Outdoor Pond

Pond pumps, filtration and lighting made easy

Everybody loves the sound of moving water in their garden but with so many pumps and filters to choose from, where do you start? It can seem hard when you are faced with such a huge selection but it can be easy to choose when you understand what each one does. Pumps move water. Filters clarifiy water that is supplied to them by a filter pump. UV filters (these should properly be named UV clarifiers) help to prevent water turning green.

Pond pumps

The pump is the beating heart of your water feature. There are two main types of pond pump. The first is a fountain pump and these are made to pump already clean water through a decorative fountain attachment. The motor itself is not designed to move dirty water or sediment so the inlets to the pump are relatively small. Some may also have a small sponge inside. Fountain pumps are cheaper than filter/ waterfall pumps because they are built to do less strenuous work. If a fountain pump is used to power a filter, it will tire quickly and eventually break.

 

Fountain pumps are great for

  • Running a fountain in a clean pond
  • powering small pond side ornaments
  • oxgenating small ponds by creating surface movement

The second type is a filter pump or waterfall pump. These are usually larger than fountain pumps and are designed to push water through a pipe to either a filter or a watercourse. They have more, larger inlet holes than those found on fountain pumps because their job is to accept dirty water and send it to the filter to be cleaned. Most filter pumps can pass through solids of up to 8mm without struggling. They have strong internal parts and can handle the pressure of pumping water from the pond to a filter or waterfall above the ground. Some can pump up to a height of many meters. They are more expensive than a fountain pump with a similar flow rate because they are designed to do a different job and cope with more stress.

Filter / waterfall pumps are great for

  • Sending dirty water to a filter to be cleaned
  • Pumping uphill to supply water to a waterfall
  • Very large fountain displays
  • Circulating large volumes of water

Flow rates

The next step is to work out what rate of water flow you will require. If you are using the pump to run a filter then the minimum flow rate should be twice your pond’s volume per hour. For example, if your pond is 3000 litres then you will need a minimum flow of 6000 litres per hour (LPH). A slightly over sized filter will work just fine and need cleaning out less often.

If you want to incorporate a waterfall into your pond then you will need a minimum of 100 litres per hour for every 1cm width of the waterfall. For example a waterfall ending with a 30cm wide shelf will need to be supplied by a pump with a minimum flow rate of 3000 litres per hour.

Always remember that the higher above ground you pump, the more the flow will reduce. The rate this happens varies between pumps so check what flow rate they will give at varying heights. Measure from the water level of the pond to the highest part of your waterfall and check the flow rate at this height rather than the maximum your pump is capable of.

 

Pond filters

Pond filters can be divided into two main categories. The first are box (gravity fed) filters. These filters must be situated above the ground as they are open topped boxes with a lid. The water enters the filter through a pipe connection and then flows via gravity through the filter media and back out of a hole near the bottom of the box. If the filter foams become blocked over time, the box may overflow. Gravity fed box filters are often relatively inexpensive as their construction is simple.

Box filters are popular for small ponds with few fish.

Box filters are…

  • not sealed units so can’t be dug into the ground
  • relatively cheap due to simpler design
  • maintenance heavy compared to pressure filters
  • great for small ponds with low stocking levels

 

The second type of filter is called a pressure filter. These get their name because they are sealed and can be positioned lower than ground level. Pressure filters are great for all kinds of pond and they can be partially buried and disguised more easily. They have fittings for three pipes. The first is an inlet for water coming from the pump. The second is the outlet where water is returned from the filter to the pond or waterfall. The third fitting is for waste water when cleaning the filter foams.

Most pressure filters have a ring of sponges inside which can be cleaned by turning a valve to divert water to the outlet and then pulling a handle to squeeze the foams out. The benefit to this system is that is does not require disassembling the filter and removing the foams. All the cleaning is done using pressure from your pump without even getting your hands wet!

 

Pressure filters are…

  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Able to be dug into the ground and disguised
  • Built to be positioned as far from the pond as you need (e.g in a garage or shed)
  • Great for ponds of all sizes
  • The most popular pond filter for all of the above reasons

Filters are recommended for a certain pond size. You can easily work out your pond volume using the guide in the article 5 steps to building a flexible liner pond.

UV or not UV?

That is the question! A UV (ultraviolet clarifier) is a special type of light that many filters include or may be added separately. They use very little power and are designed to control green water algae. They do this by passing water in close proximity to a light of a particular wavelength. This causes single celled algae in the water to clump together to be removed by the filter. It is more cost effective to buy a filter with a built in UV than to add one on separately. When you buy the correctly sized pump, filter and UV for your pond and stocking levels, you are guaranteed to have clear water all year round.

 

Pond lights

Pond lights can be positioned underwater inside the pond or around the edge. They use LEDs or halogen bulbs to give your pond a completely different look after dark. Pond lights can be purchased singly or in sets of three or more. They use a transformer to provide mains electrical power. The transformer must usually be positioned out of the water but each light unit has a considerable length of cable so that you are not limited with design.

Some pond lights come with different coloured lenses so that you match your pond with other colour schemes in the garden. Most lights are best fitted towards the surface of the pond pointing slightly downwards to avoid startling the fish. You may wish to illuminate the whole pond but always leave at least one third in partial darkness. This is so that your fish can hide if they need to and will help keep them stress free and safe from predators.

Other things to consider

Now that you know what options are available and can easily decide which system is best for you. You may want to plan how to disguise the pump and filter if you want a natural looking pond. This can easily be done with a little careful planning and attention to detail. Pond pumps come with 10 metres of electrical cable as standard but UV clarifiers and lights may come with less so always check the individual product descriptions before you buy and always consult a qualified electrician before starting to build your pond.

Once you have finished, Its time to relax and enjoy your beautiful new pond. It will bring new life to your garden from pollinating insects to birds and mammals. A well designed and maintained pond is a focal point like no other and will bring joy to everyone that encounters it.

Download this guide as a PDF here Pond pumps filtration and lighting made easy

Flexible lined pond

5 steps to fitting a flexible pond liner

Every year thousands of people decide to add a water feature to their garden. Aside from creating a beautiful focal point, the sound of gently running water is always a beautiful thing. Even the smallest garden pond will provide refuge and drinking water to a huge variety of wildlife, from birds to amphibians and a whole host of other native fauna.

Although the prospect of building a pond using flexible sheet liner can seem daunting, it’s just five simple steps.

1. Location location location!

The first thing to decide is where the pond is going to go. An ideal location would be somewhere that receives shade for at least a few hours a day. If the area you have chosen will be in full sunlight all day, algae will grow more readily and you will need to account for this by over-sizing your pond filter. If the pond will be situated under the shade of a tree, falling leaves will need to be accounted for and you will need a cover net to help to keep them off the pond as well as a good surface skimming net and a pond pump that can cope with larger solids such as the excellent laguna max-flo range.

Other things to consider are…

  • Distance from the nearest electrical point as all pond pumps come with 10m (33 feet) of electrical cable but many filters come with less (please see individual product descriptions).
  • Will your hose pipe reach the area you have chosen to fill the pond and top up evaporation in the summer? Is your desired location somewhere that makes it possible to drain water from the pond when maintenance is being performed?
  • Do you use chemicals or fertilisers on your garden? If you do and your pond is in an area where these could be washed in when it rains, it will be impossible to create a healthy, stable environment for aquatic life.

Once you have found the perfect location for a garden pond, its time to have some fun!

2. Design, depth and digging

Now it’s time to decide on the shape of your pond. Would you prefer a formal or a more natural shape? What type of fish would you like to keep? Is encouraging wildlife to the pond your priority? The beauty with using a flexible liner is that your imagination is the limit. Flexible liners can fit any size or shape of pond. Just bear in mind that sharp angles will need to have folded edges and you will need a pond liner adhesive to stick these down so that fish dont get trapped under them. A shelf around the inside of the pond at a depth or 8 to 10 inches will enable you to plant a variety of marginal plants to provide colour to your garden and cover for your fish.

Considerations

Always check the likely locations of utility supply pipes before digging. legally, these must be no less than 60cm below ground level but many great pond builds have been halted in their tracks because this has not been the case. Safety is the most important factor when building a pond so if you aren’t 100 % certain about the location of pipes and wires, ask a professional to check.
If your pond is for wildlife, it is best to design it with at least one gently sloping edge. This is so that birds and animals can easily get in and out. A deeper area of at least 18 inches should be incorporated to allow plants like water lilies to grow and provide cover.

For Koi ponds you should aim to provide an area of at least 36 inches depth to allow the fish to swim naturally and develop their correct body shape. All other pond fish will benefit from this depth but it is less essential.

Once these considerations have been taken into account, mark out the area of the pond with string or a hosepipe and take a final few minutes to decide if the shape and location are right.

3. Choosing and fitting your new liner

There are several types of flexible pond liner and each has its own benefit. PVC liner is the cheapest and suitable for all ponds but is thinner than other types and less tear resistant than E.P.D.M or Butyl. It is still the liner of choice for many small to medium garden ponds.

Butyl rubber has been the favorite of professionals and hobbyists for years, due to its high tensile strength, tear resistance and flexibility. It is available in different thicknesses, is very hard wearing and can stretch better than PVC to acommodate edges.

E.P.D.M also know as Epalyn rubber, shares some properties with Butyl rubber. It has an even higher tear resistance, flexablity and a greater ability to stretch than Butyl. E.P.D.M liner costs more than PVC but much less than Butyl.

How to work out what size liner you need

Measure the longest, widest, and deepest areas to be covered.

LENGTH, PLUS 2 X DEPTH, = SIDE 1
WIDTH, PLUS 2 X DEPTH = SIDE 2
ADD A MINIMUM OR 12 INCHES (30CM) TO YOUR FINAL MEASUREMENTS TO ALLOW AN OVERLAP FOR EDGING.
So for a pond measuring 200cm long x 100cm wide x 60cm deep
200cm plus 60cm plus 60cm = 320cm
100cm plus 60cm plus 60cm =220cm
So when we add 30cm to each to allow for our overlap, the minimum liner size you require is 350cm x 250cm

Don’t forget to fit a quality underlay to protect your new liner for the duration of its life. Even if the ground seems smooth there will likely be small particles capable of puncturing it. All of the liners that we offer, come with a lifetime guarantee if they are installed properly and with the correct underlay.

4. Filling your pond and adding edging

Now is the time to fill your pond using a hose pipe and add a suitable pond dechlorinator to ensure that the water is safe for fish. As the pond is filling, gently pull the edges upwards and out to minimise any creases and folds. Once the pond is full, weigh down the edges and allow it to settle overnight. The next day you may trim any excess liner (leaving a 30cm overlap) using a sharp knife.

You can use a variety of paving slabs held down with mortar to edge your pond, be sure to check that they are inert first so that they won’t alter your ponds water chemistry. If you are unsure, add a few drops of white vinegar to a piece of the rock. If you notice any bubbles or fizzing, the rock is reacting to the acidity of the vinegar and should not be used. Rocks with green, blue or red streaks running through them most likely contain metals and should be avoided.

5. Adding a pump, filter and lights

When choosing your pump and filter, it is vital to know the approximate volume of your new pond. As most ponds aren’t exactly square or rectangular you should use average measurements. Using the following formula, take the average measurements of your pond in metres to work out its volume in litres.
LENGTH X WIDTH X DEPTH X 1000 = POND VOLUME IN LITRES
To convert this to gallons divide your answer by 4.5
So for a pond measuring 2m long x 1m wide x 0.6m deep
2 X 1 X 0.6 X 1000 = 120 litres
120 ÷ 4.5 = 26.7 gallons

Pumps

Pond pumps fall into two main categories:

  • Fountain pumps are designed for pumping already clean water through a fountain head attachment with little or no back pressure.
  • Filter pumps can pump water with particles up to 8mm to an external filter and can also be used for pumping water to a waterfall. These are both jobs that require stronger internal parts than standard fountain pumps have.

Filters

Filtration can either be gravity fed (the filter is outside of the pond and usually sat at least partially above ground) or Pressurised (The filter is outside the pond but below ground level). Gravity fed filters can vary from basic boxes which contain layers of filter media to self cleaning machines such as the OASE Proficlear Premium Compact.

Lighting can make even the most humble of ponds take on a magical hue at night and will allow you to benefit from your new ponds beauty 24 hours a day.

We will talk in more detail about these different options in our next article “Pond pumps, filtration and lighting made easy.”

For now, remember to enjoy designing and building your beautiful new garden pond and it will bring years of happiness and relaxation to the ones you love!

Download this guide as a PDF here 5 Steps to building a flexible liner pond