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I want to talk to you today about using plants as a pond filter. A lot of times you start out your pond, it looks great for a few years, and then all of a sudden your filters just don’t seem to be able to keep up with it anymore.

I want to tell you a little bit about why that happens, and what you can do about it without having to buy a bigger filter.  First, let me dazzle you with my artistic ability here.  Here’s our pond, over here we have the skimmer, and here’s where we’ve got our waterfall.

What happens when you first set this thing up, everything’s running good, the pond looks good, you’ve got a few little koi in there, baby koi running around. It’s nice, but over time these koi get bigger and all of a sudden now you’ve got big ole fish.

Now as you get the bigger fish, they’re creating more waste products, you’re having to feed more, you’re probably over-feeding because we all do, and now you have a lot of extra nitrates and ammonia in the pond, your allergies are starting to take over, what do you do?

Most people will run right out and try to buy a bigger filter, add a UV filter which will work and you may have to do it at some point.  In the meantime, one thing you could do is add floating plants. You could use water hyacinth, you could use water lettuce, those are the best ones, especially if you’re in an area where it’s legal to do that. In some of the southern states you’re not supposed to. Up north where I’m at, they’re very expensive but it’s okay to use them because they die during the winter.

First thing you do is you throw those in the pond and one or two things happen. Either they get sucked right into the filter which is  usually the first thing, or depending on how big these koi are, and they can get big, at our store pond we had a big one, he was this big, really. Big Kahuna, that was his name. These plants are gone as soon as they hit the water. I would be like throwing worms to them; it was just not going to work.

So we started using floating net islands.  Floating net islands work great. Then what you have basically are these big circular islands and you fill them with plants. Most places carry floating net islands. They look like this from a side view; they’re kind of round, drop down, they have a place for you to tie string and then hook it onto a rock or something to keep it tethered in one place. You put all of your plants in the actual island.

What happens is as they grow, they’re not being eaten by the fish or sucked up by your skimmer, all of the net islands are going to fill, all the roots are going to come through the net island, the fish are going to come nibble off the bottom of the roots, good for them, but it also is going to make the plants grow even more.

More plants, they’re competing with the algae for all the nutrients in the pond, pretty soon you have good looking plants, your hyacinth will even flower, a nice pretty purple flower, and you have a great looking pond and you didn’t spend a whole lot of money doing it. That’s a great way to get started.

One other thing you can do is if you have the flat stone on your waterfall; just put the hyacinth or the water lettuce right on those. As long as the flow is not so much to push them in the water right away, and you might even dial it down for just a day or two, those roots are going to find their way into little niches of the rocks, settle up, and they’ll look really good there. They’ll even start growing; you know how they start hanging over the edge. Great filter. Just make sure it doesn’t block the flow so that it doesn’t’ divert water over the sides.

Looks good, cleans your fish, clean water, not a lot of expense.

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