Caring For Aquatic Plants For Every Season

Nature can be punishing when bad chemistry or persistent disease from an imbalanced ecosystem throws a pond into chaos. A slight miscalculation or delay in addressing the cause and all can be lost; life itself relies on knowledge of plants and how we take care of their aquatic environment.

With every season comes a list of must-do’s, can’t-it-waits and let’s-hope-it-doesn’t-happens. Creating an evolving things-to-do list, by season, should minimize risk to aquatic plants.

Spring

After spring blasts us from hibernation to assess our pond’s winter damage, we break out our work ethic and tools of the trade and begin the transformation of spring cleaning.

After all, your home extends beyond your house. Pond plants rely on a pond’s ecosystem to ensure a healthy environment during their most active months. Divide and repot plants, when applicable, and introduce new marginal, bog and floater plants—whichever might bring balance to the habitat. But take note: the pond also expects the plants to do their part. Plants with deep roots break down toxins and excessive nutrients into needed oxygen. So the entire ecosystem needs to be on its best behavior and work together.

Perhaps the most impactful spring chore is a thorough vacuuming of the pond from top to bottom. The PondoVac series from OASE—PondoVac Classic and the PondoVac 3, 4 & 5—will remove large debris including leaves and anything else that accumulated over the fall and winter months. This simple chore provides pond plants a good start to the season.

Summer

A good deadheading of aquatic plants, on a consistent basis throughout the summer, helps keep the pond neat and tidy. Remove any foliage that is browning, leaning or deteriorating into the pond. FlexiCut 2 in 1 with it’s adjustable head makes deadheading an easy chore without risk to the pond liner. This reduces debris build-up in the pond and provides room for new plant growth. Keep the pond free of debris with the OASE PondNet for skimming or OASE EasyPick pond pliers with a telescopic handle to remove leaves and small branches.

The summer season also demands maximum aeration to prevent mosquitos and algae blooms and a range of threats to aquatic plants. Water gardens are ideal habitats for a variety of freshwater plants and pond creatures, but only if that pond offers sufficient oxygen levels through aeration.

Waterfalls are effective for aeration and serve to beautify, too. Expect the waterfall to attract birds and other grateful inhabitants to pond banks. OASE offers energy efficient pond and waterfall pumps with advanced technology that ensure a clean and clear waterfall with stable oxygen levels. These pumps work to reliably circulate water with extremely low energy output. Try the OASE waterfall spillway—it’s durable, low maintenance and blends seamlessly into the background. But it’s impact is impressive.

Fall & Winter

Remove pond plants from plant shelves and place them in a lower/deeper section of the pond to ensure roots don’t freeze. Not all plants take kindly to submersion through the winter—some require a temporary new home until the spring returns and the sun and warmth are here to stay.

Fall is also a season to divide aquatic plants, including water lilies and iris. Continue to ensure your pond is free of debris from falling leaves—another task for the OASE EasyPick. Remove dying plant foliage from the pond with the OASE FlexiCut 2 in 1 as it can eventually pollute the water. After plants have ceased growing, cut back and lower the pot to the bottom of the pond.

Some tropical plants can bloom throughout winter if brought inside and kept in a tub container with at least six hours of light—or remove the tuber from the pot after the foliage has died.

All aquatic plants are different so it’s important to research the specific needs of each plant. Luckily, resources are aplenty. The 21st century has brought technology—efficient, economical, user-friendly technology. Solutions to every pond plant scenario are hashed out online by water garden enthusiasts.


Original OASE Living Water article can be found here.

Fall: Adjusting Your Maintenance with the Change in Seasons

Fall is a great time to prepare the pond for winter. In order to reduce gas build up during the winter months, more frequent or more thorough cleaning of the pond is recommended. An easy way to clean organic matter from all nooks and crannies of the pond is with a PondoVac. 

As the weather gets colder, feeding fish should be dialed back and appropriate foods used.

As the temperature falls below 45°F, bacteria activity stops and with it the biological filtration functionality of the pond filter system. It is now time to stop feeding fish and to consider winterization of the filter.

Clean Before the Mess

If leaves and debris sink from the surface to the pond floor, there is risk of the pond becoming unbalanced and murky. The SwimSkim, AquaSkim, and FiltoSkim skimmers keep everything clear, before murky water occurs.

Falling leaves and other organic matter cause a majority of the clouding issues in a garden pond. Initially they collect on the water surface, then they sink to the bottom and contaminate the pond floor.

Surface skimmers remove organic matter before it sinks to the bottom.

SwimSkim

  • Floating skimmers for pond surfaces up to 270 ft²
  • Particularly effective suction capacity thanks to patented flap technology
  • Aerates your water
  • Easy handling, easy cleaning
  • Automatic adaptation to any water level (from 16 in. water depth)

AquaSkim

  • Easy to install and use in existing ponds
  • Idea partner for the AquaMax Eco Premium pump series
  • Telescopic design allows for easy installation for a wide range of pond depths

Thanks to practical pond helpers, such as the the FlexiCut 2-in-1 pond scissors, the EasyPick pond pliers, and the PondNet, you are fully equipped for removing dead plants and algae from the pond or easily trimming plants.

  • EasyPick: Pond pliers for grasping and removing cuttings or leaves in and on the pond
  • FlexiCut 2 in 1: Pond scissors that simultaneously hold the cut plants when cutting
  • PondNet: Pond fish net with a telescoping handle for removing unwanted debris

Maintenance Made Easy

Sometimes you aren’t able to stop debris from falling to the bottom of the pond. To prevent the pond from being over-burdened later in the winter, remove organic matter from the water and clean the pond floor. Practical and powerful helpers, such as the OASE PondoVac 3 or 4, support you in this regard. With this innovative pond and pool vacuum, dirt, algae, fish waste, and plant remains on the pond floor no longer stand a chance.

  • Simple and fast way to remove debris and decaying organic matter
  • Different nozzle head options for every pond application
  • Debris collection bag ideal for returning cleaned water when suctioning larger particles
  • Compact design and built-in handle allow for easy movement and transportation
  • Maximum suction depth of 6-7 ft.

Seasonal Cleanup

Green leaves become classic autumnal hues then begin their journey downward, floating rhythmically past windows and serving as harbinger of crisper, cooler weather. Fall weather beckons us to enjoy comfortable outdoor temps and the array of colors before boots and parkas become the go-to.

For pond owners in many parts of the country, the season has an asterisk. Fall means leaves in perpetuity—begging to be raked up, sucked up and picked up. But for a season of pond-side enjoyment, trade an afternoon and a bit of elbow grease. Trust us—it will be worth it.

A treed landscape demands extra TLC for your pond this time of year. Keeping your pond leaf-free is about more than aesthetics—it protects its ecological balance. Decomposing leaves and other organic matter infuse the pond’s water with excessive nutrients, depleting oxygen levels. Consistent and prompt removal with OASE’s PondNet will help maintain the pond health. OASE’s EasyPick pond pliers are a must-have tool for extracting sticks, cuttings and other large debris too awkward for netting.

Tidy up by pruning pond-side landscaping with OASE’s FlexiCut 2-in-1 pond scissors. With a handle length of 5.2 feet, they are well-suited for overgrown vegetation in hard-to-reach areas. And feel free to jettison the waders—FlexiCut pond scissors stabilize while they cut so you don’t have to trudge through the water for strategic positioning.

If cleaning the pond daily with a net is not ideal, consider a surface skimmer. OASE surface skimmers work overtime to keep ponds clean and debris free. Choose a skimmer based on pond size, plug it in and put it to work. It aerates as it cleans, contributing to a healthy ecosystem for fish and plants. To remove organic buildup, silt and debris from the bottom of the pond, try OASE’s PondoVac 5.

Assess the plants. Depending on the type and variety, they may need to be divided or removed before the first freeze. Start your research, identify the species and devise a plan. As you inspect each plant, remove any dead or dying foliage.

Install netting over the pond toward the end of summer—it will not compromise its beauty but will serve as barrier to leaves and other organic matter. Netting will also protect your marine pets from predators.

As the mercury dips, fish metabolism slows and food requirements change. Any uneaten fish food floating in the pond will decompose, compromising the ecological balance. Reduce feedings to once daily and reduce the amount of food once the water temperature dips below 70 degrees. When it reaches the high 50s, feed two to three  times per week. If food is not consumed within five minutes, consider reducing the amount of food at each feeding. Once the water temperature dips below 50 degrees, refrain from feeding fish.

When your work is done—trade your lemonade for a pumpkin spice latte, grab a sweatshirt and enjoy fall’s crisp, cool weather. Relax in your Adirondack, listen to the robin’s roundelays, and look up at the falling leaves against the bright, blue sky. (Cross your fingers they land on the other side of the fence).


Original OASE Living Water article can be found here.

Perfecting Pairings: OASE FiltoClear & Atlantic FilterFalls

Atlantic and OASE are great partners with complementary product lines that dovetail perfectly to enhance water quality and reduce maintenance. We complement each other on a number of levels, including filtration philosophies. Here in the States, where leaves and clippings are typically the major maintenance concern, we clean from the top, skimming the surface of the pond to capture floating leaves and debris before they can sink. The pump lives in the skimmer, sending the prefiltered water up to an upflow biofilter, where pads clean and clear water mechanically and biologically.

In Europe, fishponds are typically cleaned from the bottom. There, a solids-handling pump on the bottom sends fish wastes and small particulates to extremely efficient pressure filters that remove much finer suspended solids than upflow biofilters can.

The two philosophies are yin and yang; one continually removes leaves and floating debris but requires periodic cleaning of settled solids; the other captures the settling solids but requires vacuuming to remove leaves and larger debris. Put the two together and you get top down, bottom up cleaning that dramatically improves water quality and drastically reduces maintenance.

Let’s take for example any existing fish pond here in the States with a Skimmer and FilterFalls. Let’s say this pond is a few years old and the fish in it are happy and healthy. That means they’ll be big and fat from constant overfeeding and there will be way too many of them, both because they’ve reproduced and because their owners will have added fish – “only a few, here and there, really!” Yeah, right.

Now there are more wastes than the original equipment was designed to handle. Even with additional mats in the FilterFalls, the excess nutrients have started to impact water quality and clarity, as algae take advantage of the constant nitrates in the water column. The homeowners have an aeration system, and are adding bacteria, but the pond just isn’t as clear and clean as it was with one fifth the fish load. Nor are the doting ‘parents’ willing to part with a single one of their cherished ‘children’, all of whom have cute names and endearing habits. So, there are more fish and fish wastes than the pond can metabolize naturally and even an aggressive cleanout will only delay the return of the same conditions.

The contractor now can offer a return to gin-clear water, guaranteed, without rebuilding the pond. A properly sized OASE FiltoClear Pressure Filter paired with an AquaMax Eco pump is the perfect drop-in solution and comes with the OASE Clear Water Guarantee. The system works in three ways to clean and clear the water. The pump, placed centrally at the bottom of the pond, begins pulling in wastes and passing them to the FiltoClear as soon as it is plugged in. The UVC Clarifier inside the filter renders any algae in the water sterile, unable to reproduce, eliminating green water. The ‘foams’ or sponges in the filter trap suspended wastes, returning clean, clear water to the pond. Maintenance is easy; the filter backwashes clean in seconds. The pump is designed to pass wastes without clogging and can go entire seasons without needing to be cleaned. 

Installation requires hiding the pump, its cord and the return hose, a matter of moving and maybe adding a few stones. The filter can be hidden from view either by placement far from the pond’s edge or behind a raised waterfall. The filtered water can be returned anywhere into the stream or along the pond perimeter. Two additional plugs will have to be accommodated, one for the pump and one for the integrated UVC, with a combined draw of only about 2 amps, the circuit powering the original pump may be able to handle it. Even if a second circuit needs to be added, this solution requires much less time and labor than a pond rebuild or even a full pond cleanout.

Finally, a drop-in solution for ponds with water quality concerns that guarantees clear water in ponds up to 2000 gallons. For larger ponds, use OASE BioTec Screenmatic² and ProfiClear Filters with the appropriate UVC Clarifier and pump to achieve the same results, with clear water guaranteed.


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

The Most Valuable Koi

So we all know what ‘koi’ are, and we have an inkling that there are serious collectors – koi kichi – out there. That makes them valuable, at least to some people. But how much could a fish, even a big fish, even a very pretty fish, actually be worth, and why? 

Well, there was once a very beautiful nishikigoi in Japan, of the type first developed over two hundred years ago. This stunning fish was a Kohaku, white with red patches pleasingly distributed over her body. What made her exceptionally lovely was the intensity of her colors, and the absolute crisp delineation between the white and red. All the borders were sharp and crisp. The red patches were perfect, all the same unvaried shade without blotching or faded areas. The white field they overlaid was equally without stain, a perfect white. She had no other markings, and no imperfections. At nine years old, the three-foot-three-inch fish had perfect fins and her body the ideal shape, swelling to its largest girth midway between her head and tail, perfectly symmetrical. Her breeders, Saki Fish Farm in Hiroshima Japan, auctioned in October of 2018. At the gavel’s drop, a young lady from Taiwan with a family background in koi, Miss Yingying, paid 203 million yen for S Legend, as the carp is called. 

That’s $1.8 MILLION BUCKS for a fish! What’s even more amazing is Miss Yingying Chung’s story, but that’s for you to look up.… 

And remember, when you’re ready for your million dollar koi, Atlantic-OASE has the pond equipment for you! 


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

So You Want to Put in a Koi Pond!

There are many good reasons to want to keep ornamental carp, known as koi fish. First and most of all, they are friendly, engaging creatures that will recognize and respond to you. It’s a great feeling to see a whole shoal of happy, HUNGRY jewel-colored fish churning the water to reach you. Yes they learn, quickly and well, to expect food, but they respond to you whether you have food for them or not, every time. It’s delightful. 

They are very beautiful animals by any measure. Their colors are marvelous, with hues from the deepest reds through orange, true gold, silver, pearly white, black, greys of every shade, even blues. Many varieties sport glittering reflective and metallic scales, in different patterns on their bodies, that literally sparkle in sunlight. Their fins can be equally enchanting, especially those of the type commonly known as butterfly koi. When they aren’t racing to you for food, their long flowing fins swirl around them as they dance gracefully in a synchronized ballet, the rhythmic, circular patterns they describe soothing, relaxing, almost hypnotic. One can get lost for hours just staring at their languid movements in a deep, clear pool, I can personally assure you. 

But to enjoy them at their best you must provide a healthy environment for them. The best koi ponds will ideally be large and deep enough for the fish to exercise in both horizontal and vertical directions; three feet is usually cited as the minimum depth for happy koi. The optimal volume per fish is harder to pin down, but experts and aficionados (koi kichi) like 100 gallons per inch of fish; bigger is always better as far as volume goes. That said, koi will adapt to smaller bodies of water, but they will not attain the same size and run the risk of greater mortality in smaller, shallow ponds for a number of reasons, including more exposure to predators and greater temperature and pH swings.  

Water quality is critical, especially with animals that feed (and defecate) with such gusto. In Japan many ponds have a constant source of fresh spring water to flush out wastes, but that doesn’t work here, so adequate circulation and filtration is a must. Figure on running the entire volume of the pond through the filtration system once per hour. A 5,000 gallon pond should optimally run 5,000 gallons per hour through the filter. Although quality and clarity are totally different issues, with some of the best koi in the world coming out of clay ponds with totally opaque water, that doesn’t work for our ponds. We want to see the koi in polished water, so secondary treatment by ultraviolet light helps keep algae suppressed and water gin-clear. 

Finally, for the healthiest, most vibrant koi, the pond shouldn’t be overcrowded. This is where we have to overcome our own nature, because koi keeping is a powerful addiction. We see an especially beautiful fish and we need to have it. Not only do we always want more of them, but they grow to a pretty impressive size. Forget the four-inch-long cutie you brought home from the pet store. Koi grow to 2-3 feet long and upwards of 30 pounds under ideal conditions, and if they’re happy, they are also procreating like crazy. If you’re not very careful and very disciplined, pretty soon you can walk across the pond on their backs. 

All that said, once you get the bug you’ll never be free of it, so remember these guidelines. 

  • Build It Bigger! The one comment we hear from just about every customer after a couple of years is, we should have made the pond larger and deeper from the start. 
  • Oversize the filtration. The largest skimmer you can install reduces the frequency of emptying the net or basket. The larger the biofilter, the less often you will need to clean it. The less maintenance the happier you will be, and the more filtration, the cleaner and clearer the water. (Plus, you will be able to better support that greater-than-optimal number of fish that you will almost certainly end up with.) 
  • DON’T OVERFEED YOUR FISH, even if they beg, and they will! Too much food means too many nutrients in the water, overloading filtration and vastly complicating maintenance. Also, no matter how much they seem to want to eat, the last thing you want is obese, unhealthy fish. Feed them once a day as much as they can eat in 5 minutes, turning off the pumps to keep uneaten food from accumulating in the skimmer.   

If you’re interested in koi keeping, Atlantic-OASE has everything you need, from kits that make pond construction easy, to advanced filtration that cleans itself and reports back to you via WiFi. You might start by checking out the information at the Atlantic Water Gardens University on our website, and remember, we’re always here to help. Good Luck, and Happy Ponding!  


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

Fun Facts for National Koi Day

In honor of National Koi Day, I thought I’d mention some facts about koi that you may find as interesting as I do.

The term “koi” or “koi fish” is technically incorrect.

That’s right, just like the name of our favorite megamonster Gojira (not “Godzilla”), Westerners got the name wrong. Our finny friends are actually nishiki-goi, colored carp. If you look up the work “koi”, you’ll find the translation is “love”, and the word refers to the physical act, not the Platonic ideal. Oh well, too late to change now, but at least it’s good for lots of overseas giggles.

The fish we call koi have been cultured and bred for so long that their digestive tracts have partially atrophied.

Only about 60% of the food they ingest actually gets digested, one of the reasons they are such prodigious feeders. (And poopers!)

Koi are not only affectionate but intelligent.

They recognize their owner, come when called and can be taught tricks like ringing a bell for food. Our Miss Piggy was with our family for 17 years and knew all of us by our silhouettes and voices. She would race to us when we approached, lifting her head out of the water to be petted, eagerly taking food from our fingers. When she died after a major snowmelt dumped road salt into our front yard pond, we were devastated.    

Barring accidents or predation, koi can live a long, looooong time.

Here in this country 10-20 years is considered a long life; in Japan the average is closer to 50 years, but under ideal conditions colored carp can live for many decades, even centuries. The oldest nishiki-goi on record, a scarlet fish named Hanako (‘flower girl’) was born during the Tokugawa era of shoguns and samurai. Treasured for her unusual color and affectionate nature, her original owners the Koshihara clan built her a spring-fed pond at the foot of Mt. Ontake in the mid 1700’s. In the 60s, two of her scales were taken and analyzed in a lab. Just like trees, scales exhibit growth rings that can be counted to reveal age. The laboratory determined her birth date to be the year 1751, making her 226 years old when she died on July 7th, 1977 (7-7-77)! National Koi Day, July 7 was created in her honor.

If any of these fascinating facts about our favorite pond pets pique your interest in having a koi pond installed, find an Atlantic-OASE Professional Contractor near you on our Find A Contractor page and stay tuned for our next blog “So You Want to Put in a Koi Pond!”


About the Author:

DEMI FORTUNA

Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

Taking Koi Pond Building into the Future

With the new merger between Atlantic and OASE one concern always comes up, “will my OASE pump survive in the bottom of a pond?” 

I completely understand the concern about a pump in the bottom of the pond because traditionally in the US it has only spelled disaster. On the other hand, in Europe they’ve been building ponds for many years this way. They find it weird that the US uses large skimmers and FilterFalls to build our water features. One of the big advantages our company and OASE saw when discussing the merger was the opportunity to change how ponds would be constructed around the world.  

The American way of building ponds is what we’ve typically seen from Atlantic and other companies in the US. We utilize a skimmer to protect our pumps and to pull and trap the debris that floats on the top of the water. From there, the pump pushes water up to a FilterFalls where beneficial bacteria treats the water, removing toxins. But this still leaves one area untreated: we don’t ever touch anything on the bottom of the pond. The black muck that develops on the bottom of the pond has to be removed, typically via draining and mucking out the bottom by hand. Some contractors install bottom drains to easily flush everything out, but whether they pump it out or drain it down, basically they have to do a full restart of the pond year after year.  

The European way has been quite the opposite. They have designed and engineered their pumps to sit at the very bottom of the pond and have them pick up and push fish waste back to a UV/Filtration system that polishes the water. With the fish waste and debris going through the pump up to their filter systems that are cleaning the water, they do not see the need for a FilterFalls. The downside to this is they must use pond nets to clean the debris off the top of the water and are restricted in the types of water falls they can build because their pumps aren’t designed to do high flow at high head heights.  

The A-O merger presents an opportunity to bring both our practices together by incorporating the best aspects of each design. We now are building ponds with a skimmer to pull debris off the top of the water while also allowing us to build great falls using our FastFalls. Then, we are utilizing the OASE “Clear Water Guarantee” system by incorporating their pumps in the bottom of the pond feeding their filters that clean and polish your water. The result is a pond that can be customized to the highest level, cleaning and polishing the water without the need to ever fully drain your pond again. With the OASE PondoVac, we can go in and suck out leaves and debris that settles at the bottom that can’t pass through the pump to get to the filter. As for cleaning the filter, it’s as easy as turning a knob and flushing out the system twice a year, so easy you can do it in a suit and tie.  

And as for concerns about the pump at the bottom of the pond. These pumps are specifically designed to handle everything that a pond throws at it and they’ve been doing it for many years! 

This YouTube video made by a homeowner, who installed a brand new OASE system, shows all the mud and debris that was being put into the filter and how well the system works on day 1!

That is exactly what we want to see happening. It means we are cleaning the pond from top to bottom, unlike in the past when we, here in the States, would only clean from the top. OASE pumps are designed to deliver the debris from the pump to the filter system by utilizing a large intake pre-filter and Environmental Function Control (EFC), which will shut off the pump if it’s running dry or freezes or clogs (which takes a lot), to prevent pump damage. The large surface area of the wrap-around pre-filter allows small particles to pass through. It’s designed for water flow all around the pump, giving it multiple surface areas for the pump to pull water from. The pump also features a coated magnetic rotor for adverse water conditions and a proprietary grounding plate for unparalleled safety. These things make the pump very resilient from ever burning itself out or breaking.  

As Atlantic-OASE continues to grow we want to continue to push the envelope on how our industry creates incredible water features. Our company feels that we have an opportunity to define what a top of the line Koi pond should be built like and give our customers the best possible design available in the industry. We hope you will join us in creating state of the art water features that will be hassle free and allow anyone to enjoy a beautiful pond in their backyard! 


About the Author:

Kyle Weemhoff

Kyle is Atlantic-OASE Southwest Regional Manager and has been in the role for the past 3+ years. He started off working in the manufacturing facilities and shipping department. Kyle is a Koi dad and loves sitting out by his water feature with a cold beer.