Pond levels fluctuate with weather just like natural bodies of water but most ponds have limits. Each pond is slightly different. To figure out the best water level in your pond, check these three things:
1. The Skimmer opening
The skimmer opening is the little door leading into the plastic box that holds the pump. Water moves into this area.
When the skimmer is properly installed, you should have a 1 inch gap of air between the pond surface and the top of the skimmer opening (the top edge). This is the ideal pond level.
Some skimmers, like Aquascape's 1000 skimmer, come with adjustable faceplates allowing pond builders flexibility in water depth but most skimmers are set.
2. Skimmer door hinged on the bottom!
Make sure your skimmer door is hinged at the bottom, not the top! (This is a common problem and reduces the skimmer's cleaning method giving you a dirty pond.) The door should float open allowing the top layer of pond water to run across it into the collection basket.
Sometimes we take the skimmer door off for fish training. New fish like to explore and often get trapped behind the skimmer door. If the door is removed, they can easily swim back into the pond. Typically, fish learn not to go back in the skimmer box. The door should be put back after a few days for best performance.
3. Check your overflow valve.
If it has been mounted too low, your pond water will also be low because it is draining off! The overflow valve can be raised so the water is higher.
Please note that your pond water may not be at the top of your rocks! Most ponds are not built to hold water at a perfectly constant level or even at grass level. The water will be slighly lower than your grass and rocks. The rubber behind those rocks is keeping your water in and the skimmer opening is determining the depth or level.
A couple other notes:
Summer heat causes ponds to evaporate. It is not uncommon for ponds in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN area to loose 1-3 inches of water per week! Just remember to replace that lost water! (An automatic fill valve does the job for you.)
If your pond has a leak, you will have fluctuating pond levels combined with evaporation! If you are wondering how to find a leak, click here for step-by-step directions!
Feel free to call our technicians if you think you have a leak. They service Maple Grove, Edina, Eden Prairie, Golden Valley, Plymouth, Medina, Minnetonka, Minneapolis, Fridley, Stillwater, and most of the metro area.
Why is oxygen needed in my pond?
Oxygen helps keep your pond clean! The beneficial bacteria in your pond water need oxygen to live as do your pond fish and pond plants. When the bacteria are doing their job well, the system balances giving you a pond that is easy to maintain and enjoy!
If your pond smells like an old swamp, then you probably need an aerator. The smell comes from anaerobic bacteria decomposing plant material (i.e. muck). Anaerobic bacteria live and thrive in places with little oxygen. That stinky smell is a notification from your pond telling you to aerate and/or clean your pond! The picture below shows how an aeration system is placed in your pond. The aeration stones lay on the pond's bottom and bubble fresh oxygen into it.
Will I need aeration in my pond during winter?
Aeration in winter looks different than summer aeration. The key is to leave a hole in the ice. (If you don't live in a cold climate like Minneapolis, MN, then ignore these directions!) The hole allows air exchange (called de-gassing) between pond water and the atmosphere.
If you plan to keep fish in your pond during winter, then "Yes!" you will need aeration! The ice seals the pond off from fresh oxygen. Typically the waterfalls are also turned off and all the water lilies and pond plants are dormant. Pond fish will be in a slow dormancy state but will still need plenty of oxygen if they are to survive.
Attaching a return de-icer to your pump is an easy way to aerate your pond in winter. This is basically a pipe attachment that spits the pond water straight into the pond instead of running it around to the biofalls or waterfall. The pounding water keeps a hole open unless the temps fall below -10F.
We have successfully kept koi fish in our pond several winters in a row by using the return de-icer method.
You can also use an aeration stone and a floating pond heater to move the water and leave an opening in the ice. They also need to be checked, especially when temps fall below 0F.
For more information about aeration systems, visit: https://www.aquascapeinc.com/pond-aerators
You may also want to contact our technicians about your pond. They want you to enjoy your pond, clean, clear, and balanced!
String algae is unsightly and can cause pond owners much extra work. So, where does it come from and how can you control it?
String algae is a plant that grows in long strings or hair-like filaments. It can get quite long and makes thick mats flowing over rocks.
Because it is a plant, it requires certain things- sun, water, and nutrients. If one requirement is missing, the algae will not grow. That is the key to controlling string algae.
In a pond situation, the only variable to control is the amount of nutrients floating around in your pond water. The nutrients feed string algae.
Hot summer days algae to grow faster, also.
Ways to Control String Algae
1. Clean your pond! Remove the muck, dead leaves, and plant matter releasing nutrients as they break down. Remove the nutrients before the algae begin to grow.
2. Don’t over feed your fish- the extra food releases more nutrients.
3. Clean your filter pads and check your bio-falls for sunken leaves. For Minnesota ponds, it is helpful to watch when the tree blossoms drop in spring. We remember to remove autumn leaves but the flowers and tree seeds can leach nutrients just as quickly! Flower drop is usually around Mother’s Day in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and maple seeds drop a few weeks after that
4. Treat string algae outbreaks with these fish safe products:
If your pond is struggling with string algae issues, check out our Pond deep clean process or contact us to schedule a deep clean! Cleaning your pond can be done any time of the year!
Water lilies are a favorite pond plant! Here are some quick tips on getting the most from yours this season!
Water lily care:
Lilies are heavy feeders! This means they need a good supply of fertlizer during the growing season to make flowers.
To feed your lily, purchase some aquatic plant tablets: slow release, fish safe fertilizer tabs.
Once a month, gently poke your finger into the soil near the water lily base. Push a fertilizer tab into the hole. (The tablets tend to fall apart in water so you can't just set it on the soil surface.)
Lilies also prefer full sun. They would prefer 10-12 hrs but will bloom with less sun too, just not as often.
Trim any dead or yellow leaves from your lily to keep it looking sharp. You can pinch the stem below the water or use scissors to remove the dead leaves.
Occationally, water lilies become lunch for aphids. If you see small black or greenish tiny bugs on the leaf surface, you can wash them off with pond water. This usually knocks down the aphid population sufficiently in an outdoor pond.
If your lily is crowded, you can lift the pot and split the tubers or discard pieces. Replant any tubers (big chunks of root like stuff) that have small white roots and green shoots attached. Plant them in pots of soil at a 45 degree angle. After replanting the tubers, put a layer of sand or small gravel across the soil surface to keep pet koi fish or goldfish from digging the roots up. (Pond fish tend to nibble on plant roots.)
When water lilies are happy and healthy, they will bloom and grow!
To purchase your own hardy water lilies, please visit our plant ordering page!
For tips on overwintering hardy and tropical water lilies, click here.
Is your pond losing water? A key step in fixing the problem is measuring how much water is being lost. Here are step by step instructions on accuratly measuring water loss in a pond.
This leak detection process is best done over a 24-48 hr period.
First, set up the tape measure. Stick the tape measure into the pond and rest the end on the bottom of the pond. Anchor the tape measure to the stick or a rock or something. Record the beginning water level.
Note: Water creates a meniscus or curves where it touches the measure. Take all your measurements at the lowest part of the meniscus or the bottom of this curve.
Leave the pond running and recheck the measurements the next day at the same time. Leave the tape measure in place when you check. Do not move the tape measure.
Continue to run your pumps for a second 24 hour period then check the water level. Record your measurements.
The measurements will be lower as your pond loses water. Take the first measurement and subtract the following measurements to find your water loss. Here is an example: 29 inches Day one. 26.5 inches Day two. 29”- 26.5”= 2.5 inches of water loss over 24 hrs.
Once you have your water loss measurements, you can move on to leak detection! If you would like to talk with a pond technician, please give us a call at 763-458-8104. We service ponds and waterfalls in Edina, Eden Prairie, Bloomignton, Minnetonka, Medina, Plymouth, Maple Grove, Golden Valley, Minneapolis, Fridley, and more subburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN.
How do you keep a natural pond clean with no mechanical filtration? Two different methods are discussed.
We get many request for natural pond care to keep them looking clean and beautiful. This type of natural pond, found in your HSA or near a parking lot, typically doesn't have a rubber liner and doesn't have any mechanical filtration systems.
With no mechanical systems, how do you keep a natural pond clean?
Below are two methods to maintain a natural pond in 2020 including some ball park prices. The main difference is speed: think in terms of "microwave speed" or "crock pot speed". Each method has its good points and bad points.
Want to build a pond? Should you use big rocks or smaller rocks? Take a quick picture tour of several ponds built near Minneapolis/ St. Paul, MN using a machine versus setting rocks by hand.
Building a pond is a fun way to spend time outdoors! Whether you hire it done or do the work yourself, an important question to ask before you begin is "How do I want this to look?" By answering that, you will know whether you should use rocks that require a machine to set or if you will be using smaller rocks, set by hand.
Generally, basketball sized rocks can be moved by man power and larger rocks will require two men or machinery.
Ponds built by hand
You will notice several different sizes of rocks in the pond pictures below but most of them are smaller than a basketball. A mix of sizes makes the pond look more natural. The most common rock used in Minneapolis is glacier field boulders, shown below as the rounded grayish rock.
Ponds built using machines to set the rocks
The ponds shown here also have a mix of rock sizes but the bigger rocks are much larger than a basketball and easily weigh 200-500+ lbs! Glacial field boulders, limestone cubes, and other types of rock are used to create natural, chemical free ponds.
Waterfalls with smaller rocks
Small waterfalls are perfect for backyards. Pondless waterfalls don't have to have large rocks to be beautiful! Several different rock types are used in these waterfalls built in the Minneapolis/ St. Paul metro area.
Large waterfalls built with machinery
These waterfalls and streams were built using large rocks of many different types. Generally, the stream will look more natural if only one type of rock is used to build it. Once the rocks are in place and the water is flowing, the rocks don't look as big. (Example: Picture #2 is the before shot of picture #4.) Big rocks give the waterfall a timeless feeling of "it's always been there".
If you are interested in a pond or backyard stream or waterfall, please contact us for a free quote!
Jeff Chudek has been building ponds and waterfalls professionally since 2005. As a kid, his favorite time of year was spring, because the spring thaw created so much mud and puddles, and all the trees and plants were waking up. He loves figuring out the best way to use something, and fixing things that are broken. He's good at coming up with ideas, and helping choose the best idea for you.