Converting an inground fountain into a pond


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Hi All,

Brand new member here. I have had fish tanks my entire life and now venturing into the pond game. I like in zone 7a/b. I have an existing circular fountain which is a magnet for dirty water since it sits next to a large oak tree. Its about 8 ft all around. I had a few questions

1) What's the minimum depth recommended for my zone? I was thinking anywhere from 24-36 in?
2) I am thinking of putting making it a goldfish pond. How soon after the pond has been converted can I put fish in? Do you recommend any water cleaner solution, etc.?
3) There is going to be a skimmer which should help clean up some of the oak tree tassels. Do you recommend anything else that would help keep it clean?
4) Any and all other suggestions are welcome :)

I have attached a pic of the fountain in its current state
 

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Mmathis

TurtleMommy
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Hello and welcome! Nice fountain!

Approx. how many gallons do you plan to shoot for?

When you say “converting into a pond,” do you plan to do away with the existing structure and rebuild, or simply modify the fountain in some way (as in, just add a liner)? It does appear to be partially above ground.

What is your vision for this spot?

How deep is the fountain now? You could probably get away with 2’ in depth. Folks in the colder parts of the country look to depth so the fish can go deep in winter and avoid freezing, while folks in my part of the country (South/Southwest) look for depth so the fish don’t overheat in the hotter months.

A skimmer will certainly help with plant debris! I assume that the wall area is a waterfall (lovely!). Will you still use that and are you planning to have any other type of filtration? There are lots of options for filtration, but a lot of us are converting to bog (plant) filtration. Does that spot get any sunlight?

As far as adding fish, if you start with just a few, you can add them right away. If your source water is chlorinated, always add a dechlorinator to the water first. If you’ve had aquariums, you know about “cycling” the pond (nitrogen cycle). Go slow and don’t add a lot of fish at one time. Monitor your water with a liquid (drops, not strips) water test kit. Most of us use the API Master kit, but as an add-on, also get tests for KH and GH.

As far as other additives to the water, we tend to advise against this. Things like nitrifying bacteria, algaecides, or water clarifiers are not necessary. If you keep your fish load manageable (don’t overstock), don’t over feed, and with the addition of plants, Mother Nature will keep your pond in balance. A newly cycled pond (and again, at the beginning of each spring season) will go through an algae bloom. This is very normal. Algae on the liner is good algae and is beneficial — you want that to develop. Suspended algae and string algae (usually what happens in the spring) will go away on its own. It is a symptom not a disease! It means there are more nutrients in the water than the biological filter is capable of handling. Plants, lots of water movement (for filtration and oxygenation) will help. Over feeding and too many fish will contribute to the problem.

Now, there is a way to do your initial cycle without fish — fishless cycling. Google that or search on here for more information.

And I’m rambling on.... Let’s see what other folks have to say. You will probably get better answers than mine!
 
Joined
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Messages
6
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Hardiness Zone
7a
Country
United States
Hello and welcome! Nice fountain!

Approx. how many gallons do you plan to shoot for?

When you say “converting into a pond,” do you plan to do away with the existing structure and rebuild, or simply modify the fountain in some way (as in, just add a liner)? It does appear to be partially above ground.

What is your vision for this spot?

How deep is the fountain now? You could probably get away with 2’ in depth. Folks in the colder parts of the country look to depth so the fish can go deep in winter and avoid freezing, while folks in my part of the country (South/Southwest) look for depth so the fish don’t overheat in the hotter months.

A skimmer will certainly help with plant debris! I assume that the wall area is a waterfall (lovely!). Will you still use that and are you planning to have any other type of filtration? There are lots of options for filtration, but a lot of us are converting to bog (plant) filtration. Does that spot get any sunlight?

As far as adding fish, if you start with just a few, you can add them right away. If your source water is chlorinated, always add a dechlorinator to the water first. If you’ve had aquariums, you know about “cycling” the pond (nitrogen cycle). Go slow and don’t add a lot of fish at one time. Monitor your water with a liquid (drops, not strips) water test kit. Most of us use the API Master kit, but as an add-on, also get tests for KH and GH.

As far as other additives to the water, we tend to advise against this. Things like nitrifying bacteria, algaecides, or water clarifiers are not necessary. If you keep your fish load manageable (don’t overstock), don’t over feed, and with the addition of plants, Mother Nature will keep your pond in balance. A newly cycled pond (and again, at the beginning of each spring season) will go through an algae bloom. This is very normal. Algae on the liner is good algae and is beneficial — you want that to develop. Suspended algae and string algae (usually what happens in the spring) will go away on its own. It is a symptom not a disease! It means there are more nutrients in the water than the biological filter is capable of handling. Plants, lots of water movement (for filtration and oxygenation) will help. Over feeding and too many fish will contribute to the problem.

Now, there is a way to do your initial cycle without fish — fishless cycling. Google that or search on here for more information.

And I’m rambling on.... Let’s see what other folks have to say. You will probably get better answers than mine!
Thank you so much for your advise. This is very helpful!

The fountain now is a little over a foot. I am planning on digging it deeper with an depth ranging from 24-36 in. Using a gallon calculate I found online, at a diameter of 8ft and using 3ft as dept, its around 1000 gallons. I am planning on putting liner in. Yes, the wall has a waterfall, but there is also a waterfall under that small tree to the right of the fountain. The area gets partial sunlight. I like the idea of BOG filtration. I am very excited to see to see the end product and will definitely post pictures.
 

Mmathis

TurtleMommy
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Awesome! I hope you are able to reproduce the rustic look of the stonework! That is gorgeous!

One thing to please keep in mind — the rules of ponding:
  1. There are no rules — more or less.....
  2. Use common sense, look at the science of healthy water, and don’t believe something just because someone says it’s true!
  3. Most commercial products will consume your wallet
  4. If/when you make changes or are trouble shooting — make one change at a time! If you do 3 or 4 interventions at the same time, you won’t have any way to know which one of them actually took care of the problem!
  5. Do your research, and go to many sources for advice. If it seems too good to be true, question it!
  6. No 2 ponds are alike! What works for one person may not be best for the next person.
  7. A general rule of thumb (but not everyone does it and they don’t have problems) is to quarantine any new fish before you add them to the pond (not for your first fish, but for later additions)! I’ll let you read up on this.
  8. goldfish (and koi) are freshwater fish. You will see people routinely adding salt to their ponds. I’m not going to say that this is wrong, but I prefer to only use salt as a treatment in an isolation container.
  9. if you “treat” your fish for a medical problem, try to determine WHAT the cause is and don’t Indiscriminately add various treatments or antibiotics
  10. Be on the lookout for fish predators that might be in your area! Cranes, herons, cats, raccoons......
  11. BE PATIENT! BE PATIENT!! BE PATIENT!!!
 
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Quick question, should I put gravel or stones on the bottom OR leave it plain liner? I am thinking adding pebbles or large stones
 
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Mmathis

TurtleMommy
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Quick question, should I put gravel or stones on the bottom OR leave it plain liner? I am thinking adding pebbles or large stones
You will get all kinds of opinions on this, and the only CORRECT answer is...”it depends.” Some people use rocks/stones, and some leave the liner bare. Someone else recently asked about using sand. Some koi purists would cringe at the idea of having ANYTHING in their ponds, other than fish. So, you will get answers all along the spectrum.

You have to do your homework and decide what is best for you! Pond bottoms are going to collect crud. Some believe that rocks and stones add to the biodiversity of the pond. Some (like the koi purists) don’t want biodiversity — they want sterility. As long as you know that crud happens, you decide how to go.
 

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