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Category Archives: Ponds and Water Gardens

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Tadpoles in Aquariums – Watching the Miracle of Metamorphosis

Frog EggsI can remember foraging in ponds and puddles as a kid, especially once it got warm enough in Spring  that the ground was thawed and everything would reappear after a long winter dormancy. How could I not be fascinated by the frogs hidden at the water’s edge and the newts and salamanders I’d find under moist rocks and rotting wood? But what would really grab my curiosity and attention would be the various jelly-like egg masses that would appear along the water’s edge, speckled with black dots and begging to be observed. It was on more than one occasion that my siblings and I gathered a cluster of eggs in a jar to take home for observation. If you have a small spare aquarium and a few other simple pieces of equipment, you can raise amphibian eggs, too, and watch them change from a speck in an egg to a fully developed frog or salamander. Watching tadpoles in aquariums is a great educational project for kids and adults!

If you have a spare 5 or 10 gallon tank lying around or a small garden or patio pond, prepare to be amazed! Start by filling the tank or pond with clean water. Ideally you’ll let the water cure for at least a day or two, particularly if you have chlorinated municipal water, but you can also use a dechlorinator to make the water safe. Your tadpoles absolutely depend on having fresh, clean water for proper health and development. You’ll be bringing a small amount of source water with you from wherever it is you collect your eggs, but chances are you won’t be carrying several 5 gallon buckets of it back with you. Take care to have an environment prepared for your egg cluster before you bring it home.  Don’t put eggs into an occupied aquarium, keep them safe in a separate vessel.  Read More »

Choosing a Pond Pump for your Pond or Water Feature

Ornamental Pond Backyard pond projects can be rewarding if you give plenty of consideration to design and equipment from the start. To build your dream pond or water feature, one of the biggest and most important investments will be the pump, which will bring your display to life. It is important to invest in the right pond pump for your pond or water feature to ensure that the flow rate is appropriate for your design. If you’re planning on including any type of vertical feature like a waterfall in your plan, be sure you are prepared to add a pump powerful enough to make strong flow for the best impact.

Types of Pumps

Submersible Pumps are designed to operate completely submerged in your pond, and need a constant flow of water while running to keep them from overheating. Many submersible pond pumps include integrated pre-filters or filtration systems, and possibly pond fountain systems.  Submersible pond pumps are very easy to install, however they must be retrieved from the pond to perform maintenance. These pumps are easily concealed on the bottom of the pond, and they won’t disrupt your outdoor activities with unwanted noise or look visually unappealing against your natural display.  Debris handling waterfall pumps are designed for large ponds and for supplying water to vertical features including streams and waterfalls. Unique designs allow these pumps pump at high flow rates and to allow small debris to pass through without damaging internal parts. Read More »

Algae Control in Ponds and Water Gardens

Free Floating AlgaeWhat fun is a pond with pea-green water or masses of stringy gunk growing from every submerged surface? You work so hard to keep your pond clean, clear and looking good, but even with the best efforts, algae can appear in a flash, a stringy, slimy eyesore, mucking up the view. Most algae outbreaks can be quelled by addressing water chemistry (nutrient) issues or finding a way to control the amount of light that penetrates the water’s surface.

Getting to the proverbial root of the problem is the best solution, but there are also numerous algae control products on today’s market to help you rid your pond of that unsightly green invader, at least temporarily. While we generally recommend algaecides as a last resort, when you reach that point it’s important to use them correctly to ensure the safety of fish, plants and other inhabitants of your pond.


Getting to the Root of the Problem

Algae blooms are generally the result of either too much sun exposure or too many nutrients available in the water for the algae to feed on. If your pond is exposed to full sun for the majority of the day or when it is strongest, alga take advantage. You can provide shade using floating and marginal plants which provide cover for fish and other pond inhabitants, as well as aiding in nutrient control. Desirable flora like floating lettuce, hyacinth and duckweed will compete for dissolved nutrients and provide the shade you need while also serving as a food source and shelter for fry that may be produced by koi and goldfish. Read More »

Sunfish Care – Keeping Pumpkinseeds, Bluegills and their Relatives

Pygmy SunfishHello, Frank Indiviglio here.  The world’s 30-35 freshwater sunfish species (Family Centrarchidae) range throughout Canada, the USA and Central America.  Although popular among European aquarists, sunfishes have been largely been neglected in American aquaculture. This is a shame, as all are colorful, interesting and active, and most adjust well to aquarium life. From the tiny Black-Banded Sunfish to the 39 inch long Largemouth Bass, there is something for everyone.  I’ve had the good fortune of working with a “sunnies” ranging from the tiny Black-Banded Sunfish to the massive Largemouth Bass, and would enjoy hearing from readers who have also come to know them, or wish to (please post below).

Obtaining Sunfishes

Although rarely offered in the pet trade, many species are easily collected via seine net or minnow trap (check state regulations).  While their diversity is greatest in the southeastern USA (my friend in Louisiana collected 8 species in the lake behind his house!), sunfishes can be found most everywhere in the USA. New York, where I reside, is home to 14 species. Read More »

The Blob in Your Back Yard – Bryozoans in Backyard Ponds

Pond BryozoanA few weeks ago, a co-worker presented me with a photo, and asked me if I knew what the thing represented in the pic was. I’ve seen a lot of things in my 15 years with That Fish Place (many of which spent in the fish room), but I had never seen the object I was looking at in the pic. My first guess was a bizarre form of algae, as ponds can be home to some strange sludge. Then I contemplated that the mass might be an egg mass of some type, the gel of which possibly being coated or having incorporated algae and muck into it as it floated along. But something still wasn’t right about it. I turned to Google, and with a few quick clicks I found similar photos helping me to identify the blob with relative certainty. It was a freshwater species of Bryozoan! I was familiar with marine forms of bryozoans, but this was quite a different and interesting specimen from others I’d seen, and certainly worth a little more research. Read More »