An Iris-istible Flower To Add To Your Pond

You have so many options to choose from when it comes to adding plants to your pond and in honor of today being Iris Day, consider adding these iris-istible flowers to your pond! These beautiful flowers come in a range of colors and varieties that make for an eye catching addition to any pond!

Types of Irises

Water irises are semi-aquatic or bog plants that grow best in shallow water. Several types of irises will also grow in wet soil along the edge of the pond or in wet soil as well.

I’ve listed some of the different varieties of irises below! If you’d like to learn more about each variation of the beautiful irises I picked out to share in this blog, visit the North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox website here!

Rabbit-Ear Iris (Iris laevigata)

Rabbit-Ear Iris

Yellow Flag Iris (Iris pseudacorus)

Yellow Flag Iris

Siberian Iris (Iris sibirica)

Siberian Iris

Lousiana Iris (Iris Hexagonae)

Lousiana Iris

Kermesina Iris (Iris versicolor)

Kermesina Iris

Plant Care

True water irises grow best with water over their crown throughout the year and irises love full sunlight! Irises bloom in the spring or early summer, depending on the climate.

And the great thing about irises is that they’re a perennial and will bloom again the following year! What better plant to add to your water garden this year? (Or to gift your mom for Mother’s Day tomorrow.) I know if I had to choose one, I really love the bright purple irises like the Siberian Iris!

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.

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 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.

Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor Spotlight – Lloyd Lightsey

Join us in recognizing another “Monstrously” incredible Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor (APC) spotlight, Lloyd “The Pond Monster” Lightsey.

Lloyd Lightsey – The Pond Monster, Florida

How long you’ve been working in the industry: I have been in the industry for 46 years, I started when I was 13. There is a great article in POND Trade magazine on how Slocum Water Gardens birthed the monster. (You can read it here.)

What you love about what you do: Everyone loves a water feature and are always drawn to it. As your eyes catch the glimmer of the Water from a distance, it lures you to it. Also the sound of the water flowing always seems to mesmerize you and bring a calming to the soul. Case in point, if viewing pictures from a vacation there is always usually a fountain or a waterfall in the back drop.

Favorite Atlantic-OASE product: From Atlantic it is the PS15000 Skimmer and from OASE it is any of the Filtoclear series.

How long have you been an APC: 5 years

One of your favorite projects you’ve done: The “Living” the Pond Life build during the Water Garden Expo located at The Pond Shop in Shawnee OK, which was headed up by myself and the most awesome Demi Fortuna. This build maybe one that will never be duplicated as 5 different manufacturers came together and worked side-by-side to complete this build that is dedicated to those who have and have not lost their battle with cancer. I will be for ever humbled and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this as it made me love and respect every person and manufacture that was there. With a lot of appreciation for Atlantic Water Gardens for supplying the materials and of course to Pondliner Unit liner for allowing us to do it. My main goal for this build was to put an eternal flame at the top of this build for all those to be remembered. That was and always will be a very emotional build for me, as my dedication to this build was to my wife who won her battle with cancer and still stands by my side in this industry.

New projects I’m working on: I have a project coming up to which we will be installing a new filtration system at one of the attractions here in Florida that features a white alligator.

Anything else you’d like to share with your fellow APC’s: I feel very blessed with being in this industry with those who I have met and look forward to meeting. I do love what I do as we make friends one pond at a time. As for any advice I would have for anyone in the industry or about to get into the industry, I highly recommend PONDS services. When I was contacted by my good friend BJ Linger to help build my web page and to start putting me at the top of the Google list, my business has absolutely taken off phenomenally it is the best market in advertising that I have ever seen.

See more of Lloyd, The Pond Monster, on his Facebook page, Thepondmonster or visit his website

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.

Goodbye Mantua, Hello 2020

The waterfall runs still. The trees are bare. A few fall leaves remain. The “For Sale” board stands by the roadway as a timely reminder to us all, that it is finally time to say goodbye to our much-loved home of many years. While it is always sad to leave a place that has been the site of good times, much progress and hard work, we have finally outgrown our Orchard Street location. By January 1st, we will have packed our bags, transported the last pallets of product, turned off the lights and locked the doors one last time.  Goodbye Mantua and thank you for 14 years of happy memories.

But when one door closes, another opens. We move to Aurora with a great sense of pride and anticipation. As Atlantic-OASE finally become one for the USA, we can look forward to great things at our new facility. The building has been fully re-modeled and fitted to allow us to lay down our own stamp of individuality. The massively increased space and opportunities for growth that this new facility affords us can allow us to achieve great things. A powerhouse in the North American Water Gardening industry will now emerge with a new sense of purpose and determination, from Lena Drive, Aurora. 

We are very excited to be able to share these new beginnings with you and would like to take this opportunity to thank all our customers, suppliers, contractors, employees and associates for their support and to wish everyone very happy and healthy Holidays.

From everyone here at Atlantic-OASE, we wanted to wish you a safe and Happy New Year! Thank you for all your support throughout the years! We can’t wait to dive into the 2020 with you!

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.

Peter Ferber

Peter joined Atlantic-OASE to support the sales and marketing teams and coordinate training programs. He returns to the water gardening industry after 10 years to bring his British idiosyncrasies to this side of the pond.

5 Scares of the Water Feature World Debunked

By: Demi Fortuna & Caitlyn Winkle

Have you been wavering on whether or not to have a water feature installed? We know it’s a big decision and many factors go into making this decision. As Halloween rolls in this week, we wanted to take the fright out of water feature installation and debunk 5 scares of the water feature world!


Leaks are an enormous concern for people who are building their first water feature, but they can rest easy. EPDM rubber and PVC liners are super strong, and very easy to work with. A couple of quick guidelines will allay any fears about liner punctures. Always use a protective layer of underlayment to keep the liner from getting punctured. It will guard against tree roots, sharp stuff underneath the liner, and even critters.

The other common way that water features leak are at the edges of waterfalls. These are very easy to detect and correct. First, to be sure water loss is coming from the stream or waterfall area, turn off the pump and see if the water still leaks down in the reservoir. if the water is stable when the pump is off, the leak’s in the waterfall. Looking for a wet spot along the edge after a couple of dry days will usually reveal the problem, which is almost always at the edge of a waterfall. In the vast majority of cases, it’s just the liner has slipped down from the force of the water and can easily be fixed.


Many people are concerned about the appearance of algae in their water features. Algae is actually a sign that the water feature is healthy. A little green fur on the sides helps keep the water clean. An excess of algae is not healthy but it is easily dealt with. Because algae growth is a sign of high nutrient levels, the easiest way to control algae in a fish pond is to cut back on the amount of food that you’re feeding your fish. In other water features, the installation of an ionizer that puts a tiny amount of ionized copper into the water will completely control algae in your water feature.


Many folks are concerned about the animals that come to a pond or water feature. Most of the time, this is a great Boon to the natural community in the area. Especially in the wintertime, sources of open water are scarce and animals have a hard time finding enough to drink. A pond or water feature that’s running in the winter is a welcome resource. Some folks worry about mosquitoes in ponds, but in a typical fish pond, mosquitoes can’t survive the hungry fish. Mosquito larvae are much more likely to come from the stagnant rainwater in an old tire than any fish pond.


The idea that ponds and water features can be dangerous stems from an older method of constructing ponds in the shape of bowls. Slippery, sloped sides made getting in and out of this style of ponds difficult. It was easy to slip and injure oneself. Modern construction techniques advise building ponds with steps and flat platforms better making them easy to enter and exit safely. For the ultimate and safest option, Pond-free waterfalls and streams have no open water to fall into. All the water is recirculated out of a closed underground basin, limiting maintenance and chance of injury.


Some potential pond owners are deterred by the thought of the maintenance of a water feature. They may have heard about a poorly designed feature that was difficult to keep clean or looking good. A properly designed water feature requires very little maintenance. Fish ponds that have a balance of plants bacteria and animals require minimal maintenance. Hardscape water features with filtered or screened reservoirs require even less. When the feature is properly designed with the right equipment, maintenance takes no more than a few minutes a week, with a clean up no more than once a year.

2019 Atlantic-OASE Professional Conference

The Third Annual Atlantic-OASE Professional Conference held last week in Cleveland Ohio was an event not to be missed.

Thorsten Muck, CEO of OASE Living Water and Jeff Weemhoff, President of Atlantic-OASE

New this year, early arrivers attended 3 hands-on business workshops focusing on Business Strategy, Social Media and Water Feature Maintenance, hosted by experts Yolanda Ortiz of Corazon Business Coaching, Melanie Downes of The Grapevine Pro and our own Sean Bell.

Hands-on business workshops hosted by Yolanda Ortiz, Melanie Downes and Sean Bell

Yolanda Ortiz returned for her second conference, presenting her new workshop Culture, Hiring and Your Bottom Line to an appreciative audience. Melanie brought her 25+ years of experience as an entrepreneur in the family landscape and water feature business to fire up attendees with exciting new takes on Marketing and Social Media. Sean Bell educated attendees on Adding Maintenance Plans to your Business, offering lucrative insights into that bread-and-butter aspect of water gardening.

Welcome dinner at Pine Lake Trout Club
Welcome dinner at Pine Lake Trout Club

Wednesday evening, after rallying at the Hilton Garden Inn Twinsburg, our base of operations this year, we set off for the always beloved Pine Lake Trout Club. Jeff Weemhoff warmly welcomed attendees of the ever growing Conference, sharing his plans for the continued and accelerating expansion of Atlantic and OASE and insights into the coming year. Then we partied into the night at the beautiful timbered fishing lodge surrounded by the many streams and waterfalls, good food and drink enhancing the great networking and camaraderie.

Jeff Weemhoff and Thorsten Muck present the future of Atlantic-OASE

Thursday began early with a message from Jeff and Thorsten Muck, CEO of OASE Living Water, on the bright future of Atlantic and OASE. Presentations on social media, advanced bog construction, product development, water feature estimating and distributor meeting preceded lunch, then we boarded buses and headed over to AWG headquarters.

Demi Fortuna and Brandon Dwyer at the Fountain Nozzles 101 Station

There we split into rotating groups visiting seven Demonstration Stations, showcasing the power of PondoVacs; the new Atlantic InfiColor Lighting System; automatic ScreenMatic2 filtration; tips on multiple Fountain Nozzle installation; the ease of adding FiltoClear Pressure Filters to existing ponds; programming the Easy Garden Control Cloud-based control system and a workshop on Photographing Water Features by last year’s APC of the Year Shane Hemphill.

Frayne McAtee at the Connecting to Your Water Feature Station

With heads still buzzing with all they had seen and heard, attendees were treated to a surprise stop on the ride back to the hotel. The buses pulled up and then into the huge new 170,000 sq. ft. facility, where a champagne toast accompanied the reveal of the new building. What better place to announce the 2019 Atlantic Professional Contractors of the Year?

Jeff Weemhoff welcomes conference attendees to the NEW Atlantic-OASE headquarters

Congratulations to TRAVIS WHITAKER – APC OF THE YEAR! With strong business growth over the past 15 years combined with excellence and creativity in water feature construction and design, Travis and Shannon Whitaker and their team are at the top of their game. A key contractor in his market, Travis has landed multiple large, high profile projects, but has continued to be a team player, helping fellow contractors when called upon in the best spirit of caring and generosity.

Whitaker Waterscapes, 2019 Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor of the Year recipients Travis & Shannon Whitaker

Atlantic created a whole new award for another standout member of the Community, Matt Boring! Matt earned the Presidential Award in recognition of his constructive and helpful attitude to all in the industry, as well as the excellence of his work. His positive outlook and advice on the APC Facebook page have greatly increased the value of the group for all, while his sharing of his body of work and innovative construction projects has inspired and promoted both the industry and Atlantic. Congratulations Matt!

Texas Ponds and Water Features, 2019 Atlantic-OASE Presidential Award recipients
Matt Boring and Carlos Ordaz

Finally, in recognition of his long-standing dedication to the Water Gardening Industry and his unique standing amongst (and usually a head above) his peers, Atlantic was proud to present the Monster Award to our beloved Lloyd Lightsey. Always there to lend a helping hand, always smiling, Lloyd has always loved to make all around him smile, but he and Karrie have also dedicated their time and energy (even his beard) to the very serious challenge of raising money for cancer research. Lloyd, our Pond Monster, we salute you and Karrie for your good works and your unique standing in the industry! The award, named The Monster Award, will be given out annually moving forward.     

The Pond Monster, 2019 Atlantic-OASE Monster Award recipients Lloyd & Karrie Lightsey

After the surprise visit to the new building concluded, we spent the final evening of our wonderful time together playing and partying at Punch Bowl Social in downtown Cleveland. We thank all our attendees for another rewarding and informative Atlantic-OASE Professional Conference, and look forward to seeing you next year!

Dinner and games at Punch Bowl Social in downtown Cleveland
Dinner and games at Punch Bowl Social in downtown Cleveland

Atlantic and OASE Expand Operations

Atlantic Water Gardens and OASE Living Water are pleased to announce an important milestone in the American water gardening market. Atlantic–OASE will be moving to a much larger location in Aurora, Ohio, seven miles from the current Atlantic headquarters in Mantua. The new 170,000 square foot warehouse provides the ample space needed for the production, storage, organization and shipping of all Atlantic and OASE products, from raw materials to finished goods, to the entire hemisphere.

Our new home!

State-of-the-art SAP integration and inventory tracking will help us improve efficiency and streamline operations, ensuring that goods, materials and products flow effortlessly to our customers. Atlantic and OASE expect to capitalize on the efficiency of having all brands in one warehouse, ready to produce, pack and ship worldwide. We’re also excited about the opportunity to implement up to date, cutting-edge infrastructure and technology right from the start, no retro fitting or compromising required. 

155,000 square foot warehouse.

Over 15,000 square feet of offices, conference rooms and storage spaces, along with showrooms for immediate hands-on access to all products, will optimize day-to-day business. Multiple media rooms and a lecture center will handle small and large group interactions, while a sound room and video studio will accommodate in-house advertising, marketing and video production.  

Aurora will also house the new Training Center, including a 3,750 square foot indoor area with 30-foot ceilings already affectionately nick-named the SandBox. Instructors and contractors will be able to build entire hardscapes, dig and install every type of water feature and demonstrate lighting techniques year-round, immediately adjacent to a fully equipped classroom. Outside, there are multiple berms and hollows perfect for outdoor features training, as well as a large patio for warm weather seating. 

Make sure you follow our social media for updates on our big move!

Atlantic Professional Conference 2019

The season is upon us on Long Island. It’s getting warmer, the bulbs that we usually see in late March or April have actually bloomed – finally! Water temps are up and the koi are feeding again. Spring is springing all over, and that means…

Product Knowledge – Atlantic Professional Conference 2017

We’re starting to think about the next APC Day! Our Atlantic Professional Conference happens after Labor Day, but we start putting things together now. We have to. It takes a lot of planning to pull off. A hundred or so Contractors and Distributors from multiple countries are going to show up for a couple of days of camaraderie, networking and fun, and we don’t want to disappoint.

Pump Clean Out Station – Atlantic Professional Conference 2018

Two years ago, we hosted attendees to cocktails and dinner riverside, at the Music Box Supper Club, alongside the big ships slowly making their way to Cleveland’s deep water port. Last year we had the Cleveland Aquarium to ourselves, watching the sharks gliding overhead as we walked through the glass tunnel. (Was it just me, or did anyone else notice the fish glaring at us while we ate shrimp cocktails in front of them?) Regardless of the irony, what a great place to have a conference of water feature builders!

Greater Cleveland Aquarium

Of course, we always include a night at an amazing local gem, hidden away in plain sight – the Pine Lake Trout Club. There’s something magical about the rustic Lodge and cabins, hidden away in the piney woods apparently miles from anywhere. For me, it’s all about strolling along the streams and waterfalls on a late summer evening, as the trout rise and dimple the glassy surface, enjoying the company and conversation of some of the world’s best pond and water feature builders. Dain’t much betta.

Pine Lake Trout Club – Bainbridge Township, Ohio 

This year we have a full lineup of seminars, presentations and live demonstrations planned while the sun is up – marketing, social media, coaching, water feature tech info, even a rodeo or two. Yes, rodeo. You know, when you put the beasties through their paces. ‘Nuff said on that topic, don’t wanna spoil the surprise.

Art of the Yard, Shane Hemphill and Heath Webb
2018 Atlantic Professional Contractors of the Year

And I’m not going to tell you where we’ll be going this year. I’m not letting that cat out of the bag – yet. You’ll have to keep checking back, or better yet – REGISTER NOW. Registration just opened, attendance is limited and we always fill up way before the cutoff in July. Take my word for it, you won’t be disappointed.

Visit: to register!

Tools That Don’t Suck – Hypath Bags

Tools That Don’t Suck

As water feature installers, my sons and I are used to hard, dirty, sometimes dangerous work. We enjoy what we do, whether it’s digging ponds, plumbing pumps, rolling boulders or tweaking waterfalls, but we also value anything that helps make the work easier or more fun. We’re always looking for tools, apps or gadgets that save time & effort, eliminate stress, add to our comfort on the job or are just fun to use. Often a buddy will turn us on to one. I’d like to return the favor by passing our favorite Tools That Don’t Suck along to you.

Hypath Bags

I’m on the road a lot this time of year. It’s the only time we can get contractors and counterpeople together for training and demos. From January through March, I’m going somewhere almost every week. So far this year, I’ve been to Europe, back to Florida, up to South Carolina, over to Texas, out to Washington State, up to Vancouver BC, down to Oklahoma, with three trips to Ohio for a week each. As you would expect, that kind of schedule beats up luggage. After a great run of almost 8 years with my old TravelPro carryon, I decided this year to upgrade. I’m impressed enough with my new luggage system that I’m sharing it with you.


The bags I found are about the most versatile I’ve seen, and I looked at a lot of bags. My requirements were pretty stringent. I needed a small carry-on, the size that meets both American and European standards. I was going to Germany on a deeply discounted fare with an airline that really restricted both size and weight, but I also like to travel as light as possible. I prefer a rollerbag, but there were going to be cobblestone streets to contend with, so I wanted a bag that could convert if needed into a backpack. I usually carry a second bag for the business docs, presentation hardware, chargers, travel sundries, etc. so when I saw the Hypath bags, I got excited.

Hypath Backpack

Easy Rolling

The Hypath bags I bought really fit the bill. The “big” bag fits into those tiny 21”x16”x9” boxes at the gates of the stingiest of air carriers. It’s made of a good grade of ripstop nylon, double stitched. compression straps inside to squeeze down enough clothing for a week to 10 days on the road.* Handles all the way around the outside make it easy to throw into the overhead storage on planes, or carry as a duffel. Wide set rollerblade wheels and a sturdy aluminum handle with positive locks allow for quiet, easy rolling. For those situations that require sprinting, there are wide padded straps hidden away under a padded backplate that convert the bag to a true backpack.

Hypath Backpack

The smaller bag is also really versatile. For the ultimate in sleek travel, it zips onto the larger bag for easy rolling as a single unit. This frees up the handle for strapping on duty-free goodies. For casual travel, two horizontal straps across the back of the bag allow it to ride the rollerbag handle in typical piggyback fashion. It also has comfortable straps for backpacking. The front compartment has partitions for cables and equipment. The roomy center has a slot that fits my laptop in its padded sleeve, with a second slot for my tablet. Plus enough additional room for the charger, a windbreaker, folders and the obligatory one-quart plastic bag for toiletries. Two outer pouches are great for bottles, a brush, phone or meds. They look pretty good too. The black bags have an attractive hexagonal pattern to the fabric, and there are reflective patches for safety.

So far just this year, I figure the bags have logged about 20,000 miles without a hitch. I’m really hoping to get the same kind of durability as the TravelPro. Even if it doesn’t hold up as well, the Hypath system has already endeared itself to me.

On the plane/train/boat
Wool sports jacket, dress shirt, black belt, jeans, Merrells
In the bag, starting from the bottom:
Compression socks – 5pr short, 1 long, underwear
1 pair jeans, 1 pair chinos
Black cotton tee, 5 work tees
Rollup windbreaker/rain coat

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.