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~ I'm starting this topic because of its relevance in keeping catfish or other small food fish in your own backyard as a source of protein... or (Just keeping goldfish) for fun. I've kept fish for many years before getting into the outdoor pond hobby quite a few years ago. I really got into backyard ponds way before they were popular. When I started, LOWES and Home Depot didn't even sell pond supplies. So I've watched the hobby grow from day one. I watched a lot of good products leave the shelves only to be replaced by more expensive less effective equipment. In this article, I will share what I know about how to keep a lot of fish in a small amount of water, and how to do it without a ton of money. You could do this in your basement if you live in an area where the pond would freeze solid, you'd have to. My pond freezes over for a couple of weeks in Winter to a depth of about four inches. I've never lost a fish to Winter. I've had lots of different filters, and I've found the ones that perform best with  minimal maintenance.  :thumbup:

 

 

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I'm not going into how to build a pond... I used a preformed pond I bought at LOWES on sale for thirty bucks a couple of Winters ago. It cannot stand alone (no matter what I support it with.) So I had to bury it in a raised bed. I poured builders sand around it to support it. You could easily build a rectangular raised structure out of plywood, and then use a pond liner to line it with. Tons of online info on how to do that.

 

If you've ever kept Aquariums, the hardest thing to get through your mind, is that a pond is not an aquarium. You don't have as much control over what falls into it, or jumps into it, or gets blown into it. You never want it in a low lying area where rain run off wil go into it though. A tree overhead will become a nightmare in Autumn. So finding the best spot can be a challenge. A pond will never be as clean as an aquarium. You don't want it that way. It wll develop green fuzzy algae on the sides of it, and there will always be a small amount of debris on the bottom...

 

You Have to circulate the water in a pond, so a good POND pump is a must. It must be designed for pond use.... A sump pump won't work. Pond pumps are Mag Drive pumps (Magnetically driven) There's no oil in them that could leak out. They're designed to run for years. I use Two pumps. I only have one running right now, it basically does all the filtration work...  it moves the water through my filtration system. The other pump is a Laguna Pump with a fountain on it. I take the fountain off, and just use the uplift tube to move water from the bottom to the surface of my pond once my water hits about 80F.  Warm water can't hold a lot of oxygen, so I only use that extra pump to move water around and expose more water to the surface (where it picks up oxygen.) I don't even put it in my pond until the water starts heating up. In August, my pond water approaches 90F...    that's hot for fish. Even so, I've never seen my fish gasping at the surface due to low oxygen levels. In hot weather.... you have to MOVE the water more.  :thumbup:  I bought the strongest pump I could afford. You want to turn your pond  water over several times an hour. My little pond is only 165 gallons! The pumps I use WERE on my old in ground pond that was over a thousand gallons. Still, the water isn't turbulent... it's pretty much just right.  You have to have Electricity to run these pumps...  so a GFCI outlet needs to be nearby. 

 

SOLAR powered pumps are available, but they are nowhere near powerful enough to do the job. Don't waste your money.

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I am looking forward to this, I have been wanting to do a pond for years with a little waterfall.... I am just afraid that the raccoons will eat whatever fish I put in there  :unsure:

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~ I keep forgetting that I've started this thread.  oops.gif

 

To keep fish alive, you have to realize that in Nature you'll never see ten or more six-inch or larger fish inside of 165 gallons of water. They are WAY more spaced out in a lake. Plus, a lake has a natural turn-over of water, the more turn-over, the healthier the eco-system. Ponds that accumulate a lot of run-off water (often containing fertilizer from farm land), with no natural stream-fed turn-over,  quickly become pea-soup green with algae.

 

So How do you keep water crystal clear in the hot sun, with a fish bio-load that would normally kill fish in nature?  8|

 

Water Movement, And really SMART Filtration.  :thumbup:

 

Notice, I said SMART, and not "Expensive"?  That's because in today's market, expensive is often not smart.  :thumbdown:

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~ In a small backyard pond, the smaller the pond, the more unstable the ecosystem. Large amounts of water are always more stable. So it takes some know-how to create the picture you want in your mind of crystal clear water, and pretty fish darting around some pretty pond plants. My pond is 165 gallons, and as far as ponds go... that's not only small, it's miniscule. It's more like a large aquarium size. Still...  It's completely balanced. My friends have ponds way bigger than mine, that they battle with constantly to keep clear. They're always asking my advice on ponds and fish.

 

First of all, if you ever build a pond, Don't make the mistake of putting gravel on the bottom of it.  :thumbdown:  There's NO reason to. It just makes it hard to net out the debris and the gunk. Every friend of mine who has pond problems had their pond built by professionals and they all put gravel on the bottom.  :thumbdown:  STUPID.  whip.gif

 

It doesn't look more "natural" It just looks dirty. My pond is black on the bottom. So the bottom just disappears behind the fish and plants. remember, NO GRAVEL. It serves no purpose.

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~ There are Two kinds of filtration that you have to understand before you can keep a fish in any container...  whether it be a bowl, an aquarium, or an outdoor pond.

 

The first is given SO Much attention, but it's the least important as far as fish health is concerned... "Mechanical Filtration".  That simply means removing floating debris from the water.

 

I use Two forms of "Mechanical Filtration" in my pond. 

 

To remove BIG debris like tree stems and leaves, I use a Pond NET...  it's THAT Simple.  Go out there and net the big debris out of your pond every day. If you haven't built your pond beneath a tree, it shouldn't be too hard.  :hugegrin:

 

Forget a skimmer. I don't like skimmers built into pond filtration systems because they go against nature. And... they fill up too quick to be practical. How many frogs do you find in your pool skimmer? I rest my case. It doesn't make sense to design a natural pond in your yard, that will attract natural wildlife, and then KILL the creatures who come there to reproduce.  :nono:  Skimmers kill toads by drowning them. That's just not right. In the fall, when leaves blow into the pond, the skimmer would need to be emptied every few hours. Not practical.

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~ The second type of "Mechanical" filtration I use, is one I have used for a long time. It's THE Best Pre-filter on the market. I say prefilter because it lies between the Water and your expensive Pump. The submerged pump connects to it, and it sucks water down through this filter and then (in my case) it pumps it out of the pond to another filter.

 

This is a Pond Master 1000 prefilter. It has a low profile and one square foot surface area so it doesn't clog too fast. Inside of it, are two 12" X 12" pads a coarse one and a finer one. I haven't replaced those pads in over a year. I just pull the filter out,  lift off the lid, and use a jet stream from my garden hose to rinse them off. It takes all of five minutes every few days. The Pond Master filter I have is over ten years old, and for the money, there's nothing better on the market. I promise.  :thumbup:

 

pondmaster.jpg

 

My pump hooks to this filter, then I run a hose from the outlet side of my pump to my next filter. When my waterfall slows down to a trickle... I know this pre-filter needs rinsing. It traps debris that is WAY too fine for any pond net to capture. However, because of it's large surface area, tadpoles can easily avoid it, plus it is way to fine to pull any living creatures through the pump. It protects my pump's impeller from ever getting nicked by debris. My pump is over five years old. This prefilter Also keeps my Biological Filter free of debris, and That is super important.

 

This is the ONLY Filter I have to clean. EVER.

 

 

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~ here's my Pond Master Pre Filter on the bottom of my pond about two and a half feet deep...  It's always a good idea to put it on the opposite side of where your water return is... that way you ensure the best water movement. You can see how it just blends into the background. The rocks you see laying on the bottom of my pond are not a gravel bottom, but those are from my water liliy pot. I plant my water lilies in pots with garden soil, and I have to put pea gravel on top of them to keep the soil in the pot. My fish knock those pieces of gravel off the pot when they're foraging around for stuff to eat.  :hugegrin:

 

prefilter.jpg

 

The water is so reflective that it's hard to see... that's my wooden fence reflected in the pond.

 

 

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~ The Water Looks BLUE-GREEN because I add a harmless dye to it. I do this only in the Spring. The Dye is made for Water Gardens, and the purpose of it is to cut down the amount of Sunlight that penetrates the water...

 

Remember....  The Cause of Excess Algae (In an Aquarium Or anywhere) is Excess Nutrients and/or Excess Light. This Dye helps keep the excess light down until my Pond is Completely Balanced. It only takes one half teaspoonful per fifty gallons. And it is non toxic to wildlife. It's WAY easier to prevent algae than it is to get rid of it once you have an overgrowth.  :thumbup:

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~ Once my pump sucks the water down through the pre-filter and out of the pond... it sends it to my next filter. The next filter is a Biological Filter.

 

A biological filter is THE filter that keeps fish alive. Fish produce Toxic Ammonia, (Just like we do) only they have to swim in it.

 

That ammonia is the number one reason that fish die soon after people buy them. The ONLY way to get rid of the Ammonia, is to Change a lot of the water (like nature does in a river or large lake) or....  

 

Allow Natural Bacteria (that EAT ammonia) to develop naturally in your pond/aquarium etc.   :thumbup:

 

Those Bacteria are called "Nitrifying Bacteria".   If you put a lot of fish, in a new pond really fast, they will produce ammonia WAY Faster than your filter can grow Nitrifying Bacterial cultures, and you will have a Lot of fish die off. However, if you Put just a few Baby goldfish in a good sized pond...(One baby per 30 gallons of water)  then you'll be just fine.  :thumbup:

 

Nitrifying Bacteria need a month or so to develop, And... most importantly, they NEED OXYGEN, and LOTS of it. So Whatever Pond filter you buy that "says" it's a Biological Filter... if it sits on the bottom of the pond, it's not doing anything but building clogged up cultures of Anaerobic bacteria, and polluting your water. THIS  includes Pressurized Filters. Which are super expensive but are nothing more than bottom of the pond filters that are located outside of the pond.  :thumbdown:

 

NEVER Buy a filter with a FOAM filter cartridge in it (That says it's a biological filter)...  they work in Aquariums (with little debris), but NOT in a pond. FOAM  filters and Ponds do NOT mix. By Foam, I mean like sofa cushion-looking Foam. Or Sponge-looking foam. You cannot Filter a pond with anything that fine. Some of the most expensive filters on the market use foam filter cartriges. They aren't worth the Foam they're made of.  :thumbdown:

 

The ONLY filter that should sit on the bottom of your pond is a pre-filter. And it should be cleaned anytime the waterfall slows down.

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tetra.png

 

THIS is the Best Economical Pre-made Bio Filter on the market that your money will buy. It's the Tetra Biofilter PF3.  People don't like them because they need to be higher than the pond for the water to exit back into the pond, but I just elevate mine on a cinder block, then I visually block it with potted plants....

 

It's a state of the art Trickle Filter...  (trickle filter technology was born out of the salt-water hobby)  The water enters the filter and it "Trickles down" through the plastic media that has thousands of square yards of surface area for Nitrifying bacteria to develop on. Because it trickles down through it, the bacteria are constantly exposed to the ammonia filled water AND  Oxygen from air.  There's even a venturi at the inlet of the filter to suck in air as the water courses through the filter. I think even the largest Tetra Bio filter is less than One hundred dollars. And WELL worth it.

 

You'd pay three times that much at LOWES or some other place for a pressurized filter that was worthless. I"ll show you a Pic in a minute of how I hide my Biofilter.  :thumbup: 

 

Even with my Large fishload, I've never had detectable amounts of Ammonia in my pond. EVER.  :thumbup:

 

Great Product that has been around for years for a good reason.  :yes:

 

When it comes to ponds, More expensive doesn't mean better equipment.

 

 

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tetrabiofilter.jpg

 

Here is my Tetra Biofilter (It was less than 80 bucks when I bought it). My Tetra U.V. filter sits on top of it.(It was around 65 bucks) The Pre-filtered water exits my pond (No floating debris in it) and goes through my U.V. filter. The U.V. Filter zaps the water with U.V. rays that kill all free-floating algae, and parasites and harmful bacteria and even viruses. I change the bulb on my U.V. filter every six months. The bulbs are nine bucks at Lowes, and about 25 bucks at Petsmart.  wacky115.gif  The Lowes bulbs are exactly the same.

 

After it goes through my U.V. filter, it then goes into my Tetra Biofilter, where it trickles down through the media and the ammonia is instantly turned into non-toxic Nitrate by the nitrifying bacteria that have colonized that filter. I NEVER have to clean my Biofilter. I do rinse it out at the beginning of every season, but it's never dirty.

 

The Water exits my Biofilter through a hose and it goes into my little water fall basin that I bought a Lowes for about fifteen bucks. I drilled a hole in the back of it, and ran a hose from my filter to the back of my waterfall.

 

So Gravity pretty much drives the Tetra Biofilter. My pump is powerful enough to pump water that high up to the top of my filter. Then it trickles back down and back into the pond.  :thumbup:

 

~ it exits the filter at the bottom. That's aluminum foil I have wrapped around that hose, because the only hose I could find that fit the 1.5 inch outlet on that filter was in plumbing and it was clear. I knew that in the sun, Algae would clog that clear hose. so I wrapped it.

 

 

 

 

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~ That filter is a Nitrifying Powerhouse! It Turns Ammonia into Nitrate so fast! Well, Nitrate is the number one thing that Plants FEED on in water, SO.....  in my waterfall, I use floating water plants that are Notorious for soaking up Nitrates...  Water Hyacinth. (NEVER RELEASE them into the Wild if you live in the South) They are so good at filtering Nitrates out of water that they use them in Water Treatment facilities.  :thumbup:

 

I buy Two.... tiny water hyacinth plants, and by the end of the summer I have HUNDREDS... I'm having to pull them from my Waterfall basin daily to keep the water flowing through there. They have MASSIVE root systems that are a foot long!  I'll show you a pic once they start growing. Those roots soak up ANY nutrients that Algae could possibly feed on.

 

Those plants are a THIRD form of Filtration called a Vegetative Filter They soak up Nitrates so fast, there's NO nitrates left for algae to eat. They basically starve out the algae from the pond.  :thumbup:

 

That's when I stop adding the blue dye to my water... 

 

Excess Nitrates won't kill fish, but they WILL stunt a fish's growth.  :thumbup:

 

So with these few inexpensive filters and a good pump, I can keep my water in excellent condition that is very healthy for my fish and other pond life.  :cool:

 

I have friends with WAY more expensive set-ups, whose water never comes close to what mine stays like.

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filterhide.jpg

 

My big Tetra Pond Biofilter is easily hidden behind a tropical plant (I buy a new one at Walmart each year for less than twenty bucks) they thrive in our heat and humidity. The rest of my landscaping around my pond is not done, but it's a work in progress. I usually put large potted plants (I love Hibiscus) along the fence behind the pond. I just don't do it all at once. (I'm always on a budget)  :thumbup:

 

This pond is right outside my Kitchen window that's over my sink, so I get to look at it whenever I do dishes.  :hugegrin:  It's two years old this year, so I do a  little more each year. I do have tiny lights that come on at night... to add to the magic of it. It's my favorite place to sit and think.

 

You can See how clear my water is, it's never cloudy or murky. So Obviously I'm doing it right.

 

These fish have been with me for many years. Most of them were born in my larger pond (that sprung a leak too expensive and labor intensive for me to fix) I lose one every once in a blue moon in the Spring, when it's breeding season they get frisky and jump...  sometimes I don't find them in time.

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~ I got into the Pond hobby after loving keeping fish ever since I was FIVE. I have always loved goldfish.....  I really learned the gist of the Science in the Salt Water Hobby, and honestly EVERYTHING you learn carries over. Once you learn The Science behind something you love, you can get very creative, and very smart at choosing "Gear". I'm sure you all know that.

 

Maybe one day I'll know what you guys know about survival...

 

But I'm sure, in a pinch, I could toss some catfish in this set-up and I'd have protein for a long time.

 

My friends tell me I was a mermaid in a previous lifetime...  :hugegrin:  They must be right,

 

because I love my fish. Their water is a BIG deal to me. So I take what knowledge I have, and the money I have to work with and do what's best for them.  :thumbup:

 

myfisha.jpg

MY BABIES!

 

 

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~ Also, I said that in nature.... all bodies of water where fish thrive have a natural turnover of water... The same is true in a backyard pond...   it's very important (just like it's the LAW of Aquarium keeping) to turn over the water. Every two weeks in Spring and Summer, I pump out a third to a half of the water (because my pond is so small) you could do less with a larger pond, and I replace it with new water. I've gone two months without doing this and I've never seen my water quality deteriorate, but still, Nature just tells me to do it. And I always listen to her voice of reason.  :thumbup:  I've noticed when I do... MY fish get all excited! They swim around and get frisky whenever some of their water is changed out. So It's not a bad thing. I use the pond water to water my garden that's around my pond, because all of those pond nutrients make great fertilizer.  :yes:  Nothing goes to waste.

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~ Today, I noticed that around noon, my fish were gasping at the surface. The water temp. was 86.5 F, so I added my second pump. All it does is circulates the water. I just point the outlet stem near the top of the water, and it creates a frothy little fountain that adds a lot of oxygen to my water, and it constantly takes water from below and exposes it to oxygen. My fish immediately quit gasping at the surface. When oxygen levels get low, fish suffer.Especially your bigger fish. The warmer the water, the less oxygen it holds. So warm water needs more circulation.  :thumbup:

 

pondbubbler.jpg

 

Notice that I put the fountain pump on the opposite side of the pond from my Water Lily. That because Water Lilies do not like moving water...  so I have to keep it happy too. I don't remember what kind of lily that is (I bought it last Summer and it was too young to bloom) It should bloom this year, and I'll be able to tell you what kind of lily it is. My Water Lily is planted in a three gallon tub that sits on the bottom of the pond. The tub is just an old flower pot that I lined with news paper and filled with regular garden soil (water lilies like some clay in their soil). I top that with pea gravel, let it sit in a tub till the muddy water runs off, then sink it in my pond. It survives the winter because it's a hardy lily. It should send up a flower pretty soon.

 

 

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~ I'm starting this topic because of its relevance in keeping catfish or other small food fish in your own backyard as a source of protein... or (Just keeping goldfish) for fun. I've kept fish for many years before getting into the outdoor pond hobby quite a few years ago. I really got into backyard ponds way before they were popular. When I started, LOWES and Home Depot didn't even sell pond supplies. So I've watched the hobby grow from day one. I watched a lot of good products leave the shelves only to be replaced by more expensive less effective equipment. In this article, I will share what I know about how to keep a lot of fish in a small amount of water, and how to do it without a ton of money. You could do this in your basement if you live in an area where the pond would freeze solid, you'd have to. My pond freezes over for a couple of weeks in Winter to a depth of about four inches. I've never lost a fish to Winter. I've had lots of different filters, and I've found the ones that perform best with  minimal maintenance.  :thumbup:

 

 

 

~ I watched the video... OFG... I pretty much said everything she said, only I said it better.  :smoke:

 

She really doesn't go much into the detail of filtration (no real pictures of her filter), and she also doesn't show any pictures of what kind of fish (How big, or how many) she's kept alive with her small pond set-up. She talks about water movement and water aeration like they are separate issues, when they are one in the same. I do like her pet lizard though.  :cool:

 

She does hit on small ponds in the South not being in full sun because they will be filled with algae. I have a small pond full of fish in the South in full sun, so my water quality speaks for itself. Her water looked kind of cloudy and dark (even though she has it beneath a huge screened enclosure). I couldn't see a single fish in her pond. How do I know she can keep a fish alive?  :unsure:

 

I know I could keep some catfish alive in my pond. push come to shove.  :thumbup:

 

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great topic!

 

i just bought a piece of land near the city - i intend to build my home there during the next year. the first thing on the list (after the house itself) it's a pond (very small lake  :grin: )... i'm thinking big (like 10k gallons or bigger) - any thoughts on that?

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If you have a large body of water that isn't naturally spring fed with natural turnover (or change) of water over time, you're going to have to artificially move the water as well as do partial water changes somehow, or you'll end up with a stagnant mess. Just ask swede about that.

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you know, I just was scrolling threw topics and saw this. I had never considered keeping fish for food, just catching them. but being a fisherman as well as knowing I can catch way more than I can eat in a net. this is really a great topic.  I don't know jack about keeping fish alive. just catching them and eating them.  great post.  (I love this sight, ive been hear almost 3 years and I still find usefull information.  :thumbup:

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