Having a beautiful pond is great, especially during the warmer months when it’s filled with attractive and active fish like Koi or African cichlids. The secret to a healthy pond might surprise you though. Just like with your home, or any building, foundation is absolutely key for a healthy and stable pond. A bad foundation will mean expensive problems in the future, and a lot of frustration too.
How can a Pond Foundation Keep your Pond Healthy?
Foundation is important for many things, especially for the continued health and productivity of a pond. Foundation for your pond starts with the soil. Healthy and nutrient packed soil will keep plant growth right where it needs to be, affecting how clean the water is, and the cosmetics surrounding your pond.
The consistency of the soil is probably the most important factor to bear in mind if you’re going to do a natural earth-based pond rather than a plastic lined one. Regular soil can hold water, if in a pot, but it cannot retain water on its own.
In order for natural ponds, streams and rivers to hold water, there’s a certain level of clay, sand or silt that must be mixed in with the soil. Each one performs differently than the others.
Clay Based Soil:
Clay consists of super fine particles, which are tightly packed together. The clay acts as a barrier to the water, preventing too much of it from passing through and into the surrounding soil while still allowing nutrients to pass through to plant roots. The more clay your soil has, the better it will be at retaining water and forming a natural pond. Too much clay, and any aquatic plants will have difficulty surviving and affecting any fish in the pond, and bare murky ponds are no fun to look at.
Silt Based Soil:
Silt is the middle child of the soil world really, at least when it comes to water retention in ponds and streams. These particles are medium in size, and retain water and nutrients well even compared to clay based soils. Soil with silt will erode more easily and shift with strong currents.
Sand Based Soil:
Sand is made up of large loose particles, which is not good for water retention in ponds and other small bodies of water. While the water will be crystal clear, the sand will also drift around quickly in very strong currents and settle in pockets at the bottom of the pond, unable to keep a set structure.
Each of these will also affect water quality quite differently from one another.
Pond Water Quality
Whether you’re looking to build a recreational pond with game fish, or a pond to sit by and relax as you enjoy a cup of tea and watch beautiful koi and goldfish swim around, the quality of the water is very important in order to support life.
- Nutrients: Nothing grows without having nutrition, and in order to maintain a healthy growing pond it needs to have plenty of nutrients in the water to support plants and fish. The greener the water, the more phytoplankton there is, which means the nutrients there are. This might not be great for Zen ponds, but for game ponds it’s the best thing ever.
- pH Levels: All fish owners know that certain fish (and aquatic plants) require specific pH levels in order to thrive and procreate. Certain species of fish and plants do not have very wide ranges of pH tolerances, if you go over or under them then the organisms could perish.
- Alkalinity: This is something fish owners will also know about when it comes to their aquatic pals. Just like with pH, certain fish and plant species require set levels.This measures the water’s ability to eliminate acids that would harm the ecosystem within your pond.
- Oxygen (Dissolved): Aquatic plants release oxygen as they absorb and process nitrates, nitrites, ammonia and Co2. The fish in your pond will breathe the oxygen and release Co2, and eat, and poo which releases ammonia, nitrates and Nitrites that feed the plants. Without oxygen the fish wouldn;t survive, which would also eliminate the plant's source of food. The better the oxygen levels, the happier your fish and plants will be.
- Temperatures: Certain plants and fish simply cannot survive in cold temperatures, or even extremely hot ones. Tropical freshwater fish, like cichlids, require water temperatures of around 78 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Any lower, or higher, will result in stressed and dead fish and can damage the delicate roots of plants to the point of them dying too.
Other Important factors to think of
Depending on how large you’re planning for the pond to be, will also determine the pump system you need. The water will need to be cycled in order to keep the oxygen circulating, as well as maintain the temperatures, and keep nutrients flowing to where it’s needed.
- Pumps: Make sure to pick the right size pump for your pond (if it’s needed) in order to prevent from overworking your fish and to keep circulation going.
- Heating Units: As mentioned above, certain plants and fish need specific temperatures, and choosing the right sized heating source can mean the difference between frozen fish, or boiled fish.
- No over-feeding fish: Fish can get fat believe it or not, and over feeding your fish can end very badly for your pond. Wasted food will also increase Nitrates and Nitrates, eventually making yourself feel weird and boggy.
Always start small if you’re new to pond-keeping and work your way up to larger and more complex pond systems, plants and fish. Doing more research and consulting with professionals and others who have been in the hobby for years can help you stay on track with your pond, and keep a healthy population of fish and plants. If you need help with restoring your pond or lake, let the professionals at Karina Lakefront Maintenance help.