I’ve always wanted to have a pond, but I thought my backyard was too small. The thing about ponds and fish keeping in general is that, space matters. The good news is, there’s this preformed ponds, or preformed pond liners, as they call it. They’re very easy to install and they come in different sizes — mostly on the small to medium range.
The idea came about when I was working on my DIY Planter Box a few weeks back and it just hit me — I could actually have a water feature in here. What better way to do it than a small pond? So I shopped around, online of course, and came across some preformed pond liners. There are a few options in Bunnings and luckily, I found the perfect fit. And when I say perfect, I mean the biggest pond that I can fit in my planter box. Among the choices were 65L (this was my first choice), 100L, 135L, and 185L.
The Chosen One
As much as I loved the 65L and 100L due to their rock-like appearance, I ended up getting the 185L one — the AQUAPRO Argyle Preformed Poly Pond 185L. On paper, the dimensions seemed to fit in my box but because it’s odd-shaped, sort of like a kidney, I can’t be so sure. So I called up Aquapro and they were happy to take measurements for me — fits like a glove!
I still think this pond is small, but from 65L to 185L, safe to say it’s a business class upgrade. It’s not as good looking as the 65L and 100L ones but that’s the trade-off. At least my fish will have a 125-litre wiggle room. Happy with that.
Apart from the pond itself, the other important bit is the filter. Filters should be on top of the aquarium and pond essentials list. Though they come in different types, sizes and forms, they follow the same purpose — to keep the nitrogen cycle stable.
For starters, this is the Nitrogen Cycle:
Ammonia – As organic matter (dead leaves, fish waste, etc.) in the water builds up, ammonia levels will start to rise. This is extremely harmful to your fish and other animals in the pond.
Nitrites – The beneficial bacteria in your filter will break down the ammonia and turn it into nitrites. Nitrites are still toxic.
Nitrates – The bacteria in your filter will break down the nitrites, turning it into nitrates. This is the least harmful among the 3 and this is what live plants consume.
With that in mind, the idea behind filtration is to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria to break down ammonia and nitrites. Nitrates will be dealt with by live plants and regular water changes.
Back to the filter. After some research, I thought the best filter for this pond is the AQUAPRO 1000 All in One Pump and Filter. Check out the link for more info.
Here’s what’s out of the box:
This filter has 3 types of fountains and the cool thing is, there’s a water outlet that I can just put a hose on should I decide to divert the water to a waterfall or cascade feature.
This one is no rocket science, you dig a hole, put the pond in place, and fill in the gaps, easy. And oh, you’d want to level the pond as well. Boy I love my spirit level. Anyway, the photos below should be enough to give you an idea.
It’s better to dig straight into the ground but if you have a slope like mine, then a raised garden bed will make more sense.
This pond is still a work in progress, I have some water lilies coming in, and maybe a few aquatic plants to help keep the nitrates down.
So we’ve done our pond, surely we can put in our fish now, right? Nope. Remember the Nitrogen Cycle? We’ll have to wait until we have 0 ammonia, 0 nitrites, and a reasonable level of nitrates. That is how you know that your filter has established the bacteria and the cycle has begun. If you have enough plants, nitrates would be 0 as well, this is your best case scenario. If Nitrates are high, do a 30% water change before putting in your fish.
How do you know those levels? Here’s what I have been using for my aquariums and I will be using this to run tests on my pond.
Not-so-fun Fact: I had my first fish around 20 years ago. They were 2 fantail goldfish. I chose them because I was told they are the ultimate beginner’s fish, they’re quite hardy. One lasted overnight, the other lasted for about 48 hours. What went wrong? I did not have internet, I knew nothing. So I’m telling you what I know and encourage you to do as much research as you can. Fish lives matter! 🙂
I think that must have been the sudden change in water conditions. Don’t worry, there’s what we call a water conditioner. It removes chlorine and other elements that could be harmful to fish. I use this in every water change.
Lastly, as new ponds and aquariums have no established bacteria yet, reason why we have a cycling period, we can speed it up by introducing those beneficial bacteria. Here’s something you can use.
And we are all set! We’ll give our friendly bacteria some time to settle into their new home and we’ll be adding in our fish in no time.
We will be posting progress photos in our Instagram account so check that one out.