How Does a Pond Ecosystem Work?

If we design your water feature, you’ll probably hear us talk a lot about “Ecosystem Ponds.”

But what does that mean?

An Ecosystem Pond is simply a manmade water feature that uses specialized equipment to emulate the biological processes that keep natural ponds healthy and beautiful. This system is designed to require very little maintenance, provide a good home for fish and keep water crystal-clear and algae at a minimum. It also offers shelter and nourishment for wildlife like frogs, dragonflies and butterflies.

Ecosystem Pond Biology

Here’s a quick overview of the science:

  • Beneficial bacteria consume ammonia and other harmful compounds that build up in the pond because of things like fish waste and decaying leaves. The byproduct of this process is nitrites. If left unchecked, these nitrites will feed the kind of algae that turns water green. But luckily …
  • More beneficial bacteria convert the nitrites into nitrates. Excess nitrates in the pond will feed string algae, so we have to get rid of them with …
  • Plants. Each type, shape and color of plant in your pond will soak up a different kind of nitrate, keeping string algae at a minimum and water healthy for your fish.

This process is called the nitrogen cycle. It creates an almost self-sustaining ecosystem where fish, plants and other wildlife can live happily, without a lot of help from you. Maintenance for an Ecosystem Pond usually includes emptying a skimmer basket as needed, feeding fish, adding regular doses of beneficial bacteria and performing some basic seasonal maintenance tasks a few times each year.

Ecosystem Pond Design

Now that we’ve talked about the biology, let’s take a look at the equipment and other components that make the ecosystem work:

1. Pond Skimmer

Your Pond Skimmer removes most physical debris – sticks, leaves, etc. – from the pond. It also houses your pump, the heart of the pond’s recirculation system.

2. BioFalls Filter

Your biological filter helps keep your water clear by encouraging the growth and spread of Beneficial Bacteria. These bacteria consume excess nitrites in the pond that would otherwise feed green-water algae.

3. Pond Pump

Your Pond Pump keeps everything moving. It powers your waterfalls and prevents water from sitting stagnant. Our pumps cost very little to run thanks to energy-efficient design.

4. Piping

Your Pond Pump moves water through sturdy, weather-resistant pipes.

5. Rocks & Gravel

Rocks and Gravel create lots of nooks and crannies where beneficial bacteria can colonize, keeping your water crystal-clear. The rocks and gravel also make your pond look natural and beautiful.

6. Pond Liner & Underlayment

We use a sturdy, fish-safe EPDM Pond Liner to keep your water where it belongs: in the pond. The non-woven geotextile underlayment sits under the liner, protecting it from rocks and tree roots.

7. Plants & Fish

Plants and Fish aren’t just pretty; they play an important role in your pond’s ecosystem. Plants like waterlilies and lotus remove excess nitrates from the water that would otherwise feed string algae. Fish like koi and goldfish eat nuisance insects. You have lots of choices when it comes to fish and plants, giving you the chance to make something that fits your unique tastes.