Originally Posted by Jakiebabie
Very nice Oranda! How do you keep fish in a barrel like that? Is there any filter or pump for air? And can you tell me the temperature outside and time of year... do you have to bring them all in in the fall or do you live where it is warm enough to live outside all year. Sorry for the questions but this might satisfy my pond desires until we can set up a big one. I am way north so fish would have to come in in winter unless a pond is 3 feet deep I believe. So until we can do it right, I don't want to put one in yet. Great idea tho!!
Thank you! I'll explain how to set this up as best I can. First I will answer all your questions. I started my barrel in late spring so it was warm ( I live in southern CA).
There is no filter or pump, I change 1/3 - 1/2 of the water once a week or so to keep it clean and I only keep 4 smallish fish in there so its not over stocked.
Since I live in So Cal it is warm enough all year to keep them outside.
If you live up north you could put a heater in the pond in the winter if you didnt want to bring it inside as long as you can get a power outlet close enough. The barrel I have is only 35 or 40 gallons so you can use a regular tank heater set at 65 degrees to keep ice off it in the winter. Note: If you get a wooden barrel check it out before you buy it to make sure the ring around the wood is snug and all the wood is tight against each other so there will be no leaks. When you fill it up the first few times it will leak a little until the wood swells and forms a seal so wait a day or two before you take it back to the store because it is leaking. If you fill it and the next day it has lost most or all of its water take it back and get another one, it should only leak slightly for a day or two.
Ok, here we go!
You can get the barrel at Home Depot ($35) or you can sometimes find them on Craigslist or garage sales places like that. I like the natural look of the wooden barrel but you can use anything that can hodl water and is safe for fish, you can even use plastic livestock water troughs(if you want one over 50 gallons go with one of these). It took a long time to set up because I didn't put any kind of liner in the barrel, if you add a liner it wont take any longer to set up and cycle than a normal planted tank, I like how it looks without the liner thats why I took the time. First you have to scrub the inside of the barrel well, because it was used for alcohol it has crystals on the inside that will kill your fish if you dont get rid of them. I used a wire grill brush (like for a BBQ grill) to scrub as much of the crystals out as I could. Then all you have to do is let the barrel soak for about a month, you change the water every 2 or 3 days. This will get all the chemicals and stuff left over from the alcohol out of the wood.
After a month you can start to cycle the water in the barrel, if you started out with a liner you can just start at this step. Fill your barrel all the way up and let it sit outside for a week or so. If you get a lot of mosquito larvae scoop them out with a net (after you get fish they will take care of them). After a week you should get an algae bloom, the water will be green and cloudy, depending on the amount of sun and the time of the year. Since I have a dog that often drinks the water out of the pond I couldn't use AlgaeFix or any other chemicals to fix the algae bloom. The way I fixed it was to get 50 stems of anacharis (you can get it on eBay cheap), the anacharis almost completely cleared the water in less than a week(you can see evidence in my photos). Now this is important, anacharis doesn't like a lot of sunlight so you will need floating plants to give them a little shade. The good thing is that you're going to need them anyway; water hyacinth is what I used because it acts as a natural filter and oxygenates the water. Some states dont allow water hyacinth because it can be VERY invasive if its let out into local water sources. During the summer the plant will triple in size every month! You will have to pull out bits of the plant once a month or so to keep it from taking over. I just throw mine out, but you can give or sell the plants to other hobbyists or use them as mulch. If you live in a state that doesnt allow water hyacinth you can get frogsbit, water lettuce, water lettuce rosette, or any other floating oxygenating plants. Do a google search for "Oxygenating pond plants" and it should come up with plants available in your area. Also check to make sure if the plants I'm suggesting can survive in your area's weather. This winter we got lows of around 30 F and all my plants were fine, if it gets much lower than that I cant say whether they will be ok. The other plants that are in my pond are Parrots Feather and Primrose Creeper, these are pretty much just for decoration. The Primrose creeper is the one hanging off the edge of the pond, it blooms yellow flowers in the late spring and they stay through most of the summer. The Primerose creeper can be hung over the side of the barrel or float freely in the water. If you float it in the water it will hold the last 5 inches of the vine up out of the water. None of my plants are in pots, they are all just floating or trailing their roots in the water. The Parrot feather can also either float around freely or trail over the side. I have mine floating freely, it will also hodl the last 4-5 inches of the vine tip up out of the water. They look like little trees standing up out of the pond and if you get enough of them they will look like a little forest. All the plants I've mentioned except for the water hyacinth can be multiplied by cutting them into 5 inch pieces and floating them in the water. Roots will eventually grow out of the cut ends.
Wooo! Almost done! Start testing you water after you have all your plants in the pond and keep testing every week for a few weeks, when the test comes back normal you can add one or two small fish. I recommend getting feeder fish or some other cheap fish like rosie red minnows because you will most likely lose them. Monitor the fish and keep testing the water, if the fish die wait until the water is ok then try again. Just keep doing this until the fish dont die...I went through 4 fish (2 at a time) until I got fish to live. You can use a cycling bacteria to add to the water to help speed things up if you want, but you'll still most likely lose some fish before you're done. Once you get the feeder fish to live a while you can either get rid of them and get fancier goldfish or keep them in there. I kept the two orange comets that I have in my pond from when I was cycling and just added the red cap and black oranda. Thats about it! I'll end with some tips for you.
- Keep up on your water changes after you're done cycling (I don't recommend more than 1/4 water changes while cycling unless you have an emergency)
- Dont over feed! They will probably have plenty of bugs to eat and goldfish dont need to eat that often anyway. I feed every three days or so.
- Dont over stock. If you use a barrel there should be no more than 4 goldfish. If you put in smaller fish like rosie minnows, mosquito fish or white clouds than you can have a few more.
- Be patient and have fun :)