Saturday, February 03, 2007

Update on Creating Backwash With Pump Timer

Previously, in my Creating backwash with pond pump on timer article, I explained how the use of a timer on an "in-pond" pump could help to keep the pump pre-filter cage free from clogging. This was from a suggestion by a fellow ponder.

Since that post in November I have had my pump running on a cheap pin-style timer, to switch off for 15 mins in every hour.

The method works quite well, with the pump filter cage remaining fairly free from matter, although this has been during winter when there is less plant growth, and muck to filter. I will give another update in a few months time when the pond is really active again.

One thing I have noticed from using this idea is that sometimes the water is slightly murky, or a slight film of silt appears on the surface of the water near where my stream and bog area enters the pond. This is due to the bog area draining of water during the 15 minute "off time", when the water stops flowing. Although the bog-area always retains water, the level goes down far enough for some of the fine silt/sediment to be uncovered and get washed into the pond. This results in the murkiness or film on the pond surface.

It is not a major problem though, and only appears to be worse if we have rain as well, as this tends to dislodge the uncovered sediment, and wash it into the pond.

I have not yet made up my mind as to whether I dislike the "drained" appearance of the stream and bog on such a regular interval, and I may dislike this more in the summer. For people without streams this aesthetic may not be a problem. Of course another way of dealing with this would be to reduce the frequency of the pump "off-time" (and hence how often you would see it empty). For example; off for 15 minutes once in every 3 hours, although the benefit of savings on electricity would not be as great then. I will see how it goes this year.

Another minor point is that whenever the pump turns back on it makes quite a loud rude gurgle, as the pipeline re-fills with water and evacuates the air from it. I shall see if anyone makes comments on this when we have garden parties or barbecues!

Watch this space.

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Spring fish pond maintenance

Hi all,

Well this first weekend in February (2007) has turned out to be a nice fine, sunny weekend, and so I thought it was an ideal opportunity to get out in the garden and do an initial cleanup on the pond now that the weather and daylight hours are on the up again.

It's still a little bit unpredictable here in the UK. Warm one day, then cold/rainy the next (as usual!!), still getting some frosty days, and a week or two back we had some snow too, so its hard to know exactly when to get things going in the pond again. It may still take a turn for the worse.

Anyway, it seemed like a sunny day was the best time to make a start. So this is what I did today:-

  • Normal routine of cleaning the bio-filter (clean pre-filter and foam pads). Although I am not going to do a major dismantle and clean for another couple of weeks yet. During the winter I don't have to do that much cleaning of the bio-filter because there isn't so much waterborne muck in the pond to filter out.
  • Removed any dead vegetation from the stream and pond. I had done a fairly major cleanout before winter, but it still helps to remove any recent rotting plant matter if you see it. For example we have had some water hyacinths floating on the surface of the pond which have lasted the winter quite well, but lately they have been looking very weary, so I decided to remove them. When I did this I noticed hundreds of their tiny seeds come off and float on the water. This is good, because it means they will hopefully grow a new season of baby hyacinth plants when the weather turns warmer. Also by removing them now, it will let more sunshine into the pond to get the water warmer, and get the life-cycle going again.
  • Cleaned the pond lights to remove the algae film that has built up on them. I have done this on a regular basis through the year, and particularly in the winter because my ghost koi love to warm themselves under them, and it must give them some relief from the cold in the winter. I know fish are cold-blooded, but even so they do like warmth!
  • Added a 0.1% dose of aquatic salt to the water as recommended in my previous blog post Happy Fish Ponding in 2007, and as explained in my First Aid For Fish article, this will act as a general tonic to help the fish build up their mucus coating/immune system, and also kills some types of parasites. 0.1% is fairly weak and ok as a tonic (a 0.9% or 1% solution is strong enough to consider removing plants in the growing season because it could harm them). Also if there is another freeze in the next few weeks before spring is fully upon us, the increased salinity will help to prevent the pond freezing over - a natural "anti-freeze". I add the Interpet Pond Guardian salt granules to a bucket of pond water, and use my wifes kitchen blender to rapidly mix and dissolve the salt in the water (yes, she moans at me!). Then I pour the salt solution very slowly into the pond, and at the same time I have my in-pond venturi running to circulate and mix the saline solution.
  • Added some bacteria solution to the bio-filter, and bacteria granules to the pond itself. Even though the water temperature may be a bit too cold currently, this will help to establish some good bacteria in the pond ready for when the milder weather comes.
  • Added a small dose of "barley straw" solution to help prevent blanket weed before it even starts growing. Blanket weed usually strikes the worst at the start of the year before the bacteria and natural enzyme processes within the pond get properly started. See my main web site for more information on preventing green water and blanket weed the natural way with a homemade DIY bio-filter.
My fish have been swimming around watching me, and seem to know that spring will be on its way soon. I gave them some fish food (wheatgerm pellets which are more easily digested at low temperatures), but they aren't really interested - just a little nibble. Currently its still too cold to give them any food really, because their digestive system relies on the temperature being high enough to help digest the food.

That's it for now. How's your pond doing?