The Stream

The Stream

What’s Happening to My New Pond?!

What is Happening to My New Pond?

You’ve just created the back yard of your dreams, complete with an amazing new pond full of beautiful Koi fish, and it appears as though it’s all gone horribly wrong. Fear not! This is actually quite common. New Pond Syndrome, or NPS is characterized primarily by uninhabitable or discoloured water, diseased fish, and ammonia spikes. The most common cause of NPS is a premature addition of too many fish, resulting in a breakdown of your bio filtration.

It’s important not to confuse NPS with green pond water, which in many cases is a healthy part of the natural water cycling process. The key difference between these two phenomena is the effect on the fish – monitoring your fish health and water quality will prevent any misdiagnosis of NPS.

What Should I Do About It?

First, the pond has to cycle and to do that successfully can take anywhere from four to eight weeks. If everything is going right, your pH level will begin to stabilize and drop ever closer to the optimal 7.5.

Start adding water plants with a minimum of 60% surface coverage. The plants will decay and release other agents in to the pond, thus creating a beneficial environment for fish after 2-6 weeks while the pond stabilizes further. Once the pH is around 8-8.2 and no higher 8.5 you can start considering the addition of fish. The proper pH of a mature pond should be around 6.5 to 8.5, with constant but little fluctuation.

The pH will continue to reduce as the days go on. When you are ready to add fish, do it gradually. Maybe just six fish to start and then test your pH again… if everything looks good then you can add more. You may also want to start with more inexpensive fish and graduate to larger koi in year two once the pond has established itself.

  • Due to the chlorine and chloramine in city water you should use a dechlorinator of some sort. Letting your pond sit will not rid it of chloramine. Always keep a dechlorinator on hand and remember anytime you add water to your pond you must add it as well.
  • Also be sure to have a floating thermometer on hand as it’s helpful to know the temperature of your pond water through the seasons. Bacterias (present in most water treatments) need a water temperature of at least 15 C to proliferate.
  • Feed your fish less. Most people like to interact with their fish which inevitably means feeding them… and feeding them and feeding them. Find a high quality fish food that can be easily digestible and “used” by the fish as opposed to lower quality foods that result in more waste. Look for foods that have quality ingredients, contain multivitamins and stabilized vitamin C. Once per day during the summer should be fine, once every couple days with a low temp food in Fall/Spring and not at all during the winter months.

“In nature, fish stocking levels are much lower than in our artificial environments. When stocking levels become too high, fish populations are brought under control by predation, diseases, stunted growth or other mass die-offs. In our artificial environments, we often forget that stocking levels are important, and just as in nature, there will be a tendency for equilibrium to become established over time. Unfortunately for our pet fish, “equilibrium” usually means disease or death. Eliminating excess fish stock brings the environment into a state of equilibrium. A minimum of 100 to 200 gallons per fish is adequate” – Ponds and Water Gardens

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.

Constructed Wetland Filtration

Definition: A constructed wetland is an artificial wetland created for the purpose of treating anthropogenic discharge such as municipal or industrial wastewater, or storm water runoff.

Constructed wetlands are engineered systems that use the natural functions of vegetation, soil, and organisms to treat different water sources. They can be designed to emulate the features of natural wetlands, acting as a bio filter to remove sediments and pollutants such as heavy metals from the water. Some constructed wetlands may also serve as a habitat for native and migratory wildlife.

Constructed wetlands have grown in popularity over the last couple of years mainly because of their natural look and aesthetic appeal. One of the great things about wetland filtration is that there is no size limitation. The plants, rocks, and gravel act as biological filtration media, similar to what you see in nature.

The key to a successful wetland filtration system lies with the plants. Plants are an integral part of any balanced ecosystem and help to create a natural and aesthetically pleasing environment. Plants help purify the water by reducing nutrients, filtering out sediments, and absorbing toxic compounds through the process of phytoremediation. They’re also the basis of a food web in which pathogens are consumed by microorganisms associated with the aquatic plants.

With today’s growing tendency toward creating sustainable and low maintenance landscape solutions, a constructed wetland filtration solution is an obvious choice.

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.

5 Reasons to go Pondless!

The waterfall is undoubtedly the most beautiful and favoured feature in a water garden. If you would love a water feature, but space is limited, Pondless Waterfalls are an attractive option.

Pondless Waterfalls are simply a re-circulating waterfall and/or stream without the presence of a pond. They easily fit into any corner of the landscape to add the sight and sound of running water. They’re great for families with small children or for people who don’t want the maintenance of a pond. Here are five reasons why Pondless Waterfalls are awesome:

Aquascape Pondless Waterfall

Very Safe

Because there is no pool of water, a Pondless Waterfall is a great option if you are at all concerned about safety issues associated with a traditional body of water on your property.


In most cases, the price of a Pondless Waterfall is less than a pond, because there is less labor and materials involved. Operating costs are also lower; because you’re not dealing with an established ecosystem pond, it’s not necessary to run the pump 24/7.


The compact nature of the Pondless Waterfall allows you to create a water feature in challenging landscapes. You can enjoy the sight and sound of running water in your yard, regardless of space limitations.

Easy to Maintain

Taking care of your Pondless Waterfall is easy. Filling the reservoir every few weeks to compensate for water loss due to evaporation is all that’s required.


Perhaps the best part of the Pondless Waterfall is the potential for expansion. Once you’ve gotten your feet wet with a beautiful water feature from Streamworks Designs, it is easy to add a pond at the base of a Pondless Waterfall.

Create a Natural Looking Waterfall

These useful tips will help you to create a beautiful, natural looking waterfall for your property.


Let nature be your guide

Be sure to study natural streams and waterfalls to find ideas and inspiration. That is where the greatest waterfall builders in the world gain their inspiration!

Blend in with your surroundings

If the terrain of your backyard is flat, a waterfall that pops up out of nowhere will not look natural. Keep your new waterfall in scale with the surrounding landscape and terrain by building a berm around the waterfall area.  Several smaller drops of 4 to 9 inches or one drop – no more than 18 inches – will help blend your waterfall seamlessly into your landscape.

“Frame” your waterfall with large stones

Your waterfall will look more natural if you “frame” it with the largest of the rocks that you have chosen. As the water falls, it will hit the larger stones and find its path through the spaces between them – just like in nature.

Keep stones in proportion

The drop of the waterfall is the distance from where the water exits the biological filter to where it hits the pond. Some of the main rocks should be several inches larger than the drop of the waterfall. For example, for a drop of 12 inches, you should use rocks that are 16 inches in order for them to be in scale with the project.

The fewer stones, the better

Fewer rocks are better when building a waterfall. Three large stones are better than 12 small stones stacked up. Nature will provide you with some tips for designing and building your waterfall. You usually will see one very large stone, surrounded by few smaller ones, with the water running between them.

Add a twist

Be sure to twist and turn the waterfall and stream so that there are new views and facets with every turn, which looks better visually. Take your time on this part – designing twists and turns can be the most fun part of building the waterfall.

Soften the edges

The surrounding landscaping will cover most mistakes. The more plant material you can line the falls and stream with, the better. It will soften the hard edges of all the stone. Also, if you create a good, planted backdrop to your berm it will look as though it’s always been there. Make sure it flows into the rest of your yard.

Provide a room with a view

Ensure that you can see the waterfalls from inside different rooms in your house because no matter how much you love the outdoors, you will still spend most of your time inside. People often make the mistake of having their waterfall face the back of their yard. Try a view from the living room or kitchen – wherever your family gathers.


Landscaping your pond isn’t much different than landscaping your backyard. Similar factors should be considered, with the same design principles applied in both. Follow these 5 tips for planting your pond to maximize beauty and minimize maintenance.

1. Keep It Natural

The goal is to mimic Mother nature. When you add aquatic plants to a pond, you’re helping to blend it in with the surrounding landscape. In nature, marginal plants are typically found along the perimeter of ponds, lakes, and streams. In a man-made pond, these plants soften the hard edges of the rocks and provide a smooth transition from the water in the pond to the terrestrial planting area that surrounds it.

2. Ensure the Best View

Just as the signature waterfall faces the house or viewing areas, be sure that the amazing waterlily or lotus is easily seen from the nearby patio or kitchen window for the greatest amount of appreciation.

3. Vary Plant Heights

To maximize a natural look in the ponds you build, place taller plants like reeds, cattails, and cannas toward the back of planting clusters. Then, add medium and shorter plants on the viewing side of the taller plants.

4. Play with Colour

Random placement of plants with different textures and colours will give the pond a natural, unstructured appearance. Choose colours that you like best and let your creativity take care of the rest. Emphasize primary colours with larger plants, and add some daring contrasts of texture and other colours around the edges.

5. Know How They’ll Grow

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the mature size and habit of your plants, how they grow and spread. To create a truly low-maintenance pond, allow sufficient room for future growth.

Plant Your Pond

Employ these tips when designing and planting your pond, and you’ll achieve the pond of your dreams. A pond doesn’t fully mature until about the third year, so don’t be concerned that it may look a little sparse at first. You will love watching your water garden grow!

Pond Water Quality

The importance of good pond water quality is not lost on most pond owners. However, understanding how to achieve and maintain water quality can prove to be a challenge for even the most avid water gardeners. The water may be perfectly clear, but several factors may indicate that conditions may not be ideal. Before you decide on a treatment plan for your pond’s water, consider the following questions:

Are there too many fish in the pond?

10 fish for every 100 gallons of water is the absolute maximum. If there are too many fish, consider finding some of them a new home. Better yet, build a second pond for the overflow.

Are the fish overfed?

Excess, or leftover food can affect water quality. Feed the fish no more than once per day, and no more than they can eat in 2 to 3 minutes – then remove all remaining food from the water.

Are there too many plants?

Too many plants can cause oxygen deficiencies at night due to the photosynthetic process, where the plants take in oxygen and give off carbon dioxide. Ensure that no more than 40% to 60% of the surface area of the pond is either covered or shaded by plants.

Is the pump size affecting water quality?

The entire pond’s volume should be circulated, or turned over a minimum of once every hour. Ensure that the pump’s flow isn’t restricted by any debris, or that it isn’t exceeding its flow limitations. Refer to the side of the original packaging for specifications.

Is the correct filter in place?

Most manufacturers rate their filters based on the amount of water in the water feature. If the filter is too small, it will be less effective at removing debris and fish waste. Always use a filter rated higher than necessary in order to guarantee effectiveness, and be sure to clean it at least once per year, as well.

Is the temperature too high?

Direct sunlight, or inadequate circulation of pond water can lead to higher temperatures. Water exceeding 75º F has a more difficult time retaining acceptable levels of dissolved oxygen, and can promote algal blooms. Again, ensure that no more than 40% to 60% of the surface area is shaded, though.

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

3 Reasons Why Your Water Garden Needs Plants

Aquatic plants are essential for any natural looking water feature. Water is beautiful in and of itself, but it’s the flora makes your water garden truly special. They’re not just aesthetically pleasing either, plants in your pond are an important part of the overall ecosystem. Here are 3 reasons why plants are so important:

1. Pond Plants Add Natural Beauty

Waterlilies, lotus, and other flowering aquatics provide lots of colour to your water garden.  Impressive plants like taro and horsetail provide structural variety. Floaters, like water lettuce, add whimsy while laying on the pond’s surface. And marginal plants like sweet flag help to soften the edges of the pond.

Aquatic Plants in an Ecosystem Pond

2. Aquatic Plants Provide Shelter and Protection for Fish

Fish gain shade and shelter from pond plants. Consider the waterlily that spreads a multitude of leaves across the pond’s surface. This natural umbrella helps keep the pond cool in warmer months and provides a cover for fish from the dreaded heron. Plants also provide an area for fish to spawn and a safe place for frogs to lay their eggs.

Aquatic Plants and Fish

3. Plants Balance the Ecosystem

Aquatic plants play a critical role in balancing your pond’s ecosystem by providing valuable biological filtration that removes nitrogen, ammonia, nitrates, and other minerals from the water that algae love to feed on!

Plants are essential to the Ecosystem Pond

You’ll find a wide variety of aquatic plants available, either online or at your local garden centre. The options for mixing and matching plants are almost endless. Be sure to follow planting and growing directions for the plants you choose, and you’ll be on your way to creating a true jewel of a water garden.

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.