Monday, May 31, 2010

How to build a pond

Is it possible to build a small pond in your back yard without professional stuff?
I'm not sure how, but I wanted to build a small pond that would mostly just contain plant-life and be a place for my dogs to play. It wouldn't be large at all, so I was wondering if it would be possible to build kind of a make-shift pond. Like with cement between the dirt and the water, or a tarp buried into the ground. I know that probably sounds silly. But I just want something small that the dogs can play in. Was just wondering if anyone had any ideas or input on the subject.

  • It's easy to build a pond in your yard. Here's how, with photos.
  • But as far as something for the dogs to play in, I would buy a kiddie pond from a big box store. You can easily hose it out and the dogs will have a great time.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Natural Pond Plant Removal

How to remove Lilly pads from a pond?
They have taken over my pond and there is no way of fishing in it, the point we even had the pond made, so with all these lilly pads we can't fish. What's the best way to remove them without chemicals?

We do have a boat if that helps.


Get in the boat with a garden rake. Use the rake to pull out the lilies. If you can use waders, that's even better because you can get the corms along with the pads.
It's a miserable and hot job. Lilies are invasive and when placed in a natural bottom pond, take over in short order.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

tabletop fountains

 In my garden I just have a glass bowl on a slab of sandstone and decorative rocks around it and I'm using it currently as a birdbath but I was wondering is there a really easy way to make a small waterfall into the bowl?

There is indeed. You can find small pumps often at Hobby Lobby or similar craft type store. You will need somewhere to plug it in, and a way to hide the cord after you put the pump in.
Your biggest problem is going to be keeping the water from splashing out. Maybe water can just flow out and over the bowl.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Gravel in the Pond Bottom


Can I put driveway gravel in pond after washing it with water?
It is not pea gravel or river gravel though. It is gray and blue.

You can, but you will regret it. The fish poop and debris collect in the gravel so you have to remove the gravel to clean out the pond.

Thursday, May 27, 2010



What is the best treatment green pond weed? It's like green cottonwood.

Blanket weed is what you have. It's difficult to get rid of and Koi will not eat it. You can add barley straw bales to help get rid of it. Microbe-Lift PL works too and won't hurt your fish or plants. I have also dyed a pond black, waited three months and the blanket weed was gone. If you feed your fish, you are also feeding the algae. If you have koi, think about changing to goldfish, so you don't have to feed them.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pond in a Box


Is it possible to reinforce a cedar planter with pond liner in it to hold 40 gallons of water?
How would you go about building a rectangular planter to be a water garden?


I would start with 2 x 12" 8 feet long. Use metal brackets and screws to hold them together. Put the liner in the box. Use a 1" x 2" top piece of lumber to hold the top in place. Just nail them in, but NOT until you have filled it up with water. Don't worry about wrinkles. They disappear from sight after you get plants in there.
If you are using an existing box, do the same thing. Be sure to measure the bottom and both sides, then add a foot of liner so you have enough of it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

How many gallons of water do I have

Square and Circle Pond Calculator PROBLEM..?
I just want to ask how to compute POND SIZE, IDEAL STOCK LEVEL OF FISH, PUMP SIZE and LINER SIZE..???

My inputs are LENGTH(meters),WIDTH(meters),DEPTH(meter… and WATER TURN OVER PER HOUR..

For gallons in pond, multiply width x length x depth, then multiply x 7.5 to get gallons.
In a circle, the formula is pi x the radius squared and then multiply x 7.5 for gallons.
A safe bioload is 1 linear foot of fish per 25 square feet of pond surface.
Have a pump moves all the water at least every two hours.

Monday, May 24, 2010

How to figure cubic feet


This is a working fish pond, with five tier waterfall. Will keep waterfall, and small recovery pool, but want to fill in the majority of pool, which is kidney shaped, 29 to 30 feet wide by 8 feet at widest point, and 7 feet near tips. All depth very close to 4 feet. I need this stable, what is the best filler to use? How to find this answer? There must be a formula to determine the contents of a pool. Just been away from school and math too many years.Thanks.

I would use soil, clay even. To figure out how much, multiply width x length x depth to get cubic feet. If you need to, convert that to cubic yards, divide by 27.

To figure out how many gallons of water in your pond again get the cubic feet and then multiply times 7.5 as there are 7.5 gallons of water in one cubic foot.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Snail Eggs?


What are the clear eggs on a lily pad leaf in my pond?
I have a container pond in my back yard. I have pretty recently redone it. there are 5 goldfish, and a couple of frog tadpoles. I have water mint, another flowering plant and a pond lily, along with a few floating plants. I was looking at my lily, and under one of the pads there are two "strips" of clear eggs on the back of the leaf. I am sure one of the plants or something could have laid eggs there, but the goldfish are far to young for this. The only thing I could find on the internet was maybe snail eggs, but the pictures really didn't seem to fit. Any other ideas? What would be natural to Northern California?


They are probably snail eggs if they are in strips. Snail eggs look like a clear jelly on lily leaves.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Growing water lilies


What size fountain/pond would I need to grow water lilies?

Ideally, water lilies want to be about 3 feet below the water surface and in at least 5 hours of sun a day. The size of the pond depends on the number of lilies. A 6' x 9' pond can support one. There are dwarf lilies that can grow in smaller spaces if need be, but 3' x 3' is about the smallest for good water lily health. They do not like moving water so if you have a waterfall, they must be well away from it.
Good luck. Water lilies are often the main reason for having a pond.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Attracting wildlife to the pond


How can i attract wildlife to my pond?
I have a pond, about 4x4 meters roughly. Its has a range of plants and Lilly's and is in my garden by a river. What can i do to attract any kind of wildlife?? Someone told me to put a bucket of river water into my pond to introduce organisms and start things off that way?? What tips can you give me??? Thanks

If you have water in your garden, the wildlife will come. You have created a wildlife habitat, an oasis, if you will. Dragonflies will probably be first, then toads and frogs. Birds and snakes will be close behind. 4 legged critters will come and go. Be on the lookout. You have built it; they will come.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cleaning a Natural Pond

How to clean a natural pond?
We have just bought a piece of property with a pond on it, I don't know the depth yet but we are planning to use our inflatable fishing boat to try get an idea on the depth. There are cat tail plants growing around the edge and algae on the surface near the edges. There are also fish in the pond though we don't know what kind, we only know they're there because we saw them come up and splash after bugs that were on the surface. We want the pond to look nice and continue to have fish in it. What is our first step? Just digging out the cat tails are skimming off the algae? What else do you recommend? We've heard about blue dyes and probiotics are these some things we should be looking in to?


You can remove some of the cattails, but I would not remove them all by any means. The pond looks healthy now, so proceed with care. I would use no algaecides or any other chemicals. You could put some barley straw in to take care of some of the algae, but it usually disappears on its own.
There are enzymes and bacteria you can introduce to the pond, but I would use only barley straw for now. After you have been there for awhile and gotten to know your pond, then consider dyes or probiotics.
The cat tails are providing valuable natural filtration.
Skimming off the existing algae is fine.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pond Troubleshooting

I have a biological filter for my pond but I inherited the property and I don't know how to get it running.
I inherited this property and have to clean out this pond and i am desperately trying to get it up and running. It has a biological filter and I dont know how it works or if it works.  Please help.

  • Let's see.
  • First find out if your pump runs. Find any cord at all coming from the water or near the waterfall. Trace it to the plug end and try plugging it in. That should start the waterfall. If not, check the electrical outlet including the gfi. Reset it if necessary. If it still doesn't work, pull it out of the pond and see if it's humming when plugged in. If it is, check the impeller to see if it's clogged up. 
  • If you have the pump running, it probably is connected to the biofilter already. If the pump has not been running in a long while or the pond has not been cleaned out in a long time, you need to do that first. Pump all the water out - nasty job, I know - and start over. 
  • If you can't get the filter connected for some reason, run the pump without it until we can troubleshoot it. As you go and need more questions answered, join us at and you will have me and lots of experts to help you along.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Small Pond Plants

I am in Caifornia and have a small container pond (32gal). Any ideas on hardy flowering plants I can add?  Not water lillies. Pond is 14 inches deep x 16 inches wide x 36 inches long

  • Answer:
  • You can grow water poppies as a floater, any emergent like the rushes, cyperus or irises. If you are in the shade, grow calla for great drama. To keep the water clear, use submerged vegetation and to keep mosquitoes away, use Mosquito Dunks or a mosquito fish.
  • For more info on pond plants, see this article I wrote about pond plants:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Scum on Koi pond

Koi pond problem, Help?
My pond has got like a bubbly scum on top of the water. Fish are sitting at the top of water as if looking for air. Pumps and filters running as they should be. This has appeared over the last 2-3 days. I have lost 2 fish and it is not looking very promising. Any help would be grateful. Thanks.

If you have lost fish, they may well be sick. Check at for help.
It also sounds like your bioload may be too big, ie, you have too many fish or they are too big.
Has hot weather just arrived and the pond is heating up?
Try Microbe-Lift PL to clear the pond and to add some beneficial bacteria. That should help.
You can also swap out 25% of the water. Don't forget to add dechlor.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Ponds and safety

How can i build a safe small garden pond?
i would like to build a pond in my garden but i am worried about my younger brother falling in. i want to keep guppies, sword-tails and terrapins. something small and easy without too much maintenance would be ideal. also, i cannot buy filters or pumps. oh and it would be cool if frogs lived in the pond =) thanx!


You can have a pond in a casserole dish if you want. You do not need a pump. Use submerged and floating vegetation to keep it clear. A mosquito fish or Mosquito Dunks will keep mosquitoes away. Tropical fish will not do well outside. Think a goldfish or two.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Murky Pond Water

Why is my koi pond water grey?
I checked my pond ph and it was around 8-8.5.
I did a partial water change and now the pond water is a grey/smoky blue color.
2 fish died.
I'm assuming it was a sudden ph crash, but does adding a little tap water change the ph that much?
What do i do?
Are there chemicals i can add to balance the ph?

Sounds like you needed to add dechlorinator when you added the tap water. The chlorine in tap water can kill fish as can any rapid change in water temperature.
I doubt it was a pH crash that killed the fish.
You can add vinegar to lower the pH. You can also use muriatic acid, but you really need to be careful with that. pH down is a swimming pool product that will lower pH as well. I use vinegar.
he murkiness is probably because of stirring up of the water. See if it settles down after a few days. But put dechlor in there now or you will lose more fish.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Black commas in moving water?
There were these... thing animals that were in the pond where the water comes out from. I thought they were mosquitoes but they were where there was moving water. They are tiny like probably less than one centimeter and they were moving. Any ideas?

Tadpoles, either frog or toad. If they are gone in 3 or 4 days, they are toad tadpoles.
If they stick around for a couple years and get bigger and bigger, they are frog tadpoles.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pond plant growing media

Are there pond plants that do not require any dirt/growing medium.?
I bought a 'drop in plant"  at Home Depot.  Just drop the plant enclosed in the net and it will grow. They just had one like that. Are there others that I don't have to plant in pond potting soil that I can just drop in the water. I have a 60-gallon whiskey-barrel type pond.

No pond plant really needs potting soil. We use it because it's handy and we are used to using soil. You can use any medium to hold the plant in place. It derives its nutrients from the water, not the soil. I have seen rockwool used, kitty litter, sand and rocks. The only general rule is that the top of the pot is about 1" below the water surface.
Your plant was in a growing medium in the net.  You just couldn't see it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pelicans and Ponds

I have a fish pond in my back yard. With four (used to be five) big fish. There is a pelican that lives around my house that has killed one fish that I know of. How with out killing the bird can I protect my fish? I have a net over it but this is not visually pleasing, are there methods or devices made for this problem?

There are several ways to keep predator birds away from your fish. One is a motion activated device called a 'scarecrow.' It shoots a stream of water at any included if you don't forget to turn it off.

"Gator Guard" is a floating alligator head that works very well.

Some folks cover their ponds with netting, but I think that looks ugly.

Be sure there are plenty of places for your fish to hide. Under flat rocks that are on top of cinder blocks. Put in plenty of submerged vegetation. If you feed your fish, they come to the surface when you walk up. They can't tell the difference between you and an intruder, so they come up when the bird appears. Think about not feeding your fish, unless you have koi.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pump is not pumping

My fountain pump is not pumping.
I've filled the fountain with water but pump is not pumping.


First of all, plug the pump in somewhere else to make sure the outlet is working. Plug it in while it's in a bucket or pot of water. Does it work in there? If not, check where the intake is. In there is an impeller, like a propeller except it sucks water in instead of pushing it away. Is the impeller turning? If not, unplug it and try to loosen it up with a screwdriver, turning it like you do a garbage disposal when it stops working. Now put it back in the bucket and try again.
If it is working in the bucket, it's not going through the tubing in the fountain. If it's a huge fountain check all the plumbing fittings and hoses. If it's a tiny table top fountain, check the fittings as well. On small fountains there is a place to regulate the flow. Check that - it's usually something circular where you can turn the water higher or lower.
If none of those things work, return the pump. It's faulty.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lilies in deep water

How can I grow lilies in a 6 foot pond?
It's 6 ft deep and 5 by 6 I think? My family wants to grow water lilies.  How can you do that in such a deep pond?

Lilies like to be at about 3'. I would put some painted cinder blocks or other pedestal in the pond to put the lily pots on. They will be fine. Paint the cinder blocks to keep them from leaching lime. You can use any spray paint and they will not be toxic.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Bog garden spot

I have a spot in my yard that stays wet all the time... what could it be?
Its not the septic tank.  I have no leaks from a water line because my bill is low. There is a spot that just stays wet. What could it be and how could i "dry it up"?
Could it be a natural spring? and if so what should i do? )r could it be something completely different?

  • It could be that the water table is high in your yard and your yard is a bit low there. I suppose it could be a spring. I would build a bog garden and take advantage of it. Here's how:

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Pond plants

What garden pond plants are best for zone 5?
I have about a 350 gallon pond with a waterfall. The pond is lined. 

What plants can be used with a lined pond given there is no soil at bottom to plant anything in?

In a lined pond, put your plants in a pot or leave them in the pot they came in. Make sure the top of the pot is about 1" below the water surface. Tropicals like lotus or tropical water lilies will not do well where you live, but there are many aquatic plants that will. Hardy water lilies will be wonderful and make it through your wicked winter. Here's an article I wrote about more hardy pond plants:

To find more pond information, go to

Friday, May 07, 2010

Ponds on Deck

How do I make a pond on my deck/porch?
My back deck has a gate and lately I've been thinking about putting a pond back there for my turtles.
I have several questions so I'm hoping someone can help me out a little . . .

I've been thinking a lot about the container:
Maybe I'll get an old metal wash tub. Or I could get a barrel, cut it in half and build a wooden frame for it. Or possibly just buy a preformed pond from Home Depot and use it.
The only thing I know for sure is that I want my pond to be unique.

I've also been thinking about shade, would plants in and around it be enough?

And can this only be a summer thing? Or is it possible for the turtles to adapt when it starts to get cold again?

Any info/ideas would help me.
-Thanks so much!!!


There are several ways you can have your pond. I would advise against any preformed one from any big box stores. They are flimsy, crack and break in a season.
Rubbermaid makes horse drinking troughs in several sizes. They run maybe $40.00 and hold up forever. You can have a pond in anything that holds water.
You could cut a hole in your deck, put a base underneath the pond and have your pond even with the deck, or maybe 6" above it.
Plants around it would be fine, but I would also add aquatic plants in pots in the water for additional shade.
It would depend on where you live if you have to take it down in the winter. If the pond would freeze solid, yes, the water would have to come out and everything in the pond as well. Heaters work, but not well enough if the pond is above ground and the weather is below freezing for days/weeks on end.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Ponds, pumps and chemicals

Do I need a pump for a backyard pond?
We have a already built three level pond. We didn't built it it was here when we moved in. I was wondering a few things.
1) Can we fill it and keep fish and plants in it without using a pump or filter?
2) How complicated is it to hook up a pump or filter for one?
3) Are there chemicals I could add to keep water looking good without using pumps and still put fish and plants in it??
4) Do you know any good sites that tell u about backyard pond maintenance?

1) You do not need a pump/filter if you don't want one, but you must use proper submerged and floating vegetation: One bunch of submerged and at least 60% of the top of the pond covered in floating vegetation.
2) It is not at all complicated. A pump with a hose that runs from the bottom to the top. Check your height and get a pump that has enough head to pump the water high enough.
3) No, if you want fish, you cannot use chemicals.
4) Yes . Mine:
I look forward to seeing you there.

To find more pond information, go to

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Toads and the Pond

How to attract toads to your backyard?
I love toads and I have had many pet ones, but I really want to attract them to my backyard. I have 2 big dogs, a pond with a waterfall with lots of rocks around it but not any plants except for grass and I want to know how to attract toads to my yard.

If you have a pond, you will have hundreds of toads. They will begin arriving soon, will sing out mating calls and lay eggs in your pond. Then you will have more toads than you ever dreamed possible, and fewer mosquitoes and flies.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Troubleshooting Small Pumps

Sarah Peyton Step Garden LED fountain help?
For Mother's Day I bought a little Sarah Peyton Step Garden LED fountain. Well, I decided to give it to her early. It would appear that we need some trouble shooting. After adding the batteries, water and rocks all we get is the light. No trickle trickle of soothing water! Nothing in the instructions explains this or troubleshoots this.

Water needs a tube to get from the pump to the top of the fountain. Perhaps it is detached or missing altogether.
First check to see if the pump is working. Touch it. If it hums, at least it is running. Then check the bottom where the water is pulled into the pump. There is an impeller in there - looks like a propeller, but pulls water in rather than pushing it out. You may have to remove the pump and put it in a pan of water to see if the impeller is working.
If you want to try to fix it, remove it from the water, unplug it, and use a screwdriver to free it up so it spins. Then put it back and see if it's working.
If it is pushing water out, then check any tubing that is attached to it to make sure it is attached where it is supposed to be.
If it is not working, rather than try to repair it, I would return the fountain for another one. Those little pumps fail repeatedly, so start with a new one that is working.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Fire Feature in the Pond

In-pond propane fire feature?
I'm a mechanical engineer and want to add a very unique flare to my back patio. I was trying to decide between a pond and a propane fire feature (in a rock bed) when I was struck by an idea...could I put a propane burner of some sort under the water in a pond and so the gas would surface and produce a flame? I know I've seen it on a large scale (Disneyland), but does anyone know of this being done in residential application? I realize lighting the fire may be a trick. Perhaps an electronic igniter just above the surface? Flow would probably have to be enough to keep a continuous stream of gas through the water or I expect the fire would go out between bubbles. Input or other fun ideas?

If it's been done, you can do it. My suspicion is that Disney has a small pipe going from an exterior propane tank through the water and stopping at the surface, perhaps even sticking out a few inches. The public can't see it, but it has to be there.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Turtle pond

I made a pond for my turtles, what can I put in it so the have a dry floating area to sun?
I bought a pond that is 140 gallons at Home Depot, set it up with the pump, filter, fountain, and put some rocks at the bottom of it. At the moment I have my three turtles in a tank inside of my house, and I want to move them to the pond. Is there a company that offers floating turtle "islands" that I can put in the pond so they can sun? I bought the one from the pet store, and they are so big it sinks when they get on it.

Any suggestions would be great. Such as the company that sells them, etc.

This is the first time I am putting my turtles in a pond/ caring for a pond. Any tips would be great too.


A rubber pad like you kneel on in the garden (if you are old and have bad knees like one of two of us have) will work well. If you need more than one, just cable tie them together where the handle is.
I would think about just putting a log in there just like turtles have naturally, so they can pull themselves out of the water to sun themselves.

Because you have turtles, your pond will get pretty dirty, so keep lots of plant material in it to help keep it clean. They will eat it, but depending on their size, maybe it will grow faster than they can eat it. You need a filter system to keep the pond clear - at least a little clear.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Pond side caved in

How to fix my pond side as it has caved in?
on one side the soil has come down and pushed pond liner so now got a massive bulge on one side
  • Here's what I do.
  • Buy 26 gauge roofing flashing, 15 pound roofing felt and some 1/2" PVC pipe. 
  • Pump out the pond,remove the liner, then make the sides of the pond straight up and down. Run the flashing all the way around, stake it with the pipe, cut to 2' or whatever you need. Bend the top edge of the flashing over toward the outside so it does not penetrate the liner. Cover the entire inside of the pond with 15 pound roofing felt. Now back fill where there is space behind the flashing. Do this carefully so you do not force the flashing to bend in toward the pond. Put the liner back, refill the pond and put the plants and fish back in.
  • You can see photos on my website at under 'how to build a pond.'
  • Good luck.