Qustions on new small container pond
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Old 01-30-2013, 10:31 PM   #1
PlantedTankLover
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Qustions on new small container pond


So I have been wanting to start a small pond for quite a while. Nothing too big. Maybe something made from a large flower pot or one of those prefab ponds from the hardware store. For fish I was thinking of something like guppies or platties. Easy. Would I need some sort of filter? Obviously I would load it with plants too. What about when it gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter? How would I care for them? Looking for something that I could just top off the water every now and then.
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Old 01-31-2013, 12:04 AM   #2
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I'm pretty sure the winter here destroys the mosquito fish population down to something like .5% of the annual high. I've read that Platy fish can tolerate cooler temps than fancy guppies but either way, they'll likely not make it through the winter outside without some ridiculous means of heating the pond. You could overwinter them inside or find a fish like your local shiners that do well with the local climate.
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:10 AM   #3
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I wonder if I could just put in a heater during the winter? What about filtration?
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:40 AM   #4
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Koi pond owner here...

In ponds I let the plants do all the filtering, and from the sounds of it, that's what you want, too. You don't need a traditional filter like you would in aquariums; you really just need something to keep the water moving. A simple bubbler or small fountain works well for this.

As for the summer, enough floating plants will shade the pond. Also try to position it in the shade if possible. Another thought for the summer is rain storms; you will want to look into some sort of overflow device, a spout to let the water out without hurting the plants or the fish. This is going to depend on the kind of pond you get.

For the winter, this is going to depend on your location. If it gets really cold, you might need to move the pond to your garage or other indoor place during the winter. If it doesn't get too cold you could bury it in the ground (which provides some insulation) and get a small pond heater. Farm animal water trough heaters also work for this. Overwintering in a tank inside is always an option, too.

I've always thought these projects to be neat little things. Costs a looooot less than a real pond, but you still get the same aesthetics and the lovely sound of running water.
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:20 PM   #5
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Smaller volume of water changes temperature faster than larger volumes.
In the summer it can overheat very easily.
Partial shade, such as the dappled light under a tree will help a lot. Early morning sun or very late in the afternoon is OK. If it still gets too hot you may have to add some shade cloth.
Digging it into the ground is very good insulation, and can help with cooling, especially if it is in an area where the soil is moist, like a flower garden.
The more water you can expose to the air for evaporation the cooler you can get it. Think about a small stream and waterfall.

In winter too small a container will freeze solid. No fish can handle that. As for heating it, there are a few things you can do, but essentially it comes down to spending money to heat it. Some ideas:
1) Insulate it by installing foam around it. This will help protect it from the cold earth, but you lose the summer cooling. Float a sheet of Styrofoam on the surface.
2) Build a mini-greenhouse over it. This can be as simple as some hoops stuck in the ground then drape some clear plastic over it. Depending on how much snow you get you decide how strong to make the hoops. Make sure the plastic sheeting is sealed at the ground so no air blows in. You could make an insulated 3-sided box, leaving the roof and south side to cover with glass or clear plastic.
3) If your area is mostly sunny in the winter (just cold) then look into solar water heating like they do for swimming pools or to pre-heat the water going into your water heater. You would need insulated pipes and a recirculating pump. Too many cloudy days will make this not work very well.
4) Stock tank de-icer will keep a small spot on the surface defrosted so the fish can get oxygen. Add a pump near the bottom of the pond that pumps the water upwards, and in a small container the stock tank water heater might be enough to keep the whole pond a bit warmer.

Best option:
Drain the plumbing, bring the fish and plants into the house and overwinter them in an aquarium. In the spring, refill with warm enough water and test it to be sure it stays warm enough before moving the fish outside.

Note that some fish are not very pretty when viewed from the top. This is to hide them from predators. Koi and Golds have been bred to be viewed from the top. Platies are OK, you will still see some color. They will handle temperatures into the mid 60sF. Guppies are almost impossible to see from the top. As colorful as they are from the side, they are still grey on the top.
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:38 PM   #6
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Wow lots of great info. I was also considering some platies. I've been thinking it might be best to have the container in the ground. Some people in the area have koi ponds in the area and they never bring their fish in the house in the winter. And to be honest I realllly dont want to bring more fish inside. Care Koi hardier then platies?
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:46 AM   #7
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Koi are hardier than platies when it comes to overwintering outside, but they are on par with goldfish in terms of dirtiness (and willingness to eat plants). They need large volumes of water and lots of space as they easily grow over a foot long. Ideally for a koi pond you'd need 500+ gallons of water, but the biggest you can go is best. While koi would be able to stay outside year-round, you are going to end up paying a lot more for this project than a small prefab pond.

Goldfish can also be overwintered outside in most locations (again provided the surface doesn't freeze over and the pond is deep enough). A goldfish pond will be much less expensive than a koi pond as you wouldn't need the large area or massive volumes of water.
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Old 02-03-2013, 02:03 AM   #8
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Default Qustions on new small container pond

I have a small 50 gallon container pond on my deck. I used a stainless steel stock tank I picked up at tractor supply. I would have gone for the 100 gallon if I thought my deck could handle it but the 50 works nicely. I have a shubunkin and two fantails in there. This is my first year wintering them outside. I am a bit nervous considering the small amount of water they are in. I bought a floating heater that kicks in when the temp drops below 35. We just had our first cold streak in Baltimore and my water barrel was frozen solid but the pond had no ice anywhere. I do have a pump that moves the water through a gravity fed filter with some bio balls and floss into a waterfall to keep the water moving. The pond is in full sun so heat is an issue. Last year during our heat waves I was dumping ice into the waterfall to get the water temp around 80! Amazingly algae was never an issue. I also had a koi in there but he outgrew the pond very quickly. If you get a koi make sure you have enough space for them or a plan to move them to a larger space when necessary.


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Old 02-03-2013, 02:30 AM   #9
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Definitely don't have room for koi. I've seen lots of pre fab ponds at the hardware store, but would like something that can stay on my deck since we have foxes in the area. Thats why I was thinking of small fish like mollies or platties or guppies. Just want something "natural" looking with lots of plants. Spring is not for a while so have lots of time to do more reading.
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Old 02-03-2013, 02:53 AM   #10
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Maybe white cloud minnows? They are small and a nice golden color, and I think they can survive colder temperatures, though I'm not sure to what extent.
I keep killifish and minnows in my koi pond, but I have to bring the killies indoors when it drops to near freezing. I just use a rubbermaid tub with an air stone because in florida cold temps dont really last for more than a week, but you could keep them in there longer with a cheap filter and water changes.
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:19 PM   #11
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You could look into small native fish in your area (but you have to check local game laws about possessing them). They should be able to overwinter outside and will provide fertilizer for your plants.

Rosy reds are another option. They are captive-bred variants of the fathead minnow which is found all over the US.
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PlantedTankLover View Post
Definitely don't have room for koi. I've seen lots of pre fab ponds at the hardware store, but would like something that can stay on my deck since we have foxes in the area. Thats why I was thinking of small fish like mollies or platties or guppies. Just want something "natural" looking with lots of plants. Spring is not for a while so have lots of time to do more reading.
I've done guppies in a kiddie pond on my deck under an awning with no filtration other than an airstone and lots of floating plants. It worked out pretty well and can't wait until this spring to try some other types of small fish and plants. I threw in a 200 watt heater near the end of the summer to get a few more weeks out of them. Brought them in around late September. I have a koi pond for 19 years and they are great, but this was a really cool, fun project for my kids and I.
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Old 03-25-2014, 04:08 AM   #13
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you could get Rosy Red Minnows. It doesn't get any cheaper than them $.15 ea at your local petsmart and they're the hardiest fish I've ever seen. I was just reading post on a different forum about someone who had a container pond that froze down to the point where there was only 2" of water not frozen and he only lost 7 out of his 100 something minnows.
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