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As a pond owner, expect to have much more company than that of your pet fish. There’s an entire eco-system of amphibians, reptiles and birds, many of which may visit your pond-some welcome and some not so much.

Due to the growth of urbanization and increase of pollution in natural ponds, amphibians in the recent years have needed to leave their natural habitats and search for new homes, your backyard possibly being one. Although some ponds may serve as a bed and breakfast without the necessity to do so, some ponds still require a little help in creating a community for amphibians.

Introducing adult frogs or toads into your pond is not a wise idea. Because frogs/toads become accustomed with their “home” pond, they will generally leave in search of the place in which they came from. However, if you have a large backyard oasis, you have a better luck of the frog/toad to stick around. The best way to introduce frogs/toads into your pond is to obtain tadpoles or baby frogs so that they will associate themselves with your pond as home base.

Like frogs, introducing newts into your pond while they’re still very young is an effective way to keep them around. However, newts don’t have quite the urge to leave as frogs do. Because frogs don’t have the itch to leave, it’s just as effective to introduce a small number of adult newts to the pond in the early spring. Newts have a long breeding season and will stay under water for many weeks. After the breeding season is over, the newts will have been acclimated with your pond and will feel a lesser need to leave.

Salamanders, which are mostly land walkers, are much harder to keep around. The best way to establish a salamander colony is to introduce either spawn or larvae to your pond and allow them to mature in and around your water garden after they leave the water.

Adult frogs, salamanders and newts all eventually spend a little or much of their time outside of the water. It is important to create places of shade and shelter for them out and around your pond.

During the time in which they’re under water, frog/toad tadpoles, newt larvae and young salamanders usually have adequate food available to them in a well-kept pond. However, if you suspect there will be a shortage of nourishment, flaked or pellet fish food and ideally a supply of live critters such as water fleas is a good idea in order to keep your new colony growing.

While birds can be very enjoyable in your backyard, they can also be pests to you and definitely a worry for your fish and other various visitors. Herons will generally wait on dry land or in shallow water very still until they can snatch up their victim. Kingfishers on the other hand, will find a perch where they can watch over your pond until they find a suitable time to dive and, if successful, catch lunch. Ducks are not going to prey on your fish but they will most definitely stir up sediment and use your pond as their personal bathroom, and often.

There are no fool-proof ways of protecting your fish from ever being in danger of birds but there are some things you can do. Standing bird decoys in the shape of a heron or owl for example, can be placed near your pond to discourage other birds from landing in your yard. Sensor-alarms can also be set up, but be aware of your surroundings and make sure to consider your neighbors or consider a timer in which the alarm can be controlled by so as to avoid any other unnecessary problems. Placing a full-sized pond net over your pond at night, each night, will annoy predators and if done daily, will eventually discourage birds from returning to your site.

The reproduction and propagation of pond plants may take a bit of time to get familiar with but once you get the hang of it you’ll find it’s quite rewarding to watch your garden grow. Luckily, propagating pond plants is considerably easier than propagating “normal” garden plants. This can be seen especially when using the vegetative propagation method. One huge advantage aquatic and marginal plants have over their land counterparts is that, by way of life, their roots are immersed in water around the clock which eliminates the risk of desiccation. That being said, aquatic plants still need protection from strong winds and extreme heat and sunlight.

Knowing when to thin out and divide your pond plants is also an important thing to know. Thinning and dividing of plants should be done when they’re fully grown and are showing signs of growing at a much more rapid rate than usual, often during the spring and summer months. The heat allows any parts that have been cut to heal quickly, whereas in colder temperatures, this could lead to rot.

Fortunately, plant propagation doesn’t require any special equipment either. Success can be achieved by using simple instruments including seed trays, compost (preferably specific for aquatic use), hormonal rooting powder, planting liners and baskets, pebbles and a sharp knife. Clump division propagation is the quickest method of getting a respectable display in a short amount of time. However, clump division may not have the best quality results. For the most satisfaction, seed propagation is the way to go. Though it takes a long time, it is worth the wait.

Putting this much effort into having good looking plants isn’t just going to be aesthetically pleasing, no way. Plants play an important role in the health and balance of your garden. There is a saying that “plants keep the water sweet” and it’s true. Plants absorb compounds from the water, both through their roots and (in the case of submerged plants) through their leaves. By doing this they purify the water and help ward off the accumulation of toxins and pollution-generating junk. A consequence of this is that there’s a risk of noxious compounds building up to the point of where they can cause good water quality to diminish, which also takes away the unappealing smell with it leaving a “healthy” or “sweet” smell behind.

Choosing Koi

When shopping for koi for your pond, it’s important to have an idea of what you’re looking for, how much you want to spend and more importantly, to go to shops and suppliers who know their stuff. Not only will properly trained and knowledgeable staff be able to answer any questions you have, but you can be confident the koi they sell are taken care of and in good condition.

Koi personnel will be able to help you choose the kind of fish you have in mind for your pond. They can help you to save yourself from making mistakes that will hinder you in the long run. One thing you will need to have somewhat of an idea of is how much money you’re willing to spend, and when you’re being ripped off.

When scanning over tanks of koi to choose from, first notice if there is a proper filtration system flowing. Then you can change your focus onto the fish. You’ll obviously want the best looking and healthiest koi. The healthy koi will be swimming all around the tank, have even healthy skin, clear eyes and flowy fins.

Once you pick out your favorites, you can usually ask the staff to isolate each koi, one at a time, to get a better look. This is the time to look carefully at the quality of fish you’re dealing with. Be sure to take advantage of the staff at this time so you can get as much information as possible to make a good choice.

Summer is the season where most action takes place in or around your garden pond. Plant growth is at it’s best and feeding demand is at it’s highest. As a result of this, you must deal with the heavy waste load.

Testing for ammonia and nitrate will show you if your filter is keeping up or not. If it is not, you may have to reduce your fish stocks and scale down on your feeding. Regular cleaning of pre-filter sponges or the equivalent should also be carried out during the season. High summer temperatures may cause fish to lose their appetite as a result of excessive metabolic demands in an environment where oxygen levels may be lower than normal.

Plant pest activity is at it’s worst in the summer. Keep a watch daily and take action promptly because under warm conditions in the summer, problems can spread very quickly. Remove all dead and damaged leaves. Even in healthy plants, dead leaves and blooms should be removed regularly. Healthy plants may also be thinned out as appropriate or desired. Water-borne and other predators may also be at their most active at this time of year.

Evaporation from ponds is a familiar summer problem, especially if there are streams or cascades of water. Water is lost from the pond in two ways, First marginal plants take up large quantities of water through their roots during the growing season and they lose it through their leaves. Second, high air pressure will cause water loss through direct evaporation from the pond surface. Regular top-off might be necessary.

Many fish species will continue to sprawl well into the summer. If the spawning occur during late summer, it may be necessary to prepare alternative indoor accommodation for at least some of the fry to enhance their chances of survival over the coming autumn and winter. This mostly applies to areas where the cold season temperatures are likely to drop towards the lower tolerance level for the species in question. Hatchlings from mid season spawning should be somewhat tougher by the time the colder weather begins to set in.

Longer days and relaxing summer nights equals more time to enjoy your koi pond and water garden. However, along with the temperature change means new challenges that you need to keep in mind this summer.

Avoid poor water quality

Pay attention to your fish and their eating habits. During the summer, koi and other pond fish will be more active than during the cooler months. This means they will want to eat more and will in turn produce more waste. Stick to your normal feeding habits to avoid poor water quality due to overfeeding. Consider an automatic feeder to take all the thinking out of it. Don’t feel as though you can’t treat your fish every now and then. You can get specific koi treats at any pet store or fresh fruits and vegetables are also great treats. Stick around for a few minutes after feeding so you can scoop out any left over floating food to keep waste to a minimum.

Bio-Filtration

Boost your current biological filter with supplementary filter media or bacteria. Bacterial additives break down toxic waste better when water temperatures are higher. Keep in mind that supplementing biological filtration during the summer months should only be done in conjunction with increased oxygen levels.

Add more oxygen

Installing an aeration pump will prevent havoc on your pond due to lack of oxygen. As water temperatures rise, your pond will lose more and more oxygen. The supply of natural oxygen will decrease during the summer while the biological demand increases. Aeration will allow efficient gas exchange to reduce buildup of harmful gasses while increasing oxygen levels at the same time. Healthy levels of oxygen in your pond will keep your fish healthy and happy.

When drawing up plans for a new backyard pond, it’s important to think ahead about what you’re going to need and want to achieve your goals. Planning ahead for plants is important because although they only require light and water, different plants need different amounts of each.

All ponds should ideally get sun for at least half the day. A full day of sun will promote plants to grow at their best but sun all day long can be fatal. Constructing different levels within the pond will be the best way to provide a variety of environments for different plants. Be sure to take in consideration the size and amount of plants you want to keep in your pond. Shelves should have a width that is deep enough to accommodate different plant basket sizes to avoid over-hanging.

Most marginal plants are suitable to grow on shelves. Building shelves on the south side of the pond will be of benefit to you in sunny weather because you can place plants there that will in turn provide shade to the pond and help cut down on green algae. Water lilies vary in size but most prefer up to 10-16 inches of water coverage so placing them on the bottom of most ponds will suffice.

If you see a waterfall or fountain in your future, keep in mind that many water plants, including lilies, don’t grow as well in moving water. Therefore, keeping waterfalls in a separate part of the pond, away from the plants, is something to consider. If a big part of having a pond is to grow water plants, know that space and plenty of room to grow is an important key in your plants future to grow to their best potential.

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