Hold my hand? Let's start from the ground up, and down, please.


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I am planning a roughly 3k gallon goldfish pond with lots of plants and although I have done TONS of research over the years planning/dreaming up this pond I still need some help.

Location - About a 40' by 50' area that gets full sun but is close to trees, I live in the woods so it can't be avoided, and will be surrounded by social areas (swimming pool and screen house at a distance with firepit, gazebo, and hammock close by) so presentation is key. It is completely fenced in with chain link and has 3 compact guard dogs so raccoons and such aren't a big concern but I still worry about those herons!

Not to scale and doesn't include whole yard, don't judge me! :D
QuickyardUPDATED.jpg



What I already own.....
20x25 liner and underlayment
Proline 5000 skimmer and falls
Proline hy-drive 4800 pump
Several empty 55g barrels (if needed)


I know I want....
Easy maintenance!
Substantial waterfall
3ft deep minimum
Well integrated, no liner showing or anything and very approachable. I want to be able to possibly stand right on the rock edge to feed and observe the fish without a bunch of rocks/stones to walk over.
Option of easily converting to koi pond in the future.


What I am unsure of....
Rocks IN the pond? or no Rocks? Just some rocks going up sides? Everyone seems to have a different opinion here.
Bottom drain????
Shelves or straight sides? (thinking about water volume and predators but planting too)
Filtration....leaning towards gravity fed from BD to settlement chamber on to more mechanical and bio filters in a filter pit. Overkill for goldfish pond? I need a lot of hand holding if I go this route too. I won't spend a grand on a bead filter and skippy filter's tend to be too hard to hide but maybe a 55g barrel sand and gravel filter or two could be hidden behind the waterfall. I'm really stuck on this issue and it is kinda a big issue. :)
I'm sure there is more I am forgetting too, it's been awhile since I really got into thinking about my pond again.

I am all about doing the research and putting in the extra effort in the beginning, the first time, so I can enjoy the results in the end. I am also a DIY girl, cheap and long winded! :D Thanks for taking the time to help me out. I will have more pictures and wonderful drawings tomorrow hopefully, lots of rain here.
 
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j.w

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Standing on the edge should not be a biggy as you can use flat rock around the edge or if you are using tile for a patio just continue over the edge of pond.
Hiding the liner is easy. When you do the edge of your pond make a little shelf down a few inches to place some rocks up against the liner and then top the pond edge w/ your flat rocks.
I don't have rocks on the bottom of my pond as it makes it a pita to net gunk out that accumulates like leaves and such.
I have plant ledges about 18" down and pretty straight sides w/ just a bit of a slant.
My pond is about 3&1/2' deep.
How about a bog for your filtration? I don't have one but sure wish I did. Check out addy1 and her bog. It is to die for and that's all she uses for filtration: https://www.gardenpondforum.com/topic/4302-pond-in-progress-started-42110/
 
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I was going to say great diagram...but that would be judging. :D

3 compact guard dogs so raccoons and such aren't a big concern
LOL, not me, the raccoons.

Easy maintenance!
Doesn't everyone? It's at the top of my list too. To pull it off you have to be critical in whether something sounds like it makes life easier or not. It's really easy to say, oh I'll clean the once a week, I'll net the pond in the fall, I'll... Each is a small task but they add up. Simple is easy.

Substantial waterfall
On my easy list is a catch basin for the falls. Acts as a protein skimmer, catches foam so you NEVER have foam on the pond surface. I know people say they never have foam, or they don't mind foam...BS. A simple thing to add and you never have to think about foam. And the surface is always still so way better fish viewing. And with the outlet at the bottom the basin acts as a TPR sweeping debris to the drain. Triple duty feature and zero maintenance.
CatchBasin.jpg

koibasin.jpg


I want to be able to possibly stand right on the rock edge to feed and observe the fish without a bunch of rocks/stones to walk over.
Best pond I ever installed was a people pond. A pond without water for people to sit with a wall next to the fish pond. Easy to sit right with the fish. The benefits of a raised pond but without the formal look. At parties everyone would pile into the people pond, a tiny space, we'd be all over each other and the rest of the yard and patio would be vacant.
koi_pond_from_front1.jpg



Rocks IN the pond? or no Rocks?
I like the look of rock but I want easy so I mortar rocks in place. The mortar takes the space muck would normally find and be hard to remove. The result can be as smooth as bare liner. The looks of wrinkles, pipes, and pots...not for me.
stump2.jpg


Bottom drain????
Yes if you're serious about having the option of converting to koi pond in the future. It needs Tangential Pond Returns (TPRs) to work. Lots first timers skip that. Hard to add later.

Shelves or straight sides? (thinking about water volume and predators but planting too)
You want easy right? Pots go on the shelves, pots tip over, big mess. Pots in the pond, string algae, big mess. Raise the shelf a little and block off the leading edge and all your problems go away. Plants do way better, no string algae in the plants mess, you can turn off water to the plants so you can treat fish with medicines harmful to plants, pond integrates much better into the landscape as you don't get that harsh stone ring around many ponds. Can handle tall top heavy plants and future Koi can't dig in the plants.
WidePlantShelf2.jpg


Filtration....leaning towards gravity fed from BD to settlement chamber on to more mechanical and bio filters in a filter pit. Overkill for goldfish pond? I need a lot of hand holding if I go this route too. I won't spend a grand on a bead filter and skippy filter's tend to be too hard to hide but maybe a 55g barrel sand and gravel filter or two could be hidden behind the waterfall. I'm really stuck on this issue and it is kinda a big issue.
All that filter stuff sounds impressive but be careful. This is where you can blow the "keep it easy" budget. First rule, a filter should only be added to fix a problem. 99.9% of people don't seem to have a clue what a specific filter does. "It cleans the pond".

For example, a BD purpose is to remove fish poo primarily, yes it'll remove other stuff. Fish poo breaks down fast, which over time results in lots of little suspended particles, water becomes less and less clear. Also increases DOC levels which results in foam. Maybe 1 year, maybe 5 years. A settling chamber gets you what? Instead of the poo settling in the pond it settles in the chamber. You flush 100 gals of water what, once a week, a week after most of the poo has decomposed. Bead filters fell out of favor years ago for this very reason, they had to be flushed so often. It got so bad manufacturers started adding flush timers so people could flush everyday. Settling chambers were popular a few decades ago, we've moved on. Careful about old info on the web or people who haven't kept up.

Either use the pond itself as the chamber, or check out a sieve filter. Can be very easy to make with a little thinking. Removes crap from the water 24/7, virtually self cleaning, tiny amount of space.

Instead of a settling chamber create the same basic structure but as a small pond. Have the main pond overflow into the small pond which has the pump. This way the main pond is always at the exact same waterline. You never see a ring when water level is down. Much more natural look imo. Put the auto fill in the small pond to keep topped off.

That also gives you a free skimmer because the pond overflows into the small pond. The overflow acts exactly the same as a skimmer. No skimmer door so a more natural look. Just add a screen and you have a sieve filter, no skimmer basket to clog and clean. Easy.

Bio filters...
If you want to add bio filters I think a stream is great, bog is very good, trickle towers are great, moving bed filters are great. Stay away from static submerged media at all cost. Popular 15 years ago, things have gotten better.

Trickle water changes...
Water changes are good, but kind of hassle. Trickle changes are fully automatic, cheap and easy. Just need to add an overflow in the small lower pond.
 

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EASY DOES NOT MEAN EASY WHEN IT COMES TO POND'S .Filters that are in the water used to be popular with pond builders until they found the problem ,can't clean them and have to get in the water to do it .I think thats when they came up with skimmers just like pools
 
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How does one DIY a seive filter?
Whiskey has a current thread here on building a sieve. Also Google "diy sieve filter" to see more. The commercial version has a floating weir which they need in order to work with all ponds. Many DIYers try to duplicate that floating weir and/or the curved screen. But I don't think those complexities make much of a difference given a little design in pond layout. Like designing so the pond overflows so you don't need a skimmer with a flap to handle fluxuating water levels. Just put a screen on the floor of the overflow and no floating weir is needed.

It's so simple you'll wonder why these weren't always used.

Can you explain "static submerged media" please. Thanks
Any bio media that is underwater and doesn't move. As opposed to say a moving bed filter (also called a fluidized bed) where the media moves and is being "washed" 24/7. Also, moving bed is normally a much higher O2 environment, but that depends on the design.

"Dust" settles on static submerged media which blocks bacteria access to the water so it can't work as well. Over time the amount of waste these filters convert goes down until they're cleaned. That required pond keepers to make larger filters to make up for the loss between cleanings. This is very important to keepers with high fish loads as a filter that can't keep up means dead fish. In water gardens bio filters are rarely needed so it generally isn't important if a bio filter doesn't actually function.

Lots of info coming from aquarium owners on making these cheap and data on how well they work. Fluidized sand filters for example have been around for a long time. Aquariums are almost always much higher fish loads than water gardens so I think they're a good proving ground.
Above ground bio filters like the Trickle Tower get there the same basic results...water flowing over them wash the media 24/7 and these are always high O2 environments.
 
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Thanks guys and/or gals! Phew lots to think about there and nice presentation Waterbug, I always like pictures!

Waterfall Catch Basin - Google didn't produce much info on using a catch basin in the way you describe or illustrate (that picture you posted was the only picture I saw like that). Everything was on pondless waterfalls and just creating a deep part under the falls, nothing about enclosing the surrounding area. So my concerns... if it acts as a protein skimmer where's the "collection cup" so to speak, do you just scoop out the foam from time to time? Although the bottom opening acts as a TPR you lose the effect of the waterfall pushing stuff to the skimmer (or second pond). Doesn't a still surface reflect more, at least more solid imagines, making it harder to see past? Lastly I don't care for the look really, I would appreciate the better fish viewing but it looks so unnatural. Suggestions?

Mortared rock in the pond - great idea! Do you just mortar some around the bottom edges or do you go all the way across the bottom with it? How does this effect a BD if used?

Bottom drain - Ok, with everything else that you have said I am not concerned with transforming this pond into a koi pond anymore. Instead when that day comes I will use this pond as a 1st pond/bog. :D So how do we feel about a bottom drain if I were to use a skimmer with bog and/or stream filtration?

Built in plant edges - This is another topic I keep flip flopping on. Your diagram looks like soil in the pocket, not just pea gravel? Does it have to be so beefy, looks like a lot of concrete/blocks? I wouldn't want that extra shelf created by the concrete to the left of the wood, I'd want it to drop down sharply to stop predators from walking in (and give more water volume of course). What happens in the winter, won't that isolated wet land become frozen solid? Would I lower the water level then?

Filtration - Ah, the big question. If I used a sieve, preferably pump fed to avoid a filter pit entirely, could I use that as my sole filtration with the loads of plants in the pond and rocks acting as the bio filter? Maybe add a small stream? I am going to continue looking into sieves, bogs and streams. I've always liked the idea of a bog and stream, just need to get around the technically details, like winterizing. Do you have any examples of the second pond idea? Using it as a skimmer seems cool but I don't see how it would work as a settlement chamber or sieve.

Thanks SO much for your reply Waterbug! Anyone else have an opinion or does everyone agree with Waterbug? :D

Some pictures....

Stepping off the deck
100_6061.jpg


Turn to your left and there is the pond area, nothing is in a finally place.
100_6062.jpg
 
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Here’s my take on a couple of the issues, maybe Waterbug will share his thoughts on.

I believe most pond sieve applications use a gravity fed bottom drains with the pump after the sieve. If you use a pump first to feed your filters you end up pureeing your pond muck into finer particles that are harder to filter out. Sieves seem like good filters, but when used in conjunction with bottom drains instead of vortex filters or settling tanks it looks like they would be fish killers for any unfortunate small fish that might get sucked through the bottom drain. Other than that they look like they would work well for removing debris (and small fish).

I have the same sort of questions about Waterbugs waterfall catch basin as this came up in a thread a while ago. The catch basin would certainly contain the foam, but you’d still need a skimmer on the rest of the pond to remove other floating debris (leaves, dust, pollen, dead fish, etc…). It seems like if foam is a big problem in your pond it might be better to look into building one of those foam fractionators to remove the DOCs and other stuff from the water responsible for making the foam in the first place.
 

addy1

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No we don't all agree with waterbug, we all have our own opinions on what will or will not work.

For me:

I have a bog for my filter (pea gravel and plants), a stream I run off and on. No white foam stuff on the water. I have a skimmer for flowers leaves etc. No green water, no algae issues, tons of plants. I put my plants in oil pans or pots to move around easily in the pond, I use kitty litter, pure clay. I like plants in the pond, do not have issues with string algae growing on them. I do have a plant shelf, about 2 feet down, it is the bog wall. I have a bunch of potted plants and some non potted on the shelf.

My water tests are always perfect, I test off and on, more off than on, no need to track the water.

I do not have koi, but some great goldfish and shubunkins.

I don't use a bottom filter, just net the pond off and on with a swimming pool net. Do a good net job in the spring and a good one in the fall, minor ones during the summer.

I turn off my bog and pond for the winter, all the plants come back with no issues. I leave the water in the bog and in the bog piping. Since I built it we have had one very cold winter, -8 (well really cold for us lol) and a warm winter, everything did fine. When I fired up the system in the spring it took 24 hours to clear the murkiness from the water, nothing running for over 4 months. I did keep a aerator running to keep the ice open, for the fish
 

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Ha Ha no we don't all do it like waterbug does. I don't have any of that stuff at my pond that is listed above. No rocks on the bottom mortared or not and no catch basin. I don't have koi so no bottom drain and actually at the moment have no filter. I've got goldfish in a 2500gal pond and just do partial water changes now and then and skim the bottom w/ a long handled net. I do use the quilt batting in a basket to remove some fines. I have lots of plants and put barley in to help reduce string algae and also use kitty litter clay in my plant pots..................I don't think waterbug believes in any of this stuff...........to each's own, all fine and good!

NONAME40.jpg
 
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I was sure not everyone agreed with Waterbug, but I knew that would trigger some more responses. :D Thank you for your input!

Addy1, I was looking through your post, well mostly the pictures because it is a long thread lol. Your Eco-system, can't rightly call that a pond, looks amazing! I would like to do something similar. A less complicated beautiful "natural" way of filtering. I can't recall if you have rocks in the bottom of your pond though?
 
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j.w. you snuck in there! Thanks for adding your 2 cents. I love knowing people still have healthy ponds doing things the simple way. You mention quilt batting in the basket, are you referring to your skimmer basket?

BTW what is everyone's water parameters, pH, Kh & Gh mostly? My tap water is 8.2 pH, 11 KH and 0 GH (whole house water softener). I think with just a little added calcium & epson salts this water would be fine....???
 

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The quilt batting is put into a laundry or other type plastic container w/ holes in it and either stuck under the waterfall or a hose from a pump in the pond is allowed to run water over the batting. When it gets dirty you take it out and clean it.............have a spare piece ready and clean to replace the dirty one and go at it again. Some have it set up high out of the water to catch the dirt. Mine is just floating on the surface. I just made mine out of an old swim tube and a plastic strainer or sometimes I use a black plant pot that has holes and it fits right into the floater. Actually I moved it away from the falls since this photo was taken and now have a slower flowing hose from a pump running over it:

IMG_1824.JPG
 

addy1

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I was sure not everyone agreed with Waterbug, but I knew that would trigger some more responses. :D Thank you for your input!

Addy1, I was looking through your post, well mostly the pictures because it is a long thread lol. Your Eco-system, can't rightly call that a pond, looks amazing! I would like to do something similar. A less complicated beautiful "natural" way of filtering. I can't recall if you have rocks in the bottom of your pond though?

I don't have any rocks on the bottom. I had some in my arizona pond, they were a pita. To me the bottom of the pond, over time, looks natural, well as natural as a piece of liner can look.

This is at the 5 foot deep area, about 20 feet across, right at the bog waterfall

CH03_2011_11_04_08_25_20.jpg


To me the folds look like rock edges
 

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Thanks guys and/or gals! Phew lots to think about there and nice presentation Waterbug, I always like pictures!

Waterfall Catch Basin - Google didn't produce much info on using a catch basin in the way you describe or illustrate (that picture you posted was the only picture I saw like that). Everything was on pondless waterfalls and just creating a deep part under the falls, nothing about enclosing the surrounding area. So my concerns... if it acts as a protein skimmer where's the "collection cup" so to speak, do you just scoop out the foam from time to time? Although the bottom opening acts as a TPR you lose the effect of the waterfall pushing stuff to the skimmer (or second pond). Doesn't a still surface reflect more, at least more solid imagines, making it harder to see past? Lastly I don't care for the look really, I would appreciate the better fish viewing but it looks so unnatural. Suggestions?

Mortared rock in the pond - great idea! Do you just mortar some around the bottom edges or do you go all the way across the bottom with it? How does this effect a BD if used?

Bottom drain - Ok, with everything else that you have said I am not concerned with transforming this pond into a koi pond anymore. Instead when that day comes I will use this pond as a 1st pond/bog. :D So how do we feel about a bottom drain if I were to use a skimmer with bog and/or stream filtration?

Built in plant edges - This is another topic I keep flip flopping on. Your diagram looks like soil in the pocket, not just pea gravel? Does it have to be so beefy, looks like a lot of concrete/blocks? I wouldn't want that extra shelf created by the concrete to the left of the wood, I'd want it to drop down sharply to stop predators from walking in (and give more water volume of course). What happens in the winter, won't that isolated wet land become frozen solid? Would I lower the water level then?

Filtration - Ah, the big question. If I used a sieve, preferably pump fed to avoid a filter pit entirely, could I use that as my sole filtration with the loads of plants in the pond and rocks acting as the bio filter? Maybe add a small stream? I am going to continue looking into sieves, bogs and streams. I've always liked the idea of a bog and stream, just need to get around the technically details, like winterizing. Do you have any examples of the second pond idea? Using it as a skimmer seems cool but I don't see how it would work as a settlement chamber or sieve.

Thanks SO much for your reply Waterbug! Anyone else have an opinion or does everyone agree with Waterbug? :D

Some pictures....

Stepping off the deck
100_6061.jpg


Turn to your left and there is the pond area, nothing is in a finally place.
100_6062.jpg

We don't always agree with each other, most of us can tell you what we have done that works in our situations. Most of us have not done scientific experiments to confirm nor deny why certain things work and others do not so when people ask we give them our opinions and it is up to you to decide on which route to take. So now here is my responses to your questions.

1. I did not see a need for the catch basin, I did not like the way they look and did not think it would fit into the look I was going for.
2. I did not want mortared rock in the pond, wanted to be able to tweak and adjust it and change without needing a jack hammer and sledge hammers to do it.
3. I was thinking of adding a bottom drain to my existing pond. the only reason being is that in the spring and late fall when the leaves fall my skimmer gets full rather quickly and if I don't empty it on a daily or sometimes twice daily it will cut my water flow down by 75% and create a very annoying sucking noise b/c the pump can't get water. I have an external pump.
4. You don't really need plant edges, it gives prey an easy way to get in and out of your pond. I would just put any shallow plants on a block or something to get it to the right height.
5. I have two filters both store bought (I would build my own had I known about this site 8 years ago), one bog, and three streams. So I should have plenty of filtration. The bog I just built this year.

Nice garden set up, do you have any close ups of your trellis in the garden...
 
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No we don't all agree with waterbug, we all have our own opinions on what will or will not work.
Some more than others. And thanks so much for pointing that out. Classy.

@myswtsins, as I said, those things are "On my easy list". My post was more for myself, I like thinking about my next pond this is good place to write down and compose my thoughts. This really isn't a proper forum for trying to explain different ideas, as you can see. Sorry if I confused your thread.

What you want is a Skippy...they're great.
 
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addy1

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Some more than others. And thanks so much for pointing that out. Classy.

waterbug the question was asked, I answered, I did not trash you, your opinions or thoughts. Not everybody agrees with how I do my pond, that is their right.
 
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I for one agree with most of Waterbugs views, it's his "snarkiness" that takes some getting use to. LOL
Also, just because I agree with something and see the merit in it, that doesn't mean it's the only, or the best, or the cheapest way to do it. Everything has a down side.
One thing I'll say, most forum members base their expertise on their experiance with their (one) pond, whereas Waterbug has a wider range of experiance to draw from, and tends to give advice on what is current in the field rather than just personal succeses he has had in the past. That alone is one good reason to pay attention to what he has to offer, even if you don't follow up with it.
 
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The quilt batting is put into a laundry or other type plastic container w/ holes in it and either stuck under the waterfall or a hose from a pump in the pond is allowed to run water over the batting. When it gets dirty you take it out and clean it.............have a spare piece ready and clean to replace the dirty one and go at it again. Some have it set up high out of the water to catch the dirt. Mine is just floating on the surface. I just made mine out of an old swim tube and a plastic strainer or sometimes I use a black plant pot that has holes and it fits right into the floater. Actually I moved it away from the falls since this photo was taken and now have a slower flowing hose from a pump running over it:

View attachment 43359
Thank you for the explanation and picture.

I don't have any rocks on the bottom. I had some in my arizona pond, they were a pita. To me the bottom of the pond, over time, looks natural, well as natural as a piece of liner can look.

This is at the 5 foot deep area, about 20 feet across, right at the bog waterfall

CH03_2011_11_04_08_25_20.jpg


To me the folds look like rock edges

Cool picture! It does look like rock edges! I wish my pond was going to be that big though...one day, one day.

We don't always agree with each other, most of us can tell you what we have done that works in our situations. Most of us have not done scientific experiments to confirm nor deny why certain things work and others do not so when people ask we give them our opinions and it is up to you to decide on which route to take. So now here is my responses to your questions.

1. I did not see a need for the catch basin, I did not like the way they look and did not think it would fit into the look I was going for.
2. I did not want mortared rock in the pond, wanted to be able to tweak and adjust it and change without needing a jack hammer and sledge hammers to do it.
3. I was thinking of adding a bottom drain to my existing pond. the only reason being is that in the spring and late fall when the leaves fall my skimmer gets full rather quickly and if I don't empty it on a daily or sometimes twice daily it will cut my water flow down by 75% and create a very annoying sucking noise b/c the pump can't get water. I have an external pump.
4. You don't really need plant edges, it gives prey an easy way to get in and out of your pond. I would just put any shallow plants on a block or something to get it to the right height.
5. I have two filters both store bought (I would build my own had I known about this site 8 years ago), one bog, and three streams. So I should have plenty of filtration. The bog I just built this year.

Nice garden set up, do you have any close ups of your trellis in the garden...

Another person with an amazing pond and yard! For once I wish I didn't live on a flat piece of land or could make a hilly area look natural with the rest of the yard so I could make it look like your yard. I have been searching for pictures of what I want my pond to look like for years, because I can't draw to save my life, and yours is by far the closest, truly inspiring!

3. (bottom drain) So were/are you going to use it as a flushing system or continuous filtration?
5. (filters) If you had known about this site 8 years ago and had today's technology what filters would you have built?

Thanks. They are actually just plant cages we made out of re-bar. I will get a picture later if you like.

Some more than others. And thanks so much for pointing that out. Classy.

@myswtsins, as I said, those things are "On my easy list". My post was more for myself, I like thinking about my next pond this is good place to write down and compose my thoughts. This really isn't a proper forum for trying to explain different ideas, as you can see. Sorry if I confused your thread.

What you want is a Skippy...they're great.

Everyone shouldn't agree or else we would never make any advancements. I am still genuinely interested in your methods but it seems now that you don't agree with everyone else that you are not going to answer any of my questions. Where does that leave me as a new inexperienced hobbyist? I hope you will continue to share your methods and views so that others and myself can learn from them. Do you have a thread about your pond? I couldn't find anything.
 
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May 22, 2012
Messages
249
Reaction score
223
Location
NJ
Hardiness Zone
7a
I for one agree with most of Waterbugs views, it's his "snarkiness" that takes some getting use to. LOL
Also, just because I agree with something and see the merit in it, that doesn't mean it's the only, or the best, or the cheapest way to do it. Everything has a down side.
One thing I'll say, most forum members base their expertise on their experiance with their (one) pond, whereas Waterbug has a wider range of experiance to draw from, and tends to give advice on what is current in the field rather than just personal succeses he has had in the past. That alone is one good reason to pay attention to what he has to offer, even if you don't follow up with it.

Nicely put and I agree. Thanks.
 

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