Daily Log of Constructing a Tropical Fish Pond

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lousybreed

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Sep 7, 2004
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Bay Area, CA
I am in the process of constructing a tropical fish pond in my back yard. Now I know that people will want to put this thread in the pond section but hear me out before it gets moved. There is alot of interest on this forum about keeping tropicals in a pond, plus if this thread gets thrown into the pond section only like 5% of the people at aquariacentral will see it. Also this will deal with keeping tropicals, no goldfish here!!!

I started this thread with the one below. It was just a primer to see if there was any interest in tropical ponds. I live near San Jose and Oakland CA so the climate is mild and the sun is strong.
http://www.aquariacentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=96159

I am going to monitor water temps and once it gets into the mid 60's in go the white clouds to cycle the pond. Right now I have bought the lumber and stain and I just started cutting the wood today. You might wonder why I am buying wood for a pond and it is because I am renting a house and I am not even going to ask the landlord, "Hey do you think its cool if I dig a hole in your yard" Plus I am designing this pond so I can take the water out, remove the liner, unscrew the joints and move the whole thing to my future house. I am going to draw a very simple picture on how the pond will look. The dimensions are 8'x5' and about 22" deep. This will give me 550 gallons to play with. My only pump for circulation will be a mag 5 (300 gpm???). I plan on construting a waterfall also. LOTS of plants emergent and submergent, I plan on trying crypts and other aquarium standards. Lower stocking levels, more natural appearance is the motto of my pond. I doubt that I will have any filtration besides vegatative.... More to come!

I havent really decided what fish I am going to keep in the pond yet, some of what gets put in the pond will go into my 55 gallon. The rest will be sold or traded. I am really leaning towards bosmanis right now but I am up in the air........
 

lousybreed

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Sep 7, 2004
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The stain I bought is oil based and not so good for you (like all stains). My question is once the stain dries will the wood be toxic to my pond? The only water that would contact the wood and go into the pond would be on the top shelf from rain. Very little, but I don't want to kill my fish!
 

lousybreed

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Sep 7, 2004
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Bay Area, CA
ok here is the basic design of the pond. It is a "framed" design with all side being build like a frame with lumber to fill in. I chose to do it this way instead of with plywood because it was cheaper and it will look better.

drawing.JPG
 

Astramorgaine

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Feb 6, 2007
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Southern Indiana
The stain I bought is oil based and not so good for you (like all stains). My question is once the stain dries will the wood be toxic to my pond? The only water that would contact the wood and go into the pond would be on the top shelf from rain. Very little, but I don't want to kill my fish!
The whole thing sounds great so far! I don't see a problem if you let the stained wood cure for a bit, but you just never know, and especially since you're going to put tropical fish in it, you may want to test the stain with a sample piece of wood, expose it to water and test the water. Better safe than sorry, right?
 

lousybreed

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Sep 7, 2004
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Bay Area, CA
yeah thats what I was thinking. staining some scrap wood and see if any residue comes off if you soak it in water..... I hope to be constructing the pond this weekend.....
 

is300zx

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Jan 1, 2006
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Maybe you can use pressure treated 4x4 instead for the sides. Saw it on HGTV when they built an above ground pond similar to yours. No need to stain it and should be rot resistant and could be easier to construct also. You can then just cap the top with the stained wood. You might want to put some clear laquer after staining.
 

wrigh003

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Jun 21, 2005
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Be sure you use deck screws instead of nails when you're building it, and screw them in from the inside. You'll have to do a little figuring to make sure you don't have the point of a screw sticking out through your wood, but it'll be worth it in the end. Screws for two reasons- takedown, obviously, and I dunno how many pounds of pressure 550g of water will exert on your frame, but I bet it's quite a bit. Water weighs about 8#/gallon, though, so I guess the quick and dirty way to figure it is to figure out the area of the sides, plus the bottom, add that all up, then divide out the weight of the water per square foot and build accordingly.

...

Since I'm a nerd :)read: )and I was curious, I started figuring. You're looking at an interior area (underwater) of 12624 square inches, including the floor and all four walls. Here's what I figured:
40x144 (40sq ft floor at 144in^2 per ft)
10x22x12 (the two five foot walls, 22 inches deep, the 12 to convert to inches)
16x22x12 (the two eight foot walls, 22" deep, x12 to convert to inches from feet)

So all that together is 12624.

Your 550 gallons estimate is right (I am so bored at work today that I looked it up and checked), and that gives you 4400# of water. Assuming that 4400# will exert even pressure over all its covered area, floor, walls, and all, you are working on a project that will see sustained pressure of .35 psi. Shouldn't be a problem- I figured it'd be a lot more than that.

But I'd still use screws. If you can dig in and put the uprights for your frame in the ground, that might be cool, too. :dance2:

Back on topic, sort of- if you build it so your stained wood on the top tilts away from the water, it'll run off to the outside instead of into your pond, and from there, you're golden. It'll require some careful measuring and figuring with a compound miter saw to get it right, but you can do it. :D
 

Astramorgaine

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Feb 6, 2007
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Southern Indiana
Back on topic, sort of- if you build it so your stained wood on the top tilts away from the water, it'll run off to the outside instead of into your pond, and from there, you're golden. It'll require some careful measuring and figuring with a compound miter saw to get it right, but you can do it. :D

This is actually a great idea! Then you wouldn't have to worry about the stain getting in the water at all... Or too much runoff from rainfall... Let us know how the building goes, I know that's probably the most fun right there! :)
 

lousybreed

Aquaria Central Site Controller
Original poster
Sep 7, 2004
664
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Bay Area, CA
Maybe you can use pressure treated 4x4 instead for the sides. Saw it on HGTV when they built an above ground pond similar to yours. No need to stain it and should be rot resistant and could be easier to construct also. You can then just cap the top with the stained wood. You might want to put some clear laquer after staining.
awsome idea, but I already bought the wood!

wrigh003

I have bought deck screws and I will be going from the inside out. 2.5" screws take care of that!

Also you calculation was pretty cool, but unfortunatly I might be even more of a nerd than you (Chemical engineer). The actual pressure exerted on the sides of the pond will be porportionate to the depth of the water. You need 2.31 feet of water to develop 1 psi of pressure. I use this calculation when ever I am designing a pumping system. So at the bottom of the pond (22" deep) we will be looking at 0.793 psi, in the middle we will have 0.397 psi and at the top we will have no pressure. To find the pressure exerted you could either do a simple average and calculate or you could use a fluid dynamics program if you really cared. We are looking at an average force of 0.397 psi exerted on all wetted areas. This is remarkably close to your calculation, which is pretty sweet since you kinda invented your method your self (not bad!!). I hope this makes sence?!?!?!?
 

wrigh003

AC Members
Jun 21, 2005
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awsome idea, but I already bought the wood!

wrigh003

I have bought deck screws and I will be going from the inside out. 2.5" screws take care of that!

Also you calculation was pretty cool, but unfortunatly I might be even more of a nerd than you (Chemical engineer). The actual pressure exerted on the sides of the pond will be porportionate to the depth of the water. You need 2.31 feet of water to develop 1 psi of pressure. I use this calculation when ever I am designing a pumping system. So at the bottom of the pond (22" deep) we will be looking at 0.793 psi, in the middle we will have 0.397 psi and at the top we will have no pressure. To find the pressure exerted you could either do a simple average and calculate or you could use a fluid dynamics program if you really cared. We are looking at an average force of 0.397 psi exerted on all wetted areas. This is remarkably close to your calculation, which is pretty sweet since you kinda invented your method your self (not bad!!). I hope this makes sence?!?!?!?
I knew there'd be a difference in the pressure at the bottom and top, but didn't know how to calculate it since I know nada about fluids, and figuring THAT out was more effort that I was willing to exert. :p

<- Decidedly not an engineer. :D
 
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