Montana Pond FAQ's
Helpful answers to frequently asked questions regarding pond design, construction, repair and maintenance in SW Montana.
Can I have plants & fish in my pond?
You should have plants and fish in your pond! A healthy backyard pond and its surroundings are a mini-environment, and fish and plants are important in maintaining its natural balance. There is a huge selection of beautiful water plants that are hardy enough to live through Montana's winters. Your pond can be a happy home for decorative fish, native fish, even turtles! Fish are also quite desirable for another reason: they eat mosquito larvae. (Of course, if you like mosquitoes ...)
Will my pond use a lot of water?
Less than you think! A sturdy plastic liner keeps pond water from seeping into the ground, and water for waterfalls is pumped directly from the pond. A certain amount of water loss due to evaporation is inevitable, and typically amounts to a decrease in the water level of a few inches a month in the summer. Shady ponds lose less water that sunny ponds. Windy conditions and shallow, turbulent, and splashy streams and waterfalls increase the evaporation rate.
How do I control algae?
There are a number of algaecides that are effective and safe for fish and aquatic plants. Montana Ponds can select the algaecide that is best for your pond, and determine the appropriate application schedule.
Do I need filters for my pond?
Nearly all of the ponds that we build have a "bog" through which the pond water is circulated. The plants in the bog are chosen for their natural ability to filter out suspended particulates and waste byproducts (ammonia and nitrite). Consequently, in many cases, a filter isn't necessary. However, you will need a filter if your pond has a lot of fish (especially Koi), or if you want the water to be perfectly clear.
How much does a pond cost?
There are many factors that will affect the final cost of your pond: these include but are not limited to the: size of the pond, stream and waterfall length and size, proximity to electricity, landscaping and accessories. Site preparation and excavation will also contribute to the final cost.
Here are some basic item prices to help you get a rough idea of how much your project might cost (and keep in mind labor costs):
Liner: $0.85/sq ft (varies somewhat with quantity)
The liner is 45-mil EPDM.
Under-layment: $0.29/sq ft
This 6-oz. fabric is used under and over the liner to minimize potential damage to a liner, especially if boulders will be placed in the pond.
Flex pipe: from $2.00 a linear foot
Flex pipe is used to connect plumbing so that water can be filtered and re-circulated. The amount will be dependent on size and design of your water feature and pump size.
Pumps: from $200.00 to over $2000.00
These vary, depending on the volume of water you want to move, the distance it needs to go and the height you want the water to rise.
Aerator: from $250.00 to $1500.00
The type of aerator depends on volume of your pond, its depth, etc.
These are fantastic additions both in and around a pond. The price of rocks varies quite a bit, depending on size, type, and appearance.
It is essential that you have a landscape plan with the pond. Otherwise your beautiful water feature will look like an unfinished puddle. Consider a beach, boulders, sod or native grasses, wildflowers etc. These, along with benches, bridges, docks, and decks, can really dress up your pond and make it much more functional.
Do I need a permit or license for my pond?
The definitive answer is "maybe". Depending on where you live, and the details of your pond, you may need a well permit or a building permit. Also, a permit is required from the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Commission to stock a pond with native fish
What seasonal maintenance is required for my pond?
Spring - Check your water feature for any leaks or changes over the winter season. Remove any debris that may have landed in the water, around filters or pump areas. You can drain about 1/3 of the pond volume down if the water looks like it needs it without disrupting too much of the established ecosystem. If you have early algal blooms, move any water plants closer to the edges to encourage their growth and to compete with the algae for nutrients. If you do have to use algaecides, keep in mind that they will slow plant growth as well. You can begin feeding the fish when you see activity from them. Turn on pumps and aeration and add any water plants. This is a good time to add barley extract, beneficial bacteria and enzymes to your pond system to start protecting the ecosystem you have established the year before.
Summer - Continue with the recommended addition of barley, bacteria and enzymes. This will help to keep the pond water clear. If you are using algaecides, be consistent and follow the manufacturer's recommendations. It is important that you know the volume of your pond as most recommendations for pond treatments are volume based. A rough formula to use is length x width x average depth x 7.5 = gallons of water. If algae becomes a huge problem and the clarity of your water is not good, you may need to add additional aeration. This can be done with fountains, pumps, aerators or adding a stream or waterfall to an existing water feature. The use of plants is instrumental to help with water health as well. They can filter out debris, use nutrients that algae otherwise would consume and provide shade for fish. Once established, they are extremely effective in maintaining pond health and decreasing the need for chemical control. Remove dead plant matter, leaves and try not to mow clippings into the pond.
Fall - Clean up the pond removing any organic debris. Do not feed the plants any more. Before winter, trim back plant life to remove dead stems and leaves. Move water lilies and any potted plants to the deepest part of the pond where they will be ice free.
Winter Run a pump, aerator, or heater to keep an opening in the ice so that toxic gases, which can kill fish, can escape. Be sure this is near the side of the pond so that if an animal were to fall in, it would have a better chance of getting out. If you are going to leave a pump in, you must make sure that it always has power or water can freeze in the lines and burst them.