Many requirements for proper pond maintenance are similar to that of an indoor aquarium. The main difference is that a pond is not a self-contained, artificially controlled environment like an aquarium. Instead of a see-through habitat with a lid, the pond is an interactive part of an uncontrolled environment that is affected by all of its natural surroundings. Assuming your pond is now constructed and ready to run, here are some basic tips that will keep your head well above water and your toes away from the sharks.
Ten Steps To A Thriving, Self-Contained Pond
1.) Give a lot of thought to placement when building your pond. Avoid areas where direct sunlight is the rule and not the exception. Seek out an area that is at least partially shaded by trees or other objects. If the pond is in direct sunlight, the temperature will be higher than recommended. On the other hand, if the pond NEVER gets sun then you may have a never-ending battle with algae and chemical imbalances.
2.) Aquatic plants are a NECESSITY with a pond. A pond functions its best when nature’s balance is replicated. Aside from natural beauty, aquatic plant life will control algae and also assist with oxygenating the water. No matter how diligent you are with your pond maintenance there may be the occasional algae outbreak. Fortunately there are many products available to the everyday hobbyist and they work quite well. But remember, it is wise to use these chemicals sparingly; Mother Nature always does best in the long run.
3.) Although a fish pond is a much larger body of water than an aquarium, the same rules still apply when stocking fish. In almost all scenarios, you will be stocking your pond with either goldfish or Koi, both of which can grow quite large and have a VERY long life span. Since both varieties of fish are well known for being messy eaters mechanical, chemical and biological filtrations are required. The basic idea, when choosing a variety of fish, is to pick species that have the same fin type, body shape, handicaps and impairments. For instance, a Black Moor Goldfish and a Comet Goldfish would not make good pond mates. Moors are infamous for having enormously flowing fins and an awkward style of eating due to its eyesight and round body shape. A Comet on the other hand has much better sight, is much quicker and will consume the food before the Moor will get anywhere near it. An ideal pond mate for a Koi or Goldfish would be a Rudd, Orfe, cold-water Minnows and Plecos, Tench and Stone, Hill Stream and Weather Loaches.
4.) The amount of food that is fed to your fish should be based on water temperature. During the warmer seasons your fish should be fed more often due to increased activity. Yet, during the colder months, they may not eat very much at all. Overfeeding during this time is very easy to do. Due to their inactivity in near freezing water, much of the food will go uneaten and will contaminate the pond.
5.) Goldfish and Koi can acclimate themselves to a wide range of temperatures, as long as they are gradual temperature changes. Pond fish are so durable they can even survive cold winters, as long as the pond water freezes on the surface only. This is easily accomplished by maintaining a continuous water flow and proper filtration.
6.) Not only does adequate water movement prevent freezing, but also helps oxygenate the water and aides in removing chemicals and contaminants due to the surrounding environment. By maintaining a gentle current in the pond the nutrients are evenly distributed throughout the water and prevents the water from becoming stagnant and infested with insects. This is paramount, stagnant water will become a breeding grounds for both harmful algae and disease carrying insect larvae. By placing an aesthetically pleasing waterfall or fountain in the pond not only adds a beautiful oriental-like atmosphere but also aids in the goal to create maximum water flow.
7.) As was stated earlier, the same rules apply to ponds that apply to home aquariums, which means a pond MUST be cycled as well. When a new pond is installed, the filtration system is immature. Regular ammonia, nitrite/nitrate and pH tests must be done for 4-6 weeks BEFORE any fish are added to the water. Once the cycling process is complete and the fish are added, you will still need to practice regular water testing for optimum living conditions.
8.) One of the MANY advantages of a fishpond is the regularly scheduled water changes are, for the most part, handled by everyday weather conditions. One of the few times water changes may take place is during a drought, where evaporation plays a large part in chemical imbalances. Needless to say, when water levels are low, more MUST be added to keep water volume ideal for plants and fish.
9.) Remove visible debris from the pond with a net on a regular basis. Do not let dirt, mud and rocks fall into the pond. Keep leaves and other foreign objects out by placing a rock like path or border around the pond. This will cut down on the amount of debris that could be accidentally kicked in by an admirer or neighborhood pet attempting to grab a quick snack.
10.) When all of these guidelines are utilized, a healthy growth of aquatic plants will flourish on the surface. This will provide your fish with shade from excessive heat and offer coverage from predatory birds and animals.
Creating a beautiful pond in your backyard is an extremely fulfilling hobby. Simply implement a timely maintenance schedule and you can enjoy a private, secluded getaway that will melt away everyday stress with each passing fish.