Wine barrel fish pond


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Hello all,

I am new to this forum, because I recently got into keeping fish. I hope I can add to the general knowledge here.

A couple of months back, I saw some used half-wine barrels for sale. They had winery stamps on the end and were stained purple inside, so.....definitely used. I picked one up with the intention of building a water feature in our backyard.

The idea was, to line the bottom of the barrel with rocks, set it up on some pavers in the garden, and convert a birdbath that we already owned into a part of the feature.....and that is what I did. In the beginning, it worked great.


PROBLEMS:

The only time I had ever kept goldfish, was years back in a small natural pond in the country. Those fish were impossible to kill. Just make sure to keep the pond topped up, dig out the cattails once a year, and feed them every few weeks. Oh, and use my paintball gun to keep the egret away. That too.
I picked up 5 feeders from the pet store (5 for $1) and plopped them right into the pond.
Well, this barrel idea was different. Some string algae started to grow. I used some "fish safe" algae chemical and it killed that algae alright....but it also killed the feeders. Dang. That sucks. Gotta not use so many chemicals.
I picked up five more feeders and plopped them in. This time, when the algae started to grow, I pulled the fish out of the barrel, and physically cleaned the barrel back to being spotless. Refilled the barrel and put the fish back in. Great! Right? No. The fish all up and died within a few days. Drats.

SOLUTIONS:

I decided to actually do some research before trying anything more this time (not my usual bag).

As it turns out, there is a nutrient cycle that must be established before fish can be healthy. And there is a bunch of different ways to control algae without using harsh chemicals. And fish need oxygenated water to be optimally healthy. And maintaining a colony of bacteria is a good idea. And a carbon filter is needed to control the chemicals that are in tap water. Plants can help control nitrates. As you all already know, the list goes on and on. And my wallet was already hurting.

I ended up replacing the regular fountain pump with a Cascade 400 filter. I rigged the Cascade up to double as the fountain pump, to avoid having two pumps.

I bought some Microbe-lift (beneficial bacteria) and started adding it per the directions. That really cleared up the string algae. Yay!

I went around to some nurseries in search of water plants. One local spot had some horsetail reeds, so I bought those and put them in the water. My father in-law has a 1 acre pond on his property, so I went looking for water plants there. I pulled out a section of a viny plant that looked promising and put that in as well. That plant turns out to be Water Primrose, and it has grown exponentially since I added it, without rooting into any substrate. It sucks nitrates right out of the water.

BAD PROBLEM:

All was going well. The third batch of fish was happy and healthy. My nutrient cycle was going well....I was testing the water weekly and was pleased with the results. And then over the course of a week............my water started turning green. Couldn't see the fish.

I tried 10% water changes. Adding more bacteria. Then 20% water change. Then a 50% water change. The water only got worse!

From what I could see of the fish, they didn't seem to care. But my wife was complaining about it. And I didn't like it. Neither did my kid. And the water smelled.

OK. I tried chemicals again. This time a much lower dose. Even that didn't cure it.

From lots of searching online, I concluded that a UV filter was the cure. So I bought a 9W one and threw it in.

We went on vacation for a week, and voila! The water was clear when we got back. Awesome.


CONCLUSION:

So here we are. I expect the green water to return, but I know how to control it now. The three goldfish that are in there now are happy and healthy. They eat a what little algae grows in the barrel, and I supplement that with a light feeding once a week. I use a filter bag that I found at the pet store to soak up phosphates. I do a 20% water change once a week. So far, I think I finally got it down.

Here are some photos of the project. I used no liner or sealer. It looks like the barrel leaks, but that is only because I just filled it. You can only fill it so much before it seeps from the seams near the top, but I can keep it about 90% full with no seepage.

I would appreciate feedback. Thanks!



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Very creative water feature! And boy have you learned a lot!

I will tell you this - a small pond is exponentially harder to keep than a large one. The tiniest shift will completely upend your balance. If you can get it working well and just leave it be that's probably your best approach. A little green water now and then won't hurt the fish one bit.
 

Mmathis

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Hello and welcome! Cute set up!

Yes, you have learned what most of us eventually learn over time — but is a hard concept to explain to most pond-newbies — LET MOTHER NATURE DO HER “THING”!
 
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Very creative water feature! And boy have you learned a lot!

I will tell you this - a small pond is exponentially harder to keep than a large one. The tiniest shift will completely upend your balance. If you can get it working well and just leave it be that's probably your best approach. A little green water now and then won't hurt the fish one bit.

Yeah I realize the green water is harmless....but it detracts from the asthetics. It also does no harm to run a UV clarifier for a few days a month.....it doesn't kill the bacteria on the substrate or the filter sponge.
 
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I just killed my 8 large goldfish with an algae remover that was supposed to be safe for fish. The fish were my pets, I’m so sad! Mine is a full size wine barrel. Wish I had seen this forum first:)
 
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I just killed my 8 large goldfish with an algae remover that was supposed to be safe for fish. The fish were my pets, I’m so sad! Mine is a full size wine barrel. Wish I had seen this forum first:)
sorry for your loss. Yes, we tend to hear this a lot. Once you understand algae better, you can then relay your experiences that don't include chems to keep it at bay.

sad emoji for your fish; :confused:
happy emoji for your future fish; :p
 
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j.w

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I just killed my 8 large goldfish with an algae remover that was supposed to be safe for fish. The fish were my pets, I’m so sad! Mine is a full size wine barrel. Wish I had seen this forum first:)
That's so horrid and sad. Hope you can somehow get through that loss and perhaps get more and no more algae remover. Bad stuff! We all have made mistakes :(
 

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