Need ideas for box turtle pond

Barber25

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I have an outdoor enclosure (it was a garden) that has been converted to a Box Turtle year round home. (in central Michigan) It is about 20' by 20' and it has turned into a jungle of 4 ft. tall weeds. I would like to put in a pond..Im thinking about 3 ft by 8 ft, and about 2 or 3 ft deep at deepest point. I was planning on some type of liner along the bottom. can the pond by relied on as the drinking source for the turtle(s) or would it need some type of filtering /cleaning system ? There's probably more to this whole process than I thought, so just trying to learn from all the experiences of others. I just have seen how dirty the plastic saucer I'm currently using for dipping and drinking gets.
 
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Yvonne G

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I have an outdoor enclosure (it was a garden) that has been converted to a Box Turtle year round home. (in central Michigan) It is about 20' by 20' and it has turned into a jungle of 4 ft. tall weeds. I would like to put in a pond..Im thinking about 3 ft by 8 ft, and about 2 or 3 ft deep at deepest point. I was planning on some type of liner along the bottom. can the pond by relied on as the drinking source for the turtle(s) or would it need some type of filtering /cleaning system ? There's probably more to this whole process than I thought, so just trying to learn from all the experiences of others. I just have seen how dirty the plastic saucer I'm currently using for dipping and drinking gets.
I just sweep mine out with the broom every morning.
 

jeff kushner

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Wow, your halfway to UP! I grew up in Ann Arbor and I still had to look at a map...lol

A bit chilly up there BUT, a pond is relatively easy considering you have such a nice large space. I say relatively because IMHO it's easier to find a "balance" in cooler temps than warmer. The trick is primarily make it so everyone can get out safely, from nearly anywhere on the perimeter, that will "keep you honest".

Since you have space, don't get carried away trying to make the pond too large or you will increase evaporation substantially. You also have to find the "mean water level" vs. SF of surface area you need where nature will refill it before it gets lower than your solar fountain can pump. Yes, I'm going to try one in Matilda's (yearling boxer) new outdoor enclosure. I don't know others experience with them but I'll try a small one just to see. Seems like a good solution, if it works worth a darn.

The other part of the equation for you as a pond builder is the plants that will work to keep it clean and live in the Artic up there- lol. Snails are fantastic cleaners and can provide a snack for your guys on occasion, when they catch them. I may tease about the climate but I used to swim in Lake Superior...completely swim! Now I'm a putz, cold water......yuck.

FWIW my outside pond here in MD was hourglass 5.5ft x 2.5ft x 2ft descending to about 2.5ft at one end. We posted 1" squares steel mesh to the dug out shape to form it , then used concrete to make it. It never ran out of water. I'd suggest you look at some of the ones posted in the Sticky's......there are a lot of folks who have built some fantastic ponds!

good luck
 

m irwin

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here's my two cents on this. My first try for a pond was using a pond liner bought at Lowe's, but I wouldn't really recommend it. The liner you have to fold and configure to your pond shape and the folds don't look too good. Plus, stuff gets caught under them (like turtle poop, leaves, etc....) and makes it harder to clean out. Primarily though the pond liner drawback is it's slippery and the turtles can't get in and out of the water if there is any slope to it. I had to add in a bunch of rocks and such to make sure they could get out and all those rocks and such made clean out hard. I ended up having to drain the thing down once a week and blasting a hose all around the rocks and folds in the liner to get all the debris and poop out, and refill. It was a lot of work. So this season, I went another route. I took out the liner, and instead laid down a thin concrete bowl using the "maximizer" concrete product from Lowe's. easy to smooth out into any shape pond you have. the hardest part was mixing the concrete with the water - the stuff comes in an 80 pound bag and is heavy. once it dried, i coated over it with "flexseal" clear and it appears to be watertight. I don't need it totally water tight as a quick squirt of the hose fills it back up, but you get the idea. The good thing about the concrete is it's super "grippy" so the turtles can get in and out on their own and I don't have to worry about drowning. Also, no folds or other problems with the liner. Also, no worries about liner punctures from roots, etc... Concrete solves all that. And if I want to change it around, make pond bigger, smaller, whatever, easy to dig up since only a half inch thick and start over. Hopefully this will work long term as the pond liner deal was a lot of work to keep clean. the turtles loved it, but it was too much work for me! hope that helps.
 

Barber25

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sounds like advice that will save me alot of grief....looking for simplicity
 

MEEJogja

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There are pros and cons of both, a problem with a concrete pond is sealing it is tricky. You must seal it with something to prevent the cement reacting with the water and changing the pH. The sealers I have come across sit in a rubbery layer on the surface and do not stand up to much damage.
You also need to let concrete/cement cure for WEEKS which is very frustrating.
Liners certainly have their place and are easier in many ways.
I would always install a pump and filter with a pond of that size, even if it is just a cheap $20 pump, sponge filter combo.
 

mark1

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i've used a 20 gallon home depot cement tub , with an undergravel filter and an external diy filter for 7 young box turtles for the last 3-4yrs , seems to work just fine ..... i try to clean it once a year , the gravel and the external filter at a different time so as not to disturb the biological filtration too much ...... i overflow it once in awhile with a 5 gallon bucket of fresh water , and rain also overflows it .......i left it run all winter and actually haven't cleaned it this year .....

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big box turtles got a 20 gallon cement tub with a drain ..... been like this for probably at least 10yrs , takes a couple minutes to change 20gallons .......when the tub starts leaking i'll go the pond ,undergravel and external filter route .....

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jeff kushner

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Beautifully simple setup Mark!

but
"..when the tub starts leaking"

Won't that be time for Flex Seal? Hell, if they can build a boat from it......LOL
 

mark1

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Beautifully simple setup Mark!

but
"..when the tub starts leaking"

Won't that be time for Flex Seal? Hell, if they can build a boat from it......LOL
i'm a fan of simple ........i will not forget that suggestion , i'm amazed it hasn't cracked yet , it has to be brittle by now ..... depending on what's going on when it finally does give out , that would be a handy solution ...... i do want to put a pond in the adult box turtle pen at some point ....... i have access to large sections of stainless mesh and expanded metal , i've made some pretty large undergravel filters ....... they sure seems to me to be unbeatable , my ponds are low low low maintenance .... i've never had less than crystal clear water in any pond i've had no matter how many turtles , with minimal cleaning ...... i've not cleaned 2 of my ponds in 2yrs , i've not cleaned any of the 5 external filters since 2019 , couple got trees growing in them .......i'll probably get them all this summer ........
 

m irwin

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i'm a fan of simple ........i will not forget that suggestion , i'm amazed it hasn't cracked yet , it has to be brittle by now ..... depending on what's going on when it finally does give out , that would be a handy solution ...... i do want to put a pond in the adult box turtle pen at some point ....... i have access to large sections of stainless mesh and expanded metal , i've made some pretty large undergravel filters ....... they sure seems to me to be unbeatable , my ponds are low low low maintenance .... i've never had less than crystal clear water in any pond i've had no matter how many turtles , with minimal cleaning ...... i've not cleaned 2 of my ponds in 2yrs , i've not cleaned any of the 5 external filters since 2019 , couple got trees growing in them .......i'll probably get them all this summer ........
Mark, great pics but not sure I really understand how that thing works... It looks like you have a shut off vavle a few feet away from the pond. What does it do? How does it interact with the "pond"?
 

mark1

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under the rocks in the cement tub is a drain , it runs into the buried garbage can , the valve , the can is full of holes ...... the tub is 20 gallons , the garbage can is 55 gallons , the drain is 3" pvc ,it drains 20 gallons in less than a minute ,there is room in the 55gallon can so i can also rinse out the tub ....... i've had buried tubs i needed to dump ,they never go back in the hole they came out of the same as they were , 20 gallons is pretty heavy ,your not getting it out a hole without spilling it , which washes dirt back in the hole ...... a pond is def a better idea , but this was easy and quick and has worked well for longer than i ever expected ........
 
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