Need to make small pond kid friendly shallow, need advice on several fronts...

Discussion in 'Newbies to Garden Ponds' started by Billy1234, Mar 24, 2016.

  1. Billy1234

    Billy1234

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    Hi all,

    I'm new to ponds. My wife and I bought a beautiful house in Asheville, NC that came with a small round pond that doesn't look like it has been really loved over the years (around 6 foot diameter). It does have a little frog statue on the side which I can plug in that'll pump water from the pond out of his mouth. There were also already a ton of fish (around 30) in the pond. Mostly goldfish, a few very small black almost translucent fish and then a couple big white fish. They're extremely hardy as the people who were renting the house before we bought it said they rarely fed them in the winter but they were all still there (and this winter we had the top of the pond freeze quite a few times). Anyways, the pond is surprisingly around 4 feet deep (the water is generally very murky) with steep slippery sides and I have 3 children under the age of 4, so it's a bit of a death trap. Rather than fill it in and tear out the remains, we wanted to save it. I found another thread on this site from 2011 that mentioned Pea Gravel as a good solution to adding to the bottom of a pond for making it more shallow. Here's my questions:

    1. It sounds like the consensus was pea gravel. Do I simply buy a bunch of pea gravel from Lowes/ HD and shovel the gravel into my existing pond?
    2. Can a shallower pond support as many fish as I have? What's a depth I should be aiming for that's a good compromise between safety and enough room to have some fish be happy?
    3. I'm assuming I should remove my fish before shoveling in the pea gravel. Can I just place them into a few buckets? How long do I need to wait until I can put them back into the water?
    4. What about the pump that's going into the frogs mouth. Is it just a tube that I need to search for and pull up before dumping the pea gravel?

    Thanks in advance for anyone's insights on this from a total pond newbie!
     
    Billy1234, Mar 24, 2016
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  2. Billy1234

    Mmathis TurtleMommy

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    Welcome!

    Have you thought about fencing it in?
     
    Mmathis, Mar 24, 2016
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  3. Billy1234

    Billy1234

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    It would be a horrible eyesore the way it sits in the back yard. We don't mind giving oversight, but when my 3 year old might not survive if he fell in, it's time to think about altering it rather than a fence.
     
    Billy1234, Mar 24, 2016
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  4. Billy1234

    tbendl T

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    I think the concern is that you are conceivably talking about adding a foot of gravel in the bottom of your pond and I think that much gravel on the bottom can lead to toxic issues. I'm not sure but hopefully @Meyer Jordan or someone else will jump in.
    Also if you only have a small spitter for that pond, you have zero filtration and not enough water moving. Is there additional pump and/or filtration?
     
    tbendl, Mar 24, 2016
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  5. Billy1234

    Billy1234

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    I honestly don't know. There's an odd device / basin that has piping that looks like it goes into the ground which sits above ground on the back side of the pond however, it's completely over grown and the basin where it looks like water should be is not only dry but full of vegetation. The previous renters and owner told us that we should just feed the fish every once in a while and run the water on occasion. Obviously, they had no real pond knowledge :)

    Here's some pics (because I'm so new to the forum, they won't let me post images in line yet as my pics haven't been approved), but here's links to them on the gardenpond media space:

    Main shot of pond:
    https://www.gardenpondforum.com/media/pond1.4453/#media

    [​IMG]

    Shot of mystery device:
    https://www.gardenpondforum.com/media/pond2.4454/

    [​IMG]

    Closer shot of mystery device:
    https://www.gardenpondforum.com/media/pond3.4452/#media

    [​IMG]

    (I added the photos for you :))
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 26, 2016
    Billy1234, Mar 24, 2016
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  6. Billy1234

    tbendl T

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    Well no worries, I inherited a pond as well and this group is awesome with helping to get you up and running. If you could post a bunch of pictures of the pond and basin and pump it would help out a bunch. We will help with as much knowledge and guidance as we can. :)
     
    tbendl, Mar 24, 2016
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  7. Billy1234

    Billy1234

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    Just updated my post above with links to pics!
     
    Billy1234, Mar 24, 2016
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  8. Billy1234

    Meyer Jordan Tadpole

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    You have a legitimate concern for the safety of your children. Adding pea gravel to the pond to make it shallower can create an environment that could support conditions that are not favorable to the overall health of the fish. The maximum depth for any gravel on a pond's bottom should be no more than 2 inches. Honestly, I can see only fencing as real solution.
    Greatly reducing the depth of the pond would reduce the water volume proportionately. Less water will support less fish.
     
    Meyer Jordan, Mar 24, 2016
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  9. Billy1234

    Nepen

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    Hi! Asheville is my favorite place! My in laws live there too.

    That mysterious device is surely mysterious! I suggest you start new with the filtration. You may want to look around for existing plumbing (if any) and see if you can connect new filter from there. There are many type of filter and you can DIY too.

    I understand your concern about your children. I build my first pond, a raised pond, when my son was 2.5 year old. We had to teach him how to approach the pond over and over again. Now he's almost 6 and we have an in-ground pond and he play around it without me worrying about him as much (still worries as he doesn't know how to swim, going to swimming lesson again next month, he just refused to learn last time) For my piece of mind I keep telling him that if he fell down, just stand up and we went in the pond together just so he know how it feels, just one in a million chance he would remember!

    Can you fence the pond and part of the yard around it? make it a little oasis with flower garden next to the pond, some flower bushes, vegetable garden and fence it, doesnt have to be too high a fence, just high enough to be an obstacle for them and not so 'open'.

    The other option I saw from long ago, havnt seen it done in the US though... they have this fence that went about an inch or two under the water surface, cover the whole pond.
     
    Nepen, Mar 24, 2016
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  10. Billy1234

    MitchM

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    Billy, that could be a very nice looking pond and with your climate, I think there should be plenty of options to add plants around the periphery.
    If it was my pond, I would put up a decorative and functional fence, add some aeration, improve the filtration by either adding a wetland filter or canister filter and increasing overall water circulation. Water tests are in order as well.
     
    MitchM, Mar 24, 2016
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  11. Billy1234

    Mmathis TurtleMommy

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    IMHO -- Water safety and small children....... It doesn't take much [depth] for a child to drown. All it takes is for a child, or anyone, for that matter, to fall face-down in enough water that they can't breathe.... Think 6-ish inches could even be dangerous.

    We assume that we're always going to be there to keep an eye on our little ones, but those little people are fast and cunning -- so we have to consider their safety for those times they do get away from us.

    IMHO, the only safe water is water that they can't have access to. Personally, I don't think a little fence would look bad around the pond. And since the sides look pretty even, there are companies that make metal grates -- very decorative! -- to cover ponds with. Every site I've seen for these has been in the UK, but at least it is an idea and an alternative to a fence. I'll see if I can find a link.
     
    Mmathis, Mar 25, 2016
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  12. Billy1234

    Mmathis TurtleMommy

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    Mmathis, Mar 26, 2016
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  13. Billy1234

    morewater President, Raccoon Haters International

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    Cool, like the Catch-a-Kid option. I'd like to see a tighter weave for the the little buggers that'll use it as a trampoline.
     
    morewater, Mar 26, 2016
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  14. Billy1234

    addy1 water gardener / gold fish and shubunkins Moderator

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    The filter looking thing with the green piping looks like it was a plant filter for the pond. They can work, if filled with the right plants, enough of them and good flow.

    Kids will be drawn to the water and the fish. You could make a cover with cemented in support posts, that you attach fencing to, have the fencing laying over the water. With the correct support post (just coming out of the ground) the fencing would be held tight. It could hold the weight of a child.
    The welded wire fencing, sort of like chicken wire, but stronger. I see it attached to the inside of wood rail fences to keep the dogs in.
     
    addy1, Mar 26, 2016
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  15. Billy1234

    MitchM

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    Wow, those are some elaborate pond covers.
    You do realize that as soon as kids understand that they can get on top of the pond, their first instinct will be to see how many things they can put in the pond.....including your car keys.....:whistle:

    .
     
    MitchM, Mar 26, 2016
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  16. Billy1234

    addy1 water gardener / gold fish and shubunkins Moderator

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    Sounds like the words of experience!
     
    addy1, Mar 26, 2016
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  17. Billy1234

    MitchM

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    We don't have any kids, but when I was a kid, once you found something that excited the adults, it was game on!:LOL:
     
    MitchM, Mar 26, 2016
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  18. Billy1234

    addy1 water gardener / gold fish and shubunkins Moderator

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    Most people do not even know we have a pond. You can't see it from the road and we back up to woods and corn fields. We are lucky to not need to worry about children. The kids around here are also mainly grown.

    I made it walk out style, so if someone did fall in and did not panic, they could easily get out. IF!
     
    addy1, Mar 26, 2016
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  19. Billy1234

    morewater President, Raccoon Haters International

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    It's not the "falling in" part that's the problem, it's the "falling in and whacking your head on a rock" that creates a floater.

    Our backyard is completely fenced and gated. Both brats are now in their 20's. I'd occasionally like to drown one of them, but I might need an organ one day, so I let most of their stuff slide................

    That "filter" thing appears to be a sort of Skippy. Why not clean it out, crank it up and see what it does before trashing it?
     
    morewater, Mar 26, 2016
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  20. Billy1234

    HARO Pondcrastinator

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    My feelings, exactly! (On both counts.) The box probably served as a filter at one time, but media gets filled with crap, and when someone unplugs the pump, all kinds of plants will establish themselves in the fertile substrate. I'd clean it out and see what all is in there. As for the original question, a young child can drown in just a couple of inches of water! Have a grid made to fit over the pond (or make your own), and teach the kids that NOTHING gets tossed into the pond!
    John
     
    HARO, Apr 5, 2016
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