What is an ecosystem pond? And how does it work? What makes an ecosystem pond different from a pool? Is one pond better than another? Here we’ll explore the terms and definitions of this style of pond, and how it works. But before we do that, let’s take a step back, to a place away from the hustle and noise of cities, a place far from the dirt and smog of factories and industries. To a beautiful lake.
What do you see? It’s beautiful! The entire atmosphere seems relaxed and peaceful. But if you wait silently, you’ll see, hear, and feel more than you imagined. Cattails rustle in the breeze; lily pads float serenely. Then a bird chirps. A fish splashes, and a frog lets out a melancholy croak as he dives into the water. Suddenly you realize that all around you, everything is alive! Minnows race in the shallow waters. Dragonflies skim the surface of the water. A family of ducks swims and dives through the water. Waterstrider bugs row madly across the still water, swallows dip and fly overhead, and in the gentle breeze that moves across the water you hear the distant cry of a hawk. The tall trees’ long roots grow right down into the water, in search of the life it gives; even the gentle flowers along the water nod in celebration of Life. This is Life, unmarred by everything man has done to make our world better, faster, easier. This is a natural ecosystem.
All human civilizations evolved around water. It is the very sustenance of all the life we know. But in our quest to make life better, we rid ourselves of everything we think we do not need. So we build structures. And Cities. And we first purified, then sterilized our water. And we got rid of the muck, and the bugs and everything we thought we didn’t want. And yet, at the heart of every city, the center of every town, we find a desperate attempt to bring back the life we somehow lost.
It captures the feeling of being a child in its laugh; the sensation of life in its splash. We are inexorably drawn to it. And the concrete fountain stands not to fulfil our love of water, but to remind us that we want something more. And so we travel to the beaches, and vacation to the coasts of water wherever we find it. But then we leave again, with only a sunburn and an ill-fated souvenir that will never quite capture the magic of that day. If only we could capture the essence of the woodland lake, if we could bottle of the sound of the river and package the beauty of nature at rest and take it back with us to our homes.
Enter the ecosystem pond.
An ecosystem pond is a pond or stream designed to function following the patterns of nature. No harmful chemicals, no complex filter system, no chlorine. These natural beauties are created to embrace and enhance life on every level, from the graceful plants that add color around and in the water to the beautiful fish that swim in the shallows and the birds that bathe at the water’s edge. Welcome to the pond life.
These ponds all follow similar construction theory, but they can be designed to fit almost any backyard size or area. Even a small area, indoor or outdoor, can be transformed with the beauty and life of an ecosystem pond.
But how is this done? A freshwater ecosystem has almost endless players that contribute to the symphony, but we’ll look at a few of the key players that are almost universal, from the smallest patio bowl pond to the endless Everglades.
Circulation. Circulation is vital to pond life. In a naturally-occurring system, circulation usually happens by the natural flow of rivers or creeks. In a man-made system we recreate this with a simple skimmer and waterfall system. This circulation does several things. First, the moving surface water effectively skims floating debris from the surface of the pond, removing excess leaves and litter before they sink to the bottom. Circulation also helps keep the oxygen in the water at healthy levels for the plants and fish. With proper circulation, no brackish water will ever become a breeding ground for those pesky mosquitos.
Filtration. Pond filtration can be divided into two categories, Mechanical Filtration and Biological Filtration. Mechanical Filtration can be thought of as the physical removal of debris from water. The skimming of the circulation system plays a huge part in mechanical filtration. In a constructed ecosystem, we enhance this system by using a skimmer basket to remove leaves and debris, and filter mats to aid in separating tiny pieces of debris from the flow of water. The same skimmer that holds these functions also conveniently houses the pump that provides circulation for the pond. Biological filtration is the removal of excess nutrients from the water. These nutrients are invisible and so seem trivial, but a nutrient imbalance is the beginning of many problems, from cloudy water to prolific algae blooms and poor fish health. Healthy bacteria play a major role in biological filtration; these bacteria break down and devour sediments and debris and improve water clarity. The biological filtration acts as the digestive system of a pond, and these healthy bacteria strains are carefully selected by biologists for their safety to all humans and animals.
Fun Fact: The human body has over one hundred billion healthy bacteria in it! (yeah, that’s 100,000,000,000) A pond without healthy bacteria can get a belly ache, just like its owners.
Plants. Many people assume plants are simply a cosmetic to enhance pond life; however, they are vital to a flourishing ecosystem. Aquatic plants pull nutrients out of the water to grow. If these nutrients remain in the water, they will allow algae to flourish. So having established plants in and around the pond will starve unwanted algae out of the ecosystem. Plants also put oxygen into the water in exchange for the nitrates and carbon dioxide they pull out. This greatly boosts fish health; they need oxygen in the water to live. Plants also provide cover for small pond life to flourish in, from the dragonflies who control bug populations, to the microbes who silently consume debris and waste from the pond.
Fun Fact. While mosquitos cannot reproduce in the moving water of a correctly designed ecosystem pond, Dragonflies prefer this environment for breeding. These tiny carnivores can eat up to a hundred mosquitoes in a single day!
Fish. These silent friends do much more that just exist and look beautiful. Just as the plants pull carbon dioxide out of the water and release oxygen back in for the fish, the fish give back to their beneficiaries. They consume oxygen in the water, but release carbon dioxide back for the plants. Fish waste acts as fertilizer to the many plants who thrive in these mutual waters. Many fish act as ever-on-duty cleaners, eating algae growth off rocks and gravel in the pond.
Fun Fact: Koi Fish, long considered the king of the water garden fish world, are bottom feeders. This means they are best suited to eat from the bottom of your pond; cleaning algae from gravel is as natural to them as eating a sandwich is to us.
Rocks and Gravel. Rocks are important to the construction of an ecosystem pond. They provide stability in construction and add coves of shelter for fish from natural predators from above. What little algae grows on the surface of rocks and gravel becomes a food source for the fish. Rocks and gravel also greatly increase the surface area of growing space for the bacteria that digest pond waste; these microscopic workers need to attach to a surface to live.
There are many more finessed parts of a properly functioning ecosystem pond, but these parts together make up the body of what a freshwater ecosystem is and how it works. Coming together they can create all the life, peace and beauty of the world’s finest ecosystems.
Welcome to pond life; you belong here!
Tussey Landscaping designs and installs koi ponds in Altoona, Hollidaysburg, Bedford, State College, Johnstown PA and the surrounding areas.
One of the perks to being a Certified Aquascape Contractor is being invited to the cool events and unique pond builds all across North America. On this occasion Tussey Landscaping was invited to participate in a pond build for YouTube star Logan Paul in LA. He just recently purchased a home in Hollywood, and mentioned in one of his videos that he wants to put in a koi pond. The phone of Greg Wittstock, owner of Aquascape, blew up with people telling him Aquascape should install one for him.
So on the first week of December, a legion of CAC's descended into LA, teamed up, and knocked out a gorgeous pond with a bridge, a beautiful stream, and bubbling urns.
The event was originally planned as a two day build. But Logan couldn't be there after noon on the second day, so the goal was to have it finished by 10 AM the following day. We got out the lights, rallied late into the night and got it 90% completed on the first day. There were many bone tired people that night, as a lot of them were from the East Coast with a 3 hr time difference. But it paid off. The pond was coming together nicely.
The next morning the CAC team worked to finish up the details and clean up while Greg Wittstock and Logan Paul went to go pick out fish in the 'Cool Bus'. Logan had not seen the pond yet. A big curtain was set up to hide the pond so that it couldn't be seen from the house. When Greg and Logan arrived at the house with the fish, everyone gathered behind the curtain except for Logan and his gang, and the curtain was dropped for the dramatic reveal.
As an additional surprise, Kamp Kenan was there from Florida to give him an albino soft shell Chinese turtle. Logan loved it and the turtle was added to the Maverick team.
Logan was thrilled. His backyard now not only has a koi pond, but beautiful bubbling urns, waterfalls, and a bridge that crosses over to his gym. It really is a peaceful area. Enjoy the finished photos below. Let us know what you think in the comments!
Also, to see more content like this on Youtube, subscribe to Greg the Pond Guy!
Credit for some photos used in this article: California Waterscapes
A special thanks to everyone who participated in this amazing project!
Nature Ages Beautifully
Are you struggling to achieve the water quality you would like? Cloudy water, or excessive algae? We’ve got the solution for you. No one is more qualified than the experts at Tussey Landscaping, based out of Hollidaysburg Pa, and servicing State College, Altoona, Bedford, and Johnstown areas.
Your Aquascape Ecosystem pond is a living breathing body of water with all the functions of nature; just like a lake or river in the wild. With the Aquascape system, your pond will have everything in place to harbor that biological life.
To start and maintain this biological life, you need to add beneficial bacteria to your pond regularly. And there are products available to treat with manually, but the absolute best solution that’s ever been available is the Aquascape Automatic Dosing System. At Tussey Landscaping, we have been in the water gardening world for 20 years, and never has there been a solution available that is this effective and consistent.
The results from the Auto Dosing System are much better than anything we ever tried before, in fact the water quality is flawless. It’s better than even when you may have been very consistent with manually treating your pond with the beneficial bacteria.
The Auto Dosing System is a small unit that is installed close to your skimmer box and a 1/4” line is run into the skimmer. The system is then programmed for your pond, and it precisely treats your pond with the exact amount of bacteria needed. It works kind of like an IV, with a bag, and a pump that slowly drip feeds the treatment into your pond 24/7.
The bacteria that is used with the Auto Dosing System is more effective than the bottled Beneficial Bacteria you buy off the shelf. The reason for this is that someone could overdose with the bottled bacteria you treat with manually, therefore Aquascape must create the formula in a way that will safeguard it against that chance, so that it will not hurt your fish or plants and ecosystem. However the Auto Dosing System eliminates human error, and there is no risk of overdose. Because of that the scientists at Aquascape can dial in that formula to exact proportions, which makes it be extremely effective and consistent. Much more so than any other product available.
To talk with a water feature expert about your pond or water feature, contact us today at 814.696.3700. We can get you set up and get your pond’s ecosystem going in the right direction, leaving only the enjoyment left, which you can do. J
At Tussey Landscaping, we have the solution.
The Lifetime Guarantee solid bronze AMP LED lighting line will deliver a lifetime of beauty to your home. As an Authorized Professional Contractor, Tussey will bring that atmosphere you see and admire at high end resorts right to your own home.
No more frustration of broken fixtures, lights not working for seemingly no reason, or even fear of wiping out all your lighting with a lightning strike. With the no questions asked Lifetime Guarantee, we stand behind our product with no hassle to you. The fixture, bulb, and everything are covered. No more costly bulb replacements down the road.
With the low voltage LED technology AMP uses, we offer the most efficient and green solution available. Using only 90% of energy traditional incandescent lighting does.
Talk to one of our qualified designers today about your home in State College, Altoona, Johnstown or Bedford, and see what can be done to take the look and feel of your home to the next level. Like the best one on the street.
It is very important to use polymeric sand, and not regular sand. Polymeric sand is a product that has been on the market for quite a few years, and it drastically helps decrease the struggle; if installed properly. It comes in bags, and has polymeric bonding agents mixed in the sand that will harden the sand when the bonding agents are activated by wetting the sand after it is swept in the joints. You can find this sand at Tussey Mountain Mulch in Hollidaysburg Pa. http://www.alliancegator.com/2011/gator-maxx-bond/
If you have weeds growing in your patio, the first thing we need to do is spray them with a weed killer, let them die, and then take a power washer and blast out the joints and remove all the dirt or old sand. After the pavers have completely dried, you will want to take new polymeric sand and sweep it into the joints, following all instructions on the bag. After you have the sand installed, the new polymeric sand will become very hard, and inhibit weed growth.
We make those places for you. Imagine just soaking up the peace of a summer night outdoors on your patio as the fire crackles in the outdoor fireplace. You pull out a cold drink from the fridge in your outdoor kitchen, and curl up on the outdoor sofa and just stretch out and breathe in the cool evening air. Relax. That’s what these places are for. And they are right outside your back door; they are called Outdoor Living Spaces.
Take your life outdoors this summer. Create a place that your family WANTS to come home to! A place where your teenagers want to bring their friends, and ultimately, spend more time with you at home. At Tussey Landscaping, we believe quality time is important for families, and we are in the business of creating the perfect environments for it, …outdoors.
Just unplug for a while. Walk outside to see your fish swimming in the pond and become lost in thought as you watch them swimming around. Look up from your screen, and soak in the beauty of nature. Listen to the music of water as your brook babbles down over the boulders. Watch in delight as your young child feeds the fish and connects with nature, rather than his video games.
Or have friends over that you haven’t had time to visit with in months, and entertain them at the bar of your outdoor kitchen. Listen to your favorite music outside with your outdoor audio system as the twilight fades in across the evening sky, and the soft lighting accents your backyard.
Start your day off right with an extra breath of fresh air outside and have your cup of coffee out by the splashing waterfalls. You’ll feel so much better when you're not in the rat race every waking moment.
All this can be yours at your very own home… Reach out to us and we will create your own personal peaceful environment, outdoors!
Tussey Landscaping is based out of Hollidaysburg Pa, and services the Altoona, Bedford, State College, and Johnstown areas.
Weston has been working at Tussey since 2007, starting as a laborer on the crews. Today he works as a foreman on one of the crews during the landscaping season, as well as our marketing director at Tussey.