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I now have the first opportunity I've ever had, since getting into planted FW aquaria, to start some growout tubs outside. The problem is, I don't know where to start!

The only thing I have so far been able to imagine is that I can get some pond liners and lay them on the ground, without digging any earth away, and fill them with some type of aquatic soil, like Schultz for instance. But then what?

I've visited a local aquatic nursery several times and admired their setup, which is essentially a bunch of interconnected concrete "ponds" with a recirculating water setup. But they are a commercial facility so obviously I can't duplicate them too closely for my needs.

I want to keep it as simple as possible, while at the same knowing that it will require a good amount of daily maintenance. That's okay by me, I need a few outdoor projects. But I really don't know too much about the routines or requirements of an outdoor aquatic plant setup.

Here are the few points that are confusing me at the moment:

1) Do I really need to recirculate the water? I have a natural pond in my back yard that doesn't recirculate, and it has a an entire carpet of dwarf hairgrass on its shores that looks so healthy, I've even considered pulling some out to put in my tanks! (I chose not to only because I didn't want to go through the trouble of disinfecting any parasites or critters or whatever).

2) How much natural light am I going to want to provide? Parts of my yard are in full sunlight, while other parts are completely shaded. Do I shoot for a half and half mix of the two? Does it depend, as I suspect, on the specific plants? I've just never grown any aquatic plants under the great halide-in-the-sky before, so the unknowns are driving me crazy.

3) I don't want to deal with too much algae or surface scum, and I know this sort of pertains to my point #1, but provided I don't have to recirculate the water, would just some gambusia and/or other surface dwellers like mollies or least killifish be able to keep these at bay?

4) Will I need to fertilize the water in addition to the nutrients that come in the aquatic soil? I suspect I will, at least for plants that aren't heavy root feeders. But if so, how different is the theory behind fertilizing a "pond" as opposed to an aquarium?

5) In case you haven't figured it out now, I'm trying to avoid recirculating water just so I can avoid using electricity. But if I do need to recirculate, is there such a thing as a solar powered pond pump?

Hmmm. I think I covered the most pressing questions I have, but I'm sure there are plenty more. One more thing I'm concerned about is making sure that these tubs won't be poisonous or dangerous to any of the wildlife that frequents our property. I'm talking about LOTS of frogs and birds, and all sorts of beneficial insects.

If anyone is reading this, and would like to offer some advice, or share some personal experience, I'm all ears.

Thanks. :)
 
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