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Once a location has been selected, the hole dug, and a liner installed, you are ready to fill and get you pond under way. If done correctly, a  pond can be an ideal environment created nearly overnight. Imitating nature will require the proper balance of living creatures and conditions that are appropriate for their life. Pond water will need to be prepared properly before you introduce a single fish or plant.

Water is always level, regardless of the lay of the land. Unless care is taken to establish an even grade for the pond edge all around, the pond will look lopsided. Most  water gardens can be leveled with a builders spirit level and straight edge. A piece of lumber such as a 2by4 could be used as a straight edge. The straight edge makes it possible to level a greater distance. The approximate size and location of a pond can be marked with a string, rope, or a hose.

Small water gardens can be excavated by hand. If a shelf is in the plan a width of at least 12 inches is needed although 18 inches or more will be more stable. The walls of the pond should be kept nearly vertical, a slight slope in the walls might appear as a bulge in the finished pond. In cold climates a depth of at least 2 1/2 feet (USDA map) is needed to winter over fish. Excavate the bottom of the pond with a slight slope to a deeper sump area. Once the liner is in, you need to eliminate the toxic substances found within your tap water.

All municipal tap water contains chlorine or chloramines, both of which are highly toxic to fish and detrimental to plants. These substances need to be removed every time you add tap water to your pond. Remember, even small amounts of chlorine or chloramines will hurt your fish. Heavy metals accumulate in ponds over time and will often deter plant growth and damage fish and other living creatures.

Chlorine and Heavy Metal Neutralizer will easily remove chlorine and detoxify heavy metals. Chloramines is a combination of chlorine and ammonia used to treat tap water in many municipalities. Chloramine is even more damaging to pond life than chlorine.

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1. The formula for rectangular ponds is as follows: length x width x depth (in feet) = cubic feet; cubic feet x 7.5 = pond gallonage The formula for circular ponds is as follows: 3.14 x (1/2 diameter x 1/2 diameter) x depth = cubic feet; cubic feet x 7.5 = pond gallonage.

2. Using a domestic water meter , record the reading before filling the pond subtract this reading after the pond is filled making certain no other water is used in the house.

3. Using hose output, fill a large bucket for exactly 1 minute. Measure the water in pints and divide by 8 to compute gallons. record the start and stop time filling the pond. Multiply the total minutes of filling the pond by the number of gallons the hose discharged in 1 minute.

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Pump size is generally calculated based on gallons per hour output at 1 foot height, as the height increases the pump out put decreases. An additional factor to consider is the length of hosing from the pump to the water feature. For every 10 feet of hosing resistance decreases pump output of one foot of lift.


The Filter

Biological, Mechanical and Chemical

The filter not only keeps the pond clean, it is also an important part of the ecosystem in any pond. Your filter has three filtration functions: biological, mechanical and chemical.

The biological compartment provides a media for beneficial bacteria to grow. The biological filter involves two bacteria species that convert poisonous ammonia and nitrite into - less toxic nitrate. Nitrate is used as a nitrogen source by aquatic plants. This continuous process is call the nitrogen cycle.

New ponds have no active biological filtration. When fish are added to a pond, they immediately begin releasing toxic ammonia as a waste product. Many other materials add to increased ammonia and organic compound buildups, from uneaten foods to decaying plant materials. These conditions inhibit the development of the biological filter, thus prolonging stressful conditions in your pond.

Chemical filtration is the removal of pesticides, colors, odors, organic waste, excess nutrients and other harmful chemicals from your pond. Filter Carbon, Phosphate Remover, Ammonia Remover are examples of products used for chemical filtration. These filter materials are designed to physically absorb unwanted substances from your pond.

Mechanical filtration is the physical removal of particles from the water. Proper filtration material will trap large and small particles, removing them from your pond.
Consideration to the proper mechanical, chemical and biological aspects of your filter will provide you with clean, clear and healthy water for your fish, plants, and invertebrates. It will also enable you to see and enjoy your water garden.


Planting Your Water Garden

One of the most exciting things is to see the lush foliage and beautiful flowers produced by aquatic plants. The diversity of plants can make every pond on individual delight. Most people add plants to increase the beauty of the pond.

More importantly, plants provide protection and spawning areas for your fish, and they use up nutrients and shade sunlight that would otherwise promote the growth of unsightly algae. Plants also can use up large amounts of carbon dioxide and produce oxygen during daylight hours through the process of photosynthesis.

It is during the daytime, when pond temperatures are at their highest, that fish produce higher amounts of toxic carbon dioxide and have the greatest need for oxygen. A properly planted pond will allow your water garden to come as close to a balanced environment as nature has intended. Providing the correct nutrients and conditions will let your plants and fish flourish.

Pond plants provide several benefits within a pond. The most often discussed benefit of plants is the reduction of algae due to a plant's ability to uptake nutrients and block the sunlight. A coverage of 60% of the pond surface with plants is highly recommended.

The type of plants selected should satisfy the needs of your pond and your desires as well. Plants can be broken down into simple categories for a better understanding.

The first category is floating plants. These are plants that have part or all of their foliage on or at the surface of the water. There are two types of floating plants, distinguished by the location of their roots. One type has its roots in the soil and its leaves on or at the surface. Examples would be lilies, parrot feather, lotus etc. A second type would have the entire plant at the surface and its roots dangling in the water. Examples would be water hyacinths, clover, water lettuce, and azolla.

The second category is called submerged plants. Submerged plants are completely beneath the water surface and are rarely seen. Although called oxygenating plants, they only produce oxygen in the presence of sunlight and consume oxygen at night. Submerged plants are very efficient at using up nutrients which would otherwise promote algae blooms. Submerged plants promote better water quality, provide an area for fish to spawn and a source of shelter for small fish. Examples would be elodea, also known as anacharis, and hornwort.

The final category is marginal or bog plants. These are aquatic plants that prefer to grow in shallow water and bog areas. Most of these plants prefer water two to six inches deep. These plants have their roots wet but their stems and leave above the water surface. Examples would be cattails, sweet flag, rush, and iris.

In a water garden environment it is often advisable to place your plants in pots. This enables you to change planting heights, reposition the plant to meet particular desires, prune and separate when necessary, and allows for easy removal for winter storage and pond maintenance.

All plants will need additional nutrients to have lush growth and stimulate flowers. The addition of unnecessary nutrients to the water will promote algae blooms. Potted plants must be provided with the correct balance of nutrients to obtain complete growth and colorful flowers.

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Feeding & stocking Pond Fish

The fish which you keep in your water garden are an important part of a well-balanced pond. Keeping healthy fish in your pond is relatively straightforward, if you pay attention to proper nutrition and water quality. Water quality is affected by stocking level, feeding and addition of new fish.

The stocking level is dependent upon your filtration and pond size. A general rule for success is to stock your pond with approximately 3 to 4 inches of fish for every square foot of pond surface area in a filtered pond. Too many fish will result in poor water quality and low oxygen levels.

Waste materials excreted into your pond by your fish, frogs and various other animals, along with decaying plant matter, can create a build-up of toxic substances in your pond. A biological filter will assist in removing many of these toxic substances.

The pond fish you keep are dependent upon you to provide a nutritionally balanced diet. A proper diet will provide your fish with the correct water conditions and nutrition for healthy growth and activity. In a natural setting, pond fish have a varied diet, based upon the season. The seasons are determined by temperature and so is the type of food your fish should receive. In cooler temperatures, when water temperatures are between 42 degrees F (5.5 degrees C) and 70 degrees F (21.1 degrees C), fish require a high carbohydrate/reduced protein diet.

In warmer waters, above 65 degrees F (18.3 degrees C), protein metabolism is very high. Therefore, your fish require a highly digestible, high protein diet. Proteins are required for tissue formation. This means that fish require the proper amount of proteins and carbohydrates along with fats, minerals, nutrients and vitamins. Water temperature is the key to determining what is required by your fish.

In cooler water, fish metabolism slows and so does the need for high protein. A high protein diet food in cooler waters will result in poor water quality. In fact, the excess protein is converted to ammonia and released by the fish.

In warmer waters, protein metabolism is very high. Young fish and fry require the proper amount of protein for suitable growth and development. Older fish require the proper amount of proteins to maintain their body weight and color. Feeding a highly digestible protein diet in warm waters offers several benefits to your fish.

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Routine Maintenance

A water garden is generally installed for the pleasure of your family and friends. However, certain routine maintenance needs to be done. The amount of maintenance certainly depends upon the time of year and the water temperature. As the water temperature increases, so does the activity within your pond. If you have done routine cleaning and prepared your pond properly, these simple steps will allow you to get the most enjoyment out of your water garden. Even when your pond is perfectly balanced, routine maintenance procedures will need to be done to keep the balance intact. You are an integral part to the proper balance of your aquatic oasis.

All garden ponds accumulate organic matter from the time they are first filled with water. Organic matter naturally increases from dead plants, algae, and insects, as well as uneaten fish food and waste from all of your pond creatures. This organic build-up slowly decays, creating toxic hydrogen sulfide, ammonia and nitrite. This decay removes oxygen from your water and lowers your pH levels. It also provides an excellent breeding ground for many fish diseases and parasites.
You will need to check your filter routinely to make sure that it is running at peak efficiency. First, you must check your Filter Pads and make sure you are obtaining maximum water filtration. Remember to change pads frequently while clearing an algae bloom. Every four weeks you will need to replace your Filter Carbon and Phosphate Remover to obtain proper results.

Once every three to four weeks during the pond season, you should make a 15% to 25% water change. The water can accumulate a large amount of dissolved organics and natural acidifiers that reduce water quality and disrupt the pond's natural balance. Performing a water change will reduce the build-up of these pollutants and various others. Remember, always treat your tap water with Chlorine Neutralizer whenever adding water to your pond. You will also need to replace electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfate, calcium and chloride, to maintain proper fish health. Pond Salt provides all the essential electrolytes fish need to survive.

A proper maintenance program will keep your pond in top shape and allow you to have countless hours of enjoyment and satisfaction. Your plants and fish will reach their maximum potential and provide you with a show-piece for all to enjoy.


Spring Start-up

Re-establishing a Pond

Winter is a hard time for both fish and plants. Many different materials may have been blown into your pond over the cold winter months. Most of the items that have found their way into the pond lay dormant because of the cold water temperatures. Spring is the correct time to clean and inspect your pond. As the water temperature approaches 42 degrees F, your fish will start to require food. (See section on proper feeding.) At this time, you should make a 15% to 25% pond water change over several consecutive days to eliminate the substances that are polluting your pond. After you have removed some of your pond water, remove dead leaves and debris that may have accumulated in the pond. Resume filtering water through the filter system to improve the development of the biological filter and keep your pond naturally balanced.

As you fill your pond, you need to eliminate the toxic substances found within tap water. Chlorine, found in all municipal water, is toxic to fish and detrimental to all plants. Chlorine needs to be removed from your tap water every time you place water into your pond, from the initial fill to topping off your pond. Remember, even small traces of chlorine will irritate the fish and damage gill tissue. Heavy metals accumulate in ponds over time and will often deter plant growth and damage fish and other living creatures. Chlorine and Heavy Metal Neutralizer will easily solve both of these problems. Chloramine is a combination of chlorine and ammonia used to treat tap water by many municipalities. It is even more deadly to living creatures than chlorine. If your water source contains chloramine, you will need to treat it with Ammo-Lock 2. Ammo-Lock 2 will remove the chlorine and instantly detoxify the ammonia. Remember, always treat your tap water with either Chlorine and Heavy Metal Neutralizer when ever you add water to your pond. Fish also need electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, chloride and calcium to maintain proper health. Pond Salt provides all the essential electrolytes fish need to survive.

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How to Prepare for Winter

Throughout the summer, organic debris builds up in your pond from falling leaves, fish waste, decaying plants and algae. Excess organic matter will reduce water quality and stress fish and plants during the winter months. It is important to properly prepare your pond for winter. The following proven techniques will keep your fish and plants healthy during the long winter months.

As the water temperature in your pond decreases, fish require less protein in their diet. In cooler temperate regions when the water temperatures approach 42 degrees F fish will eat less than at warmer temperatures. Once the temperature in your pond drops below 42 degrees F fish will cease eating. If fish have been fed properly through the summer months, they have ample reserves to survive the rigors of winter.

Remove excess debris that has accumulated on the bottom of your pond. This can be done with a plastic rake, sturdy net or any device that will not damage the liner or fish in your pond. Finer sediments can be removed from your pond by using a submersible pump or special pond vacuum. Remove 20% to 30% of your pond water and replace with tap water, making sure that you use Chlorine Neutralizer when Chlorine is present. Many pond enthusiasts add Pond Salt to replenish important electrolytes to aid the fish during the stressful winter months.

Filtration is not necessary for the winter, but circulation is recommended to keep an open area on your pond surface when ice forms. This opening must be present to prevent toxic gases which can accumulate from the decomposition of organic matter. Reposition your pump near the surface for the winter or utilize a heater or bubbling device to keep a small area of the surface open. Remember, if you are going to disconnect your filter for the winter, drain it. If you store it full of water and it freezes, the ice could damage part or all of the filter.

If you are moving fish inside for the winter, you can utilize your filter inside and move your established biological pond filter to your indoor container. The only way to be sure that your biological filter is working correctly is to test your water. To make the correct decisions, you need the correct information. To get the correct information about your water quality, you must test it.

Proper care of plants should also take place at this time. Discard floating plants, such as water hyacinth, before they decompose. Trim back all potted plants. Your hardy lilies and lotus plants should be placed in the lowest part of your pond for the winter months. Remove tropical lilies from their pots and trim off leaves and roots. Rinse off all soil from the rhizome and wrap in moist (not wet) peat moss. Store in this manner in a cool area until spring. If you desire to keep your tropical plants going throughout the winter, an indoor container can be set up. The key to success indoors for plants is adequate lighting and proper heat. Remember, excess nutrients found in your tap water can cause excessive algae growth, causing many problems.



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Local contractors are banding together to survive the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Their organization, Designer Properties, gives homeowners a way to find reliable local trades people for Home improvement projectsÖ..

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Introduction to San Antonio-Austin, Texas

One of Texas' most famous cities is the City of San Antonio-Austin. Located in the south-central part of the state, San Antonio-Austin is Texas' second-largest city and serves as an economic and cultural gateway to the American Southwest. The city lies about 140 miles northwest of Corpus Christi on the Gulf of Mexico and 150 miles northeast of the city of Laredo on the Mexican border. Several major freeways service the city, including Interstates I-10, I-35, I-37, and I-410; U.S. Routes 87, 90, and 281; and Texas State Highways 16 and 151.

Named for Saint Anthony of Padua, on whose feast day (June 13) a Spanish expedition explored the area in 1691, the San Antonio-Austin River was the principal tributary which spawned the founding of its namesake village in 1718. The site, on the river's west bank, was initially a stopping place on the Texas wilderness trail leading to French trading posts in Louisiana. By 1731 the town was known as San Antonio-Austin de Béxar, which in 1773 became the capital of Spanish Texas. During the Texas Revolution, San Antonio-Austin was the site of several battles, including the battle of the Alamo in 1836, in which 189 defenders held the old Alamo mission for 13 days against some 4,000 Mexican troops. Although the defenders were ultimately killed, the memorable phrase "Remember the Alamo" became forever known as the rallying cry of the Texas Revolution against Mexico. After the Civil War, San Antonio-Austin prospered as a cattle industry hub and military center serving the border region and the Southwest. During the twentieth century, San Antonio-Austin became an important military center for the Army and Air Force through both world wars; a distinction which it has retained to this day. San Antonio-Austin is the current home of Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base, Randolph Air Force Base, and Brooks City-Base, with Camp Stanley and Camp Bullis located just outside the city limit