Intake bay and pebble "beach" as a skimmer for larger debris


Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,299
Reaction score
1,421
Hardiness Zone
7b
Hey Gang! I've been watching YouTube videos -- man, if I were a millionaire, I could sure spend some money on an awesome pond! There are some beauties out there!
I've discovered a guy in the UK - The Pond Advisor. He is fun to watch. I just saw a small pond with an interesting pump and skimmer set up. There wasn't a skimmer per se, but the pump was under one of those aqua block thingies. It was covered with medium sided pebbles. The water flowed off the surface and percolated down into the rocks. Leaves and sticks sat on top, where you could very easily remove them. I'm thinking this would be a less expensive alternative to a skimmer. Sure, a skimmer would be cool, but I can't do one right now. (I have a helix out front, so I know how awesome it is.)
He referred to this set up as an "intake bay."
Have any of you used this method to contain your pump? Otherwise, I was just going to have it in the pond. This seems more efficient and would serve a dual purpose -- circulating water and pulling away some debris.
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Oct 28, 2013
Messages
8,477
Reaction score
9,148
Location
Northern IL
@bagsmom - that pretty much describes what we have, except we have a negative edge that the water flows over. The intake bay is a new idea in pond building - I think it's a great alternative to a skimmer. No worries about cleaning the skimmer basket on a regular basis.
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,299
Reaction score
1,421
Hardiness Zone
7b
I wonder if something like this can be made a little simpler and done DIY - kind of like the PVC bog manifold vs. a repurchased centipede - maybe? I was watching the Pond Advisor (I will see if I can figure out how to attach a link to the video) and the one he did for this small pond looked simple. But he didn't get into a lot of the mechanics. If I had a wall separating the main pond from the intake bay "chamber," could I just put my submersible pump below a unit of aqua blocks, then cover the block unit with screen and then marble sized gravel? Cord could sneak out somewhere and same with the piping? Possible? I'm trying to keep the cost as low as possible and avoid buying all the specialized equipment this go round. But that may not be doable. I need to do some more research.
One thing I do wonder -- is it easier to NOT notice when the pond level drops too low? It's very obvious with the skimmer unit, but seems harder to see with the intake bay.
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,299
Reaction score
1,421
Hardiness Zone
7b
On youtube, if you go to The Pond Advisor, the specific video I was looking at is called:

Small Goldfish Pond Renovation - Part 2 - Building a fish pond. He mentions then shows the mini intake bay area at 3 mins 40 seconds.

watch
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,299
Reaction score
1,421
Hardiness Zone
7b
Oooooo!!!!! I think I figured out how to attach a link!!!!!!!! Yay!
 
Joined
Jul 29, 2013
Messages
3,162
Reaction score
6,486
Location
Rhode Island, USA
Hardiness Zone
6a
Country
United States
Funny this came up. I was actually thinking about do something like this to our pond. I could easily pull the skimmer and install the intake bay. It would still collect the leaves but no basket or pads to clean. This would allow additional area for frogs, birds and plants without disturbing the pond much. I did not figure out the hole/gallon size for the aqua blocks yes.

@Lisak1 Do you need to ever clean out the aqua blocks? Also how do you determine the sizing of the volume for the aqua blocks?
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2013
Messages
8,477
Reaction score
9,148
Location
Northern IL
We do not clean the Aquablox - they're buried under a load of gravel so it would be difficult to get to them.

We did dig all the gravel out several times, though. When we built it, we were advised to put layers of landscape fabric between the layers of stone to help filter debris. Don't do that - it got clogged up almost immediately and was a constant problem. So we pulled all the gravel out and got rid of the landscape fabric. We were also told to use pea gravel - hence the need for the landscape fabric to keep the pea gravel from falling through the blocks - don't do that either. It also clogs VERY quickly. And when I say "clogs" it's not solid debris clogging it up - it's algae that finds it's way into the water column and flows out with the water. So that will break down very quickly even if it gets through the gravel - no need to filter it out. The second time we dug it out for aesthetic reasons - after we removed the pea gravel, we just wanted to make sure that larger gravel would work. We had a load of construction gravel left over, so we used that. It worked but wasn't very pretty. One of my boys very kindly helped me dig it all out and we replaced it with some lovely river stone that matches my patio. My boys love their momma! haha! The point is, every time we dug down to the blocks, there was no debris to speak of. The gravel catches it all. The second time we dug it out, we added a layer of softball sized boulders to the top of the blocks, then added the gravel. We realized we didn't really need the gravel to be three feet deep, so the boulders filled a lot of the space and the river rock is only about a foot deep.

We have a vault attached to a centipede where the pump sits and that we can use to pump the water out if we need to. We have pumped it out several times (once when I dropped my Apple Watch down the vault - haha. Oops!) and the water is always crystal clear. All the debris gets caught on top of the gravel. And, unlike a skimmer, the leaves and whatnot can sit there for as long as we want - no fear that we'll empty the pond or dry up the pump. The water keeps flowing no matter how much stuff gets piled up there. For example, we have a crabapple tree that overhangs the pond and every year drops a billion blossoms in May - it's a bushel or two of lovely white flowers all at one time. If I had a skimmer, it would be filling up several times an hour until that was over. Then it drops leaves again in the fall - same thing. I just rake out the leaves when it's done dropping. Every now and then use a power washer to wash the whole thing down.

Also how do you determine the sizing of the volume for the aqua blocks?
Ask me that again - do you mean how did we decide how many blocks to use? Or how much water each block will hold?
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,299
Reaction score
1,421
Hardiness Zone
7b
@Lisak1 - I'm trying to visualize everything in my head. I don't know if I can explain my question very well without drawing a picture. But I'll try -- bear with me.
If the pump is sucking water down from the main pond over into the little gravel beach with a chamber below -- and rocks are covering that chamber - how does a person know if the chamber is getting low on water - like if the water level really goes down due to evaporation? Seems like the area of water going from main pond to intake bay is a super shallow little top slice of the surface -- and it seems like that could quickly drop down. If the pump is going going going, couldn't it empty the intake chamber and run dry?
I'm assuming there is probably an easy answer to this - and my non-mechanical brain is missing it.
This is so fun to read about!
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2013
Messages
8,477
Reaction score
9,148
Location
Northern IL
Good question! We can tell if the vault gets low three ways: 1. we can hear the pump 2. the water flow slows down over the water fall 3. the water will get a bit murky as we're pulling from the bottom of the vault where the fine debris settles. But we have 1000 gallons underground, so our vault takes a while to empty. The nice thing about this design is that the water level in the pond never drops.

If you are putting your pump under the intake bay, you need a way to access it easily. In our case, that's the vault that sits off to the side. I'm going to go watch the video you posted and see how they put these intake bays together!
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2013
Messages
8,477
Reaction score
9,148
Location
Northern IL
OK - I watched both videos and I THINK he put the pump inside the Aquablox - is that what it looked like to you? He moves fast!

With his design the blocks are set below the level of the pond, so I don't think you'd have to worry about the pump going dry. As long as there's water in the pond, there will be water in the blocks.

He really made that into a pretty pond!
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,299
Reaction score
1,421
Hardiness Zone
7b
OK - I watched both videos and I THINK he put the pump inside the Aquablox - is that what it looked like to you? He moves fast!

With his design the blocks are set below the level of the pond, so I don't think you'd have to worry about the pump going dry. As long as there's water in the pond, there will be water in the blocks.

He really made that into a pretty pond!
I really want to find a video that shows how to do it all step by step. I'm going to try to explain this giant question in my mind -- it's hurting my brain.
The pond and the intake bay/aquablock chamber are completely separated by earthen wall and liner - except for the few inches at the surface, where water and leaves run from pond to intake bay -- correct? This is what has me stumped. Maybe it's not true. I just keep thinking if the water level in the pond dropped down below that separating wall, the pump could empty the aqua block chamber and run dry.
It can happen with a skimmer, too -- but it is easier to see with a skimmer.
Did that make sense? Did you get that confused picture in my brain? I wonder if I'm imagining the whole thing wrong.
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2013
Messages
8,477
Reaction score
9,148
Location
Northern IL
I totally get your questions. To me, it appears he dug down just enough to put the aquablox a few inches below pond level, basically on a shelf. Then he put the layer of stones on top. There's nothing separating the blocks from the pond - they're just sitting in the water on that shelf, as far as I can tell. He may have rocked in front of it, but I don't think there's any barrier to keep the water from flowing in to the side of the facing block, as well as from the top. Does that make sense? I'm going to watch it again to make sure I got the details on that one right - watch the first video as he shows the construction of that part rather quickly.

I think you COULD keep it separate (like mine is separated by a wall) but unless you had a 1000 gallon chamber (like mine) you would indeed run the risk of running the pump dry. But like I said, with our set up the pond level never drops. The water level in the vault is what we have to watch.
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,299
Reaction score
1,421
Hardiness Zone
7b
"The water level in the vault is what we have to watch" Yes! That's exactly what I mean.
I will go back and watch the first video - as soon as hubby is done napping in here. Sunday is the Day of Naps. :ROFLMAO:
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,299
Reaction score
1,421
Hardiness Zone
7b
I watched it but need to watch again. It looks like the aqua block has a hinged lid, or he cut into it to make a way to access the pump. That's a good idea if you don't want to do the fancy plumbing and pump vault route.
Would fry and tadpoles get sucked in? I guess no more than if the pump were sitting on a shelf.
 
Joined
Jul 29, 2013
Messages
3,162
Reaction score
6,486
Location
Rhode Island, USA
Hardiness Zone
6a
Country
United States
Ask me that again - do you mean how did we decide how many blocks to use? Or how much water each block will hold?
Sorry that was not clear, I meant the amount of blocks. You said yours was a 1000 gallons, how did you come to that. Pump size, pond size etc. My pond is roughly 3500 gallons and my pump is 5000gph. I am not sure if I need 500 gallons, 1000 gallons etc

Thanks for the info you provided.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 28, 2013
Messages
8,477
Reaction score
9,148
Location
Northern IL
Long story short - our original intent was to build underground water storage to have a source for water in an emergency. Period. That's how we came across AquaBlox. Then we learned you need to keep the water circulating somehow - some people use a fountain or a bubbling boulder. Next thing I knew we were building a pond. haha! Most expensive water storage idea EVER.

There was no real math built into the decision as to how big the underground storage would be. We basically built the biggest vault we could afford/have room for. AquaBlox are not cheap, so it was a bit of an investment. We have 32 large AquaBlox in our basin - each one holds 32 gallons of water, so roughly 1000 gallons. We added the 1000 gallons to our pond volume of 2500 gallons plus our bog volume (which also has aquaBlox in it - I think we have another 8 or 10 in there) of 600 gallons when we sized our pump. Obviously you want to consider all the water volume, not just the pond.
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,299
Reaction score
1,421
Hardiness Zone
7b
I went through and watched some more videos from Mark The Pond Advisor. I found one where he talked about the difference between using a pump vault and using a pump underneath the intake bay and inside an aqua block. The main difference is in the power of the pump. He said when using a pump that is stronger than 800-ish GPH, you need a pump vault. Otherwise, the big suction can deform the aqua block. Below that GPH, it's fine to use a pump within the block. I will see how all the math works once I decide size, distance, depth, height, etc. But it seems like for my purposes, that should work fine!
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2019
Messages
63
Reaction score
32
Country
United States
Hi I'm thinking about doing this as well in my 800 gallon pond. The first 10 inch shelf is a bog it is fed by a pump that sits on the second shelf 18 in deep. Pond is 3 ft deep. I also have two aerators across from the bog as well as a thousand gallon an hour pump at the bottom of the pot pond going to a waterfall at the opposite end of the bog. thinking about putting and intake Bay at the other end of my bog Shelf I'm taking the pump currently on the 18 in deep second shelf and putting it in there to act as a skimmer and bring the water into the bog. It would be much easier for me to maintain and clean. Do you think this could work?
 
Ad

Advertisements


Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Top