Here at Modern Design Aquascaping Inc., we get so many calls from people who have water features and they think they may have a leak. Often the conversation goes, “I think my feature is leaking, can you have someone run by and see what they can find?” This note will cover the procedures we follow in order to be efficient with a clients time and money.
Let’s start by saying that having someone run by and take a look, while it sounds like a good idea, is a ways down the list of to-do’s in order to properly diagnose a potential water loss issue. The first thing we want to, in order to solve your issues, is to break the feature down into pieces. If there is a pond and stream, for example, we will turn off the pump in order to eliminate the stream and plumbing from the equation. We can then fill the pond to it’s capacity, take an EXACT water measurement, and then set a timer. Keeping a log of this information is invaluable to the technicians who are working on your feature.
The timer allows you to tell how much water level goes down per 12 hours. The more information we get, the better! Feel free to take measurements for 48 hours at least. Important: If you have fish and/ or a biological filter, there are precautions you need to take in order to maintain healthy oxygen levels. Reach out to us for more information on that if you need to. (LINK TO CONTACT FORM) What happens next is you will find out one of two things, the pond is loosing water (more than 1/4” in 12 hours) or it is not. If the pond is loosing water, you will have to let it leak down to the level where it stops leaking and then search for the problem and fix it. Remember that if the water level drops more than what is safe for your fish, you will have to deal with that as well.
If the pond is not leaking, you have successfully eliminated that portion of your feature from the problem. The next thing to test is the plumbing. In order to test the plumbing system, we simply cap off the plumbing where it connects to the pump, fill the filter system (from the top side) to the point of over-flowing, and wait some more. Twelve hours is enough time to see if the plumbing is holding water. If that level doesn’t drop, you have eliminated that from the equation. If water level in the plumbing system drops, you have located a potential problem and you can then look deeper into that area.
The next area to inspect is the stream. Look closely at all edges to ensure that there are no low-edges in the liner. Inspect the connection from the filter box to the liner. Look for blockages or obstructions in the stream that have made a dam and caused the water level to go up over your liner.
Each scenario here will give you insight into a problem that cannot be seen by just quickly looking at the feature. Folks often think we are trying to avoid coming out but I always ask, “What do you think we will see that you cannot?” If you have spent any effort at all to look for the obvious, we will need to dig deeper to find solutions! With a bit of time bantering back-and-forth on the phone, we can almost always diagnose a problem and come up with a solution. Some people even end up finding it with our help and don’t need hiring us to do anything. We are always available for free phone consulting for troubleshooting and answering questions.
Call our office at Modern Design Aquascaping Inc. at 865-995-1234 or fill out the on-line form at http://www.mdaquascaping.com/contact.html and we’ll call you. We would love to give you a no-cost estimate right over the phone and help get your pond up and running this year!
A lot of people are curious about what the buying process looks like when they are thinking about getting a water feature. This note will de-mystify how we, at Modern Design Aquascaping Inc., guide our clients through the journey of selecting, and ultimately acquiring, their perfect water feature! We have worked very hard to make the process a smooth, no-pressure approach, so that you can feel comfortable and know what to expect & how to proceed with your decision making process!
Here at Modern Design Aquascaping Inc. we are always getting calls from people who want to know, “What is the proper way to clean a pond?” In this article we will cover what are the different types of ponds are and how to properly clean each type. We will go over the "basic" tools needed and we will teach you how to properly handle your wildlife to ensure a smooth, systematic clean out for your pond.
Let’s begin with differentiating between the most common types of ponds. A traditional koi pond is only about the fish. The purpose of this pond is to raise & display champion-grade koi. This style of pond will be smooth lined with an external filtration system. By using bottom drains to capture sediment, waste, and debris, the traditional pond normally has no rocks, gravel, or other sharp objects that your fish may hurt themselves on. These ponds are normally free of aquatic plants as well. The filters will include external pumps, U.V. sterilizers, sediment chambers, and biological chambers. Cleaning of this type of pond is done by a routine of filter cleanings done by agitation and/or backwashing the system to remove the collected organics. Additional cleaning may be done using a pond vacuum or similar tool to push debris into the bottom drains.
The next type of water feature is an ecosystem pond. This type of pond is what we specialize in at Modern Design Aquascaping Inc. An ecosystem pond is an extension of the landscape that brings the sound of water and the beauty of fish and aquatic plants into your garden. Its purpose is to be simply enjoyed as a relaxing destination. The liner is covered by stones and gravel so there are no visible man-made components. Everything should just resemble a beautiful, natural ecosystem. This type of pond is filtered by multiple things. There is a skimmer, which resembles a pool skimmer, and its purpose is to capture large solids and to hide the submersible pump. There is also a biological filter disguised as a waterfall! The rest of the pond is the rest of the filter. The fish, plants, and beneficial bacteria all live together, as they do in nature, to create a natural habitat. Routine maintenance on this feature include weekly addition of beneficial bacteria, cleaning of the skimmer basket and filter pad, and pruning back of aquatic plants as needed. We recommend a once a year cleaning on the feature to be done in the spring time. So here is the low-down on our clean out process for the ecosystem pond. Let’s begin with the goal of the work to be done.
The goal of our clean out is simply to remove 90% of the accumulated organic debris from the previous year! We do not want to sterilize or sanitize your pond, that is too hard on a balanced ecosystem. We just want to get it in great shape to set you up for a successful year of easy-maintenance! Be sure that your equipment is cleaned and sanitized before you begin. Bad bacteria and pathogens can spread from one pond to the next so keep it clean! The cleaning begins with setting up a holding tank to house your wildlife. Fish, frogs, tadpoles, salamanders, crayfish, and whatever other life has populated your pond will all need a place to relax while you’re cleaning house! Set up the proper sized tank(s) in a nearby, shady spot or under an umbrella. Be sure to have a net to secure the top of the holding tanks so your fish don’t jump out! The clarity and quality of your water, combined with the amount of fish you have, will determine how much of your existing water you can keep. The more of the original pond water you can keep the better because the animals are already acclimated to the chemistry and temperature of the water they are in. Put an aeration system in the holding tank and add a detoxifier that removes ammonia and lightly sedates the fish. If the water is extremely dirty, you can add an external pump and filter to the holding tank to pull out some of the sediments while you are cleaning the pond.
Set up a clean out pump with a 1 1/2” - 2” hose and begin filling the holding tank with the cleanest water from your pond, right off the top, without stirring anything up. Again if your water is very polluted, you can draw the holding tank water in through fine filter pads tied around the pump to help remove solids from the water on the way to the holding tank. Once the holding tank is as full as you would like, or if you have run out of useable water, pump the remaining pond water away to an appropriate location. We use 1/2” or 2” fire hose and an additional clean out pump. As the draining of the pond nears completion and you get to the bottom of the pond, climb in and carefully catch the fish in large bags and relocate them into the holding tank. Avoid nets so you're sure that you don't tear fins, tails, etc. The holding tank MUST have a net over it to keep fish from jumping out and something that floats for frogs to perch on while they wait! Once all of the animals have been moved, it is time to begin cleaning.
Start cleaning with filters. If you are cleaning the pond when it is warm enough that the beneficial bacteria are active, try to save any biological filter media like filter pads or bio-balls that are live filters. These filters need to be lightly swished or rinsed in pond water to remove the large solids and then put into the tub with the fish. The live bacteria colonizing on these items can't be seen but they're there, and they require oxygen to survive the clean out. Once the filters have been cleaned, begin on the rest of the feature. Gather large debris is by hand and remove it from the pond. Minimal pruning should be done to the aquatic plants that are actively growing in the pond but now is the time to remove excess-unwanted plants and to divide and re-pot lilies or lotus.
Next break out your pressure washer & pressure wash. The goal is to get most of the junk off the rocks and loosen the sediments so they are easier to flush out during the rinse phase of the clean out. Be sure not to let the debris dry out between phases of the clean out, it rinses away much easier if it stays wet. By pressure washing from the top down, you allow a second person to begin the rinse phase in the streams and waterfalls while the pressure washing continues in the pond.
Once the pressure washing is complete, rinsing can commence in the pond. Again remember to go top to bottom on the walls. Once you finish wall washing, gravel is rinsed and swished around to remove that 80-90% we are looking for. Clean out pumps are running in the lowest part of the pond bottom to keep the dirty water moving out at all times during the entire clean out process.
When you are good on the cleaning, take the time to check out all of the light fixtures for functionality and to be sure lenses are clean. Pumps and check valves should be removed, inspected for debris, damage, etc. and then replaced. Stones are re-stacked and gravel is spread around as necessary to cover up exposed liner areas at this time. Skimmer filters and pre-filtration pads are washed and re-installed properly. It is time to put the animals back.
The water in the holding tank should now be pumped back into the clean pond. If you didn't get to keep much of the original pond water, you can use a garden hose to add fresh water SLOWLY into the tank during the entire clean out process just be sure to add extra detoxifier to the holding tank before hand to neutralize the chlorine and heavy metals. You want to have enough water to put back in the pond to ensure the immediate return of the fish. Again this allows you to use the bags and slip them right back into the pond. No need for acclimating them into new water, the process is smooth and easy on the fish. Always do whatever it takes to make sure this can happen.
You are done with the major portion of the cleaning at this point. Leave a hose trickling in the pond, add the proper dose of detoxifier and starter bacteria to the pond, return the filter media to its proper locations, and clean up the mess. When the pond is full, plug in the pumps and double check everything is working properly.
We recommend that our pond owners add the normal weekly dose of bacteria daily for the first week. Each day the filter pad in the skimmer should be removed, bacteria added into the skimmer to seed the biological filter, and the pad should be cleaned and put back. Do not put bacteria into the skimmer with the pad in, you will only wash it back out when you clean the skimmer pad! Future maintenance will include cleaning your pad and basket in the skimmer and adding your beneficial bacteria weekly. You will most likely also use something for string algae, there are many products to choose from. Please don't over-dose as many of those products can be harmful to your fish if you add too much. To determine pond gallons go (Average Width) x (Average Length) x (Average Depth) x 7.5 = Gallons Approximate.
If you are interested in a quote for a pond cleaning, either simply call Modern Design Aquascaping Inc. @ 865-995-1234 or follow this link, http://www.mdaquascaping.com/contact.html fill out our form and we’ll contact you!
If you would like to have some more information on how we price our pond clean outs, please follow this link!
Thanks & Happy Pondering,
John G Adams
Modern Design Aquascaping Inc.
When you have invested in a water feature, of course you want it to look its very best, don't you? A common problem property owners with a water feature run into is discolored water. Modern Design Aquascaping has gathered a few tips for you, just in case you encounter less than clear and pristine water in your water feature.
Is your water green?
Green water means there's a problem with the clarity. There are plenty of products to treat green water--from fast-acting treatments which help floating particles clump together for easier removal, to beneficial bacterium which combat an imbalance in the water, and UV filters. You'll sometimes hear people refer to green water as a “new pond syndrome” because bacterial imbalances are common in new ponds.
Related: Overfeeding fish can make algae bloom!
Are you looking at tea-colored water?
Often, you get brownish water from debris like leaves falling into the pond. We usually recommend an ongoing Activated Pond Carbon to clear the water of the excess nutrients which are causing the murky color.
Has your water been looking a bit cloudy?
The first response is typically a round of Rapid Clear, which is another fast-acting treatment that causes the offenders in your water to clump together for better filtering.
Related: Here's a great resource for learning more about aquatic plants.
Have you brought in a professional?
Often when people think about clarity issues in a pond, they assume there's an algae problem. But algae overgrowth is only one cause of discolored water. It makes sense to bring in a pond expert if you're having clarity problems with no obvious source.
There are so many different contributing factors when it comes to water clarity. Temperature fluctuations, the amount of sun or shade, and surrounding landscape all play a part in the health of your pond. If you contact your friendly experts at Modern Design Aquascaping, we'll get pond back to its beautiful self with a stronger natural ecosystem to boot.
Every spring here in East Tennessee at Modern Design Aquascaping Inc. we get a barrage of callers who want to know, “How much does a pond cleaning cost?” In this article we will address this question as well as the variables that will affect it. This will allow you to know which type of service you would like and who you should call to arrange for your cleaning!
The term “pond clean out” is often used very loosely. There are obviously different levels of cleaning, as well as a variety of construction techniques that can make a water feature easier, or more difficult to clean and maintain. A “clean out” could be considered physically scooping out leaves and debris and cleaning out the pond filters. Another type of clean out could be simply vacuuming leaves out of an exposed-liner pond and rinsing out the filter pads. Here at Modern Design Aquascaping Inc. our preferred method of cleaning ponds is what we refer to as a complete cleaning and component inspection. This service is normally done in the spring. We would be happy to send you our list of procedures for this service but for now I want to focus on expense related concerns and not so much on methodology.
A large factor to consider in the cost of your pond cleaning is the company you are hiring. A lawn & landscape company will typically be less expensive than bringing in a company that specializes in water features. Retaining trained professionals (specialists) in a given field of expertise is much more costly than hiring general laborers. I can’t speak for other companies, but I know we spend over $10,000 per year just on training and education. Team members are taught about fish care and diseases, plants, plumbing, filtration, etc. by industry experts. This investment in personnel definitely raises the cost of our service and may or may not be a value to you. We have seen local landscape companies do pond cleaning for as little as $250.00. I’m not vouching for the quality of the service delivered, only the price. At Modern Design Aquascaping Inc., our starting price for a complete spring cleaning and component inspection starts at $650.00.
Another consideration that may be important to you is sanitation. Does a company sanitize equipment between cleanings? This is a big deal to some people! If you have koi or other fish in your pond you should think about this. Some clean out crews (ours included) clean multiple ponds each day in the spring time. Pond diseases, bacteria, and parasites can easily be transported from one pond to the next inside the holding tanks, pumps, and plumbing used to complete a clean out. Early in the year, when the water temperature is cool and the fish have slower metabolism it is the perfect time for problems to occur due to inadequate sanitation practices. Keep this in mind if you have fish you love!
You may also consider professionalism an important factor in choosing your service company. One guy/gal in a pickup with a hose, a pump, and a 5 gallon bucket may take a few days to clean your pond. The alternative is that a professional team of trained technicians shows up and has all the proper tools to do a fast-efficient clean out. Koi tanks that hold thousands of gallons of water are set up, team goes into action, pond is clean and fish are returned unscathed to their habitat in rapid fashion. The experience delivered by a professional team may or may not be an important factor to you.
The remaining variables in clean out cost are related to methodology (how well the pond is cleaned), the size of the feature, and other business related variables. Call our office at Modern Design Aquascaping Inc. at 865-995-1234 or fill out the on-line form at http://www.mdaquascaping.com/contact.html and we’ll call you. We would love to give you a no-cost estimate right over the phone and help get your pond up and running this year!
If you want more information on clean out procedures, click the link below!
Thanks & Happy Pondering,
John G Adams
Modern Design Aquascaping Inc.
How Much Does a Koi Pond Cost?
One of the first questions potential pond owners want answered when they call our company is :
How much does a koi pond cost? Even though this question is difficult to answer due to the tremendous amount of variables, I can give you some rough ideas of what different pond projects can cost. I tend to liken the purchase of a pond to the purchase of a car. There are so many makes & models available, each with a plethora of options and potential add-ons, that price ranges can vary dramatically from one vehicle to the next. The same can be said for ponds! Most people choose options for their vehicle based on their wants, needs, and budget. This allows them to customize the vehicle to suit them perfectly. These same principles apply to most koi pond shoppers and the features that they choose. Once you have become a pond owner, you will spend countless hours relaxing and enjoying your feature with the people you love. Choosing the right pond with the right options in the beginning will ensure that you get a pond that provides you with the best experience with the least amount of effort. By doing your homework and learning about the potential enhancements available for your pond before making your purchase, you will tailor a pond that is perfect for you! In the pond consumer world, many people don’t take the time to get educated prior to choosing their contractor. These shoppers look only at the bottom line (price) to determine who is the “best fit” for their project. This can commonly lead to an unhappy ending to their pond experience. Inferior filtration leads to high maintenance or a system that just won’t work. Aesthetically, they didn’t get the “pond they were dreaming of” (ugly). I have heard countless tales of how the experience just wasn’t what they were looking for. The worst part of this story is that unlike a “lemon” of a car that you can just trade in for a “nominal” loss, it actually costs you even more money to remove the bad pond before you can have someone install a great one! So from here let’s help educate you on what some options are, and how that will affect the cost of your pond.
Some of the most common potential "add-ons" to the purchase of your koi pond:
• More expensive types of stone (imported)
• Larger stones or boulders
• Increased pond depth
• Rock outcroppings into the landscaping
• Driftwood accents (cypress or cedar for longevity)
• Fish caves
• Feeding rocks (interaction areas)
• LED lighting (underwater or landscape)
• Multiple waterfalls
• Automatic dosing systems /ionizers
• Larger biological filters or constructed wetlands
• Enhanced filter media
• Multiple pumps
• Aeration systems
• Additional jets / circulation
• Aquatic Plantings
• Skimmer types or intake bays
• Fish packages
• Pergolas or Gazebos
• Difficult access areas
• Potential repairs after construction (lawn, irrigation, etc.)
As you can see, there are many options available. When
someone receives a quote from our company, we want to
examine these options, educate the homeowner, and help
them choose which enhancements make sense for them.
Package Pricing Vs. Custom
When someone asks us how much one of our koi ponds cost, package pricing vs. custom design is a consideration. Modern Design Aquascaping Inc., as a company, offers prepackaged ponds to our clients. These pond packages, which may still get upgrades or enhancements, are designed to come as an installed kit for a price in order to give potential customers an idea of what one of our professionally-installed ponds cost. While each feature is artistically unique and built by a team of professionally-trained artists, a consumer can see our introductory pond package (the base model car), what it costs, and how beautiful it is! These features can be visited at Out Of Eden Garden Center in Maryville, Tennessee. http://www.outofedengardencenter.com
1. The Goldfish Lagoon Package
This package includes the installation of a 6’x8’ pond with optimum filtration. It also includes a waterfall at the pond’s edge to give the relaxing waterfall sound while increasing aeration and overall feature health. When our team completes the base project, the home owner is ready to have the power run out to the pond-edge, install the landscaping, and spread mulch (unless these items were added on in the design process). Although you may think that the installation of a small pond is no big deal, we recommend that only the most adept DIY person attempt to install a pond. There is a large hole to sculpt just so, a filtration system to install, plumbing to run, a pump to install, and tons of stone to place (literally). I could list a thousand things on the simple nuances of getting it “just so”, but let’s just say that after 20+ years, you
still get better every time you build a pond!
The Goldfish Lagoon Package can be $8499-$13000 depending on options.
2. The Ultimate Lagoon Package
This package includes the installation of an 11’x15’ pond with optimum filtration. It also includes a stream that is up to 8’ long and multiple waterfalls. This pond is over three times the size of the Goldfish Lagoon! When our team is completes the base project, the home owner is ready to have the power run out to the pond-edge, install the landscaping, and spread mulch (unless these items were added on in the design process).
The Ultimate Lagoon Package can be $12799-$25000 depending on options.
3. Custom Koi Ponds
Custom ponds are, well custom…They can be any size, shape, depth, etc. They are limited only by your space, budget, & imagination! We can meet your needs, either residential or commercial, for any design or purpose and can show examples of great projects around the world that we have been a part of in the past. Determining the goals for a custom project is the first part of the design process! How koi pond costs compare to other water feature types As you can probably see, the price range on koi ponds varies quite a bit since there are so many factors that determine what is required for the perfect pond for you. Everyone has different tastes, goals, and budgets when it comes to designing and building a water feature. In comparison to other types of water features, I can give some ball-park pricing ranges to help identify how much other types of features may cost.
Re-circulating waterfalls (pond-less)
A waterfall project is perfect for some folks who want to enjoy the look and sound of a mountain stream but for whatever reason they aren’t interested in the pond and the fish. There is still a “pond” to capture and re-circulate the water but it is created specifically to NOT be seen. The water just appears to “disappear” into the ground at the end of the feature. Packages are available for some waterfalls, just as they are for ponds. These features range from $5000 to $25,000 and can land anywhere in between. You may also opt to do a custom waterfall project, which can be price influenced by many of the same factors that can influence the installation of a koi pond. There is truly no limit to the potential size, scope, and cost of these projects. http://www.mdaquascaping.com/pondless-waterfall-projects.html
Fountains & Bubblers
Fountains and bubbling boulders are a common choice to create interest in small spaces. While these types of features do not necessarily have to be small, in residential settings they typically are. These features can be created using a variety of artistic pieces including urns, core-drilled stones, statuary, or even copper trees. The art can be made of fiberglass, fiberglass reinforced concrete, plain concrete, natural stone, carved stone, copper, brass, etc. The “reservoir” below ground is where the water from these features is hidden. These holding areas can range from a 30 gallon tub to a multi-thousand gallon rain-water-capturing system. For this reason we can say the range is HUGE for fountain installations but a good starting point for a professionally installed feature is about $3000 and if you stick with art that is going to last (stone, brass, etc.) you can expect your range to begin in the $5000-6000. You can see some examples of all of these features in our galleries of our
Thanks for reading & as always,
John G Adams
Modern Design Aquascaping Inc.
What makes a perfect companion to your natural ecosystem pond? Why, gorgeous pond fish, of course! Introducing pond fish into your pond is a lovely way to add a little more life to view. At Modern Design Aquascaping, we are positive that you will absolutely love watching and caring for your aquatic pets. However, when it's time to choose your fish, you want to be sure you're getting healthy ones. Here are some tips to ensure a better experience every time you step into the shop.
John Adams is a professional pond artist and builder.