First impressions

Inheriting a twenty by ten pond with our new house, felt like a load of birthdays had come at once. However, what I remembered of the pond on our visits prior to signing on the dotted line, were slightly off from the reality of the pond.

a very green pond
The pond in its original condition
Nevertheless, I was still absolutely over-the-moon, so the first thing to do was to turn on the pumps and watch the waterfall work.

This action alone should really have been a pretty major clue in what was to become a serious reality check. The pumps were plugged into a dual-gang interior socket that had been mounted on one of the fence-posts by the simple expedient of nailing it inside an actual “Tupperware” box – obviously to keep the rain off.

It never went bang, so I presume as “Heath-Robinson” as it may have seemed, it did the job. The pumps however, did not.

They were two tiny little pumps which, even at their best only caused a trickle of water to roll over the edge of the waterfall.

This, even to a novice didn’t seem right.

from a patio to a jungle
The long way down towards the “waterfall”
Ideally, a pond’s water needs to be turned over every hour or two. The pumps should have been placed near the bottom of the pond at one end and the return — facilitated by the waterfall — at the other, with filtration somewhere in between. This way, the pond’s water is cleaned of fish poop, other harmful matter and circulated. Thus, the fish stay healthy and the water clear.

In this instance, the pumps were woefully inadequate. The filters were no more than scouring pad under each pump which looked like balls of swarf. The pumps themselves had been hung by their wires just below the pond’s surface under the “waterfall”. Clearly, the reality of the pond was a far cry from the rather romantic idea I had.

I may have been a pond novice, but as an engineer, I reasoned that this was not right and the opacity of the water seemed to confirm my suspicions.

There was clearly little if any filtration happening here.

Brand new kit

The Pond - across the pond to the house
Across the pond to the house
We bit the bullet and bought a Hoselock multi-foam system, about twenty metres of flexible pipe and an Oase pump. The price of £750 almost gave me a heart attack. Another bite in the backside in learning about the reality of the pond.

We had no idea it would be so expensive, but if we wanted to keep the pond — and we did — then we needed to upgrade the existing kit.

The man at the aquatic center in Yeovil had said that the filters would only need to be cleaned once a month. I took that with a pinch of salt, as he had no idea what state our pond was in.

Evidently, it was thirty times worse than he had expected, as I needed to clean the filters on a daily basis. This entailed removing each individual foam pad and spraying it with clean water to remove the crud. There were three grades of pad: two of each from coarse to fine, the former easy to clean, the latter much more difficult with the mediums somewhere between. Thankfully we weren’t on metered water or it would have cost a fortune, with each clean taking an hour and a half on average.

This daily ritual did have a positive effect though. Within a few days, we began to see some of the fish some of the time, but beyond a certain depth, it just never seemed to get any better. In all likelihood, as with the rest of the garden, it had only been minimally tended — if at all; and we as the new custodians were paying the price — financially and otherwise.