Thinking of starting a small pond... - Tropical Fish Keeping - Aquarium fish care and resources
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post #1 of 16 Old 03-18-2008, 01:44 PM Thread Starter
Thinking of starting a small pond...

I've been thinking about starting a small pond outside this summer. Nothing huge, I don't have a lot to spend. I was thinking about using one of those plastic preformed pond liners. What would I need to to be able to keep goldfish, or maybe tropical fish, and lots of live plants (the be fish will be moved inside during the winter, of course)? What fish would be suitable for an outdoor pond? I live in Indiana, so summers are relatively warm. Are there any turtle species that would be suitable for a small pond, and compatible with fish? I know nothing about turtles, so that may be a stretch...
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post #2 of 16 Old 03-18-2008, 03:29 PM
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Goldfish, white cloud minnows, maybe some catfish although I don't know if they like lower temps. Tropicals probably not as they wouldn't like the night temps.

Deeper is better from what I have read. I have seen those plastic ponds that go as much as 3 feet deep so that is still an option but digging one out and lining it with plastic could be a lot less expensive. But then you run into having to be really careful not to puncture it.

If you bury the plastic ones then it will be insulted otherwise you may need to insulate it some way above ground. Maybe rock formations or build up dirt so the sides of the pond are covered in a good 6 inches of dirt to help keep temps steady in the summer and might help to keep them cool if it gets too hot. Shade will do that also so a make shift leantoo could be useful in the hottest summer days.

Wish I could be more help but I have only read about doing it.
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post #3 of 16 Old 03-18-2008, 03:36 PM Thread Starter
Thanx for the quick reply. I was actually thinking about doing goldfish and white clouds, although I wasn't sure how many. I guess I'll have to find out how big the pond will be before I decide that. I was planning on burrying it if I used the preformed pond.

What kind of filter do you use on a small pond, or should I bother with one at all? I'm trying to keep expenses at a minimum. If I planted it very heavely, would that be enough?
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post #4 of 16 Old 03-19-2008, 11:31 AM
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I would say a pond waterfall/fountain filter should be enough. One that will handle more than the pond size itself should be fine. As for plants, they will help a ton but if you really want to get away from doing a lot of maintenance then a good substrate will be needed also. Rocks can works but it will take them time to become thich enough with mulm and bacteria to really process the waste effectively.

Wisteria, anacharis, frogbit/duckweed and other high uptake plants will help a lot.
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post #5 of 16 Old 03-19-2008, 12:02 PM Thread Starter
What kind of substrate would be sufficient? I definatly want lots of plants - they're just as important as whatever fish I put in.
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post #6 of 16 Old 03-20-2008, 07:41 AM
I run a 125 pre-formed pond outside my house with koi. If this is your first time, you are probably going to learn a lot in the process like I did! :)

As it turns out, this size pond really isn't big enough for koi. I will eventually have to dig up a nice 1000+ gal liner pond down the line. The popular alternative to koi are usually goldfish and shebunkins. However, I don't know anything about keeping those in an outdoor pond.

I can, however, give you some advice on how to keep your pond in general according to what's worked for. Your mileage may vary.

First, you NEED a pump and a biofilter with UV lamp. The pump needs to flow at least half of the pond's volume per hour. A biofilter rated for 1000 gal will work great for a pre-formed pond; they don't get much smaller. Some people place these in a waterfall box for discreteness, or you can just drop the pump into the pond and try to hide the 3/4 or 1" hose and power cord coming out. Without this setup, your water will cloud up fast and become ugly and toxic.

Add a plant or two to complete the nitrogen cycle. Lillies work great and there are many flowering varieties that will be attractive and provide shade for your fish.

Keep your pond in an area that doesn't get full sun if you can help it. Too much sun will trigger algae blooms. Also consider predators in the area. Will a neighbor's cat hunt in your pond? Local blue heron? Juvenile delinquent? If you're worried there are nets that can stretch across the surface.

Clean out the biofilter every week. The UV will kill blue-green algae suspended in the water, and it'll clump up in the filter foam. A simple hosing off will clean them up.

You will still get some blue-green algae buildup on the walls. You can try Green Clean, which seems highly rated but I haven't tried it yet. I probably will soon. The alternative of manually washing down the walls is no fun and a PITA if you have any rocks in there.

The UV lamp will need a replacement bulb about every year. You'll know, when the water starts to cloud up.

I feed once a day. Consider a seasonal fall/spring feed containing wheat germ versus a general purpose feed during the summer.

During the cold season, you should stop feeding koi once the water temp drops below 50*F. Other fish may be different. They don't hibernate, per ce, but they do slow down and the food they eat may stick in their digestive tract all winter. If they need a bite, they can eat algae or other natural substances found in there.

During the freezing winter, use a heater or aerator to keep the surface from completely freezing over. Koi are hardy, so the near freezing water doesn't hurt them, but not letting toxic vapors escape the water will. I used a heater last winter but I'm told an aerator takes up less energy and also oxygenates the water. I might try that next time.

I hope this helps. Pond keeping, even of a small pre-formed type, has been a great experience so far. Now, we also have pet frogs that inhabit the pond. We get to see them grow, too.
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post #7 of 16 Old 03-20-2008, 11:59 AM
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I would wonder if a UV sterilizer would prevent even beneficial algae from growing so they fish won't have something to eat during the winter months. I have never seen a pond with one and rarely have I seen a problem with algae in a pond but in different parts of the country it may be different.

A fountain can keep the water from freezing if it only gets to like 25 below if you are lucky. If it freezes then you freeze your pump and ruin it. Not sure I would take the chance. But there again, if you in a part of the world where it rarely freezes for long and only overnight like here then there should be little to worry about.

I would go to your local landscaping company or a pond place to find out what they recommend for ponds in your area.
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post #8 of 16 Old 03-20-2008, 12:06 PM
when a pond freezes over the ice on top actually insulates the water below keeping it warmer then u would think. One of the "execptions" to the laws of physics (when going from liquid to solid an element/compound/mixture must condense [water expands]) and one that allows life on this earth.
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post #9 of 16 Old 03-20-2008, 12:20 PM
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Yah it also has to do with the fact that water is is it densist, heaviest above the freezing point. The bottom of the lake can be up to 34 degrees where the top will be frozen solid.

I do remember many times when I lived on the cold side of the state going out and removing large blocks of ice from frozen over lakes. In almost every block we would find 1-5 fish, yellow perch to be exact that were frozen solid. After letting them thaw, slowly, and go back into water the were very much alive. Sometimes the lakes would freeze for 3 months so they lived a long time in the ice. Always on the deep side of it but they did.

I doubt that goldfish and Koi would survive this though. Everything I have ever read about it says not toe let the pond freeze over. Even though, I have never seen anything that says they won't survive it who knows for sure.
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post #10 of 16 Old 03-20-2008, 12:31 PM
I forgot to mention that when the water drops below 50*F, not only do you stop feeding, but you remove the pump, filter, and UV. They will only get damaged from the elements. Last winter proved this as the water stayed crystal clear until just last weekend when I reinstalled the pump/filter/UV.

As far as I know, the UV sterilizer does not harm the pond's level of beneficial bacteria. This is because the water passes through the UV first, then the biofilter. I use a pressurized filter/UV kit similar to this one. The beneficial stuff stays in the filter foam, away from the UV. My pond did have a supply of blue-green algae growing on the walls and occasional filamentous algae on the surface on the warmer days. I'm sure he had plenty to eat.

Also, (stating the obvious) the floating heater or aerator will not keep the entire pond from freezing over. It will keep a porthole open for CO2 and other byproducts to escape. This was evident as on the coldest days, it had a solid 1" thick layer on top, but a 10" opening around the heater.

I do have to say that for a novice, the hardest thing is tackling the damned blue-green algae. Heck, it's not even algae, it's technically a bacteria. But either way, it eats up the oxygen and pollutes the water with CO2 and toxic byproducts. They are the scum of the Earth. Anyway, like an aquarium, the biggest mistake is overfeeding your fish and blindly adding chemicals trying to control it. The algae destroyer stuff will work to kill algae, but it only pollutes the water with even more nitrates, that trigger even more algae growth.

I'm glad I experienced pond keeping with a small pre-formed the first time around. I can't wait to build some of the killer ponds I've seen on the forums.
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