Are you a new pond owner? This guide is for you.
Congratulations on your new water feature ownership! If you're not sure where to start, this page is all for you. We've put together all the most frequently asked questions by pond owners, but if we've left something out, check out our blog or contact us.
If we've installed your water feature for you, don't forget to consult the packet we gave you at your final walkthrough. And you still don't get it we are always here to help!
This page is best utilized with our side menu on the left. If you're on a mobile device, you will not see this menu. If you can access this page on a computer, you'll have an easier time navigating. There's a ton of info here, so we wanted to organize it for you as best as we can!
What is a pond?
The pond world can be guilty of using a lot of pond jargon! So when someone tells you to check your skimmer... what does that even mean?
Let's start with some pond terminology.
We consider a "pond" a lined water feature that holds water (and usually has fish). The ponds Cool Ponds works with are small, backyard ponds typically under 15,000 gallons and averaging about 1,000 gallons.
What about your fish?
Ponds typically have koi and goldfish. Both get along together "swimmingly."
People with new ponds are generally concerned about their fish. Well you can rest easy. Fish are super easy pets to have!
Feeding your fish
Firstly: fish do NOT need to fed. Yes, they may beg you. But don't you usually beg for donuts instead of salad? Fish food is supplemental food. Think of it like a treat.
And like treats, fish food can be healthy or bad for your fish. If your fish food is a flake or purchased from a box store, it is likely to be junk food.
We sell the same fish food we feed to our fish. It's high protein, which means it's good for your fish and good for your water too.
If you choose to feed your fish, start with only once or twice a week and only what your fish will eat in a couple of minutes.
One more important thing about fish food: do NOT feed your fish when the water temperature is below 50°F! They do not digest food in cold water.
Fish in winter
In Indiana's climate, our ponds will only freeze a few inches at the top of the ponds at most (if your pond is buried underground!). Which means as long as your pond is 18" deep, your fish can survive over winter.
Your fish do not need circulation in the winter, so you can choose not to run your pond in winter if you'd prefer (which we suggest). Your fish just need a hole in the ice to breathe. You can accomplish this with a de-icer or an aerator.
Do you need fish?
If fish seem like a hassle to you, you may be asking if you should even bother having them. For a complete ecosystem, your pond needs fish. If you choose not to have fish, you're almost guaranteed to have rampant string algae and other issues.
Fish are as little or as much work as you want them to be. If you want to be a hands-off fish owner, you can be. If you'd like to name every fish and keep a scrapbook of your fishy family, you can do that too.
What should your pond look like?
Every pond is unique, and every pond clearing solution is unique too. We've developed a way of keeping our ponds clear and healthy that works for all of our ponds and thousands of others too.
But it's helpful to know what your pond should look like!
A healthy pond has clear water and a coating of green algae on all surfaces in the pond.
Learn to love that "carpet algae." It is awesome stuff! We'll get into diagnosing issues next if your pond doesn't look like this, but if you want a look at types of algae, click the link below.
How to diagnose pond issues.
Watch our video above to see our pond cleaning process.
If you're in the unfortunate camp of owning a pond that doesn't quite look like the picturesque beauty we described above, then pay close attention to this section.
A good first step is a pond cleaning. You can tackle it yourself (we have a video for that) or you can also hire us to clean your pond for you. Having us clean your pond the first time is a good option if you're feeling particularly lost. The tech cleaning your pond can walk you through the process and answer any pond questions you might have.
If your pond isn't quite that bad but not looking its best, you can start your issue diagnosis with a water glass test.
If the water comes up green, follow our step-by-step guide to clear water (don't forget the checklist towards the bottom of the page!).
If the water is clear-colored but full of suspended bits, follow our debris guide.
Regardless of how your pond looks now, we recommend looking into our clear water guide.
It is really important to remember as you go through this process: bringing a pond back into balance takes time. It will test your patience. But it will be so worth it!
Does Cool Ponds Offer Consultations?
Right now we simply do not have the staff available to do on-site consultations. If following our online guides doesn't lead you to the solution you were hoping for, contact us so we can help recommend which of our products or services might help you the most.
All about pumps.
Your pump may look like one of these.
The pump is your water feature's beating heart. It is very important that you know where the pump is, how to maintain it, and what to do with the pump in winter.
Where is your pump?
Your pump is somewhere under water. Most pumps are "submersible," unlike pool pumps which are external and kept outside of the body of water itself.
In our ponds, the pumps are inside skimmers in ponds and pump vaults in pond-free waterfalls. Both skimmers and pump vaults have lids that you can remove to see the pump inside.
Some ponds have pumps that sit in the bottom of the pond.
When in doubt, find the electrical cord and trace it to its source!
How do you maintain you pump?
Make sure your feature is topped off so that your pump doesn't run out of water. Running out of water means your pump could burn up and fail -- leaving you with a potentially costly replacement.
Your water feature will always lose water from evaporation -- that is totally normal. And that water loss varies based on the time of the year.
Know how to check your water level with our guide below.
At least once a year, you should remove your pump from the pond and clean it with a garden hose. If your pond tends to accumulate a lot of "muck," then you'll want to clean your pump more often.
Most pumps can just be rinsed off. There are a few that have removable parts that should be cleaned too.
If you hire us for a water feature cleaning, we clean your pump for you.
What to do with your pump in winter?
Keeping your water feature running or not in the winter time comes down to your personal preference. However, if you're a little nervous about your first winter with your water feature, then not running it would be your best option.
You cannot just unplug your pump. You need to remove it.
We have a handy guide for removing your pump from your water feature here. Or we also provide that service too.
What if your pump is dead?
If your pump is plugged in but there's no water coming from your waterfall or fountain, check these things first:
Make sure your water feature has enough water
Make sure your filters are clean (if applicable)
Make sure leaves are not blocking flow into basin (for pond-free waterfalls)
Unplug your pump and let it sit for a few minutes, then plug back in
Try to remove your pump and clean it -- clean the insides of the pump too if applicable
If none of that does the trick, then it is likely your pump is dead. We can help you replace it with one we sell at the store, or you can hire us to come out and replace it for you.
What do you do in winter?
If winter is coming, don't despair. With a little prep work beforehand, winter with your water feature will be easy!
What if you don't have a pond?
Not everything we have listed on this page will be relevant to you.
But do check out the pump section! That one applies to you.
We have a complete guide for pond-free waterfalls (will also apply to fountains) on our blog -- see below. And just a little preview: this guide is short! Pond-free waterfalls are famous for their low-maintenance. We do a lot of pond remodels that turn ponds into pond-free waterfalls.
What do you do about water loss?
Without knowing what a normal rate of water loss is for your water feature, you might be concerned about how much water you're losing.
There's a way to tell if your water loss is normal or might be from a leak. We'll walk you through it.
The water line on this rock does not mean there is water loss. Rocks are porous and wick up water.
Water loss is normal. And in a hot, dry summer, you'll lose a lot of water. Depending on the surface area of your pond, how much shade it gets, the size and speed of your waterfall, and where your water feature sits, you can lose inches of water a week.
If you've gone through our tutorial on water loss and think you may have a leak, read our repair primer here.
We hope this helps!
Water feature ownership should be fun, not scary. And we hope all this information has helped get you on the right path.
In case you haven't figured it out by this point, we have a pond supplies store with everything you might need for your water feature as well as a professional team of installers and pond maintenance techs.
Thank you for keeping our small, family business in operation!