Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Where to find terracotta Grecian Urns?

In the past month two people have asked where I got the grecian urn that I use at the top of my ponds waterfall.

The urn was nothing special, we just hunted around for something suitable in our local garden centre. It is approx 20 inches tall, 15 inches largest diameter, and the neck in the top is about 6 inches diameter, where the water comes out. I suggest going to a fairly large garden centre that will have a good selection of large pots of various types.

We selected a brown clay (terracotta) grecian urn, its sides are about half to three quarters an inch thick, so as to be fairly robust, and withstand the ravages of winter freezing because it will be wet most of the time.

Regarding the issue of "freezing", I only suggest that as something to consider. In fact my urn has survived 4 years of English winters now. Running water doesn't freeze as easily as still water, and our British winters are generally mild compared to other countries.

Of course the decision of which kind of pot to use also comes down to how much the pot is going to cost. You might take the view that it's worth trying and if it comes to an early demise then you just buy another! But if the pot is horrendously expensive then that may not be such a good idea.

The following page which may be of interest to you....

Perhaps you won't need the sump and pump, but they may be able to point you to the suppliers of the actual urns which appear to be specifically designed for water feature use.

An alternative plastic (hmmm?) urn can be found here...

The following web site also looks like it could be useful too. They say they offer the best selection of pots in the UK, including what look like some very nice grecian style urns, terazzo, cretan and spanish terracotta. Could be worth a look. Checkout the "Old urns" section, they are based in Horsham, West Sussex, and will pack and ship anywhere you like.

You may be able to ask them about how freeze resistant they are, and also whether they already have holes drilled in the bottom or not. Preferably without so you can drill exactly where you want, otherwise you may have to plug any existing hole.

The tricky part I found was making holes in the bottom for the pipe from the filter. I used 1 inch flexitube piping into it, so it requires a hole of at least that diameter to be drilled. I actually used one of those circular "saw" type hole drills to carefully drill through the clay pot, but this did ruin that particular drill blade (it was an old one so it didn't matter too much). Obviously make sure you mark the pipe inlet hole in the right place, before you start drilling, as a mistake could be costly!

Once it was placed how we wanted it, and water was coming out of it nicely, I added some of the same nylon green scrubbies that I used as the filter media in my main filter, and put them in the "bottom" of the urn (now that it is on its side), so as to allow the urn to also provide a home for bacteria/algae, which aids the bio-filtration process.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The problem with sexy Frogs in the Pond !

I received another amusing tale from a reader which went like this:-
Although my wife and I are keen on native flora and fauna we have a problem with frogs invading the fish pond.

Recently it has been cleaned out with netting secured at the base and also over the top of the pond. Having recently restocked the pond she is extremely peeved that the little blighters are finding a way in. Whether or not they are to blame at the moment for the few dead fish she has found is open to doubt. We do know that during the mating season the frog will jump almost anything that moves and fish suffer as a consequence!

Any ideas about how to keep them out and where can we ship them with out killing them off?
My answer:

We always have frogs at our pond, but not necessarily in it.

You may have seen from my website that the layout is such that we have a top pool and water urn which feeds a waterfall, stream and bog area. The frogs frequent these nice damp places where plants provide cool and shade without them having to use the pond. Therefore the upper areas of the pond provide the main habitat for the frogs.

I can't say that we've ever had a problem with oversexed frogs "jumping" the fish though! We get frogspawn in the pond each year, but not much survives because the fish eat it. Obviously enough do actually make it though because we always have plenty eager to jump out at my wife when she's gardening!

Of course frogs help to keep other garden pests like slugs and insects down, so rather than fighting nature, work with it by giving your frogs their own damp/wet area to live in.

Is it OK to turn off my fish pond pump at night?

I recently got the following question from a visitor to my web site:-

> Jim, great website, the bio filter has truly helped my pond at home,
> turning green water to clear water in under a week, thanks. Couple of
> questions for you if you don't mind!
> Is it ok to turn off the pond pump during the night and how often do you
> run your pump at home?
> Again, thanks for the great idea, I passed it onto a mate of mine, who
> built his own, he in turn passed the idea onto a friend of his and all
> have been converted away from chemicals. Won't be too long before they
> are everywhere!!!!

This year I have been particularly pleased with my bio-filter setup (detailed in my main web site) as the water in my own fish pond has remained gin clear since spring, even during the summer months.

I think this is probably a question a few people often wonder about, so thought I would post it on my blog. I now have a Titan 8000 which I let run continuously 24/7/365. If I shut it down then my stream would dry up.

Also at night time the photosynthesis process of the plants and algae in your pond reverses (just as for normal land plants). During the daytime plants absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, but at night they absorb oxygen and exude carbon dioxide. So at night your plants and algae are using the oxygen - as well as your fish!

For people who have a major algae bloom in their ponds at night time this can reduce the amount of available oxygen to dangerously low levels, suffocating the fish, and they end up gasping for air at the surface of the pond.

So if anything, its more important to keep a pump running at night. This could be the pump feeding your waterfall, fountain, or even a dedicated in-pond venturi. If you have clean, healthy, clear water, and not too many fish in the pond then its not so much of a problem.

The key is to know and watch your fish at night. My wife and I go into the garden each night (she needs her bedtime fag), and to look at the fish (I have several lights in the pond), and maybe give them a bedtime snack! Night time we find is often the best time to watch them because you can see right to the bottom of the pond, and any baby fish which are normally hidden during daytime.

I have never had any problems with fish suffocating by keeping my main pump running all the time. It keeps the constant filtering and oxygenation of the water going.

I have an in-pond venturi too, which is timer controlled to run from 10am til 3pm. As well as providing air, the fish love to swim against the current it produces, and the motion of the water helps move sediment around in the pond and so get sucked up by the main pump to the

There you go!