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View Full Version : Does a pond need a filter? How do you cycle ponds?



Sawyer
01-30-2011, 3:32 PM
I'm really confused about this. Sometimes I hear all you need for a pond is a pump/fountain. Some people don't even use that and just have plants for oxygen. But then some use filters... is this just needed for small ponds? Do larger ponds NEED filters? I'm getting a 257 gallon stock tank and in March/April when its warmer I'll be putting my goldfish in it. I'm going to add plants too and get a pump.. will I need a filter or not? If I have rocks/bricks in the bottom can good bacteria grow under it like it would in gravel in a tank?

prober
01-30-2011, 3:37 PM
I would at least use a sponge filter. There are plenty of filtration threads and most don't cost too much but with no filtration it will be problematic.

rainbowcharmer
01-30-2011, 4:09 PM
I think all "small" ponds need filtration (small is probably 10,000 gallons or less). Until you get into huge volumes of water, and the natural processes (fish, plants, bugs, bacteria, etc) that go with them, you're probably going to need filtration. I know for the pond I'm building, I'm definitely putting in a filter (which we assembled today!) because I'd much prefer filtered water with goldfish in there. They create a lot of waste, and the build-up of ammonia really has nowhere to go in such a small amount of water. Larger bodies of water are different, though many of those are fed by springs or rivers, so there's a constant water change going on there.

I'm sure others with more experience will be along, but I'd vote for filtration on that size setup.

cichlidcichlid
01-30-2011, 5:13 PM
Usually even in big ponds they put in at least an aerator.

Sawyer
01-30-2011, 5:23 PM
Anyone know of any here that don't use filters? I could've sworn there's some that have stock tanks and they use a lot of plants for filtration.

I probably could set up a DIY filter pretty easily, and I've already got some of the supplies.. I just would rather not if thats possible. I guess I could have fish if I used a filter too...

prober
01-30-2011, 6:01 PM
Even with no fish and plants for a filter you would want to keep the water moving or it will be a mosquito factory.

WeedCali
01-30-2011, 6:03 PM
You want a filter especially since your gonna have goldies ;)

XanAvaloni
01-30-2011, 8:13 PM
Maybe this is quibbling but I would not describe your setup as a pond. To my mind a pond is a hole in the ground with water in it. Even if it has a liner on the bottom to prevent all the water soaking out, it has interaction with the surrounding ground at the edges. Plants grow up and out; dirt blows in with the wind or erodes in from the rain. Etc.

You are essentially setting up a big metal fishtank that just happens to be outside. I would do everything as you would in any other tank, scaled up to suitable proportions for the volume.

(I have hopes of doing the same, although with concrete block rather than a stock tank. Was inspired by the one from the ACer in KY last year....was that ponderingKy? my brain is a steel...sieve these days. Haven't seen him around lately anyway.)

rainbowcharmer
01-30-2011, 8:36 PM
Yes I think even the very large volume ponds have a big fountain in the middle to keep the surface moving. I can't think of anyone who has a completely unfiltered pond though I seem to remember an enclosed system tank that is unfiltered somewhere on here. But that was a really special setup.

I agree on the mosquito problem. Stagnant water leads to all sorts of unpleasantness. And a pond with fish (or a tank with fish) needs some surface agitation for gas exchange. Without it, the fish will probably suffocate. And I'll second the "not quite a pond" thought. Many people here have regular tanks larger than the stock tank you're talking about, which is only going to be able to hold 5 or 6 common goldies comfortably anyhow.

It will still be a neat setup, but I'd definitely consider filtration.

Sawyer
01-31-2011, 12:21 AM
Ok, will the filter media need to be in a container (like you see with DIY pond filters) or can I have the filter media in the pond, weighted down with a rock or something? Kinda like how a sponge filter is in a tank, I guess...

I'm going to have a pump, even if I didn't have a filter. And I'm using this netting http://www.fosterandsmithaquatics.com/product/prod_display.cfm?c=5163+9413+15872&pcatid=15872 so I don't think mosquitoes will be able to get in, or if they do any larvae they lay will get eaten by the fish.

Yeah, I know its not a 'pond' exactly.. I have a huge pond, many thousands of gallons, in my yard so in comparison it seems really tiny.

WeedCali
01-31-2011, 12:44 AM
Mosquitoes will definietly make it through that. you need something the size of window screen to keep them out.

ponderingky
01-31-2011, 3:36 AM
I have 2 outdoor in-ground ponds (both lined). One is 7' x 9' and about 22 inches deep. The other is 9' x 9' and almost 36 inches deep. I don't have a filter on either pond. The smaller pond has a water fall and I do have lava rock in the catch basin for some bio material. I have a ton of plants in both. The larger pond has a 20 foot creek that lead to a water fall - no lava rock in this one. I used a filter the first year in the smaller pond but had to clean it so often that I finally just jerked it out and let the plants/waterfall do their work. My water is crystal clear and has been for years. I don't have a lot of fish but have goldies and koi in the larger pond and just a few goldies in the smaller (guppies go in when it warms up). Both ponds have been up and running for over 5 years - do what you are comfortable with but if you have over 50% of your pond planted and some way to move water (I like a water fall) I would skip the filter and just enjoy your pond and all your critters.

ianab
01-31-2011, 5:14 AM
If the pond is big enough, and lightly stocked then it doesn't need a filter, but you are talking about a seriously big pond for just a few fish. I had 5 feeder goldfish in a small swimming pool years ago. Nothing else, just a pool of water. They grew huge and lived there for about 3 years until we removed the pool.

But for a more sane sized pond, yes you want some sort of filtering, even it's it's just a cheap fountain pump and a bucket of scoria rocks as filter media.

Ian

Sawyer
01-31-2011, 5:05 PM
Thanks for your help. Since I'll be able to have more fish with a filter I think I've decided on not having an actual filter, but have a sack thing full of filter media and lava rocks on the bottom of the pond. Plus lots of plants, and a pump of course, which is pretty high power (got a couple of pool pumps that may work but they might be too strong, I'll have to see). Or I might use a fountain if I can find one for cheap.

davcheng
01-31-2011, 8:44 PM
I had a tub pond with no aeration and no filter. I've been setting it up for the past three years with NO problems. Lots of plants for filtration, a couple of white cloud minnows to keep the mosquitoes at bay. The minnows breed every year.

Sawyer
02-01-2011, 11:21 AM
I had a tub pond with no aeration and no filter. I've been setting it up for the past three years with NO problems. Lots of plants for filtration, a couple of white cloud minnows to keep the mosquitoes at bay. The minnows breed every year.

Thanks for the info. I was thinking that maybe after I had this pond set up and going for awhile I might try another pond with fish other than goldfish. Goldfish are so messy that I imagine its best to have some sort of filtration/aeration. But yeah, I was thinking rosy reds or American flagfish with just a bunch of plants. Only problem is making sure I have enough tank space in the house for winter... although I suppose American flagfish could survive here, they're native here and it barely even gets in the 20s in the winter here.

What do you do for algae in ponds? My dad is worried the pond will just be filled with algae and a lot of trouble... goldfish eat algae, don't they? Do they only eat certain types? I know American flags eat algae, but I don't know if it would be a good idea to have them in with goldfish (probably only commons/comets/shubs cause fancies will need to be taken indoors in the winter) since they can be territorial/aggressive sometimes, especially when breeding.

GEV83
02-01-2011, 3:30 PM
Maybe this is quibbling but I would not describe your setup as a pond. To my mind a pond is a hole in the ground with water in it. Even if it has a liner on the bottom to prevent all the water soaking out, it has interaction with the surrounding ground at the edges. Plants grow up and out; dirt blows in with the wind or erodes in from the rain. Etc.

You are essentially setting up a big metal fishtank that just happens to be outside. I would do everything as you would in any other tank, scaled up to suitable proportions for the volume.

(I have hopes of doing the same, although with concrete block rather than a stock tank. Was inspired by the one from the ACer in KY last year....was that ponderingKy? my brain is a steel...sieve these days. Haven't seen him around lately anyway.)

Your talking about Mike aka PittBull on here. You could easily find him in the South/Central American Cichlid Forum. Me Mike and Nano talk alot on there.

If you guys need help with a filter for a pond then Im sure he would be more then willing to help you guys out with a good DIY filter.

Sawyer
02-01-2011, 4:29 PM
Is galvanized steel safe for fish? It won't leak toxins, like lead, into the water? Its this http://www.enasco.com/product/Z30383N

rainbowcharmer
02-01-2011, 4:50 PM
an above ground pond in 20 degree weather will likely freeze solid. no fish can live through that... if it is constant sub freezing temps like that in the winter you will need indoor space for the goldies as well.

Posted on mobile.aquariacentral.com

Sawyer
02-01-2011, 4:59 PM
Yeah but I live in a warm place, it never snows.

Well since the stock tank is dangerous I've decided on a preformed plastic pond with a pump and waterfall that I'll probably get in a few days, if the owners will take my offer on it :) Its actually probably better and my parents would much rather get this anyway. The only prob is its probably not even 200g so once the golds outgrow it I'll use it for American flagfish.

pbeemer
02-02-2011, 12:39 PM
galvanized steel is steel coated with zinc. zinc is an essential ion to all life forms, but high levels of zinc are toxic to algae, plants, many inverts, and some fish. it takes VERY high levels of zinc to be toxic to the higher vertebrates -- a percent of your body weight would make you very sick; it has happened, e.g by eating lots of pennies, but it's hard to get there.

zinc on steel is pretty stable (that's what it's there for), and i would doubt the fish would have a problem unless your water is very salty or acid, so try to keep the pH above 7. algae, worms, and snails will probably not do well

Sawyer
02-06-2011, 3:26 AM
^Yeah, so I decided I'm just getting the preformed pond instead. Probably picking it up tomorrow.

Will it take 4+ weeks to cycle like with a tank? Or even longer? I'm using lava rock and a big strip of filter media for the bacteria to live in, and the pond comes with a pump and waterfall.

ianab
02-06-2011, 4:46 AM
The pond will take time to cycle, but because it's so big, compared to a small aquarium, you can just add a few small goldfish and leave them too it.

By the time they start to grow bigger, the system will have cycled to support the increased waste.

Ian

pbeemer
02-06-2011, 1:05 PM
you might speed it up by putting your water change water from your existing aquarium into it

rainbowcharmer
02-06-2011, 1:18 PM
That is what I am planning to do with my pond here soon.

Sawyer
02-06-2011, 4:49 PM
you might speed it up by putting your water change water from your existing aquarium into it

Good idea! I'll do that. It would be better with poop and stuff that is in the water when you gravel vac, right? Because I know that the water doesn't have much bacteria in it.


The pond will take time to cycle, but because it's so big, compared to a small aquarium, you can just add a few small goldfish and leave them too it.

By the time they start to grow bigger, the system will have cycled to support the increased waste.


Really, cool!

wesleydnunder
02-07-2011, 11:14 AM
I have 2 outdoor in-ground ponds (both lined). One is 7' x 9' and about 22 inches deep. The other is 9' x 9' and almost 36 inches deep. I don't have a filter on either pond. The smaller pond has a water fall and I do have lava rock in the catch basin for some bio material. I have a ton of plants in both. The larger pond has a 20 foot creek that lead to a water fall - no lava rock in this one. I used a filter the first year in the smaller pond but had to clean it so often that I finally just jerked it out and let the plants/waterfall do their work. My water is crystal clear and has been for years. I don't have a lot of fish but have goldies and koi in the larger pond and just a few goldies in the smaller (guppies go in when it warms up). Both ponds have been up and running for over 5 years - do what you are comfortable with but if you have over 50% of your pond planted and some way to move water (I like a water fall) I would skip the filter and just enjoy your pond and all your critters.

I agree with this. I installed a couple dozen ponds over the years and filtration is not necessary in every case. Moving the water somehow like a waterfall or stream is often all you need. I always heavily planted my ponds and stocked them lightly.

Mark

garyfla
02-13-2011, 5:01 AM
Hi
I run an above ground 5 x 10 water garden and a 6 x6 marsh garden without filters or pumps . They have purge systems built in, powered by collected rainwater.. In fact the 5x10 was originally built as a rainwater reservoir for my aquariums. Couldn't resist putting plants and fish in it so is useless as a reservoir lol
I have a terrific advantage as I live in s. florida so no snow or ice to contend with so the system can operate all year, overflow goes to a meadow garden .
For the "normal" pond keeper I'd highly recommend a filter system Especially if you want to keep fish. Seems a must as there is no other way to control mosquitoes .
Check out some of the DIY "skippy" filters Cheap to build and maintain and will greatly improve water quality for minimal expense. gary

ohbly
02-18-2011, 6:58 AM
I've kept a few small above ground ponds that don't have pumps or filters. I maintain them by keeping them lightly stocked, well planted, doing regular water changes(I use the water to water gardens) and regularly removing any organic gunk the settles on the bottom. I would never have gravel or anything on the bottom that would trap leaves and poo that could rot and stagnate the water.

Sawyer
02-18-2011, 11:25 AM
Thanks for the replies :)

I got the pond, its a bit bigger than I expected. Probably about 200 gallons, maybe more. I'll have to measure. I'm going to have a net over it, have it underground, have a lot of plants, it has a waterfall and pumps so it has water movement, and I'll have some lava rocks on the water fall and in the pond so the bacteria has something to live in. I think it'll work well, and with the lava rock it kinda has filtration.

For when I fill it up and whenever I need to add water, do I add water conditioner?

And when is the earliest that I can put goldfish in the pond? I live in Florida so its not very cold out in Feb/March but there are some random cold days, then it goes back to 70s/80s. They will be baby goldfish, 1-2 inches.

rainbowcharmer
02-19-2011, 12:36 PM
Definitely use water conditioner. You'll still have chlorine/chloramines in your water when you fill it up.