence with a big fish sinker. An old Hula Hoop spray painted flat black, with a large fishing weight anchoring it in place, works very well too.

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

PLANTING SUBMERGED OXYGENATOR PLANTS - These do well if you have gravel in the bottom of your pond. Just clump the roots in a bunch and push gravel over them. If you have no gravel you can get some lead sinkers at the sporting goods department and then put a rubber band loosely around a few plants and then crimp a fishing weight onto the rubber band and drop the plant bundle where you wish. They will feed just fine off of the nutrients in your pond water, especially if you have fish that produce waste. Another option is to find some shallow plastic trays. Make a mix of dirt and gravel and plant the submerged plants into it and then lay it in your pond bottom. There are a lot of creative ways to plant these plants from simple to complex. Your imagination is your guide to how you want to use them.

PLANTING BOG PLANTS - Plant these as you would lilies, again making sure that you don't cover the crown of the plant. The bog plants that we sell come in 2" net pots. Care should be taken when removing the plants from these net pots so you don't tear up the root system. Bog plants should only be in water deep enough to cover the pot.

FERTILIZER - Put a fertilizer tab in the pot when you first plant and then again once a month. Some plants like Lilies and Lotus are big eaters and need 2 tabs a month. NEVER put the tabs right next to the root mass as this may burn the roots. Take a stick and push a hole near the side of the pot and drop the tabs in the hole and cover them up.

PLANTING WATER LILIES - Place the tuber at a 45 degree angle, with the non-growing end against the side of the pot and the growing end in the center. Press the soil around the roots being careful not to cover the crown of the plant. Add a layer of gravel over the soil, again being careful not to cover the crown, to prevent koi from rooting them up. Koi by nature are constantly nosing around and are curious. We like to use gravel that is a least ˝" in diameter to discourage koi. Start them in shallow water and move them deeper as they grow. Lilies are heavy feeders and should be fertilized once a month after planting. Be careful that the fertilizer is not touching the roots as this will burn them.

MORE LILY INFORMATION  - That really depends on the type of lily you get. Most hardy lilies put out a few pads about 6 inches in diameter. Hardy lilies can be put in the pond when the weather warms up in your area. Start them shallow and move them deeper in the pond as the plant grows. During the winter just leave the pot in the deepest part of the pond to prevent it from freezing solid. 

PLANTING WATER LOTUS - Float your lotus tuber in pond water for 10-14 days in a warm sunny place (water temp 70-80 degrees) before planting. Change the water frequently. If the water is allowed to get too cold at night this can kill the new growth and the tuber will rot. You can use a heating pad set on the low setting under the pan of water to keep them warm. This allows the tuber to sprout and will increase your success in growing lotus. Don't plant the newly sprouted tuber in a cold pond. Wait until your pond gets up to 65-70 degrees. Once established in your pond they are a hardy plant and will come back year after year in even the coldest of climates when the water warms up. When your lotus is ready to plant, fill up a 5 to 10 gallon or 12” x 12” pot with 6" of topsoil with pea stone at a rate of 75% topsoil 25% pea stone. This will improve aeration in the soil. Place the lotus tuber with the growing tips straight upwards centered in the pot. Gently press the tuber into the mud being very careful not to damage the new growing tips. Add a 1" layer of gravel to cover the tuber and to keep the tuber from floating. Lotus are very heavy feeders, but should not be fertilized until they have put up two or three leaves. After they have set leaves they should be given 1 or 2 tabs of fertilizer per pot. Place it in the pond no more than 8 inches deep of water over the top of the pot. In the fall move the lotus to the deep water. Don't cut all the stems off as they provide oxygen to the root system.

Best Pond Plant to Start with? The #1 plant for fast growth and powerful water filtration is the water hyacinth (also called blue shell) and the Jumbo's are the best way to go. You NEED to keep them shaded at first to keep the plants from getting burnt before the root system starts pumping new fluids to the leaves. If you burn them from full sun on the first day they will be stunted and not grow. But once they are acclimated you can put them anywhere you wish. We have many customers who order full boxes each year. In my opinion, they are the best floaters for any purpose and the rest of the floaters are good, but not the high powered cleansing factories like hyacinth. However, if you have Koi they love to nibble on hyacinth so you need to understand you need enough of them to keep up with the Koi.

How do I get rid of Algae? You need to kill the algae first and start a pond planting and stocking program. Go to the Algae Fix Page and buy the GreenClean™. All your algae will start to float to the surface in just a few minutes. You are going to have a HUGE MESS on your hands so do it on a day off. Algae will keep popping to the surface all day. Keep raking the surface and getting as much out as you can. You will need to tote it off somewhere to decompose. It is going to stink and draw flies. Bury it if you can. Can you leave the dead algae in your pond? (This is a bad joke) NO, that dead algae is a huge pile of new excess nutrients, that will start new algae growth. Set aside a day to take care of this rather than dump the GreenClean™ in the pond and walk away. NOTE: Some strains of algae are tough. While GreenClean™ will knock out 95% of all algae in an few hours, some will survive.

How long do Koi live? Some Koi are reported to have been handed down generation to generation in Japan. "Hanako", the nickname given to the oldest ever living Koi in Japan, was reported to have lived in excess of 200 years. A Koi that is given the proper environment to thrive in can outlive the owner. Conservatively speaking, a Koi that is kept in a small pond environment in someone's backyard will live 20-30 years if cared for properly. BUT, if you mess up your water just once you can lose all your Koi. You need to check your water quality at least once a week or so until you are 100% confident that you are doing things right. If you take a vacation for a few weeks make sure you have a neighbor or relative trained on how to take care of your pond.

How do I take care of my new Koi? Make sure your pond water is safe for your Koi. Check the salt level and the water’s pH, ammonia and nitrite levels. Do not open the bag upon receiving the fish. Put the bag in the pond and let it float for at least 30 minutes so the temperature of the water in the bag can adjust to that of the pond water. If the bag is in the sunlight, shade it with a towel to prevent the bag from getting hot and killing the Koi. After the bag has floated and become the same temperature as the pond, open the bag and allow a small amount of water into the bag several times over a half hour or so until it is all exchanged. Now you can let the Koi swim out of the bag into your pond. Do not feed your new fish for at least 24 hours. Koi may jump the first few days in a new pond. Keep an eye out should one flop on the bank. Surprisingly healthy Koi can live out of the water for longer than one may expect and will recover if put back in the water soon.

Do I keep my Koi indoors for the winter? If your pond is 2.5 or more feet deep no. Just make sure to keep a hole in the ice for an air/gas exchange. You can use a floating pond heater. It does a great job keeping a hole in the ice. If you are concerned about winter kill you can get a 300 gallon tank like this and configure it to winter your Koi and plants. Or build this unit.

Do I feed my Koi During the winter?  No, do not feed your Koi any food in the winter this could prove fatal for your fish. Koi rely on their body temp to help digest food. Pond water colder than 50 degrees makes digestion hard for them. In the fall, when the pond temperature starts to drop, start feeding the Koi a wheat-based feed. Stop feeding the Koi anything when the pond temperature reaches 50 degrees. At this temperature they will start to go into a hibernation state of sorts (reduced metabolism) and they won't be able to digest the feed and may end up in poor health or even suffer the worse.  In the spring when the temp rises to 50 degrees start feeding them sparingly again with your wheat-based feed that produces less fish excrement and watch to see if in fact they do start eating. Don't feed them if they are not actively going for the food. Wait a week and try again. As the temp increases above 60 degrees you can start feeding them normally with high protein and color enhancing feeds.

Do the plants you offer for sale survive the winter? This depends on where you live. If you have really hard winters, nobody that is honest is going to tell you that your plants will survive a hard winter. The chances are really good for the lotus, lilies, the bog plants and the submerged plants, but people up north pretty much replace the floaters every spring. (unless you take them inside) The problem is with the rubber pond liner. A natural pond has conditions in the muck and the banks to propagate new growth. A pond liner prevents the earth from interacting like mother nature. Basically you have a bunch of water in a balloon and that makes it hard for mother nature to do her job as the roots cannot go through the liner into the earth. People that do have success with keeping the plants coming back year after year use a pond heater to keep the ice to a minimum and it also allows the gasses to escape from the pond. Consult our US Department of Agriculture map to find out if you are in a Hardy or Tropical area for planting.

Fall Maintenance for Ponds and Watergardens

There are a few things that need to be done to get your watergarden ready for winter. Make a note on your calendar to do your fall maintenance no later than when the leaves on your trees start to change color. If you don't really know the limits of your agriculture zone and first frost, just mark October 15th on your calendar. Here are some tips that can help:

* Make sure your watergarden is clean for the long winter dormancy period. Install a pond net to keep leaves and debris out of your pond. This is very important, as the more leaves and debris that winds up in your pond the worse it is for your fish. This is why: As the leaves get saturated with water they sink to the bottom where they start the rotting process. As they rot they are turned into nitrates by nitrifying bacteria. To refresh your education on this see the nitrogen cycle. As the water temperature starts to drop your fish’s metabolism starts to slow down getting them ready to go dormant for the cold winter. This dormancy period is a weakened state that makes your fish more susceptible to disease. With a dirty pond and high nitrates there is going to be a higher risk that you will lose some fish over the winter! If you spent a lot of money Koi, or just a pond hobbyist who loves their little goldfish, this simply cannot be allowed to happen. Remove your pond netting before snow comes and clean out the remaining leaves and debris. Snow and ice can accumulate on your netting and collapse it.

* As soon as your plants such as floating water hyacinth, marginal plants (bog plants), and lilies start to look brown you need to take action. Get the hyacinth out of the pond. Cut back your marginal plants and lilies. Cut them right down to the base of the soil. They will come back in the spring. Leave water lotus alone, cutting the plant can cause the tuber to rot. If you have tropical plants in northern climates they need to be out of the pond before the first frost. You can store your floating and submerged plants (like water hyacinth and anacharis) in a plastic kiddies' pool of water in the basement or garage. If there is no natural light you should hang a grow lamp over the plants and run it a few hours each day with a timer to keep them alive. Most people in the northern climates just order new floating and submerged plants in the spring and avoid the hassle of the kiddies' pool. Depending on your agriculture zone, your floating and submerged oxygenation plants may winter over fine or die. Oxygenator plants are not true hardy species, or true tropical species, but somewhere in between. Most people classify them as subtropical. If you are a new watergarden owner you will have to find out by trial and error if your zone will winter over all of your plants. There are too many variables for us to say "Yes' or "No" to whether your local zone is OK.

* Winter Kill - If poisonous gasses are allowed to accumulate under the ice and not vent away to the outside air it can kill your fish. This is known as “Winter Kill.” Install an
aerator on the pond bottom and the bubbling will keep a hole open, or use a pond heater to keep a hole in the ice for an air-gas exchange. Either will work fine. It is a matter of personal preference. Most people like to use an aerator simply because it can be used during the other seasons as well to increase the oxygen content of the water. Aerators also to create a more efficient cleaning cycle by bringing up dirty temperature stratified water, which doesn't hold oxygen well, at the pond bottom to the surface. Additionally aerators use less energy than pond heaters costing less to run per day.

* Stop feeding your fish when your ponds water temperature reaches 50-55 degrees. If you want to continue to feed in the 50-55 temperature range use Koi food especially for cold weather conditions. Do not under any circumstances feed below 50 degrees as this food will more than likely be trapped in the fish’s digestive system all winter.

* Remove all the filter pads or filtering material (filter ribbon or bio-balls) from the filter. Clean it, dry it out well, and store it for spring. Running the filter in the winter is useless unless you are running it for extra water aeration without the filter pads. Filters don’t work in the winter because the active bacterium, which eats up the bad stuff, goes dormant at low temperatures.

By following these simple tips you will have insured the best possible environment for your fish and plants to easily survive winter. We hope that this information has been useful to you and that you have enjoyed your watergarden or pond experience through education.

How are plants shipped? Our plants are shipped bare root, soil-less, some in net pots, and are ready to be planted either directly in the pond, in plant pockets, or in pots.

Do plants come with instructions on how to plant them? Yes. If you don't get them with your plant see planting instructions above on this page.

How do you prepare a Koi for shipment? All of our fish have been quarantined for a period of two weeks before we put them up for sale to look for disease or parasites. Our fish are then double bagged to prevent leaks. We then apply an oxygen charge to the bag and band it securely. We then pack it in a foam box for insulation. Our fish are shipped next day air to arrive safe and healthy at your point of delivery.

Why are Koi so Expensive? Championship Japanese brood stock Koi are VERY expensive and they are hard to locate. It costs money to operate commercial growing ponds. Also, it takes a long time for a Koi to reach a size that is appropriate for sale. Also consider this, we sell Koi in 3 grades: Premium, Select and Decorative. A premium Koi is one that exhibits exceptional markings. Maybe 1 out of 5,000 Koi that are hatched become Premium Koi. The next grade is Select, which is basically a Premium Koi with a minor flaw. Roughly 1 out of 1,000 Koi are Select grade. The last grade we sell is Decorative. These are not "Mutt's" by any means and they are all Koi that just about anyone would be proud to own. Perhaps 1 out of 500 Koi meet the Decorative grade. The rest of the remaining Koi are sold in bulk and NOT put on this website. Just recently on a trip to one of the breeding ponds, our Koi manager culled out about 30,000 small Koi because they didn't have what it takes to be sold on the website. So you see we just don't keep any fish that is hatched. We only keep the ones that exhibit great color and markings.

I don't have a pond. Can I keep Koi in my aquarium? Yes you can, but keep in mind Koi get very large and are best suited for a back yard pond or water garden. The minimum aquarium size for a Koi up to 12 inches would be 75 gallons per fish and up to 350 gallons per hour filtration per fish, this will allow enough beneficial surface area for bacteria to colonize.

Can I switch my pond pump off at night? We would not recommend it. Think of your pond pump as the heart of your pond and without it your filter can not process fish waste. You take a chance of killing some of the beneficial bacteria that have grown inside of your filter. This will cause a rise in the ammonia levels, which can kill your fish if not kept in check.

Do I need aquatic plants in my pond? Yes if you want a balanced, clean, algae free pond. Plants feed from the unwanted nutrients in your pond such as fish waste and nitrogen. Algae also will grow from these same waste products. However, plants are a higher plant form than algae and compete with the algae for the same food source, thereby starving off new algae. Without plants there is nothing to stop the algae from taking over. A good formula to live by is: A good filtration system + lots of live plants + minimal fish = balanced ecosystem, or a clean pond. If algae is out of control you may need to kill it off with a safe algaecide and start over.

Do I need a bottom drain? No, you do not need a bottom drain. The only benefit of a bottom drain is to circulate cooler bottom water to the warmer surface of the pond for good pond temperature stratification. The same thing can be done with aeration. Besides a bottom drain in any type of pond that is graveled is ineffective because all your fish waste is trapped in the gravel bed and doesn't make its way to the drain. Also it is not if your bottom drain will ever leak, but when it will leak around your pond liner. Why cut a hole in a perfectly good liner when you don't need too? No matter how well a bottom drain is installed, they seem to always leak at the seal between the liner and the drain at some point. We strongly recommend that you do not use one in your plans for a watergarden.

Do I really need a pond filter? Yes unless you want a stagnate, mosquito infested, cesspool with dead fish. You cannot process fish waste without one.

Why does my water stay dirty, green (algae) or brown? Because your pond is out of balance. There is an excess of ammonia, nitrates, decomposing leaves or fecal matter. This is the result of poor maintenance or not enough filtration, too many fish for your pond size, not enough plants or poor design. Get some GreenClean.

What is the right amount of fish for my pond? The total gallons of pond water and the rated size of your pond filter is what determines the amount of fish you can have in your pond. A simple rule we use is for every 1" (inch) of fish you need 1 sq.' (square foot) of surface area assuming you have a good filtration system. So, if your pond is 8' x 10' that would equal 80 sq.' of surface area for new pond installations. That equates to being able to stock up to 80 inches of Koi (10 8" Koi) to start with. For established ponds with lots of aquatic plants and an active bacteria colony in the filter, you can raise that level to 2 or 3 inches of fish per 1 square foot of surface area. It is better to not push the envelope on keeping Koi. Should your filter clog up while you are away for a week or less you can severely stress, or even have a complete kill of all of your expensive and precious Koi!

How do I test my pond water? In order to determine if you have good filtration system you will need to buy an ammonia and nitrite test kit and test your water often for traces of either ammonia or nitrite. (at least daily on new pond installations) If you cannot control the ammonia or nitrites you will have to upgrade your filtration system, or reduce the number of fish in your pond.

How to Cycle (Start Up) a New Pond. Click Here for in-depth information on this subject.

What about winter care of water lilies?

Hardy Water Lilies:
Once winter approaches and the water temperature of the pond drops, the hardy lilies automatically go dormant. If any new leaves appear, they will be very small and will remain under the water, close to the soil. As the old foliage browns, simply prune and lower the lily to the deepest part of the pond. If a sufficient depth of water can be maintained so that freezing does not occur at the root level, the hardy lily does not need to be removed from the pond.

If there is a possibility of the pond freezing solid, there are several methods of protecting the lilies. If you prefer to leave the lilies in the pond, place boards, side by side, across the top of the entire pond. Cover the boards with mats or layers of straw or leaves, weighted down with stones. In the spring, as the ice thaws, all coverings must be removed to prevent premature growth.

For indoor storage until spring, a cool basement or heated garage are possible choices. The lily tuber should be covered with moist burlap, peat moss or leaves. You could also cover the soil with newspaper and place the entire container in a sealed plastic bag. Check occasionally that the soil is moist.

Lotus
Don't cut all the dead stems off as they provide oxygen to the root system. This is all that you need to do.

Tropical Water Lilies
These continue to grow and bloom until several freezes drive them into dormancy. If you choose to store your lilies through winter, a greenhouse is the most successful way. Provide only 10-20% of the space of your pond. A wash tub or tank is suggested. The lily should be kept small, therefore, do not fertilize. A nice and inexpensive way to keep them alive is to purchase a 300 gallon tub from a farm and feed store. These are typically used to water livestock and made of polypropylene. You can add a filter on the side and keep your small Koi in there too over the winter if you are certain the ammonia levels are safe. Large Koi should be allowed to go into hibernation in your winter pond rather than risk keeping them over in a tub in your house or basement.

Another method is to use an aquarium. Pot the lily in a 4-6" pot and place in at least a 20 gallon tank. Heat the water to 70 - 75oF and place a florescent grow light close to the top of the tank. Do not encourage growth. Simply keep the lily alive.

Some specialists consider starving plants in late summer, which will causing the formation of tubers. Once all leaves are dead, feel under the crown for a hard tuber. Remove the tuber and wash it thoroughly. The smaller tubers generally make the nicest plants next spring. If there's any root or stem tissue still attached to the tuber, air-dry a few days and snap it off cleanly. Again, wash the tuber well and place it in a plastic bag or mason jar. Fill the container with distilled water or slightly moist sand store it in a cool dark place, at approximately 50-65oF. Be sure to check the container regularly. If the water is foul or discolored, replace it with fresh distilled water.

Remember when spring returns a tropical lily should only be placed in water at least 70o. Do not rush the plant outside. It could return to dormancy or it may die.

How do I keep floating plants out of my skimmer?

You can create a floating pen for the plants. Get some black rubber vacuum tubing from the auto parts store, form it in a circle, join the two ends together and then tie a piece of heavy fishing line on the pen and use a large sinker to keep the pen in place. Koi may move it around, so it is possible you will need to relocate it once in awhile but the plants will stay out of the skimmer.

Why do I have to clean the skimmer filter twice a week?

Thank You for such an informative question. This helps a lot in treating your problem.
My first question is have you done, or are you going to do a spring cleanout on your pond this year?

It sounds like you are doing everything right for the most part. You only have five gold fish, you have good filtration for you current fish load, I know you stated that you do not use floating plants in your pond because your skimmer sucks them up as fast as you can put them in the pond.

As everybody knows this is one of the major problems associated with having a skimmer and floating plants. But it's something that can be fixed. Skimmers are used for three reasons in a pond. To skim leaves and debris from the surface of the pond, To prefilter the pond water before it reaches your biological filtration. In the form of mechanical filtration. without a skimmer your biological filter would have to act as both mechanical and biological filter.

Now this is a problem, your filter will quickly clog and require frequent cleaning. The third reason to own a skimmer is to hide and protect the pump and plumbing.

For the most part a skimmer is not necessary in the summer to skim leaves and debris, because there's not very much in the summer months for the skimmer to skim. Other than the occasional grass clippings. The main job of the skimmer in the summer is to act as a prefilter for your main filtration.

With that in mind we now can use a strong plastic mesh attached to the skimmer opening to allow water in but keep your floating plants out. Plants like your floaters are very important in any pond because they are great filters, using up fish waste as a food source in the form of fertilizer. therefore starving off algae. and limiting it's growth.

I would recommend you purchase a lot of floating plants, not just 5 or 10, but 20 or 30. this will provide you instant coverage and shade. because you have so many in the pond, the abuse the fish put on them will be spread out more throughout the plants, allowing them to repair themselves from damage, and continue to flourish.

A lot of people make the mistake of only buying five plants and wonder why the fish kill them . they cannot repair themselves as quick as the fish are eating them.

Another thing I would recommend, is doing a full clean out twice per year, once in the spring, and a partial one in the fall after all of the leaves have fallen. This means using a power washer to super clean the algae and muck off your rocks and gravel. also use the power washer to deep clean all your filter pads. The keys to any perfect pond is minimal fish load, lots of aquatic plants, and great filtration.

Continue doing what your doing, but do a full clean out, and plant the heck out of your pond. in a month you will notice a big difference.

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