The Stream


Viewing posts from the Lighting category

Prevent Algae Growth This Summer

As the temperature rises, your water feature begins to wake up and come to life. Fish become more active and water plants begin to grow. But not all plant growth is welcome – with the sunshine and warmer weather comes algae. Algae represents excess nutrients in the water and can appear unsightly and foul up your pumps.

What is algae?

Two common types of occur: 1) Small single celled algae that remains suspended, turns your water green, and is too fine to be caught with a net, and 2) string algae, long and seaweed like, that attaches itself to underwater surfaces such as rocks and the liner. No matter the type, it is important to deal with algae before it becomes a real problem.

Adequate circulation and filtration, appropriate for your pond size, should help to prevent algal growth in the first place, but nature provides the best solution.

What to do about it?

Water plants are TERRIFIC for naturally removing excess nutrients from your water feature and form the backbone of any wetland filtration system. Happy, healthy plants will ‘out-compete’ the algae and result in clearer water.

Lilies are good, as they shade the water with their big leaves to prevent algae growth. Water hyacinths are also great. These pond scrubbing powerhouses feed hydroponically, with their roots dangling in the water, and take nitrogen out of water like no other plant (they have a very high capacity for uptake of heavy metals, as well). Be warned, they reproduce and expand quickly, you may have to “cull” the population once or twice over the summer!

In addition to plants, and proper circulation & filtration, there are a few other measures you can take to ensure water quality. Beneficial bacteria, essentially a preventative vitamin for your water, can be added throughout the Spring and Summer months, and mechanical options, like UV lights and Ion Gens, can be installed to maintain the balance.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, too, if you need help any keeping your water feature beautiful this summer.

3 Small Water Feature Options

Small Water Features

Water features come in many different shapes and sizes and can fit any budget or location. Here are three ideas for small water features that will provide the peace and tranquility of larger ones, without the space requirement.

Spillway Bowls

A Spillway Bowl and basin can be installed as a standalone disappearing water feature, or several can be linked together for an amazing display. They can also be added to an existing pond or pondless waterfall. Water is stored beneath the lowest bowl in a small underground basin where the pump is housed. Lights and terrestrial plants (as well as some water varieties) can be added to ‘naturalize’ the feature . Spillway Bowls are very popular and have been featured recently on Houzz and Pinterest.

Bubbling RocksSmall Water Feature - Bubbling Rocks

These small water features are similar to the Spillway Bowls in that water is recirculated and stored through the use of an Aquabasin. This natural stone feature looks best when utilizing odd numbers with different heights. Bubbling rocks are very low maintenance and will maintain their beauty throughout the winter, especially as icicles begin to form. Adding lights is a must, as well, as lit bubbling rocks look amazing at night!

Stacked UrnsSmall Water Feature - Stacked Urns

Another small water feature worth exploring is the stacked urn. Stacked urns look great as a single unit, or in odd numbers at different heights (similar to the bubbling rocks). Stacked urns are most commonly set on Aquabasins, as with the two previous features, but can also be used in a pond or set on top of a pondless basin. LED’s (or even a fire fountain add on kit) can be utilized to light up the feature with amazing results.

All of the above small water features are low maintenance, and with the addition of a fill valve can be literally NO maintenance. Any one of these three options is sure to become the focal point of your yard, the envy of your neighbours, and a source of peace, tranquility, and beauty in your life.

Spring Cleaning

Spring is in the air!

Well maybe not quite, but soon! Soon enough that it’s time to start thinking about waking that water feature up from its winter slumber with some spring cleaning. Spring is one of the most exciting times of the year for pond owners, and there are a few things you should do to ensure your water feature starts the season off on the right foot!

First off you will want to assess the situation. Is your pond water quite dark and is there a thick layer of debris on the bottom? If so you will want to think about a full clean out. However, if the water looks decent and there’s minimal debris, you maybe be able to simply stir it up and clean out the debris with a net. The other determining factor will be the water temperature. Ideally you will want to do your clean out BEFORE the water temperature reaches 55F or about 13 degrees Celsius. This will ensure that you are not disturbing the delicate bacteria colonies that create your ecosystem once your feature kicks into gear.

If you’re doing a full clean out on an average sized pond (11’x16’), budget for 4-8 hours to do everything properly. If you have a pondless waterfall, a clean out will take much less time. Here are a few items that will make life easier during the clean out:

  • Cleanout pump with 20+’ of hose
  • Garden Hose with Nozzle
  • Pruners (scissors may do the trick)
  • A couple of buckets for leaves and debris
  • A large vessel (children’s pool or similar) to contain fish if you have them
  • A fish net
  • Pond Detoxifier
  • Cold Water Bacteria

Place the cleanout pump at the deepest part of the feature and pump the dirty pond water into your landscape. It’s filled with nutrients so don’t be shy to water your shrubs with it! If you have fish, pump some of the water into the large vessel for storage later. Once the water level is down to 1/3 capacity it will be much easier to catch your fish with the net. Gently transfer them to the vessel filled with pond water and cover in a shady area so they don’t jump out. Make sure not to leave them there for more than a few hours – if you have to leave them for longer make sure to aerate the water.

Now you can take your hose (or pressure washer if you have one) and spend 10-15 minutes rinsing down the inside of the pond. Working your way from top to bottom, try to blast heavy debris from the rocks and stir up what may be left on the bottom. You can periodically turn on the clean out pump to drain the dirty water. Please note that you DON’T have to get every little bit of algae – in fact leaving some behind will be beneficial later on as it will help re-establish your ecosystem.

As far as any filters go, you can manually remove any debris from the skimmers or snorkel vaults and clean any media nets or filter pads that may be present in the biofalls. You can now gently rinse these out in pond water. Again – leaving a little algae on your filter pads etc is a good thing. You don’t need to boil them!

You’re now ready to fill your pond back up but make sure to include Pond Detoxifier to take the chlorine and chloramines out of city water. This is very important for the safety of your fish. Also important is acclimatizing the fish to their new water. Scoop up your fish into a bucket of the old pond water in their holding tank; float the bucket in the pond for about 15 minutes and then splash a little bit of the new pond water into the bucket. By now the temperatures should’ve equalized and you can pour them into their new home!

PRO Tip: While your water feature is drained for spring cleaning, it’s a great time to prune and fertilize any deep water plants (like lilies, for example). It’s also a great time to reposition lights or change bulbs if need be and if you don’t have lights at all….. Well, get them in there now!

Contact Streamworks Designs for all of your water feature maintenance needs.

Got Lights?

Riddle me this. What one component of a successful water feature is completely unnecessary but absolutely essential all at the same time? The LIGHTS!

While it’s true that underwater lighting is not critical to the function of your pond IE the ecosystem and the way the fish, plants, rocks, pump and filtration all co-mingle. It IS however a key element in the aesthetics of your water feature and is guaranteed to increase your interaction and enjoyment exponentially! We know you lead a busy lifestyle and probably aren’t home to enjoy your feature during the day so why not enjoy it at night?

Do you know what an unlit water feature looks like? Me neither… because you can’t see it! If you have a pond with fish in it, then lights are a must. You’ll marvel at how active your fish are at night as the warm glow of the LED’s illuminate their every move. If your water feature is of the pondless variety and you have no fish a few well-placed lights will still create magic as your stream twists and turns causing the lights to dance across the rocks and onto the surrounding landscape. Maybe you have a bubbling rock or set of basalt columns that will be the focal point of any landscape when up lit. The possibilities are endless.

Gone are the days of inefficient halogen lighting. LED’s (light emitting diodes) are the new standard in underwater pond lighting as not only do the bulbs last much much longer, but at 1watt per fixture the power consumption is negligible. One further advantage of LED’s over their prehistoric counterparts is that by shedding the extra watts they remain cool inside or outside of the water making them ideal for any/all of your outdoor lighting needs.

Lighting may be the fastest growing segment of the landscape industry and never before have efficiency, cost effectiveness, and impact come together in such a simple solution. So what are you waiting for?! If you want to get more enjoyment out of your water feature, add a new dimension by bringing it to life at night.

We promise you won’t regret it!