5 Parts of an Ecosystem Pond | Volunteer Gardener


– Adding a water feature
to your landscape can be a lot easier
than you might think. But a professional
is always advised. So we’re with talking
with Derek Johnson who is a master, certified
aquascape contractor. – That’s it. – Yay. With JVI Secret Garden and
Derek, you’re gonna talk to us about the five not steps,
but what did you call them? – The five parts of
an ecosystem pond. – Absolutely. So let’s start with number one. – Sure, so number one is
really the mechanical skimmer. – Got it. – Because if we can
skim that debris. So when we think of skimmers,
we think of the pool and we think of taking
that skimmer in there. But if we can skim the debris,
and catch it in the basket, then that debris doesn’t go
to the bottom of the pond and turned into, basically,
a nutrient load of compost. So what does compost do? Compost is a fertilizer so
we don’t want fertilizer, nitrogen, in the pond. So if we can keep that debris
off the bottom of the pond and in here, we’re
ahead of the game as far as keeping your ecosystem
pond healthy and clean. So here we have our
mechanical skimmer. This stone can seem
heavy and cumbersome, but it’s really not. It’s just a faux piece. So this is where our
mechanical filter lies. So we have our pump, it’s
located inside of here. A lot of ponds have the pump
at the bottom of the pond. And when your water is
crystal clear and pristine, you don’t wanna see the pump
at the bottom of the pond. It’s just unsightly. So you put it in here
so the benefit of that now we have a skimming action. So anything hits the
surface of the water, like these leaves, it drops in, it gets pulled right
into the skimmer. So now, this is what I
really love about this. You can come in here, you
shut this little door, the pump’s gonna
drain that water down, we easily take the basket out. So we’ve got our debris
here, we just take it. I like to put the stuff in the, and the sucking sound
is totally fine. Doesn’t hurt anything. – [Tammy] So you don’t need
to be intimidated by that. It’s a short time
between this and that so we take our debris. I like to put this
in a compost bin. Why not, right? So and then you easily
put the skimmer back in, your skimmer basket
I should say, open up the door-
– Oh sweet. – Water rushes right back in. We’ll check this daily. We’ll just walk by, make sure
there’s nothing in there. During the summer
months, really nothing. Nothing’s going on. But in the spring time as
leaves are starting to, you know, the canopies
are starting to come on, you get that spring flush, we
get those big thunderstorms we always have, leaves
may blow into the pond and come in here, so you check
it a little bit more often. – This is like brilliant. – It’s so easy. – I don’t know that I would
have a pond without that, that’s fantastic. – Absolutely. And the really cool thing too,
if you don’t have a skimmer like this on your existing pond, a lot of times we can
retrofit one of these onto your existing pond. – So if you had one for a while, you might wanna
upgrade and make- – Absolutely. – So that’s step one. – Yes, so this is– We always wanna start
with a skimmer and then, one of the other more beneficial
sides of a water feature, is if you look down in here,
we’ve got what we refer to as beneficial gravel. Not all ponds have
gravel on the bottom. – [Tammy] What’s the
benefit of gravel? – So we’ve got
microbes and enzymes that will literally remove
nitrogen from the water column. They’ll seed in
all of this gravel and the nitrogen cycle,
like as this stuff grows and flourishes, on
a microscopic level, they’re literally
like eating all the nitrogen out of the pond. – Oh. – So, on a food chain, you’ve
got algae, algae feeds. Well beneficial bacteria
is just a step higher on the food chain, so it
will remove that nitrogen so it doesn’t feed algae. So therefore-
– So you’ve got clearer water. Okay, so what if you don’t
have gravel in the bottom of your pond, can you add that? – Absolutely, it’s
as simple as– It’s just decorative
gravel, it’s nothing fancy. Even though the
surface appears smooth, if you looked at it
underneath a microscope, it would look like the
surface of the moon. Let’s think about probiotics,
it’s good for our gut. So if you think about an
ecosystem, so the gravel and the beneficial
bacteria’s kind of like that microbial gut flora
that helps our immune system. So it’s kind of
the same concept. – [Tammy] So gravel
is your friend? – [Derek] It is your friend. – [Tammy] Okay, so
Derek, what is part three of our five part process? – Gotcha, so part three is
gonna be bio-filtration, your bio-falls. So up here, where our
falls the head waters, if you will. As that water comes up, through
the bottom of that filter, we’ve got filter pads in there. And that water’s– The water column is literally
scrubbed and cleaned, so the way we size
these filters, like this pond is a little
less than 2500 gallons, that filter is what
we call a 2500. So it can filter up to
2500 gallons of water. So we size those. So you’ve got that
bio-filter up there. The water comes up, gets
scrubbed by those filter pads, it gets dumped and
aerated, comes back down, and goes into the
mechanical skimmer. – Okay, so do you have to
change those filter pads? – Once a year, on
spring cleaning we come and we remove those, you
can remove them yourself. You wanna remove them. But you don’t wanna wash
it with chlorinated water. You will take it
and maybe bank– Because you get this black gold, this bio-film that is amaze, like teaming with life. So it’s very important that
you don’t wash that off with chlorinated water but
you can get some heavy debris. If you just bang it
on a hard surface, or even sometimes like us,
we’ll take a clean out pump and we’ll rinse it
really, really rough with that clean out pump. Because we want
that to be in there. We’re just kind of
removing the little bit of too much sludge build up. – I get it. – We put those
right back in there and you’re good
for another season. If they completely come
apart, and fall apart, that’s when you
wanna replace them, because it really is black gold. – So you don’t necessarily
have to replace your filters every year, you just- – You just wanna clean it. – Clean it. Okay, got it. Okay, now part four. – Part four is gonna be plants. – Oh yeah. That makes it pretty. – It does. So it’s truly a water
garden when you have plants. Now plants literally need
nutrients, fertilizer, in our gardens and
everything else. If we fertilize them
they’re gonna be better off. So when you have plants
in the water column, they’re removing nitrogen
out of the water. I mean look at
these, these guys, these pickerel are blooming,
they’re super happy. It’s because our
fifth part, fish. – Fish. – So the fish, the fish
waste, feeds our plants and then we have a
complete ecosystem with our mechanical skimmer,
our beneficial gravel, our bio-filtration, our
plants and our fish. – How do you know how many
plants to put in a pond? – It’s a rule of thumb. So visually, I mean, you can
give, you can really dive down and do schematics and
figure everything out, but I like to use a third rule. With pond plants, the
third rule is install about a third of plants based on the surface area of
your water, visually. Because over a season or two, it could cover up to three
quarters of your pond, which is too much. Now if you’re an avid water
gardener, that’s okay, but if you wanna enjoy your
fish and see that open water, you wanna be careful with that. So during spring clean outs,
when you clean your bio-falls and do your skimmer, that’s
a great time to propagate, to thin out those plants,
give them to friends, so it’s a time to thin
the pond a little bit. – And that doesn’t hurt them, they’ll come bounce right back. – Absolutely. – And is it pretty much
the same rule with fish? How many fish do
you know how to- – So that’s, it’s similar. So basically you wanna
do the surface area, so you wanna be like
length times width. So this is basically, I
think we’re a 14 by 17, something like that. So we’re a couple of
hundred square feet, of surface area water. So the rule is, an inch
of fish per square foot. 200 inches of any size fish
you want, equaling 200 inches. – [Tammy] If you want
small fish, you could do- – [Derek] Absolutely.
– [Tammy] Got it. – [Derek] Absolutely. – [Tammy] It’s up to you. – [Derek] Yup and you
want, they’ll mature too so let’s do the reference
of three inches. So that’s kind of your max load. So if you have three inches
of fish, over 200 square foot, you’re getting a really,
really heavy fish load. So what happens a
lot of times, is, when we get into
water quality issues, and clarity issues, is
people overfeed their fish. They’re our friends,
they’re our family. – I know, we love them. – And they come
up and they say hi and you just wanna give
them food but what happens is if we overfeed them, then
they produce more fish waste, therefore the plants and
the ecosystem, everything, even though we put all this
together, can’t keep up. – So it’s out of balance. – Yeah, so you have to– So, on a pond, you always
have a little bit of biofilm that grows on the bottom. A little bit of
green fuzz is fine. – It’s pretty actually. – It is, it is, so let the fish eat that. So, the way I see it,
is ice-cream and salad. If I have ice-cream and
salad in front of me, I’m eating ice-cream. So that’s kind of
like fish food. – [Tammy] Right. – So if you’re constantly
giving them fish food, they’re not gonna
eat their salad, that nice little green
fuzz on the bottom, they’ll keep that in check. That’s what’s so cool about
having the beneficial gravels we talk about, the round rocks, because a koi’s
mouth has a round and it actually comes out
like a little suction cup. They can grab those
rocks and clean them. So that’s why, when you look
at the bottom of this pond and why it’s so clean, is
we don’t overfeed them, we encourage them
to eat their salad. But we treat them with some
ice-cream from time to time. So there’s one more step,
the sixth step, lighting. – Oh. Okay, I have lighting
in my water feature but what’s the rule for that? – So it’s your daytime pond
and your nighttime pond. And we always look better
in the right lighting. – Yes, candle light. – Yes. So what, so LED lighting,
that’s where we’re at today. That’s technology
has gotten us there. But you don’t wanna
over light your pond, you just wanna create
just nice like silhouette. It’s like over on this
side we have a pond that’s up-lighting
the waterfalls there. Under here, we have a
nice little fish cave and that’s up-lit at night. And then over on that side, we’ve got the little
destination stone. And there’s actually
a light under there that’s glowing. Now you don’t see these,
we wanna make sure they’re hidden very discreetly. But there’s actually
eight lights in this pond and we don’t over-light,
we create those beautiful little silhouettes so
that you can come out in the evening, maybe
have a glass of wine, glass of tea and just
relax, let the day go. And it’s otherworldly. It’s a whole nother
scene at night. – Does it influence the fish? – Not so much. – Okay, so they don’t care. – No, not at all. – Okay, all right, terrific. So there’s really, to really
enjoy your pond at night, you wanna do more than just
hear it, you wanna see it and hear it. – [Derek] It’s the sights and
sounds of the water feature that literally calm
us down and relax us. – [Tammy] Right, the
perfect way to end a day. Derek, you’ve helped us a lot. Thank you so much. – [Derek] Absolutely,
thank you so much. – [Narrator] For inspiring
garden tours, growing tips and garden projects,
visit our website at volunteergardener.org,
or on YouTube at the VolunteerGardener
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3 thoughts on “5 Parts of an Ecosystem Pond | Volunteer Gardener”

  1. Excellent video i love itπŸ’™πŸ˜πŸ‘ŒπŸ’šπŸ˜πŸ’šπŸ˜πŸ’™πŸ‘Œ

  2. One thing I always advised people installing new ponds is to put minnows or bait goldfish first instead of high dollar Koi.Β Β  Two reasons, if anything has contaminated the pond you don't lose the expensive fish.Β Β  The other thing it better to find out if you have created a wildlife feeding station.

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