50 gallon in ground pond installed...need advice on where to go
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Old 06-21-2010, 06:05 AM   #1
talontsiawd
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50 gallon in ground pond installed...need advice on where to go


I had a few days off work and my mom wanted to setup a container pond after I showed her how easy it was to do. Well, long story short, she bought herself a 50 gallon ridged pond liner and I installed it today. It was our treat to ourselves that we did as a father's day present, though he could really care less lol.


Anyway, I have done quite a bit of research and it seems like many ponds are similar to low tech/high tech tanks, just with some differences. Talking to my mom, she want's pretty "low tech", meaning she does not want a bunch of equipment or maintenance, and will sacrifice "cool factor" for it. She is off for the summer and I am close by an don't work every day of the week so in the next week we want to lay the ground work for the area to look good but she wants to get it up and running as soon as possible.

The main thing would be fish stocking. In my research I could get a few common gold fish or more white clouds. The main reason for fish is for mesquito control. It would be nice to see them as well. I have a feeling that 2-3 goldfish will be more visable than 10 white clouds or so (can I do more in the size-50 gallons?) but I am not sure, never have done this.

That then leads to water circulation. My mom does not want a complex filter or anything. We would like to run some sort of solar powered pump preferably. Running power to the pond area is not a problem, my dad has the skills and experiences of a great contractor and build a good amount of their house. It would just be easier if we didn't have to, plus my parents are pretty "green" people. I know that stocking will be affected by the choice here so advice is very welcomed.

Other info...This will probably be pretty heavily planted, it is kind of hard not to with it's size. I live in climate zone 12, usually having highs in the mid 90's in the summer to low 30's in the winter. Occasionally it gets over 110 and lower than 30 but only a few times ever does standing water freeze. Unfortunately, the pond is in almost full sun but we may plant around the pond for shade, or just take advantage of the sun.


I have read plenty of books on this and plenty online. Many books tend to just tell you to have a pump that flows 3x more per hour than the pond and call it a day, no need for much more unless you want to. On the net, many people go much further than the books and consider it to be "necessary". I know from owning a few aquariums that books are often the same compared to the net. I also know at the end of the day, both sources are right, it all depends on what you want. For my parents, again, the simpler the better.

Any info is welcome. I am not having trouble finding good info on ponds, I am having trouble finding info on ponds this small. I should also note that my mom's sister has kept container ponds in far from idea conditions for years so my mom has that as an influence.

Personal info/oppressions, links to other sites, anything is very much appreciated. Budget is around $200-500, not including fish, plants, and the pond we have already installed. Keep in mind that running power doesn't cost more than materials and my father complaining about his "present" we gave him for my mom to enjoy.
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Old 06-25-2010, 05:31 PM   #2
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I built 2 ponds last year can see in my signature, 50G is not a lot of water. a single pond comet gets to 7" which is way to big for 50G of water, White clouds are a better choice in your climate.

Water hycinth is the best floating plant to shade the water (prevent it from over heating the fish) and it acts like a filter since it grows so fast it takes a lot of nutrients from the water. Parrots feather is also good but does not bloom like water hycinth does.

Water lillies like deep water, I would think that 50G will not be deep enought for lillies but they love full sun and bloom easily.

how deep is the 50G pond? 12"

If you don't want a filter than understock with small fish like white clouds. You need some water movement and there are many solar pumps you can get that would move water in small pond. search online for solar pumps you will find many or search for local pond stores in your area.

Up north, winter is the biggest thing to deal with which you should not have to worry about. If it get's near freezing you could use an aquarium heater to keep the temp stable in the winter. I over winter my fish under the ice and snow but ponds are 30" and 4.5" deep.
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Old 06-25-2010, 05:36 PM   #3
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Unfortunately, i don't think there's such thing as a solar-powered water pump. I guess you could get a few solar panels to power a pump, but i have a feeling that you'd need quite a few and i'm sure it would be expensive.

Water hycinth is a BEAUTIFUL plant. Definitely get some of that.
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Old 06-25-2010, 05:44 PM   #4
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lot's or companies make solar powered pumps here's one http://www.siliconsolar.com/solar-fountain-pumps.html

the are low watt pumps which is perfect for a small pond to circulate water.
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Old 06-25-2010, 06:30 PM   #5
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First, thanks for the advice on the water hycinth, such a beautiful plant. I am definitely going to look into that.

The pond is actually 17in deep. It is pretty deep for the gallons so it is deep compared to it's surface area. We than added an extra 10 gallons from ridged stream/waterfall liners. It's not much but it did increase the surface area quite a bit and will aerate the water. I made a very simple filter as well, using an Eheim filter pad which I covered with rocks at the top.

Right now, i am running a little fountain pump we had laying around. It is probably only about 50 gallons an hour max. Our plan is to buy a solar powered pump that is 210 GPH (or around that 200+ GPH). It works night and day due to a battery. I am not sure how much the GPH fluctuates over night or in different lighting conditions. My mom has been using smaller ones that are 5+ years old that are still dead reliable. I can only imagine newer, more expensive ones are better, or at least the same, so I am confident it should work. Does the GPH sound about right? From my research it does, the added strem/small waterfalls are only about an extra 8-10 in higher than the top of the pond.

As for fish, I bought 4 feeder goldfish to get some beneficial bacteria going. I had already figured that they would die and then when I went to buy some, the person at Petco said that they would not survive and were extra bad compared to what they normally would have. We all know they arn't the best for fish, especially feeder fish so you all know how that goes. I figured no big deal, that will get some ammonia going. Well, I drip acclimated them like I would for any other fish and they all survived and look super healthy. This may be a problem down in a while but for the next few years, I think it will be fine. If they all life and grow too big, I can easily get rid of them as a few private and public ponds take in overgrown cold water fish.

And for the weather. I am in the CA Bay Area (East Bay). I would say water in a container only freezes ever 3-4 winters. That would be about a few mm, never anything bad. Occasionally we will get a freak winter where it will freeze harder, maybe once every 15 years. Last winter it snowed in my area, something that never happens here. The summer is hot, 80-90 degrees consistently, but probably highs of about 75-85 for most of the summer. The early spring and late fall are in the 50-60 degree range. So, it's pretty optimal weather from my understanding compared to most other places in the US. I am not concerned to much about the weather.

Basically at this point, my main question is the pump. Is 200ish GPH about right? Most people say it is fine, some say it is too big, a few people say to go bigger. I don't think we are going with a filter at this point, other than my makeshift setup. Although my mother already ordered the pump, it is on back order until late July so we can change our minds. It doesn't have to be solar either, my dad can run power out there no problem as good or better than a hired electrician so that can be done safely. We may go that route as the solar pannels are bigger than what my mom wants, plus we can add other things if wanted/necessary. We do have 6 GFI outdoor outlets within 15 feet of the pond for temporary things.

Thanks for the help so far. Again, this is my mothers pond, I am just doing all the work for her. She is very handy and could have done it all herself, then framed a house around it if she wanted lol, but as handy as she is, she doesn't like constant projects. She will maintain it as she has to but doesn't want to add any work if it won't drastically make things better.
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Old 06-25-2010, 06:41 PM   #6
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I might have missed the location you plan in your post, but I would recomment to not place a small barrel like that in full sun. Find a nice shady spot on your patio or entry. Partial sun (shade cover of some sort) would be ok, but no direct sun. I'd use water lettuce over Water hycinth. I'd also add some Salvinia which is a great filter feeder of sorts and you can thin it out as needed to keep it growing and working for you. If you have a place to hide some minor equipment, I'd employ a small canister filter and use your solar pump to run it. or do a simple in pond filter box with some small lava rock for bio filter media and clean every month or so.
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Old 06-25-2010, 06:42 PM   #7
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200 GPH would be perfect, but you are pumping up a head of 8 to 10 " which will reduce the flow a lot since the pump is solar and likely can not deal with much head height.

If the fish load is low and fast growing plants that like sun and cover the water surface to avoid algea blooms.

I don't see why 200GPH won't work. The head height may cut the flow in half easily, so 100GPH is 2 x the pond volume.

Pond turn over rate targets are generally once every hour (50G per hour) or once every 2 hours. I think any GPH at 50G and above would be fine.

My ponds are once every hour turn over rate and I use plants to help filter (I also have pressurized filters) I get crystal clear water but I also understock the ponds to keep maintanence down.

You could also try Yellow Iris, they are a great marginal plant that takes nutrients from the water column, I plant mine bare roots and no soil to turn them into filter plants. Water hycinth are the best plant at covering the water and filtering water.

They can be used like a refrugium concept and nutrient export (I throw out garbage bags full of water hycinth because they grow so fast which means they are using up all available nutrients in the water)
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Old 06-14-2012, 04:44 AM   #8
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It's funny, I forgot about this thread entirely. I was researching to buy a new pump and stumbled upon my own thread.

I figured I would update it. First and foremost, the solar powered pump was the biggest waste of money ever. It was adjustable but at full power, it would last only 3-4 hours in full sun. I am talking absolute full sun all day, took a lot of time mounting them. This winter, it stopped working.

Bought a new pump today, it's just a 320 GPH pump I bought at OSH. Works great.

I also decided to stock the pond this year with Guppies. They will not last through Cali winters and I understand that. I was buying feeder fish and every few months the area surrounding the pond would be trashed so something is going after them. I don't have a lot of faith that all the guppies will live regardless of the winter and plan to keep the ones I like inside over the winter.

I just bought the most random colors and I hope they breed. I just want to see what happens. I know guppy fanatics don't like this but I see no harm as they will likely never enter the guppy "community" so the genetics don't really matter. I may try to selectively breed if something really awesome happens but many say the opposite happens.


I will try to take some pictures soon. I don't really worry about algae or water clarity. It gets full sun so I have plenty of green water among other things. I do like what we did around it and the algae doesn't bug me.

Just figured I would update since I stumbled upon this without knowing it existed :weird:
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Old 06-15-2012, 01:06 AM   #9
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Raccoons got my Golds. (I saw the prints on the windshield after they raided the pond)
Cats are another possibility.

I ended up with a wire cage over my pond.

Endlers were fine all summer in a pond in Milpitas, but they came in for the winter. Keep a thermometer in the pond and before it drops below 70*F (Endlers) should be brought in. I am not sure if Guppies are OK down to 70*F.

My pond is so surrounded by trees there is very little direct sun any more, but if you want some plants, let me know. I have a LOT of dwarf Myriophyllum that has lived through several winters.
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