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Considering a Patio Pond - Questions

Discussion in 'Coldwater Fish and Ponds' started by IHaveADogToo, Jun 8, 2018.

  1. IHaveADogToo

    IHaveADogToo Fish Crazy
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    I'm considering one of those bowl style small patio ponds. I live in an upstairs condominium, and I have a decent sized private deck. It's not big enough for a hot tub or anything, but it would hold a 30 gallon bowl pond well. I haven't made any decisions yet, I'm just brainstorming right now.

    I live in Missouri, USDA Zone 6, so what that means is it can get pretty hot in the summer and pretty cold in the winter. Average temperature outside during the summer is in the 80's (F), but occasionally temps do reach up into the 90's. In the winter, average temps are in the teens, but do drop into the single digits for a week or 2. Summers can be somewhat dry, but it does rain a lot in spring and fall.

    My deck is not level. It slants, slightly. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to make the pond level? I cannot alter the deck itself, because I don't own my deck, the homeowner's association does, so I can't use any solution that would involve drilling, nailing, or cutting into the deck, or the exterior of the building.

    What fish work well with my climate? My tap water has a pH of around 8. I'm not really a goldfish guy, and with the size ponds I'm looking at, I don't think goldfish would be a smart choice anyway. So I'm considering smaller fish, livebearers, like mollies and platies. I'm drawn to balloon mollies, as they look great when viewed from above, like goldfish.

    Can you think of any fish species that would work well in the pond all year? Or would I be better off just getting a tropical fish and taking them indoors for the winter?

    I've never had an outdoor pond before. Should I treat the water with the same products I use to treat aquarium water, or are there different products I should be using for an outdoor patio pond? I understand that, like an aquarium, the pond will need to be cycled.

    My deck gets only indirect sunlight all morning long, and doesn't start getting direct sunlight until mid day, and then through sunset. So the deck gets roughly 6 hours of direct sunlight during the summer, 4 hours in the winter. High-light plants tend to just barely limp along on my deck; they live, they just don't thrive. Low-light plants tend to get too much sun on my deck and die. It's the medium-light plants that thrive really well for me. What outdoor pond plants would you suggest for my climate and my lighting conditions?

    Is it best to leave the patio pond running during the winter freeze, or should I break it down?

    Any and all advice is welcome and appreciated! Thanks guys!

     
  2. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    A lot of ponds have a flat base and you can use pieces of wood under the base to level it. Just use something like pine that is 3 foot long (or however wide the pond is) x about 4inches wide and 1/2inch high. You might need 2 bits high at the lowest end and 1 bit in the middle.

    Alternatively get a few sheets of polystyrene foam that is 1-2 inches thick. Use them under the pond and you can use several sheets at the lowest point and fewer sheets at the highest point. You could even use wood with polystyrene. The polystyrene foam will also help to insulate the bottom of the pond and help slow temperature fluctuations.

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    Most aquarium plants will also do well in fish ponds. If you have Amazon Sword plants in shallow areas they grow terrestrial leaves out of the water and produce a rather long flower stalk in summer. These are self fertile and you can collect the seeds and grow more plants.

    Any Hygrophilla, Ludwigia, or Bacopa species, or Ambulia will grow out of water too if given a chance. Purple or red Alteranthera is another good marsh plant that likes wet feet but wants its leaves out of water.

    Irises are another good one, wet feet and dry leaves.

    If you are really concerned about light, you could hang an LED spotlight above the pond and have it on for a few hours in the morning or night to give the plants more light.

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    You use exactly the same equipment on a pond as an aquarium so the same conditioners are used.

    All mollies come in the same colour forms so normal mollies or lyretail mollies would make a better choice than balloon mollies that have a lot of issues due to being squished up from inbreeding. Just make sure you have hard alkaline water for the mollies. If the GH is less than 250ppm then keep platies, swordtails or guppies instead of mollies. All the fish will need to be brought in during winter.

    Another option is rainbowfish. You could put a species of rainbowfish in the pond and leave them there until you see babies everywhere, then move the adults out.
     
  3. seangee

    seangee Member

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    Did you mean an unheated pond? I think the biggest challenge with such a small volume of water will be to prevent it from freezing over completely during cold snaps. You also need to make sure the surface doesn't freeze over completely. You may be able to keep cold water species by using a heater set at say 40 to prevent it freezing. I suspect it will take a lot of electricity if you go for temperates because the heater will be permanently on in winter..

    I keep my garden pond filter running all year. The bacteria go dormant but stay alive that way and the moving water ensure there is always at least a break in the ice on the surface. It may be best just to send fish out here for a summer holiday :). No you don't do anything different - but you may stuggle with algae as you have no control over the light and, if its uncovered, insects.
     
  4. IHaveADogToo

    IHaveADogToo Fish Crazy
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    @seangee - I don't know if I would use a heater or not. It just depends on the needs of the fish and what kind of temperature the water ends up stabilizing at. Over the summer I probably won't need it.

    That's not a bad idea to "send fish out for a summer holiday" to the pond. That's probably what I'll end up doing, as I'm leaning more towards tropicals than cold water fish.

    I'm kind of okay with insects on the surface of the water. That's free fish food.

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    @Colin_T - Yes, I understand that balloon mollies are more susceptible to illness, but like I said, they look really good when viewed from above. And that's kind of the selling point that I'm looking for. For that reason alone, I am eliminating guppies as a possibility, as they look best when viewed from the side, but not so much from above. Although some of the less common guppy types do look great from above, I don't think I'll have much luck getting them. The fish don't *have* to be livebearers, that's just kind of where I landed. If you know of another fish that looks great when viewed from above, that would do well in this kind of a set up and my climate, let me know. I might look into the lyretails, though. I just googled "rainbowfish top view" and I wasn't impressed. It looks beautiful from the side, though.

    I didn't know that about Amazon Swords. I have a tall Amazon Sword in one of my 10 gallon tanks and it's reached the top of the water but hasn't grown above it yet. That would be really cool to see it stem and flower above the water like you mentioned.

    I'm not super concerned about the light - I just want to make sure I don't get plants that require more light than my deck provides. I probably won't add any lighting except for maybe some of those cheap solar powered garden lamps, and those will only come on at night.

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    I've got an idea kicking around in my head for a DIY filtration system I can make using a basic water pump. I'm feeling pretty confident in the design. Since the needs are the same as they would be in an aquarium, and I have a pretty good understanding of how filtration works, I think I want to try it. I might even DIY the whole pond and make it out of a barrel. We'll just have to see what I end up doing.
     
  5. Colin_T

    Colin_T Member

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    A basic pond filter is simply a water pump with a sponge on the intake. If you have lots of big messy fish like Koi Carp and goldfish then you make a trickle filter and pump pond water into the trickle filter and let it gravity feed back into the pond. But for a few livebearers, just use a small water pump with a sponge filter on the intake.

    You can use any small water pump like an Aquaclear powerhead and attach a Quick Filter case to the pump. Remove the white filter cartridge and replace it with a round sponge from another brand of filter and away you go. You can use black poly pipe (irrigation tubing) to pump the water up a bit and have a small fountain that will aerate the water.

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    If you get a new Amazon sword plant it will usually be grown out of water and have tough leaves. These work great in shallow ponds or even as garden plants. I had mine in 25cm pot with standard potting mix, and the pot sat in a plastic tray that was about 1 inch high. I simply treated it like a normal garden plant and fertilised it with a liquid plant fertiliser called Thrive. But they are pretty tough and mine was out in full sun throughout summer and it hits 40C+ in the shade.

    In a pond you can put them in potting mix or gravel and have them in a shallow area. Or you can put them on a brick to raise them up a bit. Or you can cut a piece of polystyrene foam into a square or ring and have a hole in the middle for the pot to sit in. The plant in its pot can then float around the pond and it will have wet roots but the leaves can stay dry.
     

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