01-07-2013, 09:22 PM
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LOL! Sorry I didn't see this sooner. Ponds are a lot of fun! I'll try to answer as many questions as I can.
Minimum size should probably be about as large as you can go. It's pretty easy to upgrade a tank when you realize you want a larger one. It's not so easy with a pond. This going to mean at least a 6 ft square area to offer the goldfish enough swimming room. As for depth, you want it about a foot and a half below the frost line. I am in Zone 7 and 2 feet is plenty deep for my pond. However, you don't want to go too shallow because then the water will become too warm on your hot summer days. The deeper a pond is, the cooler it will stay when it gets warm.
Filters (or at least some kind of water movement) are very necessary in a pond. What kind of water movement you chose can depend on the design of the pond. A natural pond might have a waterfall were as a more modern pond might have some kind of fountain. In the summer, water movement keeps the water oxygenated, and in the winter water movement prevents the surface from freezing. Depending on how close trees are to your pond, you might also want to look into a skimmer.
As for slopped sides, this depends on a few things: what kind of design you want, how prevalent heron are in your area, and what volume of water you want. In a natural-like pond you'd want sloping sides to mimic the different depths and also so you can easily plant marginal plants like cattails and iris. But if you have a lot of heron in you area you're probably going to want to discourage them from wading in your pond; the easiest way to do this is to have straight sides. Also, straight sides will maximize the volume of water you can have in a small pond (and make total volume much easier to calculate). Bigger is always better.
As for a min volume (I'm guessing that's what you mean by size) shoot for 100+ gallons. Again, bigger is honestly better. The larger the pond is, the more fish you can have and the larger and more impressive those fish will grow.
Having well water is great in that you won't have to invest in a pond-strength dechlorinator when it comes time to clean the pond. I only buy it twice a year when I turn off the pump and a lot of water drains out.
One last piece of advice I can give you is to contact a local pond-building company. Having a professionally installed pond makes a world of a difference. It's like the difference between a hole the backyard with water in it and a water feature in your backyard.