How much pond liner do I need?

Knowing how much pond liner you need will save your budget (and time!) – too big or too small is wasted money. Calculating how much pond liner you need is dependent on the accurate measurements you take of your pond. You will need these to add into a pond liner calculator which will take your measurements to determine the amount of pond liner and protective underlay you will need to order. So, let me take you through how to calculating how much pond liner you need.

Pond liners offer greater flexibility in pond design allowing you carte blanche in creativity. However, the further you move away from the traditional rectangular or circular pond shape the more you need to understand how to take measurements. With all measurements remember to add in a little extra for an overlay (visit ‘Pond planning and construction‘ for more information).

How to take measurements of your pond Pond with wooden bridge going across and bordered by ferns

  • Measure the longest length
  • Measure the widest width
  • Measure the depth from the deepest area of your pond

Now, add one side (Length or Width) to two times the depth plus amount needed for the overlap (0.15m).  The depth of the pond needs to be multiplied by two because the pond liner needs to go down one side of the pond and back up the other side.

How much of an overlay or overlap to add into your calculation really depends on how you plan to fix your pond liner in place. So, increase or decrease the amount of overlay depending on installation and edging method. I have used an overlay of 0.15m in my example calculations.

The pond liner calculation will look like this:

  • Maximum length + (2 x depth) +2 x 0.15m overlap = Total Length of Liner
  • Maximum width + (2 x depth) + 2 x 0.15m overlap = Total Width of Liner

Multiplying the depth by 2 accounts for the depth on both sides of the pond. And, the same applies to the overlay. Planting shelves in your pond design don’t need to be accounted for as they won’t significantly affect the pond measurements.

The size of pond liner required can be calculated as: Maximum length + (2 x maximum depth of pond) x maximum width + (2 x maximum depth) with the overlay added into the length and width pond measurements. Or, take each measurement and use a pond liner calculator to do the calculation for you.

How to measure how much pond liner you need

Pond liner measurements for an L or U-shaped pond

For more complex pond designs such as an L-shaped or U-shaped pond, the easiest way to take measurements is to divide the pond into sections. So for an L-shape you would measure as a square + rectangle. The depth where the two liners will meet only needs to be added into the calculation once.

Or, calculate as a whole shape:

  • Measure the maximum depth
  • Measure the length of the two outer longest sides of the pond.
  • Multiply the maximum depth measurement by three and add it to the two longest lengths of your pond to get pond liner dimensions required. Box-welded pond liner fabricated from EPDM pond liner

Ponds with an island or raised plinth:

  • Measure the maximum depth of pond and multiply this by four,
  • Measure length and width of pond
  • 4 x maximum depth + length x width = pond dimension

Use our pond liner size Calculator to get the pond liner and underlay measurements you need to order for your pond design. For L-shape and ponds with a plinth you may want to discuss these with our pond experts first. You can phone us at Liners Online on 01526 399 033 for all your pond liner queries.

My top 5 steps on how to build a pond and fit a pond liner

As with all home and garden projects careful planning is required. So, in this article I aim to share all the steps you need to put in place including a project budget if you are going to include a pond liner, underlay, pond pump, filter, aquatic plants, fish and other finishing touches to your build.

With any pond build, the first and most important step is to decide what the purpose of your pond will be. Is it to attract wildlife, to keep gold fish, home Koi Carp or grow aquatic plants. Are you going to use natural or a mechanical water quality control system?

  • for aquatic planting you will need to add a stepped base or shelf to your design plan.  The shelves can be used to accommodate marginal plants of varying heights or to place planting baskets. Shelves make it easier to remove plants to cut back at the end of the season and for general pond maintenance. The design and planning for this type of pond is much like the steps you would take when planning what to plant in a flower bed so that choice works together in a creative fashion.
  • for a fish pond, water volume is an important factor when considering design and size. The bigger the pond, the easier it is to maintain healthy water levels. Goldfish require a pond of at least 5 meter square and a depth of no less than half a meter – or a volume of 3000 litres. Koi require a minimum of 5500 litres – or minimum pond size of 2.5m x 2m x 1.2m. There is also a maximum depth – a Koi pond shouldn’t be deeper than 3 meters because sunlight won’t penetrate sufficiently to promote the vital growth of healthy algae. Koi are big fish and need a large volume of water. They also produce high amounts of waste. For both those reasons, a steep or vertical sided pond is recommended. It guarantees the largest volume of water for the space occupied by the pond and steep sides don’t accumulate waste materials and debris that can release harmful ammonia.
  • a wildlife pond is probably the easiest type to build and maintain. No retainer wall or brick work involved. A wildlife pond just needs a sloping edge so small creatures such as frogs can easily enter and get out.
  • a natural pond is one in which the water, soil, plants, and animals all live in harmony. There is no man-made intervention such as a pond liner to contain the water or pond pump to aerate the water.

What size pond?

The bigger the pond the easier it will be to maintain relative to a small shallow water feature. This is because a small pond gets warm quicker in summer and is more likely to freeze over in winter relative to a bigger and deeper pond. However, there are solutions to every situation – when the temperatures rise during the summer months add extra aeration to your pond – use an air pump to achieve this and make sure your pond receives sufficient shade.  Use a pond thermometer if you plan on homing fish and keep an eye out for any signs of distress.  The lethal water temperature for Koi and goldfish is reportedly 90 degrees F. The higher the water temperature, the less dissolved oxygen it is capable of holding. Fish have a greater demand for oxygen at higher temperatures so the distress they show is due to breathing difficulties.

Pond location

The next step is to decide where to position your pond. A formal pond into which a box-welded pond liner is fitted can be raised off the ground or dug into the ground. It is about deciding which fits best with your garden size and overall landscape design.

  • site a pond on level ground – this will also help avoid rainwater run-off, which could bring with it fertilisers carried into your pond. Added nutrients will have a negative impact on water quality.Box welded pond liner contains the water in this rectangular garden pond
  • ponds need 50 to 70% of the water to be in shade. This can be achieved by building your pond under a pergola (or building a pergola to go over your pond) or shaded in relation to the position of your pond to a garden wall or house. Include floating plants can also provide the necessary amount of shade ( fish can’t breath if too much of the surface is covered by aquatic plants). Building your pond too close to a tree to provide the necessary amount of shade is possible although you will have to keep on top of skimming off all the fallen leaves before they sink to the bottom.

Pond design

Now that you know what the purpose is for building your garden pond, the size that we best fit in the space you have available and where you are going to position it – the next step is deciding on design. A box welded pond liner doesn’t restrict you to a geometric with variations of square or rectangular layout. It is possible to be more creative with your design and still have your pond lined without creases or folds to the pond liner. The main criteria is that the design needs to include vertical sides.

Use a length of rope to play around with different shapes until you come up with one that will work in your garden and against the backdrop of your surrounding landscape.

Building your pond

A raised pond can be built using bricks, concrete blocks or railway sleepers. Sunken ponds require digging. The soil dug out can be used in flower beds or to landscape your garden. Once you have finished digging and are fully satisfied with the layout and depth you will need to remove as many of the stones and rough gravel as possible so as not to damage your pond liner. Measure the widest width, the longest length and the deepest point of your pond. These dimensions are necessary to calculate how much pond liner and protective underlay you will need to order.

Installing underlay and pond liner Garden pond liners being installed into a complex shaped pond

It is always best to tackle the job with another pair of helping hands. First unfold the protective underlay and line the hole dug for your pond. Then, with great care unravel the pond liner and, with help lift and place over the pond. Allow your pond liner to sink into the deepest area of your pond. Step barefoot into your pond to carefully push your pond liner into the contours. Pleat and fold as neatly as possible into the corners. Don’t be tempted to cut any excess pond liner until the pond liner has ‘settled in’ and you have filled your pond with water.

 The final step is to decide whether you are going to use natural means of aerating and maintaining water quality or mechanical by way of a pump and filter. The role of a pond pump is to keep the water moving and by so doing it add oxygen to it. A filter added to the pump will remove debris. This is particularly important when keeping fish because their faeces, if left in the water increase the nitrate levels. This in turn affects water quality.

Goldfish and Koi excrete waste into the water in the form of ammonia from their gills and nitrate in their faeces.  And, algae grows in ponds where there are high levels light and nutrients. When nutrient levels get high enough, algae takes over the pond and chokes everything else out.  Ponds lined with a pond liner means there is a lack of soil in the bottom therefore few micro-organisms compared to that of a natural pond. There are also fewer surfaces for mico-organisms to attach to. Therefore you have to create an artificial place for the microbes to live. A filtration system can be used to provide a surface for the micro-organisms to live on. Microbes take-up waste animal and plant matter as they float around in the water keeping the water clear of nutrients needed for algae to thrive.

Building a pond in your garden is such a rewarding challenge to take on. The finished product will provide you with endless enjoyment so I hope these steps help you to get to work on your plans.

How to protect your pond pump, filter and pond from theft

Last year there were reports of a pond filter stollen from a popular Koi pond maintained by Maidenhead Aquatics. The theft nearly resulted in the death of more than 125 fish – 25 of which were Koi carp. It is thought that when the thieves removed the UV filter they also pulled out the water pipe resulting in the ponds lose of water.

An article in the Telegraph newspaper, June 2009 stated that police reports suggested thieves were using Google Earth to steal expensive koi carp from homeowners’ ponds. Internet satellite images were used to identify gardens with ponds with twelve thefts of Koi and pond equipment worth hundreds of pounds reported over a three-week period across East Yorkshire.  One of the properties targeted has an eight foot fence and the pond is in the corner of the property so can’t be seen by passers-by.

Hedge around property to protect accessThe intention of this article is not to come across as an alarmist but merely to highlight that it is better to put precautionary steps in place than to suffer a lose of equipments and, or fish as stories of theft are sadly not isolated incidents. Pond equipment is expensive and therefore attractive to anyone wanting to make easy money selling on to pond hobbyists.

Scanning through pond forum sites, pond equipment and pond fish theft is a subject that frequently crops-up for discussion so thought I would sum-up a few ideas on how to deal with the protecting your pond from the hands of thieves – and unless equipment is under lock and key, you are not likely to be covered by insurance.

Tips on pond pump, filter and fish  protection

  • conceal pond pumps and filters as much as possible to make it as difficult as possible to steal
  • build a structure around your filter to box it in – the longer it takes to gain access, the less attractive it becomes
  • You can box in filters in the garden to look like wheelie bin houses or compost boxes
  • construct a pergola over your pond to hide pond contents and equipment from satellite images
  • toughen the perimeter of your property to make access more of a challenge. Planting hedges and bushes along a wall or fence – plants like pyracantha or holy work wonders.
  • gravel paths can be noisy to walk on and will alert when someone enters your property.
  • make route from pond to a likely place a car or motor bike is parked as difficult to negotiate as possible – no good stealing a filter if can’t carry through a narrow exit!
  • install a super bright spotlight with motion sensor

If someone is determined, you won’t stop them. But if access to your property and pond looks too risky to get to your pond pump or filter, the opportunist is more likely to look elsewhere.

Do you have any other ideas you could share? We would love to hear from you.

How to theft proof your Koi carp and pond

Not all Koi carp are taken by visiting Heron! The hand of a deceitful person is just as likely to be the culprit for a garden ponds dwindling numbers. What are the real risks of loosing your precious Koi to theft? Despite researching this there doesn’t seem to be any data as it is collectively documented under garden thefts which, according to crime statistics one in seven homeowners in the UK has something stolen from their garden at any one time – with hanging baskets and garden tools toping the list! But, taking precautions is the wisest step to ensuring your Koi carp grow old in your pond without any risk to their lives.

The design of Koi ponds varies (size of pond, number of Koi and health of pond) and the value of Koi carp differs so it is very difficult to put a fixed strategy in place to deter ‘would-be-thieves’. However, there are steps you can consider to theft proof your Koi pond as best as possible.

Eight types of deterrents to stop Koi carp theftKoi swimming about in a garden pond

  • site pond close to your house and out of view of passers-by
  • invest in secure fencing or hedging around your property – hawthorn, blackthorn, pyracantha and privet
  • lock gates onto your property
  • install movement and body heat activated halogen outdoor lighting
  • strategically place CCTV cameras around your property
  • be cautious about where you share information about your Koi carp – it is important to consider whether your online presence is potentially putting your fish and pond equipment at risk. We live in a digital era and for many criminals social media channels are used as a means of sourcing potential targets
  • put a metal grate over your pond and bolt it securely in place when you go a way. This is easier to install to raised formal pond designs
  • microchip your Koi carp and put a sign at your pond stating that your fish are trackable. Take photos of your fish – each Koi has their own distinct markings

Distracting the attention of feathered thieves from your pond

If herons are a likely thief to your garden pond then here are a few ideas (gathered from the feedback given by a number of fish pond enthusiats) to make your pond less attractive to these cheeky thieves:

  • have places in your pond for fish to hide when they feel threatened – aquatic plants such as water lilies or adding in ledges.
  • build a vertically sided pond to make it difficult for Heron or other prey to wade into your pond and wait for the kill.
  • place a pond guard or netting over your pond – although many pond owners feel that this spoils the beauty of a pond and makes pond maintenance a challenge.
  • avoid set routines for pond visits or activities out in your garden – Heron are wise creatures and will strike when they know you are not around. Their feeding times are usually dawn or dusk. They are particularly active at the start of the breeding season and the young become active June to July.
  • place a decoy or realistic-looking plastic heron close to your pond – some pond owners swear by this tactic while others are somewhat sceptical. But, from my experience this is a good deterrent. Beware, though as it may get attacked – with beak open and wings outstretched it will try to scare off the decoy! After an unsuccessful attempt at driving him off, the unwelcome visitor is likely to fly-off with ego dented!
  • build a pergola to disguise your pond. Herons will only visit if they can see the water of a pond. A pergola type structure will also have the added benefit of shading your pond for some of the day, helping prevent algae growth.
  • fishing line suspended 8 feet above the water in the path in which Heron fly in to land on the edge of the pond. The light gauge line will scare them off.
  • attach a length of fishing line across the path of the heron about a foot away from the pond and a foot off the ground. Heron prefers to wade into the pond – so the fishing line will give it a shock when it trips over the line.
  • put two lengths of fishing line about 6 to 12 inches from the pond and 6 to 12 inches above the ground. However, herons do get wise to this and will start to use other routes. Therefore, it is probably wise for the whole pond to have a perimeter of fishing-line placed around it.
  • hang wind-chimes near your pond.
  • an effective long term solution for preventing herons taking Koi is to train the fish when to come to the waters surface – always feed them at the same time every day, so that they eventually get to know when to come up.

Which ever strategy you decide to put in place to protect your pond life, remember that the heron is protected at all times under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, with fines or prison sentences handed to anyone killing or attempting to kill the majestic bird of our waterways.

Buying Koi carp for your garden pond

Koi, or as sometimes referred to as ‘Swimming Jewels’ can live for many years making them popular as pets. Koi kept in garden ponds can live for 25 to 35 years whereas those kept in a bigger expanse of water can live for 100+ years and can grow to 36 inches or more under ideal conditions. Koi are bred for their colour and beauty with no two having the same markings, scale types and patterns. There are currently 22 recognised varieties of Koi classified according to their variation in colour. The different breeds each affect the price tag, which ranges from just a few pounds to thousands of pounds.

Three well known Koi carp breeds

  • Kohaku – means ‘red and white’. Known for their elegance. It was the first ornamental Koi variety to be developed and is one of the more popular choices amongst Koi hobbyists.
  • Chagoi – well known for their friendly personality and tameable nature. They can easily be trained to hand feed. Chagoi Koi are easily recognised by their distinct network of scales and uniform colouring. Easily grow to large sizes and are of deep earthen colours.
  • Ogon – uniform bright metallic coloured fish.

Koi fish keeping requires dedication and thorough knowledge on pond maintenance plus upkeep.  But, it is all worthwhile as there is considerable reward in owning such strikingly good looking fish. Despite their actual value of a few pounds or lots more, I am sure you will agree that it is wise to take the necessary steps to keep them out of harms way!

Need help designing and building the perfect Koi pond? Then I hope my previous article provides the information you need >> 5 Steps to building a Koi pond

5 Steps to building a Koi pond and installing a pond liner

Five basic steps to creating your own Koi pond are planning, digging, inserting the pond liner and protective underlay, installing the pond pump and filter, filling with water and finally adding your Koi.
Planning your pond

When you are looking for a site for your pond, start close to the house. There is little point in spending a lot of money on a pond full of beautiful fish if you have to trek up to the end of the garden to see them. Apart from missing out on the joy of Koi, there’s a strong chance that out of sight will mean out of mind. And a forgotten Koi is invariably found floating upside down.

Think about where the sun falls in your garden and don’t put the pond where it will be in full shade – especially during winter. Avoid trees as much as you can. Leaves will clog and pollute the water and roots could cause serious damage to the pond liner. Don’t forget, you will need to get an electrical supply to your pond, so think about cable runs and siting.

Then plan the size and shape of your pond. Remember, Koi ponds have to be deep, at least 1.5m and up to 2.0m – don’t go much deeper than that because at 3.0m sunlight can’t penetrate sufficiently to promote the vital growth of algae on the bottom. Also remember that Koi are big fish and need a large volume of water; they also produce large amounts of waste. For both those reasons, a steep or vertical sided pond is recommended. It guarantees the largest volume of water for the space occupied by the pond and steep sides don’t accumulate waste materials and debris that can release harmful ammonia. Koi feeding in a koi pond with a frog on a lily pad

Also, keep the design of your Koi pond simple. The simpler the shape – round, oval or rectangular – the easier it is to maintain. A simple shape can always be disguised by creating border features with stones, rocks and plants – bear this in mind when purchasing your pond liner and underlay as both will need to extend beyond the limits of your border features.

Digging the hole

Unless your pond is going to be built above ground, you are going to be shifting a lot of soil even for a modestly sized pond – so consider hiring a mini digger – it will save a huge amount of time and effort (and blisters) – though may not give the same satisfaction. Before you start digging, mark out your pond using a rope or hosepipe – even consider placing some rocks or plant containers around the periphery so that you get a better idea of what your pond will look like in that position. Make an allowance too for the block work which will form the inside walls of your pond and prevent groundwater leaching the soil behind your pond liner and causing potential damage.

If your pond is going to be longer than 2.5-3.0 meters, it is well worth while building a concrete collar around the outside of the perimeter- including any curves or features you have added to disguise the basic shape of the pond. The collar will not only prevent run-off from your garden entering the pond, but also provides a secure anchor for the pond liner. To create the collar, dig a trench about 10cms deep and 15-20cms wide and fill it with concrete, taking to ensure it is precisely level all the way round. Now you can start digging in earnest, remembering to create any shallow shelves or ledges around the edge where feature stones and plants will be positioned. If you are going to create shallower areas for the fish, these should slope inwards. Bear in mind that the shallows around a pond are the ideal hunting ground not only for herons, but domestic cats too.

Once the pond is dug to the right size and depth, create the channels for the bottom drain, which will remove all the waste and the connecting pipe work (usually 110mm), as well as returning pipe work from the filtration system.

Once the base is levelled, and the bottom drain (or drains depending on the total size of the pond) is positioned, it can then be filled with 10-15cms thick of concrete. It is worth specifying a strong mix with plastic reinforcing fibres. The base should be sloping gently towards the bottom drain. Once the base has had a week or so to cure thoroughly, the block work for the walls of your pond can be laid. The wall should extend to the height of and ledge or shelf you have created around the pond. Again make allowances for any pipe work.

Installing the pond liner

When the walls are complete, the box-welded pond liner and protective underlay can be installed. The best underlay is a tough, durable 0.5mm geotextile made from mechanically bonded polypropylene. They not only protect the pond liner from physical damage, but are also gas permeable to allow any gases that build up underneath the pond liner to escape. This should be overlapped by 20-30cms and laid so that it covers the bottom and sides of the pond completely. At the top, it should extend across any shelf or ledge and over the top of the collar you have built around the pond. The underlay can be held in place with lengths of stout stainless steel wire shaped into large staples and pushed through the underlay into the soil around the edge at the top. It should be cut away closely around any bottom drains to allow the pond liner to be fitted to the drain. Once the underlay is in place, the pond liner can be fitted.

Because Koi ponds tend to be deep, steep sided and regularly shaped, consider ordering a box-welded liner in either Epalyn (EPDM) or butyl made to the precise dimensions of your pond. It is worth waiting until your construction is complete so that you can measure the actual dimensions. Box-welded pond liners are much simpler to install and, if measured correctly, should provide a good smooth lining without wrinkles and folds which can trap waste matter. Again the liner should extend over any ledges or shelves and over the top of the collar, with sufficient extending beyond that to allow for soil or gravel to be laid on top to anchor it in place.   Any areas of the pond liner which will be supporting plants, stones, or soil should now be protected with an additional layer of underlay.

The right equipment

Making sure that your Koi pond is properly equipped with the necessary water filtration and cleaning systems is critically important to the success of your venture. The ideal set-up will use a gravity feed from the bottom drain taking the water and waste to a filtration and cleaning process which will consist of a settling chamber, where the majority of the large solids are removed; a mechanical filter, which will strain even the smallest particles; and finally a biological filter where good bacteria are encouraged to consume chemicals such as nitrites and ammonia. In natural conditions there is sufficient water volume and surface area for bacteria to maintain a healthy balance in the water. But in an artificial pond, where the ratio of fish to water is much higher than in nature, you must provide additional space for good bacteria to do their work. If your pond is exposed to a lot of direct sunlight, you may also want to install an inline UV filter which will kill or damage the single-cell algae that cause green water during summer.

Once all your gizmos are installed, it is time to fill the pond – and the perfect time to find out exactly how much water it will hold – bear in mind the pipes and filtrations system will also contain a fair volume of water, which must be included. This is vital information you will need in the future when stocking or applying treatments for the water or the fish. An inline flow meter is the easiest way – alternatively see how long it takes to fill the biggest (clean) container you have, and then time how long it takes to fill the pond. The time it takes to fill the pond and filtration system divided by the time it takes to fill your container multiplied by the volume of your container will give you the result.

The finishing touches

The important thing now is patience. If you add your fish at this stage, they won’t survive as the pond has not had time to develop active bacteria and the chlorine and other heavy metals present in tap water will instantly kill any that have established themselves. So, start up the filtration system (with the UV turned off for the first few weeks to avoid killing friendly bacteria) and apply a dechlorinator. In a few days when the dechlorinator has done its work and the water has reached ambient temperature, you will be able to add your first wild life. Not fish yet, but some “starter” bacteria to populate the biological filters. While you’re waiting for the big day, busy yourself sorting out the borders and adding your pond plants making sure that you do not place stones or plants directly onto the surface of the pond liner but onto a protective later of pond underlay.

And finally….

A week after adding your starter bacteria you can begin to add fish gradually. If you add too many at once, the poor old bacteria can’t keep up and the resulting ammonia and nitrites can be fatal to your fish. Add the fish gradually and monitor the water condition each time. When you bring the fish home from the garden centre or specialist, they need to be acclimatised both to the water temperature and the water itself. So, to begin with, open the bag, fixing it to the side of the pond and leave it floating for half an hour or so. Avoid doing this in direct sunlight. Then start to add a little pond water into the bag gradually over the next hour and finally release your Koi friends into their new watery home.

Discover the many advantages of decorative rainwater butts

Decorative rainwater butts with an integrated planter or aesthetic elegance of ceramics make harvesting rain water far more appealing. These rainwater butts, which are available in a range of shapes and sizes serve a multi-functional role in any size garden. Those stocked by Liners Online can store between 185 to 245 litres of rainwater thereby saving on the use of mains water supplies for outdoor use.

Cascata decorative rainwater buttsRainwater harvesting is the technique used to collect, store and use rainwater for garden irrigation purposes or other uses where purified water isn’t essential.  Rainwater butts including the decorative designs are easy to attach to a down-water pipe to collect the rain off the roofs of homes or any other man-made hard surface.

Many will argue that there is enough rainfall in the UK not to warrant the investment of a rainwater butt. Perhaps pointing out all the advantages will help understand and appreciate the many positive environmental aspects of investing in a rain butt. Rainwater can be used for many outdoor and indoor purposes such as to wash cars, clean patio furniture, wash windows as well as to water established plants during the dryer periods – particularly from July to September when ground water has become depleted.

The advantages of installing a rainwater butt

  • Reduces the demand on mains water supplies
  • Provides sufficient water for your garden during the drier months of summer when needs exceed rainfall amounts
  • Rain water is preferred by plants (avoid using on seedlings) as it has a balanced pH value free of limescale and chemicals
  • Reduces domestic water bills
  • Promotes water conservation. Over extraction of ground water is damaging our wetlands
  • Reduces the risk of flooding
  • More environmentally friendly because no energy was used to pump water to where it is required.

Rainwater butts are available in many shapes and sizes to suit a range of budgets and garden types. Decorative butts  are available with an integral planter or bird bath for a multifunctional use. They combine the aesthetic elegance of ceramics with the longevity of modern plastics. For more information about our range of rainwater butts, please visit the Garden Accessories category on Liners Line website.

How to take care of goldfish in garden ponds

Do the goldfish in your pond look like they need reviving? Belly up and motionless could be a sign that they are over fed or are in a pond with poor water quality. Goldfish swimming in a healthy garden pondIt could also be the result of a lack of oxygen – using a solar powered bubbler will help to increase the oxygen levels of the water during winter months when a pond has frozen over.

Water quality is very important to health of goldfish who become increasingly stressed in poor conditions. There are a number of factors that can affect pond health such as local climate, size of pond, number of fish stocked, number of aquatic plants and the type of filtration system installed.

Goldfish are cold water fish and so do best in ponds that are in partial to full shade (geography dependent but best to avoid goldfish pond water getting too warm). Types of goldfish that are hardy and known to thrive in a garden pond are the Cornet, Ryakin and Shubunkin. They can survive all but the coldest winters when ponds freeze over. Goldfish require less maintenance than Koi and do less damage to pond plants nibbling on them only.

Healthy pond water conditions for goldfish

  • avoid spraying insecticides or pesticides on to flower beds that are close to your pond and put measures in place to prevent rainwater run-off (unless your garden and pond are on flat ground!). Use natural methods of pest control to reduce chemicals entering your pond and affecting the water quality.
  • test the pH of your pond water fairly regularly. Goldfish thrive in water which has a pH of around 7 to 7.4. High ammonia and nitrate levels are an indication that there are too many fish in your pond or the filter system isn’t coping. The role of a filter system is to clean the pond water and keep it free of bad bacteria.
  • carry out a partial water change weekly.  This helps to remove pollutants from the water. The advice on how much water is exchanged varies amongst pond experts. Start by doing a 10% change and monitor the water quality between changes. If 10% is not enough to remove pollutants then increase the volume. No more than 50% should be changed to avoid stressing the natural ecosystem and fish. Use a pump, pond vacuum or hose to remove water from your pond. Replace with harvested rainwater or dechlorinated tap water.
  • a garden pond is a closed water system where water leaves only via evaporation leaving behind pollutants. Ponds need to be installed with a good filtration system to remove fish waste – which if not removed release ammonia into the water. Bacteria in the water converts ammonia into nitrates which is then processed by plants and algae.
  • reduce levels of algae by growing aquatic plants which cover 50 to 70% of the water surface. Plants will also offer a protective habitat to fish. They also absorb nutrients in the water reducing algae growth
  • remove organic mater from your pond water before it sinks to the bottom and starts to decompose – and becoming a food source for the growth of algae.
  • add one fish per 30 gallons of water.
  • the greater the surface area of a pond the greater the amount of oxygen so always build a pond as big as your garden space will allow.

Goldfish can thrive outdoors for many years in well nurtured and maintained garden ponds. A raised, vertically sided pond lined with a rubber Epalyn or Butyl pond liner is more of a deterrent to pond predators than a pond on ground level. There are, however pond guards and protective aids available for all pond types and shapes to discourage predators visiting and reducing your goldfish numbers.

Goldfish are friendly and add so much character to a garden pond. They are hardy provided you follow the advice shared in this article. If you can add anymore advice, we would love to hear from you.

How to stop predators making a meal of your fish pond

Fish ponds are just as likely to attract wildlife as a natural pond. But, not all visitors to a fish pond are welcome. There are some visitors who are more obvious and easy to deter while others are so agile and sneaky their visits often go unnoticed with dire consequences.

Fish pond predators UK

  • Mink – the American Mink is often mistaken for an Otto but are much smaller with fluffier tails and pointed snouts. They are not native to the UK and were bought across from America for the fur-farming industry in the 1920’s. The mink population reached peak numbers in the 1950’s with a record number of farms totalling around 400. By the end of 1967, wild mink were reported in more than 50% of our counties as a result of them escaping or being set free by protestors to the fur industry.As yet there is no strategy for managing the UK wild mink populations. This sweet looking creature is an indiscriminate killer of fish, birds and small mammals. They have no natural predators so the population numbers are thriving which is not good news for fish pond keepers that are neighbours to the country-side.  Mink are nocturnal and move very swiftly so it is difficult to locate their presence. They are also good little swimmers and are strong enough to take fish bigger than they are. The little rascals will get under pond netting and are undeterred by steep edged pond designs. Mink a predator on koi and carp in fish ponds
  • Herons – they are wading birds and mostly associated with wetlands. They prey on fish, frogs and invertebrates obtaining their food by wading through wetlands and visiting garden ponds. Herons are a common siting at the side of water where they stand on one leg with their heads hunched into the top of their wings. They are frequently seen along the side of the canals too (in fact where there are fisherman there are likely to be herons!). They pounce onto the unsuspecting victim in shallow water with their dagger like beaks. Once they have found a garden pond with a rich food source they are very persistent.
  • Foxes, crows and cats are less likely to steal fish but if it is an easy meal – the threat of these animals is real.

How to stop a predator invasion

Fish pond design and size can make a big impact on keeping predators away, although it is not a full proof deterrent. Building a raised pond with vertical sides makes it more difficult for predators to ‘fish’ around for prey. Adding floating plants to your fish pond offers a place to hide when your fish feel threatened by unwanted visitors. A shallow pond with sloping sides makes it very easy for predators to gain access and to exit.

A pond guard or netting will keep foxes, cats, herons and crows from treating your pond like a sushi take-away. This will not deter the otto or mink, though as they can get under the netting.

If you reside near a lake or canal you are likely to see heron visiting your garden in the hope of grabbing easy pickings. Many fish pond owners invest in a heron decoy to put on the edge of their pond but this alone doesn’t always have a 100% success rate.

For the otto and American mink visitors, a 0.3 meter mesh fence or electric fence with absolutely no gaps is probably your best solution for ponds built at ground level. You only need to leave it up for about a month and they will soon learn that your pond is not open to visitors – ever!

A fifth deterrent worth trying at times when you feel your pond is under threat is to supply an alternative food source to draw predators away from your fish pond.

There is nothing more disheartening than our pond inhabitants losing their precious lives to the beaks, jaws and claws of hungry predators. There are certain loses that are at the mercy of nature and difficult to control such as that of dwindling tadpole numbers. However, with larger predators there is a greater chance of being able to put defences in place to deter them. The Grey Heron is probably our biggest threat to any pond owner, preying on fish and frogs. Predators to fish ponds tend to pray on easy pickings so if fish have a place to hide, they are less likely to invite attention. If the escape route out of a pond is a challenge it too would be a disincentive to predators. Be on the look out and keep your precious fish safe!

A box-welded pond liner for vertically sided fish ponds makes it more difficult for claws and beaks to come in contact and risk puncturing the liner – predators are also less likely to bother trying to prey on fish in a pond when access and exit are more of a challenge. Building a pergola over a raised pond is an added deterrent for birds whose flight will be obstructed by the pillars of the pergola.

Keeping a fish pond safe from predators is likely to require a bit of effort. However, if you do succeed in making it difficult for the predators to feast on your fish, frogs or tadpoles – the chances are they will leave to look for easier pickings elsewhere.

 

Discover garden ponds and their environmental value

Owning a garden pond has many benefits including the great value it offers to wildlife and enhancing the environment in which we live. The intensively farmed country-side, use of agricultural sprays, draining of wetland habitats and expansion of towns and cities has resulted in the decline of many wild life species including the common frog – despite it’s name it is actually in rapid decline.

Benefits of building a garden pond

  • Provides a breeding habitat for many species Frog and frog spawn in garden pond
  • Offers a temporary home for amphibians and reptiles – frogs and newts find their way to water sources – newts favour ponds without fish.
  • Holds a diversity of species
  • Ecosystems are linked by water
  • They recirculate water unlike lawns and flowerbeds which require constant watering during warm, dry weather
  • The sludge collected by a ponds filter is rich in nutrients from fish faeces, uneaten fish food and decaying plant matter. It makes a natural fertilizer that can be dug into flower beds.

Ponds offer wildlife a home, breeding habitat and a source of food. However, it is not just the water feature, it is also about the landscape surrounding a garden pond that is of great value.  For example, newts leave hibernation between February and March, returning to ponds for breeding with pond plants providing egg-laying locations. They also need an undisturbed habitat around the pond, providing refuge and good feeding sites. By not paving all of the green space in your garden and being less of a perfectionist when it comes to tidying flower beds, are valued by wildlife. Piles of dried leaves are home to frogs, newts and many other small creatures. Gardens and ponds work in harmony to help the environment – plants, shrubs and trees haver air purifying properties reducing the toxic effect of air pollution.

A garden pond offers important benefits to us too. Ponds offer a sanctuary – a place to go to relax and shut yourself off from the rest of the world – listening to the tranquil sound of water while watching nature at it’s happiest!

P.S. Butyl and Epalyn pond liners are environmentally friendly products and don’t leach toxic chemicals into the water.

Why quality matters when buying a pond liner

Pond liners serve two main functions in pond construction. A pond liner is impermeable and maintains water retention – stops ground seepage.  They also serve to keep sediment and other debris out of your pond. Today shops and online stores are filled with a choice for every conceivable item and pond liners are no exception. But, knowing what qualities in an item to look for to give the best return on investment can make the experience less daunting. Continue reading

Tips on essential Spring garden pond maintenance

The daffodils are awakening and filling our gardens and countryside with splashes of yellow. A most welcoming sign that Spring is soon to be with us – the days are getting longer and there is more time get things done outdoors. Daffodils in flower welcoming the coming of Spring

All garden ponds require regular maintenance to keep them looking good. Deep ponds do tend to remain cleaner than shallow ones. Algae, particularly blanket weed tends to occur in newer ponds where a balanced ecosystem has not yet been established or in one which is overstocked with fish. The best way to deal with algae is to remove it on a regular basis using a plastic rake to remove the filamentous weed. Barley straw is an environmentally friendly treatment for blanket weed. Submerge mesh bags of barley straw just below the water’s surface in early spring (replace the straw when it turns black). Chemicals released when the straw decomposes inhibits the growth of algae.

Garden pond spring checklist

While we still have a few weeks to go before it is officially Spring, it’s important to schedule in a pond care checklist for when the days do start to get warmer. Spring will also become evident when fish start swimming around more energetically and plants are poking green shoots above the water. Koi fish should not be fed until the pond water temperature is stable at around 55 degrees F (12 degrees C).

Things to do in spring:

  • Give your pond filter a good cleaning. If you have a bio-filter, give it a boost of a bacteria/enzyme product to ensure a good bacteria colony starts to grow in the bio-filter.
  • Clean your pond pump and check all hoses for leaks or cracks.
  • If you have a net covering your pond, make sure it is still intact, if not, replace it.
  • Remove leaves or other debris in your pond – as the water warms up, any debris left in your pond will start to decompose and affect the health of fish.
  • Check your fish for any illnesses or wounds.
  • Divide and repot pond plants. Avoid re-potting with soil full of organic matter. Most water plants grow well in sand and don’t require fertilizer. Water lilies are, however, an exception and do require fertilizer for a healthy growth. Water plants get their nutrients from fish waste. If you have extra plants after you have divided them, you may want to consider growing them in low, damp spaces in your garden.
  • For fish ponds, make sure that up to half of the surface of your pond is covered with floating plants as it gives the fish a place to hide from predators and keeps them cool in the heat of the summer. It also keeps the sun from encouraging algae growth.
  • If your pond is lined with a pond liner check that the material you have used for the edging is still in place, sufficiently covering the pond line to prevent any possible damage from claws or the UV rays – rubber pond liners are UV stable and will withstand long periods of UV exposure – but, a bare edging exposing a pond liner can detract from the beauty of the pond.

Spring marks a time when ponds come back to life after the winter lull. Frogs will start visiting garden ponds to spawn. Gold fish start to awaken and the males start to feel frisky chasing the females around the pond. Insects start to hatch. Herons will be getting ready to nest and on the look out for an easy meal of goldfish or koi – look out for them in the early hours of the morning. Spring is also a time for growth, so look out for your aquatic plants and make sure they don’t start occupying all of your pond.

HAPPY SPRING CLEANING – when the good weather arrives!!

Tailored pond liner project photographs

Liners Online supplied the pond liner for this complex pond design. The pond is sited in a residential garden in Scotland with stunning effect against the majestic mountainous backdrop. The complex pond design required a tailored pond liner and protective underlay to fit to the exact dimensions minimising creases and folds as much as possible.

We are passionate about the pond liners we supply and have years of experience in the business including on site installation and fabrication. Please visit our website for details on our pond liners and our Epalyn pond liner kits.