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Design Dilemma
Design Dilemma

Air well needs help!

etstrikesbackDecember 27, 2012
Hi, I have an air well which is the main reason why I got this place. I have converted that space into an indoor pond, which is absolutely beautiful but extremely difficult to maintain. After 4 years of endless problems (including my busy travel schedule makes it difficult to maintain when I am away), I have decided to drain it and perhaps convert it into an indoor garden. An 'indoor garden' would mean a flat space with artificial grass (there is minimal direct sunlight that comes through the air well hence minimal real plants is preferred and a dining place - Japanese tatami style dining, but in this case, people sitting on 'grass' instead of tatami. My friend said good idea but may be difficult for my 70 year old mom who will be moving in with me, to get up and down in such dining style. By the way, my current dining place is just next to the pond (please see picture) which I will later convert into a room for my mom. So many considerations but I am open to ideas - even just a simple water feature without grass in the airwell area. As you can tell, I am confused!
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Don't do fake grass. What about an indoor stone patio area with a small fountain, some large potted plants (real) and an outdoor style (wrought iron?) dining table and chairs?
17 Likes    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 4:34PM
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EB Interiors
my mother in law has something just like this. after all her traveling, she got rid of the fish and pond and planted an indoor garden....mostly plants. shes much happier with it this way.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 6:08PM
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This space would make a stunning setting for plants. Why not consider some grow lights. They come in spot light style so can be a sleek part of decor?
3 Likes    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 6:42PM
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Metro Interiors
I would consider a patio with a small water feature complete with japenese trees and orchids
12 Likes    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 6:51PM
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The tatami room would work well for a group of young people or those who are accustomed to one already. For older people who are not accustomed to it, it would be very awkward or painful to use. The fewer steps up or down, the better. Convert the pond to a fountain that is easy to maintain, perhaps at waist or sitting height. Make the floor flat and not slippery. Think universal design: how can you make this new arrangement attractive for both of you? Search "universal design" in houzz photos or google images.

Fake grass has its places. This is not one of them.
3 Likes    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 9:19PM
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Thank you so much for all the comments. Keeping water as a main feature (minus the fish) may be an option. And keeping it to more contemporary as opposed to be too rustic. Any reference?
    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 9:46PM
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How about an outdoor lounge bed? A great space to relax, hear the fountain and even a guest bed for overnight guests. Fill and cover most of the "pond", but leave a rectangular strip of the pond for the fountain and plant some natural bamboo. Then, a fabulous outdoor bed...

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1 Like    Bookmark   December 27, 2012 at 11:25PM
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CASTLE Design Studio LLC
Hi ET, just a completely different idea: revert it to a regular room, perhaps extend your dining area? Best, Diane
1 Like    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 11:14AM
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I envision a glass floor over a custom piece of sand art or a raked oriental rock and boulder garden.
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16 Likes    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 11:32AM
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I was actually thinking as decoenthusiaste as a zen rock/sand art. I made a table top zen sand garden and supply a "side" of pretty rocks in various shapes and sizes, various rakes, etc. It's fun to see how our guests all want to make their own "masterpiece" designs in the sand. Even the adults! Maybe 1/4 of your area the sand garden, then a small version of your current water feature with live bamboo, then the table/chairs or bench area as feeny suggested. How peaceful!
5 Likes    Bookmark   December 28, 2012 at 11:44AM
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Lisa Lucas Design
Sounds like hiring a local professional for an in home consultation to see how the spaces relate and make sure the suggestions truly will be a good future fit would be a wise investment. It could save you thousands going in the wrong direction.
3 Likes    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 9:54AM
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Thanks a lot for all the suggestions. Thinking hard now :)
    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 10:46AM
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
With your travel schedule, I might go for something with no maintainance issues, such as a rock garden with no plantings. You could do fist sized polished rocks across the whole area and then fill in with some boulders, or sculted seating as in the second photo. Or you could place a large sculpture in the space.
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5 Likes    Bookmark   December 29, 2012 at 1:18PM
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I'm a koi fanatic! And I think one of the problems with your maintenance is that you have too many fish for that space. I have outdoor ponds larger than that with less fish and can't keep up. I would kill for an indoor pond. Also what type of filters and methods do you use? With proper equipment it shouldn't be that much to maintain. All that said with the changes you are planning it may be time to get rid of it, sounds like you'll need the space. And what does you mother think of it? Like it or hate it?
    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 7:08AM
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I agree with jjbrodie, might be time to get rid of it all together, and return the space to floor-height. A sunken area is just asking for trouble with an older person who could trip or fall on the uneven surfaces. The glass floor idea is neat, but visual perception will be challenged, and if your mom is moving in because of health issues/caregiving needs, keeping the challenges to a minimum would be a good idea.
2 Likes    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 7:41AM
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Gil Adelman Design/Build
Cut floor, joist and ceiling below, install plexiglass to see through to floor below.
Or, Plant water plants and flowers.
    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 8:00AM
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Fill it with good quality sand or gravel and make it a zen garden. Minimal plants, stones asian lantern.........
1 Like    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 8:01AM
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no artificial grass, no visual or sitting challenge for your mom

an indoor garden dining room sounds just wonderful to me.

get some grow lights and plant orchids
3 Likes    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 8:16AM
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Brenda Greer
What is an air well and why would you want it? What's its use? I've never heard of such a thing.
2 Likes    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 8:19AM
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I like the idea of using it as a garden.
If you raised the floor up, your mom would be comfortable going in there. If that is not an option, it would still be great to sit and look at for her.
I would put colored, tumbled glass mulch on the floor, some real or the nice fake rocks and some succulents. Succulents do NOT need sun, they do not need to be picky like cactus, they need light (not sun) and it looks like you have that. They are VERY low maintenance, easy to propagate and you can find unusual ones in every nursery. Lots of nurseries specialize in them now because they are so easy. I am sure you could find a nursery willing to do the work for you! The glass mulch would be a great drainage material as well as being zen like and pretty. If light becomes an issue, you could put a grow light on a timer to give them any additional light needed. You can put a small water feature (water drizzling out of a drilled rock into a container?) in the mix and it would look natural and wonderful.
What fun that you have such a problem. I do LOVE the koi but agree there are too many. Please give the koi away or sell them if and when you drain the pond.
3 Likes    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 9:38AM
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Keep us posted on what you do. It is a beautiful/great space. I like the concepts of keeping the water feature (a running stream underneath?) for either the whole or partial existing space. That would be stunning. If that doesn't work for whatever reason, just going with a stone patio (large blue stones pavers?), a water feature, some low light plants (a fern "wall" and you can go with an automatic drip/mister system for them) would be really beautiful, simple and peaceful too.
    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 9:53AM
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Assuming this space is not open to the elements, I would put a removable covering over the drained pond. Something beautiful, probably made of wood. It would leave the pond as an option for the future but make the space usable today. Add low maintenance plant or two, the fountain many have recommended, and round table with chairs. A casual multi-use space for dining, enjoying the light, or gathering.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 9:54AM
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With an aging relative, concrete is not terribly expensive, I would fill the area in, use for the dining area you seem to want/need, use grow lights and orchids or other hearty low-light plants, put in a wall fountain for the soothing sounds and easy maintainance, use some up lights among the plants or use potted plants and include at least one comfy chair for your mom, that is the right height for table and her. What a wonderful space you get to play with. The acrylic floor is a very interesting idea.
    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 10:59AM
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You have too many fish! You only want a few! If determined to get rid of wonderful pond in house, I would decorate with air plants and succulants. Do not fill it with concrete! I agree with the person who said to put in a floor for the time being -- and later if you want to do the pond thing, it would not be hard to revert.
    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 11:22AM
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Deb Reinhart
Anything is better than artificial grass. In a perfect world, how best could this space serve you ? What function assists you and or your mom for best use.
If a garden zen area is what you chooses gravel. rocks,and sand is a great base. Comfortable seats, a water feature plants would serve you. You would not be serving a high maintenance pond.
    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 11:58AM
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Can you tell us a little more about the atrium? Is there glass doors leading to different rooms on all sides, or just the dining room which you are going to convert to a room for your Mom? Is there a skylight, or is it open to the elements? Climate in your area?

I see a couple of issues, but the primary one is that you are converting the dining room to a room for your Mom, and since the glass doors on that room can be seen in the photos, we know that it opens to the atrium, so in essence it becomes an extension of your Mom's future space. If she is in good health, she would probably enjoy helping to care for whatever is in the atrium, so perhaps you could present her with some alternatives that are also okay with you, and let her help decide what would bring her the most pleasure.

Many house plants will grow without direct sunlight. Listening to the trickling water in small fountains can be very soothing, so it would be lovely to be able to lay in bed with the door open and hear that sound. Perhaps you can remove pond but leave water hookup for a small hose, put in some foundation blocks that support decking, then gravel over the ground, then build decking. Furnish with comfortable chairs, small table, small fountain and lots of house plants in pots if someone in the family has a "green thumb" and can maintain them so they continue to look good. Also, consider some art if there are any wall spaces.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 12:02PM
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I don't think artificial grass is a 100 percent no-no. There is a some quality/real looking artificial grass nowadays...and it's not cheap. Maybe a small "dose" of artificial grass with concrete squares? Then, you can put your dining table in here as well. Here is an idea,but use artificial grass in between the squares. Hmmm. then you'd have to carefully select chairs,
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3 Likes    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 12:12PM
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Metro Interiors
I would consider throwin an aple pie in the pond and watching the fish eat it to get their opinion. Ahaha
1 Like    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 2:44PM
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
I'm sure that etstrikesback will find good homes for the koi, and may even bag some money on the deal.
    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 2:47PM
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Koi are expensive and etstrikesback certainly could make some real money on them. And, yes, please keep us posted! It really is such a great space.
    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 3:33PM
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A sand garden sounds lovely. All walking areas should be level to avoid tripping. You might consider a natural wood or stone bench or wood/stone combo bench that would add an interesting element to the garden so mom could have a place to sit. Good ambient lighting is important to older ones for safety. You might consider piped in natural sounds. Waterfall and succulent ideas above are nice.
    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 3:55PM
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If that lovely pond were mine, I'd sell a few of the koi and hire an expert to come in regularly to maintain it, especially when I travel. Probably wouldn't cost more than some of the ideas suggested.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 4:23PM
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Carolyn Albert-Kincl, ASID
What a nice idea!
    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 4:31PM
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Thanks a lot for the suggestions. The idea of covering the drained pond with something so that I can revert to the pond option in the future is a really good idea. Taking all the comments into consideration; one thing for sure - keeping the pond as a water feature but the fish has to go; of course, they will either be sold or given away to friends - most probably the latter. There are few options as to where the dining area should be. The pond is currently in-between the living hall and dining hall. One option is to 'reclaim' about 1.5 feet to 2.0 feet of the pond, and as an 'extension' from the living room, and the dining table comes here. So, I can still keep part of the pond as water feature.
2 Likes    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 4:35PM
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Perhaps fill the space with smooth stones /rocks- your choice of color(s) and covering it with clear plexi-glass . . . perhaps add some interesting hidden lighting in the stones . . . you could have a "stream" run through it - either with contained water or an isolated color of stones/rocks. Best of luck and creativity to you!
    Bookmark   December 30, 2012 at 9:38PM
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The space looks dull and dark, which is probably why one would not be drawn to recreating it. From the dining area, one would probably want to lighten up what one sees from the inside as well as experiencing the light from the outside. After experiencing a great meal, walking out into a space to relax would be my suggestion. Keep the pond. The plants are small and therefore, one's head looks down instead of up. Suggestions: Lighten the paint in the room, maybe in a lighter gold tone or some other earth tone, the color of the pond base should be a lighter color like the bottom of Bahama oceans, some type of translucent blue. The base around the water can be extended as to fit a couple of plush chairs, and a wishing rail around the surface, so that no one accidentally falls in after a few drinks too many. A tall and small tree (in width) in the corner where the plants are (or another corner), so that eyes are lifted to the ceiling after consuming a great meal. The ceiling, should be the continuation of the tree in the corner, so that the feeling is that one continues to feel lifted. Place some very soft music in the area, so that gazing from the water to the tree to the ceiling is peaceful.
    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 4:46AM
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Ankita Shinde
Convert the place into a open lounge area.... Plant some real plants... bonsais or terrariums may look good... some outdoor (maybe wrought iron dining table) furniture..... Following images may help... Any idea that you use... Dnt forget to send the pics... Also the room is a bit dull.. So dnt forget to add a beautiful piece of light... This area will turn into a beautiful relaxing area and a place to have fun around with your friends and relatives and also your mom will enjoy sitting in this place..
    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 7:31AM
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You're obviously not knowledgeable about fish. You've more than twice too many in this size pond. It should be easy to maintain...depending upon the filtration, UV lights, and air pump system you use. I am sorry I cannot drop over and help you out...as a pond is all about water. And, water is easily kept for fish if the fish load is light. You can do just as well with only four fish...to make a statement. If that is the goal you're wanting. Or, three. No less than two.
1 Like    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 8:56AM
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BTW...we have a small fish pond in our garden and use an ultra-violet light filter (it looks like a torpedo and the light kills ALL bacteria as it passes through) and the water is always crystal clear. The side algea is taken care of by the fish. They are not koi (the pond is not that big) but are comet gold fish that get only about 6" long.
    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 11:21AM
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I can assure you, that the small UV light that looks like a torpedo does not kill ALL the bacteria that passes through it...whoever told you that or what makes you believe that is all wrong. That's not what a pond UV light does or is intended to do...

I have raised world class koi for many years. Many have won grand champion awards around the world. I have three huge koi ponds. And, a typical gold fish pond. Thus, I am familiar with fish keeping and what is required to operate an efficient pond with live fish...gold fish can be kept in a glass bowl on your kitchen counter. Whilst koi cannot.

They require far more than a modest sized UV light in order to properly maintain their environment.
    Bookmark   December 31, 2012 at 11:37AM
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@norwin, Congratulations on your koi fish champion success. I didn't mean to imply I know about koi. I just know that in addition to the typical fish pond filter, since we installed the ultra violet light the water has been crystal clear (still have to ocassionally clean the actual filter) and we have "happy fish!". As I mentioned, they are comet fish, not koi. Our pond is too small for koi.
    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 11:36PM
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Since I have no idea what is the design of this problem pond, or its filtration. Nor, the pumps.

And, as I have no idea as to how it was built, or how it operates, I am in no position to make any suggestions on how this problem can be fixed.

However, what I do suggest is that since this pond is a serious problem for you and you don't know how to solve it, and it cannot be solved without far more detail than contained in this text - it would seem to me that the simplest of solutions is for you to accept that you cannot fix the problem as you do not know how to fix it yourself. Nor, have you called in an expert in "FISH" pond design, building and pond construction...nor, contacted one of the local koi clubs to send their membership over to look at your pond and give you their experience; then why not take the expedient way out of your situation by - emptying the pond of water, sell or give away the filters and pumps, and give the fish away,and simply fill in the hole with cement and tile over what had once been - this problem pond.

And, then be done with the whole matter?
    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 7:53AM
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Alexei Rebrov Art
I can see light colored walls. Are you considering art prints? Some soft colors in impressionistic style will look really cool. I would consider maybe even some larger designs.

1) http://alexeirebrov.com/collections/impressionism
2) http://alexeirebrov.com/collections/wall-design/products/living-room-wall-design-13 and similar...
    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 8:39AM
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Oh, as long as the pond continues to exist, please, allow me add one more immediate recommendation.

Today. On this date, I strongly must encourage you to immediately remove ALL of the rocks and other materials that are at this pond's bottom.

Sir, these rocks and pebbles and other objects which you have littering the pond bottom - only serve to become points of collecting debris and fish waste...bacteria, parasites, dead algae and other 'garbage'. In fact, the rocks and pebbles that are seen in the photo of your pond eventually become the very source of poisoning your fish with their own waste.

Sir, for a pond of the sort that you have, shown in your photo, your having nothing whatsoever within the pond to impede the flow of the fish waste to the drains and filters becomes paramount to the importance of the quality of the pond water.

Therefore, unless all of these impediments and collection points are ALL immediately removed from the pond and only the fish remain...and, that includes a significantly fewer number of fish than you now have, your pond water will never be healthy. Your fish will never be healthy. And, you will forever have endless problems with this pond...

This is an absolute immediate, must do!
    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 9:01AM
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Norwin12 - I think you are right - maybe that is the problem
    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 9:12AM
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The rule of thumb in keeping a healthy fish. Is keeping the water clean. And, clean water is not just being able to see through the water. That is never a true test. The water can be clear and totally contaminated. And, the water chemistry too high a PH or too low. It should be in the area of 7.2PH. And, then there is water hardness. Having healthy fish requires some chemistry...Thus, your just looking at the bottom of your pond and the rocks, stones and other debris, as a place to start, would be like filling your own family living space with huge mounds of garbage and human waste and then demanding that you and your family live within that stench and unhealthy environment...Thus, I guarantee you, that for your fish, that's exactly what they are now living in...

Now, to remove the rocks becomes a delicate procedure. My advice is to remove the fish first and place them in 'aged' chemically free water, with adequate air and filtration...then clean the pond of every scrap of that which you have littered the pond bottom with...give 4/5's of all your fish away. Then reintroduce your fish back into a clean and safe water environment.

Again, call a local koi club. They will help you.

If I knew where you lived I might know of someone who would freely and gladly help you...
1 Like    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 11:50AM
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Robyn Eisler
you can still attain your japanese tatami style dining experience without needing a dedicated sunken dining table. Isn't the essence of the japanese style to make the space multifunctional by using minimal furnishings that can move in and out of the space?

Firstly, drain the pond and cover entirely with wooden decking. Low cost and you can change your mind again in a few years when you have more time/interest in koi or other fish.

Keep your attachment to running water. Perhaps a simple and low maintenance water feature (see http://www.hardscapematerials.com/aqua-urns/ for a simple urn style).

Change your plants in the room. a couple of bonsai on pedestals. (google bonsai display stands)

Have some tatami mats, a low table and some cushions to set up in the space when needed.

Add some panel blinds (see http://www.littlehomes.in/panel.html) to separate the space from the dining room when needed.

It then becomes a garden, dining room, relaxation/mediation/yoga room, reading room and anything else you want it to be. You can keep it as something beautiful to look at when you are in the dining room too.
    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 5:26AM
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I would buy some lotus plants and keep this fabulous koi pond !! Covering at least 1/3 of the water with plants would keep alge from growing and the roots might help clean the water too... I didn't read all the posts so I hope this applies . A few less fish would also change how much work this is?
    Bookmark   January 28, 2013 at 3:18PM
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Global Syn-Turf - Artificial Grass Supplier
etstrikesback, it's been a little over two years since you started this thread. What did you end up doing with the air well? (And I agree with Darzy; artificial grass has come a long way recently.)
    Bookmark   February 6, 2015 at 1:55PM
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