Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

AQUACULTURE — Aquaculture is the practice of growing and harvesting fish and other marine organisms, like algae and shellfish, much like agriculture is the process of intentionally breeding or planting and harvesting products for human consumption or other uses. People who study and work at aquaculture have discovered natural ways for diverse aquatic organisms and plants to coexist. Because of this, aquaculture helps to decrease environmental waste and augments the proper functioning of the ecosystem.


AQUAPONICS — According to The Aquaponics Source, Aquaponics “mimics a natural ecosystem. Aquaponics represents the relationship between water, aquatic life, bacteria, nutrient dynamics, and plants which grow together in waterways all over the world. Taking cues from nature, aquaponics harnesses the power of bio-integrating these individual components: Exchanging the waste by-product from the fish as a food for the bacteria, to be converted into a perfect fertilizer for the plants, to return the water in a clean and safe form to the fish. Just like mother nature does in every aquatic ecosystem.


AQUASCAPING — Aquascape is a landscape that involves the use of water or water features as central to the design. It is the art (or craft) of arranging plants, rocks, statuary, and the like, around an aquatic focal point. A koi pond is an example of an aquascape. So is a floating water garden, a fountain, or waterfall. A property pond or lake surrounded by trees, accentuated by a duck, swan, or turtle island, or accompanied by a floating zen garden are other examples. It can be small scale or large scale, indoors (in an aquarium) or outdoors.

On a larger scale, landscape architects use aquascapes to bring movement to an area. A landscape designer with a nuisance body of water would do well to check out a solution that is aesthetically pleasing, customizable, easy to maintain, improves the pond’s clarity with no chemicals, and minimizes mosquitoes and other nuisance insects in the area.


BIODIVERSITY — Biodiversity is the existence of a wide variety of species across all levels of life, invertebrate, vertebrate, water, air, linked together by the cycle of nutrients and flows of energy of the earth.


BIOFILM — Biofilm is a community of microorganisms attached to a solid surface. Biofilms form when these microorganisms attach to surfaces exposed to water, and begin to excrete a slimy, glue-like substance (called extracellular polymer substances or EPS). Colonies of biofilm bacteria carry out a variety of detrimental or beneficial reactions that affect all of us daily. As biofilm exudes a sticky polymeric substance (EPS), it becomes surrounded by periphyton that provides plant-like food for aquatic invertebrates and small fish. As each trophic level is consumed by the next, phosphorus is used up and – when eventually harvested – leaves the pond for good.


BIOHAVEN® — Brand name of floating islands and associated products which naturally treat water while delivering quality-of-life benefits. All BioHaven products share the same unique characteristic: the high volume of bio-reactive surface area provided by the high-tech matrix. Floating Islands West is a licensee, manufacturer, and distributor of the BioHaven Floating Island and associated products.


BIOMIMICRY — Biomimicry means, simply, mimicking nature. Probably the most well-known example is velcro, which biomimics a cockleburr, or perhaps a bullet train which took a kingfisher’s beak as its inspiration. Biomimicry can be used in many fields. Biomimicry can be a part of fashion, construction, and industry too. In science and ecology, biomimicry is the practice of imitating nature’s own solutions to biodiversity challenges or degradation problems. Replicating natural floating islands using man-made materials to foster the growth of biofilm and restore the food web to handle excess nutrients flowing into pond water and algae growth is a great example of biomimicry. In this podcast, inventor and Floating Island International owner, Bruce Kania discusses Biomimicry as it pertains to cleaning water.


BIOSWALE™ — Elevated treatment swales (Elevated BioSwales™) containing vegetation are one promising method for treating storm water and agricultural runoff.

The elevated bioswale contains the BioHaven® matrix, which provides about 250 square feet of surface area per cubic foot. Our proprietary matrix is an effective substrate for biofilm development, in combination with circulation, it can be highly effective at transitioning agricultural‐based nutrients and urban contaminants out of water and into local food webs. BioHaven® Elevated Bioswale creates infiltration as well as strong deep roots, both important to effectively treat storm water runoff.

Bioswales are an alternative and effective method for treating storm water runoff. Over the last few years, Low Impact Development (LID) & Green Infrastructure has been gaining in popularity as people transition toward more sustainable practices.


CLIMATE ACTION — The climate is changing. Greenhouse gases, in particular carbon dioxide (CO2), and other gases such as methane, nitrous oxide and the fluorinated gases HFCs, CFCs and SF6, are primary drivers of this change. CO2 is primarily released from burning fossil fuels for electricity generation, in industry or in transport. Climate change is already having negative consequences for society, for example for food production. Climate change cannot be reversed. Climate action starts at home. Any avoidance of unnecessary CO2 emission is an investment in our own future. Choosing to bicycle or use public transport rather than drive, setting up car pools and buying household devices, light bulbs, heating installations and vehicles that are energy efficient are all examples of climate action.


ESTUARY — An estuary is a coastal habitat that provides breeding grounds for seabirds, fish, and coastal wildlife. Rivers, lakes, and under/above ground streams flow into estuaries as they reach the ocean. Along with marshes, the majority of marine species breed in estuaries. Estuaries are a rich pool of diverse life and an important part of the food web. Estuaries are characterized by high population densities of microbes, plankton, benthic flora and fauna. They provide safe landing zones and breeding grounds for birds. They absorb nutrients that would cycle into toxic algae. Estuaries act as filters for silt and sediment as it flows down from upstream into the ocean. As estuaries and wetlands are dredged and filled to provide more space for humans to live, pollution and effluents from the land travel easily to the ocean.

Estuaries also sequester carbon that would otherwise contribute to the collection of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.


EU BIODIVERSITY DIRECTIVE — The European Union has made policy and allocated resources to the mitigation of biodiversity loss, which they as a group of nations see as putting at risk not only the existence of nearly 300 species that go extinct every day but also the basic food, water, and health needs of humans. What’s more, they have connected economic losses to the loss of biodiversity.“According to the World Economic Forum, almost half of global GDP (some €40 trillion) depends on the natural environment and its resources.”


FISHING — For some it’s a religion, for others, time to be out in nature, still others it’s a means for putting protein on the family dinner table. Catching fish is all about knowing where they are and dropping in the right bait. Ninety percent of fish occur in ten percent of the water. You can design for that ten percent. In fact, now you can bump it up, and make your water exceptionally productive and fishable. Fishing is not just fun and games — fishing helps waterbodies, fishing reduces greenhouse gas emissions, fishing transitions out nutrients. Improving fishing in your pond is Earth Stewardship!


FISH POND MANAGEMENT — For a waterway to be in ideal condition, nutrients coming in must match nutrients going out. With thoughtful fish pond management, you can build wild fish habitat and enjoy natural fish propagation, while, at the same time, you can eliminate harmful algae blooms in the lake or pond in your care. Wild fish pond management is used to turn algae into fish, grow largemouth bass (and other great game fish) in our lakes, improve lakeside quality of life.


FLOATING SOLAR — Floating solar, aka floating photovoltaics (FPV), is the cutting edge of alternative energy production. Platforms on which solar panels are mounted are often made of new plastic or Styrofoam, both of which are bad for the environment. A platform made of BioHaven’s matrix would provide multiple benefits. BioHaven floating islands provide a resilient, durable and stable support that holds the panels low to water. Its flexible, permeable, materials dissipate wave energy and support the biology that eradicates HABs and other water issues while the solar panels generate clean energy above. BioHaven FPV cools the water and prevents evaporative loss.

BioHaven FPV is green infrastructure with 12 years of independent research attesting to its performance in municipal and private water treatment. Research attests to the BioHaven matrix safety even in drinking water reservoirs, greatly expanding the geography for FPV installations.


FROG HABITAT — A healthy frog and toad population attracts waterbirds to your yard. Tadpoles eat algae. Attracting frogs and toads into your garden is a pesticide-free and natural way of greatly lowering your pest population. Frogs and toads will come to an environment with a proper habitat. Obviously, they need water. And they need bugs. What else can you do? Make sure the water has lots of nice oxygenating plants. The pond should have a gradual slope, so that young frogs don’t get stuck in the water. Providing platforms, either as small islands or with rocks, or logs can give frogs and toads somewhere to relax and breathe above the water. Areas of vegetation, stones, and logs in and around the pond will be used by frogs as cover from predators. Eliminate chemicals in your garden maintenance routine. You don’t want to poison them. They will take care of the bugs if you take care of them.


GREEN WATER – SEE HARMFUL ALGAE BLOOMS (HABS) If the water in your pond or lake is green, it’s probably because of algae. A life form called phytoplankton, which is a type of algae, grows in certain conditions in water. Green water algae float freely and multiply by the billions in a short period of time. When algae grows quickly, it’s known as an algae bloom.


HABITAT — A habitat is an ecosystem which is friendly to living things. It is a geographic location with the unique requirements to sustain certain populations in the ecosystem, supporting the food chain and perpetuation of a species. A natural habitat usually provides protection from predators, provides shelter from weather, enables the food chain, provides a source of food, provides beneficial microorganisms, provides materials for nesting, enables mating in a genetically diverse population, is a safe landing/stopover zone for migrating animals and birds, provides ecosystem balance. Aquatic habitats include marine, wetland, estuaries, riparian, and these can be found in freshwater ponds, lakes, streams, in rivers and bays, brackish and saltwater. They support many species of living creatures: invertebrates, crustaceans, amphibians, fish, birds, pollinators, reptiles and a multitude of biomes in the water-based food web.


HARMFUL ALGAE BLOOMS (HABS) — If the water in your pond or lake is green, it’s probably because of algae. A life form called phytoplankton, which is a type of algae, grows in certain conditions in water. In every case of HABs, the buildup of micronutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, either causes the problem or makes it worse. Green water algae float freely and multiply by the billions in a short period of time. When algae grows quickly, it’s known as an algae bloom. Algae blooms often smell bad and release toxins in some cases. It is called a “bloom” because the growth is very fast- it blooms overnight or even in a matter of hours.

When algae blooms persist, you could end up with a harmful algae bloom, or HAB for short. When the algae die, their decomposition consumes the oxygen needed by fish and other aquatic life. If enough oxygen is removed, there is not enough oxygen to sustain life, creating a “dead zone.”

A harmful algal or cyanobacterial bloom can look like scum, foam, spilled paint, or carpets on the surface of water. Blooms occur in freshwater, such as ponds, stormwater catchment basins, lakes, and rivers, and salt water, such as oceans or bays.

Although it is called “blue-green algae,” these blooms can be blue, green, red, brown, or orange. In some communities, algae blooms are called “red tides” because of their color. The best source on the internet to really get deep into understanding toxic algae blooms is probably this USGS page:

Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and most harmfully, methane, are all greenhouse gasses (GHG) that are emitted from green (impaired, eutrophic, and hyper-eutrophic) water.


KOI POND — Koi Ponds may be considered a type of water garden, with a history that dates back to Japan in the fourth century. Owners of koi ponds want to assure that their pond water is clean, not poisoned by toxic applications of chemicals, and that their prized fish are protected from predators.


MATRIX — BioHaven matrix is a highly-technical, engineered substrate, made from the highest-grade materials, to form a resilient attachment surface for biofilm – a bioreactor.

BioHaven matrix is a perfect plant-growing platform, allowing perennial plants to fully mature and be effective over many years without reaching a performance plateau. Oxygen is allowed to permeate the upper layers to benefit plant growth, while below the waterline, biofilm covers every fiber. Upon launching, the matrix delivers instant benefits and continues to deliver habitat and water quality improvements throughout its long life. The flexible matrix material does not simply reflect wave energy, it absorbs and dissipates it.


NANOBUBBLES — Nanobubbles are micro-tiny, and sink and shrink for a number of days, finally breaking apart at depth and releasing the usable dissolved oxygen into the water. Generated by machine, they are neutral buoyant, and will actually penetrate a lake or pond’s bottom, aerating it.


P.E.T. PLASTIC — We know of no plasticizer that comes from Polyester (PET). PET does not contain BPA, Phthalates, Dioxins, Lead, Cadmium or Endocrine Disruptors. Exposure to environmental conditions does not alter PET’s safety. No study has ever found toxic concentration of Antimony (a toxic heavy metal) associated with PET. The insignificant levels of Aldehydes that may be found in PET are lower than Aldehydes that occur naturally in various fruits, butter, olives, frozen vegetables and cheese.


POLLINATOR — Pollinators, which include certain insects, like bees, birds, bats, butterflies, beetles, and moths, carry pollen from one plant to another and allow them to flower, produce fruit and seeds, and reproduce. Pollinators also have other roles that make them invaluable to life as we know it. Pollinators are vital! <Link to:> Current habitat loss, disease, and environmental contaminants are causing a decline in many pollinators. Planting a variety of native flowering plants on a floating island will attract insects such as honey bees, bats, birds and other pollinators that transfer pollen from one flower to another flower and make them thrive.

Did you know: Hummingbirds move from plant to plant carrying pollen. Some hummingbird species are at risk because of habitat disruption and loss. There are 300 species of hummingbirds in the world, and most of them migrate. Like all animals, they require a safe habitat with abundant food and nesting areas. They don’t need to drink water but are attracted to it. Renowned for their small size, amazing energetic feats, and iridescent beauty, hummingbirds are ravenous (a hummingbird’s heart beats up to 1,260 beats per minute!) and drink up to two times their body weight per day. In addition to drinking nectar, hummingbirds also eat nuisance insects, like gnats and fruit flies.


RECREATIONAL USES FOR FLOATING ISLANDS — A BioHaven floating island can serve as a swimming platform, kayak dock, fish aggregator and fishing platform. Islands can be fashioned into hunting blinds. Islands can be used as breakwaters to stop waves from interfering with water sports zones. The matrix provides the idea environment to grow virtually anything in a floating garden. Floating islands could be used as a floating yoga platform, putting green, or private hammock island for your pond. No matter the application, BioHaven treatment islands promote a healthy pond and help reduce algae.


RESTORATION ECOLOGY — Restoration ecology is the study of protecting and restoring nature’s ecological balance and systems. Similar to conservation biology as a field of study, ecological restoration looks to rescue, replace, create, design and build solutions to biodiversity and ecosystem loss and degradation before a species or ecosystem becomes extinct. Restoring indigenous biodiversity is fraught with challenges.

Restoration ecology may focus on re-establishing a species of plant or animal in its native habitat or removing or mitigating the effects of a non-native species on an area. It may focus on protecting endangered populations by controlling hunting, relocating species, or restoring critical habitat. Restoration ecology is based on the understanding that avoiding the degradation of an ecosystem requires active stewardship, like prescribing controlled burns, harvesting fish populations, and the like. It may focus on mitigating climate change (e.g. through carbon sequestration). For rivers and streams, restoration ecology might focus on habitat degradation, restoring natural habitats, removing invasive species. In salt marshes, it might focus on building barrier islands, erosion control, planting sea grasses.


RIPARIAN EDGE — Riparian (from the Latin word meaning river bank) is an area of vegetation along the banks of rivers, streams, lakes, and other surface waters that acts as a buffer, protecting aquatic environments by taking up contaminants into plant tissues, through the interaction of their soils, and other ecological processes. The edge of land where it meets the water, the riparian edge provides surface area for biofilm and microorganisms at the start of the food chain. Fish congregate at the edge of a riparian area.

Wetland riparian areas remove nitrate from surface runoff and transport carbon from land to water. Riparian buffers trap sediment and slow moving water, working like natural filters. A riparian zone has a role in soil conservation, acting to stabilize the land bank along the water.

A riparian zone is “a plant or vegetation waste buffer,” and is often part of a biodiversity action plan. Ecologically, a riparian zone provides the habitat for a biodiverse population. It provides shade, food, and hiding spots for land and water species. Riparian areas encourage genetically diverse reproduction as it is easy for communities to move along the system.


SHORELINE / WAVE PROTECTION — Wave Mitigation | Wind Protection. Coastal protection efforts are critical to the survival of many coastal communities, and breakwaters may be used for that purpose. Where rising sea levels, storm surge, human activity, or other element has removed the thriving, living bounty from the coastlines, BioHaven Floating Islands can be used to replace what has been lost as well as mitigate future losses. In recreational applications, such as water bodies that host water sports, wave dampening is desirable, and this is an application for which BioHaven Floating Islands have been used successfully many times. BioHaven technology is endorsed by the Water Institute of the Gulf for bank stabilization and shoreline protection.

STRATIFICATION — Stratification is a seasonal layering of water by temperature and/or chemical properties and density. This layering of water can vary in depth, but is often very distinct within a pond or lake.


STORMWATER MANAGEMENT — Harmful pollutants and sediments carried downstream by urban, industrial and agricultural runoff end up in stormwater basins. Stormwater management may be undertaken by municipalities or private owners. Effective stormwater management manages nutrient runoff and prevents algae blooms, captures sediment before it enters ponds and lakes, assures the water meets discharge standards and doesn’t gas-off foul odors or attract mosquitoes. BioHaven Floating Islands efficiently treat runoff while delivering quality-of-life benefits. They act like a natural wetland, increasing the aesthetic value and wildlife abundance of any stormwater pond and farm pond.


SWAN HABITAT — Swans were once nearly hunted to extinction, but now they are coming back. There are two species of swan that are native to the US: Trumpeter and Tundra. The one most imagined when one thinks of this bird is known as the Mute Swan, and though they were imported and breed in the wild now, Mute Swans are considered exotic animals in the US. Before considering keeping Mute Swans, check your local laws.

A Trumpeter Swan can have a wingspan of up to 8 feet. Once a swan finds a mate, or a place to spend the winter, they are together for life. If their wings are left natural, they will migrate as a family. It is not hard to keep them flightless, however.

Swans are primarily freshwater birds. They must have access to shallow water. Swans need space that is undisturbed both from humans and predators. They are generally territorial. Their nests are large.


WATER GARDEN — A water garden is usually a small body of water either added or naturally existing in a garden or backyard that is managed for aesthetics and beauty.

Garden ponds are valuable habitats for many species of invertebrates, such as dragonflies, and also for reptiles and amphibians, like frogs, and of course fish, especially when the pond incorporates a floating island in its design. Garden ponds can also attract water birds and songbirds looking for a sip of fresh water.

Garden ponds are often the site for an assortment of aquatic plants. The wildlife-attracting potential of a water garden is dependent on factors such as the ratio of sunlight and shade, the availability of shelter and habitat locations, the health of the water as determined by circulation, the biodiversity in the water, and the absence of chemicals.

Frogs and toads are a benefit to a backyard water garden. They eat many mosquitoes which makes it more pleasant for humans to be outside enjoying nature. Providing amphibians with a floating island provides protection from predators (like cats!) and a habitat where they can thrive.

Flowers attract pollinators which beget more flowers and themselves are beautiful. Floating flower gardens planted with perennials are easy to maintain. Planting a floating island with perennial plants creates a water garden in your backyard pond.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds notes that “Of all the habitats you can create to help wildlife, a pond is probably the most effective.”


WETLAND — A wetland is an ecosystem that supports both aquatic and land species. It is an area where water covers the soil or is near the surface of the soil at varying times of a given year. There are many different types of wetlands, including vernal pools, cattail marshes, shrub bogs, peatlands, and white-cedar swamps. All of them are premier habitats.

Degradation of ecosystems such as wetlands leads to ecological changes that disturb human life and wellbeing as well as disrupt nature’s processes. The fish, birds, bats, and amphibians that are supported by wetland habitat help to control the nuisance insect population (like mosquitoes and midge flies).

An acre of wetland can store 1 to 1.5 million gallons of floodwater, protecting the surrounding area from flooding. Wetlands slow down soil erosion by slowing the speed of the water passing through them when streams overflow. Wetlands help replace water in underground sources and reservoirs by holding it after rainfall and slowly releasing it into the ground.

Another reason to restore wetlands and build habitats is that they sequester GHG emissions.


WATER RESOURCE RECOVERY — A method of turning wastewater into resources or income generators in order to offset the costs of treating the sewage.

Please check out our other informative floating island pages!
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