Water gardens have come a long way since the days of ancient Persia and China. These man made aquatic environments have taken many shapes from square concrete formal pools to tear-dropped shape plastic mold ponds. For many years the backyard water garden became high maintenance and very unnatural looking. The often required many water changes, the the use of chemicals and consumed lots of energy to circulate the water with pumps. The water garden carried many negative stigmas and was really only found in the backyards of avid gardener’s or people with hired help.
In the 1990’s Aquascape, Inc. of St. Charles, Illinois revolutionized the water garden industry with their ecosystem pond. The owner, Greg Wittstock had been a passionate water gardener his whole life and wanted to eliminate the stigma of water gardens and show that by working with nature that owning a water feature would be less maintenance than the patch of lawn you removed. Over the past 24 years of business Aquascape, Inc., Greg Wittstock and his incredible team have become leaders in the water gardening industry and continue to work hard to eliminate the water gardening stigma. Recently my team at Poseidon Ponds & Landscaping had the pleasure of working side by side with Aquascape, Inc. on a project for their most recent push for water gardening called The Aquascape Pond Stars where they are producing a reality show about building cool water features.
An ecosystem pond is a water garden that works with mother nature to provide food, shelter and safety for local wildlife. For a ecosystem pond to function properly, five crucial elements are needed. Without the any of the five crucial elements many homeowners find themselves with a lot more maintenance and the old water gardening stigma survives. The important thing to always remember with the ecosystem pond is to, “keep it simple.” The more complicated a system gets the more difficult it will be to restore the balance if something goes wrong.
The five crucial elements for a successful ecosystem pond are, a filtration system, rocks & gravel, a recirculating system, fish and aquatic plants. Within the filtration system you have two types of filtration, biological and mechanical. The biological filtration is where beneficial organisms (bacteria) live and filter the nutrients from the water and the mechanical filtration is water is skimmed and larger pieces of debris (leaves) are collected for easy removal. The rocks and gravel are a key element because they not only protect the liner but they are also where many more beneficial organisms (insect larva, diatoms, etc.) live and play their part in the ecosystem. The recirculating system uses a pump to circulate the water and provide a sufficient amount of oxygen to the ecosystem and all of its organisms. The fish fit into the picture because they will eat algae and graze for food on the pond floor while producing waste that the microorganisms need to make the ecosystem function. The aquatic plants not only soften the rocky edges and provide visual beauty but they are the true filters of the ecosystem pond consuming the nutrients in the water. With proper coverage the plants can even starve the algae out.
When you combine the elements together you are creating a cycle in the pond that is duplicating nature and creating the ecosystem portion of the ecosystem pond. The fish eat the algae and debris in the pond and produce waste. The debris and waste provided from the fish then gets consumed or broken down by the beneficial bacteria and other micro organisms. The nutrients produced from the bacteria breakdown process are absorbed by the plants to produce plant growth, flowers and even seed production. The cycle is then completed once the fish nibble on the plant parts and roots. This cycle continues to work as long as all the elements are present and functioning properly. With a good cycle in place many other wildlife will find you ecosystem a good fit. Insect larva will feed on the microorganisms, frogs and toad will feed on the insects, and so on. The benefits of living the lifestyle far exceed the minimal effort to maintain this great backyard addition. Furthermore your pets will have a great place to get a drink in the summer, your children will set down their piece of technology and get back into nature and you will be surprised to find yourself playing with the waterfalls, watching the fish and enjoying your backyard.
Poseidon Pond Mann
For more information on ecosystem ponds visit www.poseidonponds.com, set up a on-site consult with one of our staff members (734) 726-5061, and check out the video from Aquascape, Inc. on ecosystem ponds.