Add a Water Feature and Save the Bees

In honor of World Bee Day, did you know that your pond or water feature in your backyard could help save the world bee population?

The world needs your contribution to the access of clean healthy water for our bees and you can do that by simply adding a water feature to your yard! The honey bee is more important that in just making honey. They are our pollinators for all of the grown food we eat in our daily life. The habitat that you create can help feed colonies of honey bees. Water feature fountains such as the OASE Quintet and Atlantic Basalt Columns are great pollinator fountains for bees!

Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor, Mike Garcia and his company, Enviroscape LA, do a great job of teaching us how to make pollinator fountains for bees and other insect life!

Mike shows us that you can even help the bees by making your Pond-free waterfall into a pollination water feature by adding some extra rocks to the water to give the bees a place to rest while getting a drink from your water feature!

You can create areas of shallow water, use rocks or twigs to make areas for bees to land on, collect water and not drown. Because pond water is chlorine free this makes the perfect environment for them.

Some fun facts on what bees use water for include:

Cooling – Water acts as air conditioning for the hive.

Humidity for the colony.

Utilize Stored Food – they dilute stored honey with water for food.

Larvae Food – Nurse bees feed the developing larvae.

Digestion – Water helps metabolization of their food.

So, if your pond is losing water it may not be a leak or splash evaporation, it may just be the bees surviving in our world! They can consume at least a quart of water every day, and even more when it is warm.

For more on our buzzing pollinators, see Kim Flottum, editor of the Bee Culture magazine and the book The Backyard Beekeeper.


About the Authors:

Caitlyn Winkle

After graduating from the University of Akron, Caitlyn joined Atlantic-OASE in the fall of 2019. Caitlyn manages the social media and online content for the company. She also supports the Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor (APC) Program and Marketing Departments in creating marketing and advertising strategies and plans.


Jim Chubb

Jim is Atlantic-OASE’s Midwest Regional Sales Manager and has 26+ years of sales experience and 16+ years in the water garden industry.

Let’s Talk Spring

For most of the country, spring has sprung and you pond or water feature is up and running and waiting for Mother Nature to wreak havoc on your creations. Here’s some helpful start up tips and advice to help combat any issues Mother Nature causes in your ponds, pond free waterfalls and fountains!

Ponds

Ponds need tender loving care from March to May depending on what part of the country you are in. 

All ponds need the left over debris from the previous Fall removed to give your pond a fresh start to the season. Some may need a complete overhaul (costly and may not be needed) but, most will just need a good clean up. Netting out leaves, debris and string algae that are starting to form should do the trick.

Once you have done the cleanup and your skimmer, pump and biological filter are running, you will need to start your beneficial bacteria treatments which will continue throughout the year. 

Remember, the only reason you have string algae is because the food source (nutrients in the water) is greater than the things that consume nutrients like plants, beneficial bacteria and fish. Once you have a balance, string algae will be greatly diminished. Liquid and granular algaecides can help reduce growth, but the goals are to have your filter system and plants with the aid of beneficial bacteria do it naturally. 

Adding aeration to your pond is another way to enhance the water clarity and quality naturally. 

Pond-free Waterfalls and Fountains

Pond-free Waterfall and Fountains need the same tender loving care from March to May.  

Clean up any leftover Fall debris and hook up your pump to get the water moving. You may have a slight rotten egg smell once you turn your feature on after the winter months. Do not panic this will pass in about 24 hours with the water circulation.   

Mother Nature works on these water features also! Algae will start to form in the stream water and on the decorative pieces. Liquid and granular algaecides can help reduce the growth and keep the feature clear. 

Another option for these features would be to add a copper ionizer; which releases a small dose of copper electrodes into the water to ward off algae. Remember, very small doses are all that would be needed (.03ppm) so make sure you are testing your copper levels if using an ionizer.  

Feel free to add your tips and suggestions about what you do the get your water features up and running for the Spring season below in the comments! How do you combat what the the spring brings to your water features? Do you work with or against Mother Nature? 


About the Author:

Jim Chubb

Jim is Atlantic-OASE’s Midwest Regional Sales Manager and has 26+ years of sales experience and 16+ years in the water garden industry.

10 Water Features You’ll Fall in Love with This Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day and what better way to celebrate the holiday of love than by showing our love for water features! See some of our favorites that we’d love to have in our backyards!

1. This pool and spa combo that would go on anyone’s dream house Pinterest board

Whitaker Waterscapes LLC (Franklinville, NC)

2. A calming koi fish pond that sits right outside your front porch

The Pond Monster (Winter Haven, FL)

3. A Pond-free waterfall that gives you the beauty of a waterfall without a pond taking up extra space in your yard

TLC Landscaping INC. (Solon, OH)

4. Gorgeous glowing copper bowls to give your backyard a cool nighttime entertaining space

Atlantic-OASE (Aurora, OH)

5. This modern spillway and patio setup that gives you the excuse to spend every Sunday afternoon outside

Green Ace Landscaping Inc. (Oakville, Ontario)

6. Custom waterfalls that will make all of your neighbors jealous

LCM Landscaping & Design (Peyton, CO)

7. A complete backyard oasis that you could spend all day exploring

Water Features by Gerard (Easton, PA)

8. A stunning waterfall blending into the landscape of your backyard

Premium Aquascapes (Bergenfield, New Jersey)

9. An architectural pond and patio masterpiece that has every art enthusiast drooling

Art of the Yard (Littleton, CO)

10. This beautiful natural looking waterfall that looks like you’re stepping right into the forest

Bulone Brothers Landscaping (Twinsburg, OH)

Want to see more amazing water features you’ll fall in love with instantly? Check us out on Facebook and Instagram for inspiration for your next backyard addition!


About the Author:

Caitlyn Winkle

After graduating from the University of Akron, Caitlyn joined Atlantic-OASE in the fall of 2019. Caitlyn manages the social media and online content for the company. She also supports the Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor (APC) Program and Marketing Departments in creating marketing and advertising strategies and plans.

Building and calculating an upflow bog with EcoBlox

We recently received a question on a previous blog: BOG FILTRATION, THE PERFECT COMPLEMENT TO BIOLOGICAL FILTERS. The question was:

Do you have any additional information about building and calculating an upflow bog with EcoBlox, like shown in the graphic at the end of this blog post? You already talked a bit about the surface area of the bog compared to the pond but what about the depth and the number of blocks stacked on each other for example? 
I want to build a 15′ x 13′ pond with 3000 gallons and 9′ stream. Pond will be filled with stones and gravel, some plants and 20 goldfish (around 8″). How many blocks do I need and how do I arrange them for a fitting surface area of the filter? Do you have any recommended product to be used as tube under the blocks? Or do I have to build one myself? If so, do you have any instructions to do this?

Great question O Noble Ponderer!

Bogs are sized by surface area. 10% of the area of the pond in bog area is sufficient to consume all the nitrates a goldfish pond is likely to produce. At the other end of the scale are Koi, which need three times as much area, 30%, planted to bogs.

With 205 square feet of pond, 20 square feet of planted gravel will be sufficient. You have a 9’ stream, which simplifies matters greatly. What I would do is set one or two Eco-Blox at the top of the stream, on the existing grade on top of the stream liner. I would install two 2” or 3” flanges or bulkhead fittings on either side of the chamber thus created, down low so water enters and exits the Eco-Blox near the bottom of the block. On one side I’d attach the pipe from the pump, on the other a drain valve. Take a look at the sketch.

Water comes from the skimmer into the Eco-Blox on one side, flows up and out through a 4-6” layer of ¾-1” gravel on top planted to various low grasses or other aquatic plants, which are also planted in the gravel of the stream. The Eco-Blox under the gravel acts as a settling chamber. The outlet on the side opposite the inlet is valved. The valve is buried near the flange or bulkhead fitting, attached to a piece of pipe out to daylight somewhere.

I usually just set an 18” length of 4” pipe vertically over the valve so the handle can be accessed periodically to drain out the muck which will accumulate in the chamber. If I can’t reach the valve with my hand, I’ll slot the end of a pipe to create a wrench to turn the handle. This is necessary usually only once or twice a year.

You’ll have a great little active bog filter that uses the top of Eco-Blox chamber plus the stream to provide the necessary area for plantings. Plus a built-in settling chamber that will remove much of the suspended organic debris constantly and automatically. You may also consider adding a bottom drain to the skimmer, to pick up the rest of the debris. But that’s the subject of another post.

How to Calculate Total Dynamic Head

Finding the right pump for a water feature can be a challenge, and the stakes are high. The right pump, delivering the right flow at the right head height, while at its Best Efficiency Range, will last and last. Specifying the wrong pump or plumbing can damage the pump, increase operating costs, shorten pump life and lead to pump failure, perhaps even a fish kill if the water feature happens to be a fish pond.

In order to properly size the pump for any water feature, you’ll need to know both components of the work it has to do, the flow and the pressure. The flow is the volume of water it can push in a given time, measured in gallons per hour (GPH). The pressure is the force required to push that flow through plumbing and up to the top of the water feature. We measure pressure in ‘feet of Head”, because it’s easy to visualize. A waterfall four feet high requires the flow be delivered at 4 feet of “Vertical Head”, plus the extra work required to push that flow through the plumbing, the “Friction Head”. The total pressure required is the “Total Dynamic Head” (TDH) of your water feature. Once you know the GPH and the TDH, you can plug them into the Comprehensive Pump Chart (Chart C) to find the right pump.

Follow the steps below to calculate TDH and find the perfect pump for your water feature.

Find the GPH needed to achieve the look you want

determine friction loss

FIND TUBING SIZE & FRICTION

Find the dark blue cell in the row that corresponds with the Recommended Flow (GPH) in the chart below. The column indicates the recommended tubing size and the number in the cell is the Friction Loss in every foot of tubing. Keep Friction Loss low for greatest flow.

To find the Friction Loss of existing systems, estimate the flow through the actual tubing size used.

Chart A


ADD FRICTION IN FITTINGS

Add the equivalent lengths of all the fittings in the system from the chart below.

CALCULATE FRICTION HEAD

Multiply the Equivalent Tubing Length in feet by the Friction Loss in the dark blue cell from CHART A to find the Friction Head of the system.

FIND THE TOTAL DYNAMIC HEAD

Add the Friction Head in Feet to the Vertical Head of the system. Vertical Head is the height in feet from the surface of the water the pump will be TDH sitting in, to the highest point the water is pumped to.

CHOOSE YOUR TIDALWAVE PUMP

Find the TDH at the top of CHART C, then find the pumps below that provide at least the Recommended Flow. Grey colored cells indicate that the TDH is outside the pump’s operating range and the pump will likely not last in this application. The light blue cells indicate the pump is operating within its operating range. Dark blue means the TDH is in the pump’s Best Efficiency Range, where the pump will run best and longest. If the chart gives you a choice of more than one pump, check for the type that best fits your application from the list below, then check for the lowest wattage, to save on operating costs.

  • For Low Head, Low Volume applications, use Magnetic Drive Pumps (MD Series)
  • For Low Head, Very High Volume applications, use Axial Pumps (L-Series) with 3″ or larger tubing
  • For Medium Head, Medium Volume, use Asynchronous Pumps (TT-Series)
  • For High Head, High Volume Applications, use Direct Drive Pumps (A-Series)
  • For Solids and Dirty Water applications, use Direct Drive Solids Handling Pumps (PAF and SH-Series)

Chart C

To learn more on how to Calculate Total Dynamic Head, watch the How-To video on our YouTube channel, AWGtv.

Are You Connected to Your Water Feature?

Are you connected to your water feature? Sounds like an odd question? You might think I’m heading in the direction of getting you re-connected to nature. You know what I mean, how in today’s world we have a shortage of nature in our daily lives and having a water feature is a great way to remedy that problem. If you have children, your water feature can be their connection to nature as an outdoor classroom to study the eco-system without them even knowing it. All of that would make a good article however that’s not the direction I was heading.

Instead, I was just curious if your current water feature has a Wi-Fi connection? Now I bet I have your attention, you didn’t think your water feature needed a Wi-Fi connection did you?  Well in today’s world who would expect anything else?

With the addition of two new Atlantic Water Garden products your water feature can join the high tech world. Atlantic’s Triton Ionizer and pump variable speed control both have their own Wi-Fi connection making your life that much easier and your water feature more interactive.

The Triton Ionizer ionizer is designed to mineralize the water helping keep water features clean and clear without the use of harsh chemicals and is safe for fish.  The unit can be controlled manually from the front panel or by the use of the ionizer mobile Application for iPhone or Android devices.

The TidalWave VSC allows you to vary the output of Tidal Wave TT & TW-Series Asynchronous pumps wirelessly by remote control or mobile app! The VSC allows you to set both on and off times as well as drop to 25% of the total flow in 10 levels of adjustment giving you the ultimate control over water flow.

Both of these products make life with a water feature more enjoyable. Previously the downfall has always been the effort to disguise them into the landscape during installation usually ending up in a location that is tough to access. With the new connect ability, you can hang out on the patio and play with your pond from your lounge chair. You see some debris in the waterfall, open the ionizer app and increase the level. Or the reverse can be true, you don’t see any debris in the water feature, open the app and lower the level of activity.

The variable speed control is even a little more interactive, as your mood changes so can the desired flow of your waterfall. If you are having a party and want the waterfall to really put on a show, open the VSC app and turn up the volume or it could be a quiet afternoon on the patio, open the app and lower the volume a little. The VSC can also be programmed to control your feature with its on/off programmable timer. This is a nice little feature that helps you to save electricity and water by having it turn off when you are not around to enjoy it.

So sit back in that lounge chair and visit www.atlanticwatergardens.com and learn how you can get better connected to your water feature!

 

About the Author:
Sean is the Regional Sales Manager for the Southeast for Atlantic Water Gardens. Fish Geek and water feature enthusiast, Sean has managed one of the largest aquarium stores in the Southeast while running his own pond maintenance company.SEAN BELL

Sean is the Regional Sales Manager for the Southeast for Atlantic Water Gardens. Fish Geek and water feature enthusiast, Sean has managed one of the largest aquarium stores in the Southeast while running his own pond maintenance company. When it comes to water features, Sean is your guy!

Quick Tips – Waterfall Construction

In the world of water features, there are many different tactics that contractors and homeowners use to approach building a water feature. Over the years I have encountered a variety of construction methods water features are built and through my experience have put together a list of tips that I think will help you create a natural looking water feature.

Use different sized rocks to achieve a more natural looking waterfall. But let’s be honest, when building these features moving heavy rocks can be quite the challenge.

Tip #1.

Try cutting a piece of underlayment (commonly known as geotextile fabric) large enough to hold the rock you are trying place and use it as a sling. The corners will act as handles for you to hold on to. Because the fabric is very strong it can handle the weight of heavier rocks.

 Another option to move heavy rocks by hand is to use tow straps or tie down straps. This method can be used with heavier rocks and will require more than two people to move the size rock you are working with.

If you are using large boulder and neither of the two options prove useful, you may need the help of larger equipment.

**You do not want to hurt yourself trying to move these rocks, equipment can be rented on a day to day basis at your local rental yard.

While you are placing your rocks keep in mind that you are also creating a place for water to flow. When creating your waterfall or streambed you will notice gaps forming around and behind the rocks that you have placed. Once you turn on your pump water will flow into these gaps instead of flowing down your streambed causing you to lose some of the visual effects of your stream or waterfall.  In order to avoid this, these gaps should be filled.

Tip #2.

When filling the gaps, a mortar or cement type mix can be used but this method is highly susceptible to cracking and movement. Another option is to use expandable foam, the foam will not crack or move and can fill large or small gaps in the rock placement. Typically foam is grey in color so that it will blend with most rock colors. Waterfall foam cans from Atlantic are available in two sizes – a 12 ounce can with a straw applicator or a 29 ounce can, which requires using a professional foam gun.

I highly recommend the professional foam gun if you build multiple water features during the season.

For the average one or two builds a year, the DIY 12 ounce can works great. To save on the use of foam you will only need to apply the foam in the locations that water is flowing over.

Please be sure to wear gloves and protective eyewear when handling the foam as it is very difficult to remove.

Tip #3.

A great technique to disguise the foam that you used to fill in the gaps is by covering it with smaller stones and/or gravel. You can also add a small amount of sand over the foam before it is completely dry to disguise the foam to look more like a rock.

Make sure you give the foam time to cure before you turn your waterfall on. Once the waterfall has been turned on you can add more foam to push the water in the direction you prefer at any time.

Remember this is a foam product and is not glue or a patch product for leaks. It is only used to direct the flow of water.

 

Hopefully, these tips will help save you some time and frustration (as well as your back!) and keep your water flowing in the right direction! If you have any tips of your own, please feel free to comment below.

 

About the Author:
Jim is the National Sales Manager for Atlantic Water Gardens.
JIM CHUBB

Jim has 26+ years of sales experience and 16+ years in the water garden industry.

 

Illuminating your Outdoors

Illuminating your outdoor space can be tricky. How many lights do you need? Where do you place them to get the best lighting during the evening? Where and what are the best aspects to highlight in a water feature?

In a pond or waterfall you need to be very careful with the placement of light. Even in the water, light can be blinding to someone who is looking into your pond. A good rule to follow is always place the light facing away from the viewing area.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In this picture the lights highlight aspects of the pond but are facing away from the main viewing area. These lights are small enough to be placed in the water and to be hidden within the rocks around the edge of the pond.

The amount of lights you use is completely up to yosol_lights_beautyu depending on how bright you want your water feature to be at night. If you have a lot of focal points that you want to highlight, use as many lights as needed to illuminate the area. You should want to focus on the main aspects of the water feature that draw the most interest.

For example, you would not want to place a light into a stream that is flat with not a lot of water movement. By placing the light on the falls of stream beds and waterfalls, you create a more visually interesting feature at night.

The shadows cast on buildings from the movement of water and light will create a very dynamic effect that will make a lasting impression.

Another tip for light placement is to stagger the lights throughout the landscape or area to create balance. The goal is to move the viewers eye through the entire space, using too much light in the foreground will prevent viewers from experiencing the entire water feature.

Do you have  any other tips or questions on light placement? Post them below.


About the Author:
Jim is the National Sales Manager for Atlantic Water Gardens.
JIM CHUBB

Jim has 26+ years of sales experience and 16+ years in the water garden industry