Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time to clean my pond?
We recommend cleaning your pond every year, as soon as the water temperatures start to warm. Typically, plan on contacting us between February and June to schedule your cleaning. The earlier you can schedule your cleaning with Oklahoma Ponds, the sooner you’ll get on our schedule. Waiting too long to clean your pond could result in unhealthy bacteria growth. For more information about annual Spring pond cleanings, please check out our recent blog here.
How deep should my pond be in Oklahoma?
We recommend pond construction being no shallower than 24 inches. This depth is ideal because it allows hardy aquatic plants to thrive without freezing, but also allows enough room to raise koi and goldfish. If your space and budget allow, we like to dig ponds closer to 2.5 or 3 feet deep. This depth gives your fish plenty of room to retreat when threatened and gives the pond a more unique look.
How do I know how many gallons my pond holds?
It is very important to know how many gallons your pond holds. This information allows both you and your pond service team to properly service your pond by:
- Adding the correct water treatments to the pond
- Preventing money waste from overdosing with beneficial bacteria
- Making sure your biological filtration system is adequate based on your water capacity and fish load.
The quickest way to determine how many gallons your pond has is to find your average length, depth, and width of your pond. Then, multiply them all by 7.5 (the space a cubic gallon of water takes up in your pond). For instance, if your pond is 8’ wide, 11’ long, and 2’ deep on average then your formula will look like this:
8 x 11 x 2 x 7.5= 1,320 gallons
However, if your pond has rocks or gravel, including rock shelves, take your measurements on the inside of the rocks. This way, you’re not factoring in water that the rocks and gravel displace.
If Oklahoma Ponds built or regularly services your pond, you can contact us directly and ask about your pond’s size. We keep track of all projects and will be able to give you accurate gallon measurements.
Are ponds easy to maintain?
That depends on how your pond was constructed. If your pond is built using the “ecosystem” method (which we use here at Oklahoma Ponds), then yes, it is easy to maintain! The ecosystem pond works with mother nature and not against her. Just like a natural body of water, your pond requires a proper balance of fish, plants, aeration, and bacteria to remain healthy.
The ponds we design and build have a mechanical filter (usually a skimmer or intake bay), areas designed for plants to feed directly from the pond, and waterfall features for aeration. Plus, we add a biological filter that hosts billions of nitrifying bacteria. These bacteria remove toxins put off by the fish and decaying organic matter. It’s the circle of life, contained in your pond!
How many koi can I have in my pond?
That all depends. There are many factors that determine how many fish you can have. Aeration, the effectiveness of your filtration system, and gallons of water all contribute to a healthy ecosystem for your fish.
A good rule of thumb is one adult koi (over 12”) for every 250 gallons of water. So, if you have a 10x14x2 pond (measuring inside the rocks and gravel) then your pond holds 2,100 gallons of water. Assuming your pond was properly constructed, you can have up to eight adult koi.
But here is where it gets interesting; this math is for adult koi, not babies. Adult koi require a far greater amount of dissolved oxygen than smaller fish.Plus, adult koi put off much more ammonia when breathing and pooping! It is not uncommon to stock a new koi pond with baby fish (I am guilty of this myself!). While this is fine for the first few years, your fish and your pond will become unhealthy over time, as the koi grow. Without the proper space, you will have to find new homes for your finned pets…or build another pond!
How can I tell the difference between koi and goldfish?
While the two may look similar from a passing glance, koi and goldfish are two very different species. One way to tell them apart is by the “whiskers,” known as barbels. Koi fish have barbels on each side of their mouths. Goldfish, on the other hand, lack these barbels. So, if your fish has “whiskers,” it’s definitely a koi.
You can also tell the two apart by looking at the dorsal fin closest to the tail. If the dorsal fin is attached to the back, it’s a koi. A non-attached dorsal fin means it’s a goldfish.
Koi fish also grow to be much larger than their goldfish cousins in adulthood. But don’t worry: even though they’re different, koi and goldfish typically get along just fine.
If you still have trouble identifying your fish or want advice on which species is best for your pond, we would be happy to answer your questions! Contact us to learn more about your fish.
My pond has algae, what are my options?
Algae growth can be both alarming and unattractive. But algae isn’t always a major concern. However, sometimes it can be dangerous to your fish and aquatic plants if not controlled properly. Therefore, you should always contact us if you notice algae growth.
First, it’s important to determine what is causing the algae growth. Is it caused by excess debris, fish or plant waste, or improper cleaning? Is poor aeration of filtration causing algae growth? Your best option is to call a Pond Pro from Oklahoma Ponds. We can diagnose the cause of your algae growth and recommend a plan to get your pond healthy again.
Common solutions include introducing additives to your pond, cleaning out your water feature, adding more aquatic plants, or repairing/adding new aeration or filtration systems. Call us today to discuss your options for a cleaner, clearer pond.
Why is my pond water green?
Unusually green water could mean several things. It might mean an abundance of nutrients in your pond, but not enough filtration or plants to consume those nutrients. When nitrates and phosphate levels are high, but there aren’t enough plants to feed on them, algae will begin to take over. The greenish color you see is actually single-cell floating algae. Unfortunately, this is very common in ponds that are constructed AWAY from the ecosystem style.
Your best option is to treat the algae as a symptom of a larger problem. First, determine the cause. A lack of plant life is almost always the culprit. New plants in your pond will start competing with the algae for the same nutrients, and eventually, the algae will die out. Shade plants help too. They’ll steal the sunlight away from algae, which causes it to die.
You might also choose to combat green water by installing a UV light, which quickly kills the algae. We do not install many of these devices, but they are very effective at killing green water. However, even with the UV light, you may need to do a few 20% water changes as the algae are dying off to prevent them from building up in the system.
What happens to my fish in the winter?
This is a common question we hear from new pond owners. During the winter months, your fish become very sluggish and tend to stay near the bottom of the pond, where they find warmer pockets of water. As long as your pond is below the ground and has a pump running, you should have no problems with your fish during the winter.
We also recommend raising any aeration from the bottom of your pond and bringing it closer to the surface. If possible, run your pond year-round. This makes sure that the pond does not freeze over completely and allows the gases to pass from your pond.
Should I turn my pond pump off?
No! Especially during the warmer months, your fish are more active, meaning they are consuming more oxygen and putting off more waste. Turning off your system means there is less oxygen. Over time, fish waste quickly builds up to unsafe levels. Leaving your pond running year-round is always recommended if you have fish.
When should I stop and start feeding my fish?
We recommend switching to a winter and fall formula fish food starting in September. Stop feeding your fish once the water temps dip below 55 degrees (usually OU vs OSU football game is a good indicator). During the early spring, you will notice your fish grazing around the pond, and maybe even coming up to you, wanting to be fed. However, during these warm streaks, there is actually plenty of organic algae and debris in the pond that the fish will eat. This material is much easier for them to digest during temperature fluctuations.
Once the water is consistently above 55 degrees, you can begin to feed small amounts of spring formula fish food. In May, you can switch to your favorite summer formula.
Should I put a net over my pond in the fall?
Yes! A properly installed net cover keeps leaves and other winter debris from blowing into your pond and overwhelming your skimmer or pump. More importantly, winter debris can host dangerous parasites that take advantage of your fish while their immune systems are low due to the cold.
How can I keep herons away from my pond?
If you are having a problem with predators targeting your pond, you are not alone. This is a question that pops up every season. There are many options you can try to keep large birds and other predators away from your pond. Unfortunately, though, a heron will eventually outsmart most efforts.
The most effective way to protect your finned pets is to install a protective net. While this is very effective, some people find the net too distracting as a permanent solution. You might also consider running fishing line around the perimeter of your pond. The heron will not like having to contend with the line and will eventually find somewhere else to hunt.
Another solution is giving your fish a hiding place. If your pond does not have a good place for your fish to hide, you may want to consider adding one. We suggest two different methods. The first is an easy to install fake stump made by Aquascape. Depending on the size of your pond and fish, this may be a good option. The second option is letting us install a “fish cave.” To create this feature, we use heavy drain pipe and disguise it using matching rocks, boulders, and gravel, ultimately creating a built-in cave that blends beautifully into your pond.
Why are my fish fighting?
Just like humans, koi can have varying personalities. In general, they’re friendly fish and shouldn’t display long-term aggressive behavior. But it does happen from time to time. If you notice one fish bullying others or being more aggressive than the rest, it’s possible you just have a grumpy koi.
Sometimes, there are factors that cause aggressive behavior in your fish. First, look for signs of stress. If you have recently introduced koi to your pond, stress can lead to aggression. They’re trying to adapt to a new situation, and because of this can display odd behaviors. In time, they will adapt, and this behavior should correct itself. An overpopulated pond or unclean water may also cause stress to a koi fish.
Secondly, fish become more aggressive during spawning periods, usually in the Spring. During this time, the males may become aggressive, chasing and biting one another. Ensure your water is clean to allow the fish to heal after their interactions.
Other factors could cause your fish to become aggressive, like poor water quality, inability to hide from a predator, overcrowding, or introducing incompatible fish or other species in the pond.
If your koi are showing prolonged signs of stress, it’s crucial to figure out the cause. Stress causes the immune system to break down, which eventually leads to sick fish. Keeping your fish happy also means keeping them healthy!