Water Garden Terms

These are commonly used words/ phrase used in the water garden industry and their meaning when used in this context.

aeration -the act of increasing the water's dissolved oxygen level. This can happen many different ways, even naturally. Regardless it generally enhances any pond enviroment.

aerobic -means oxygen is present and/or being produced. Used to describe bacteria that ultilize oxygen to live. These are the most desireable bacterias since they promote a healthy pond enviroment. Aerobic bacteria are also called beneficial bacteria. These bacteria grow and colonize mainly attached to surfaces so once established are largely un affected by any UV Light filters.

air pump -this electrical device operates out of the water to push compressed air through tubing and eventually an airstone/ diffuser underwater for the purpose of aeration. Larger air pumps designed for larger ponds/lakes are called compressors.

airstone -also called diffusers these items are used with an air pump or compressor and tubing to add oxygen/aerate water. They are typically made of porous ceramic-like materials.

algae -any of numerous groups of chlorophyl containing, mainly aquatic organisms ranging from microscopic single-celled forms (see "green water") to multicellular forms(see "filament eous algae") that can reach 100 ft. (30 m) or more, distinguished from plants by lack of true roots, stems, and leaves and the absence of nonreproductive cells in the reproduc tive structures.

algaecides -products used to eliminate/ kill and control algae in ponds. Most of the products are chemical-based and work fairly quickly for a relatively short period per treatment.

ammonia -naturally occuring compound in pond water. Develops as a result of organic waste breakdown at the first step of the "nitrogen cycle". It is normally harmless as it processes through the cycle to become nitrite. If ammonia builds to certain levels it becomes extremely toxic to fish. This is not normal but it can cause stress, disease death to pond fish. Ammonia is completely invisible though its presence can be monitored with a test kit.

amp -short for "ampere", a unit of measure of electrical current. Used with "watts" of a specific electrical item such as a pump or UV to determine the electrical usage of that item. See "watt".

anaerobic -means oxygen is not present and/or being produced. Used to describe bacteria that do not require oxygen to live. These bacteria live in the more anaerobic areas of a pond such as under bottom debris. They can be potentially harmful to the pond and/or the fish.

bacterial product -also known as beneficial bacteria these products work to enhance the ponds ability to rid itself of organic waste, naturally. Proper use of these products enhance filtration, eliminate the need for algaecides, and produce a clean, clear healthy pond enviroment. These products may be a dry powder, or liquid form.

balanced pond -used to describe a pond with healthy plants and/or fish with relatively clean, clear water. All the natural systems (see "nitrogen cycle") are working to produce these ecologically balanced conditions, usually without adding chemicals.

ballast -part of UV Light filter that powers the lamp (bulb). Generally the object the lamp connects directly to. The power cord is also connected to the ballast.

biofilter -or bio filter; or biological filter, is a filter designed for bio or biological filtration.

biological filtration -moving water over/through materials to grow bacteria colonies that will naturally breakdown organic wastes produced by the fish, plants, etc. Biological filtration occurs naturally, to some degree, without assistance ...even without an actual filter. An example of this is a rocky waterfall.

bog -an area of moist to wet soil and any water less than 12" deep. Also known as a marsh or swamp. "Bog" gardens can be created with or seperately from backyard ponds. "Bog" plants (also called "Hardy or Tropical bogs") are plants that thrive in these conditions.

bore -describes the inner surface of tubing or piping. A smooth bore means better flow of water.

butterfly koi -"koi" with longer fins and tail fin. See "koi".

chlorine -is an incombustable, water soluble gas that is used to purify water, and commonly found in municipal water. See "municipal water". See "dechlorinator".

chloramine -is a colorless liquid, derived from ammonia sometimes found in municipal water. See "municipal water".

clarifier -any UV Light filter used with a typically faster flowrate to just eliminate suspeneded algae to achieve clear watwer.

comet -a type of "goldfish" with narrow body shape and straight "single" tail, usually orange or red in color though they can also have white, black, or pinkish colors as well. See "goldfish".

creeping -used to describe an aquatic plant with a growth habit of extending across the surface from its container in a "spreading" form. More horizontal than vertical.

dechlorinator -is one of a number of liquid products that nuetralizes chlorine and other compounds found in municipally supplied water that may be harmful to fish other pond life. See "municipal water".

direct drive -used to describe a water pump that uses normal electrical power to "drive" the moving parts. These pumps are for moving larger quantities of water over longer distances.

discharge -used to describe point (port/hole) where water exits a pump.

dissolved oxygen -or "D.O" is the amount of oxygen in the water available for use for living organisms. Usually measured in ppm (parts per million) it is rarely a concern for backyard pond owners so it is rarely tracked/ monitored. Koi and especially goldfish can tolerate relatively low DO levels. Pond owners with large fish loads can monitor DO with devices for this.

domestic koi -koi that originate and are grown within the United States. See"koi".

dry goods -all non-living products related to/ or used for ponds. All other living items for ponds are "live goods".

duckweed -small, free-floating, stemless aquatic flowering plants of the genus Lemna, that grow in close, often carpetlike colonies on the surface of quiet water.

fans -See "fantails".

fantail -type of goldfish with a rounded body-shape, a "double, veil-like tail, and a very slow graceful swimming motion. Japanese Fantails have a bright reddish orange (sometimes white) color. Calico Fantails have distinct "mottled" coloring featuring a variety of colors including blue, black, orange and white appearing on each fish. Chinese Black Moors are fantails with a complete black color. See "goldfish".

filamentous algae -a multicellular form of algae that becomes a stringy mass in the water or "mats" floating on the surface. See "algae" and "green water".

filter -describe a device used to filter pond water. Typically this is a container, canister or similar that holds filtering material (media) and/ or a UV light. The filter is non-electric (except for a UV light). A pump (see "pump") is required to move water through the filter. Filters can operate out of the pond or submerged, and can be nearly any size.

filter media -material used, typically in a filter for mechanical and/or biological filtration.

fish load -used to describe the entire, total weight (biomass) of fish in a specific body of water.

gasket -a piece of rubber/plastic type material specifically formed to create a watertight seal at the connection of two components. Gaskets are typically flat in form as opposed to o-rings that are rounded.

GFIC -ground fault interrupter circuit. A device(s) placed into an electrical line that acts as a safety "switch" to cut off power when water contacts any exposed live electricity. All outdoor electric recepticles should be equipped with one. A GFIC extension cord may be used on existing circuit.

goldfish -small, ornamental pond fish (carassius auratus), native to China that have been bred into several varieties. The best types for ponds include, comets, shubunkins and fantails. Goldfish can grow to 12 to 14" and work well in nearly any pond environment.

g.p.h. -gallons per hour. Used to describe the rate of flowing water. Used specifically to indicate the amount of water delivered by a specific pump to a specific point.

g.p.m. -gallons per minute. This term is not used as often as "g.p.h.". See "g.p.h."

gravity return -used to describe a filter that operates outside of the pond and sends water back to pond with the aid of gravity. This means the point where the water exits the filter must be situated higher (vertically) than the pond's surface. These filters are also called "non-pressurized".

green water -is used to describe water that contains excessive amounts of single-celled algae that are suspended in the water. Algae can be nearly any color, though because most algae are green in color, large amounts can cause a greenish tint in the water and if allowed may eventually give the water a thick "pea soup" appearence.

growing zones -see "zones".

hardy -used to describe an aquatic plant as capable of surviving overwinter outdoors. Note: All plants have thier limits of cold tolerance, though plants described as "hardy" will survive freezing conditions. These tolerances are indicated by the USDA " zones" for each plant.

hardiness zones -See "zones".

hyacinths -See "water hyacinths".

inlet -used to describe the point (port/hole) where water enters a filter, pump, etc.

intake -used to describe the point (port/hole) where water enters a pump.

Isreali Koi -koi that originate and are grown and exported from Israel. See "koi.

Japanese Koi -koi that originate and are grown and exported from Japan. Many koi-keeping purists regard these koi as the finest (visually) available. This and other factors make these fish relatively expensive. A 10"-12" fish can sell for more than $100 (each) retail. See "koi".

koi -any various colorful, cultivated forms of the common carp(cyprinus carpio) that originated in Japan and eastern, temperate Asia. A very popular ornamental pond fish that can grow to exceed 36" in length and 30 lbs. They are related to "goldfish" and even look like them at smaller sizes. They are in fact distinctly differrent fish for many reasons including thier final size and relationship to management of a pond.

liner -used to describe the material used in backyard pond construction that has the ability to con tain and hold water. These may be a flexible (pliable) "sheet" of rubber or plastic; or a rigid "pre-formed shell" made of fiberglass or plastic. Lilypons liners are 45 mil EPDM rubber, and high quality fiberglass.

live goods -living material such as plants, fish and scavengers grown, produced and sold for the purpose of stocking into a pond. All other products/ materials for ponds are dry goods.

mag-drive -is used to describe a water pump that uses magnetic technology to drive the moving parts. This increases energy efficiency.

mechanical filtration -moving water through material (typically a foam/synthetic material pad or block) designed to trap suspended debris, algae, etc. so it can be removed manually or otherwise depending on the specific filter.

mil -is a unit of length equal to 0.001 of an inch (0.0254 mm), used to measure the thickness of pond liners. The industry standard is 45 mil. In comparison a typical trash bag is 6 mil thick.

municipal water -is water supplied to a home via a public water system. This implies the water is being made safe for public use through chemical treatment. The two most com monly used are chlorine dioxide and chloramine. See "dechlorinator". See "well water".

nitrate -a naturally occuring compound in pond water that develops in the process of breakdown of organic wastes. It is one of the end results of the nitrogen cycle and is generally harm less to pond life, though it can promote algae growth.

nitrite -is a naturally occuring compound in pond water, that develops in the process of break down of organic wastes. It is basically step two of the nitrogen cycle, after ammonia. It is normally harmless to pond life unless it exceeds a certain level, then it may become deadly to fish. It is invisble and can be monitored if needed with a test kit.

nitrifying bacteria -naturally occuring, aquatic bacterias that colonize (grow) on surfaces within a pond, waterfall and/or filtration system. They consume and breakdown naturally occuring organic waste. Though they can develop and grow with no assistance, they can be added to or enhanced with a "bacterial product".

nitrogen cycle -the natural process that occurs in any body of water (including backyard ponds) with plants and fish that occurs with the natural development of nitrifying bacteria colonies that breakdown organic waste as it naturally accumulates. This biological process occurs without human assistance though understanding it and how to en hance it are important to sucsessful pond maintenance.
o-ring -is a formed rounded "ring" of nearly any size usually made of rubber or rubber-like material designed to create a watertight seal at an opening or port, on a filter for example. These are sometimes incorrectlyly called "gaskets", which serve a similar purpose.

ornamental -used to describe something that is grown,made and/or used primarily for the purpose of visual enjoyment.

planting media -is the material (typically soil) used for planting aquatic plants.

pond cleaning -describes the act of completely draining, removing living things and completely removing all bottom debris. The pond is refilled/ restocked.

pond maintenance -describes the act of any type of pond short of complete draining. Examples are filter care, plant pruning/ fertilization and surface skimming.

pressurized -used to describe a filter that operate outside of the pond and sends water under pressure back to the pond. This allows the filter's discharge point to be placed below (vertically) the pond's surface if desired. This allows more flexibility in filter placement.

pump -is an electrical device used to move water. In most backyard ponds they power a filter, waterfall, and/or fountain, etc. They are usually (not always) operated submerged in the pond or in the skimmer body. They are fairly compact in size.

pump protector -describes an item or device designed to protect the intake of a submerged pump. This decreases pump maintenance frequency. Some recent pump models are equipped with this protection in the design.

outlet -used to describe the point (port/hole) where water exits a filter, pump, etc.

oxygenators -is an outdated term that refers to "submerged plants". See "submerged plants".

quartz sleeve or tube -part that protects the UV bulb (lamp). It is cylindrical-shaped with one end open that fits over the bulb and is sealed with a "gasket" or "o-ring" to make it watertight to protect the lamp and connection point. They are made of high quality quartz glass to allow thorough light penetration.

repotting -See "transplanting".

scavengers -these are normally specific aquatic snails and tadpoles grown, sold and stocked for the purpose of cleaning some of the pond's organic waste. They are considered a primary element of a "balanced" pond.

shubunkin -type of "goldfish" with a narrow body-shape and straight "single" tail. They have a distinct "mottled" color pattern with a variety of colors and combinations, including blue, black, orange, red and white. See "goldfish".

"solids handling" -phrase used to describe a pump's ability to pull small, water soluble objects through it without clogging or damaging internal parts. Non- water soluble items like gravel or grit will usually not pass through.

spread -describes the distance across the surface a waterlily's growth will typically cover.

sterilizer -any UV Light filter used with a typically slower flowrate to eliminate potentially harmful suspended bacterias and parasites to provide a healthier enviroment for fish.

stocking -the act of adding living material or "live goods" to a pond.

submerged -underwater.

submerged plants -a few plant varieties that grow almost entirely underwater stocked into a pond their ability to absorb nutrients from the water. Examples are Anacharis and Cabomba, they are elements of a properly "balanced pond". These plants were formerly known as "oxygenators".

submersible -used to describe an item, plant, etc. that can safely be submerged to operate or grow underwater.

surface covering -used to describe plants with leaves or pads that float directly, horizontally on the waters surface. Examples are waterlilies, floating heart and water hyacinths. These plant types are elements of a balanced pond.

tap water -See "municipal water".

temper -is used to describe the act of slowly altering temperatures of water containing fish for the purpose of transferring them from one body of water to another. This prevents the fish from suffering (potentially fatal) temperature shock, when done correctly. Newly purchased fish should be "tempered" by floating the bag on the pond for a few minutes before releasing.

test kit -is a collection of water tests used to monitor levels of certain compounds as needed.

test strip -small piece of paper used to test water. They are dipped and allowed to change color then the color is matched to a key code to determine the level of specific test item.

topsoil -the uppermost; fertile layer of earth. Generally considered the best planting media for aquatic plants. Nearly any soil type will work if plants or turf grow on it.

transplanting -the act of removing/ uprooting an existing plant from one point (container); removing excess growth/ root material and replanting back into the original contain er or another point (containr) with fresh soil. This should be performed on all con- tainerized aquatic plants every 1 to 3 seasons, dependent on plant type and con- tainer size. This will rejuvinate the plant for maximum flowering and performance.

tropical -used to describe an aquatic plant that may not be capable of overwintering outdoors. Certain plants cannot tolerate freezing conditions and Tropical waterlilies cannot tolerate water temperatures below 55F.

tubing -is the piping, typically flexible used as a conduit to carry water from point to point, for example from pump to filter.

underlayment -used to describe the material placed between the excavation and the pond liner during installation for the purpose of protecting the liner from damage. Many materials may be used for this, though specifically designed liner underlayment is available.

upright -used to describe an aquatic plant with a growth habit of upward from its container clearly above the water's surface. More vertical than horizontal in form.

U.S.D.A. -United States Department of Agriculture

U.S. Native Plant -plant listed by the USDA or other accepted sources as originating in the U.S.

UV -see "UV Light"

UV bulb -the actual lamp (light bulb) that illuminates the UV.

UV filtration -moving water at a specific flowrate through a chamber with an ultraviolet light to irradiate unwanted suspended algae cells to assure very clear water. See "clarifier". At slower flowrates UV filtration may kill other potentially harmful bacteria/organisms such as fish parasites. See "sterilizer".

UV Light -a filter that uses an ultraviolet lamp to destroy unwanted suspeneded algae and/or harmful (anaerobic) bacterias.

vertical lift -used as a measurement to determine the proper pump selection based on distance from intake to discharge. This combines the actual distance in feet vertically and horizontal distance which is converted by dividing by 10. A pump that will move water 4 ft. vertically and 10 ft. horizontally has a vertical lift of 5 ft.

water depth -or "growing depth" indicates the ideal range of inches of water over the soil of the plant's container. "0" means the plant will grow in wet soil (not necessarily submerged).

water hyacinths -a floating tropical aquatic plant, Eichornia crassipes. In natural waterways of warm, tropical areas it grows so prolifically it often hinders the passage of boats. Due to this its interstate shipment is prohibited by federal law. It is sold and makes a good water garden plant when controled and is not known to overwinter outdoors north of Wilmington, NC.

waterfall tank -a rigid, plastic box or vault designed to "catch" flowing water via tubing/ piping at the crest of a man-made waterfall. This allows the water to flow slowly and evenly over a "weir" or "spillway" attached to it. This creates a more natural appearence of water into the waterfall/ stream. They are typically disguised with natural rock.

watt -is a measure of energy conversion used to measure electrical energy. The watts (wattage) of an electrical item and the amps of that item are used to determine energy usage of that item. See "amp"

weir -is an object placed in moving water to dam/divert the water. Examples are rocks in a water- fall; a waterfall "tank"; or an automatic skimmer. The "weir width" measurement is the cascade point(s) of a waterfall/stream; the opening of the waterfall tank; or the door of the skimmmer. The measurements are critical to determining proper flowrates (pump choice).

well water -is water supplied to a home via a private, or semi-private source, typically a drilled well. This implies the water is not treated, unless somehow by the homeowner, and should not require treating prior to stocking. If the homeowner is unsure they should treat with a dechlorinator prior to stocking to be safe. See "municipal water" and "dechlorinator".

zones -USDA Winter Hardiness Zones are geographic areas seperated by average minimum winter temperatures based on historical records. The lower the zone number the colder the winters. Zone 4 is -20F to -25F. Zone 6 ( location of Lilypons Water Gardens in central MD) is 0F to -5F. Zone 10 is 30F to 35F. A specific point/ area's "zone" number can be found with a Zone map of the U.S. or by contacting your state department of agriculture or the USDA. Each plant or type lists two zones to indicate areas where the plant will overwinter outdoors and the limits of heat tolerance.

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