Difficulty understanding pond ecology? Unsure about how your pond functions? Check out this amazing article below for all you need to know about understanding pond ecology.
Understanding Pond Ecology
We’ve all been there. A call comes in from a worried homeowner who’s pond has turned green or brown. Or maybe their fish are swimming funny. Pond builders instinctively know something is off with their water quality. To truly understand and remedy what’s going on with the ecosystem, it’s important to understand the basic tenets of pond ecology.
Let’s Start from the Beginning
The word “ecology” comes from the combination of two Greek words: oilcos which means house, and logos which means the study of. Translated literally, ecology means study of the home. In the big picture of life it is very hard to comprehend all the interwoven intricacies of a global ecology, but if you scale it down a bit, it makes more sense.
Pond ecology studies everything that has an impact on, or is impacted by a given pond. Looking at a backyard pond, let’s see how many interactions we can find.
- Substrate – Rock, gravel, detritus
- Water – Physical and chemical properties
- Plants – Aquatic and surrounding pond
- Animals – Microorganisms, insects, frogs, fish, crustaceans, people
We’ll start at the bottom and work our way up. The rocky bottom of a pond is alive and brimming with activity; covered in algae, microscopic invertebrates, and bacteria. This section of the pond is like the compost pile in a garden. When organic debris falls to the bottom of a pond, it’s broken down by the benthic (bottom) inhabitants.
These organic recyclers live off of uneaten fish food, decaying plant matter, and nitrogenous fish wastes. If they were absent, the pond would “die” quickly, suffocated from toxic fish waste and organic build-up. Fortunately, nature has given us a way to solve this problem. Organisms have evolved and utilize practically every bit of available food. Fish, crustaceans, and aquatic insects will feed on these minute organisms, bacteria, and algae that live on the pond’s bottom.
The water in a pond is vital to all life within it. The unique properties of water allow nutrients to be kept in aqueous suspension. Plants and animals can absorb compounds directly from the water.
Pond water can be several colors from green, brown, white, and clear. Ironically enough, green water is the last thing a pond owner wants but it’s the best thing for fish and other pond animals. It’s loaded with food; plantetonic algae are making the water green and they are a great food source for small insects and crustaceans, which in turn feed larger insects and fish.
Brown water is caused by tannic acid released from decomposing leaves. In small amounts this is not harmful, but it can become detrimental if left unchecked. White water is usually slightly whitish in color and is caused from high mineral contents. This condition is usually very short-lived in a closed system.
Clear water is what everyone wants, but it’s last on the list in terms of productivity. It’s dead. If it’s clear, there’s not a lot of stuff … algae, diatoms, protozoans, etc. in the water column. Slightly tinted water is ideal for backyard ponds. They’re healthier and more stable in terms of oxygen production and buffering of pH swings. They also offer a greater and more diverse food source for other inhabitants.
Aquatic plants are typically considered pretty or nice to have in a pond. And algae are always considered the enemy. What we need to realize however, is that both are important in a healthy and functional pond.
Aquatic plants use the carbon dioxide and nutrients that are produced by the decomposers on the pond’s bottom. Plants also drink in sunlight to create plant tissue or stems, leaves, flowers, etc. Without plants there’ll be a nutrient overload in the pond. In other words, nutrients will still be produced, but they have nowhere to go. That’s where algae come in. Algae start growing rapidly to keep the system in balance and use the excess nutrients.
Most pond owners don’t like algae. But it’s a cheap form of insurance that helps balance a pond, and keeps the nutrients from getting to toxic levels. In a healthy system, there will be strong aquatic plant growth as well as some algae. We just don’t want the algae to get out of control.
Aquatic plants and algae do more than just absorb excess nutrients. They produce oxygen for pond animals, provide shade from intense sunlight, provide food for insects and fish, and provide shelter for small pond creatures. Yes, water lilies and irises are beautiful and functional, but don’t overlook their importance in a pond.
In ponds, animals usually steal the spotlight. Colorful fish, darting dragonflies, and friendly frogs grace the calm waters. Children spend endless summer days capturing tadpoles and watching them transform into amphibians. Can you believe it … a biological oasis right in the middle of suburban America? Inside the pond, fish and frogs rule as kings, feasting on the generous helping of insects, algae and crustaceans.
Many pond owners feed their fish on a regular basis. But don’t forget that in a well-balanced pond, fish can feed themselves. The nutrients that are not naturally produced in your pond, (i.e. fish food) need to be broken down into less harmful compounds as we discussed earlier. This is why biological filters are necessary in ornamental ponds. They break down toxic compounds produced from fish metabolism, over and above what’s being handled by the bacteria living on the pond’s bottom.
Human intervention is necessary only because of human intervention! In small ponds, life will balance itself. If x amount of food is available to support x amount of fish, then only x amount of fish will live there because the system can support no more. When humans step in and want 10 times more fish than a pond is designed to handle, intervention in the form of supplemental feeding and filtration systems is necessary. A backyard pond is a semi-closed ecosystem. It relies on us for its continued health.
In summary, all forms of life within a given system are interrelated and affected by one another. By killing off all the algae in a pond, you would be taking away an important link in the system, causing a shift in the food web and nutrient utilization. This will cause the entire ecosystem to restructure itself. We must learn to work within the boundaries nature has given us. Each link is important for the survival of the whole.
If we could only follow these simple “naturally balanced rules of life” in all our backyard ecosystems, then life in Earth’s ecosystem would be much better. Understanding pond ecology and the “naturally balanced rules of life” will help you educate your customer so they can better maintain their pond.
Read more on Understanding Pond Ecology: http://www.aquascapeinc.com/blogs/contractor-articles/Pond-Ecology-Made-Easy
GARDEN LIGHTING: CREATE MAGIC AT NIGHT
Water features are stunning during the day, but when pond and garden lighting is used to enhance evening views, you’ll find the landscape takes on a whole new dimension! Tuck a spotlight behind a waterfall and the feature takes on a magical feel. Used in the main portion of a pond, you’ll enjoy watching fish dart in and out of the lights.
As the sun begins to set, pond and garden lighting creates a magical mood in the landscape. Think of that vacation you experienced at the beach, and the serene feeling you enjoyed watching the moon cast a glowing trail over the ocean’s surface.
When you add waterfall or underwater lighting to your water feature, you extend your viewing pleasure well into the evening. You can add lights during the installation of your water feature, or add more later if you see dark spots you’d like to highlight.
Although moonlight casts its own soft glow on your water feature, waterfall and garden lighting shows the details of the rock and water.
It’s always a joy to watch fish swim in and out of lights. Be sure to incorporate LED lights which use approximately 80-90% less electricity and last 10 times longer than their halogen counterparts.
To make lightscaping easier, lighting kits are preassembled and pre-wired, making installation a snap. Simply plug in the transformer, and your lights are ready to go. You can also incorporate a photocell to put the lights on a timer.
Place a single bullet light in a container water garden or fountain bowl for a dramatic and interesting effect.
Be creative with your garden lighting options and you’ll find you enjoy your water feature during the evening hours just as much as you appreciate it during the daytime.
Understanding Winter Fish Care is an essential part to achieve optimum fish health when the spring finally arrives.
WINTER FISH CARE TIPS
Fish are often the main reason that people choose to have a pond installed in their yard. People aren’t likely to sit and watch their tulips blow in the breeze for hours on end, but a pond owner will most definitely gaze upon their fish for extended periods. It’s a relaxing and soothing activity. As a pond owner who loves their fish, you’ll want to ensure you take care of your finned friends through the winter months.
Have no fear! As long as the pond does not freeze to the bottom and an air hole is provided on the pond’s surface, your fish will survive the winter. If your pond is at least two-feet deep, the proximity of the earth to the pond’s surface will keep the pond from freezing any deeper than eight inches. That leaves 16” for the fish to lounge around and hibernate over the winter.
Use a pond de-icer to maintain a hole in your pond’s ice and allow for the exchange of gasses (like oxygen). Supplemental oxygen can also be supplied by running your waterfalls, adding a bubbler or aeration kit, or using a pond pump to churn the water near the surface.
Your pond fish will become dormant during the winter once water temperatures drop below 50 degrees F. This is also the point at which you should stop feeding them. Fish will feel hungry in cold water, even down to the mid 40’s, however the enzymes needed for the digestion of most koi food will be lacking. The fish will eat, sometimes fully, and then languor in the cold water as their metabolism slogs the food through. In very cold water, fish simply don’t eat.
Take care of your koi and pond fish during the winter months to ensure a healthy life for them well into spring and beyond.
Read more about caring for koi and pond fish.
Check out some footage from the Pontz Christmas Party. There’s nothing like taking sometime to enjoy each other’s company outside of work. We have been very blessed to enjoy another great year. Taking time to appreciate those who bust their butts all year long is part of the Pontz way. We all work very hard to design and build the best outdoor living spaces around. When you have a crew dedicated to reaching the same goals, no task can’t be completed. I would like to personally thank our whole team for making this year such a success. It all starts with you. The projects we have completed this year are second to none, and i’m extremely proud of the attitude, team work, and quality of work that has been accomplished this past year. I can only hope 2017 will be an even bigger, brighter year! Thank you to everyone who made 2016 possible. We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s that time of year and the freezing weather has once again left us with a frozen fountain. With temperatures currently at 20 degrees (2 degrees with the wind chill) and 31 mile per hour winds water has certainly begun to freeze. I started noticing some pretty cool ice formations on our new display water feature, so i decide to brave the arctic chill and shoot a quick video. I’m sure before the end of the day this thing will be completely frozen over. Hopefully i’ll be able to get some more footage this afternoon.
This poolside masonry seating wall was constructed in Lancaster, PA. The project consisted of masonry seating wall constructed along the edge of the pool decking. The wall is approximately 34 feet in length and approximately 18 inches in height and constructed of concrete block.
We used brick that matched the existing brick facade on the house to face the wall. “Grapevine joints” were used to match with the house as well. In order to avoid disturbing tree roots and utilities for new footers. We constructed the wall on the existing concrete patio edge. The wall was pinned and mortared to the existing concrete.
Natural flagstone wall caps approximately 1.5 inches thick with thermal edge finish were used to cap the seating wall.
We did run into some setbacks during construction due to the weather. Specifically a bunch of cold rain. Fortunately we were still able to complete the project in a timely fashion before old man winter really starts to put a damper on things.
POND LOTUS: OUR LIST OF FAVORITES
Known in the East as the Sacred Lotus, this flower is considered one of the most impressive aquatic plants available today. It’s a true aquatic perennial plant that belongs to the genus Nelumbo and consists of only two species: the yellow-flowered American lotus (Nelumbo lutea) found in the Americas, and the pink Asiatic lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) found in Asia, Australia, and Eastern Europe.These two species have been grown and bred for centuries, resulting in hundreds of hybrids that range in many size and color options. There are numerous lotus cultivars readily available today, and we’ve picked a few of our favorites to share with you.
‘Momo Botan’ is an alleged dwarf variety that finds itself to be the most popular lotus for several reasons. It has brand name recognition, it’s an amazing bloomer, is easily obtainable, easy to grow, and produces beautiful, showy flowers. You’re sure to enjoy having it in your own pond.
‘Rosa Plena’ is a good cultivar with deep rose-pink flowers that can grow to 10-13 inches across. The plant may get as tall as six feet and makes a stunning statement in any pond.
‘Charles Thomas’ is a notable lotus that appears pink the first day of bloom, changing to lavender-pink by the second day. Growing two to three feet tall, this flower is ideal for small to medium ponds.
‘Maggie Bell Slocum’ features a huge lavender-pink flower, growing up to 12 inches across. The flower has a unique anise scent.
‘Chawan Basu’ is a dwarf variety that’s an excellent choice for container water gardening. Its delicate petals are ivory-white with deep pink margins and veins.
‘Mrs. Perry D. Slocum’ is a highly popular, semi-double-flowered, changeable variety. A full-size lotus which starts out pink flushed with yellow, changes to a pink-yellow, and finishes its color changes with cream flushed with pink. It’s an excellent bloomer and a great choice for your water garden.
‘Empress,’ also known as ‘Alba Striata,’ is a stunning, full-size plant with white petals streaked with deep pink. Although it’s not the best available bloomer, it’s worth growing for its unusual and striking flowers.
You’ll find many more varieties of pond lotus available to you, but be forewarned, they can become intoxicatingly addictive!
Learn More about the Lotus
Here at Pontz we strive for Customer Satisfaction. Only problem if we’re not told how we’re doing, it’s difficult for us to know. That is why I am asking the question. Are you completely satisfied with the service(s) you have received from C.E. Pontz Sons? Do we come across as a company you would enjoy working with if you haven’t already? What are your thoughts on the quality of our work? How about our customer service? Is our branding appealing to you? From initial contact through project completion we hope to exceeded expectations. Your feedback is critical to our providing the best service possible. So we would appreciate it if you would take a moment to fill out one our project completion survey or gives us a review on one of the sites linked below. If you would be so kind as to review us with your honest opinions we would greatly appreciate it.
Project Completion Survey
I sincerely appreciate your time and thoughts as to how we can better serve our customers and community. If there is any way I can be of service to you in the future please don’t hesitate to contact us at 394-9923 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your time and have a wonderful day:) ?
This Driveway Landscape project consisted of a complete renovation to the driveway entrance. As well as the surrounding area. The project included stone veneered retaining walls, landscape beds, plants and trees, and landscape lighting per our landscape design. The retaining walls and pillars on both sides were constructed using concrete block and faced with stone veneer. Some tree and brush removal had to be completed to make room for excavation and installation. Fine grading and seeding was done to all disturbed areas. Some of the upper areas of the driveway had to be re-graded. This allowed for proper storm water runoff. Low voltage lighting was also installed along retaining walls and throughout the surrounding landscape. After landscape and hardscape installtion was complete the beginning part of the driveway was re-paved and sealed. This project was installed in Ephrata, PA.
Check out the video below for drone footage of the entire project!
See more on this project: http://cepontzsons.com/driveway-entrance-landscape-renovation/
Do You Have a Frozen pond?
Are you worried about a frozen pond? Is your pond frozen already? Worried about the survival of your fish? Well look no further! We have the solution to helping your pond survive old man winter. Check out the video below to learn more about the Aquascape pond heater.
Keep your pond fish healthy during the winter months by keeping a hole in the ice for the exchange of gases. It is important to leave a small hole open at the surface of the pond allowing for necessary gas exchange. In extreme conditions or gardening zones above USDA zone 5 we recommend the deicer be used in conjunction with an Aquascape pond aerator. Learn about all the features and benefits of the Aquascape 300-Watt Pond De-Icer.
Can a pond run throughout the winter? Yes, although maintenance is usually the determining factor in whether or not a pond owner keeps their pump and waterfalls running in the winter. The primary maintenance responsibility at this time is to make sure there is enough water for the pump to operate properly.
read more on winter pond maintenance: http://cepontzsons.com/can-pond-run-throughout-winter/