There is a hosepipe ban due to come into effect on the 5th of August across the North West. We are already receiving a large number of enquiries about how we as pond keepers can save water. Any pond that holds livestock such as fish or amphibians is still permitted to use water if necessary but we must do our best to limit usage. We must look at ways that we can use water more efficiently as a running hosepipe will waste between 450 and 1000 litres per hour. That is enough to fill 30 to 60 goldfish bowls!
make sure your water quality stays perfect.
The first thing that we need to do is keep the existing pond water cleaner for longer. By reducing the levels of waste that your fish produce you will ensure that less water changes are needed. Use the best Quality fish food that your budget allows. Brands such as Vitalis, Tetra and Hikari are known for using much more digestible ingredients in their foods. This means that your fish will absorb more nutrients and less will pass through their digestive system and end up as waste.
Lower quality foods and budget brands often use a lot of “ash” (indigestible ingredients). This is because it bulks the food out and makes it seem as though you are getting more for your money.
How Much Should I Feed My Fish?
It is worth mentioning that nearly 70% of people overfeed their pond. Fish are cold blooded so their metabolism is determined by their surrounding temperature and not their food intake. A fish needs about 10% as much food as a similar sized mammal would do.
We humans have long intestines because vegetable matter takes time to digest. Fish have a very short gut so their food is only able to be digested in a very short time. With this in mind, you should only feed your fish once daily and then only as much food as they can eat in five minutes. Any that is left after this time should be scooped out and discarded. Once you are familiar with the quantity of food your fish need, you can spread it out over 2 -3 meals a day. This way, the fish will be able to utilise even more of the vitamins and minerals and less waste will be produced.
Keep Waste Levels Low
The end product of the waste cycle in your pond is Nitrate (NO3). Nitrate causes algae to grow and over time will impair your fishes ability to generate new cells. This leads to slow growing, sickly fish.
There are two ways to remove the Nitrates from a pond
- Water changes: This method is wasteful and inefficient. It simply masks the symptoms of excessive Nitrates rather than dealing with the problem.
- Encouraging natural processes such as plant growth. Faster growing pond plants such as Water Lilies, Iris’ and Oxygenating weed take in Nitrates to fuel growth. The plants use Nitrogen to produce chlorophyll and release Oxygen.
Lilies also play a vital role when trying to preserve your pond water for another reason. The beautiful leaves cover the surface of the pond and reduce evaporation. If you allow Lilies to cover one third of the pond, the reduction in light penetration is often enough to prevent the growth of green water algae. The pond temperature will be more consistent and there is less surface area for water to evaporate from.
Making Sure It Stays Clean
An efficient filter system is the cornerstone of a healthy pond. When buying a filter always bear in mind that the maximum filtration capacity stated is just that… A maximum. If a filter states that is is capable of maintaining a 1000 litre pond this means under ideal conditions. A filter of this size will clean a 1000 litre pond in full shade with a very low fish stocking level. As most ponds are moderately stocked and receive at least partial sunlight for a few hours a day this needs to be taken into account.
Ideally choose a filter that is capable of maintaining at least double the volume of your pond and this way foams will need to be cleaned even less frequently.
Pressure filters are fantastic because they are sealed and therefor they are far less likely to leak over time and no water can evaporate from them. The foams inside them are cleaned without having to be removed from the filter. This saves even more water as rinsing foams with a hose is wasteful and messy.
Oxygenate Your Pond
Nearly all life needs oxygen to survive. Much of the filtration process that occurs in ponds is carried out by beneficial bacteria. These bacteria use oxygen to remove pollutants from the water. The more oxygen you can supply the pond with, the more these microbes will thrive and maintain healthy water quality.
How to oxygenate your pond
- Plants: As we have already mentioned, all aquatic plants will help to oxygenate the water.
- Air Pumps: using an air pump in the pond breaks the surface film of water and as the bubbles rise, they drag water from the bottom of the pond to the surface. This helps to release Carbon Dioxide and replenish the Oxygen levels.
- Fountains: Fountains supply Oxygen to the pond in much the same way as an air pump and can add an element of height to an otherwise flat water feature.
This Summer has been the hottest on record for a long time. A combination of relentless heat and a lack of rainfall mean that one of the biggest concerns for pond keepers is evaporation.
One of the best ways to reduce evaporation in the pond is by providing surface cover. Lilies are a fantastic way of doing this with many other benefits that we have already discussed. For small to medium sized ponds, another option is to cover up to half of the pond with a waterproof membrane. There are a few points to bear in mind.
- Safety: Never cover a pond so that it is possible for somebody to accidentally fall or step on the membrane. Make sure that the cover is highly visible and secure. Ensure that children and wildlife can’t accidentally step onto it and become entangled.
- Whatever you decide to cover the pond with must be non toxic. Water will condense on the underside and return to the pond. Most treated wood contains chemicals that could be fatal to fish.
- The cover must be above the water and not touching it. If the cover is in contact with the water it will prevent CO2 from escaping the pond and stop Oxygen from entering. This combined with warmer temperatures and less rainfall can decimate a pond overnight.
Save More Water.
Waterfalls are one of the best methods of adding Oxygen to pond water but the high turbulence created is also responsible for a large amount of evaporation. When a Hosepipe ban is in place it is best to turn the flow of a waterfall down in an effort to produce a smoother cascade.
If possible, divert water back to the pond by bypassing the waterfall all together. This can be done by connecting a length of pond hose to run all of the way back to the edge of the pond from the filter or pump.
If you do choose to turn off or bypass the waterfall always add an air pump so that additional oxygenation is provided.
When Will The Hosepipe Ban End?
At the moment it is difficult to predict exactly how long water usage restrictions will be in place for. One thing that is certain though is that if we all do our best to save water supplies, things will be back to normal sooner.
By maintaining a healthy pond, we create an oasis for local wildlife large and small. Even a modest garden pond has a positive environmental impact far beyond that which we can see. Birds will drop in for a quick dip and at this time of year, many are still teaching their young how to survive.
By maintaining great water quality and recycling water efficiently, the positive effect on the environment reaches further than ever. Water reservoirs and clean water supplies all need energy to operate and if we all used less water on a day to day basis we could reduce Carbon emissions massively.
One person can make a difference, remember every single hour that a tap is running for, nearly a thousand litres of clean water goes down the drain. That is more than most households use in two whole days.
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