Goldfish ponds can be a delightful addition to any garden or backyard. However, maintaining their cleanliness and creating a balanced ecosystem can be challenging, especially when using the common "pump and dump" method.
In this blog post, we'll explore the process of transforming a murky, pump and dump pond into a clear, thriving ecosystem using the principles of biomimicry, while also being mindful of a budget. Additionally, we'll discover the innovative use of a spillway bowl and an Aquablox panel to create a budget-friendly bog, providing efficient filtration and nutrient balance for clear, healthy water.
The Dilemma: Bluegill and Pump-and-Dump Ponds
At the heart of the issue lies the question of whether bluegill belong in a goldfish pond. The discovery of two dozen bluegill in the goldfish pond raised concerns for the pond's inhabitants and water quality. While some people are happy to have bluegill in their pond, it’s not always an ideal choice. Bluegill are known for being territorial and invasive, and they tend to eat all of the plants. In this specific case, it appears that the bluegill made their way into the pond through the pumping system, likely when they were tiny, and got stuck. Dealing with the debris and muck at the bottom of this pond became a priority, as many of the fish were hiding in the mess.
The pond in question is what is known as a "pump and dump" pond, a popular but somewhat controversial method of pond construction. The concept is simple: water is pumped out of a natural body of water and dumped into the pond to create circulation. The upside is that filtration is not required, but that lack of filtration also creates a lot of challenges.
The Downside of Pump-and-Dump Ponds
Pump-and-dump ponds might seem like a hassle-free solution, but they lack the consistency of water quality that a proper filtration system provides. Without a static body of water, it becomes difficult to maintain the right parameters for clear water. Debris, sediment, and excess nutrients accumulate over time, resulting in poor water quality and potential issues for fish and other pond life.
The Vision: Closed-Loop Biomimicry System
To address the issues and create a more sustainable and clearer water environment, the decision was made to implement a closed-loop biomimicry system. Biomimicry involves designing systems inspired by natural processes and patterns. While some may have reservations about this approach, it has proven successful and effective for us and our clients in this region.
The Controversy of the Bottom Drain and a Tragic Story
The use of bottom drains is a contentious point among many pond enthusiasts, and I know we’ll have plenty of people who disagree with our decision not to use one. But there is a reason why I just don’t think a bottom drain is the best option.
Several years ago, we received a distress call from a client who was out of town. Something was wrong with their beloved 3,000-gallon koi pond, and they urgently needed help. The pond had a bottom drain, an external pump, and an external filter - all seemed fine until disaster struck.
The weather had turned bitterly cold, reaching a chilling 17 degrees. A power outage compounded the issue, causing the pond's circulation to come to a halt. The water wasn't flowing, and there was no movement in the once vibrant ecosystem.
When we arrived to check on the pond, we made a devastating discovery. The bottom pipe, exposed to the freezing air and without water flow, had cracked and frozen. As the temperature rose again, the cracked pipe allowed all the water to be siphoned out of the pond, leaving behind a devastating sight.
The pond had been home to some truly magnificent koi - real, beautiful koi, not just ordinary fish. Their value, both monetarily and sentimentally, was immeasurable. Yet, all these precious fish were now lying lifeless on the bottom of the pond.
The culprit behind this tragedy was the very bottom drain that many pond purists advocate. The setup of the system had led to a catastrophic loss of water, leaving the koi to suffer the consequences. From that point on we decided to avoid bottom drains and opt for an Aquascape ecosystem style pond instead.
Implementing the Biomimicry Approach
The first step in this pond transformation was to strip the pond down to its shell. The leaking liner was replaced, and gravel was added to the bottom of the pond. Gravel serves as a substrate for beneficial bacteria to colonize, helping to digest excess nutrients and maintain water clarity. Additionally, an auto-doser system would be installed to continuously introduce beneficial bacteria, fostering a balanced ecosystem.
The Budget-Friendly Bog: A Game-Changing Filtration Solution
Due to budget constraints, a creative yet highly efficient filtration solution was devised – the budget-friendly bog. The bog utilizes an Aquascape spillway bowl paired with an Aquablox panel to filter water effectively.
The Process of the Budget-Friendly Bog
1. The Aquablox panel is suspended on the side of the pond.
2. Cobble (4 to 6-inch river rock) is placed on top of the panel.
3. One-inch rounds are layered on top of the cobble.
4. Plants are planted directly into the gravel.
The Advantages of the Budget-Friendly Bog
As water flows through the bottom of the pond, it enters the sedimentation chamber beneath the Aquablox panel. The cobble and gravel in the bog force the water to twist and turn, effectively trapping sediment. This results in clean, sediment-free water that flows back into the pond, and the trapped sediment provides a nutrient-rich environment for the aquatic plants. The plants' roots draw in excess nutrients, contributing to an almost perfectly clear and balanced water system. Pretty awesome, right?!
Join the Discussion
Creating a balanced and healthy goldfish pond doesn't have to be a daunting task. Embracing the principles of biomimicry allows for a more natural and sustainable approach to pond construction and maintenance. By avoiding the common pitfalls of pump and dump ponds and investing in a budget-friendly bog system, pond owners can enjoy clear water, thriving aquatic life, and a pond that adds beauty and tranquility to their outdoor space.
If you found this information useful or have any questions, please let us know in the comments below. We appreciate your feedback and are open to discussing different pond design approaches, including the controversial bottom drain issue. Like and subscribe to our YouTube challenge to stay updated on more informative content!
About Easton Outdoors
We started out as the neighborhood lawn boys – a group of high school friends trying to make some pocket change. It soon became more. We realized how much we enjoyed landscaping. Over the years, we've transformed hundreds of properties, beautified countless landscapes, and made many homeowners proud. This has become our passion!