Waxing Lyrical About Water Features @ Home

Haniza, this one is for you 😉

Water feature

Many of us want it. Water features of some sort at home. Be it in our garden or in the confines of our house. It’s perceived as either bringing good omen (feng sui) or just simply a cooling piece of decor for all to appreciate. Whatever you may think I can safely say it is no walk in the park to maintain a living, breathing water feature.

Unless you’re into one of those ‘circulate-the-water-over-and-over-again’ types.

My home in Coventry had a water feature about the size of a bathtub. It had all sorts of plants in it as well as the occasional toad & kermit the frog. It would freeze in the winter and thaw in spring.  And that was it. Extremely low maintenance thanks to the mild English weather.

In Malaysia things are a little more complicated. Our locality on the Equator makes tending water features more of an adventure than the occasional walk in the park. No, no.. here we have to contend with larvae (yes, the dengue carriers), mosquitoes, frogs, tadpoles, algae, soot and even the household cat, should you have fishes in there somewhere. I suggest you think about these bits of advice before starting your adventure:-

  1. Know your tolerance to managing the cleanliness of the water feature. You have to be willing to clean the tub every week or two to ensure the water is clean and hospitable (unless you have ‘willing’ servants or family members to do it for you).
  2. Manage your expectations. If you don’t have time to manage the feature but still want to have something then don’t bother doing an all-singing-all-dancing pond with carps, water lilys and fountains. Instead just opt for a small & simple feature. It’s cheap to start of with, cheap to maintain and should it not work out, cheap to dispose.
  3. Ensure you detail or sketch out what you want it to be. For example, recirculating fountains and night lighting require some waterproof wiring. Having big fishes in it requires water filteration and oxygen. Whatever the case, you must always have at least small fishes in them to feed on those nasty larvaes. These fishes require a small amount of food and as long as the water is clean they will breed quite quickly. Those Bandaraya fishes also do a good job cleaning the interior surface.
  4. Have plants which offer shade to your fishes (if any). Even without fishes, it is uber-important to have a selection of plants which give the feature character and accentuate the cool feeling normally associated with tropical gardens. These plants also become a playground for fishes to play in (again if any). Water lilys are easy to maintain but tend to grow rapidly.
  5. It’s good to have the water feature exposed to sunlight. This will encourage the plants to grow lush and the fishes active. However, expect some algae to form. This can also be attributed to the fish droppings & plant secretions. Can’t be avoided so that why I started with ‘Know your tolerance to managing the cleanliness of the water feature’. Once you start to neglect the feature, green ‘stuff’ will appear, the water will start to be acidic & smelly, fishes & plants will die… and you can wish your ‘pond’ ambitions goodbye.

That said, it really is a relaxing thing to have. Being able to hear running water or at the very least see fishes swimming around the water feature can be very therapeutic. It gets better in the evenings if you’ve installed lighting in them.

Having water features around the home is an extension of gardening. Not essential but a definite plus. Just make sure you manage your expectations!


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