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WHO ATE MY KOI LAST NIGHT???

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WHO ATE MY KOI LAST NIGHT???

“My koi are all GONE!” This is a phone call we have received too many times at headquarters. Not only is it awful for the client who’s koi have mysteriously vanished, but it makes us sad too. Usually the client wants to know what ate their koi, so they can prevent it from happening again.

There are, of course, several possible culprits when it comes to eating koi right out of your pond. Raccoons, egrets, herons, cats, snakes, dogs, and even hawks or owls, have been known to catch koi and eat them. Here are a few helpful hints to figure out who your hunter is, so you keep your fish safe.

pineconebirdANGRY BIRDS

Herons, egrets, and other water birds live almost entirely on fish.

Your pond maybe the easiest buffet they’ve ever seen. Let’s face it, their normal hunting grounds are big lakes, rivers, and even the ocean!

Imagine how much easier it is for them to catch a meal from your small backyard pond. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel…

Typically, when a pond has been raided by predatory birds, we see little to no sign they’ve been there at all.

If the plants are all in place, the water is still crystal clear and not muddied up, but your fish are MIA, you were probably hit by some type of bird.

They are very slow and methodical hunters. Even when we’ve seen hawks or owls hit the pond to snag a fish, they swoop down, and make a grab without disturbing anything in the pond, except for the fish….the fish are VERY disturbed.

racoonMASKED BANDITS

When a raccoon, or bear is hunting your koi, they create a complete disaster. You’ll find plants torn out by the roots, pots knocked over, and rocks pushed in to the pond.

They wreak havoc. It’s like drunken college students on spring break in Ft. Lauderdale, MESSY!

Snakes are also very sneaky, and you may see no sign of their visit, but it will be mostly smaller fish that are gone, The fish eating snakes do not grow very large, so the fish they take are smaller.

FAKE FURRY FRIENDS

Dogs can create quite a mess too, but not nearly as bad as raccoons or bear. They might just knock some plants or rocks down while chasing the fish around.

Cats also do little damage to the environment, but you will notice smaller fish missing.

curvyneckPREVENTION

Once the correct hunter has been determined, you can take steps to help prevent further raids.

For birds, about the only effective deterrent seems to be a good net. Cover the pond with a sturdy net, staked in place, and you should be pretty safe.

Unless you have a bird hunting dog. Dogs are awesome.

If you have a fat, lazy, couch dog, maybe not so much, but an active beagle will be worth his weight in gold when it comes to protecting your koi.

Even a tiny, yappy, determined yorkie or chihuahua will chase off many predators. I’ve also seen a good guard dog chase off a bear!

For raccoons, cats, and dogs, it seems the best deterrent is a “scarecrow”.

This is a motion activated sprinkler that squirts everyone that approaches the pond with a stream of cold water. When I say everyone, I mean EVERYONE.

The scarecrow doesn’t care if it shoots, a heron, a goat, or you. It is fully non-discriminatory.

It is a good idea to place it so you have a safe path to shut it off before you get hit.

Snakes are a conundrum. I am not sure how to prevent them from coming, or chase them away if you have them. If anyone has any brilliant, snake-deterrent ideas, send them my way!

redeyewhitebirdPLAN AHEAD

Our general rule of thumb is, eight by eight is a dinner plate. Basically we mean, if your pond is only 8′ x 8′ or less, it is very easy for predators to catch koi from your pond. We encourage you to build bigger than that as your first preventative step.

Deeper ponds are also very helpful, as the fish can swim down. We like to add a fish tunnel. This is simply a nice sized pipe built into the pond that the fish can swim in when they are being chased.

ALMOST NOTHING IS PERFECT

These hunters are all very wily. After all they make their living finding food, and they are good at it.

There is almost no way to insure the complete safety of your fish. An aviary around the pond is pretty good. Or you can build your pond in the house. I have seen this a few times. It is very effective, especially in the mountains, since how the heck does anyone keep a bear from going where it wants to?

Bigger is better, and deeper is helpful. And, by the way, there are some other methods I’ve heard tell of, but remember, most wildlife is protected, and killing them can result in heavy fines, so be careful what you do.

Try to build preventatively, and if you already have a pond that has been raided, I hope you can find some answers here.

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Leslie Triplett, The Pond Gal

Life is Short, Enjoy Koi!

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3 Pond Myths EXPOSED!

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3 Pond Myths EXPOSED!

I hear all kinds of crazy stories. Most of them are even about ponds! Today, I thought I would expose some of the most commons Old Wife’s Tales I hear about ponds, that can help improve the quality of your fish’s lives.

MYTH #1 FISH ONLY GROW AS BIG AS THEIR PONDfish-square

This has become the platform for people that want to put a koi in their 60 gallon Home Depot, plastic, preform pond.

With proper feeding, filtration, and water changes, your fish are going to grow as big as they are meant to be, no matter the size of the pond.

I have personally seen several 3′ long koi in a 300 gallon pond. I once even saw a 28″ koi that had been grown in one of those 6′ wide, 18″ deep kiddie wading pools. Of course, filtration, and water quality in both of these instances was beyond reproach.

The real secret to koi growth is pheromones. Koi release pheromones in to the water all the time.

The pheromones in the pond tell the fish many things, such as who is ready to breed, who is sick, and most importantly, how crowded the pond is. If you keep the pheromone level low, the fish will grow more.

When the pheromone level is high, it tells the fish not to grow. The easiest way to keep the pheromone level low is to perform water changes.

Speaking of water changes….

MYTH #2 WATER CHANGES ARE BAD FOR MY FISHkoi-feeding

Water changes are good, great even. The more frequently you change water in your pond, the better. I’m not talking 100% water change every week, of course, but a nice small weekly water change would be a beautiful and very beneficial thing.

This one is a stumper for me. About the only way I can figure out how this one started was if someone forgot to de-chlorinate their water after a change, or it was high summer, 115 degrees, and they put ice cold water back in the pond after a water change.

In either of these cases, you are going to lose some fish. Otherwise, water changes help in so any ways.

A normal, reasonable, regular water change, does nothing but good for your pond.

It will help remove any waste build up, reduce ammonia and nitrite in the water, and add oxygen, magnesium, calcium, and potassium, all of which perform beneficial duties for your pond.

Removing all of the above contaminants will also help reduce your algae production.

Algae thrives on decaying materials in your pond, and regular water changes will help to reduce those decaying materials.

MYTH #3 PONDS ARE DIRTY, UGLY, AND A TON OF WORKcherry-dragonfly

There is some basis in reality for this myth:

If a pond is set up with incorrect filtration, has too many fish, and is fed like crazy, it very well could be messy, smelly, and a lot of work. I’ve seen this time and time again. Frequently with little, preformed, hard plastic, ponds from big box stores.

The reality is, these little puddle style ponds are not big enough for fish, except maybe a few mosquito fish.

They never have good enough filtration, and some have no filter at all. They are destined to fail.

When we design a pond, we always try to filter the same way we know people are going to stock the pond; more than needed.

Usually, by the time our clients finish stocking, they have just the right amount of filtration. And then they say, “Just one more koi I think”!

The reality is, you can never have too much filtration, and that is the goal to shoot for.

If you end up somehow not overstocking your pond, the koi in there will love the extra filtration they have. It’s a no-brainer.

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Leslie Triplett, The Pond Gal

Life is Short, Enjoy Koi!

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5 Magical Elements Plants Add to Ponds: Including Dragons!

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5 Magical Elements Plants Add to Ponds: Including Dragons!

instabutterPlants bring a lot to your pond. Of course there are the aromatics and amazing blooms, but you already know about that.

I’m going to tell you 5 things you may not know about, that plants bring to your pond, that can dramatically improve your life!

Okay, maybe not so dramatic, but some pretty dang cool stuff.

BIRDS, BIRDS, BIRDS!

Ponds, or waterfalls, but especially ponds WITH waterfalls bring birds in.

Spectacular, sparkling hummingbirds, flitting in and out of the waterfall, catching flying bugs, adorable finches, bathing and drinking, regal hawks cooling off, the list goes on and on, but you’re catching the drift.

Put out a few feeders, and you’ll get even more.

But then, you have to fill those feeders! Here’s the beauty of pond plants:

Many of the plants that you can put in and around your pond produce nectar for birds like orioles and hummingbirds, or they produce seeds after they flower, for seed eaters like finches.

Herbs are especially great seed producers and look and smell great around your pond.

Now, you won’t have to remember to fill up feeders, but your visiting birds have groceries!

Day and night, your new feathered friends will give you hours of fascinating entertainment, and provide the useful service of bug and mosquito control.

No worrying about zika or west nile for you!

BUTTERFLIESinstabuttflower

Plants bring butterflies! Okay not all plants, but the right plants bring in a ton of butterflies.

Butterflies eat the nectar from many of the blooming flowers that you can plant in and around your pond.

They are especially attracted to many of the plants that have darker colored blooms like lilacs, fuchsia, bleeding heart and hummingbird plant.

Then they spend the rest of their time flitting around your pond looking pretty. Great bonus!

DRAGONFLIES

Dragonflies are voracious carnivores straight from the egg, ravenously consuming other insect larvae, including mosquito larvae.

As they mature and take flight, they commence consuming an even greater number of flying insects, such as mosquitos.

This helps reduce the risk of disease carrying pests in your neighborhood.

Plus, dragonflies are just cool to look at and play with. They will land right on an outstretched hand, allowing an up close and personal encounter, that will have your kids, or grandkids, and maybe even you, giggling in delight.

Chinese legend says that a dragonfly lands on you because it senses your inner peace. It’s like a personal stress test!

By adding tall plants the dragonflies can perch on and hunt from, you create inviting areas for dragonflies to hang out.

The more comfortable they are, the longer they will stay consuming those nasty, flying, bad, bugs like mosquitos.

BATS

Notorious for sucking blood, and hanging out with vampires, bats have a bad reputation. I’m here to bust that lie wide open.

Bats are incredibly helpful in your yard. They eat all kinds of annoying flying insects, and that includes mosquitos. (I hate to beat this dead horse into the ground, but everyone is concerned about zika lately)

In fact a single bat can consume up to 1000 mosquitos in a night. Yes, I said ONE THOUSAND. That’s a lot of vector control packed in to one tiny body.

Getting bats to come is a bit more difficult than dragonflies or hummingbirds though.

Plant a couple of taller trees or plants near your pond, and hang up some bat houses. The bats will move in and begin patrolling your grounds for invasive, disease carrying insects immediately upon arrival.

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NIGHT LIFE (around your pond)

The last cool tip is WHITE flowers. White flowers come on all kinds of plants, but the best part of white flowers is the way they reflect the moonlight at night.

While most flowers appear to turn black at night, white flowers practically fluoresce in the moonlight, giving your pond an added dimension, and extra hours of enjoyment past sunset, without an extra electric bill.

Be sure to use a variety of white blooming plants to maximize the time period of blooms.

For a list of plants that will help attract birds, butterflies, or bats, or a list of plants with white flowers, email leslie@theponddigger.com

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Leslie Triplett, The Pond Gal

Life is Short, Enjoy Koi!

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5 Facts For Fighting Mosquitoes

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5 Facts For Fighting Mosquitoes

cherry-dragonflyDragonflies are almost universally loved and admired.

They grace our artwork, clothing, and now they can adorn, and protect, your yard. From their envy worthy flying skills, to their marvelous jewel tones, they seem to have it all.

Dragonflies have an added bonus; they eat mosquitoes!

If you are worried about mosquitoes or West Nile Virus, simply put in a pond. You will attract dragonflies, and combat mosquitoes and West Nile at the same time. Plus, ponds are cool and stuff!

There are as many as 5000 species of dragonflies and damselflies, none of which are actually “flies” but they do a lot of flying.

Damselflies often fly under the misnomer of dragonflies, though they are a separate species. The easiest way to tell them apart is by their wings:

dragonfly-comparison damselfly-comparison

When dragonflies perch, their wings spread are flat out to the sides, as they are portrayed in most artwork. Damselflies perch with their wings pinched together above their backs.

FACTS!

  1. dragonfly-2Their order, ‘Odonata’ actually translates as toothed ones, and dragonflies are called this for good reason:

    Dragonflies are voracious carnivores, from the moment they hatch, until the end of their life, which can be as long as a year for some species.

  2. While in their larval state, the dragonflies live underwater, breathing though their butts, (yes, I said butt!) consuming tadpoles, other insect larvae, (like mosquito larvae), small fish, and even each other.

  3. Once they take flight, they eat flying insects, including mosquitoes, and can consume hundreds per DAY!!!

  4. While most predators in the wild only catch about 25% of their targeted meals, dragonflies have an astonishing 90% catch rate.

    Their flying maneuvers, which include, hovering, moving side to side, zooming straight up or down, and flying backwards, along with their nimble 6 footed, in the air, grabbing technique, helps them capture those dirty mosquitoes like no one else can.

    Even a bug zapper is not as good as a dragonfly!

  5. dragonfly-1The one drawback may be this; dragonflies are territorial, with males duking it out for air space and females. This may mean for the best mosquito control, you need multiple ponds for many dragonflies.

    Multiple ponds in your yard….haha, I do amuse myself, even if I don’t amuse others.

So, build a pond, and fight West Nile Virus and those pesky mosquitoes. Your neighbors will thank you.

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Leslie Triplett, The Pond Gal

Life is Short, Enjoy Koi!

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Abomination or Angelic Beauty

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Photo courtesy of Koitotheworld.com

Abomination or Angelic Beauty

Traditional Koi connoisseurs are filled with an all consuming passion for their fishy friends. They love the depth and spectrum of colors, carefully evaluate the body shape, and dissect the lineage of their koi. They have preferred breeders to buy from, and those breeders wok tirelessly to produce the “perfect” koi.

butterfly-koi-vertical

Photo courtesy of Koitotheworld.com

Koi connoisseurs anxiously await the color changes brought on by each passing year, as their koi mature and change. They fret over the plain, little, black, fingerling, hoping it will make the leap through the “Dragon’s Gate” to become the amazing snow white, and deep black Utsuri they dream of. They drool over the never ending changes on their prize Showa, waiting for the final dramatic flourish of color that will make the time spent all worth while.

What they don’t do is love Butterfly Koi. They actually consider them abominations. They kind of hate them. Some koi connoisseurs don’t even consider butterflies to be actual koi.

Still, I love butterfly koi. Their long, flowing fins, take flight in my mind as elegantly as eagles soaring majestically overhead.

I love their colors and patterns, the way they move, and their slightly, odd body shape. I even love the long flowing nares, admittedly somewhat similar to an old man’s nose hairs sticking out all over the place, but beautiful in their own way.

Traditional koi connoisseurs don’t consider butterflies “real” koi. In fact, only recently have they been allowed at some koi shows. They don’t show well against traditional koi though, so they are given their own classes, and are entered as “longfin variety” not koi.

Butterfly koi were originally bred by crossing Indonesian long fin river carp with traditional koi to help increase the hardiness of traditional koi.


Some koi connoisseurs don’t even consider butterflies to be actual koi.


butterfly-koi-tattThe Japanese breeders that produced them, called them “onogaoi” which translates as long tail carp. So, I guess technically they aren’t true koi, when you get down to the nitty gritty.

That said, butterfly koi are a beautiful addition to your pond, with their ridiculously long fins flowing and swirling around them in the peaceful waters, they lend a greater sense of calm to the pond, and add their own special beauty.

Butterfly koi fans often call them “angel” koi, supporting the beauty of their graceful finnage with a heavenly nickname. Other fans call them “dragon” koi, a name reminiscent of the strength they have given to the traditional koi lineage.

If you are willing to live outside the box, look in to butterfly koi, you may be pleasantly surprised.

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Leslie Triplett, The Pond Gal

Life is Short, Enjoy Koi!

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Get on the Offense for the Best Success with your Pond

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Get on the Offense for the Best Success with your Pond

It’s hot. There’s no denying it. While we love this kind of weather for beaches, barbecues, and biking, your koi are not as thrilled with it. Don’t wait for the heat of the moment to ruin your fun in the summer time! Here’s the low down on the high temperatures.

A LITTLE CHEMISTRY

When the weather warms up, the oxygen content in your ponds drops. This means there is less oxygen for your fish to breathe. Koi fish are much more active in warm weather, eating, swimming, and breeding, so they need more oxygen.

On top of this, any excess food, fish waste, or leaf material decaying in the pond are using oxygen as well. Added together, this means that the already low oxygen content caused by warm weather, is further challenged by everyday summer fun in your pond.

While a waterfall is helpful, it often can not keep up with the demands set by summer temperatures and other oxygen demands. We suggest supplementing the pond with an aerator.

WHAT IS BEST FOR MY PONDPro Air Pumps

There are many different sizes and styles of aerators available, and the manufacturers offer suggestions for the size pond they should be used on. In order to choose the correct aerator for your pond, you should know how deep it is, at the deepest point, and the surface dimensions.

If you have a lake, you need to know the depth at the deepest point, and the size in terms of acres, (1/4 acre, 1/2 acre, etc.) to select the proper size. These units are typically much larger, and can run multiple air diffusers with a single compressor. There are special housing containers to protect these larger units from snow and floods too.

WHERE SHOULD I PUT IT?

The air diffuser, or the part that actually goes in the water, should be placed at the centermost, and deepest point of your pond. This will allow the bubbles to create a specific circulation pattern that brings the newly oxygenated water down to the bottom of the pond. The less oxygenated water will be drawn to the surface, to be loaded up with more oxygen, creating a great flow throughout the whole pond.

ADDED BONUSaerator-cat

One amazing side affect of this additional aeration is that it helps break down sludge on the bottom. Without getting too technical, here’s how it helps.

When the freshly oxygenated water flows to the bottom of the pond, there is a chemical reaction between all the yummy new oxygen in your water, and any decaying, icky, grossness, gathering on your pond floor.

The positive charge of the oxygen, frees the negatively charged molecules on the icky stuff, (like hydrogen sulfide) and a chemical reaction breaks them down into water and sulphur dioxide, a gas that can now leave the pond, improving your water quality.

TAKE HOME

I know that was a little like high school chemistry, and no one wants to revisit that class, but all you really need to know is this;
If you add aeration, your fish have more oxygen when they need it, and it will make your water quality better.

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Leslie Triplett, The Pond Gal

Life is Short, Enjoy Koi!

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POKÉMON and PONDS?

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POKÉMON and PONDS?

I realize that you are thinking…Here goes Eric, losing his mind over some new trend. Okay, admittedly, I do get a little carried away sometimes, but this new trend is on FIRE!

FIND THE FUN

AND, people are getting up off their couches and actually WALKING, (or even running) to catch the Pokémon in their neighborhoods, grocery stores, and shopping centers.

What could be better? Kids can use their mobile phones and their feet! Exercise and gaming all in one! Plus the WHOLE family can join in.

When I am cruising the neighborhood, trying to catch Pikachu and his buddies, I see people of all ages, from 6 to 60 chasing down Pokémon with me. It’s a friendly game, and before you know it, you are bonding with strangers over where to find Diglett. We compare catches, share secrets, and tell each other where to look for the coolest critters.

I recently caught an Arcanine, and I am the envy of all the kids! My kids, and their friends actually WANT to spend evenings with me chasing down Pokémon in the neighborhood several times a week.

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EMBRACE THE ADDICTION

The point is, I fully embraced this new addiction my kids have, and I’m spending all kinds of fun time with them. We sprint around, laughing, yelling, and playing for hours every week.

How does this apply to ponds you ask? It’s soooooo simple. I am not a huge Pokémon fan, but my kids are…..get it? I am doing this to spend quality time with them, and they love me for it. Plus, there are “pond based” Pokémon, AND you can drop a “lure” by your pond so the kids can catch cool critters right at the water’s edge. Just be prepared to meet your neighbors, and their kids, and their friends.

So, when it comes to your pond, take this Pokémon advice and apply it to the pond in your life:

INVOLVE EVERYONE

1. Involve your family and friends as much as possible. Give them what THEY want in your pond to help them enjoy it. Add candles and comfy, plush seating for your wife, put an outdoor TV for your husband with a built in ice chest nearby. Add an excellent gaming chair for your kids with some wifi, and get a hotspot if it is too far from your modem. Even if they are staring at their phone, at least they are out there with you.

GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANTlights

2. Find a way to enjoy the pond after dark. Let’s face it, most of us work 40+ hours a week and can’t begin to enjoy our pond until evening. Pokémon creators knew this, and have special critters that only come out at night. They are practically FORCING you to go play with your kids!!!! Brilliant.

Add lights, night blooming plants, and citronella tiki torches to your pond. It will create such a cool atmosphere, you will want to be there, and you family will too! Put a picnic table nearby, so you can enjoy beautiful, peaceful evening meals by the pond. Fire pits are always a bonus, because what kid doesn’t love s’mores?

FINAL THOUGHT

The real take home here is this, if you are as addicted to your pond as your kids or grandkids are to Pokémon, take my advice and offer them incentives to love time by your pond as much as you do.

And maybe offer to go Pokémon hunting in trade. You’ll be glad you did!

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Leslie Triplett, The Pond Gal

Life is Short, Enjoy Koi!

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3 Mistakes Architects Make When Designing Ponds

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3 Mistakes Architects Make When Designing Ponds

Architects really know their stuff when it comes to buildings, but ponds are definitely one of their weak spots when it comes to design, equipment, and circulation.

The real first mistake they make is not having a pond builder in their back pocket for design questions. If they consulted a pond builder during the designing phase of a project, these 3 big mistakes could be easily avoided.

SHAPEshape

Architects are known for making beautiful curving, edges that make very cool nooks and crannies which become debris catchers.

The most beautiful lagoon looking ponds with hidden spot back in the trees and bushes create a pond builder’s nightmare.

The builder must then come in and find a way to filter these nooks and crannies. While it is possible using multiple skimmers, that can drive the price up significantly.

Multiple skimmers could also mean more pumps are needed, driving the cost up further, along with a crazy electric bill later on.

CIRCULATIONcirculation

Fluid dynamics are something architects frequently overlook also.

They don’t take into consideration that the water in a pond needs to flow a particular way in order for filters, and especially skimmers to pick debris from the pond.

When that flow is interrupted, the debris will settle to the pond floor, creating a mucky mess that you must remove by hand later on.

LIFE SUPPORT AREAlife-support

When an architect designs a pool, they are typically very familiar with the equipment used, and spec accordingly.

The pond industry makes this difficult as there are no real standards, so architects are forced to guess.

When the pond builder shows up on the scene, the space left for pond equipment can be undersized, forcing us to invade space designated for something else, or stick equipment right out in plain view, mucking up an otherwise lovely view.

PLANNING YOUR DREAM POND

If you have an architect drawing up plans for your house, insure they are connected with a well trained pond builder that will help make your dream pond possible, while avoiding these simple mistakes.

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Leslie Triplett, The Pond Gal

Life is Short, Enjoy Koi!

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3 Ways to Make Your Pond Pump LAST

3 Ways to Make Your Pond Pump LAST

Submersible mag drive pond pumps have many redeeming qualities. They are easy to install, easy to replace, and quiet, (usually). They have a decent lifespan, and can give you and your fish many happy, safe hours of clean, clear water.

The disadvantage of a mag drive submersible pump is once they reach the end of their lifespan, they are not re-buildable.

There are a few ways you can help to extend the life of your submersible pump.

Most important to extending the life of your pump is to keep it clean. Mag drive pumps are a magnetic impeller driven by a magnetic motor. It is literally the magnet making the water move.

The space between the impeller and the wall of the motor is tight, and can be easily clogged with gummy, sticky, debris form the pond.

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This part of the pump needs to be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent that tiny space between the magnets from clogging up. As soon as that space clogs, it can cause the pump to overheat. Once it gets too hot, the motor may be damaged beyond repair.

There is no hard and fast rule like, “change your engine oil every 3000 miles” because every pond can be completely different. Fish load, feeding regimen, filter quality, and even pond volume, all have significant bearing on the timeframe for cleaning your pump.

A smaller pond, with a heavy fish load, and a fish mom that LOVES to feed will need significantly more cleaning than a large pond, with only a few fish, and an owner that forgets to feed 5 days a week.

The first pond may need the pump cleaned as often as once a month, while the second, larger pond may only need the pump to be cleaned once every six or eight months.

The best way to determine how often your mag dive pump needs to be cleaned is to check the impeller at three months of operation. If it is still spotless, check it at 6, then 9, then 12.

Once you find a dirty impeller, clean it, but check a month earlier on the next round.

So for instance, your pump is clean at 3 months, but at 6 months, it’s pretty dirty. Next time, check it at 5 months instead of 6. If it is dirty at 5 but was still clean at 3, you should probably clean your impeller every 4 months. Get it?

Keeping the impeller clean is absolutely the most important thing you can do to help extend the life of a mag drive pump, but there are a couple more things you can do.

Make sure you have excellent pre-filtration.

Your mag drive should ideally be in a skimmer, not on the bottom of the pond. If you don’t have a skimmer, make sure the pump is in some sort of box filled with filter media, or has a pre-filter box that sits on the intake.

These pre-filters will need to be cleaned very regularly, using the same time test technique from above.

If your mag drive pump is in a skimmer, it will be pre-filtered with a basket and pad, a net and brushes, or a net and a pad. Whichever it is, make sure that the basket or net, and the pads or brushes are cleaned at least weekly.

If you have a lot of leaf debris or live in a very windy, dusty area, you may need to do this more frequently.

The last tip may seem weird, but it is often overlooked, and can be life ENDING for a mag drive pump:

Keep the cord protected. Mag dives are somewhat sensitive about their cords. If the gardener cuts it, and then tries to repair the cord, the pump sometimes starts shorting out. There is often no way to fix this, except buy a new pump.

Keep the cord buried in a pvc electric line (it’s the gray stuff) to the plug station. If you can’t get the electric conduit, at least put it in regular PVC. This little buffer may help save the life of your pump.

Hopefully some or all of these tips help your pump to live a longer, safer, life.

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Leslie Triplett, The Pond Gal

Life is Short, Enjoy Koi!

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How Saving $$$$ Could be Costing You Time

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How Saving $$$$ Could be Costing You Time

Some people have more time than money, and some people have more money than time. In today’s world, you’re always paying with one or the other.

When it comes to choosing a pump for your pond, the same old rules apply, do you want to spend more time working on it, or more money?

Submersible pumps have been used with fish for decades.

In aquariums the pump of choice for time, practically immemorial, has been mag drive pumps. These pumps can be used in ponds as well though, given the right circumstances.

In the pond world, typically direct drive pumps are used. Knowing the differences between these pumps, will help you choose the pump that is right for you.

DIRECT DRIVE PUMPS

A direct drive pump is a powerhouse of a pump. It can push a big volume of water a long distance, or a great height. Sometimes both!

It works sort of like a garbage disposal, using an impeller to sort of grind the water up into the main shaft and push it out of the pump with tremendous force.

If leaves, twigs, or other small debris are caught up in this cyclone, they are ground up into so much small grunge and driven into the filter where they are captured for later removal during filter cleaning.

The impeller is stationary, because you don’t need to take it out for cleaning. Some direct drive pumps need to be oiled occasionally.

Direct drive pumps do use a lot of electricity to fuel their tremendous power. Here in California, that tends to be a cause for concern as our electrical rates continue to climb exponentially each year.

One interesting aspect is direct drive pumps do not do well without a good head pressure (force or friction causing them to work harder) because the motor will spin too fast and burn the pump out early. This incidentally also causes the pump to use more electricity before it finally expires.

A larger pond, or a taller waterfall typically call for a direct drive pump as bigger features want more water movement. A direct drive pump does run a little hotter than a mag drive, so a small pond could run too warm with a direct drive.

MAG DRIVE PUMPS

A mag drive pump is a magnetic body with a magnetic impeller in the middle of it. The outer body makes the impeller turn using a magnetic force, similar to when you were a kid playing with little hand magnets that would attract or repel another magnet depending on the direction they were facing. The turning impeller pulls the water through the pump.

These pumps tend be less expensive than direct drives, and use less electricity. They do not have the power of direct drives though, so you will find that they can not push water as high, or as far.

DO I HAVE TIME, OR DO I HAVE MONEY?

Here is where the “Time or Money” aspect comes in. The mag drive pumps, while initially costing less, and running for a bit less per month, require regular maintenance from you to keep them running.

Dust, and small unicellular algae, along with string algae, sticks, and leaves can bind up between the two magnets of the motor, causing the pump to overheat and eventually fail.

In order to prevent this, after installing one of these pumps, it should be checked at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months to assess debris buildup.

At whatever point you begin to notice muck on the impeller, you know you should back track by a month, and set that as your routine cleaning time.

So, if you check the pump at 3 and 6 months and it’s fine, but at 9 months there is sludge, then you should clean the pump at least every 8 months. This cleaning schedule can be as frequent as every couple of months in very dusty areas like deserts or areas with high winds. It might be much less in a small sheltered courtyard.

Also, if your waterfall is small, you should typically use a mag drive pump because they like the lower head pressure that a shorter fall creates.

One more point on a mag drive. Sometimes, (but not always) when mag drives fail, the impeller can be replaced, bringing the pump back from the dead, so to say. This can be a very inexpensive way to learn the “I need to clean this pump more” lesson. Once a direct drive pump dies, its done for good.

Leslie Triplett, The Pond Gal

Life is Short, Enjoy Koi!

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