By Bert Sparks

Many people have added fishponds to their garden these days, as water features have become more accessible for gardeners. In terms of the kind of thing that make great accessories for a fishpond, it depends on the purpose and setting of the water itself.

It is always necessary to consider that each different outdoor fishpond will have different requirements, depending on its size, situation and purpose. Some gardeners may be looking to keep troublesome interventions from wild animals or local cats at bay, while others may need accessories to help deal with intrusive growths of plants such as algae.

Other gardeners may be looking for more cosmetic rather than practical accessories, such as water features like small waterfalls or fountains. These make a fishpond much more than just a hole full of water, giving it a life and status of its own in the garden.

This kind of thing may be suitable for some ponds, but fishponds exist primarily to keep fish in, and water features may not fit with this kind of set-up. One thing that fish keepers always need though, is a handheld net with a long handle.

Nets are useful as tools to help keep the water clear of rubbish or intrusive plants. They are also used to remove fish if the pond is subject to maintenance work, or the animal needs removing for medical reasons of some kind.

Due to keeping fish in the water, many gardeners would prefer to keep interaction with wild animals to a minimum, and there are a number of electrified fences which can be used to keep wild animals away from the temptations of a well-stocked pond. They work by deterring animals with a small, and harmless, electrical shock.

While this method of preventing fish predation can be effective, it is also ethically dubious to a number of gardeners, who would rather not electrocute animals, at however low a dose. Often, a replica figure of a heron or other type of predator can keep rival predators away, as herons are territorial birds. There is much debate about whether this works or not though, and some experts feel that seeing a predator in a pond may actually encourage other predators to see the location as fruitful source of food.

Another decorative flourish can be achieved with some kind of sculptured feature such as a statue. Rock sculptures can give a pond a rustic feel, especially alongside the right kind of plants. Gnomes are still popular with many people, who appreciate the kitsch humor of seeing a gnome with a fishing rod at a pond's edge.

Temperature management is a key issue for many pond owners, especially if they are keeping fish. It is unwise to try and feed fish at temperatures of less than ten degrees centigrade, for example. A pH tester is another useful accessory, keeping the right balance between acid and alkali can be crucial to a pond's health.

Ideas for great accessories for a fishpond can best be found by going out and having a look at other fishponds and water features and seeing what works. As with any project, careful planning and forethought is key to discovering what works best.

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