Pond care tips, websites, advice?

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Floof

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So, we started moving into our new place yesterday, and it turns out there's a pretty good-sized pond in the back yard! See, last time I was here, the yard was covered with a foot and a half of snow, so I had no idea the pond was there... It was a pleasant surprise!

Naturally, I'm getting very excited at the prospect of maintaining a pond... Except I don't know squat about keeping fish, let alone an entire pond, which is what brings me here.

Does anyone know a good website or two (or three) to learn about maintaining a pond? And/or, any advice, tips, or general information that would be helpful?

Thanks in advance for ANY advice at all!

Oh, and here's a couple pictures of the pond... This should be fun! :)


 

DoctorCosmonaut

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I don't sorry, but where do you live/are you going to? That'll determine a lot about what can live there... looks cold to me... kinda like where I'm from.
 

Floof

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Northern Utah, just a little ways west of Salt Lake City. The temperature stays pretty consistently below freezing through winter, with plenty of snow. The last couple weeks have been abnormally warm (read: above freezing, but still not above 40F) weather, which is why it's only partially frozen over in the pictures. :)
 

Jacqui

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One of the first things you will need to do, is to see how deep that main pool is. That will determine a lot of what you can and can do. Looks like it does get some shade? Did the last folks leave anything? By that I mean like a filtration system or a pump that circulates the water?

Are you thinking plants? fish? turtles? or a combo of two, or all three?

Plus I want to add...what a lucky find! Are you renting or buying?
 

Floof

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Thanks for the response, Jacqui!! Lucky find, indeed! I was already expecting to have tons of fun with that big, beautiful (albeit overgrown) back yard, and this was just a special bonus! We're just renting, though.

How do you recommend I go about checking depth? The center of the pond was pretty well thawed today, and may still be tomorrow. Or would it be better to wait for the whole deal to thaw out before measuring depth anyway?

I don't know about shade right now. It's been pretty well overcast lately. We did get a brief minute or two of sunshine on Saturday afternoon, so I do at least know there are no sources of shade to the south of the pond. There are trees to the east and west (sort of southeast and northwest), but I don't know if they're close enough to cast a significant shadow over the pond during the day.

I don't know whether they left anything behind... I tried locating the pump outlet around the top of the waterfall today, but didn't see anything that resembled one. Would the outlet normally be mounted above the water level, or is there a chance it's just hidden under the ice? What about the filter, etc? Is there a way to tell without getting into the pond itself whether any of that is present?

Since it's probably safest to assume there's nothing there, I'll start watching the classifieds for filters and pumps, along with other supplies--they don't appear to have left anything for the pond in the house or shed.

Oh.. I hadn't even considered what, specifically to do with the pond. That might be good to think about, huh? :p I'm thinking I'll want to look into turtles and fish... Not necessarily together, but each as their own separate option. The turtle idea is MUCH more appealing, naturally. As for plants, I imagine a certain amount of plant life is best for any aquatic habitat, but I don't want to center the pond around that singular aspect... If that makes sense. :)
 

Jacqui

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Sorry I forgot to check back in on this thread.

I wouldn't do much more then planning at this stage. There could be fish down in the bottom of the pond currently, so give it some time.
Usually the pumps are kinda hidden with rocks camouflaging them. Something would need to be at the very top to be pumping the water down the stream/waterfall, so start up there. Look for where the water would first appear.
 

Floof

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Thanks for the tips, Jacqui!

After some more searching around the pond, I did find a pump... Apparently someone removed it from the pond before winter, or maybe even before they (the last people) moved out. It's a 1200 GPH sump pump and it was sitting behind the pond, covered in dead grass. I'm planning on getting a new one, though; that pump runs 5 amps of power, which, from my limited understanding, is a LOT, and it seems pond-specific pumps with the same GPH rating run closer to 1-1.5 amps... But a pump is better than no pump, that's for sure! :)

There's also a fountain head in the middle of the pond that I hadn't noticed before, as well as some tubing I assume goes to the pump system (neatly coiled and tucked under a rock behind the raised flower bed/waterfall), and I found out the pond is at least 18" deep... Under at least 10" of muck and mud, so I guess I'll be doing quite a bit of cleaning come spring, lol!

I've been doing some reading, and getting advice from people on a couple pond forums, and so far I've decided I'm going to put together a DIY bio-filter for it, since, even if there is anything down there, there's no telling whether it's adequate or even works... Still in the planning stages, of course. I probably won't start anything until things warm up and I can get a better idea of what's going on down there.

This has been an interesting experience so far, and I'm still just in the planning/learning stages! Can't wait for spring, and to get it all cleaned up and running! :D
 

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One word of warning - that is a beautiful sized pond for a few goldfish, but it is NOT large enough for koi. You should have 1,000 gallons MINIMUM when dealing with koi. They can reach 3-4' live to be 25-200 years old :)

And as far as goldfish - single-tails, such as commons, comet, shubunkins, and double-tailed wakin and watonai are the best choices for ponds. Double-tailed fancies, especially celestials, pearlscales, moors and demekins, lionheads and ranchu are too delicate to handle the colder temps in winter. If you want to do those types of fancies, it is best to set up a large stock tank in a basement and over-winter them indoors. Some orandas and ryukin can do alright outdoors, as well as "fantails" which is a catch all term for any double-tail that does not fit the standards of the specific varieties mentioned above.

Top-view ranchu and tosakin are great visually for ponds, but are expensive and must be overwintered indoors.

(If you hadn't guessed, I can help you with fish care ;) )

If it was me, I would put a short but sturdy fence around it and adopt a couple of unwanted basking turtles off Craigslist :D :D Toss in a dozen or so "feeder" goldfish, selecting them for color and pattern, and call it good!
 

terryo

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I would definitely make it a turtle pond. My pond was 1,000 gal and could only accommodate a few koi. If you put a fence around the pond with some land area with plenty of plants, and one side with loosened up soil, and in the fall put plenty of leaf litter, the turtles can hibernate outside too. So much fun....

This is my 1,000 gal pond and you can see the size of the orange Koi in there. Five was the most that I had in there.


This is only a 60 gal pond, that had one Eastern Painted in it.


There is a lot you can do with that pond to make it beautiful. You were so lucky to find that there.
 

Floof

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Thanks!! Terry, gorgeous pics, as usual, and Kristina, thanks for the info about fish!

I think I've pretty much decided that I'm going to do EXACTLY that: A turtle pond!!! I'll probably only do a couple, so I don't risk getting overwhelmed if we move and/or I decide to overwinter them indoors, though. And, of course, plenty of nice-looking "feeder" goldies... Heck, it's not like there's any shortage of unwanted RES around here (unfortunately).

Terry, do basking turtles hibernate above water? I had read that turtles, at least RES, hibernate at the bottom of ponds, in a layer of mud and leaves... It'd be nice if I could hibernate them outdoors, to lessen my winter workload, but I wouldn't want to do it if it posed a health risk, which is why I'm asking...
 

Jacqui

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Not sure your pond is going to be deep enough to overwinter them in. Just be sure to keep in mind those little feeders will grow. :D My RES outside were too lazy to eat the live fish, only the dead ones.:D So the little ten cent fish have grown up and have populated the buried hot tub with a huge school of youngsters.:D

The sliders are certainly always in need of homes and they do make a pond look so awesome with their basking.
 

Floof

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Haha, Jacqui, good point! Okay... Note to self: Do not overstock the pond with baby fishies!

OK, so hibernation is a concern, at least here. In that case, I'll stick with the original plan of overwintering indoors. Someday when I have a permanent yard, I can set to work making a nice turtle pond deep enough for hibernation. Fun! :p
 

redfoot925

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Is it a strong filter? Most regret with a pond you may ever have is buying a cheap filter, worth the extra money
 

Floof

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Redfoot925: I'm not completely sure I understand the question... In any case, the filter I found in the pond later on looked like a very small, likely ineffective filter, though now that things have thawed out, it looks like the purpose of the pond is/was bog plants (I believe they're called??), so that would explain all the "muck," the pond being so shallow, and maybe even the small filter. If I go through with the project, I'll go big on the filter, and the bio-filter (using a 100 or so gallon stock tank) is supposed to be a very effective one.

I don't know where this project is going, really. In light of recent events, we won't be staying in this house much longer--at the latest, next January. With this in mind, I'm not sure it's worth the time, effort, and money to restore the pond, and certainly not permanent enough to justify getting any RES and being stuck with a big indoor tank in the not too distant future... It's disappointing, but this brief experience at least has me thinking more about preparations come that point in time that I will be ready for a turtle pond. :)
 
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