How to Make a Mini Outdoor Pond for Aquarium Fish
Everybody is ready to take a walk outside as soon as the weather gets warmer. What better way to enjoy nature than to set up your first mini pond for breeding aquarium fish? If you live in a temperate climate that experiences distinct seasonal changes, then your mini pond fun usually lasts for 3 to 4 months in the summer (e.g., sometime between May and September in the United States). However, if you live in the subtropical zone that stays above 50degF or 10degC for most of the year (like Florida), then you can play with fish outdoors all year round.
Nature does a spectacular job of raising fish in many ways, and we can learn some valuable lessons by putting our fish outside. Fish and shrimp develop brilliant coloration when grown under sunlight and fed natural foods like green water, algae, fallen leaves, and live insects. Mini ponds provide an excellent habitat for fish babies and plants. They also attract all types of wildlife such as birds, frogs or deer. Your pond might become an essential part of your local ecosystem during times of drought.
How do you make a mini pond?
Looking for a
is one of the easiest parts of making a mini pond. You can either use an ordinary 5-gallon bucket for your first pond or get a huge 300-gallon, plastic stock tub from a feed store. There are also options such as old aquariums, childdie pools and half whiskey barrels. Larger containers are better for reducing temperature swings and water quality issues. Because invertebrates have a higher tolerance to trace metals in their water, metal containers might not be appropriate for keeping shrimp and snails.
Even large decorative pots could be used to create beautiful mini-ponds for your balcony or backyard.
The temperature management of your container will depend on where it is located. If possible, put the container in shade. Algae will not grow if the temperature isn’t changing as often. While algae can be beneficial to your fish, it is not as good for you if your goal is to grow plants for profit. If nothing casts a shadow large enough for your container, consider using a shade cloth to decrease the sun exposure. Another tactic is to bury the container partially or entirely in the ground since the earth will help the mini pond stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. These containers require additional precautions, such as safety fences to protect pets and children (just like inground swimming pools).
When it comes to filtration, a simple sponge filter with an air pump should suffice for a mini pond, but you can also buy a pond filter or make your own DIY bucket filter for keeping larger fish like goldfish and African cichlids. An important step is to protect the electrical equipment from sun and rain. One method is to shelter the air pump inside a garage and run airline tubing outside to the mini tub. To protect power cords or extension cables, you can get a weatherproof connector box at your hardware store. To reduce UV damage, you’ll need to cover your air pump inside a weatherproof container or under an upside-down bag.
Once the equipment is set up, fill the container and add dechlorinater to make the tap water safe for fish. Rain should replace the evaporation in the mini pond. However, you might need to add water to the container with the hose if it is in drought. The remainder of the article will focus on plants, fish, as well as predator deterrents you can add to your mini pond.
What Are the Best Plants for a Small Pond?
We highly recommend adding aquatic plants into your pond because of the many benefits they provide. The plants provide shade and shelter for fish, and landing areas for amphibians and insects to drink. Water hyacinth is a very popular pond plant because of its beautiful purple blooms and long, bushy roots that provide valuable cover for fry. Because of their remarkable ability to remove organic waste and toxic substances from water, they are often used by water treatment plants.
Water hyacinth in bloom
Duckweed, water lettuce and water lilies are just a few of the other plants that you can grow in your pond. Toss in some water sprite or other stem plant trimmings, and they will flourish and multiply under the natural sunlight. The power of plants means that there is no need to worry about fallen leaves, branches, and other decaying material. The plants filter the water and your micro ecosystem, made up of algae, microorganisms or fish, helps break them down.
What fish are you allowed to keep in a small pond?
This question will require some research from your part to determine how long fish can remain outside in your climate zone. However, we have had great success with these hardy species that can tolerate cooler temperatures.
Variatus platies – Wild type endlers
Multispecies can be combined, provided they are all peaceful and do not eat each other. Many fish can breed outside easily, so you should have an exit strategy for where to put them. You can make some money by selling extra plants and fish to friends, fish shops, or online auctions at end of pond season to help you recoup some of the costs of summer tubbing.
Livebearers, a popular fish to breed in pond season due to their high birth rates and healthy appetites, are common.
How can you protect your fish from predators?
However, if you leave little fish in the natural environment, you can also provide food for the wildlife nearby. Cats, raccoons, and larger birds are happy to get a free meal wherever they can. Dragonfly larvae may be able to find a way in to your mini pond and get some baby fish if you don’t have enough fish. You can’t guarantee protection but there are ways to protect the animals you have problems with.
Your first line of defense is to make sure that the fish have plenty of hiding spots. This can be done using plants, shelves, PVC pipes, hardscape and other decor. Some people put “lids” on top of their tubs (e.g., metal wire racks or greenhouse siding) that still allow light to pass through while keeping predators out. Some prefer to use netting, which is a grid of clear fishing lines or mesh covers that are easily removable for your enjoyment.
If there is a strange looking creature in your pond, it may be a dragonfly.
How Do You Winterize a Small Pond?
The winter season is when most tropical fish can not live outdoors. If temperatures drop below 65 degrees F or 18 degrees C, drain the water and bring the fish indoors. (If you want to keep the fish out longer, consider using a heater to add an extra month of pond season in the spring and fall.) If you want perennial plants to return next year, trim their leaves to start their dormant periods. Then store them in the garage.
You can keep cold water fish outside in winter by using a sponge filter or small air stone to maintain a certain level of oxygen and aerated water. If the tub is large enough or buried inground, stratification may occur, such that the surface ices over and insulates the warmer water at the bottom where the fish are “hibernating.” Smaller containers with fish can be moved entirely into the garage to decrease the chances of freezing.
Inground Ponds are warmer in winter, but need extra safety fencing to protect pets and children.
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