Low-to-no maintenance pond in greenhouse - The Planted Tank Forum
 
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-26-2017, 11:00 PM Thread Starter
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Low-to-no maintenance pond in greenhouse

(edited Jan 2nd, no longer trying to go for a largely self-sufficient pond)

I got a greenhouse for Christmas, which, clearly, I'm excited about. I'm going to keep cacti and succulents, which I've always wanted a garden of but haven't been able to keep because they would freeze in winter. I also want a pond, partly as a heat sink to help keep the temperature stable, and partly for cool fish.

I have a 110 gallon pond form, set on the floor of the greenhouse. It has a gravel substrate right now, and I'm thinking of adding in some sand and pecan leaves. Right now, it has some clay pots in it propped up by cinderblocks for marginal plants, plus a sunken pot for water lilies. I'm going to plant irises and reeds in the marginal plant pots, a water lily (with its substrate covered) in at least one pot, and hornwort + duckweed over the surface. Might try a sword plant or two. I also have a bog filter in progress, which will be jammed with plants, and the input is probably going to have a filter pad under it to catch some of the gunk. I'll pull and compost excess of the floating plants as nitrate sinks.

There'll be an auto-feeder over the pond with small fish pellets in it, so they'll be fed daily, and will have plenty of bugs to eat. I'm going to create some heavily planted areas to act as, hopefully, in-pond refugiums for the assorted tasty bugs to breed in.

I'm in Central Texas, so we have summer temps of 100+ degrees, and winter temps don't tend to dip below freezing too often. The greenhouse will be lined with bubble wrap in winter to keep the heat in, so it'll stay above freezing. It's under some trees, so it'll be shaded in summer, and I might add further shade cloth if it gets too hot. I'll do small water changes now and then with a bucket to water the plants, but probably not enough to actually count.

My current stocking plan is (edit) giant danios, potentially some sailfin mollies, and 1 common goldfish. I have 5 giant danios in QT right now, but they aren't going out until I have the greenhouse insulated and it gets a bit less ridiculously cold.

Would a common goldfish be happy on its own? I don't know how social they are, but I really don't want to have to worry about them breeding and overpopulating.


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My current project, a 65 gallon aquarium stocked with vernal pool fauna.

Last edited by Betta132; 01-03-2018 at 05:41 AM. Reason: Clarification, different goals.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-27-2017, 12:12 AM
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1) Goldfish are not compatible with planted tanks. They dig up, eat, and destroy most aquatic plants. Even without plants, goldfish are messy fish that create a lot of waste, require frequent water changes. If you want low-maintanence, this is not a good choice.

2) Even with just the white cloud minnows, you cannot create a self-sustaining ecosystem that will provide enough naturally growing food for fish in a mere 110 gallons. Shrimp yes, but not fish. Without an external supply of food, fish will quickly strip a container of copepods. Algae does not have enough protein to keep most fish (particularly white clouds) alive and healthy. To the extent that some fish can eat some algae, the algae that cannot be eaten gets a competitive advantage and will displace the edible algaes. Some fish, like ottos, can be sustained with algae, but still most fish keepers recommend supplementing with algae tabs to ensure a balanced diet.

3) If you want low maintenance, consider stocking no fish at all. It doesn't sound like you want to keep any high maintenance plants - you could meet their needs with a simple weekly squirt of liquid ferts. Use dirt and you wouldn't even have to dose - just top off for evaporation and remove excess duckweed. Collect some water from a wild pond to populate your water with copepods for algae control.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-27-2017, 12:37 AM Thread Starter
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1: I've seen planted goldfish ponds, the plants just have to be deeply rooted and surrounded by gravel. The pond at my local garden center has a ton of goldfish and even more plants, though they have it planted only with hornwort, duckweed, and reeds. I could go with just floaters and potted marginal plants. And is a 110 really too small to handle one goldfish worth of waste? I've seen ponds that couldn't have been more than a couple hundred gallons with multiple goldfish in them, seeming healthy as far as I could tell.

2: This wouldn't be a self-sustaining closed ecosystem, the greenhouse wouldn't be a sealed enclosure (especially not in summer) and would let bugs in. That aside, I just found an auto-feeder in my closet, and it still works. I can use that. What should I put in there? Just a standard high-quality pellet food?

3: I do want fish, really, I just have low blood pressure that means I have low energy most of the time. I want a setup that won't suffer if I don't have the spoons to work with it for a couple days. Definitely going to get some water and gunk from a local pond to add microorganisms, though I'll have to be careful not to bring in toebiters. Those are nasty things.

I can make in-tank refugiums with plastic mesh to keep sections of hornwort out of reach of the fish, that'd help the bugs multiply and not all be eaten. I could also just cram a few areas too full of hornwort for fish to get in. If I do that and add the auto-feeder, what can I keep in here? I'm thinking white clouds because I know they aren't tropical, but I'm open to other suggestions. I'd really like a goldfish, but if that isn't possible, I can go with just little fish.

EDIT: Forgot to mention, but this is going to have a filter of some variety, and I'll clean out the filter pads during the weekly waterings. I assume that'll help with handling the waste.


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My current project, a 65 gallon aquarium stocked with vernal pool fauna.

Last edited by Betta132; 12-27-2017 at 01:24 AM. Reason: Further clarification.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-27-2017, 02:51 AM
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Lotus, lilies, amazon frogbit, dwarf water lettuce, ludwigia repens are about the only thing that survives in my pond with just 2 goldfish.

You should start the pond in spring, let it run for a month or two for the plants to get a head start and then add minnows. You will need to feed the fish, but feeding is fun. With sunlight super charging those plants I end up with no ammonia, nitrite nitrate. Heck even in the winter with less sunlight I still don't see any nitrate on my test. I think at the least you need a sponge filter or air stone to create some kind of water movement.

I don't water change my pond, but in the summers I water my plants with pond water and top off with dechlorinated tap.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-27-2017, 03:27 AM
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I had a pond similar to your size pond. I had a outside round filter box with a short pvc stand to hold the filter media. The pump in the pond pumped water from the pond to the bottom of the filter box and flowed back into the pond. I had about 12 3in goldfish. After the initial set up and pea soup faze the water leveled out and was very clear yr round. During summer months I would toss in food daily in winter about once a week. I had duck weed, water lettuce and hyacinth. Cleaned filter box once a year. Hope this helps.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 12-28-2017, 02:06 AM Thread Starter
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@elle-8b, how big did your goldfish get, and how long did they live?


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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-03-2018, 05:43 AM Thread Starter
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Updated my first post. Any thoughts?

Basically, I'm just asking if a single goldfish and some assorted minnow-esque fish would do well in a heavily planted pond with no water changes. I thought about fancy goldfish, but fancies don't look right, it's like they've been artificially selected for scoliosis. I don't trust that they aren't in pain from how their bodies are made.


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-03-2018, 07:22 AM
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Just throw some cheap livebearers in there. If you can grow greenwater then even better. They should population self-limit.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-04-2018, 12:45 AM Thread Starter
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I know that's an option, but I like goldfish, and I want to know if I can keep one in proper conditions in this pond. More specifically, what would it take? Am I looking at just a filter upgrade? And, if it's doable, is a single goldfish going to be OK on its own, or do they need companions?


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My current project, a 65 gallon aquarium stocked with vernal pool fauna.

Last edited by Betta132; 01-04-2018 at 04:22 AM. Reason: Clarification.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-05-2018, 04:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Betta132 View Post
I know that's an option, but I like goldfish, and I want to know if I can keep one in proper conditions in this pond. More specifically, what would it take? Am I looking at just a filter upgrade? And, if it's doable, is a single goldfish going to be OK on its own, or do they need companions?
You can keep about 4-5 goldfish in 110 gallon pond with a good filtration system long term.

You'll need to plan on a few things. First off the filter will need to have a pretty high flow. 500gph or more is preferable with at least 5 gallon capacity for media. You can buy a commercial one or do a DIY setup. Some of the large canister filters may work.

You'll also want to have a way to do frequent water changes. I do a 15% weekly water change my 5,000 gallon pond when I am feeding. For a pond that small I would plan on 40-50% weekly. It's just like an aquarium.

Ponds turn into green soup easily so having plants is a good idea. All sorts of marginals will work. Their is a large selection of types you can use. They also really help keeping the nutrients low. A small lotus would be good but they are tropical and can't stand a freeze.




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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 01-11-2018, 01:43 AM
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Betta132 Sorry for the slow reply. I am setting up my first nano planted aquarium. Back to your question, My gold fish purchased as feeder fish at the local store would grow to 4 to 5 inches with beautiful flowing tails. I never had any problems of survival except when the herons came calling. One "Big Boy" solid white goldfish lived over 3 yrs. until the heron. I had others "Pearl" was over 2yrs. Hope this helps. I can post pics when I am allowed.
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