Accidental pondkeeper

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by koshki, Oct 18, 2013.

  1. koshki

    koshki

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    Hi, I've been lurking for a bit, and decided to introduce myself.

    I've been gardening for a few years, since we moved into our wheelchair accessible home in 2009. I grow orchids and tomatoes and a variety of perennials, feed my birdies and otherwise enjoy the summers outdoors, putzing in my garden.

    Early this spring, the old, cement two-tier water fountain that we inherited when we moved in began to disintegrate. It was situated on a two-tier cement apron in a corner of our yard. While I was pondering what to replace it with, I happened to notice some ledge stone left over from another project that was stacked up in a different corner and thought, "Hmmmmmm. Honey, wouldn't that ledge stone make a nice waterfall slash bird bath?" Pond Before.jpg

    The biggest problem I could see was that the best solution would be to remove the cement apron before digging. But my DH, who does an awful lot around the house, was not likely to be willing to swing a sledge hammer to bust up and haul out that cement. So we tried to come up with a solution that would situate the "bird bath" over the cement apron.

    Getting completely confused about all the parts and elements I would need, I decided to buy a "Happy Koi Pond kit", complete with pump, skimmer, filter falls, liner and underlayment. It turned out to be way more than we needed.

    Pond construction 1.jpg This shows the first course of retaining wall that DH built for behind the falls.

    Pond Construction 2.jpg The skimmer was the biggest surprise, as in WAY bigger than I had envisioned. We had to excavate an area to the right of the apron to put it in (it's the area with woodchips in the foreground of the before photo.) In this photo you can see part of the walkway we installed around the yard for my wheelchair. The apron butts right up to it.

    Pond Construction 3.jpg We had a lot of discussion about how far above ground we could go. Here you can see the sandstone slabs we used to create the boundaries. Because I wanted to be able to see "inside" the pond from the house from my wheelchair, we couldn't go as high up as I would have liked.

    Pond Construction 4.jpg The liner went over the underlayment, which we thought was important because it would be sitting on such a hard surface, not dirt.

    Pond Construction 5.jpg Starting to build the falls.

    Pond Construction 6.jpg Situating the water fall.

    Pond Construction 7.jpg It works!

    Pond Construction 8.jpg My best friend helped me with the "decorating" by helping place all the decorative rocks and plants. Then, while picking up some cat food with my DH, I said, "What do you think of putting in a couple goldfish?" We lost quite a few to a pesky raccoon until I put in the plants and we made some "caves" for the fish to hide in. They've been safe since. You can see the falls on the right has turned black from algae. That is before I learned the wonder of barley pellets.

    Pond Construction 9.jpg A week after adding the barley, the black algae was gone.

    I hesitate to call this a pond, because we've only got about 50 or 60 gallons in there, and the deepest part is right in front of the skimmer...the majority is only 6 inches deep, and the upper step is less than an inch.

    But we have fallen in love this with pond, and have had far more enjoyment from this than the old fountain.

    Those itty bitty 28-cent feeder fish are now 3 and 4 inches long. Now I'm worried about how they will survive the winter.

    DH has put his foot down. No aquariums.
     
    koshki, Oct 18, 2013
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  2. koshki

    Kristi Kelty

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    I think you did a BEAUTIFUL job on this! Love the waterfall. You had a lot of good things to work with it appears~ Nice job!
     
    Kristi Kelty, Oct 18, 2013
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  3. koshki

    koshki

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    Thanks Kristi! It came out even better than I had imagined, and we didn't even get into a fight over it! (Well, not a big one, anyway!)
     
    koshki, Oct 18, 2013
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  4. koshki

    Kristi Kelty

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    HaHa! Ya that is the best part! ;)
     
    Kristi Kelty, Oct 18, 2013
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  5. koshki

    dieselplower

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    It sounds like the entire thing will freeze solid in the Winter. Good luck.
     
    dieselplower, Oct 18, 2013
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  6. koshki

    Kristi Kelty

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    Dieselpower-- Because it is only 6" deep?
     
    Kristi Kelty, Oct 18, 2013
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  7. koshki

    koshki

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    Do you think that using a pond heater would keep it from freezing? I've used a heated bird bath with good results. I know they are just cheapie fish, but they have grown nicely for me, and I would be sad to lose them.
     
    koshki, Oct 18, 2013
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  8. koshki

    JohnHuff Friends call me Dr. Sir John Huff

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    That's what I said, now I have two!

    First, welcome to the forum!
    Your pond looks great!
    Having said that, 6 inches is too shallow, it will freeze for sure, depending on how cold it gets in MI. Now's the time to talk to DH to get the indoor aquariums ready to bring your babies in for the Winter.
     
    JohnHuff, Oct 18, 2013
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  9. koshki

    koshki

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    The problem with aquariums is that the care of one will fall largely to my DH, especially cleaning up after goldfish, because it would be difficult for me to do it from my wheelchair. And where would we put it? I've already taken over the entire sunroom with my orchids. It's kind of difficult justifying the expense for $2.52 worth of fish.

    The frustrating thing is, after it was all done, and we were enjoying an adult beverage by the pond one evening, my hubby said we really should have taken out the apron and dug the pond deeper. I said I didn't want to ask him to do all that work... Would he have done it? "yes, but I would have been mad about it for six months!"

    So now I'm secretly hoping for some kind of failure that will force us to rebuild it. Because now he's as hooked as I am!
     
    koshki, Oct 18, 2013
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  10. koshki

    JohnHuff Friends call me Dr. Sir John Huff

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    A few more comments:
    It would probably be a good idea of remove the stones covering the bottom of the main pond. Fish create a lot of poop and that poop will be quite difficult to remove from between those stones.

    6 inches isn't really deep enough because it won't be deep enough for the fish to escape from predators, unless you create some hidey holes with PVC pipes. At that depth you could probably add some aquarium decor to make it look nice. The plants you have will help too. Fish like a more complex environment.

    If you do plan to do a remake, now's the time to do it before the pond becomes too established.

    My take on the dollar amount is that it isn't really about the $2.52, it's about the fish. I don't really think they will survive. I think there are a couple of options here:
    1) My Petco takes fish back, don't know if all of them do, but you could bring them back there.
    2) You can keep them in a temporary tank. Someone mentioned a plastic trough from Laguna, can't remember which thread it was in, but you can buy a plastic container that sits on the ground and fits into your sunroom and let them overwinter there.
    Just my two cents of course, and I'm sure others will have some suggestions as well.
     
    JohnHuff, Oct 18, 2013
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  11. koshki

    Becky Administrator

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    Beautiful work, welcome aboard! :wave:
     
    Becky, Oct 18, 2013
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  12. koshki

    addy1 water gardener / gold fish and shubunkins Moderator

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    Beautiful job! Love the stone work, the water fall. The water most likely will freeze solid.
     
    addy1, Oct 18, 2013
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  13. koshki

    bettasngoldfish Maria

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    Welcome! :wave:

    Your water fall turned out really nice and I enjoyed your photos.

    I know it's already been said but I feel I need to say it myself. You really should not leave your fish outside in their current home all winter. Way too shallow and not enough water to survive over the winter. Goldfish are tuff but not that tuff :wink:

    If you are unable to care for them maybe you can post an ad on craigslist or here on the forum. Hopefully you can find a suitable home for them that way :)

    Good luck and keep us posted
     
    bettasngoldfish, Oct 18, 2013
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  14. koshki

    koshki

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    Does anyone have any experience with pond heaters?
     
    koshki, Oct 18, 2013
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  15. koshki

    dieselplower

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    Yes many people.
     
    dieselplower, Oct 18, 2013
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  16. koshki

    Kristi Kelty

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    What kind of regular winter weather pattern is suggested for use of the pond heaters? (ie. if one gets x amount of freezing weather each winter, etc.)
    Thanks,
    K
     
    Kristi Kelty, Oct 18, 2013
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  17. koshki

    dieselplower

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    I would say use of a heater is based on a few things. One, if the pond owner wants to feel warm and fuzzy like they are saving the fish. Two, if the pond was not designed properly to safely keep fish outside during the Winter. Three, if you want to throw money away. Michigan Winters can be cold and long and I dont use a heater.
     
    dieselplower, Oct 18, 2013
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  18. koshki

    koshki

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    Diesel, while we are both in Michigan, I live about a quarter mile from Lake St. Clair, which has a bit of a tempering effect on our weather. We frequently get less snow and higher winter temperatures than relatives that live 20 and 30 miles inland. My guess is that Kalamazoo would tend to be colder, longer than we are here.

    Which is not to say that we don't get cold. But our hard freezes are generally not more than a couple weeks or so.

    As I alluded in the title of my thread, we didn't get into this situation with a deliberate plan, so you're right, we didn't design this properly, or at least not for the use we now have. We have already spent quite a bit of money just getting this up and running, so finding the cash to buy an aquarium, set it up and get on the care learning curve is a bit more than I think we can bite off right now.

    I've successfully kept birdbaths open all winter with a modest heater. I was hoping that I might be able to keep my "mini-pond" at 33° during the worst of it.
     
    koshki, Oct 19, 2013
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  19. koshki

    koshki

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    Lol, John, check out my sunroom!

    Here is my 10 x 18' sunroom before we moved in:

    60 sunroom01.JPG 60 sunroom02.JPG

    And here it is last winter when all the orchids were moved in from their summer outdoors:

    20130303_160033.jpg 20130303_160001.jpg

    You may not be able to tell, but there is only one spot in the room where I can turn my wheelchair around 180°! Sadly, as much as I wish, there is not room enough for an aquarium!
     
    koshki, Oct 19, 2013
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  20. koshki

    dieselplower

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    Hey, sorry, I wasn't directing my comment at you or your pond. If you use a heater and cover you may be able fo keep the pond open.Being smaller might actually be an advantage in this situation, at the heater isn't trying to heat 1000 gallons but rather just a small amount. I really don't know though
     
    dieselplower, Oct 19, 2013
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