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Building your fish pond - Guide and pictures

Fish pond, resized image 1 Fish pond - water lilies, resized image 1 Fish pond - water lilies, resized image 2 Fish pond, resized image 2 Fish pond, resized image 3 Fish pond with plants, resized image 1 Fish pond with plants, resized image 2 Fish pond with plants, resized image 3 Koi pond, resized image
Fish ponds definitely add beauty to any garden or to any house, in general. Some people might think that it takes much time to build one. Although this is partially or partly true, it is not as difficult as many people think it is. All you need is time, and of course some materials like water butts, pebbles, and others depending on how big you would like your fish pond to be. You do not have to worry since most of the materials needed are available in the market at very affordable prices. To know more about the essentials in building your own fish pond, you might want to continue reading.

Building your own fish pond can seem a daunting task if it is the first time that you have ever attempted a project like this, with the correct advice and careful planning it is not such a difficult task and the completed fish pond will make a great addition to your garden, a general talking point between your family and any guests to admire. The satisfaction of seeing the fish pond complete and created with your own handy work far out weighs the toil and mental planning that is involved. But where would you start with such a project, I built my first fish pond a few years ago and the idea initially stemmed from an unused area of my garden that, luckily for me worked out to be the best spot to situate the pond.

Planning and Design

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There are professional companies that can deliver fish pond designs for you to choose from, they know their job but can work out to be expensive. As fish ponds can be any shape and size I much prefer to think of a rough plan in my head of the overall design and then sketch this idea onto paper for future reference. Always bear in mind that smaller fish ponds can be harder to maintain than larger fish ponds so maximize the area that you have with efficient planning. Have a look around the various websites that display pictures and descriptions of completed fish ponds, these can give you a wealth of ideas and will also give you a good idea of what you can achieve in the space available, on some sites the pond keepers may even give brief descriptions of the fish pond equipment that they use to keep their fish ponds flourishing.

Try sketching out a few designs, at this stage do not worry about getting the measurements 100% accurate, the initial designs are just rough drafts but looking at various outlines of the fish ponds will soon enable you to realize which will work best for you.

You will need to consider the location of the fish pond right from the start, there are a few points to take into consideration that will make life easier in the future. Try to avoid areas where trees are close by, every autumn they will shed their leaves and the same leaves will finish in your fish pond making another chore of having to net them out every year. Make sure that you will be able to connect power to the fish pond, all fish ponds have equipment such as the fish pond filters, water pumps etc. that will require power to run them, an extension lead draped across the lawn is not the way to go, not only is this impractical but it is also unsafe for any members of family walking in the pond area.

Check the chosen area over the daylight hours in the summer to make sure that the sun does not hit this area for long periods, if it does you can guarantee that your fish pond water could become a home to colonies of algae that will turn your water green, the fish will not mind this but the overall look of the fish pond will be ruined!

Safety should always be accounted for in your plans. Are their young children in the family? If the answer to this question is yes then you do have options to keep the children safe and out of the water, a gated fence can be constructed around the fish pond or you can even construct the fish pond raised above the ground. The last option also reduces the amount of digging required to obtain the correct depth of fish pond.

When you are happy with the site of your proposed fish pond site, it is now time to draw a scaled plan; graph paper definitely comes in handy here. If you are adding fencing or external features these will all take up floor space, allow for this to make sure that the finished pond will fit in the allotted area. Once the plan is drawn you will need to work out a budget for the whole project, take another tour of the websites or local suppliers to cost the required equipment, building costs including any machinery or tool hire that is involved and the basic materials that are going to be used to actually build the pond including any exterior brickwork or paving to sit around the edges.

Once you have the total budget worked out, any savings that you make on the project by finding cheaper goods or even second hand goods can be used to stock your tank or even upgrade some of the fish pond equipment placed into the original budget. Other items to consider are do you plan to add fish pond plants, if so a shelf will need to be added around the edge of the fish pond to seat marginal pond plants, are you planning to add a fixed fountain in the middle of the fish pond, this will require a permanent base building for the fountain head, equipment such as skimmers and fish pond filters are sometimes built into the edging of the ponds, all of this needs to be included on the building plan.

Excavating the site

Before you can start to excavate the site ready for the fish pond you will need to mark out the area that the fish pond will be housed in, basically your drawn plan on the paper is going to be marked in full scale on the ground in your garden. There are several ways of doing this, if you are working on a standard rectangular or square fish pond it is easy to place pegs at each corner and stretch string or nylon yarn between the pegs to give you the outline, with irregular shaped fish ponds you can use thick rope or even hosepipe laid on the ground to mark the outline, both of the above options can also be completed by using spray paint but this tends to get disrupted as work commences and it is easy to lose the edges of your marked area. Mark on the ground where any underground power cables will be placed so that all preparation work will make your life easier when you actually commence with the digging.

One tip that I have learnt from building a couple of fish ponds is to mark up a length of timber in feet sections, this can be used for measuring the depth of the dig and depth of shelving if added to the design.

Dependant on which type of liner that you are using the actual excavating is straightforward, if you are using a rigid pond liner, checking the measurement of the dig is crucial as the actual liner needs to fit the hole exactly and level, flexible liners such as butyl are a bit more lenient with any discrepancies as the liners are cut to suit rather than the hole dug to fit the liner. The soil that is excavated from the dig can be put to one side, it always comes in useful if you need to bank up for waterfalls or any other external feature so do not be too hasty to dispose of this.

Adding the fish pond liner

Once the dig is complete and the measurements have been checked and double checked, it is time to prepare to add the liner, check all the sides of the dig for sharp stones protruding and remove these, the edges need to be smooth so that any liner used will not be punctured.

Even when using a rigid pre-formed fish pond liner, I still like to add a thin layer of sand to the edges of the dug out hole just to make sure that there is no chance of the liner being pierced when laying it. The liner needs to sit in the hole with all of the sides supported; sand can also be a good medium to use for support especially in the awkward corners and shelving that these liners are formed with. With the pond liner in place measure that it is level, if it is at an angle, water will leak from the sides when you try to fill it, use a spirit level for accuracy.

If you are using a flexible fish pond liner then an underlay will definitely be required. This can be sand a couple of inches thick or even old carpeting, nowadays it is also possible to purchase an underlay that is specifically designed for pond liners. The liner is placed over the underlay and gently stretched out over the hole and lowered down, make sure that the corners are folded neatly into place and that there is an overhang that can be secured with rocks, paving slabs or similar once the fish pond is complete. With the flexible fish pond liner the water can be added slowly while you are stretching it out, this will also help when it comes to giving the corners a neat finish.

Once you have the liner installed and sat correctly you can now run the power lead (or leads) to the fish pond from the power source. All cables should be run inside suitable cable conduit and buried underground so that there is no chance of people tripping over or even being electrocuted. The leads should run to a suitable weatherproof junction box that can also be housed in a cabinet if you wish to make it more pleasing to the eye, if your fish pond is raised above ground the junction box can also be mounted onto the side of the fish pond. Always remember that water and electricity do not mix so the wiring should be safe, preferably wired by a registered electrician.

Building your waterfall

If you have planned to add a waterfall to your fish pond there is a correct way of building this, the waterfall has to be the most popular feature that is added as the sound of trickling water in the evenings can be very relaxing plus it will also help to oxygenate your water as well.

The first problem that you will hit is how to get the height of your waterfall in the first place, there are waterfall kits available but these also need elevating with some sort of medium, rocks are usually the preferred choice. I have always veered towards constructing a rock structure but also using some of the excess soil for support and also to create little miniature gardens at the side of the waterfall, not only does this reduce the amount of unwanted soil left in your garden but it also serves to give you twice the effect with the same structure. The rocks should be piled securely and cemented if required for stability but remember that you need to create a runway for the water through the middle of the waterfall so that the water can easily run back into the fish pond. Leaving little ridges and bumps in the runway will make the water flow deviate giving an even greater impression of a natural waterway.

Once the structure is secure the pipe work for the water pump can be fed through to the top of the waterfall and the other end of the piping back into the fish pond ready to attach the water pump. You can use excess pond liner for the runway as you do not want the pumped water to leach into the rockwork or the water level will drop in the fish pond, if you are not using excess pond liner you can cement the runway and seal the cement with a suitable pond sealer that is safe to aquatic life.

Connect the water pump when all construction is complete and turn on the power, more times than not the outlet pipe will need adjusting or the water flow itself may need adjusting to get the correct flow but by trial and error it will be resolved until you have the perfect flow.

Adding the fish pond filter

If you have done your research and purchased the equipment as suggested at the start of this article, your fish pond filter will be ready for connection now to keep the freshly filled pond water turning over. The water pump connected to the filter should be capable of pumping the total water volume of the fish pond at least once every hour, preferably slightly higher than this figure. The filter itself will have a housing compartment where the filter medium is stored. With some fish pond filters these can be quite bulky and may need camouflaging into the background, some fish pond keepers will plant foliage around the filter housing or even sink the chamber below ground, some keepers house the cabinets in specially designed cover to disguise it, and the choice is yours. You must remember that fish pond filters do need cleaning out as part of the fish pond maintenance so always leave access to the chamber for this purpose.

The power is connected to the water pump and the pump is connected to the filter chamber by means of pipe work, try to keep all of these connections tidy as this will give the fish pond a better finish. The pond filter will need a kick start by using starter cultures to supply the beneficial bacteria that perform the biological filtration but these are readily available from most aquatic stores.

The set up is now almost complete, pond plants can be added to the marginal shelving, some species of pond plants need to be sunk to the bottom of the fish pond so always check before adding them, planting details will always be provided on purchase.

Allow the filters time to cycle before adding any pond fish but you can use this spare time to have a shop around to see which species of fish you would like to keep.

We hope this article has been useful and further articles will go into more detail with specific subjects such as fish pond liners, fish pond filters etc. so keep popping back onto this site to see the new articles as they are added!

Question left on Wed, 15 Feb 2012 22:24:36 by Brother Chinedu

Pleases, could you kindly and favourably help me by sending me a step to step guidline on how to put fish in my new constructed tapoline pond? I will be hapy as you wil be adding value to my life. I promise to uplift other peoples life with the value you will add to my life. Thanks!

Thank you!

Answer by staff: Stocking the pond is easy as long as you are patient and do not try to add too many fish at once, the filters need to cope with the fish waste to make it safe for the fish as it will create ammonia when it breaks down. The first step should be to add some filter aid to the filters, this is a new pond so the filter will not be cycled. Add a few fish initially and float them for a while so that the water temperature in their bag equals the water temperature of the pond. Once this has happened, slowly mix some of the pond water into the bag and then release the fish. Keep adding a few fish every other week until you have your full stock and the filters should cope. It is best to add the fish once the warmer months are here!