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As the daughter of a pond expert I spent every weekend as a Teenager up to my waist in green slime and lilly roots sorting out peoples pond disasters. This much I can tell you.
The only creatures who desire a crystal clear pond are Humans and Herons! Humans spend an excessive amount of money trying to achieve this " unatural " state in still water just so the Heron can take advantage of the situation forcing the fishless pond owner back to the aquatic centre to restock again and again.
If what you desire is a natural / wildlife pond for frogs toads dragonflys somewhere for the birds to drink and bathe you dont need any filter or pump of any kind. The alge is an important part of the pond eco system. this "soup" works like plankton in the oceans. it feeds the little bugs that feed the bigger bugs that feed the frogs and so on
larger natural ponds can tolorate a few fish but they are not needed from a wildlife point of view. They are best avoided in small ponds. they do not " cause" alge directly , this is caused by sunlight and increased levels of nitrogen. It is fish poo that it the usual culprit for increased nitrogen in small ponds.
the best way of keeping alge to a reasonable level is to have plants that cut out some of the light to the water, like lillies BUT these are really expensive and will quickly overfill a small pond, there are miniture versions but you could try water hawthorn which works in a similar way,
If you want frogs in your pond find someone who has tadpoles. they should be hatching NOW. frogs and toads will always try to return to the water they grew up in, so putting tadpoles in your pond is a better way to ensure a continued frog population than catching a passing frog and hoping that it likes whats on offer.
Herons do eat frogs as do grass snakes But that is the natural order of things and all the time there are plenty of crystal clear ponds with nice brightly coloured fish to eat, why bother with a frog?
pond snails are both male ansd female but there still needs to be two of them cos they need to" swap genes" but snail eggs often come in on water plants so that even if you dont buy them they will probably appear - bit like slugs, you get them regardless!
Excellent post Mandaloon.
Can you advise what kind of plants would be good for a natural/wildlife pond and where to get them?
34.If someone can’t accept you at your worst, they don’t deserve you at your best
Also, really important is a sloping shallow exit I have seen several unfortunate cases where a hedgehog has fallen into a pond trying to get a drink and drowned. the're not great swimmers and need to be able to scramble out easily!!
I find that the biggest nuisance in small ponds is" blanket weed" it looks like large amounts of green cottonwool floating on the surface of the water. if left it can fill a small pond almost entirely. Probably the best way to remove this is with a bramble twig or rose prunings. Give the blanket weed a bit of a shake giving the wildlife in it a chance to get out before you remove it then using your prickly stick wind the weed round it like candyfloss. check it for any trapped wildlife ( if your a but squirmish find a child to do this for you, they usually love it!!) once removed you can put it on the compost BUT make sure its covered because if it's left to dry out in the open small particals will break off into the wind and end up back in your pond where it will start all over again.
Where to get plants? what you CAN'T do is take them from the wild !! you will find yourself in Court.
the best way to get any plant is Free... try asking on freecycle or putting an ad in your local pet shop etc . many people are clearing out their ponds this time of year and are throwing away the excess.
I will assume that by "small" we mean anything smaller than a bath.
there is no point putting many of our native water plants in this size unless you are prepared to cut it up annually, which will disturb the wildlife.
If you are using a liner of any description do NOT plant " carex " it is a small reed type plant but it has roots like needles and will perforate any liner.
You really only need three types of plant in a pond
(1) someting tall and straight in a shallow bit..... water iris, miniture bullrush , water mint( smells nice). this gives dragonfly nymph something to climb out on to emerge into its final stage... if they cant get out of the water at this point they WILL drown! and really they need a vertical steam to do this properly.
(2) oxygen weed ...... this is cheap and is sold in any pet shop that sells fish it is usually sold in a bunch with a weight on one end. Just chuck it in and it will sort itself out and you shouldn't need to buy it again it will just reproduce itself. If you are given this by another pond owner tie the ends up with a bit of string and weight it down with a stone. This stuff is important. it is what really puts oxygen into your water.
(3) Lilly type plant that has leaves that float on the water. standard lillies are way too big for a small pond and they are all expensive if you can scrounge a root of one from someone else sink it in a basket of soil with some gravel on the top in the deepest part of the pond. if you cant find any sort of lilly type plant dont worry about it too much you can float a few plastic lilly leaves on the water whilst they wont add any oxygen to the water they will cut out some of the light which is the main objective plus providing a bit of cover for the wildlife. Duck weed will do the same job ( looks like cress floating on the water ) you wont see much but the wildlife wont care
small ponds tend to dry out really quickly in the hot weather so try and keep them topped up with either rain water OR god old fashioned tap water just fill up a couple of buckets and leave them to stand overnight. the problem with tap water is that it contains chlorine if you leave it standing for a few hours most of it will evaporate. it's the same when you first fill a pond you can use tapwater but leave it to stand for as long as possible before adding anything to it.
Aquatic centres will happily sell you many thing which they say are essential . The right soil for your plants, water conditioners PH testing kits etc you dont need any of these things for a wildlife pond ( different story if you want fish ) Any new pond will take time to settle and establish you need to be patient and humans aint good at that.
Do NOT place anything made of CONCRETE in your pond unless it has been specifically bought at an aquatic centre or anthing with cement on it . This will seriously alter the PH levels in a small pond.. the frogs really wont like it!! neither do the fish and pond centres do sell cement that is safe for ponds if you really have no choice.
dont put soil that contains peat in your pond, again it can seriously affect the PH balance and the dam stuff floats!!!
When I had a small pond, frogs, toads, newts, pondskaters, dragonflies and damselflies all found their own way to it. It took a while, but it was lovely watching it develop year after year. And so very relaxing, sitting by it and watching everything that was going on there.
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Thanks very much for the tips and advice
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