Creating and maintaining a healthy pond ecosystem can be a challenging but rewarding process. It's all comes down to a fine balance of keeping all the different elements of your pond in harmony.
With a pond ecosystem, you have to be aware that it is a closed system, while rivers and streams are always being renewed with constant freshwater a pond needs a little love and attention to be at its healthiest best. Along with a little help from mother nature, there are some simple ways to achieve this.
If you follow the recommendations below you should have an amazing healthy pond ecosystem, all year round;
As well as delivering aesthetic beauty to your pond water plants are vitally important for the health of your ponds ecosystem and different varieties produce different benefits. A good mix of native water plants is best.
Submerged oxygenating plants - these are plants that add oxygen to your water and if you keep fish provide habitat for them and shelter from predators. They also help keep your pond clean as they feed on the excess nutrients that algae thrive on such as decaying leaves and fish waste.
Floating plants - these are plants that float on top of the water surface and provide shade, this will help protect your pond from the sun and getting to hot. As algae thrives in direct sunlight it will help slow down its growth.
Marginal water plants - marginals are a type of water plant that grows around the edge or ‘margin’ of your pond, usually where the pond is shallower. Marginals are excellent filtering plants and they absorb impurities in large amounts that would otherwise be fed on by algae.
Keeping fish is fun and often the main reason for a pond being built in the first place. If looked after properly they won’t have an adverse effect on the ecosystem of the pond but if left unchecked can be an issue. They can even help out to some extent as they do like to feed on unsightly string algae.
If you want a natural pond with plenty of amphibians and wildlife do realize that the closed system of a man-made pond especially smaller ones can mean that the fish can overwhelm the pond and eat all the tadpoles before they spawn.
If you are adamant that you want to keep fish then you should make sure that you keep the balanced number of fish in your pond and that you don’t overfeed them. The excess fish waste in the pond is likely to affect the balance of the water and the excess nutrients can also encourage algae.
A Filtration System
People often ask, do you really need a filtration system? If your planning on keeping fish then yes you will need one. If not, well it depends on how much work you are willing to take on. While aquatic plants will provide some filtration keeping a natural balance for your pond without filtration will require much more diligence on your part.
If you decide to purchase a filtration system and we highly recommend it, make sure that you choose one that is the right size for your pond.
There are two main types of filter for pond use;
Mechanical - this type of filter traps and removes all the debris and waste that is unwanted in your pond and makes things easier for the next stage of the filtration process which is biological.
Biological - Once all the solids are removed the biological filtration comes into play and reduces the dissolved wastes in the water such as ammonia that is toxic to fish and convert them to less harmful compounds.
Sun and shade
An ideal pond ecosystem should have a good mixture of sunlight and shade.
Too much shade can hinder plant growth but at the same time, direct sunlight on a pond is quite often the catalyst for green pond water or algae bloom. Having trees shading your pond can also result in a lot more debris entering the water in the form of fallen leaves. Full shade ponds can often become stagnant due to the lack of oxygen.
So the solution is not full shade or direct sunlight but a happy medium of shade and sun, if you are newly creating your pond understanding this now will save issues further on. If you already have a pond then work on getting the best of both worlds.
Pond pumps circulate the pond water which serves the dual purpose of oxygenating the water and stopping the pond from becoming stagnant. Some pumps include a built-in filtration system.
Depending on if your pond is stocked with fish or not will determine the type of pump you require. Ideally, you will want a pump that can circulate the entire water content of the pond around every two hours at a minimum.
While a pond skimmer isn’t as important as some of the other mechanical devices we have discussed in this article it is still useful for pond maintenance. The pond skimmer becomes particularly useful if you have trees that shed leaves around your pond. A pond skimmer does exactly what it says, it skims the pond removing any debris before it sinks to the bottom.
Of course, another option is to use a net to scoop out the leaves and twigs that might be lying on the surface of your pond but a skimmer is useful for removing smaller nuisances, for instance, pollen.
Don’t Use Tap Water
In summer you might find that your pond levels reduce a little from evaporation, if you decide to top up your pond we suggest using rainwater. Tap water contains chlorine that is toxic to fish and will kill them but even if you don’t keep fish it will kill off beneficial bacteria in your pond.
So creating and maintaining your pond ecosystem isn’t so difficult. Adding the right plants, purchasing some equipment and following our other tips will allow you to enjoy the healthy pond of your dreams!