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Pond Equipment Question and Answers

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Below are just a tiny sample of the questions we are regularly asked. However if you have any other question, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Q1: I have a small pond with a few goldfish and shubunkins, in the centre of the pond I have a black pump with a foam sponge on the inlet to the pump. I have to clean this piece of foam twice a day in order to keep the fountain working, how can I stop this?
A: This is a very common problem with many older designs of fountain pumps. There are 3 options to solving the problem, the first is simply to replace the original foam prefilter with a larger prefilter which normally fit over the original cage which houses the foam. This increases the surface are that can be blocked and hence the time in between cleans. The second is to purchase a modern fountain pump which uses a fine cage instead of a foam prefilter, this will significantly reduce the frequency of cleaning. The third option is to install a filter pump, filter box and ultra violet light, which will take the waste out completely, reducing the debris which block the fountain and allowing the fountain pump to do the job it was designed for.

Links: Fountain Pumps - Complete Pond Filter Kits
Q2: I have had my filter for two years and have not changed the foam in it yet. My friend says he buys new foam yearly. When should I ideally replace my foam?
A: Unfortunately there is no hard and fast answer to your question as it depends on the type of foam, the type of filter and the amount of cleaning required. Most manufacturers recommend that the foams be changed every 2-3 years. This figure is based on using genuine replacement products as many of the budget foams available are of lower quality than the original and would need changing more often.

If your filter incorporates brushes in its design then less cleaning of the foam is required and therefore the foams last longer. When cleaning the foams a gentle squeezing action rather than heavy wringing out will extend the life of the foam. To finally answer the question you should replace at the first sign of the foam starting to break down, either by flaking off in small bits or when you can no longer get the debris out during cleaning.

Links: Replacement Parts
Q3: I am thinking of installing a pump in to my pond and was wonder whether to install a Low Voltage pump.?
A: I assume the reason for you interest in Low Voltage pumps is from a safety aspect. Low Voltage pumps are certainly as good as their counterparts in terms of their performance and can be easier to install. They are as a rule not normally more expensive to purchase. Sadly though there is a limited range of Low Voltage pumps available on the market. As far as we am aware the only major manufactures of such a range is Hozelock, and they only offer 3 sizes. However, provided a 230 volt pump is installed correctly, with suitable earthing and a good quality circuit breaker it should be as safe as a its Low Voltage equivalent.

Links: Hozelock Low Voltage Fountain Pumps - Fountain Pumps
Q4: Every time I switch on my pressurized UV filter a threadlike weed starts to develop and spreads, it adheres to all the plants and lilies killing them. The pond holds 200 gallons and is established with fish for over a year?
A: The pressurized UV filter, along with most other pond filters, is designed to produce healthy and clear water, in doing so, it removes the green water algae that normally clouds the pond and produces Nitrates which are harmless to fish (in normal quantity's) and a food source for plants. Once the filtration system has cleared the pond, it will receive more sunlight and the green water algae, which has been removed, will not be absorbing the nutrients and sunlight that it had done before. This then enables other algae's, such as the weed (commonly called blanket weed) to grow. Blanket weed can be handled using different methods, such as water treatments or electronic blanket weed controllers.

Links: Blanket weed Treatments - Electronic Blanket weed Controllers
Q5: After cleaning my filter box, my pond can be cloudy for several days, is this normal or am I doing something wrong?
A: It is not uncommon for ponds to be cloudy for up to a day after cleaning, if it takes longer than this to clear, then it is possible you are over cleaning your filter. A filter works best the dirtier it is, but does need cleaning when the water starts to overflow or bypass. So when cleaning a filter the aim is not to return it to a pristine condition, other wise very small particles may pass through the filter and cloud the pond. You should only clean 25 - 30% of the foam/matting/wool in you filter at any one time, leaving the remainder to continue to strain out the fine particles. When cleaning remember to only use pond water not tap water, as the chlorine in the tap water will damage the "friendly" bacteria in your filter.
Q6: As part of my filtration system I have an Ultra Violet light, when should I change the lamp, I have been told every 6 months and every 12 months which is correct?
A: The reason for the confusing is that there are two different kinds of Ultra Violet lights used in the aquatic industry. The first look like traditional fluorescent tubes, where as the second look more like the new style of low wattage house hold lamps and are described, and labelled, as PLS or PLL lamps. Both lamps emit the same Ultra Violet light but last for different lengths of time. The traditional lamps are designed to loose their efficiency after 6 months, whilst the PLS and PLL lamps loose their effectiveness after 12 months. The design of both styles of lamps means that the emissions of light gradually drop through the life of the bulb. The 6 and 12 month life spans are only guidelines from the manufactures, their will still be some light being emitted by the lamps after this time. If you have oversized your Ultra Violet then the light emissions may be enough to last longer than the manufactures recommend. As such there are two ways of deciding when to change your lamp, either leave it until the water starts to cloud or change the lamp no mater which kind, in the Spring so that the emissions from the lamp are at their highest during the Summer months.

Links: Replace UV Bulbs
Q7: I am think of adding a filter system to my pond this summer is it possible to have a filter, which is too large?
A: If you are looking to buy an off the shelf filter then the answer is yes (sort of !!). All of the manufactured filters are designed to work on a certain amount of physical waste from a pond. If the filter is too large it is possible to starve the filter of waste and as such the filter will take forever (in pond terms) to mechanical "get going". To explain this, if you think of the filter foam as a sieve, the dirtier it becomes the better it works, because the holes are being partially blocked by large waste and so it is able to catch finer material. This is precisely how filter foam works. Most filter foam will easily start to block up with fish waste and once it becomes partially blocked finer material is caught. If you oversize the filter too much, then the waste is spread out over such a large surface area, that the partial blocking process takes possibly a year or even two, by which time you have become totally disillusioned and thrown the filter in the bin. When purchasing your filter you I would not recommend buying anything more than 25% more than you really require.

Links: Pond Filters - Combined Pond Filters - Complete Pond Filter Kits
Q8: What should I do with my filtration system during the winter months?
A: This is a question we are asked frequently, the answer is very dependent on how severe a winter you experience. As a general guideline it is better to keep filtration running during the winter months, however, if you are in any doubt, switch the system off, clean and drain. The advantage of keeping your system running is that it is able to react to the change of temperatures with the fish and begin maturing earlier in the springtime, also as moving water will freeze at lower temperatures, it helps to prevent freezing over. The disadvantage is that circulating the system exposes the pond to the extreme temperature changes that occur in the air. If this results in quick and severe temperature changes in the pond, then the fish will suffer. To minimise the impact of this on the pond, any waterfall or fountain should be switched off or bypassed, the pump should be moved closer to the water that is returning to the pond and should be lifted up in to the top 1/3 of the pond. Should you choose to switch your system off then you should wait for two weeks after the fish have stopped feeding before doing so and should not feed them whilst the system is off. Most makes of filter pumps can be left in the pond, the filter should be cleaned and drained, the Ultra Violet should be drained and removed and stored indoors.
Q9: How do I prevent ice from forming on my pond?
A: Unfortunately, the old wife's tale of putting a tennis ball in to your pond to create an air hole is not particularly effective, because the ball can easy become frozen in place. However, there are several options available depending on your requirements and budget. The simplest involve the continuation of circulation, the insertion of a Pool Heater or Air Pump with a diffuser or simply covering a proportion of the pond.

Moving water will freeze at lower temperatures than still water and therefore any circulation during the winter months will help prevent freezing. It is however important to minimise air contact and not to drag cold surface water down to the base of the pond where the fish will want to rest. Therefore the pump should be located away from any deep water - a shelf is an ideal location - and can be left to run without any fittings creating surface disturbance. A pool heater can be inserted in to the pond (possibly utilising the electrical supply for the pond pump or Ultra Violet if you have removed it for the winter) and will keep a small area of the pond free from ice. Air pumps and diffuser come in a variety of options, but consist basically of an air pump, that is connected to a diffuser via an air pipe. The diffuser needs to be floated on the surface of the pond to avoid pumping cold air down to where the fish will be in the depths. Covering a proportion of the pond can also be very simple particularly if you already have a sturdy wooden frame for a net, If not you will need one. The idea is to cover 1/3 to 1/2 of the pond with a frame on to which you can attach polystyrene or bubble wrap. The frame when in place should not touch the surface of the pond, otherwise this could seal the pond up as effectively as the ice. By creating this cover you are able to trap in some of the heat given off by the pond itself and keep the ice at bay.

It is important to remember that the above measures will be effective in most of the UK mainland ponds. However, if conditions become very severe then the ice will build up and breath holes will need to be made. DO NOT smash or crack the ice, this can send shock waves through the pond that could seriously affect your fish. The best way is using hot water to melt holes.

Links: Pond Heaters

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