If you have a small pool and the plants have not been managed for a number of years, you can simply cut them back or pull some of them out.  You do have to be careful however as very often these pools have good water quality because the plants are absorbing the nutrients.  The key thing then, is not to rip out too many of the plants because you can go from clear, relatively nice-looking water to something full of algae, simply because you have pulled too many of the plants out.

If you have a much bigger pond, a lake or a lochan then commonly some of the problems are with some of the very vigorous plants like bulrush or Norfolk reed and these need spraying off, and that is the best way to control them.  Ideally you do not plant Typha (bulrush) or Norfolk reed in ornamental systems simply because they tend to take over completely.  There is also a small-leafed lily called Nymphoides peltata which you have to avoid like the plague and these all need spraying in order to control them.

Probably the commonest problem that we get approached with is a pond that is leaking and there are various steps you can take to diagnose what’s going on


  1. If you have a pump and a stream or waterfall and the pond is going down, turn the pump off and the fill the pond up. If you do not get any water loss then, it means that the problem is either in the hose from the pump to the top of the water course, or in the water course, which is actually the commonest cause.  If it is in the water course, put the pump back on and see if you can see anywhere where the water is actually leaking out the sides either over a liner or through concrete or whatever.  Once you locate it, you can fix it.
  2. The other thing that can happen is simply debris accumulating in narrow points in the stream or cascade backing the water up behind it and it then flowing out the sides, and you lose water that way.
  3. Assuming you have not got a water course, or that the leak is not there, then the other obvious problem is a hole in the liner. Again, if you do not fill the pond up and let the pond drop, it will eventually drop to where the hole is, you can then find it and potentially patch it.
  4. One other cause of ponds going down is a liner that is behind stones or something, somebody stands on the stone, pushes the liner down and the water runs out  over the top of a new low point and you end up with what looks like a leak. If you can locate that, just pull the liner back up and you will not have a leak any more

There may be a number of reasons why your pond is so green.  First of all, you may have too small of a pump or filter for the size of your pond.  Secondly, your pond may be in full sun which creates a perfect environment for algae blooms, or the pond  is very shallow, particularly around the edges and doesn’t get much water circulation.   You can remedy these things by first checking your pump and filter size for your pond.  If it is in full sun, you will have to increase the size of the filter and pump to compensate for the increased algae blooms that will occur in full sun.  If you recently made a water exchange or filled your pond within a few weeks, you may need to be patient as your pond hasn’t found it’s ecological balance yet.  If it’s a brand new pond, I would recommend waiting at least 4-6 weeks for your pond to find it’s balance.  Hold off on any chemicals. Add some Microbe Lift which is all-natural beneficial bacteria and organic barley straw bales to your pond.  This increases the function of your biological filter and combats algae blooms including string algae.  Every pond should have them. 

One point to note, is that you must be equipped with a large enough pump, filter and biological media for the beneficial bacteria to grow on and be patient and allow the pond to find it’s natural ecological system. You want to try to correct the problem instead of needing to add chemicals to it all the time.  Another thing that could be adding to your algae blooms is the frequent addition of cold tap water to your pond.  Whenever you add cold tap water to your pond and the pond is in the heat of full sun, it creates a great environment for algae to increase.  Try to eliminate adding tap water to your pond and you just may reduce the algae.  Every time you add tap water, your pond has to adjust and find it’s eco-balance.  If you’re continually adding more water to your pond, your pond will never really balance itself and you’ll try to combat algae and ammonia levels all the time.  In either of these situations, get at the root of the problem whether it’s the wrong pump or filter size or the addition of cold tap water and see if it doesn’t correct itself.  If you’re having a problem with this and need some advise, contact us and we’ll be happy to assist you.  If you need to add tap water, run the water through some Super Activated Filter Carbon to take out the chlorine and chloramine and add more beneficial bacteria to it afterwards.

Pumps give your pond water circulation.  If they are the right size for your pond and are properly placed, they eliminate stagnant water and provide oxygen to your pond.   If they are connected or pumped to a filter, you reduce the effectiveness of the filter if your pump is not on and may end up having unsightly water and elevated levels of ammonia providing you have fish.  If you have multiple pumps, you most likely may not need to have all of them running as long as you have at least 1/2 the total gallons of your pond pumped every hour (there is a different formula for very large ponds – contact us and we will assist you in calculating proper aeration for your pond) for good water circulation.   So, as long as you have good circulation and enough oxygen in your pond, you don’t necessarily need to have all of your pumps running all of the time.

There are 2 types of filters, biological filter and a mechanical filter with some filters actually being 2-in-1.  Mechanical filters filter out debris and algae from your pond.  Biological filters help break down pollutants and toxic ammonia from fish wastes and turns it into useful nitrates.  If you want a clear pond that isn’t murky and full of debris, you should use a mechanical filter.  If you have fish, frogs, etc. you will additionally want to have a biological filter.  If you don’t have a biological filter your precious fish that you expected to live and enjoy will most likely die from toxic ammonia.  These are some reasons why you should have a filter and what benefits each of them bring to your pond.

A biological filter is a filter or a living environment where beneficial bacteria live.  This can be a filter, lava rocks or other fish safe media.  The purpose for a biological filter is to provide an oxygenated environment where beneficial bacteria can live and thrive. These bacteria are responsible for breaking down and converting toxic ammonia from fish wastes into nitrites and then into harmless nitrates.  The beneficial bacteria are essential to any pond.  You can add live beneficial bacteria like Microbe Lift  in a liquid form to your pond to “jump start” the biological filtration system so your pond is equipped to handle fish.  An important note to consider regarding biological filters is that chlorine kills the beneficial bacteria living there.   So, if you have to add tap water to your pond, it is best to de-chlorinate the water first before adding it to the pond.  You do this by simply letting the water sit for about 3 days. (Other ideas are to spray the water up in the air from the garden hose and let it spray down into the pond.  This helps to evaporate the chlorine in the water before the water hits the pond.  Another idea is to run the tap water through some Activated Filter Carbon  which will help to dechlorinate the water before it enters the pond.  You can cut out a hole in a bucket and put the Super Activated Filter Carbon in a media filter bag and tie the end so the Super Activated Filter Carbon doesn’t float out into your pond.  Next, put the garden hose into the bucket and the water will pass through the bucket and exit out the bottom and into your pond.  Make sure that the flow of water going into the bucket doesn’t exceed the flow exiting.  If so, adjust the flow of water from the garden hose or make the hole in the bucket larger.)  One other idea that I personally find as a “must” to have around the house is having Ammo Lock 2 .  This product when added to your pond will instantly neutralize the chlorine and chloramine in the tap water (as well as lock the ammonia if your ammonia levels are high) so it is not absorbed by the fish.  Once the water is filtered through your biological filter, the beneficial bacteria living there will break down the ammonia into useful nitrates and break down the ammonia in the water.  Ammo Lock 2 is good to have around as it can really bail you out of a situation in case you’ve been too busy or have forgot to check your ammonia levels and all of a sudden one day your ammonia is high and your fish are dieing or acting kind of funny.  Ammo Lock 2 will instantly neutralize the ammonia and you most likely will be able to save your fish.  Another thing that improves the function of a biological filter as I mentioned earlier is  barley straw bales.  They improve the function of your biological filter and help reduce algae, especially the long, unsightly string algae in the heat of the summer.  It lasts for months and is totally organic and chemical free.  I have some in my pond.  Try it.

This is a pretty broad question since I don’t know the type of fish you have nor the size of pond.  A rule of thumb is to feed a koi fish that is about 6″ long about  6-10 pellets of Fish Food in the morning and night.  If you have a large pond that offers other things for your fish to “nibble” on, you may never have to feed your fish.   A very important note about feeding fish is not to overfeed them.  When you do feed them, your fish should come to the surface of the water and gobble up the food within a minute or so.   If it’s left there for several minutes or longer, your fish are not hungry.   It is better to have slightly hungry fish than to have fish that are full all the time.  It’s kind of like being a “couch potato” ( I have to add a little humor to these faqs! :o)) and munching all day long versus a person who is active, gets some exercise and eats moderately.  Who do you think is the healthiest?  Besides the health of the fish, by overfeeding them you naturally increase the amount of wastes they excrete and it puts more demand on your biological filter to break down the toxic ammonia from these wastes into harmless nitrates. Your water can stay cloudy too, and you’ll wonder why.  If you’re feeding them too much, your filter may not be able to compensate and essentially your ammonia levels will go up and your fish may die.  You may just have continuously green water too, as the nutrients from the fish wastes are providing nutrition to the algae.  So either way, don’t overfeed your fish and test your pond water approx. once a week to check it’s ammonia and other chemicals.

This answer really is a matter of personal preference.  If you have a small pond and don’t have any fish in it, then yes, you can empty it or leave the water in it as you had.  If there is no reason to have pumps running, etc. I would remove the pumps, statues, etc. and just leave the water in it.  You will probably want to clean it and add fresh water to it in the Spring so it doesn’t matter what you do with it now.  If, however you have fish in it, your pond should be at least 30″ deep and have a Pond Aerators and Pond Deicers for the fish to stay outside during the winter.  (We have complete information about Winter Fish Pond Tips.)

An important note to consider about keeping fish outside during the winter is the size of the fish and if they are native to cold temperatures.  If you have small koi – approx. 4″ long and not much fat on them, they just may not make it outside for the winter and you take a chance of losing them.  Fish need a certain amount of fat on them to insulate them from the cold temperature and a koi fish that small may not have enough fat.  Mosquitofish on the otherhand, while only about 2″ long at maturity can withstand the cold temperature because they are native to cold temperatures and they can have plenty of fat on them at even 2″ long!  (Plecos on the other hand, may not survive the winter in your pond because they are native to warmer temperatures.)    We have been asked many times about the possibility of keeping fish outside in ponds that are shallower than the recommended 30″.  An idea that you can try is to have a submergible pond de-icer as well as a floating pond de-icer but it will depend on your pond size as to how many you need.  This is done purely at your own risk of losing the fish.  The pond de-icers are thermostatically controlled and set so the water doesn’t actually freeze but will not heat your water above freezing (above 40° F).   Technically, your fish should be where it’s a bit warmer but if this isn’t feasible then having a submergible de-icer and floating de-icer may be your only option unless you have a nice neighbor with a large enough pond to “babysit” your fish for the winter.  You can always bring them inside for the winter.   Just make sure they have some type of aeration system whether it’s an aerator or a pump and biological media for the beneficial bacteria to grow on. 

The worst of these is Crassula helmsii, the New Zealand pygmy weed.  It is also called Tillaea recurva.  It is light green, will grow in damp ground and under water to quite deep levels and will just fill a pond completely.  It is still a plant, so it still provides habitat for invertebrates and so on but it does out-compete native plants and does not support as much wildlife as native plants.  It is very troublesome.  Once you have it, it is extremely difficult to get rid of other than stripping the whole pond completely back to the liner and starting again

Key things with fish are to avoid stocking too many.  If you really pile fish into a small pool it  simply becomes overloaded with nutrients and it will go green and unpleasant.

Koi can be an issue.  They grow very big and eat a lot of food and they are not very keen on Scotland’s cold climate.  They sometimes do quite well but they are probably better of further south.

Golden orfe are a fish I like.  They seem to like cold water, they are visible, they shoal, they breed and they live for a very long time.

Goldfish and shubunkins are also fine.

There is no point in having fish like tench.  You simply will not ever see them and they just do not perform any more useful function in a pond than goldfish would.

Fish tend not to mix very well with other wildlife, simply because they will eat a lot of it but you do get frogs using fish ponds quite successfully and a small number of goldfish or orfe are a nice addition to a small garden pond.

We are often asked to build wildlife ponds.  It is a relatively straight-forward job and you do not need a huge amount of depth.  The key thing is to plant them heavily with native plants – such as bog bean, hornwort, water mint, marsh marigold, purple loosestrife, flag iris – all provide flower for bees and generally habitat for invertebrates.

Sometimes wildlife competes.  It is a very natural situation but adult newts, for example, will eat frogspawn.  However if you just create shallow areas with native plants and leave it alone, then, as they say – build it and they will come!

No need to take silt or water from any other water course nearby; that is often a mistake because often canals or the local pond actually have alien things like Elodea in them and you simply introduce them into your pond.  Much better to buy native plants or get them from somewhere that you know is clean and then all the other invertebrates will colonise anyway.  Frogs, newts and sometimes toads will find their own way to your pond.  I personally do not see much wrong with taking some frogspawn from where there is a lot of frogspawn, perhaps from your local park, and putting it in your own little wildlife pond.  Supposedly you can transfer diseases and so on, but given that the adults spread out all over the place anyway, I cannot see much of a problem and you will get an instant population of frogs.

Small, formal, falls of water, for example water falling from height from something like a stainless steel letter box are much more difficult to do than they look.  The fact that you have a small reservoir of water at the bottom means that any water loss – a splash, a slight mistake in any of the work – and the bottom reservoir just drains rapidly and you have to keep filling it up.

Because you cannot generally plant them, keeping the water clear can be difficult. You either have to put UV’s and, perhaps, dosing units on them to keep them clean or you have to find some way of introducing plants.  These features look fairly simple, but unfortunately they are not.