Issue 1                                                                                                                                   [[date med]]     

Common Mistakes by Pond Owners - Part One

Welcome to our first installment of our water gardening newsletter!

In our this issue, we are going to focus on some the more common mistakes made by new and experienced pond owners alike, and then highlight several solutions.

Imagine this scenario - A person decides that that really want to have a backyard pond, maybe because of a friends' pond they have seen, a garden show that they have attended recently, or for whatever reason - they suddenly have to have a pond.

So, they go out one weekend and dig a hole, throw in a liner, put a couple of rocks around the edges and then go out the nearest water garden center and buy the works.   Plants, fish, a pump for the waterfall, a neat little underwater light so they can see their new fishies at night, and a great big box of fish food.

The pond looks great!  The fish are happy and eating, the plants are vibrant, and the sound of the waterfall is just as relaxing as they had hoped the new pond would be.  A new backyard paradise!

Then it happens.  The water turns a nice deep shade of green, thick stringy algae starts growing from the sides, the pond starts to emit a foul and mysterious odor, and the fish just don't seem as happy and active as they once did.  Sound familiar?

Chances are, most of us have had to deal with some or all of these problems at some point in our pond-keeping career.

One of the biggest mistakes we see and hear about almost every day is related to filtration and water quality.  It always amazes us that some people will invest thousands of dollars in the design, construction, and stocking of a new pond only then to cut back on the one element that will allow the pond owner to enjoy it - Filtration.  Without proper filtration, ponds will ultimately gravitate towards swamp-like conditions.  

There are many factors that can contribute to or delay this process, but the bottom line is that a clear, healthy, and balanced pond requires several things.  First of all, there needs to be some type of mechanical filtration which removes the physical debris from the water.  

This includes fish waste, run-off into the pond, dirt from potted plants, and other decaying organic matter.  If left in the pond, these elements will start to decay and product toxic compounds in the water which is dangerous to fish and any other animals in the pond.   

Thick layers of mud and sludge can  lead to anaerobic conditions which is also dangerous.   The best way to prevent this is to have an appropriately sized filter to remove these elements from the water before they become a problem.

There is another type of filtration which is often overlooked - Biological Filtration.  In any pond environment where there are organic elements being added to the water, there will also be toxic compounds being created.  This can be either from leaves decaying in the pond, to the most common source of organic pollution - fish waste.

If left unchecked, or if there are not enough beneficial bacteria in the pond to immediately break down these compounds, toxic levels of Ammonia and Nitrate can start to develop.  Some beneficial bacteria will colonize on the rocks and liner in the pond, but because most people overfeed and keep too many fish - this is usually not enough.

Biological filters are designed to provide optimal conditions and surface area for these benefcial bacteria to flourish and to immediately break down these toxic compounds into non-toxic and harmless chemicals like Nitrite, which can then be absorbed by the aquatic plants in the pond.

In closing, there are several ways to filter a pond and many different views as to which is the best way.   Our personal opinion, based on 10 years of pond service and maintenance, is that biological bead filters are the best way to keep your pond clear, healthy and trouble-free.

In our next installment, we will look at another important element of water quality that pond owners generally have trouble with - algae control.

Until then - Happy Pondkeeping!

Brett Fogle, Owner
MacArthur Water Gardens

P.S.  As always, feel free to contact one of our pond professionals for a free pond consultation.   We can be reached at 1-678-404-8581 or email us at:

P.S.  For more information about Biological Bead Filters for ponds, please click here: