Bottom: Gravel, Stones, Rocks, Liner Only?

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Originally it was my intent to just leave the bottom of the pond free of stones and rock, just liner only. Liner only seems to make it a little easier to clean the bottom during Spring cleaning.

However I've been watching the Aquascape videos on YouTube and it seems almost always, those professional built ponds have large rocks and stones placed right on top of the liner, lining the entire bottoms of their ponds. I've also heard them mention that good EPDM liner will last forever/longer with rocks on it since it's then being shielded from damaging sunlight.

I have to say, gravel bottoms do look nice from the top and I'm wondering about doing it my pond.

Any thougths? Would the fish benefit from stones on the bottom or would it just become a hassle to clean?

Pros/cons?

Wammy
 
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mrsclem

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Aquascape lines their ponds with stones and then offers to come out and empty the pond to clean it at least once a year! Your liner will get covered with algae in time. There are members on the forum who have gravel and or stone pond bottoms. Do you have rocks on your pond floor now?
 
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Thanks for the feedback mrsclem. :) Now that you mention it, I do recall the Aquascape guys saying that they often totally empty ponds each year which frankly for me is something I'd want to avoid. Setting up some sort of temporary pool for my fish, catching them all, while doing the arduous task of completely emptying my pond and then refilling it sounds like something I'd want to do as a last resort.

Currently I don't have anythign on the bottom and yes, the liner has covered itself in algae just fine. The asthetics of a rock bottom though is appealing to me and would look more natural. I also wondered if the fish would benefit from the rocks on the bottom?
 

addy1

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My liner is just liner, a bit of pea gravel kitty litter has drifted in. When you look into the pond it looks like a natural dirt bottom.
I had a rock bottom pond, it was a pain to care for, maybe I didn't have good enough flow, but prefer the liner only bottom. In saying this, I do not clean mine. I used to but never get enough muck junk to make it worth the time or effort.

This is the bottom in the 5 foot deep area, not cleaned for over 4 years now.

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If you want to “experiment” maybe put a few pebble tiles (the ones for spa shower floor) on the bottom of the pond. If you don’t like the look, pretty easy to remove (don’t grout/concrete it in place unless you want to permanently want it on the bottom):

I’m going to use this tile on my stream “spout” and the edge of the pond. Since the pebbles are stuck to the matrix I don’t have to worry about the loose pebbles falling in to the pond (or our kids picking up pebbles and throwing them in to the pond)
 
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I have large stones on the walls, they provide extra surface area, hide the liner, and overall make the ponds look nicer, I don't have any stones on the bottom where the fish are, I have river stones in the plant pools to anchor the roots
 
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Currently I don't have anythign on the bottom and yes, the liner has covered itself in algae just fine. The asthetics of a rock bottom though is appealing to me and would look more natural. I also wondered if the fish would benefit from the rocks on the bottom?
An Aquascape style pond is rock sides, with a shallow gravel bottom. You wouldn't want to put large rocks in the bottom as it would indeed become a cleaning issue. We have an Aquascape style pond that has never been emptied and cleaned. Professional pond builders do promote annual or even twice a year clean outs. I think from a business perspective that makes sense. From a pond perspective I think it's unnecessary and maybe even harmful to a healthy pond. But remember that there are lots of pond owners who just want to HAVE the pond - they aren't interested in scooping leaves or grooming plants or any of the other tasks that most of us enjoy doing. Here you can even rent your fish and return them in the off season so you don't have to worry about them at all over the winter. And in recent years I've noticed most pros are backing off from the "let's blast the whole thing with a power washer" approach. They take a less aggressive cleaning approach and mainly just rid the pond of debris. Many will even save much of the original pond water and return it to the pond when the clean out is done.

Our gravel bottom stays very clean and the fish do enjoy picking through it. People who promote the eco-system style pond do say the rock and gravel provide additional surface area for the beneficial bacteria to colonize, leading to a more balanced pond. But you will find arguments on both sides. More of a personal choice if you ask me.
 

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I have only the liner and then a shelf down in the water about 6" where I put larger rocks and then rocks on top of them around edge of pond so no liner shows in water. I do have another plant shelf down about 18" where I can set pots of plants. One could put rocks along the sides of that kind of shelf to get the look of a rocked pond. If fairly slanted on the sides it would be easier to place the rocks on top of each other and still be able to use the shelf for plant pots. It would be easy to just stick a garden hose down there along those rocks to clear any muck out I suppose and then pull gunk out w/filter or use a net on bottom.
 

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Thanks everyone for your feedback. Certainly pros and cons on both sides but it's nice to see there's a bit of a "whatever works for you and your fish" approach and not necessarily a hard right vs wrong here.
Amen.
 

Troutredds

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Ours has a shelf with rocks (boulders, river cobble, gravel) and a bare shotcrete bottom. The rocky areas do collect more sediment but they also provide more surface area for fish grazing, beneficial bacteria production and aquatic insect habitat. Whatever works for you, as you say @Wammy.
 
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Yes - I agree with all -- it's a personal preference. My pond will be going into its third year. I have some small rounded egg rock on the bottom of mine - specifically because I can still see the liner. It hasn't been covered with algae just yet. Most of the rest of the pond is very natural looking - then here is this black plastic liner. (I only put a few rocks on it as an experiment, so I didn't fully commit.) I like the look of the rock, so will probably add more. But I only do just enough to camouflage the bottom. In my pond, anyway, I don't think it makes any difference in how the pond operates. I have a skimmer, so there is very little debris that gets down there to require cleaning.
 

addy1

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Mine is bare sort of, has some pea gravel, some kitty litter, some rocks that have fallen in here and there. The "bare" liner is not seeable it is covered with a layer of algae / dirt.
 
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Mine is a shallow pond and I like a rocked bottom. If it were 4 feet deep I would not rock the bottom only one or two shelves as I dont believe you would notice it.
 
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Mine is a shallow pond and I like a rocked bottom. If it were 4 feet deep I would not rock the bottom only one or two shelves as I dont believe you would notice it.

That's a good point Jack... I do have some shelves that are anywhere from 18 inches to 2 feet deep. Perhaps some flat stones would look nice to line the bottom of those and some river rocks or gravel to put in between the flat stones. The sun/light has to be just right and the water crystal clear to really notice the bottom of the 4ft section so rocking that wouldn't really be noticeable.
 
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Remember, when you're talking about "rocking" the bottom of the pond you don't want large rocks. Large rocks would trap debris and could cause issues. They would also make it hard to walk in your pond if you needed/wanted to. A rocked pond should have a shallow layer of gravel - just enough to cover the liner. It's both aesthetic as well as providing additional surface area for bacteria to colonize. I've also noticed that my fish spend lots of time picking up and spitting out gravel, so it's entertainment as well!
 
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That's a good point Jack... I do have some shelves that are anywhere from 18 inches to 2 feet deep. Perhaps some flat stones would look nice to line the bottom of those and some river rocks or gravel to put in between the flat stones. The sun/light has to be just right and the water crystal clear to really notice the bottom of the 4ft section so rocking that wouldn't really be noticeable.
Yes deeper water as in 4 feet really just a pain in the long run for cleaning if you had rocks. But the shelf is perfect plus a plastic oil pan with kitty litter for lilies would work great and easy to maintain.
 

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people who have OCD and like clean should never do rock in their ponds .They look clean at first and then they get covered in the good muck the fish eat over winter .I find I prefer liner as it is easy to net stuff out that falls into the pond .I think on here some one had a fish that gravel stuck in it's mouth also .I guess it is up to you
 
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I have an Aquascape style pond with a rock bottom.

Lilies and Val grass are planted directly in the gravel and fertilizer is not used.

I assume that without the gravel bottom you woulds have plants in pots and you would have to fertilize and risk algae blooms.
 
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