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Layperson’s Guide to Building an Eco-Friendly Garden Pond

How to build an eco-friendly pond - water lilies
Written by Rachel Oliver

If you have enough space in your garden, then a pond can be a wonderful addition to the space. It’s not enough to simply dig a hole and fill it with water and a few water lilies. This will only lead to stagnant water and you will soon have a nightmare on your hands.

In order to create a garden pond that is as ecologically—friendly as possible, you must keep a few points in mind. Having an eco-friendly pond will be easy to maintain and if you plan to keep fish in your pond, then it will make raising them easy as well.

Here are a few tips to follow when you want to create an eco-friendly pond in the garden.

What affects the garden pond's ecosystem?

Before you can create a great pond, you must take some time to understand what goes into creating a well-balanced pond, an environment where fish and other elements come in contact. The eco-system for your pond is made up of several factors:

  • Living organisms: Plants, insects and any predators nearby, such as the pet cat roaming on the edges.
  • Non-living factors: Soil, debris, chemicals in the water and the water quality.
  • Depth: A shallow pond will not provide enough oxygen for fish. A deep pond is better to raise fish in, doesn’t become too hot in summer and doesn’t freeze over in the winter either. Imagine a cold night in winter where you find yourself dreaming about beautiful bed linen, only to wake up shivering because you realize you don’t even have a blanket to cover yourself with. That’s exactly what your fish and other living organisms will experience if the pond is too shallow during the harsh winter months. Make sure your pond is deep enough to support life before filling it with anything.

Building an Eco-Friendly Pond - Flower Lilies

How to incorporate living organisms

Adding plants to your pond is one of the best ways of creating an ecologically balanced pond. You must aim to find a way to let the fish live in harmony with plants, insects and other elements of the pond.

Plants which produce food are great if you have fish in your pond. These plants will provide shelter and oxygen for all living creatures in your pond. Having aquatic plants which produce food are a great way to reduce algae growth in your pond as well.

Two types of aquatic plants are Java Moss and Hygrophila, both of which thrive in ponds and help maintain balance in their environment as well. They are soft so fish can eat from them easily.

To create balance in your garden pond, you must have certain natural filtering plants as well. Hyacinth and Water Lettuce are effective natural biological filters. However, they also use up a lot of nutrients so try not to let them take over your entire pond because they are fast growing too.

Building an Eco-Friendly Pond - water lettuce

Which fish is right?

One of the biggest decisions you will make when creating a pond is choosing which type of fish to have in the pond. Different fish have different behavior and uses. Certain fish eat plants, some multiply rapidly and others dig the bottom of the pond.

One type of fish you can have is surface fish, which feed at the top of the pond and help to keep the top clean. Keep in mind that these fish need protection from other pets, if you have them. A pond in your garden is, after all, a place you will go to watch live organisms, you can opt for some eye-catching fish in bright colors.

Don’t place too many rapidly multiplying fish in the pond because you will have an overpopulated space on your hands. Also, keep in mind that having too many large fish will put strain on the filter and the aquatic plants who will be unable to cope with the large amount of waste being generated.

How to Create an Eco-Friendly Pond

Some of the most commonly bought pond fish are largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, goldfish and fathead minnow.

Clean your pond

If you have physical debris around the pond, make sure you remove it before it falls into. If a branch or leaves from a nearby tree have fallen in, then remove it before it begins to decompose in and adds sediment to the bottom of the pond.

Installing a biofilter in your pond is also a necessary step towards keeping it clean. These square boxes come in a size that suits your pond and contain sections designed to trap dirt of all shapes and sizes. The main purpose of a biofilter is to purify the pond’s water and to remove any solid items that may have mistakenly ended up in the pond. These items, if left unattended, will make the water cloudy. You can either buy a ready-made pond filter or you can create your own at home.

An added benefit of having a water filter is that the natural product collected by the filtering system makes a great fertilizer for the rest of your garden because it is filled with excess fish food, decaying leaves and fish droppings.

Pond circulation and aeration

Circulation is a necessary part of any healthy pond and involves the constant mixing of surface waters which are high in oxygen, with low-oxygen water found at the bottom of the pond. This balances out the total amount of oxygen present in the pond at all times. With sufficient oxygen levels, the organic waste in the pond can go through the degradation process faster than it would otherwise. This helps to avoid the build-up of toxic reduced compounds in the bottom of the pond.

To keep the water constantly moving and oxygenated, opt for an aeration system. When kept at the bottom of the pond, a bottom-up aeration system will increase the oxygen levels in your pond while keeping things moving. When the oxygen bubbles move up the water column, they become bigger and so, their movement helps circulate the water.

Solar Pump Fish Pond Pond Aeration

Solarrific G3035 Solar Air Pump for Fish Pond

Effective aeration will ensure that no organic matter, including phosphates, enters the garden pond. Aeration helps prevent stagnation and helps fight pond algae.

Once you have a well-balanced ecologically-friendly pond, it will require minimal maintenance. The better functioning your pond is, the more economical it will be in the long term and more importantly, the more habitable it will be for natural wildlife!

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About the author

Rachel Oliver

Rachel Oliver is a freelancer who has a way with words. She likes to write about anything and everything under the sun, but themes like gardening, home improvement, fashion, business and technology interests her more. You can get in touch with her on Google+, and Twitter.

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