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Get to know us here at AquaReale: Our team unmasked!

ABOUT US

AquaReale was founded by Matthew and Laura Reale. They first started Reale Landscape and Design in 1999, the year they got married. They changed the name and direction of the company in 2010 to AquaReale. The new name reflected the emphasis on all things water.

Laura and Matt live with their two kids and three cats in Jenkintown, PA. They enjoy their pond and pondless water feature, which their son likes to use as a car  wash for his toy cars.

AquaReale co-owner Laura Reale
AquaReale President Laura Reale

Laura Lapinsohn Reale

President

Laura handles all customer service, scheduling, marketing and financial responsibilities for the company. She utilizes her Master’s in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University while managing social media and all company branding initiatives.

Laura prefers everything indoors and has an aversion to the sun and nice weather.

Matthew Reale

Matt
Matt

Vice President

Matt handles all operational details of the company, from estimating and bidding on jobs to managing his crews on projects, offering his expertise and experience as needed.

Matt has his degree in landscape design from the Temple University Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture and enjoys sharing nature and his love of the outdoors with his kids.

Eric
Eric

Eric Naylor

Company Foreman

Eric and Matt went to Central High School together many years ago. Eric shares Laura and Matt’s vision of a full service water features company, leading with calmness and dedication to each customer and job. Eric is a great communicator and company representative.

Eric lives with his wife Meagan and his dog Belle, and he enjoys fostering dogs and playing disc golf.

Eric’s favorite part of his job is finding nature and life in each pond. He likes going back to ponds to see how they have changed throughout the year.

 

Tom

Tom Simpson

Project Manager

Tom is our new young guy. He graduated from St Joe’s University in May 2015 with a degree in environmental science and quickly began a valuable part of AquaReale.

Tom was the Laboratory Coordinator for the Saint Joseph University Biodiversity lab, handling everything from fish illness to building the proper pumps and filtration systems for the tanks and the fish. Tom’s knowledge of fish and aquariums is incredible and an integral part of the service AquaReale provides.

 

What can AquaReale do for you? Contact us and find out!

 

 

Pond renovation in mind? Our top 3 suggestions

pond renovation
pond renovation

Is your pond a good candidate for a pond renovation?

Renovating a pond allows you to optimize an existing pond. It is cheaper than rebuilding the whole pond. On average, if the existing pond is ten years or younger it can be renovated easily. Ponds that are more than ten years old usually need to be rebuilt from scratch due to the older liner and parts and structural issues.

Other items we look at before renovating a pond is if the liner was completely covered with rock.  If so, the liner is in better shape then if parts have been exposed to the elements.

If a liner is unusable, we recommend basically building a new pond.   Since we are adding a new liner, that is the time to change the shape of the pond, adding or moving sections as you’d like.

THREE POPULAR POND RENOVATIONS

1. Redo the water fall box and skimmer

Adding a new waterfall box can give an old pond new life. Moving a waterfall alone can make it look like a pond renovation.  The eye is drawn to the waterfall, so putting it in a different place can make a big difference on how the pond looks. The price to redo a waterfall box and skimmer starts at $3500.

2. Add plant ledges

A plant ledge is simply a rock wall under water that holds planters of plants. Many older ponds do not have plant ledges. By adding or changing plants, you can really change the overall look of the pond. This can also help provide shade for the fish and slow algae growth. Adding plant ledges starts at $1500.

3. Add or revise lights

Adding or changing lights can change your pond’s complete look in the evening. Light up your water fall or adjust the lights to highlight certain plants– all ways to change the look of your pond. Pond renovation is possible by something as simple as redirecting your lights.  Lighting packages start at $1500.

 

Which renovation is right for you? Contact us to find out!

The Penn Museum Pond: How we helped make it better

Large Pond Renovation
Large Pond Renovation

Large Pond Renovation Challenge

Why a large pond renovation? When AquaReale first went to visit the pond at the University Of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, it was not in great shape. The large 25 x 60 foot pond had not been cleaned for a few years and years of people throwing food in to “feed the fish” had left the water looking green and murky. In addition, the pond was not a healthy habitat for its fish.

The Penn Museum pond is loved and appreciate by thousands of people each year, and AquaReale wanted to make sure it was operating at its full potential. It had originally been built as a reflecting pool, which is not the best environment for fish, since the water is shallow and heats up fast.

The Large Pond Renovation Process

AquaReale began by draining and cleaning the pond. The fish were placed in a portable koi tank with their own water. After the cleaning, the fish were put back in the pond and the next step began. We worked in the pump room at the museum, updating the pumps, bead filters and UV units.

We also developed a system to trap sediment and allow water to flow slower through the filter. The sediment tank helps the filtration media do their job by slowing the water down.

And finally, we added some plants, which are very important in fish ponds. The pond had massive amounts of open water, which promotes algae growth and makes the water warm quicker. Plants provide cooler shade for the fish, especially important in a large shallow pond like this one.

The Large Pond Renovation Results

The Penn Museum pond looks much clearer since the cleaning and pump renovation. The green water is gone and the filtration media is working as hoped. The fish have more shade and cooler water and the pond is back to its former glory.

We recommended and continue to offer a maintenance package for Penn to keep the pond at its maximum health and beauty.

What can we do for your pond? Contact us to see.

A unique approach to stormwater management

Philadelphia Stormwater Management

We recently did a project for Philadelphia’s Urban Tree Connection, through a grant provided from Media Star Productions.  Here, AquaReale co-owner Matthew Reale guides us through the project and how it was built to maximize stormwater management.

 

What is hardscaping and do I need it?

Hardscaping_Fullview4_edited-3

Hardscaping

What is hardscaping? The term hard landscaping (hardscaping) is used by practitioners of landscape architecture and garden design to describe the construction materials which are used to improve a landscape by design.

The corresponding term soft landscape (softscaping) materials is used to describe vegetative materials such as plants, grasses, shrubs, trees etc. to improve landscape or outdoor space.

Hardscaping 101

Hardscape refers to hard landscape materials in the built environment; structures that are incorporated into a landscape. This can include paved areas, driveways, retaining walls, or any other landscaping made up of hard wearing materials such as stone, concrete, etc.

Hardscaping allows the erection of landscaping features that would otherwise be impossible due to soil erosion, or that compensate for large amounts of human traffic that would cause wear on bare earth or grass.

While there are many hardscaping products, AquaReale tends to work primarily with natural stone products. We work with wallstone and flagstone materials.

We tend to stick to natural flagstone pathways and patios because the materials blends well with everything from modern to older architecture. It withstands the test of time, and can hold up for decades if installed properly.

Natural stone allows for more raw creativity, because no system is being followed. This allows us to go with the flow of the design, creating everything from steps and benches to drainage culverts.

Hardscaping and Stormwater Solutions

AquaReale understands that without nearby bare soil, a hardscape with an impervious surface requires artificial methods of drainage or surface runoff to carry off the water that would normally be absorbed into the ground as groundwater.

Lack of capacity can cause problems after severe storms. We make certain that there is adequate drainage or runoff on every hardscaping project we complete.

Contact us to see what hardscaping solution is best for you.

IMG_0243

Light up the night with beautiful pond lighting

Pond LightingWHY POND LIGHTING?

Nighttime is the only time one can see the whole pond, inside and out. During daylight hours the surface of the pond is highly reflective, acting like a mirror to the sun. You can see reflections of nearby objects like buildings and trees on the surface of the water, but it is very difficult, even with very clear water, to see down into the depths of the pond.

Pond lighting Information

We recommend using LED bulbs in pond lighting. We use Aquascape LED bulbs, 1 watt and 3 watt. Most pond systems take 2-3 lights and a transformer. Larger ponds may be use 4 or more lights.

Purpose of Pond Lighting

Not only is lighting up your pond an aesthetic choice, but it is also a safe choice.  While you use your lighting to highlight and accentuate the pond’s appealing qualities, you have the added benefit of outlining clearly for your guests where the pond is so that they can be careful around it.

Places for lights:

Less is more with underwater lighting.  Here are some places to consider:

  • Light on waterfalls is dazzling.
  • Illuminate the stream bed; the moving water will create magical lighting effects.
  • Don’t just light water to light water. Feature objects which are interesting to look at, such as: – Interesting rock formations – Fish caves – Plant material, especially water lilies.
  • Marginal plants

AquaReale also recommends using pond lights inside the pond to shine on things outside the pond. This reflective look makes it look like the water is dancing. Contact us to talk about lighting or any of your pond needs.

A koi pond fish relocation story

Bryn Mawr, PA—Koi Pond  Project

Mr. R. purchased a new house over the summer and he knew he wanted a Bryn Mawr, Pa, Koi Pond ASAP so he could relocate his fish from his old house to the new one.

Matt met with Mr. R. and they talked about what Mr. R. wanted from his pond. His number one priority were his fish. He had about 20 fish in his old pond and he wanted to move every fish with him to the new koi pond.   He also really wanted his new pond to blend in well with the current landscaping, and to seem a natural part of the outdoors.

Matt also reviewed the space for best viewing purposes. Mr. R. enjoys looking at his backyard from his second floor living rooms, so AquaReale made certain to have great views for that angle.

Mr. R.reached out to us in October, 2015. He needed his pond built before it got too cold to move the fish over before winter set in. For his budget of $15,000. Mr. R. got the following:

  • 14 x 18 foot pond
  • pond lights
  • two fish caves
  • plants
  • waterfall
  • skimmer and biofalls

The Challenge

The outdoor area is designed as a Japanese garden, with tight spaces and lots of plants. AquaReale’s goal was to create a welcoming environment for the fish while matching the pond to the general look and feel of the outside area. There were a lot of irrigation lines as well, adding to the overall challenges for the job.

The Big Fish Move

Once the pond was built and water quality tested, AquaReale moved the fish from the old pond to the new one in 60 gallon containers. Stress coat was added to the water when we moved the fish. This creates a slime coat on the fish that helps them with the transition.

The Result

Mr. R. and his son are both very pleased with the new pond, as are the fish we moved. Mr. R likes how the random sized rocks mimic nature and look organic “I love how the pond fits my space so perfectly,” said Mr. R.

How to care for your pond in the winter

Winter Pond Care
Winter Pond Care

Winter Pond Care
Frequently Asked Questions

So many questions come up here on the East Coast regarding Winter Pond Care . Here are a few of our top questions, along with answers from AquaReale owners Matt and Laura.

1. What does my fish pond need in the winter?

Winter Pond Care is pretty simple.  Ponds really only need one thing during the winter and that is air. As long as a pond is at least 18 inches deep, it shouldn’t freeze all the way to the bottom, so the fish will be OK. (link) You will need some way for the harmful gases to get out of the pond at all times. We recommend an aerator or bubbler.
Toxic gases caused by decaying matter and fish waste can become trapped under the ice by releasing harmful pond gases. An aerator or bubbler will leave a small area of the pond ice-free, which will allow the gases to escape. That’s all your pond needs!

2. When should I stop feeding my fish in the winter?

When the water temperature hits 50 degrees. This is usually around Thanksgiving. Don’t feed the fish when it gets below 50%, because their bodies are already shutting down and they can’t metabolize the food.

3. Can my pond keep running in the winter?

That depends on each individual pond. We can’t give one basic answer. If you has a submersible pump, the pump can stay running all winter. If you have an external filter system, you cannot run your pond during the winter. Other factors include length of stream, waterfalls and other variations in each individual pond. We recommend an aerator or bubbler even if you do keep your pond running all winter. For specific answers for your pond, please contact us.

 

 

Football and flagstone…kitchens, that is

We recently created a Main Line, PA flagstone kitchen.  Here’s a video walk through of the project…

What do pond fish do in the winter?

What do pond fish do in the winter?
What do pond fish do in the winter?

What do pond fish do in the winter?

It’s the question we get asked the most, so here are some answers:

The warm weather is obviously the best time to be able to enjoy pond fish. During this time pond fish and koi are active, lively, and highly visible. Many pond fish and koi become downright interactive with their keepers and will follow them around the pond, stick their faces out of the water or practically climb out of the pond to celebrate feeding time.

During this time we all know exactly what is going on with our fish and all it takes is a quick peek into the pond.

Then the cold weather sets in and we slowly lose our ability to see what’s happening with our pond fish. Their activity slows down, they tend to keep themselves concealed, and once the ice and snow come; well, we lose touch with our fish. So what’s going on underneath those layers of ice and snow? What do pond fish do in the winter?

So what are the fish up to?

In short, not too much. But pond fish not being up to too much is an interesting behavior all the same, given that they are so lively throughout the rest of the year. Koi and pond fish are poikilothermic animals, a fancy way of saying cold-blooded.

This basically means that their body temperature is regulated by the surrounding temperature of the water, and their body functions respond and change according to the water temperature. The activity and metabolism of koi and pond fish is greatly reduced which is why they do not feed during the cold periods.

What do pond fish do in the winter?  For the most part they sit on the bottom of the pond in the “warmest” pocket of water they can find. During winter months the warmer water is on the bottom of the pond as opposed to warmer months when the warmer water is at the top of the pond!

Fish Hibernation

What do pond fish do in the winter?  Koi and other pond fish go into a state of torpor. Torpor is not quite full hibernation, because it is of a shorter duration than hibernation, but otherwise it is a very similar state of being: reduced body temperature, slowed metabolism, slow reaction times, reduced breathing rate and primary body functions.

Torpor allows the animal to save the energy that would otherwise be needed for higher levels of activity. Because of the state of being in torpor it is a very good idea to keep things as calm as possible around the pond. If you need to open the ice in the pond find a quiet way to do it like using boiling water to open a hole, don’t chop it open with a pick ax!

Even using a hand held drill with a hole saw is actually pretty quiet compared to other methods, and if the ice is too thick to open with boiling water the hole saw is a great tool to have. To maintain an open area in the ice try using a floating de-icer or an aerator. This open area in the ice will allow noxious gases, like ammonia, to escape from the pond.

Contact us for more information or to get a de-icer for your pond.