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A beautiful outdoor pond, decorated with plants and inhabited by colourful koi or chunky sturgeon, is something quite special.
There are not many things in life that can catch your eye, and attention, for such long periods of time. Totally lost in the movement and elegance of the swimming fish.
The key, single most important thing to consider is to not rush things.
I personally would recommend that you cycle the pond for a minimum of 4 weeks. Dosing lightly with ammonia daily to simulate fish waste in the pond.
Bacteria eat fish waste and ammonia, so by adding ammonia you are kick starting your filters. This avoids losing fish from ammonia toxicity and swinging water parameters.
Remember that constructing a pond is not always necessarily cheap. Plan ahead to avoid running into any problems half way through and not having enough to complete!
Consider water features, labour, pond fish food, water change costs, etc.
Location, location, location:
- Do not build a pond underneath trees, unless you want to spend your time collecting leaves. Those leaves will rot and release ammonia into the water.
- Make sure there are no gas pipes or electrical cords running in the area you wish to dig and install your pond.
- Avoid moist/wet ground, spots of earth that always seem to stay muddy.
- Do look for a level area to build your pond.
- Ensure that the location receives plenty of sunlight throughout the day.
- Try to place it somewhere you can easily view from your home, and consider seating arrangements.
How big? What shape?:
This is really up to each individual and the space you are working with. I always followed these two guidelines:
Keep it natural!
Bigger the better!
As a minimum guideline, consider which fish you are going to purchase and use that as the smallest size possible for your pond.
Types of ponds:
The simplest way to get this done is with a pre-formed pond. Simply dig a whole and drop it in. You find those here:
You can also get a more customised shape or style using a liner. It adds a lot of work, but it is well worth the flexibility to build your pond EXACTLY how you want.
Same as before, keep it natural. Decorate the rim with stones, plants or statues. Aquatic plants can be kept in the water, and help with filtering out some of the fish waste.
Consider a water feature, maybe a bridge crossing the pond, honestly you can make a simple pond look like something VERY special by adding in the right combination of decorative items.
A personal favourite of mine is the water fall feature.
Choosing a filter:
Again, you will need to consider what fish you are getting, how heavily stocked your pond will be, etc.
Aim to circulate your whole ponds capacity once per hour.
1,000L pond would use a 1000L per hour pump.
10,000L pond would use a 10,000L per hour pump.
I always go bigger. Better safe than sorry, especially if you are stocking high quality Japanese koi, or large sturgeon fish.
Connect the pump to a big old pond fish waterfall filter or to some sort of external canister-style filter and you are almost good to go!
Consider adding a UV sterilizer to help eliminate green water and aid in creating ideal pond conditions for your fish and plants.
Cycling your pond:
Too much fish waste in your pond, and it will start causing deaths.
Water changes are good, but by cultivating live beneficial bacteria in our filtration systems, we are able to maintain low levels of ammonia, nitrate and nitrite.
Here is how we build the ammonia-eating bacteria colony:
1. Add matured media from another filter. Ask a friend if they will give you some, maybe your local fish shop can spare some.
2. Get a large bucket / container.
3. Fill your container with your filter media.
4. Attach an aquarium heater.
5. Fill with de-chlorinated water, not all the way to the top.
6. Dose with ammonia. Aim for a product that has above 8% ammonia.
7. Add small amounts of ammonia to your media/water.
8. Add a little bicarbonate of soda to buffer the water.
9. Test your water after 1-2 days.
10. Keep dosing ammonia and testing until the bacteria neutralizes ammonia within 24 hours.
11. Increase your doses, for 2-3 weeks.
However, now we will have a whole bunch of nitrite. I’ll explain how to build a colony of bacteria for that too!:
1. Empty all the water from the container.
2. Rinse it out and refill with de-chlorinated water.
3. Redose with ammonia same as you did the first time you dosed with ammonia.
4. This time, the next day you will test your nitrite reading.
5. Repeat the same process as with the ammonia, but testing for nitrite. Keep adding ammonia until the nitrite is being consumed at a similar rate as the ammonia.
Once your media is able to neutralise the ammonia and nitrite produced from 30-40ml of ammonia liquid per L, every 24 hours, you are ready to stock your tank!
The best part! You finally get to go out a get yourself some fish.
I recommend acclimating your fish to your ponds water quality. You can do this by:
Floating the bag in the water, and adding water from your pond bit by bit to the bag.
You can empty the water and fish into a container, and mix the water in there.
We do this to avoid shocking the fish with a big change of water parameters.
And now? Enjoy your hard work.
Post pictures of your ponds on our social media pages! Feel free to email us any questions.