Celebrating National Pet Day with Your Water Feature’s #1 Fans

April 11th is National Pet Day and we’re celebrating the best way we know how – by showing the internet the cutest furry friends loving their water features!

This pup parading through his new pond

Liquid Landscapes Inc. wrote an article in POND Trade Magazine about building a water feature for his client, Stella, to play in! Read it here.

Because who are we kidding? The real reason we install ponds are for our pets!

Art of the Yard creates ponds for all wildlife, pets included!

Hawksley loved visiting Atlantic’s water garden at the old building in Mantua!

Waterfall loving dogs

Big or small, all of our contractor’s dogs love their waterfalls!

Little white dog standing on a waterfall

American River Waterscapes‘ cutest mascot!

Our Atlantic-OASE Staff have some water feature loving pets too!

Tyson & Moose are some happy and hydrated hounds!

Cooper loves playing in his mini fountain and pond!

Bailey is always hanging by the pond!

Thor treats his fountains as his own personal drinking bowls!

Brewster loves his bubbling fountains!

We hope you celebrate National Pet Day with your furry family members! And if you don’t have a water feature for your pet, give your pet the best National Pet Day gift and install one for them!


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.

OASE Filtral UVC

The OASE Filtral UVC is the ideal all-in-one solution for excellent water quality in smaller ponds and water features. Three sizes of Filtral UVC – 400, 800 and 1400 – clean and clear ponds and fountains up to 1400 gallons with a combination of mechanical and biological filtration paired with ultraviolet clarification. The units are so effective that they qualify for the OASE Clear Water Guarantee when sized as directed.

OASE Filtral UVC filter and fountain pump

The advanced pump, housed in the compact case, moves water silently and efficiently, using minimal wattage, and is thermally protected and grounded against stray current leaks.

Inside of the OASE Filtral UVC

Double filter foams coarse and fine, filter pebbles and bio-media in the case provide excellent mechanical and biological filtration that quickly clears ponds up to 1400 gallons and is easily cleaned. The ultraviolet clarifier operates at a frequency that keeps organics from building up in the water for a year at a time before needing to be replaced, and operation can be monitored via sight glass from outside the pond.

Closeup of diverter of OASE Filtral UVC

On the return side, water is circulated in one of two different ways – via fountain head or through a side outlet, which can divert water to an optional decorative spitter or spout.

Lava Nozzle

Lava Nozzle

Vulkan Nozzle

Vulkan Nozzle

Magma Nozzle

Magma Nozzle

The fountain head comes with three inserts that create different patterns in water from 10” to 24” deep. The Lava insert throws out a clear dome of water, the Vulkan a double tiered fleur de lis display and the Magma a directional arched spray of five individual streams. All can be adjusted via the ball joint on the telescoping tube that also varies the height of the fountain head. A valve shunts water between the upright tube and a separate side outlet, to accommodate a variety of water return options.

Watch the beautiful nozzles in action below or click here!

Setup is simple. Select the water return option you prefer, fountain head, hose or both, then drop the unit into the pond. The 15’ cord allows for a good deal of flexibility in location, and the swiveling ball joint allows perfect vertical alignment even on sloped bottoms.

Maintenance is as easy as setup. The sloped top of the case allows debris to slide off, keeping the intake holes clear. When the flow slows, just pull the unit from the water and rinse off the filters. A grounding plate protects from stray current, and the pumps are thermally protected for long service life.


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.

Spring May Have Sprung, but We’re Not Free of Winter Just Yet…

hungry koi fish

March came in like a lion this year – when it wasn’t snowing it was blowing, cold and hard. Things are finally starting to warm up, with temps above freezing here in Long Island, giving some hope for the month going out like a lamb. But Winter hasn’t let go its grip just yet. As the crocuses bloom and the buds start to swell, the thermometer in my pond tells a cold, cruel tale. The water is still closer to freezing than the minimum temperature my fish need to be able to digest their food.

Mind you, they are doing their best to convince me otherwise. They come over when I approach the feeding rock, hopefully blowing bubbles at the surface just in case I’ve thrown any food in. The Koi are hungry, and they should be. They haven’t eaten since before Thanksgiving. All they’ve lived on for the last four months is the fat they stored up for winter. They don’t look so fat now. They are at the last of their reserves. So, why not feed them? Not much, “joost a taste”, like Grandma use to say? 

Well, that kindness, done for all the right reasons, would quite possibly kill them. Fish are cold-blooded; their internal temperature matches that of the surrounding water. Their digestive processes involve the activity of bacteria, just as ours do, that help break down the food they eat into compounds that are readily absorbed by the gut. Those bacteria are sensitive to temperature; they slow waaaay down when temps are low. The food ferments and decomposes before it can be digested, and the byproducts of decomposition can be lethal. Ever had food poisoning? Excruciating pain, cramps, fever and worse? Well, that’s what happens when food rots inside you, or your koi. These last few weeks make me nervous. This is the time of year that I’ve lost fish in the past, once when a fish attacked by osprey couldn’t fight off an ensuing infection, once when a late snowfall-and-road-salt event washed salt into the pond as the piles on the nearby road melted, and once when well-wishers sneaked food into the pond. (Oh, they were sooo HUNGRY, the poor things.) Not anymore.

The beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion slowly come up to speed as temps warm. It’s generally accepted that over 55 degrees the chance of a fatality due to feeding drops to near zero. That said, please help your fishes’ awakening systems by feeding fish an easily digestible food based mainly on carbohydrates, usually labelled Spring-and-Fall mix. Bear in mind that their immune systems are at the lowest level all year; maybe a stressful cleanout can wait for a few weeks? A fish that bruises itself or loses scales when she is startled and slams into a wall is at higher risk now than at any other time. Resist the temptation, no matter how much they beg; Spring is right around the corner. 

Read more about spring and your pond in our blog: Spring Is For Sprucing!


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 Wearing of the Green – Algae in the Spring

Yesterday was Saint Patrick’s Day, when we mark the anniversary of his death by celebrating the Green Isle and all things green. What better time to talk about green water, right? Here are some interesting facts about that wonderful plant, algae, we all love to hate, and maybe even some more reasons to love the green!

pond algae

Algae are not plants. Many are single cells with a simple chloroplast, the machinery behind the magic of photosynthesis. They share that capacity with plants, that wondrous ability to turn carbon dioxide and water into sugar using the power of sunlight, but they don’t have stems, leaves, roots or organs. Neither are they bacteria, though it is thought it may have arisen when a bacterium stole a chloroplast from a cyanobacterium, creating the first algal cells over one BILLION years ago. The term ‘algae’ actually refers to many entirely different lineages of organisms, some of which are multicellular, others which thrive under the ice cap, or are red or purple in color, or live inside corals, or lichens or even the fur of polar bears.

This loose conglomeration of not-quite-plants is home to anywhere between 72,000 and 1 MILLION species, depending on who’s counting. Multicellular macroalgae come in three different colors – red, green and brown – and we know them mainly as seaweed, like kelp and sea lettuce. But the vast majority are microalgae, the little one-celled devils that make water green (or red or pink or brown), and there are tens of thousands of species of them.

Why do algae matter? Because the world runs on algae, in just about every sense. Need oxygen to live? Many of us do. Algae create 50% of all the oxygen in the atmosphere. Ever get hungry? You’d be a lot hungrier without algae. All seafood is ultimately sustained by it, the base of both marine and freshwater food pyramids. The Koi in your pond could live directly just on algae. And, since every land plant descended from algae, and every land animal depends on land plants for sustenance, either directly as an herbivore or omnivore, or indirectly as a predator of herbivores, you could say we all owe our existence to algae. On a more approachable level, the oil that powers our cars and industry is mainly the product of the decomposition of immensely deep beds of dead algae. And going forward, the biofuels of the future will be directly produced by – you guessed it – algae.

So the next time you see that tinge in the water, instead of shaking your shillelagh in frustration, maybe you should celebrate ‘the wearin’ of the green’!

Check out our blog for more articles on spring, algae and other helpful tips and tricks the water garden industry here!


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.

In Honor of World Book Day

I’m not quite sure where all of these World Celebration Days come from – I mean, do we really need a World Mosquito Day? Has anyone actually woken up on August 20th to purposefully celebrate mosquitoes? But I can’t help chuckling as I buy into the idea. March 5 is World Book Day, so I thought I might talk about some books that I’ve really enjoyed using, long before Google.

I’ve already mentioned Secret Teachings in the Art of Japanese Gardens, by David A. Slawson, a book I love for a number of reasons. I was always fascinated by Japanese folklore, and Slawson explains in great detail how myths and legends are honored and recreated in garden architecture. For example, there’s an ancient Asian folktale of a giant turtle that supported the island home of the immortals, their Mount Olympus. There are Turtle Islands in most classical Japanese gardens. Slawson’s excellent illustrations (the second reason I love the book) have helped me recreate them in my work. His explanations of how ancient masters used the shapes of stones to create movement are inspiring.

See the Turtle Island?

I have a couple of copies of Rick Bartel’s, The R.I.S.E Method, a How-to Guide for Designing Natural Appearing Ponds, Streams and Waterfalls. I’ve recommended his beautifully illustrated book to dozens of people who’ve attended my seminars over the years (including my eldest, who will listen to anyone except his old man.) Rick presents the concept of naturalistic rock placement as accessibly as anyone ever has. He combines well-expressed theory with step by step instruction that, properly followed, can make anyone’s work look good (including my eldest’s).

The third is one I haven’t carried as regularly lately, my Taylor’s Guide to Perennials, but when I was planting every week it never left my bag. It’s pretty sketchy – cover taped on, color plates loose – but it never needs a signal.

So my hope is, for World Book Day, I’ve helped folks remember how useful books are, even today. And as far as this silly “Day” stuff is concerned, just wait ‘til World Corgi Day.


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.

Spring Is For Sprucing!

It’s here! Spring! Well, meteorological Spring anyway. I personally can’t wait until the solstice, probably because it’s 23 degrees with a 40-mile-an-hour wind this morning. For those of us who endure winter without running water features, it’s time to start thinking about getting ponds started back up again.

Even if you don’t freeze for winter, Spring is the perfect time for seasonal maintenance. Pumps should be pulled, cleaned and serviced if needed. Diffusers in shallow water that kept ice from sealing the pond can be moved back into deeper water. Filter pads in pond systems can be cleaned if they weren’t in the fall. Remember to clean only half in chlorinated water. Rinse the others only in pond water, and don’t let them dry out, to preserve the bacteria living in them. Put the rinsed mats back into the bottom of upflow biofilters, to quickly reseed the cleaned mats above them.

Your plants will appreciate some attention too. They may just need pruning and feeding with Pondtabbs, or they might benefit from a replanting. If you’re careful, they may never realize they’ve been moved, but will reward you with better growth and blooms in season. To accelerate the growth of waterlilies, keep them close to the surface early in the season, so the leaves are in the warmest water. As the rest of the pond gradually warms, you can then drop them down into deeper water. 

Debris that builds up over winter is likely to contribute to nutrients in the water, just as water warms. Algae blooms can be common this time of year, before other plants wake up and compete for nutrients. Now is the perfect time to replace your ultraviolet lamps. They may still be emitting visible light, but they decline in UV output after a year and aren’t effective. A new bulb now keeps algae at bay, right when you need it most.

One thing I personally don’t like doing is a major cleanup in Spring. My fish have had to overwinter under ice. They started their fast fat and happy, but that was four months ago. They are thin and stressed and their immune systems are at low ebb – this is not the time to mess with them. We do our major cleanup in the fall, after the leaves are mostly down. I may go in with a PondoVac and pull out some lingering leaves, but it’s more likely we’ll wait until temps are higher and my fish are feeding again (above 55 degrees Fahrenheit).

Contractors, as for the spring major cleanup money that you may be giving up, there’s no shortage of work in the spring. A quick vacuuming in addition to the steps above can be quite satisfactory all around and a lot less time-consuming, at a time when all your customers want to see you. Set up a follow-up later in the spring for your needier jobs, and have your customers work on a wish list of extras. Two trips will be better than one.

Happy Spring! 


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.

An Innovative Wetland for Innovation Day

Did you know February 16th is Innovation Day? Perfect timing again! I mentioned an “innovative” use of Eco-Blox in a blog celebrating World Wetland Day February 2nd. I think it only appropriate that I expand on that innovative use this week.

To start with, let’s look at the word. According to Oxford Languages, the group that publishes the Oxford English Dictionary (my mom’s favorite), “innovation” means ‘featuring new methods; advanced and original’. Water matrix blocks were themselves the very definition of innovative when they were invented by Humberto Urriola, who came up with the idea of a modular drainage cell back in 1984. His Flo-Cell® was a flat three-dimensional mat that, in various configurations, captured, transported and held stormwater long enough for it to percolate back into the ground, recharging fragile aquifers, critical given the climate and erosion issues Down Under.

Almost four decades later, water matrix blocks are still used for stormwater mitigation and rain harvesting, but the latest innovation involves using their storage capacity to capture and remove even the finest sediments suspended in pond water. They’ve been used to trap sediments in dual chamber rain harvesting systems before, but this is a different application, one that combines the physics of sedimentation with the advantages of upflow bogs.

The idea is simple. First, the physics in a nutshell, because the math is beyond me. When velocity drops, solids drop out. Pump solids-laden water into an Eco-Blox chamber that’s only open at the top, with lots of partitions, and cover the top with a thin layer of gravel. The water slows to nothing if the chamber’s big enough, and forcing the water to exit upwards, through the gravel, ensures that virtually all sediments will drop out of suspension and stay in the chamber.

And sediment is only half the issue. Dissolved organics and minerals in the water, which would have fueled algae blooms, pass through that same gravel bed. Billions of bacteria thriving in the well-oxygenated nutrient-rich water strip out ammonia and nitrites, excreting nitrates right where the roots of plants spreading through the gravel can absorb them. The plants will also thrive, the water will be stripped of all organics and algae will never get a foothold.

Standard stuff, but the innovation is in the details. The appropriate number of Eco-Blox for the volume to be cleaned, the correct flow into the chamber, the right thickness to the gravel bed, the optimal plants for the artificial wetlands –that’s all pretty straightforward. The innovation is in the delivery of the sediment laden water, and the flushing of the accumulated solids in the chamber.

The delivery is a matter of shaping the bottom to accumulate solids near bottom drains, and plumbing the skimmers to pull water off top and bottom to deliver wastes to the chambers. But, you may say, there are lots of ways to gather sediments, and any gravel bed will trap them, both valid points. The trick is keeping the gravel from clogging, channeling and going septic when oxygen can’t penetrate the accumulating goop. That’s the huge advantage to creating these Eco-Blox bogs, and upflow is the key. 

Traditional downflow bogs pull water through a large volume of gravel, often feet thick, to trap organics for years, but over time channeling renders them less effective. Anaerobic zones build up with no easy way to clean them out. Downflow grids of perforated pipe, covered with a thinner layer of gravel at the bottom of ponds, address these issues, but the grids tend to clog over time and are relatively inaccessible.

Eco-Blox sediment traps are designed to efficiently collect both top and bottom water via skimmers and bottom drains, separate out solids as water passes up and out, then clean easily, flushing sediments out onto grade by turning a valve. The continuous automatic capture and easy removal of solids is the innovation. Monthly maintenance consists of turning a valve or opening a threaded cap for a couple of minutes, to flush the accumulated wastes out where they can be dried and collected – that’s some black gold there.

It’s no wonder that Botanical Gardens appreciate the idea. A filtration system based on plants that cleans and clears vast volumes of water, with no moving parts except multiple magnetic induction pumps, powerful and efficient, inexpensive to buy and run, housed in easily accessed skimmers that require only to be emptied of leaves on a weekly basis? And the system can collect the fertile organic sediments and dry them in a free-draining gravel bed at grade, whenever compost is needed?

Eureka!

Case in point: the Botanical Garden in Culiacan Sinaloa Mexico used riverwater to feed their Victoria Pool, where they showcased the leaves and blooms of the world’s largest waterlily and other aquatics. The 225’ x 30’ pool, about 3’ deep, had a number of serious leaks, so it was constantly being refilled with muddy water that never cleared. The water was so turbid from both mud and algae that you couldn’t see your hand with your arm in up to your elbow. Two 8” weirs that spanned the width of the pool upstream and downstream of the angular bridge provided the only circulation. They had installed a 10hp irrigation pump drawing about 8000 watts an hour, but had to valve it back because the high-head pump cavitated otherwise, so they couldn’t keep the whole weir covered with water. (If that sounds like a foreign language, check out this article I wrote in POND Trade Magazine, Flow, Friction and Total Dynamic Head: A Pump and Plumbing Primer for Ponds)

I’ll tell you what we did – next time.


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.

Golden Treasure For The Pond Border

Lysimachia nummularia: The Creeping Jenny

I love to use plants along the edges of the water features I build to soften the hard edges of stone and add color and life to them. One of the plants I tend to use over and over is the Creeping Jenny or Moneywort, Lysimachia nummularia, an attractive and versatile perennial ground cover that neither rabbits nor deer will touch. 

Floating Bog, Nelson’s Water Gardens

Named for its round, coin shaped leaves, gold in color when grown in full sun, Creeping Jenny performs beautifully just about anywhere I put it. With a constant supply of moisture, along streams and pond edges, it can handle the hottest sun. Forget “creeping” – this plant positively runs in the sun, growing quickly from both its vine-like branches and long roots to cover edges both in and out of the water.

In deep shade its growth slows somewhat, leaves glowing a soft green as it carpets soil, stone and gravel alike. Easy to propagate, one plant will spread to cover many running feet of stream edge. It is vigorous almost to a fault. If it thins out in one spot simply grab a handful from somewhere else and tuck it into moist soil. It will usually root without any extra care.

As if that weren’t enough, for all you other closeted herbalists, Creeping Jenny is a mild astringent, a diuretic and an effective vulnerary – applied to open wounds its crushed leaves are antibacterial and promote healing. (I don’t know about you guys but ‘vulnerary’ is my new favorite obscure word of the day.)

Finally, those of us who appreciate a brew every now and then might be interested to know the ancient Anglo Saxons called it alehoof – ‘ale herb’ – and used it to flavor and clarify beer. What a plant!


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.

OASE Aquarius Fountain Sets

Meet one of the newest products here at Atlantic-OASE: The Aquarius Fountain Sets!

OASE Aquarius Fountain Sets are the perfect product for owners of small water gardens and ponds. Four sizes of units circulate up to 1100 gallons, returning the water in one of two different ways – via fountain head or through a side outlet, which can divert water to an optional decorative spitter or spout.

The fountain head comes with three inserts that create different patterns in water from 10” to 24” deep. The Bell insert throws out a clear dome of water, the Vulkan a double tiered fleur de lis display and the Magma, a directional arched spray of five individual streams. All can be adjusted via the ball joint on the telescoping tube that also varies the height of the fountain head. A valve shunts water between the upright tube and a separate side outlet, to accommodate a variety of water return options.

Bell Nozzle

Vulcan Nozzle

Magma Nozzle

Setup is simple. Select the water return option you prefer, attaching the fountain head insert or hose and drop the one-piece unit into the pond. The swiveling ball joint allows perfect vertical alignment even on sloped bottoms.

Maintenance is as easy as setup. A ribbed screen keeps leaves from clogging the pump intake. When the flow slows, just pull the unit from the water and rinse off. A grounding plate protects from stray current, and the pumps are thermally protected for long service life.

Learn more about the Aquarius Fountain Sets here.


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.

Winter Pondering

It’s almost February, the ground’s frozen and my sons are too smart to work outside with me, so it’s the perfect time to plan next year’s project. The three most important attributes of the perfect garden pond often get overlooked in the rush to dig, so I thought it might make sense to talk about them now, when all we can do here is talk anyway.

So, the waterfall is usually the first thing folks think about, followed by the pond size and the fish they want to showcase, but what I try to plan for first are crystal clear water, minimal maintenance and low operating cost. These are the less glamorous, more practical attributes of the perfect pond. Without them the charm and beauty of the water garden soon fade.

Water clarity is the most important of the three, because poor water quality is the first thing anyone notices and a constant source of aggravation. The best way to guarantee perfect clarity is to install adequate filtration, but I’m a belt-and-suspenders man – I like to minimize maintenance and safeguard against eventual overcrowding as well. 

The two most common philosophies of pond filtration adopt different approaches. The skimmer+biofilter model removes floating debris before it sinks, but relies on cleanouts to remove heavier accumulated solids that don’t float, like fish wastes. The other school of thought targets fish wastes, with a pump on the bottom designed to capture those wastes and send them to more efficient mechanical filters, but leaves need to be netted out. Combining the two methods removes more wastes and gives better results than either alone can provide. The skimmer houses the waterfall pump and traps leaves, the biofilter removes large debris and starts the stream and falls, a smaller high efficiency pump designed to capture wastes sits in the bottom and pushes wastes to a partially buried pressure filter that’s easy to backwash.

Maintenance is actually lower with the combined systems, because each has half as much work to do, so the biofilter and pressure filter can be cleaned half as often, and major pump-down cleanouts are eliminated altogether.

Aha! I hear you say. But what about those two pumps! What happened to lowering operating costs? Well, pump operating costs actually drop if the waterfall pump only runs when you’re there to enjoy it. For example, let’s say we have a 4,000 gallon pond, 15’x20’, three feet deep at the low spot, but with 18” deep shelves all the way around, a 10 foot long stream and two falls about 4’ tall total. I’d spec a TT5000 pump in a PS4600 skimmer pushing 4000gph up to a BF2600 to start the stream, and an AquaMax Eco Classic feeding a FiltoClear 8000 to polish the water. I’d set up a timer for the waterfall to run 12 hours at 310 watts plus 150 for the other pump, which I’d run 24/7. That works out to less wattage than the one larger pump alone! (12×310 + 24×150<24×310) And, having two pumps means I never have to worry about one failing, there’s a built-in reserve.

Now that the tough stuff is designed, I can start to think about the waterfall…. 


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.