What is your livestock Policy?

The following is the description of the policies that FSA offers its customers, and the reasons for such policies.As defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary, livestock are “animals kept or raised for use or pleasure”.FSA offers and sells a large variety of livestock to our customers; we are referring to the many varieties of fishes that we have available to our customers. Also offered to our customers are other animals such as corals of many types, snails, crabs, shrimp, starfish, seahorses, frogs, tadpoles, crayfish, clams, anemones, sea urchins; just to name a few. For simplicity sake, our livestock policy covers all such animals listed as well as unlisted, which are sold by FSA.WHAT WE DO GUARANTEEWe do guarantee that you livestock will be picked by professionals who are familiar with, and handle these types of livestock, and have received instruction in methods of choosing livestock. We do guarantee that the animals will be prepared for delivery in the most suitable way for that particular animal. We do guarantee that the animals will be delivered to our customers in a timely manner, and acclimated to the water conditions of their tank, before actually entering the aquarium environment. We do guarantee that all animals will be delivered to our customers in a well state of being by all outward appearances. Your animals will be free of visible injuries, cuts, scrapes, abrasions, bacterial infections, funguses, parasites, deformities, or other maladies, and will have exhibited acceptable behavior to the FSA purchasing agent.WHAT WE DO NOT GUARANTEEWe do not guarantee the longevity, or ability to acclimate to captivity, of the animals. We cannot guarantee our customers that their purchase will be alive and well for “X” amount of days, weeks, or years; just as your physician cannot guarantee you that once you leave their office that you will remain healthy for any given period of time. We ask our customers to understand that we are working with LIVEstock which are subject to sickness, injury, and accident. We do not guarantee that your livestock has been through a quarantine process. Livestock will pass through several hands before entering into our customer’s possession. FSA receives no quarantine guarantee with our purchases, therefore; we cannot offer that guarantee to our customers.FSA does, however offer an “Overnight Policy”, for any animal that dies within a 24 hour period of entering into our customer’s tank. If an animal is introduced into a tank on Tuesday at 2:00pm and dies, it must be reported to FSA by Wednesday 2:00pm. In such a case, the customer will be issued a credit of 50% of the animals purchase price, and the credit must be used towards another livestock purchase.FSA wants our customers to have the confidence of knowing that the professionals at FSA do all that we can to insure that your animals are chosen and delivered to you in the best condition and state of being possible for us to guarantee, as well as offering the services which will insure that your livestock will be well kept.There is nothing that FSA wants more than to see our customers happy, and their animals doing well. We choose to be in this business for that very reason.

What is rain water harvesting?

Rainwater harvesting and collection is not a new concept by any standards. The practice has been around since ancient and biblical times. Joseph, from the bible, was thrown into a cistern by his brothers while they planned to sell him into slavery, later Joseph became ruler of Egypt. We cannot guarantee that you will be ruling any countries after your professional rainwater harvesting system is installed, but you can certainly be in control of how your FREE water will be used.Rainwater harvesting and collection is simply the practice of collecting rainwater that falls onto your property, it’s put into storage, then utilized for any outdoor water use. The water is not considered potable so it would not be used for drinking or consumption purposes. Rainwater harvesting and collection practices are historically ancient and completely relevant in today’s world. Rainwater collection is a lifestyle and common practice in many parts of the modern world, poorer countries and first world countries alike. Collection practices can range from the use of barrels, underground cisterns, above ground bins, troughs, among many other storage forms. The powers that be in our country use large reservoirs and lakes to provide water to the masses, and the practice of rationing and imposed droughts are becoming more and more commonplace. How rainwater collection is practiced varies greatly as well plastic sheets set out at the first signs of rain clouds, buckets or barrels set out, dug out pits, even mouths open to the sky is taking place in some parts of the world.Full Service Aquatics installs a system that is called “The Rain Bank”. The Rain Bank’s purpose is to capture, filter, and reuse the water that is harvested. Approximately 80% of rainwater from your property runs off your property into storm sewers never to be seen again or utilized by you. The average home can receive well into the 10’s of thousands of gallons of rainwater annually in which only a tiny fraction will be utilized by you for your property and watering needs. The Rain Bank can change all that; not only does our rainwater harvesting system capture the rainwater, it offers out of site storage for any size home or facility, the ability to reuse the water. The twist that Full Service Aquatics offers on these systems is that we can create beautiful water features (waterfalls, fountains, etc.) from the captured water, at the same time making that biologically purified water now available to the environment as well, allowing you the ability to actively participate is sustaining the environment by providing clean water to songbirds, small animals, amphibians, honey bees and a host of other animals that are rapidly losing habitat and water resources due to development.Your installation of The Rain Bank will also put you ahead of the curve for what is the inevitable harsh water use restrictions, water rationing, imposed droughts, and the REQUIREMENT for homeowners and new home builders to install rainwater capture and rainwater harvest systems. It also takes away the necessity to buy back that water that has run off your property, in essence keeping money in your pocket for what was already yours!Call FULL SERVICE AQUATICS, (908) 277-6000, today to learn more about the RAINXCHANGE system, and schedule your free consultation.

Do you guarantee your work?

FSA guarantees all of their work; just refer to our guarantees of workmanship. Also the equipment and materials we use have manufacturer guarantees as well!

What is a CAC, why is that important?

A CAC is a CERTIFIED AQUASCAPE CONTRACTOR. In the green industry there are about 2,000 contractors in the United States and Canada, of those 52,000 about 290 have been able to become CAC’s. A CAC has passed various criteria, shown a high level of ability and professionalism, continue with education in their field, and been reviewed by peers in the industry, and this ensures that only the best of the best installers can become CAC. CAC’s are your guarantee that you are being serviced by the best water feature installers in the country. Full Service Aquatics became one of the first "MASTER LEVEL" CAC in the United States. Look for the logo!

What's the difference between mechanical, chemical and biological filtration?

Filtration very simply is a process of REMOVAL. Good filtration systems will often be comprised of three filtration methods: mechanical, chemical, and biological. Each one of these methods on their own creates benefit to the aquatic environment you are working with but in combination they provide complete filtration. So, what is the difference between them? The following is brief descriptions as each of these on their own are broad categories to cover in one FAQ.MECHANICAL – Mechanical filtration does not mean that the guy from the local garage will be coming by to filter your pond or aquarium, nor does it mean a robotic arm will be picking out excess debris and waste from your pond or aquarium (as awesome as that would be!). Mechanical filtration is the term used to describe the process of removing suspended or floating debris from the water of the system you are working with. What is a mechanical filter can vary greatly depending on what type of aquatic system we are speaking of; for example: a sewer system has sewer grates at their water intakes to “filter” out large debris like leaves, branches, garbage, and road debris that would otherwise clog up their aquatic sewage system – THAT is mechanical filtration. In your fish tank you may have filter floss in a bubbler that over time captures, removes, or FILTERS fish waste, uneaten food, and dead plant parts from your water – this to is mechanical filtration. In your pond you may have a net in your skimmer box and a heavy duty filter mat that is used to remove or FILTER leaves, seeds, pollen from your water – this too is mechanical filtration. On your gutters you have metal screen mesh to keep out leaves etc. from your gutter system – this is mechanical filtration………get it? Basically, mechanical filtration is any filter elements that remove particulate matter from a circulating system, aquatic or otherwise. The air filter on your car? That’s right…mechanical filtration!! Easy stuff.CHEMICAL – Chemical filtration are elements within an aquatic system that is being filtered, which treat the water to remove (not add) from the composition of the water chemically. The most obvious and common form of chemical filtration in aquatic environments is carbon. Carbon is placed in the flow of the water to remove impurities, discoloration, and odors. When removing elements from the water it is simply chemical filtration. The types of chemical filtration for aquatics systems are numerous, some examples are: phosphate remover, ammonia remover, nitrate remover; all of these can be applied in different ways but generally are best used in the flow of water and should be the last stage of the filtration process following mechanical and biological.BIOLOGICAL – Biological filtration is the filtration process that is closest to mother natures heart and probably the most important type of filtration and for the most part it is done via our little friends “the beneficial bacteria” (nitrosomonas and nitrobacter). As beneficial bacteria grow or colonize our aquarium or pond they remove, “eat”, or convert harmful compounds like ammonia and nitrite into less harmful nitrate. Nitrate can be removed by plants or water changes. As the water flows or is exposed to “our little friends” these harmful compounds are removed or are FILTERED from the water. For the purposes of what we are discussing this is what is referred to as “biological filtration”. These beneficial bacteria colonize surfaces of biomedia such as gravel, bioballs, biofoam; they are NOT free swimming or planktonic bacteria they only colonize on surfaces.A good filter system will utilize all these methods of filtration, normally with chemical filtration being employed when necessary. If you still have any questions call one of FULL SERVICE AQUATICS knowledgeable staff members to have any other questions you may have answered. CALL TODAY (908) 277-6000!!

Do I need Pond Maintenance?

All water features; ALL water features require some sort of maintenance. Ponds and water gardens require typically (4) services per year. The Spring cleanout, Mid-Summer Check Up, Winterization, and Mid-Winter Check-Up are the minimum a pond owner should be doing to maintain their water feature. Maintenance requirements vary depending on many things, for example; filter type, fish load, plant load, pond size, location, weather, etc. For more specific information call FSA to speak to one of our service technicians.

How old is Pippin?

Pippin, the cat-fish... yes he is real, and yes he loves his pond. Pippin was born in 1999, and has recently had his pond upgraded to a larger size with a bigger water fall, not too mention a couple of new fish as well. He enjoys his pond immensely often times treating it as a huge water bowl. Pippin can be found at ponds edge several hours per day, and anyone is welcome to come by and see our display pond and say hello to Pippin. Sadly, we have said our goodbyes to Pippy. RIP Pippin.

How Do I Quarantine Fish?

Any good fish professional worth their fins should always recommend that all fish should be quarantined before being introduced to a new environment. Whether quarantine can be practiced or not is another issue. The process of quarantining fish is generally agreed upon by most professionals, the length of time in quarantine is still debated among fish professionals and veterinarians. Quarantine defined is: Isolation typically to contain the spread of something considered dangerous, often but not always disease. The word comes from the Italian language, quarentena, meaning 40 day period. The objective of quarantine is to assure the health of the fish by allowing enough time for any health issues to develop in the fish before entering into the general population.The process is just that, isolation. The isolation usually taking place in what is referred to as a hospital or quarantine tank, before introduction to the general fish population. During quarantine the fish should be observed very closely to assure that: there are no signs of stress in the fish, there are no exterior signs of parasitic, bacterial, or fungal infection, no signs of damage to the body of the fish, and that the behavior of the fish is appropriate for the species being observed. During quarantine the fish should be fed regularly with medicated and non-medicated foods, small frequent water changes should be performed, and at the end of the quarantine period that you feel comfortable with, the fish should be acclimated to its permanent home and again be observed for at least the first few days to make sure the fish adjusts to its new home.The length of time in quarantine is debatable and somewhat at the discretion of the fish owner. Anyone would agree that quarantine should take place for at least 15 days, others have said that quarantine should take place for a period of 6 months or more, so; as can be seen this is a great difference of opinion. My opinion is that 15 days is too short, especially knowing that the common ich parasite can be infesting a fish and not show any signs for up to 17 days, other problems can develop at a slow rate as well. I also think 6 months, for most people, is too long unless you are a collector with some expensive specimens. I do think a very reasonable quarantine period is 4-6 weeks. A 4-6 week quarantine will allow most problems (parasites, bacteria, fungus) to reveal themselves and present the opportunity for treatment if need be, and this period falls within the classic definition of quarentena.

How often should I feed my fish?

Learning; how to, how much, and how often to feed your fish is a challenge for the inexperienced fish keeper and the consequences of bad fish feeding habits will create minor and possibly major problems for your aquatic environment whether pond or aquarium. To answer this very common question we will keep the focus on the types of fishes that are the most common to pond keepers and aquarium keepers, as there are many very specialized fish that have very specific feeding requirements, we will not address that here. First let’s tackle how often to feed your fishy friends. For the majority of the most commonly kept pond fish and aquarium fish a once daily feeding will suit them just fine and until you’re very experienced and comfortable with fish keeping I do not recommend more than twice a day. Your fish will do everything they can to convince you they have not been fed in months even though you KNOW you just fed them earlier in the day, do not let them fool you, you train them when to eat not the other way around, you’re in charge…you’re the human. To skip or miss a day of feeding here and there is not a bad thing for your fish, in 25+ years of fish keeping I have NEVER seen a fish starve to death; I have however, on way too many occasions, seen fish that are killed by their good intentioned owners, overfeeding them. Remember, fish do not overeat, when they are done they are done, therefore overfeeding leaves leftover food that quickly breaks down and just as quickly drags down water quality which will kill fish at a startling rate, you do not want to experience this and I don’t want you to either, it can be quite heartbreaking. A HUNGRY FISH IS A HEALHTY FISH.

How to feed your fish is the next thing we’ll ponder here. For the aquarium keeper with tropical aquarium fish, or coldwater fish it is best, and convenient, to use a combination of dry and frozen foods. For the pond fish keeper dry foods are easiest to use. First, know what type of fish you are trying to feed; does it prefer vegetable matter or protein. Flake, pellet, frozen cubes, freeze dried foods, snacks, are readily available at any pet supply center; or by calling a fish expert from FSA&L. Rotate the type of foods you’re feeding. Frozen foods, ideally, should be thawed before adding to the water. For filtration systems that have overflow or skimmer systems flake food should be wetted before offering to your fish so it does not float directly into the filter system. For ponds with skimmer box filters (which they all should have) find an area of your pond where the water motion is slowest and use that area as your “feeding station”. For New Jersey water features, and owners of New Jersey pond installations, feeding of outdoor pond fish and koi, in New Jersey typically ends in late October, depending on the weather.

How much to feed your fish is the biggest part of this question. For the typical tropical aquarium fish their stomach is about the size of their eyeball, but this is not the case for the typical pond fish or koi. The best feeding practices will take a bit of time and observation to learn. DO NOT THROW FOOD TO YOUR FISH AND WALK AWAY HOPING FOR THE BEST. Feeding very slowly over a period of 5-10 minutes until your fish start showing disinterest in the food is the best way to get to learn how to feed your fish, when fish are hungry they will clear very quickly what you are offering them, once they slow down or maybe just nudge the food it is time to stop! This is the best way to learn to feed your fish, it does take time and patience, but once you get to know their feeding habits it becomes much easier. This method of feeding also allows your fish to develop trust for you, until they trust you they have to assume that you could very well be there to eat them. You must prove yourself to your fish!

This is a time tested approach to feeding which the NJ fish keeping experts, and New Jersey pond experts at FULL SERVICE AQUATICS successfully employ when feeding their fish. For more advice from a New Jersey aquarium expert or a New Jersey backyard pond expert call FSA&L for free phone advice, or an on-site professional aquarium or pond consultation.

How do I "acclimate" my fish?

Very important question, which the stock boy at your local “PETTHIS” or “PETTHAT” superstore will tell you….float the bag for 15 minutes then let the fish go. Soon after that your new fish goes into shock and dies, when you return the dead fish to the store they test your water and tell you your pH is too high or low….a very typical scenario.So let’s take a step back. After you have read the info in our FAQ “How can I tell if a fish is healthy?”, you go to the fish retailer and carefully choose your fish, make sure it has been properly bagged for transport, and get your fish to its new home. Then open the bag and pour off the excess water, fold back the plastic bag, and carefully float the open bag in the new home your new fish is going into.Now, you’re ready to acclimate. Acclimating your fish is a process that should take place over at least a one hour period, a bit longer to acclimate your fish will benefit them. Acclimating fish is not just a matter of letting the new fish adjust to the temperature of its new home, but also to several other water parameters such as pH, nutrient levels, lighting conditions, salinity, and of course temperature. However, the acclimation process also will give your fish much more information about the environment it is about to be plunged into. After the bag is opened and placed in the water, small quantities of the water from the fish’s new home should be poured into the holding bag about every 10 minutes or so until you have tripled the original volume of water that your new fish came in. For example if your fish is sitting in 1 gallon of water, you’d want to have at least 4 gallons of water in the holding bag before the fish is to be released into it’s new home. Also, you want to just release the fish, do not add the water from the holding bag into the new home, and simply discard that water.So what information will your fish be able to receive via acclimation? As the water from the new home is being introduced to the new fish it will be able to get chemical information about the existing fish population that it is about to meet. Fish “communicate” a lot by releasing or secreting chemical, hormones, and even bodily waste into the water and your new fish can learn a lot about the new home he is heading into and be prepared for it by your properly acclimating them. Maybe there is a fish that is ready to spawn letting off all sorts of chemical information that your fish can read, or maybe your have a very dominant fish in your tank who is none too happy that a new guy has shown up in his territory and he is letting off chemical signals to this new fish to let him know who is boss of the tank. Maybe there is a sick fish in your tank that you’re not aware of, but the chemical information of the water can let your new fish know who to steer clear of. Also, that acclimating time period let’s your fish de-stress after the car ride, it will allow your new fish to visually see where he is going into as well as let the existing population see who is coming into their territory. There is so much information being exchanged during the acclimating process it will make the “PETTHIS” stock boy’s head spin! So keep this in mind when introducing a new fish, it is NOT just about temperature, it is about giving all parties involved the best chance of existing together in their new shared home, and your proper acclimating process will ensure this. For more information contact FSA&L the aquarium experts.

How can I tell if a fish is healthy?

In many ways determining if a Japanese koi, a tropical aquarium fish, or a pond fish is healthy is a matter of first impression. That “first impression” ability however, comes with a lot of time looking at and studying fish. It should be stated that whatever the circumstance is, that has put you into possession of a new fish, ideally, ALL FISH SHOULD BE QUARANTINED BEFORE ENTERING INTO YOUR PARTICULAR AQUATIC ENVIRONMENT. Whether it be a large backyard koi pond, shubunkins, or a goldfish pond; quarantine, ideally, should be the practice. Notice I have put ideally for the quarantine piece of advice. That is because after 25+ years of fish keeping I know that the vast majority of people do not have quarantine facilities available to them. Unfortunately, most importers, and fish retailers do not quarantine their fish either. If they were to quarantine their fish before resale, you should be prepared to pay a premium for those fish, and rightfully so as the quarantine process is somewhat painstaking and requires much attention and know how, so expect to pay for that (for more on quarantine see our quarantine FAQ). When choosing new fish the average person is limited to outward appearances to make their judgment; here’s the basics on what to look for:

  • No cuts, scrapes, abrasions, sores, or ulcers
  • Clear bright eyes, no waxiness, no cloudiness, no bulging eyes, no damaged eyes.
  • No raised scales, or redness to the scales.
  • No torn fins, red streaked fins, white edged frayed fins, missing fins.
  • No redness around the mouth, gills, or anal fin.
  • No parasites, usually visible as white or black 1mm or smaller sized spots, or as skin protrusions.
  • No heavy or rapid breathing, wobbly swimming, sitting on the bottom (depending on species), floating upside down, or hiding in corners.

Other tips:

Do not buy fish that just arrived, fish that have been around a week or more will be your better buy.
Don’t buy fish on sale, there is a reason they want to sell the fish at a lower price.
Check your vendor’s tanks, if there are dead fish in the tank do not buy that type of fish until they ALL look good, come back some other time.
Do not buy fish that are being medicated, or that were “nursed back” to health.
Try to deal with a reputable fish dealer, not the gum chewing kid who was just stocking gerbil food before you begged him to catch you some fish. Or Call FULL SERVICE AQUATICS at 908-277-6000 and have one of our aquarium specialists make your purchases for you!

How many fish can I have?

This is a very often asked question that actually does not have a definite answer. In my 30+ years of fishkeeping from hobbyist days to professional level I have heard many differing responses to this age old question. My answer to this question will simply be based on my experiences and observations from working with fish tanks and ponds on a daily basis for the better part of my life. But first let’s backtrack to some of the types of answers that you may have seen regarding this question. One of the most popular answers would be the classic 1” of fish per gallon. Sounds reasonable, but let’s play it out; if we have a 100 gallon tank and a guppy is 1”, can we only keep 100 guppies in that tank? Sounds kinda boring and a display like that would be pretty empty it seems. OR, if we have a 100 gallon tank can we keep a 100 inch fish in that tank? Of course not, typical 100 gallon tank being 48” long we’d have to fold the fish in half, no? So the silly response like 1” fish per gallon deserves a silly scenario.How many fish you can have is answered by how well set up your aquatic housing is by way of volume of water, filtration, fish type and species. I’d say most importantly know what type of fish you are keeping and provide the adequate housing. That cute little red-tail catfish may seem to be doing very well in your 40 gallon aquarium but when that fish grows out to 4 ft. long, what then. Ok so you upgraded to a 300 gallon tank for your cute red-tailed catfish but your filter is rated at 90 gallons, what now? You get the gist.Plan carefully, know, really know what type of fish you are keeping and try not to push your fish keeping parameters to the max. Give your fish room to grow and thrive, if your fish are “schoolers” keep them in schools, try to give them the best environment you can and you will get the best results and the most enjoyment. A jam packed aquarium or pond is very cool to look at, but it is not a realistic situation and will soon have some very negative results, so let’s keep things positive.

Stringy hairy algae in my pond, what to do?

String or hair algae is a very common form of algae that occurs in most ponds and the growth rate is related to nutrient load, and other factors, within the pond (high nutrients=high growth rate, low nutrients=low growth rate). These types of algae growth can actually be expected in the Northeast area in the early spring and late fall, and are completely normal. The goal is to not to have this type of growth occurring at other time of the year as it can be very unsightly and difficult to control. The blooms that occur in the spring and fall will usually clear up on their own, but for those times of year that these growths happen there are various treatments that can be applied to the pond that help to control and clear these growths. The products that are available are pretty numerous and some work, some don’t. On the FSA website there is a page that lists our “Preferred Water Treatments” and suggests products that we have found to work very well.The BEST method of all types of algae control is the use of aquatic plants in the pond. Algae is a very basic plant and without any type of competition from more complex plants such as lilies, iris, and the numerous other aquatic plants available to pond keepers; algae will run amuck in any pond system. Provide more plants to compete for the algae’s food source and the algae will starve and die off naturally, without the use of treatments or chemicals, at the same time beautifying your pond, creating habitat, and attracting desirable wildlife.The basics of keeping your filters clean help very much in algae control of all types of algae. Ultraviolet filtration does NOTHING to help control string algae.There are some types of fish that can do a very good job at algae control as well, one of them being the “Chinese high-fin shark”, it is not Chinese and not a shark of course, and will live in peace with your pond fish; they do a great job at eating algae and scraping the rockwork. The Chinese shark is cold hardy as well and can survive the winters. I have seen people use some of the tropical algae eating fish such as plecostomus to help in algae control and they certainly help as well, but the trick is to get them out of the pond before the cold weather sets in as they will NOT handle the winter months and need to be moved indoors for the winter.I like to use a combination of all methods. I use plenty of aquatic plants along with the treatments that are available, and make sure that my filter pads are cleaned regularly. The treatments are used more as a preventative about once a month whether I have string algae or not. When it comes time for you to do your treatment, try to remove as much of the unwanted algae growth as possible, by hand, then apply your treatments. After you have done the treatment it is good practice to give a very good cleaning to your filter pads soon after, as most treatments breakup the algae and it will ultimately end up in your filter material.

Should I have lighting for my pond?

Pond lighting is an often overlooked consideration for people in the planning process of a pond installation project. Pond lighting is often added afterwards or cut out of the plan to “save money” which, as a pond designer, I feel is a mistake to treat pond lighting in “that light”. Pond lighting both submersible and exterior adds a dimension to pond keeping that can only be appreciated by seeing it. A well lighted pond installation is quite a sight to behold during the evening hours. Highlighting the waterfalls, stream, rockwork, and other design elements of your pondscape add another level of enjoyment to your pond that cannot be experienced during daylight hours. In my own opinion I can attest that some of the real “wow” factor of my pond and pond installations that I have built and seen have occurred at night. The reflection of water rippling, the behavior of pond fish by the lights is incredibly interesting. People ask if pond lighting might bother or interrupt the fish which it does not. To the contrary from my observations the fish seem to actually enjoy the lighting and can be seen circling in front of lighted areas. Highlighting the aquatic plants within the pond installation also has a beautiful and often stunning presentation to the pond viewer. Everyone knows how beautiful and what a difference landscape lighting can make to a landscape, the same goes for the pondscape that has been creatively lit. So, why else would you want to install pond lighting to your water garden installation? Well, let me tell you; since the obvious argument of beautification has been told. How about the simple idea of extending your hours of enjoyment with your pond installation, why should it stop at sunset? Many, if not most, of us work long hours and do not get home until natural light is gone or waning, lighting your pond will give you the enjoyment you were seeking from your pond installation at the times that are convenient to you. There are many types of lighting systems available for the pond owner to consider, from affordable low-voltage halogen to LED lighting, or high-end fiber-optic lighting systems that change color or solar lighting systems, all have the up-sides and down-sides and we have installed and experienced them all so do not hesitate..pick up the phone or email FULL SERVICE AQUATICS now to talk about pond lighting with one of our knowledgeable NJ pond installation technicians.

Why has my pond turned green?

Green water is usually a condition within the pond water’s chemistry that is out of balance, typically caused by nitrates. The good news is that green water is not harmful to fish, but it looks terrible. A quick fix for green water is to use a pond sterilizer to clear the water, the long term fix is to ensure proper filtration is installed; feeding habits are kept in check, and a good mix of pond plants are in your water garden. For further discussion please give us a call.

What is “beneficial bacteria”?

Most of us live our lives trying to avoid bacteria and situations that may expose us to bacteria, and here I am telling how important it is to add bacteria to your pond and aquarium installations! Now stay with me because I am not suggesting that you expose yourself to anything that would have a negative impact, the bacteria I am recommending is “beneficial bacteria” (or microbes); a bacterial strain that will have a positive impact on your aquatic environment whether it be an aquarium installation, backyard pond installation, or large natural ponds. The bacteria we are speaking of occur naturally, but not always in the quantities and concentrations that we are hoping for; so we supplement our aquatic environments by adding bacteria directly. Beneficial bacteria plays a major role in the breakdown of organics and nutrients that build up in ponds, lakes, and aquaria. Without the activity of beneficial bacteria our ponds would never be more than a pool of green water and overgrown algae, with the addition of beneficial bacteria to our pond installations, aquarium installations, or natural ponds and lakes we are creating a stable, clean, clear biotope for the inhabitants of the environment and YOU!Beneficial bacteria/microbes are produced by a manufacturer through a fermentation process and offered on the open market where companies can buy the bacteria and create their own blends or simply repackage them for sale. Quality and potency of the microbial blends depend on the manufacturer and their “recipe”, part of my job at FSA is to shop the different products and direct our customers to the highest quality bacteria blend that is available for them to use; as with any product there are many bacteria blends that are full of fillers or have a very low bacteria concentration. The higher the bacteria count in the pond installation or aquarium installation, the higher your water quality will be. Some scientists have also proven that the use of beneficial bacteria can also eliminate bad bacteria like salmonella found in captive turtle environments.Our recommended blend of bacteria treatments for our customers to use, have a blend of Heterotrophic Bacteria and Lithotrophic Bacteria strains. Heterotrophic bacteria are responsible for the reduction and decomposition of organics like pond sludge. Lithotrophic bacteria (nitrosomonas and nitrobacter) are vital in the active removal of ammonia and nitrite. Consistent use of these beneficial bacteria treatments will ensure a clean, clear, and efficiently functioning aquatic system.

What is the best location for a pond?

After the decision to install a pond, water garden, waterfall, or water feature has been made the next decision is where to install it. In much of the old pond literature a common recommendation is to place a pond in the corner of a yard or in areas that are difficult to landscape. That psyche still pops up in today’s customers as well, and I try to talk them out of that concept unless it truly is the best place for your pond installation.LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION ….in College this was presented to us as the most important factor that contributed to the success of any business, I think the same principle can be applied to pond location. What if we build you the most beautiful pond ever built, but it is tucked away neatly in the corner of your yard? Every time you want to show it off, every time you want to feed your fish, or relax by your pond you have to take a walk to get to your pond and that can get old real quick.I always suggest locating your pond or waterfall installation close to the home, preferably near your outdoor living area and with views from the inside of the house as well, which will allow winter viewing from the comfort of your home interior. The close location to your outdoor living area will give you an intimate experience with your pond allowing you to see and hear the waterfalls, fish, and wildlife as well as easy feeding of your koi or pond fish. Based on the filter systems that we install it is not a huge factor whether the pond is in full sun or full shade, but the amount of light the pond receives will be a factor in the type of aquatic plants that will succeed in your water garden installation.Generally, one of the benefits of the closer location will also be easier access to electrical and water sources as well, allowing easy connections for the pump and lighting, and for topping off the pond water. If you have kids or pets, it will allow you to keep an eye on them while they enjoy the natural habitat of fish, plants, birds, frogs, dragonflies, and other wildlife; you have created in your backyard oasis.If you are concerned about the close location cutting of access to the rest of your yard then allow us to install a bridge of wood or stone, or stepping stones through the pond, or we can simply set up a system that will allow you to even grow grass over an area you’d like to keep as access.Even though the great majority of professional pond installations in NJ and elsewhere are put into backyards, do not discount the “curb appeal” of locating your professionally installed water features in your front yard, but again keep it close to the house so it is not only your neighbors or those driving by who get to enjoy your beautiful pond, water garden, waterfalls, or water feature!So, as the old professor’s mantra of LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION went; they were right, let’s just apply it to your water garden installation. Keep it close to your home; and keep it close to your heart.

What is a floating island biohaven?

Biohaven floating islands are a man-made product that mimics naturally occurring floating islands found in many of the world’s freshwater lakes, including right here in the United States in Wisconsin. The result is a natural way to improve water quality by filtering pollutants, floating particles/sediment, and nutrients in a highly efficient manner. BIOMIMICRY, the process of understanding and using biological principles to solve human problems, is where the concept and design of floating island biohaven comes from.The islands are built of recycled polyester called MATRIX. Layers of matrix are bound together and floated using polyurethane foam. The islands are normally covered with biomix and planted with wetland plants; eventually allowing the root systems of the plants to grow through the matrix into the water below. The matrix and root system of the wetland plants provide an enormous amount of surface area that is colonized by beneficial bacteria/microbes. Both the vegetation and the bacteria are able to utilize nutrients in the water column, reducing the nutrient load that would otherwise be available for undesirable organisms like algae.Floating island biohavens also provide the added benefit of creating habitat for wildlife such as waterfowl, aquatic insects, fish, and other plants. They represent an important tool to increase biodiversity within our pond systems.Biohavens, large scale and small scale, have been launched around the world successfully to address nutrient issues in many different pond environments including: stormwater ponds, waste water lagoons, zoos, golf courses, and ornamental ponds.

How do you maintain a biohaven?

Maintenance?....no maintenance!! Well, before I get in trouble allow me to backtrack to say EVERYTHING requires maintenance, but in the case of floating island biohavens I prefer to refer to it as a “stewardship” because the amount of maintenance is up to you and up to how you choose to employ the floating island biohaven. I prefer the term stewardship because it is really a matter of checking on your island from time to time and, if you choose, you can make whatever changes to the island you elect to do. The most successful islands tend to be those that are just left alone to naturalize and become more efficient at the reduction of nutrients and pollutants in the water.However, in the event that you have a island design that requires a little more TLC the islands can be brought to shore on the edge of your pond for whatever type of work you intend to do on it.

How deep should my pond be?

There is no definite answer to that question as most constructed pond owners have and expect something different from their respective ponds. Also, most ponds are built with varying depths. When it comes to wintering fish, in the New Jersey area and most other parts of the country, a depth of 18” should allow the pond owner a worry free winter season keeping their fish outdoors, however the FULL SERVICE AQUATICS typical installations go to a depth of 24” – 30”. At this depth range our customers have NO problems keeping their fish outdoors for all seasons. For water gardening purposes depths of 6”, for shallow water plants, to 24” for deeper water plants will suit most water gardeners just fine, also allowing the hardier plants to winter over outdoors without any problems. Something to consider… most municipalities will consider a body of water 36” or greater in depth, regardless of length and width dimensions, an insurance liability; and will require permits, insurance, and fencing to be installed with the pond even though it is not used for human immersion or recreational purposes.

Should I use salt in my pond?

To salt or not to salt…. This is a seemingly endless debate in the field of pond/fish keeping. However on my part there is no debate, I have come to my conclusion as a professional aquarist of 25+ years, a professional pond installer of 15+ years, a professional water gardener of 12+ years. Unless it is being used very specifically and purposefully as a therapeutic treatment for fish…. NO SALT, that’s right, NO SALT. I came to realize this on my own but I do not want you to take my word for it, take the words of several of the top koi and fish veterinarians in the country. I recently attended the University Of Georgia School Of Veterinary Sciences. The panel of koi veterinarians that came in from across the country all agreed that salt should not be added to pond water UNLESS it is being used specifically as a therapeutic treatment. Koi, goldfish, orfes, mosquito fish; all are very popular for use in ponds, but NONE of them come from salty waters or brackish conditions. Elevated salt levels are not good for pond plants either and will cause burn out, wilt, and browning; if not outright death. This salt myth has been circulating for some time in the aquarium trade as well and is little by little being dispelled. It is a lengthy topic that I would be happy to discuss by phone in much greated depth, but the short of it is...NO SALT, save it for the ocean.

Rocks and Gravel in the Pond?

Here is another major debate. Rockwork or no rockwork? To get right to the point all the benefits of using rock work are much too lengthy to list here and the downsides of not using rockwork are just as lengthy. I feel and deeply believe that any pond builder or keeper who advises not to use rockwork has an awful lot to learn about pond keeping! A quick list of benefits to rockwork is: a much more natural and aesthetically pleasing look to your pond, it creates a ballast for your liner keeping it in place after heavy rains, it protects and extends the life of your liner, rockwork insulates your pond keeping it cooler for your coldwater fish and plants, rockwork provides footing in the event that you have to enter your pond for any reason, rockwork and gravel allow the sediments that occur in ALL pond water to settle out and not stay suspended in your pond which results in clearer water and less maintenance, rockwork creates numerous nooks and crannies to aid in the reproduction of fish in your pond allowing areas of safety for each stage of development of your growing baby fish, rockwork and especially gravel provides a tremendous amount of biological filtration for your pond resulting in higher water quality, healthier fish, and cleaner clearer water. I see many ponds on a daily basis, of all types of construction and the ponds I come across that are built with exposed liners are consistently dirtier, cloudier, suffer from poor water quality, poor to no fish reproduction. I have never had a customer that has switched over to rockwork in their pond after owning an exposed liner pond regret their decision. I will not build a pond any other way than to have plenty of rockwork gracing the interior of the pond. You should not either!

What is the Best Time of Year to Install A Pond?

In New Jersey pond installations, or the Mid-Atlantic and New England area, there is not a bad time of year to install a pond because it is a permanent installation. At FSA&L pond construction happens as long as we can break ground. FSA&L pond installations can go into December and pond construction in New Jersey starts again in late February. Many people think that a backyard pond installation must be during the spring time, although a popular time, it is not the only time to install a pond in New Jersey. All new pond construction will need about an eight week period after installation to truly become biologically active, meaning; they can start to break down some of the nutrients that build up in the water on their own through natural processes. There is a bad time to introduce pond fish and aquatic plants and that is November thru March. The recommended pond fish and aquatic plant season is April thru October.

OK, I have my new pond installation... Now What?

Finally, you have your new pond. The water is crystal clear, the rockwork is spotless, and the algae, debris, and sludge are nowhere to be seen. Awesome! Now what?A new pond, or a pond that is under 10 weeks old, behaves differently that an established pond. For new pond installations, aquatic plants can be introduced immediately. When it comes to adding fish it is best to let the pond run for several days before adding fish. This time period allows the water to mix, dechlorinate, and oxygenate; it also gives time for the pond owner to ensure that the system equipment is functioning properly and the entire install is free from leaks.Although most installations performed by FULL SERVICE AQUATICS will go through the aging process without any complications the pond owner should be aware of certain conditions that may occur within the first 8-10 weeks.Green water. WHAT!! Yes, green water may occur at about the 3 week mark and again at about the 8 week mark. First, green water is not toxic or harmful to fish so do not worry for your fish. The green water phase is a completely normal and temporary condition and pond owners should expect to see this condition. Green water can happen very suddenly so do not be surprised if your pond greens overnight. In an optimistic point of view the green water suggests that your pond installation is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing. Clearing the green water can be done by giving a heavy dose of beneficial pond bacteria along with a dosage of pond water flocculant or clarifier. After 10 weeks you should be able to consistently expect clear water with a pond installation by FSA.

  • After the first heavy rainfall your pond installation will get a cloudy or milky appearance or even a temporary green tinge, this temporary condition occurs because of excess debris or dust washing off the rockwork into your pond water. Let your pond filter system filter the particles out or add some flocculant.
  • After about 4 weeks the first signs of algae growth on your rockwork should start to appear in sunnier or shadier locations this could happen sooner or later. A slight green or “rusty” looking coating will appear on the rockwork. This is a normal condition and will slow growth as your other pond plants start absorbing nutrients from the water effectively “starving out” the algae.
  • At about 3-4 days your pond skimmer mat will need to have a good rinsing, again at about 3 weeks, after that clean as needed.
  • All new pond owners should take their time in introducing fish/koi to their ponds, do not try to stock a new pond all at one time YOU WILL BE ASKING FOR PROBLEMS.
  • Learn what type of plants you have and how to take care of them so new plants do not have to be purchased each year.
  • Learn how to feed your fish/koi and take care of them.
  • After 8-10 weeks most pond owners can expect consistent behavior from their new pond installation by way of non-fluctuating water quality and algae growth; and can start enjoying their pond more as an established pond. For more information review our other FAQ’s, watch all of our pond videos, call one of our on-staff pond professionals for an on-site consultation for your pond, or sign up for our pond maintenance program.
How Do I Get Rid Of Pond Scum?

Now if this is not a loaded question I don’t know what is...Working in this industry for 15+ years I have heard this question many times. Pond scum is a generic term that most of the time is referring to floating algae that forms a “scum” on the surface of the pond. There are several forms of floating algae and the solution for quick removal is manual removal by using a skimming net or removing by hand. Skim the pond and, wah-lah, the pond scum is gone (until it grows back)! There are also many chemicals and treatments that can be found that “remove” pond scum, however I do not recommend those methods as they do not really solve the problem and each treatment usually is costly and needs other treatments as follow ups, which turn your pond into a chemistry set instead of a passive leisure activity.So then, how do we get rid of pond scum/floating algae? …FILTRATION. Ponds that grow excessive algae, whether floating or submerged, are suffering from underfiltration which in turn creates a large organic load. The organics are a food source for algae, so the challenge is to create a balance in the pond where organics are consumed at the same rate that they build. This can be accomplished by adding or upgrading filtration and adding plants to the pond. The increased filtration will break down nutrients quicker and more efficiently and the plants will consume the nutrients and “starve out” the algae by using up the algae’s food source. As your pond becomes more efficient at removing the nutrients the pond scum/floating algae will disappear, other benefits you’ll enjoy will be clearer water, no smells, healthier fish, and beautiful plants that you chose and did not just show up in your pond uninvited. Call the pond professionals at FSA&L today for a consultation on what your pond needs to upgrade your pond filtration as well as recommendations for the type of plants that will benefit your backyard pond, and non-chemical pond treatments that actually work! Call the pond experts today. (908)-277-6000

How do I choose a Pond Contractor?

Choosing your pond builder / pond contractor is an important consideration. With the rise in the popularity of water features, ponds, water gardens, and pondless waterfalls these days, almost anybody with a wheelbarrow and a shovel will claim to be a pond installer. A good deal of the work performed by FULL SERVICE AQUATICS is rebuilding, repairing, refurbishing, renovating, or reinstalling ponds that were not installed correctly the first time by other “professional pond installers”. The emphasis of that last statement is the “RE”, in other words all these jobs are being done twice; this is very costly and time consuming for the pond owner. Clearly, there is much more to building a successful pond that digging a hole and lining it….So, how can you be sure to have your pond done right the first time? Here are some tips, from the contractor side, as to what a potential pond customer should be looking for. Choose your pond installer / pond contractor carefully so you can really get what you looking for. Here are some things to consider.Does your contractor have experience installing ponds or will your property be an experiment ground? How long have they been in business? Some previous experience (3-4 years) should be a requirement; a lot of experience (5+ years) should be given preference.Are they dedicated full-time pond installation specialists? Many “installers” out there install on a part-time or second job basis, or are hobbyists making some extra cash on the weekend. They talk the talk, but are they in the trenches everyday? Can they provide you pond services and maintenance, or if you have a problem and need immediate attention, do you have to wait until they get out of their “real job”, or until the weekend?

  • Does your pond contractor have any type of certification or education in the services they are offering you? Have they continued educated themselves in the quickly changing “water services” industry.
  • Do they offer follow-up pond services after they perform a water garden installation? Some installers just install and disappear leaving you to fend for yourself and turn to another company for services and information.
  • Does your water garden installer have a portfolio, pictures, website, or videos of pond installations they personally have performed of are they handing you some stock photos of a pond someone else constructed? FULL SERVICE AQUATICS has come across representations of ponds that we have installed on other companies’ websites, brochures, and business cards. FULL SERVICE AQUATICS offers no other photos or videos than what we have personally installed, who knows maybe you have fallen in love with a pond installation by FSA and now you’re hiring another company to try to install it!
  • Can your pond installer offer references or testimonials? Any contractor who works well should have a list of customers to call or a testimonials page on their website.
  • Does your pond contractor have an in-depth knowledge on all aspects of ponds; such as: pond design, pond construction, fish, aquatic plants, maintenance and upkeep, pumps and filtration, rockwork, water chemistry? Look for a complete package in your contractor hopping from one source to another will be confusing and tiring!
  • Is your pond builder easily accessible via phone, email, and website? Make sure you have access to your installer.
  • Is your New Jersey pond contractor licensed, insured, and registered? New Jersey requires NJ pond builders/NJ pond installers/NJ pond contractors to have a valid home improvement contractors license and insurance.
  • Do you like your pond builder? Perhaps sounds petty but try to make sure you like your pond guy. Ponds are long term installations and to have a good relationship with a good pond guy can be of great value at the times that you really need it.

These are a few considerations for the pond customer pondering a water garden installation. Add these to the questions you have already formulated. Take your time in choosing, remember not to be scared away by pricing ALL ponds can be easily modified to fit most budgets.

OR, save a lot of time and trouble and let FULL SERVICE AQUATICS take care of your pond, water garden, pondless waterfall, waterfall, or water feature installation from start to finish. Call FSA at (908) 277-6000 for your free consultation with a dedicated pond specialist today!

Can my Pond Run all Year? Even in Winter with Ice?

Nearly all ponds installed by FSA&L pond contractors of New Jersey are designed and installed to run all year. You have a beautiful water feature, enjoy it year round! Winter scenes with snow and ice on the pond can be quite dramatic. We do recommend a winterization pond service during October-November. We also recommend installing a pond aerator or some type of floating pond de-icer in your pond to maintain an open water area in the event of icing. During the winter months in the New Jersey area there are times when the temperatures can drop below freezing and stay there for a period of time, this is when we ask our customers to use their best judgment and keep a close eye on your pond to make sure the system keeps running as it should be. NJ pond installations by FSA&L, especially larger ponds, may develop ice on the surface or around the edges; this is OK and normal. The waterfalls area under normal conditions should not freeze over, although there may be areas of ice. The area where the waterfall enters into the body of the pond will usually remain open because of the water activity, and the area in front of the skimmer box should remain open because of the water activity as well. Ponds in New Jersey can otherwise run safely through the winter. Your koi and pond fish should not be fed during the winter months. Pond maintenance services in New Jersey are recommended year round. Visit our pond services page for a complete description of recommended pond maintenance, water garden maintenance, water feature maintenance that the New Jersey pond owner should follow.

My pond leaks, how do I fix it?

Nobody likes a leaky pond, especially us. But, before calling FSA&L to “find your leak” which can be a bit of a service bill, I’d like to share with you our method of finding a leak which you can follow OR give us, the pros at FSA&L, a call and we will take care of the issue for you. Most leaks occur in the waterfalls or in the connections within the system. OUR METHOD: turn off your system, add an aerator to oxygenate the water, fill your pond to its highest point and mark the area clearly in at least (3) different areas, monitor your water level daily to determine if the water level IN the pond is dropping when the waterfalls is NOT flowing. If the water level drops while the waterfalls is not flowing continue to monitor the water level until it has stopped dropping and holds its level for 48 hours WITHOUT any rain. Once the water level has stopped dropping and holds its level for the required 48 hours you can begin to look for the leak along the water line because that is where the leak MUST be. On the other hand, if the water level does NOT drop while the waterfalls are not flowing then the problem is in the falls or plumbing lines. To determine this, start the falls and carefully inspect the sides/edges of the falls for leaks, often times just a settled area of liner, but it could be as simple as a leaf jam, or a rock that came out of place. If it is determined that it is not in the falls or the pond then the plumbing must be examined to look for loose connections or fittings, or clogged lines. If our proven processes do not work, then call the professionals at FSA&L we cannot be beat by any leak!!

Heron or Predator Problem, What to do?

Are your fish suddenly disappearing? The problem is probably a predator of some type. The common predators are the Great Blue Heron, Egrets, and Raccoons. Cats bothering fish ponds is without a doubt a “fish tale”, most of our New Jersey pond installation owners have cats or dogs and I have no problems to report relating to cats or dogs. My cat Pippin (or EL PIPPINO, as he likes to be called) loves our pond and spends a great deal of time lounging by it actually watching the fish! For the New Jersey pond owner the most likely culprit for predation will be the Great Blue Heron, hands down! If a raccoon is hunting at your New Jersey water feature, your water feature installation was not built properly for beginners and you should consult with a pond expert from FSA&L to fix the problem. It is easy to tell if a raccoon has hunted your pond, because the raccoon hunts and eats right on site. Raccoons do not eat the entire fish, usually leaving the head behind for you to easily discover, they tend to be a bit noisy also they will NOT go into a properly constructed water feature, and usually leave some sort of prints behind which are easilyrecognizable. Fortunately, the raccoon is a somewhat lazy animal and in New Jersey a very well fed animal; preferring to feast on your garbage can contents instead of working to get one of your fish, and in about 20 years I can only tell you of 1 actual 100% confirmed raccoon incident. The Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, and other big birds, account for the rest of fish predation, putting aside unscrupulous landscaper or water feature professionals. Their calling card is that your pond fish simply disappear because the bird takes the fish down whole and flies away with it to its rookery. There are many products on the market available to the NJ pond owner to deter herons; some are just gimmicks (like the fake heron statues), others work to a limited degree (like the “scarecrow”). The (2) approaches I like and feel work very well, without having to throw a net over your pond, which of course completely deters the Heron; is a product called the “DE-KOI”. The “DE-KOI” is simply an artificial, but very convincing, plastic koi with an anchoring device, which floats just below the surface of the pond. The idea is that the Blue Heron, who also is going to go for the easiest meal will see this non-moving koi just sitting there begging to be swallowed up, and the Heron will most likely hit that koi creating a fuss and alarming the other fish in the pond which will send them into hiding and scattering making them very difficult to catch even for the best of the herons. The DE-KOI comes in several authentic patterns and I would recommend using more than one if you are battling a heron. A New Jersey pond installation that does not offer up an easy meal will quickly lose the interest of any heron or bird of prey. The other method, which quite frankly I am borrowing from koi breeders, is to set up a perimeter around and across your pond installation using 50# test clear nylon fishing line. This is a great way to deter these large, pterodactyl-like, birds and it is not unsightly. Strategically cross the line over your pond so if the Blue Heron can get in the pond it will come up against this material which will make it difficult to maneuver going after your pond fish and koi. It also makes the bird alarmed and the great blue heron will most likely flee just because it is not comfortable. So you have placed it across your pond, now set up a line around your pond at about 18” high this also makes the bird very uncomfortable and nervous, often times afraid to approach the pond unless very hungry. I have battled the herons on my pond with great success, the time they cause the most problems for New Jersey pond and New Jersey water garden owners is Late December thru Mid-February. Surprisingly I get very few to no complaints during the rest of the year. If you’d like a baffling set-up for your NJ water feature installation call FSA&L pond experts and we sill come out and set it up for you, it is just one of our many water feature services in New Jersey that we offer the owners of NJ backyard pond installations, NJ water garden installations. Did you know Koi have teeth?

Will my pond attract mosquitos?

A properly built and filtered pond will not attract mosquitoes. Any pond built with an adequate filter system will have a water quality that does not appeal to mosquitoes. For mosquitoes to lay their eggs, hatch successful larvae, and reproduce; they need and search for high nutrient, low oxygen, still water; in other words stagnant water. This type of environment is excellent for mosquito larvae which is why mosquito larvae can be found in everything from uncared for birdbaths to abandoned tires that have filled with rainwater.The pond installations performed by FSA&L have excellent pond filtration systems which create a water quality which is high in oxygen due to the beautiful waterfall designs we construct which mix large amounts of oxygen into the water. The FULL SERVICE AQUATICS pond installers in NJ also build ponds with plenty of water movement due to the pond skimmer systems we install with our pond construction packages, and our pond designs yield a very low nutrient level as well due to the biofalls filter system and the aquatic plant mix that breakdown and absorb nutrients from the water creating beautiful, clear, low nutrient water, and happy pond fish and koi. AND by the way, NO MOSQUITOES!!! In 15 years of pond construction in NJ and other parts of the country I have never once had a problem with any of our pond customers having to deal with mosquitoes due to a water garden installation performed by the backyard pond construction experts at FSA&L. Want more info call (908) 277-6000 now!

What is the Spring Cleanout Service?

If you’re the owner of a pond installation, or considering having water garden construction then you need to be aware of some of the pond maintenance procedures. New Jersey pond installers should discuss the spring cleanout as one of the bigger pond services that are to be performed. Your pond must endure 365 days of outdoor conditions, but once a year the spring cleanout should be done. Imagine if you did not maintain your yard for an entire year, well the pond is a part of that landscape and should be thoroughly cleaned annually.

Should I use Hardy or Tropical Plants for my Pond?

For the New Jersey backyard pond I usually recommend hardy varieties of plants, but who can resist a tropical plant or two in their pond….I can’t. I recommend hardy plants, like water lilies, because when properly cared for the hardy pond plant will come back year after year with each year producing a bigger more impressive plant. Think of tropical plants, such as tropical water lilies, as disposable and after the first freeze these plants will usually “mush” over and rot in your pond so be sure to take them out. It should be noted that, of course, there are methods of keeping tropical plants over winter but that is for another FAQ. Hardy water garden plants come in many varieties and car should be taken in choosing your plants that you are providing the environment that they will thrive in, aquatic plants are just as particular about there conditions as any other type of plant and it should not be assumed that simply because they are in water they will do well in your water garden installation. FULL SERVICE AQUATICS offers plant delivery and installation services and custom plant packages for your pond CALL TODAY (908)-277-6000, or email us and we can design your plant package for your backyard water garden.

Bottom drain for my pond?

If you are a professional koi breeder or a koi collector, call Mike Gannon at 908-277- 6000 to discuss bottom drains, if not, read on. Very often at pond installation consultations we are asked about the infamous bottom drain. On paper, or in theory, the bottom drain would seem to be a good idea, but in practice it is not a very desirable or logical piece of equipment for the typical backyard pond installation. The bottom drain can have certain applications, however; they do not apply to the water garden pond. So let’s talk about bottom drains in theory. What is it? The bottom drain is a plumbing component designed to be installed at the bottom of the pond at its lowest point. The idea is that as debris settles to the bottom of the pond it will be drawn into the drain and caught in the filter, and it will keep the bottom water of the pond circulating. Sounds good, but is it, and does it really work? My answer, after 15 years of pond installing, and after installing many bottom drains (which I not longer will do) is NO! The bottom drain does NOT work and I highly recommend NOT installing a bottom drain for your water garden installation. Before we talk about function consider this, you have a new pond being installed, the liner which is supposed to give you many years of holding water in your pond is now being cut or compromised for this plumbing fitting, not only is the liner being cut it is being cut at the very bottom lowest point of your new pond, so now if that bottom drain was not installed correctly or develops a leak as they always do, your pond will now drain down to the very bottom leaving no water in the pond. If this leak occurs while you are not at home or asleep, you may come home or wake up to your pet fish or koi collection worth thousands of dollars flopping around and dying in the bottom of your now empty pond. For a bottom drain to even have a marginal chance of operating properly the liner installation must also be an exposed liner installation without any rocks or gravel. Rocks and gravel will hinder the ability of the “settled” debris entering into your bottom drain, or your bottom drain will slowly fill with gravel and become useless. Exposed liner installations are very problematic and difficult to maintain ponds, also a major problem is that with any rainfall there is a high likelihood that your liner will get water under it and “float” the liner up, essentially turning your pond inside out, again most likely killing off your fish. As the liner gets floated up by the water pressure under it the liner then tears away from the bottom drain which is fixed in place, destroying your liner and pond. IT ONLY TAKES ONE RAIN STORM!! This is a scenario and mistake we see too often made by inexperienced pond installers, or pond installers trying to cut corners with devastating results later down the road that the pond owner is left having to deal with on their own, often the repair work almost as costly as the install. The bottom drain also draws water from the bottom of the pond which is also undesirable, in ponds as in nature water does not “flow” at the bottom, there is no current, water can actually stratify into various layers at varying temperatures which fish like and helps the pond to function like a pond. Bottom drains constantly circulate that bottom water which can actually weaken, stress, and sicken fish in the winter dormancy months, sometimes causing wipeouts.How about maintenance? The bottom drain needs to be maintained, they are very prone to clogging with debris and leaves, the bottom drain is designed to remove particulate (very small) matter from water NOT oak leaves, maple leaves, acorns, and mulch. When the drain clogs and will not allow water to pass through, you will likely burn out your pump ($$!!), a costly problem and again one that can compromise the safety and health of your fish. The 10 times per year that your bottom drain clogs who will get in there to unclog it, you?, or is that bottom drain now costing you $90.00 a month to keep professionally unclogged.Do you like baby fish? The bottom drain will get rid of a great majority of your fish eggs before they even get to be fertilized, so you can rely on much less fish reproduction in bottom drain ponds.Let’s not even mention the unsightliness of a bottom drain in your pond, who wants to look into their pond and see equipment….give me fish and plants, thank you.As a professional pond installer I cannot think of a good argument for the bottom drain to be installed in your backyard pond installation. As seen from above I can give many reasons for the bottom drain NOT to be installed. Admittedly, I have installed them many years ago at the customer’s insistence and with a great deal of warnings, and yes, problems occurred. I would not install these drains for any of my customers anymore, and do not recommend for the DIYers attempting an install either. However, as I mentioned earlier there is a place for the bottom drain and if you are a professional breeder or a koi collector call Mike Gannon to discuss further. Otherwise, avoid the bottom drain.

What is your aquarium decoration rotation program?

The FSA aquarium decoration rotation program is a service provided by FSA for our monthly aquarium maintenance program participants. At the time of your scheduled service call our aquarium maintenance technician will remove the decorations that are in need of cleaning and replace them with clean algae-free decorations. With the change of aquarium decorations comes a new aquarium display for our NJ aquarium maintenance customers with every aquarium maintenance service, never the same display twice!! Our decoration rotation program ensures that the FSA aquarium maintenance customers always have clean decorations and a new type of display for their professionally maintained aquarium. The aquarium maintenance decoration rotation program is an annual fee based on the size of your particular aquarium. Aquarium services have never been so easy! Call FULL SERVICE AQUATICS to find out more about the aquarium decoration rotation program for your aquarium today.

Will my fish only grow to the size of their tank/home?

For certain types of fish this principle will hold true. The best example to demonstrate this that I think will be familiar to most people is the goldfish in the bowl example. Everyone has seen at sometime a little goldfish kept in a bowl, no filtration, just a fish and his bowl. That fish can live for several years and never really grow to more than 2” or so, but take that same fish and put him into a 2000 gallon pond and you will see a very different animal emerge, a nice fish growing up to 10” with long fins and vibrant color. WHY? Well, it has a lot to do with the volume of water the fish is kept in, however; there are many other contributing factors we can look at.Nutrition places a big role in fish growth and health; if you are looking to get that growth you can use growth foods and/or look for foods with high quality ingredients. Fish foods that have the first ingredient listed as potato starch will not be as healthy as those with the first ingredient being fish meal for example. Good feeding habits for your fish are vital as well, do not underfeed or overfeed your fish watch carefully how your fish eat and adjust your habits accordingly. Temperature plays a role in fish growth, make sure that your temperature is correct for the type of fish you are keeping, temperatures that are too low or too high will affect growth. Water quality is probably the most important factor in growth and overall health, high water quality and filtration are a must if you expect to see normal and healthy growth patterns for your fish.Stock levels in your aquatic environment are critical as well. Fish secrete a growth inhibiting hormone, as that hormone level in their aquatic environment grows to higher levels the growth rate of fish slows and/or stops. This explains that goldfish in a bowl; as that little fella sits in his gallon of water the hormone count in the water keeps his growth stunted even though he is genetically programmed to grow much larger, water changes can dilute that hormone or more volume of water will dilute that hormone as well. So, in one gallon that fish will get to 2” and grow no more, in 2000 gallons that same fish will grow to its actual size. An overstocked aquarium or pond will have high hormone levels inhibiting the growth of all the fish, as well as dragging down the overall health of all the fish. A correctly stocked or even a lightly stocked tank will yield better health and better growth for all the fish.So, yes your fish will only grow as much as their environment will allow but it is controllable by way of how their housing and nutrition parameters are set-up for them.

What is your coral rotation program?

The FSA coral rotation program is offered to FSA aquarium maintenance customers who have signed up for the monthly aquarium service contract option. Corals can be used to decorate saltwater fish tanks and can be very costly to purchase with small pieces of coral often costing $30.00 or more per piece, many pieces upwards of $150.00. FSA offers dried and synthetic corals for decorating aquariums. The coral rotation program ensures that our monthly aquarium maintenance customers will have clean algae-free corals in their displays, the dirty algae covered corals are removed and replace with clean corals, not only creating a beautiful display but also creating a unique display each time the corals are rotated. The FULL SERVICE AQUATICS coral rotation program was created to provide the opportunity for FSA aquarium maintenance customers to have beautiful display tanks without having to spend hundreds of dollars to do so, or to have to spend the many hours necessary to clean corals to be used in displays again. Let FSA take care of those time consuming difficult chores for you! The FSA coral rotation program, is a “leasing” program and our customers do not own the corals. The FSA coral rotation program is paid for annually and is based on the square footage of each particular fish tank.

What is your coral rotation program?

The FSA coral rotation program is offered to FSA aquarium maintenance customers who have signed up for the monthly aquarium service contract option. Corals can be used to decorate saltwater fish tanks and can be very costly to purchase with small pieces of coral often costing $30.00 or more per piece, many pieces upwards of $150.00. FSA offers dried and synthetic corals for decorating aquariums. The coral rotation program ensures that our monthly aquarium maintenance customers will have clean algae-free corals in their displays, the dirty algae covered corals are removed and replace with clean corals, not only creating a beautiful display but also creating a unique display each time the corals are rotated. The FULL SERVICE AQUATICS coral rotation program was created to provide the opportunity for FSA aquarium maintenance customers to have beautiful display tanks without having to spend hundreds of dollars to do so, or to have to spend the many hours necessary to clean corals to be used in displays again. Let FSA take care of those time consuming difficult chores for you! The FSA coral rotation program, is a “leasing” program and our customers do not own the corals. The FSA coral rotation program is paid for annually and is based on the square footage of each particular fish tank.

What is a fish?

A fish is an ectothermic (cold-blooded) animal which lives and breathes in water. All fish are vertebrates and most breathe through their gills extracting oxygen from the water and have two sets of paired fins and several unpaired fins and scales. Fish make up about half of all known vertebrate species.

Should I do a Freshwater or Saltwater Aquarium?

This answer depends on the wants and desires of the aquarium keeper. FSA&L aquarium services technicians believe both freshwater and saltwater/marine tropical fish tanks can be beautiful displays, and both offer colorful and interesting fish. Marine fish do have bolder brighter colors than their freshwater cousins but the choices are greatly limited, they are more difficult to maintain in an aquarium, and the prices are higher. Freshwater tropical fish also offer some very colorful and interesting fish but one may have to look a little harder to find the tropical fish sellers that carry those fish, which you will not find in the “Big Name” pet stores, and these fish may have a higher price range as well. The freshwater aquarium will allow the keeper to have a higher stock level in their tank, whereas marine aquariums should be relatively lightly stocked; for example a 100 gallon marine aquarium may house 10 medium size fish and a 100 gallon freshwater aquarium may house 30+ fish. Freshwater fish are largely bred in captivity and are accustomed to being kept in tanks, while their marine cousins are still largely harvested from the wild and may have a difficult time adjusting to their new environments. The captive bred marine fish are very limited in availability and carry an even higher price tag than wild caught marine fish. A marine aquarium, although there are exceptions to every rule, should generally be no smaller than 100 gallons; freshwater aquariums can start at as little as 30 gallons for a nice tank display. Regardless of the type of water in the tank, when aquarium maintenance is done correctly both can be decorative and make beautiful display tanks with interesting fishes. What type of tank to do depends on your particular interest and budget. Aquarium services, aquarium installations provided by FULL SERVICE AQUATICS will make aquarium maintenance in New Jersey simple no matter what type of aquarium you choose.

What Type of Aquarium Filters are there?

Aquarium filters are an everyday fact of life for the aquarium experts at FSA&L. Aquarium filtration is a very broad subject because of the many approaches to filtration and the many different schools of thought. The approach to filtering aquariums has changed over the history of aquarium keeping and all approaches have their upsides as well as their downsides in regards to effectiveness and ease of maintenance. In respect to the broad range of filtration methods and systems this FAQ will deal with the most popular and typical types of filters that are available to the general aquarium hobbyist and aquarium fish enthusiast. The aquarium filter categories we’ll discuss will be canister filters, hang-on-back filters, wet/dry filters, and undergravel filters.

  • Canister filters typically sit below the aquarium; they are an enclosed filter with no exposure to open air, usually comprised of (2) parts; the head piece which contains the motor, and the body piece which houses the filter media. The (2) pieces are clamped together with a water tight gasket seal. Canister filters are pressurized filters meaning they have a pumping mechanism which forces the aquarium water through the filter by way of (2) lines or hoses, an intake and an output line, drawing water from the aquarium and returning the filtered water to the aquarium. Canister filters allow for mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration and should be cleaned about every 8 weeks for good maintenance practice. Many people believe these filters only need to be cleaned once very 6 months; this would be poor maintenance practice. Canister filters can be used for both freshwater aquarium and marine aquarium. The aquarium professionals at FSA&L recommend using canister filtration for fish tanks of 90 gallons to 250 gallons, or as supplemental filters for larger systems.
  • Hang-On-Back Filters attach, or hang, on the backside of the aquarium. These are great filters for the smaller aquariums ranging from 10 to 90 gallons and can even supplement larger aquariums. These are motorized filters that have an intake tube in the aquarium which draws water up into the filter; the water passes through carbon filled filter cartridges which perform mechanical and chemical filtration, and then returns the water to the aquarium by way of a spillway. These are uncomplicated, easy to maintain filters that require monthly cleaning consisting of changing cartridges and rinsing the filter unit. Hang-on-back filters are great for providing aeration and circulation for the aquarium environment. The aquarium maintenance professionals at FSA&L recommend hang-on-back filters for freshwater use only.
  • Wet/Dry filters sit below the aquarium, have a rectangular box shape, and are relatively large filters that are excellent for both freshwater and marine aquariums. Wet/Dry filters are usually used for aquariums from 90 gallons to aquarium systems upwards of several thousand gallons. Wet/dry filters offer mechanical, biological, and chemical filtration. Water coming from the aquarium enters into the top of the wet/dry filter and passes through a mesh type of material to remove debris from the water, then the water is passed over a “drip plate” which spreads the stream of water of a larger area allowing it to drip over a column of biomedia which is exposed to open air creating an oxygen rich environment which is very effective at breaking down organics (or nutrients) in the water. After passing through the biomedia the water flows into a basin (or sump) then through a polishing sponge to remove very fine particles and is pumped back to the tank; filtered and free of debris and sediment. Chemical filtration on the wet/dry filter system usually takes place after the water has passed through the polishing sponge. Wet/dry filters are easy to maintain and require monthly maintenance, sometimes more, of the sponges; and at least an annual cleaning of the biomedia for a properly maintained filter. The aquarium service techs at FSA&L recommend wet/dry filters for larger aquariums, marine systems, or tanks that house large fish.
  • Undergravel filters are housed in the aquarium. The “UG” filter is a flat slotted plastic plate which sits on the bottom of the aquarium and is installed before the gravel is put into the tank on top of the plate, hence undergravel filter. A 1.5”-2” bed of gravel is most effective for this type of filtration. The UG filter is a biological filter with a marginal degree of mechanical filtration ability. These filters are run by air pumps or powerhead pumps. The undergravel filter draws water down through the gravel, under the plate, and then passes the water back into the water column at the top of the tank through lift tubes. These filters can be used for freshwater or marine aquariums and are highly effective biological filters. To maintain the undergravel filter the aquarium substrate needs to be siphoned monthly, there is no need to remove the UG filter for monthly maintenance; however, once every few years it is beneficial to clean under the filter plate. These filters cannot be used with sand or substrate that has a measurement of smaller than 3mm grains. Undergravel filters although often by-passed by today’s hobbyists are extremely effective and have been credited with making the ease and popularity of the aquarium hobby what it is today. The aquarium experts at FSA&L recommend undergravel filters for all types and sizes of fish tanks.

To discuss any of the numerous other approaches to aquarium or pond filtration contact the New Jersey aquarium experts at FULL SERVICE AQUATICS or call us at (908) 277-6000 for complete information, watch for future FAQs on this subject matter, or schedule a one on one aquarium consultation service with one of our NJ aquarium services professionals.

What is a Coral Reef Aquarium?

The “Reef Tank”. Ahh yes, we all are mesmerized by their beauty. The coral reef tank is an approach to aquarium keeping in which one can house living corals in a captive environment. The environment is generally made up of what is called “live rock” as opposed to the deco-corals and artificial decorations that are used for “fish only” aquariums. These aquariums are one of the most challenging types of aquariums for even the advanced aquarium keeper and will require a host of equipment that your typical “fish only” tank will not need. Corals are generally sold as “hard/stony” or “soft” corals and can be mixed in varying degrees. In the coral reef tank the corals and invertebrates are the main focus and the tropical marine fish are secondary. In the reef tank there will usually be included a variety of other invertebrates as well such as: snail, crabs, starfish, anemones, sponges, algae, tropical shrimp, and many other coral reef dwellers which are an important part of creating the coral reef ecosystem, and should not be ignored. The aquarium equipment used will need to be higher end than a fish only tank, and will most likely include: metal halide lighting or some type of VHO lighting, protein skimmers, RO filters, wet/dry filters, heaters and chillers, overflow style tanks, powerhead pumps, calcium reactors, ozonizers and many other interesting types of equipment. There are many schools of thought on the approach to keeping coral reef tanks and one should look into several of them before setting up your tank. Consult with a FSA&L aquarium professional as well. A consultation with an experienced aquarist from FSA&L can save thousands of dollars and months/years of frustration for the DIYer. Or call FULL SERVICE AQUATICS for aquarium maintenance in New Jersey and let us handle it all for you!

Do I need an ultraviolet sterilizer?

No...but let’s talk about this. First, what is a sterilizer and what is it for? Technically, the sterilizer is a cylinder which houses an ultraviolet bulb and allows water to pass through it being exposing the water to the U.V. bulb which is used for control of harmful bacteria and parasites. Under laboratory conditions with highly controlled flow rates the sterilizer can be effective against a very SMALL number of harmful bacteria and even fewer parasites. Your pond or fish tank is NOT being kept in laboratory conditions, so let’s not even consider the sterilizer for use against any sort of bacteria or parasites, period. By and large the sterilizer is used for control of planktonic (floating) algae, or GREEN WATER, and for this the sterilizer is quite excellent and capable of clearing green water very quickly. However, killing the floating algae does not actually address the problem of why your pond is producing green water. Green water, is not harmful to your fish, it is a symptom of a pond that is out of balance. In other words nutrients are building faster than the pond is able to process them, therefore planktonic algae has a huge supply of food to help it thrive and reproduce turning your water green. So how do we address the high nutrient level issue? ..filtration. Proper pond construction and filtration is essential to having a healthy clear water pond. Here are the key ingredients: skimmer and biofalls filter system, gravel and rockwork in the pond, a nice assortment of aquatic plants, a proper stock level of fish, controlled feedings for your livestock, and periodic beneficial bacteria treatments. If you have all these key ingredients you should be enjoying a low maintenance pond which should allow you to see down to the bottom of your pond on a consistent basis. Build your pond wrong, correct it or get a sterilizer, build your pond right, enjoy the soothing clear waters of your own backyard paradise, and skip the co$t and maintenance of an ultraviolet sterilizer!

Why is my aquarium water cloudy, milky?

Cloudy milky water in an aquarium installation is a common and easily resolved problem. For green water, brown water, or yellow water issues in your aquarium installation read our aquarium FAQ section addressing those specific problems. Cloudy milky aquarium water in a new aquarium installation usually occurs within the second week after setting up a new aquarium installation, or within a few days of introducing the first fish to your new aquarium installation. A fish tank set-up is considered new for the first 3 months after installation; there are two times in which any aquarium owner should EXPECT cloudy water and that is at 1-2 weeks and again at 5-6 weeks, this is completely normal, NORMAL I say!, and the fish tank owner should not add any chemicals to try to “fix” this temporary condition; or more often than not they will complicate the situation. When allowed time for the aquarium to go through the cloudy cycle it will clear up on its own, however to help the process a bit the aquarium owner can add beneficial bacteria to help clear the water. The normal period for a new aquarium installation to be able to clarify and stay clear on its own is about 8-10 weeks, given that: there is adequate filtration, the stock level in the aquarium is properly managed, and feeding is properly managed.After the “break-in period” or “cycling” of the fish tank has taken place; some of the factors that will create cloudy milky aquarium water are: overfeeding, dirty filters, high temperature water, and poor maintenance practice. If your tank is cloudy take a good look at it; has the aquarium maintenance been done lately? We recommend maintaining your aquarium on a 4 week cycle. Do not wait until your fish tank MUST be cleaned; maintain your fish tank with good fish tank maintenance practices. Do you see excess fish food on the aquarium bottom, in the decor, stuck along the water line of your aquarium? If so, you’re overfeeding which clouds the water, cut back on your feedings and remember the stomach of a typical tropical aquarium fish is about the size of their eyeball, once a day feeding is fine and once in a while skip a day. A HUNGRY FISH IS A HEALTHY FISH. Check your filter, is it dirty? A dirty aquarium filter will make for ongoing cloudy aquarium water. Does your aquarium water feel slightly warm or obviously warm? That high temperature will cloud your aquarium water. The temperature of tropical fish aquarium water should be about 70 – 76 degrees, which is a bit chilly to the touch. Water that feels warm to the human touch is usually above 90 degrees, way too hot for even tropical fish! Turn down your heater thermostat, 74 is a nice temperature to be at.If your aquarium water is cloudy, follow the above guidelines to remedy the situation or call FULL SERVICE AQUATICS and speak to one of our professional aquarium experts about our aquarium maintenance services in New Jersey. Aquarium cleaning services made easy.


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