Help me get a handle on the pond that came with my house


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Hi! I bought a house in Montana that came with quite a large pond. We think it’s about .5 million gallons. 1/4 acre surface, there are only small fish, at least one turtle and some crawfish in it. It was winterized when we moved in and now that it’s thawed we are trying to get it working.
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There is a pump that draws from the large pond and feeds a small pond that, once full, cascades into the large pond. We hooked up the pump but it kept stopping and would get very hot. We decided it was at end of life so we bought a new pump. It pumps 10,400 gph and seems to be working beautifully. In the small pond portion there is a small square pebble covered area (as opposed to the dirt/muck covered bottom) that produces a few bubbles and possibly water flow (not sure, too cold to climb in and tell),
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and on the opposite side of the small pond there is a covered “barrel” that seems to channel most of the water inflow (for perspspetive, here you can see the pebble covered area at the bottom and the barrel is toward the top of the picture hidden in the reeds).
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It has a removable lid, it’s about 14” wide (round) and is about 4’ deep but we only see about the top 9” from the outside. The rest is buried.
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Evidently the water enters from the bottom. I'm thinking this is a bio-filter? It doesn’t look like any of the bio filters I’ve seen pictures of. When we turned the pump on water flowed out from under the lid. The barrel (for lack of a better term) is currently empty except for flowing water. Should we fill it with spongy filters and bio-balls.... or does that make any difference for a pond this size? All the spongy filters I see have holes in the middle which would seem to defeat the purpose. all the plumbing is buried so it’s really hard to figure out where everything goes. Any insights or suggestions? about 30 feet beyond where the pump is there is also a unit that seems to be an air compressor. Though when we turn it on we don’t see any bubbles being produced. I know I am a complete noob... help make me smarter so I can do right for this beautiful pond!
 
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Oh my goodness! I can't wait to see your pond when everything is thawed, awake, and growing!!!! Wow!
 

brokensword

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well, specifically to what I'd do re your pond; you took care of the pump, check one. The aeration is important, so you need to find the hose attached and drag up your aerator diffuser--it might be clogged or the hose might. Or the aerator pump might not be working. All need to be tested one at a time by eliminating the diffuser, then the hose. A new aerator pump+hose+diffuser might be in your future.

You could put some bio material in the canister but imo, why? If your estimate is right, you're never going to do much biofiltering with that small of a unit for such a large pond. I'd actually turn the small pond into (at least a portion large enough to do the job) a bog (more correctly called an upflow wetland filter; do a search here and you'll learn more than you ever wanted to re 'bog filer'). Much of your biofiltration is already being done via the watercovered surfaces, esp the rocks. In a bog filter, you increase the surface area for biofiltration, which is what your query was all about. And you get to add lots of desirable plants to also help filtration.

Short of that, you don't need much else, unless you're going to turn the pond into an ornamental one with koi/goldfish/etc.

Hope this helps a bit. With a pond that large, you're going to have to depend on mother nature to break down a lot of the organic buildup. A bog filter will help with that.
 
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