There are two kinds of people in the world: those who love ponds and their aquatic lifestyle, and those who are absolutely certain that they don’t want a pond, and fall in love with one anyway!
Whether you’ve always been convinced that a pond is for you, or you’ve just dipped your toe into the proverbial – and literal! – water, these are some commonly believed myths that can ruin, or at least diminish, your enjoyment.
See if any of these apply to you, and get started making the most of your pond experience right now.
Myth 1: Water Should Be Crystal Clear
If you’ve got visions of pretty blue sparkling surfaces in your head, banish them immediately! A perfectly clear pond is not necessarily a sign of a healthy pond.
Let’s make a distinction first between crystal clear and murky mud. You don’t want a pond that is either.
Your pond should be _clear_, but keep in mind that it is a living, breathing ecosystem. There are plants, fish, bacteria (yes, you need those, too) and other critters that will keep your pond active and healthy. So if the water has a less-than-sparkling tinge, or if you notice a bit of algae on a stone here and there, don’t panic. That’s all part of a naturally balanced pond.
Myth 2: It’s Important To Get Rid Of All The Algae
Remember what we said about a naturally balanced, living ecosystem? That includes algae!
While some kinds of algae can be a pain, and too much of it is never a good thing, algae has the benefit of providing a food source for fish. Instead of munching on your prized lilies, fish will happily consume algae, helping to maintain the natural balance of your pond.
So keep the green stuff under control, but don’t aim to eliminate it altogether.
Myth 3: Fish Need To Be Brought Inside During Winter
Koi and pond fish are not unlike people – they don’t like to be stressed. Quick changes in water temperature or environment can put stress on fish and lead to illness or even death.
When you add fish to your pond for the first time, you’ll need to do it in a careful and controlled way. And any subsequent draining and deep cleaning that requires fish to be removed must also be done carefully.
All that to say that there’s no need to shake your fish up twice a year to bring them in for winter and back out for spring. Give fish at least two feet of water and they will spend the winter in the warmest water at the bottom of the pond. Their metabolism will slow down and they will be just fine.
Just be careful about this next myth…
Myth 4: A Pond Doesn’t Need Attention During Winter
It may seem as if everything sleeps during winter, and all you have to do is wait for the thaw. While it’s true that you won’t need to take any particular care steps during winter, there is one thing you never want to do if you have fish in your pond, and that’s let the surface freeze over.
Yes, fish will survive winter, and no, you don’t have to babysit them. But if the surface of the pond freezes over, oxygen won’t be able to circulate in and harmful gases won’t be able to circulate out. That means an unhealthy and dangerous environment for fish.
Do your fish and your pond a favor by adding a de-icer. It will keep a hole open in the surface even on the coldest days. And whatever you do, please do not smash a hole in the surface with a shovel or other tool. The shock can be just as harmful to fish.
Myth 5: A Waterfall Will Keep Enough Oxygen Flowing
You probably know that a waterfall looks great and offers an auditory as well as visual experience. You may also know that it’s a functional part of your pond’s ecosystem, keeping the water circulating and oxygen flowing.
But depending on the size and inhabitants of your pond, a waterfall may not be enough to keep it sufficiently oxygenated. That’s where a little bit of technology can come in handy. An aerator will go a long way to keeping water healthy, especially during hot summer months when oxygen is at a premium.
And do include oxygen-producing plants, as well as proper shade to avoid excessive evaporation. In combination, these things will create the optimal healthy environment for your pond.
Myth 6: It’s Ok To Refill A Pond Right From The Garden Hose
Remember what we said about fish and stress? Well, imagine you’re enjoying a nice, warm bath and someone comes along and turns a garden hose on you. The temperature alone would be enough to shock you out of your peaceful mood, and for fish, the addition of chemicals like chlorine can be deadly.
When you add fish to a new pond, it’s usually a couple of weeks after the water has been added. During that time, beneficial bacteria go to work creating a healthy environment for fish. And if you add new fish later, you won’t simply bring them home in a bag and dump them into the pond. They need time to acclimate both to temperate and the environment.
So once fish are happily established, it’s important to keep their environment stable. Tap water from your garden hose can be stressful and dangerous, so before you decide to “top off” the water, check with a professional for the best way to protect fish. It will typically involve dechlorinating water and adding it slowly and strategically.
Myth 7: The More Fish, The Merrier
A crowded pond is a stressed pond, not just from a space standpoint but from a resource standpoint – too much organic waste, not enough food or oxygen. Keep in mind that those tanks you see fish in at a pond shop are temporary homes only. Fish need space to live, breathe, swim and hide.
That begs the question, how many fish should you have? The answer is not completely straightforward. It depends on the size and depth of your pond, its filtration, and the type of koi you get. Those six-inch koi you pick up in the spring can double in size by autumn. Some koi can even grow up to three feet in length, which means they will take up a whole lot more space over time.
Your best bet is to plan with a professional so your pond maintains a healthy balance over the long term.
Myth 8: A Pond Needs Constant Cleaning
If you’re constantly cleaning your pond, something is very wrong. A pond in balance with nature is a self-sustaining ecosystem. It should require very little effort on your part.
The keys to a properly balanced – and low-maintenance – pond are a combination of fish, plants, rocks, filtration and circulation. Each of these components plays its part (and yes, that means algae, too!) in keeping things in balance.
Plants provide food, oxygen and shade. Fish keep plant growth in check, including algae. Filters will collect excess debris before it can sink to the bottom and decay. Circulation keeps oxygen flowing in and gases from decaying organic matter flowing out. Rocks, stones and gravel provide surfaces for beneficial bacteria to colonize.
In short, all of these elements work together to create a sustainable environment that doesn’t need constant testing, cleaning or chemical additions.
Make sure it gets a good cleaning in spring, and keep out debris when leaves fall in autumn, and your pond will do perfectly well on its own.
Myth 9: Fish Will Eat Their Extra Food Later
Overfeeding koi is a common mistake, especially because it can be so much fun to watch them come to the surface to nibble, and even eat right out of your hand.
The problem with indiscriminately feeding fish and expecting them to graze later is that it just doesn’t work that way. Uneaten food will inevitably sink to the bottom of the pond where it will begin to decay, releasing harmful gases like ammonia and consuming oxygen. That can quickly throw your pond out of balance.
If your pond is in balance, you really don’t have to feed your fish at all because they will find food naturally. But if you do feed them, feed only as much as they can consume within five minutes and no more.
Myth 10: A Pond Is Really Only Enjoyable During Warm Months
If you believe this myth then you’re denying yourself the full pond experience. You may not be sitting pond-side for koi gazing in the middle of December, but there are other ways to enjoy your pond during winter.
Keep your waterfall running for a real treat – flowing water adds some much-needed movement, sound and texture as a winter backdrop, and it may surprise you with some stunning ice sculptures.
Instead of aggressively cutting back plants, keep some tall grasses for visual appeal and motion. You’ll enjoy every snowfall more as it cascades over your pond, settles on stones, and lands on the delicate fronds of grasses.
And remember that good pond lighting creates beauty all year long, whether it’s highlighting lush summer plants, or the peaceful stillness of a winter landscape.
It’s time to enjoy your new pond! If you have any questions, need care advice, product recommendations or run into challenges, just get in touch and let us know. Our pond pros are always here to help.