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ArmyVet Pond Journal


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Let me begin with that I have kept fish on an off for 40 plus years and I have never had a pond before…EVER.  Heck I never even contemplated one before.  So why now you may be asking yourself.  Well, I can tell you that thru the process of it coming together I asked myself that question many, many MANY times.  This will take you thru not only the process I went thru to build it but the thought processes that were going thru my head and the rationalizations that came with it. 

I have been out of fish keeping for almost 15 years.  Life has a way of giving you things you do not want…Diabetes, Stress, Mother-in-Law, and taking things away that you love, Donuts, Zen Like Tranquility and Aquariums.  Thru the cosmic forces of nature, I stopped keeping an aquarium about 15 years ago.  Wait…no aquariums in 15 years and suddenly you just up and decide to build a pond?!? Well not exactly.  A lot of things ran thru my mind first.

 

How many of you have seen Cory’s videos? Raise your hand!  Ok how many of you reading this raised your hand?  I did not say Simon Says LOL Seriously, if you are reading this, I am going to bet all of you have at one point or another.  If you have not…WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU!!  Go watch some. Thats how this whole thing got started.

 

There I was, lying on the beach. The sun glistening down my…. oh wait…wrong book…oops. Got mixed up with my memoirs. Let us try this again.  There I was, bouncing thru YouTube desperately trying to find something to keep my attention for more than 2 min.  Let’s be real here…there is a sea of crap on YouTube.  Finding anything good to watch unless you are looking for something specific is luck of the draw.  One second, you’re watching a kitten dancing then you’re baking a cupcake then alien sightings and abductions and you’re always wondering what the next click is going to bring you.

 

For me I just needed something to calm my mind.  I am lying in my bedroom alone because my wife and I are well, let us just say not interacting at the moment.   Which means that somewhere along the line I have screwed up and either I do not want to admit it, or I honestly do not know I have and was not let in on it.  I am going to go with I have no clue…. clueless…yep that one seems right.   Slightly better than worthless but that is a whole different story!! A true story at that but anyways.  My job has me working 7 days a week, 84 hours a week because we have no help.  This has been going on for months now.  I am exhausted, frustrated, irritable and well downright angry most of the time.  Hmm wonder if this has something to do with the no interaction thing….NAAAA…Probably not.  I just want to watch something that just might take me away from all of this and the Aliens were not beaming me up like they were others in the earlier videos damnit.  That might have been cool. 

 

So, I click again…man vs deer…long story short…deer kicks the man ass! Ok that was funny.  Another click and I’m watching how to make a pop bottle rocket.  Really…. they are doing it wrong!!  I did that 45 years ago…. Idiots.  This sucks! That’s it…one more click and I am giving up.

 CLICK" …. On the screen is a short haired guy shrugging his shoulders, and in big words it says “Ponds” …. what is this I think to myself.  I read the title of the video and it says, “How to breed tropical fish in outdoor mini ponds”.  I was like hmmm…. I used to breed fish a very long time ago…this sounds interesting.  So I click on the video and it starts up with this “Kid”, at my age I get to call everybody “kid” that is younger than I am, and he starts talking about ponds and breeding fish outside in them.  I am thinking wait what kind of filtration could this thing have?  I mean that looks like a lot of water for being a “mini” pond, little did I realize at the time that a 100-gallon pond truly is mini considering how big “ponds” can be, but to top it off there is no filtration except for one sponge filter and a poop load of floating green plants.  His voice is soothing, and he is talking as if we were having a one-on-one conversation.  I would be thinking of a question I had and suddenly, he would answer it.  I thought that was weird but continued watching…had another question and he answered it….I was like this is a joke right….this isn’t live how is he doing this….So I spoke out loud and said something idiotic thinking …HAAA answer that one,  and he looked at me and with a look of pay attention stupid this next part is important.  I sink back as if to say, “Yes sir”.

 

 

He goes thru explaining how the plants are the filter and he does not change any water.  I am like, get the F@$& out of here!  Do not change water…Your kidding, right?  I had to change water every week sometimes multiple times a week and here he is saying he does not change water…yeah there are no fish in that pond…. This “Kid” is nuts!  That was until he put the camera under water and there are more fish in that body of water than I thought would ever be allowed not just to be alive but thriving.  It was in that moment I swallowed my pride and put on hold everything I thought I knew about fish keeping and opened a big can of “Shut the Heck up” and an even bigger keg of “Listen and Learn”.

 

I did not realize yet, but in that moment, Cory had reignited my fascination in Aquariums. Keeping fish, raising them….and in his own words” They make more”.  I remembered how much fun I had when I would come home and see a ton of tiny specks swimming around and thinking …holy crap she gave birth.  Every day with an aquarium is a new adventure.  What will I see today?  What has changed and even though you looked at it like 10 hours ago you stare at it like it is for the first time every day. These thoughts were flooding my brain.

 

The video ended and whoa. It was an hour long and it flew by….I clicked on another video of his….then another…and another… and well let’s just say …I was hooked on his videos.  I spent hours every day watching them and learning more about this “plants are the filter” way of thinking and it completely made sense.  I pride myself on trying to learn as much about a subject as I can but when it came to fish keeping there were rules…. You followed the rules, or you were an outcast.  Shunned by the other aquarists.  YOU MUST CHANGE WATER and the thunder cracks YOU MUST HAVE LOTS OF MECHANICAL FILTERS and lightning flashes across the sky.  Follow these rules or you shall surely be struck down by the aquarium gods!!   But wait…. Cory does not follow the rules per say…. Cory hasn’t been hit by lightning…..Cory is an accomplished fish breeder, successful store owner and CEO of his own company that revolves around guess what, Keeping fish alive with plants!!!

 

This leads me on a fact-finding mission.  I want to know more.  Is he a fluke or aberration? How did I never hear of this concept before? I mean we tried to keep plants before but not because of filtration. We kept them because we wanted the real look of plants.  Are there others out there doing it this way?  My curiosity was going 100 mph and I just wanted to learn more.  I scoured the internet for more information.

 

I kept watching Cory’s videos, learning all I could.  Each one dug their claws into me deeper and deeper. I have never tried an Illegal drug in my life (I really need to get on that) and here I was…acting like a junkie never getting enough.  Video after video and then it happened.  The next video was Cory visiting a fish farm in Texas.  He was interviewing Charles from Goliad farms. And there they were…. rows and rows and rows of these “vats”.  Each one is a different fish being bred.  Charles goes thru how his “system” works and low and behold…. there is no mechanical filtration….no chemical filtration…no biological specific filtration…NOTHING.  Charles utters the magic words….” THE PLANTS ARE THE FILTER”.  The storm clouds of disbelief part…the rays of epiphany fall upon me, and the knowledge filled my soul…. I think to myself…. “I CAN DO THIS”!

 

In my head I have myself pictured standing tall like Superman with a cape and my pond full of beautiful colorful fish.  There are going to be millions of babies and I am going to sell them to my local fish stores for a buck each and become a millionaire.  Life is great!!  Then reality crashes into the dream and I hear my wife scream that the garbage needs to be taken out and poof the dream is gone…. Reality just reasserted itself up my ass!

 

Even though the dream was gone it had left its impression.  I knew I had to take a chance on doing something I had never done before.  So, it was then I decided I was going to do a pond. Not sure how my wife would take to the idea but one way or another …I was going to do this.  I am going to breed some beautiful fish in my outdoor Mini Pond. 

 

But wait…where do I start?

 

This is the Journey we are going to take together as I take you thru the process from Dream, to concept, to reality. Grab a snack and your drink of choice and get ready for the ride of your life.  Because like the biggest, fastest, and scariest rollercoaster you ever imagined…. this trip will make that ride, pale in comparison.   Well at least it did for me…LOL 

 

The Dream:

 

The Dream:

 

So, you are sitting there thinking you want to be able to create some beautiful fish.  You are imagining the types of fish you could possibly have.  I mean…what is the point of building a pond if you don’t know what kind of fish, you’re going to have…It’s all about the fish right? So, I start thinking back to my younger days when I first started with fish.  So, we go all the way back to when I myself was just a little swimmer coming out of my dad’s…. whoa…. ok maybe not quite that far back…eeek!

 

  

 

Everybody knows the story of the kid at the fair who brings home the fish and now the parents are stuck with getting this thing a home…yeah that was me.  I was 8 but that started me on my love of fish.  Years went on and little by little I got better and better at keeping fish.  At one point when I was 11, I had some Platys in a tank. I came home from school and there was a bunch of things floating around the tank.  I went in for a closer look and they were babies! That is, it, I was hooked! At one point I had 9 fish tanks in my bedroom…. all 10-gallon tanks.  I had Platys, Mollies and Swordtails (my favs at the time) all breeding for me. No Guppies…they are for babies or so I thought at the time. There was a ridiculously small mom and pop shop called Aquarium House less than a mile up the street. I worked there part time cleaning all the box filters and doing WATER CHANGES (thunder crashes in the background) and I would trade my fish to them in exchange for supplies.   

 

I am remembering how proud I was to walk in with my dad carrying a new bag of fish and Marty the shop owner would look at them and say …ehhh they’re ok…. I had always hoped he would say something like…oh what great looking fish they are, because well, I thought they were.  I worked for him until he passed away years later and his wife sold the business.  I was heartbroken.  I went to his funeral…my dad and I and it was there my dad told me every time I brought in fish Marty had told him how impressed he was that at my age I was bringing in such nice fish. 

 

So here I am now 40 years later thinking…I was able to do it once and really, I had done it by accident that I should be able to do it now.  That my years of experience and maturity would allow me to achieve a similar level of success from years gone by. My imagination takes over once more and I can see bags full of Starburst Platys, Pineapple Swords, Sailfin Lyretail Mollies and yes, I shall say it and even dare to shout it out loud… YES, I WILL BREED GUPPIES!!!   A voice screams back…. THE DOG NEEDS TO BE WALKED!! DOOOOOOHHHHHH And once again the dream was gone.  Note to self…. stop dreaming while at home where reality kicks dreams to the curb!

 

The Concept:

 

To build a pond that not only bred fish that I could sell to my local fish stores not so much to make a ton of money but become a sustainable source of income to allow me to further the hobby. Besides a project like this would require a lot of planning and this was something to take my mind off all the other “Issues” I had going on at the time. 

 

 The reason I jumped right into a pond was because I did not have any room anywhere to allow me to do this indoors.  There was no support from the household at this point. Remember, Upper Management was not fully on board with this idea at this point.

The original idea was a small tub of water 30-40 gallons with some moss or guppy grass in it and some guppies.  I figured they were the easiest to breed so they were at the top of the list.  Needless to say, original ideas are usually never the end result, and this project was no different.  Let me tell you that I have the worst rationalization processes in the world. An idea starts out with this small version of what it ends up being just because I think to myself, it will be x amount of dollars for this 30-gallon tub but for only 10 dollars more I can get 50 gallons or this much more 60 gallon or maybe 70 gallons….and I do that for every aspect of a project.   Drives my wife nuts and the budget is blown every single time.  In my defense though, every single project I finish, goes far beyond what her expectations were, and she has been happy with all of them.  Will I be able to pull off that same magic this time?  All the other projects I did were ones that she wanted.  This is the first one that was all just for me.  This will be an uphill climb all the way. 

 

The reality:

 

I watched every video I could from Goliad farms that talked about their system of using the plants as their filtration.  He has plants…hell some were trees all using the sump as their nutrient source.  All of his tubs share a common sump source so basically even though in one greenhouse he could have 100 plus tubs…they are all using the same water.  Every tub is identical in water parameters across the board.  That has its pros and cons but for him, it not only works but it works fantastically.  The proof is in the tubs when you see all the fish! THOUSANDS OF THEM!

 

So, the first order of business, figure out what tub is he using. I thought if it is good enough for him it is going to be plenty good enough for me.  He and Cory both use the Rubbermaid Stock tanks. The smallest one they make is 50 gallons, perfect! But wait for literally 20 dollars more 1 could do the 150.  That is triple the size and as we all know a lot more forgiving if something goes wrong.  Not to mention I can fit 3 times as many guppies in that. that is 3 times as much money I am thinking. Beautiful.  But wait!  For only 50 dollars more I can do the 300-gallon version!  Be still my heart!  300 gallons of guppies. Gosh, how many guppies will 300 gallons hold?!?  My mind is racing trying to do the math. I picture needing huge nets to gather them all.  A crane to lift them out.   I am going to need a panel van to transport all those fish to sell.  This is going to be awesome! I AM GOING TO BE RICH!! “Come get your clothes from the dryer” is screamed at me and poof.  SOB dreaming at home again.  Mental Note of the earlier mentioned mental note!!

 

 

Reality has a way of changing your outlook on things.  Lesson for all.  Dreams are great and you should always set your dreams as high as possible. Just realize that reality will sometimes limit what you can actually do.  After putting my clothes away, I do not even remember wearing all this crap, I started looking into the dimensions of each of the sizes I mentioned.  The 50 gallons would fit without an issue. The 150 would just make it in the area I had set aside for it.  The 300 would never fit no matter how I tried. And boy did I try but the reality was it just was not going to work.

 

I chose to go with the 150-gallon version, and I am glad I did.  This is what it looks like…

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Aint she a beauty?   No…well not yet!

 How Charles at Goliad Farms had his tubs set up, each one is numbered with green house number (he has 3) row number (6 rows in each greenhouse) and with the actual tub number in the row.  On a scale as large as his I can see the reasons for such organization.  So, in the video he was working on tub 2D12 which translated into greenhouse 2 row D tub 12. He even had a label on the outside of the tub with the number and what was in it and the last harvesting date.  Note to self, you are going to need to get better organized! A LOT BETTER!  So, I guess in my case my Tub would be labeled as PA1.  I will go into that more later.

 

After reading a lot about ponds….one of the biggest issues I was reading about was rain causing the ponds to overflow and lose fish on the ground either from jumping out or literally swimming out the top.  I thought to myself that I was not going to have that become an issue. So, I devised a standpipe drain. Basically, it allows the water to come up to a certain height then overflows into the drain and out of the pond.  I drilled a hole in the bottom side and attached a bulkhead. I then cut a piece of pvc pipe to the height I wanted, and that height would be the height of the water in the pond.  I could always raise or lower the water level by adjusting the height of the pipe. I painted the pipe black just for cosmetic reasons.  I mean…it must look good right? I also added a Sponge intake filter to the top of the pipe so there would be no chance of any fish or fry making their way out.

 

Here is what it looked like with the standpipe drain with prefilter installed.

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As you can see, I had filled it partially with water to test the bulkhead for leaks.  I squeeze into the back and check and yep…you screwed it up…. its leaking…Damn it.  Drain the water.  Take it apart and find in my haste I put the gasket on the wrong side.  The gasket to the bulkhead always, always, ALWAYS goes on the water side of the tank.  I flipped it around. Tightened it up. Added some more water and checked it again for leaks. None found.

 

Here is the pic of it done right, notice …no leaks….LOL

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 For the record…that whole process TOOK 3 HOURS!! I don’t know how. You think in your head, oh this will only take a few min and 3 hours later your wife is calling you in from playing for the night. MEANIE!  Every time I am starting to have some fun!

 

Ok, so now I have it able to hold water and fill to a certain level and not overflow. I also thought to myself that I will be needing to drain this pond at some point. The pond originally came with a bulkhead installed at the bottom, so I used this to attach a water valve.  I also put filter sponge in the bulkhead for those same reasons as the drainpipe.  Protect the fish!

Here is what the drain valve looks like while it was being tested.

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As you can also see in this pic.  The pond sits on, a for lack of a better word, a ”Plastic” pallet that  I “Procured” from work.  Ok OK don’t hit me again…I STOLE IT!!!  Well not really stole…I borrowed it with the complete intention for returning in the future.  When in the future that will be is up for serious debate but there you have it.  I wanted the pond to be sitting on a fully supported structure. The original plan was to use cinder blocks, but then this showed up and this was exactly what I needed. Something that was easily leveled and gave me more height for the drain valve access.  Since it is plastic, I do not have to worry about the elements causing problems.

 

So, you would think that to set the pallet in place, level it, put the pond in place, drill it and everything so far would take a mere few hours, right? That is what I thought when I was planning this all out. WRONG!!!  

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Did I bother to mention rain?  Oh yes rain!  You see, I live in South Florida.  Land of the heat and humidity!  This time of year, we get rain.  Lots of rain.  A freak ton of rain. The kind of Rain that the bible speaks of when Noah was running things!  I literally took the time to go online to look it up, and this is what it says…

Fort Lauderdale, Florida gets 63 inches of rain, on AVERAGE per year. The US average is 38 inches of rain per year.

That is almost double the National average!! It is also an average which means some years we get even more! So, every single day it is raining.  If you want to get anything done you better get used to doing it ….IN THE RAIN! 

Oh, and its hot.  Did I mention hot?  No? Let me tell you about hot. It’s Hot. Extremely hot. Ridiculously hot. Fry an egg on the sidewalk hot. Like scald Satin’s Ass hot. Heat and rain. I’m building a pond. Building a pond outside. I’m going to be working on a pond outside, in the heat and rain.

WTF WAS I THINKING!

 

Ok now, up to this point it has taken me 3 weeks. YES, THAT’S WHAT I SAID 3 WEEKS!  What should have taken hours has been weeks.  The biggest obstacle for me has been the lack of time off from work.  At this point I am working 7 days a week, 84 hours a week.  I leave for work at 6:30 am and get home at 7:30 at night.  Work on pond for an hour or so.  Take shower, pass out.  Rinse and repeat. I am exhausted but at the same time.  I’m finding happiness where there was none before.  I am looking forward to the next step in the planning. Which for all intense and purposes has not happened at all according to the plan.  Then again life does not always follow a plan.

 

We would like to think we are in control of things.  We try to plan out our days, our weeks, our years our lives but rarely does it go according to the “PLAN”.  Some people take it in stride while others freak out because the plan has failed.  As per my name implies, I was in the Army.  I can honestly say the Army changed my life in many ways. All for the better!  One was how to handle, “THE PLAN” because again rarely does anything go according to THE PLAN. 

 

The Army’s way of handling things was to teach us 4 basic concepts. These concepts when used together ensures success in anything you do.  That is right, I said anything you do.  It does not matter if you trying to infiltrate a bunker, take a hill from the enemy, get your reports finished and to your boss or take little Johnny to soccer practice. These 4 basic concepts apply to everything.  Most people use them kind of and do not even know they are doing it.  The Army just taught us how to master them and use them most effectively. 

I am guessing you want me to tell you what they are.  I had to go thru rigorous training in order to master them but seeing how we are all friends here. I guess I can share them with you.

 

SO LISTEN UP MAGGOTS! ON YOUR FACE AND GIVE ME 50! UP…DOWN…UP…DOWN!

Oh geeze, sorry, flash back! Happens from time to time.

 

The 4 concepts

Try not to laugh because like I said they are basic but maybe after this you will think of them differently. As I come to have.

Access

Adapt

Overcome

Conquer

 

Step one.

 Access the situation. It is extremely hard to know what you need to do when you don’t even know what is going on.  By taking the time to gather as much information about the problem as you can, allows you to better see all possible solutions. This is the most critical step, and most people rush right pass it and just react to situations without taking the time to properly identify the real problem.

 

Step two:

Adapt to the conditions of the situation. For every problem there are certain conditions that will either help you or hinder your success. Having flexibility allows you will use those conditions which can help you and not worry about the ones that will not. Do not be the person who is always looking at the negative but find the positives and run with them.

 

Step three:

Overcome any obstacle that gets in your way of completing the mission. Not every path to success will be smooth sailing. Things will pop up and get in the way. In that moment you have a choice. Be deterred and fail or persevere and succeed. Do not let any obstacle get in your way. There is always a solution but sometimes you must be creative to find it. Do not give up.

 

Step four:

Conquer.  How do I explain this in a non-militaristic way?  Seize the win!  Rarely is success going to be handed to you on a silver platter.  If you have done everything up to this point correctly.  You accessed the issues, you have adapted to the conditions, you overcame all the problems and now right in front of you is success.  DO NOT HOLD BACK NOW! CHARGE!!!  Now is the time you charge forward and conquer the day!   You have won. You accomplished the task, and it is perfect! Congratulations, you get to spike the ball in the end zone and do the victory dance.

Well? What are you waiting for? Stand up and Dance…Ill wait a few min. You have earned it.

Alright, that is enough.  Sit down!

 

Here we are 3 weeks into this project.  Its finally set up.  I decide from watching other videos that I am going to put 3 cinder blocks into the pond to act stands (more on that later) and the holes will be shade for the fish if they so choose.

I placed the blocks in the pond.

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They fit well.  Wow A step that did not have any issues.  See the plan works…LMAO

 

The next step was to install filtration.  I know from watching Cory’s videos, he uses nothing but plants and sponge filters.  So, a pair of Aquarium Co-Op large sponge filters it shall be.

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I placed one on either side of the center block.  Now in this picture you will see a major problem. Can you see it?  I didn’t at first. You’ll find out later what it is.

 

To power both sponge filters I was going to need an air pump.  I had a couple of dual outlet air pumps but after trial runs in the house I found they did not put out what I thought enough air I thought I would need.  A few clicks of the mouse and a trip to Ama oh you know where Im talking about! And I picked up this bad boy of an air pump.

 Low and behold…The Vivosun 317….oooohhhh  ahhhhhh

Complete with stainless steel manifold and everything….woo hoo!

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If you look at the Pic where I set the blocks I had already mounted the manifold to the back of the pond by drilling 2 holes and attaching with zip-ties.

Here is a closeup…

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I placed the pump behind the pond on a board to give it stability and curled the hose leading to manifold.

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The pump actually sits mostly under the lip of the pond, so it is protected somewhat from direct weather.  You may be asking yourself why did I curl the hose?  By doing that made that pump almost silent.  I also put a 12” piece of hose on the inlet which you cannot see in this pic and that helped even more. Let me tell you…you really have to try hard to hear it and now its just a faint hum.

 

We have the pond setup up and level. The overflow system in place and ready.  The Cinder block planter stands in it. The filtration installed.  What am I missing?  THE WATER!!!

 

Now, you might be thinking…just grab the hose and fill it up right?  You would think.  But no.  Believe it or not I had spent some considerable time thinking about this particular step.  This one I knew I had to plan out carefully.  I know I know you’re thinking “He is Nuts” but please bear with me.  When you are talking about a body of water this size there are considerations.  Que’s the assessment phase.

 

Let step back and look and think about this.  The pond is “150 Gallons” right.  Hell, it says so on the side of the container.  But wait! Didn’t we put in a standpipe so the pond wouldn’t overflow? So that means we are not filling it up all the way.  We also put in 3 large Blocks.  That will displace water as well so even less than the rated 150.  You may be saying to yourself….”So what” and to that I will say. How will I be able to dose this water whether it be dechlorinator, medications, fertilizers, ammonia for fishless cycle or anything else for that matter when all of those are based on water volume and I don’t know how much water is actually in the pond?  So, yes you do need to know how much water is in your pond.  I guess you could just “Wing It” but after reading the 4 concepts that have been chiseled into my brain, do you think I’m the kind to just “Wing IT”?

NOPE!

 

My solution?

Wait…does anybody need to refresh their chosen snack or drink or even need to use the bathroom.  Heaven knows I do.  Ill be right back. Que Music to Jeopardy!  LA LA LA LA….You are so not going to get that song out of your head now!

 

Ok Im back…whew, my eyeballs were beginning to float! Now where were we. Oh yes the solution to the “How much water is in the bucket” Dear Liza Dear Liza…and NO THERE IS NO HOLE!!! I FIXED IT!

 

I used a flowmeter!

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It hooks up in line with your hose and as you fill it keeps track of the gallonage. Woo Hoo, he went all out and spent a fortune for that little puppy!  Well, you would be wrong. In fact, you would laugh if you knew how much this handy little device costs from the big A store.  Under 30 bucks. Yep, now whenever I am setting up a new tank with the hardscape, I will know exactly how much water is in it.  I am going to have to do water changes on this pond from time to time and it will be so easy to put the hose in and let it run to say 30 gallons and it be a 25 percent water change.  That is right folks.  30 gallons would be a 25 percent water change because to fill it up to the overflow (which worked perfectly by the way) it took 120 gallons. Well 121, but for dosing purposes…120 gallons. Could you imagine dosing based on the container stated volume of 150 and not the actual water volume?  The consequences could be dire at best.

 

So now we have pond, filtration and water. Time to plug in the pump and watch it make all the pretty bubbles!

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And there it is. Running in all its glory.  The pump is putting out great volume to the sponge filters and everything is looking great.  For once I am finished before it is dark.

I go ahead and cover the pond with the netting. Wait I did not tell you why we need the netting.  No biggie…it is quite simple actually.  Remember when I mentioned we live in south Florida? Well, we have Dragon flies. Lots of dragon flies. If you do not know, Dragon flies lay their eggs in water.  I can tell you I did not know that before this venture, and I have lived here my whole life.  I guess I never needed that information until now.  You might be asking “Well why does that matter”? Well let me tell you. Unlike mosquitoes (who I do want to have laying their eggs in my pond which become fish food). Dragon flies lay their eggs by dipping their butts into the water. Their nymphs when hatched remain aquatic for up to 2 years and their sole food? YOUR FISH. 

Dragonfly Nymph High Res Stock Images | ShutterstockThis is a Dragon Fly Nymph

 

image.jpeg.4d042d1d59ef619c8463fda8b5d71131.jpeg BOO!!

 

 

That is right people. They prey on your fish. My fish. My defenseless little guppies that I have been killing myself to bring into this world and I am just going to sit back and let it happen. OH HELL NO! “BUT IT HAPPENS IN THE WILD” Well this is where I will be deviating from the au natural approach.  So, the netting still lets in the good things like small flies and mosquitoes and keeps out the Dragon Flies. Well, that’s “THE PLAN” anyways.

So, I cover up the pond with the net and call it an evening.  I am tired. Sweaty and starving. I go inside to take a shower and get some dinner.  All is right in the world!                  OR IS IT?

 

You Guys Still with me? Hope you are enjoying this!

 

Well, a few hours later I am enjoying a cup of coffee.  Yes, I drink coffee at night, it relaxes me. Especially since I have enough Baileys in it to drown a whale.  What? I deserve it.  I have been working tirelessly for weeks and now I am going to walk outside and bask in my greatness and watch it bubble away.  I go outside and…..The sponge filters are floating!  Both of them!  WTH!! And yes before you say it, I squeezed them out when I put them in!

 

Wait these things are weighted down!  They are not supposed to float.  CORY DESIGNED THEM SPECIFICALLY TO NOT FLOAT! My mind is racing to figure out what the heck is going on.  So I put down my coffee and hastily take the netting off.  BTW its dark outside right now. Netting is hanging up on everything. I grab the filter squeeze it out again and it settles to the bottom.  I grab the other one and repeat the process and it sinks into the abyss.  I sit there a few min and all is ok. They are just bubbling away.  I pick up my coffee to take another drink and bloop one floats back to the surface followed by the other one.  I try adjusting the air flow…maybe this pump is too much air I think and squeeze them out again.  They sink and a few min later they come back up. At this point all rationale has left the building.  I am now cursing like a drunken sailor. No im not drunk its only Baileys…Hiccup. AND IM NOT A SAILOR. They have the pretty white uniforms.  In fact if you ask my wife, who came outside to see what it was I was screaming about, she will tell you I had invented a new language and was speaking in tongues.    After I explained to her the problem, she told me to unplug everything, come inside and relax. I could come back tomorrow and play some more.  PLAY SOME MORE I THINK?!?!  Arghhhhgghghhghghg 

 

I just say, “Yes Dear” and do what I am told. I unplug everything and take the sponge filters out of the pond and go in for the evening. Tomorrow is another day after all, and Rome wasn’t built in a day.  It also didn’t take 4 weeks to dig one hole either but hey who’s counting?!?

 

I cannot relax. I keep trying to think what the problem could be, but I cannot for the life of me figure out why they keep floating to the top.  I decide to turn in for the night, its after midnight. I have a headache at this point, and I need sleep. Not beauty sleep. Unfortunately, nothing is helping me in that department. Heck, I scare myself when I look in the mirror.  EEESH! I lay their and doze off still thinking about the problem. 

 

I suddenly bolt straight up in the bed.  I look at the clock…its 3:30 in the morning and I figured out what the problem is.  I cant believe it came to me while I was asleep.  I got out of bed and went outside.  Yes I know it 3:30 but I need this to work for peace of mind.

 

Remember that picture earlier I showed you.  The one where I said there was a major flaw. Did you spot it? For those of you that did. Congratulations. I would like to say you have won something but just knowing that you figured it out before I actually did should be a prize in its self.  For the rest of you, myself included who did not see the flaw and where the problem to my floating filters was coming from I will show you the pic again…

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Do you see it yet?  Here let me show you. Do you see that little clear piece in the airline right about the filter tower? That is a check valve. It allows air to move one way but not backwards. I installed it so water would not backflow back to the pump. Evidently with all the air in the hose and that big bubble right at the base of the filter. That was enough to cause the filter to float.  I know what you are thinking.  I’m crazy. Well, all I can say is that when I took the check valve out and connected the filter directly to the airline and put them back in. They have never come back to the surface again.

While I was out there, I installed a digital thermometer so I could keep track of the water temp. It tells me not only the outside air temp but also the water temp. The minimum and the maximum recorded for the day. Pretty awesome.  It was the easiest piece to install to this point.  I put the netting back on and watched it for like 20 min with a smile on my face then went back to bed. 

 

Alarm blaring its 5:30 am.  OMG I want to die. I get up and get ready for work. On my way out I peek out at the pond.  The Filters are bubbling away…still on the bottom!  Fingers crossed I head to work.  Its going to be a long day.  Where is my coffee?

 

I come home from work.  I am greeted by my dog Gracie.  Do not know where I would be without this dog. Every day I come home and no matter how bad my day has been she is there tail wagging happy to see me.  At least someone here is happy to see me.  Isn’t that right Gracie girl num num num num.

 

I passionately believe that dogs are the only ones that know the meaning of true love.  Not that I dislike cats, I love them, but my family doesn’t so no cat for us. But cats are a, give you affection when they want to and claw the crap out of you all the rest of the time, type of animal.  Dogs will love on you 24/7, all day and all night, no matter what is happening or going on.  You can yell and scream at them and call them every name in the book and they will still love you like you are the last person on earth. Now I know some women are probably taking offense to this notion like they are not capable of true love.  I stand by my original idea that dogs are the only ones.  Still have doubts?  Well, I say put them to the test and let’s find out.  Take your dog and your wife/Girlfriend and lock them in the trunk of your car for 2 hours.  Go back and open the trunk and see which one of them is happy to see you.    Told you so!!

 

Well after spending quality time with my doggie...num num num. I go outside to check on the pond and lo and behold the sponge filters are still on the bottom of the pond.  I feel like I have just conquered Mike Tyson.  Nothing is going to stand n the way now.  It’s been almost 24 hours, and everything is running perfectly.  I look at the temp gage.  It is reading 82 degrees.  Not bad So far everything is looking good.  I click thru the history settings, and it shows the lowest temp of 78 and the highest of 93…. WHAT THE FREAK?!?!?  That cant be right.  Wait did I reset the history before using it? I do not remember so I reset everything go back in the house and tonight I just relax.   Next is a rinse and repeat.  Come home play with doggie. Go check the pond.  Water temp is 84 hmmm check the history the highest we 94.  Alarms are going off in my head! HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.  I swear this project is like Apollo 13.  Problems at every turn. 

 

You cannot have fish in 94-degree water! Well actually you can put fish in 94-degree water.  Add some scallops and vegies and you have some nice Gumbo.

I know this is getting long but if you stick with me I promise give you all a great Gumbo recipe later if you stick with me.  This ride is about to take some remarkably interesting curves.

 

So, I have hot water. Almost hot enough to poach an egg.  Do love me some poached eggs. Now im hungry.  Oh honey!!!   THIS IS SO NOT GOING TO WORK!

 

So how am I supposed to turn down the thermostat in Florida?  It never occurred to me that the water would get that hot.  I mean My pool which is approx. 20 feet away sure as hell does not get into 90 deg water.  All that water ever gets is …. wait.  All that water! This is where a lesson in aquatic thermal dynamics comes in.  I knew none of this before this project so let’s learn together shall we.

 

Aqua Thermal Dynamics.

Sounds fancy and very intimidating does not it.  Sure, did to me.  I mean where does one go to learn about something they did not even knew existed?  Well let us Access the situation.  I have a tub full of water that is running way to hot for my needs and I need to cool it down.  How do you cool water?  Put ice in it.  Adding Ice to water makes it nice and cold.  A nice cold glass of water.  Now Im thirsty.  OH HONEY!! Don’t know why I tried that. Didn’t work with the sandwich….Duhh  Putting ice in to chill the pond is not an option on so many levels I will not go into them just know that isn’t going to work. Really, its not.  Fine do not believe me and go try it.

 

Wait I want to chill the pond.  Well in saltwater reef systems they have chillers that are made to do exactly that. So, I start looking into them.  I never had one before but knew of them, so I learned in my research that they are basically heat exchange units. They do not chill the water; they remove heat from it which causes it to cool down.  Ok that is exactly what I need to do.  I look at one its only 100 bucks ok not horrible. I can swing that…. oh, wait that is for a 20-gallon tank. Hmm they have sizes.  Makes sense.  They have different size Air conditioners for your house depending on size, so I start looking for something for 200 gallons.  Always go one size above what you need so the unit does not have to work so hard, and it ultimately saves energy.  So, I find out I will need a ¼ HP chiller for the pond and they run….800.00 WTF?!? I cannot do that.  And come to find out they will only lower your water temp 10-15 degrees below current water temp.  My water temps were 93-94 and we are not even into the hottest months yet.  If you think June-July is bad…Wait till August when even Satin leaves and goes home because its too hot.  What will my water temps be then?  This is 800-1000 dollars. Will cost $$$ to run it 24/7 there is no way I am ever going to convince Upper Management of that and really, I would not even try because that ludicrous even to me and remember I can justify almost anything.

 

At this point I do not know how I am going to get this water cool enough to work.  I am good at problem solving but this has me a bit stumped.  What am I going to do? I mean I am watching Charles at Goliad farms where his ponds are in a greenhouse and his air temps, he always shows us on the videos are 120 deg plus plus plus.  Wait how is it he can keep his fish alive in those kinds of Texas Heat? How is his water staying cool enough to let the fish not only survive but breed and thrive?

 

These were questions I needed answered.  So, what better way then to go directly to the man himself.  Yes, ladies and gents I summoned Charles from Goliad Farms like one would in Dungeons and Dragons. The ritual called for the blood of a chicken and some Valhalla root.  The chicken was easy, but I had to defeat a Gorgon to get to the Flaming Phoenix Nest to harvest the Valhalla Root.  With those minor feats accomplished.  I performed the ritual seance and he appeared before me.  Ok, ok, no I didn’t summon him, and he didn’t appear before me. But I did send him an email requesting some information.

 

To my surprise he answered quickly.  I explained what it was I was trying to do and the issues I was having.  I did not understand how he was able to accomplish what I wanted to do with so many ponds in one enclosure and I could make 1 work.  Well believe it or not.  Its easier to maintain a temp with larger amounts of water than it is smaller bodies of water. He explained how water is a thermo insulator.  Example given was how my pool does not get into 90 plus degree water temps, but the pond goes there.  He explained how water is a thermo insulator.  The larger volume of water the more thermal energy over a longer period of time it takes to change the waters temp.  Likewise in reverse.  Water holds on to heat and releases it slowly even though the air temp could be 5-10 cooler than the water it does not react as fast.  In very northern climates like Alaska. I learned they use 55-gallon drums of water in their greenhouses to stabilize and heat them at night.  The water warms up all day in the sun and releases that heat at night to keep the greenhouse warm.   

 

So now I have a good understanding of how water heats up and retains heat.  But I need to know how to get rid of the heat.  You just told me that water holds onto heat and releases it slowly so how can I speed up the process?  This is where Charles goes into detail of how he combats hot water.  First of all, he tries to keep it from getting hot in the first place.  His greenhouses at the height of the hottest months get covered in shade cloth.  His recommendation for me was to use at least 75% shade cloth.  By shading the pond would limit the direct heat I would be getting from Direct Sunlight.

 

Another one of his suggestions was to have a fan blowing air over the top of the pond.  It would create a situation called, evaporative cooling.  What is that you ask?  Well as water evaporates it pulls heat out of the water cooling it down it also raises the humidity of the air and cools the surrounding air as well. Ever stood under those water misters in the heat and that air is cooler. That is how it works.   Charles showed me pictures of huge exhaust fans he has in the greenhouse to both pull out hot air and blow cooler air across the water to cause evaporative cooling and pull out the heat. 

 

Well, my pond was setup on the side of my house and in that location, it gets about 8 hours of direct sunlight.  That’s 8 hours of turning my future fish into soup.  I looked at possibly building some form of structure to put the shade cloth on so accessibility to the pond would be easier.  I did not want to put the shade cloth directly over the pond like the netting because I would have to remove it every day 2 times a day for feeding or water testing.  Also, the shade cloth directly on the pond would keep me from having air blown across the water like Charles suggested. There was just no good way to do this where the pond was at.  All of this time and money and energy put into this was just wasted.  What was I going to do?

 

So, whenever I have a problem like this, I have a routine I do.  I go get a cup of coffee.  I go outside to my back patio and sit and think about the problem trying to come up with a solution.  With coffee in hand, I walk outside to my patio. Walk over and flip the switch to the ceiling fans that are mounted to the Pergola (I built this myself BTW) that covers my patio.  I sit there in the shade and with the breeze from the fans wondering how I am going to get my pond in the shade, with fans blowing air across the water to cool it down.  What to do, what to do?  Yeah, this is exactly how it happened I am not exaggerating I swear.

 

.  As I was sitting there, I am looking at all of my wife’s plants and thinking they are doing well.  She comes out regularly and waters them. She enjoys sitting outside like I do. We listen to music out there and just try to relax.   You know I think to myself. I could put in an auto watering system and make her life easier.  Ok not now. One project at a time and this one has literally derailed and come to a stop.  As I am looking around the patio It comes to me.  If I rearrange the furniture.  Throw out some stuff. Make some adjustments to her plants.  I could fit the pond right on the patio. Under the Pergola. Under the fans. Right next to an electrical outlet!  How the hell am I going to convince my wife she needs to lose 16 sq ft of plant space so I can put my pond there.  This is never going to happen in a million years. 

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Que the 20 Gallon Betta Bowl Project and insert here.  Those of you reading this and know about that posting in the forum and have read it then will know how this next part came to be. If you have not read it then PLEASE STOP and go to the forum and look it up. Read thru it before continuing. I promise it is worth it.  It changed my relationship with my wife. Here is the link:  

 

 

Welcome back!  From reading thru the Betta bowl Project. As you can see B.B. is doing great.  My wife is full active in his care. She has learned about the nitrogen cycle and helps me test the water and feed him. We have talked about other tanks and is now fully by my side in this hobby.  What does that mean for the pond?

 

Well after some long discussions she agreed to let me move the pond to the patio. WOO HOO!  Of course, I will need to redo a lot of stuff on the patio for her and remember that auto watering system? Yes, she is getting it. I am also getting new furniture for the patio that we have talked about the past few seasons. And redoing the deck around the pool. Yes, concessions were made but, in the end, it will be a place we can come outside and enjoy together and well as long as we are together, it is all worth it.

 

The best part is, that my wife is not the type to sit back and watch me working my ass off.  She is literally by my side helping any way she can.  We spent one whole day working on the back patio getting it cleaned. Moving everything so we could make room for the pond.  It was amazing how much crap we threw away that day that had just been accumulating.  The whole area looks much nicer now.

 

We now must drain the pond and take it apart to move it.  Good thing I thought ahead and installed that drain.  It drained while we cleaned so by the time, we had the spot ready. The pond was empty.  She grabbed one side and I the other and we carried it thru the gate and sat it on the patio.  I went and grabbed the Pallet because I still wanted it on that for the height factor. 

 

Here is the area we chose for the pond.

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Now there is a gap of about 18” from the edge of the concrete to the fence wall. Well I wanted to conserve as mush space as I could so I wanted the pallet right up against the fence.  Since that was not concrete.  I dug out a channel along the length of the pallet and placed cinder blocks in the channel at the height of the patio and filled in the channel with rock.  This allowed me to use that 18” of space and also create a rock drain field where the overflow drain will drain and not flood back onto the patio.  My wife helped dig the channel and place the block and rocks.  We let the hose run into the channel to make sure everything settled and flowed with no over flow onto the patio.  All was good.

 

Here is it in place.

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Looks like it belongs there doesn’t it?  I re set up everything I had done previously with the filtration and cinder block planter steps. Now mind you, we got the pond torn down, the patio cleaned up dug the channel set the block and drain field and reset the pond up in a day. We did in a day what took me weeks to get done before.  Amazing what you can accomplish when you have a good woman next to you telling you what to do…..uhhh I mean supporting and helping you.😂

 

It was now time to fill the pond back up. Again, checking the water volume while im doing it. 

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You may notice the white part on the standpipe.  Well, that was deciding I wanted to raise the water level. Remember the more the volume the harder it is to get it hot, so I added a riser to raise the water level a couple of inches.  The black sponge top is sitting off to the right side.  I used 1 ¼ inch pvc pipe for the standpipe.  Amazingly enough Aq Co-Op sells an intake sponge with a 1-inch center hole. It was perfect for my application.  You may have noticed the third cinder block is missing from the pond and for good reason of which you shall see shortly.

 

Here it is all filled up and running. And yes the sponges did not float to the surface.  I know some of you are still thinking I am crazy but hey, ITS WORKING!

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Seeing how my wife was kind enough to allow me to move the pond here and hopefully continue with this project.  I thought it was only fitting to allow her to place the first plant into the pond.

 

While we were cleaning the patio, a piece of Pothos broke off the main plant. Here is the first resident of the new Pond.

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You can also see a close up of how the drainpipe set the water level.  That is the maximum height the water will ever go.

 

Now the reason I left out the third block was for something that a member from our forum, who shall remain nameless, suggested. You will know who you are when you see it and I thank you very much for all your help and constant communications as I bounced ideas off them.  You helped keeping me from using dynamite on this thing many times.

 

It was told to me that swimming pools use fountains to help cool them down.  I thought to myself, yeah right. I went ahead and did some research and sure enough. Community swimming pools have been using fountains to keep the water temps down. It goes back to the evaporative cooling we spoke about earlier. I went and searched for something that would do double duty and this is what I decided on.

 

The Aqua garden Water Pump for Ponds | Submersible Water Pump | Fountain Pump 5 in 1 Solution for Ponds. Fancy Schmancy!

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It is a pond filter with a huge amount of Bio Rings in it along with a UV Sterilizer and 5 different heads for the fountain.

 

Here is where I am putting in the Bio rings and on one side is a bag of seeded from my Betta tank that by this time had been running for a few weeks.

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On top of the is 3 different levels of filter foam pad. A blue Coarse pad, A green finer pad and then the white polishing pad.

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Assembled and placed into the pond in went into the center where the third block used to be.  Now you see why I left it out.  This was not a cheap addition, but I wanted to give this pond every chance I could to succeed. I need it to work.  This also was a huge selling point to my wife who wanted it to look pretty and who does like the sound of splashing water.  BTW it has a light that comes on at night too!😁

 

I wanted to have a better way of knowing what the temperatures were doing in the pond.  I wanted to be alerted if the temps get too hot or if something drastic changed. I went online looking for something to help me do that and this is what I found.

The Ink Bird IBS-TH1 Plus+Aquarium Probe

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I coupled that with this:

Inkbird IBS-M1 WiFi Gateway Temperature Humidity Sensor, Supports Bluetooth and Wireless Thermometer Hygrometer Connection with Save and Export Data, Real Time and Remote Monitoring and Alert

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I may be too late in giving you feedback, but here it is anyway.

If you are concerned about temperature, having an inground pond will keep the temperature more stable, and therefore cooler in the hot weather (of course that means digging a hole for your tub). Also, I have seen humans use misters in their patios to keep themselves cool in the Summer when enjoying outdoor time.

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I let all this run for a week. Every day monitoring the temps and seeing what they are doing. Watching the rapid rise and fall of the air temps and the subtle rise and fall in the water temps.  In a typical day right now in July the air temp at 6 am here has been 75-78 and the water temp 76-77 during the day at 1-3pm which is usually the hottest part of the day the air temps have been 88-90 and the water is 78-80 degrees.   On the hottest day so far, which was on 7/2 the highest air temp recorded was 96 and this reading was taken in the shade remember.  That day the highest water temp was 82.  Since all these changes were put into effect.  My water temps have not gone above 84.  I am seeing basically a 5-degree temp change thru a 24 hour period from the lowest water temp to the highest. 

 

 

IT ALL WORKED!!  OPERATION PLANT THE POND CAN MOVE AHEAD!

When it came to planting the pond.  I was faced with so decisions to make.  I could put 2-3 inches of substrate in the bottom and plant it like you would a normal aquarium but that would make harvesting the fish a bit of a problem.  I opted to go the planter route. This way when it was time to harvest the fish. I could remove the baskets with the plants and put them in a bucket with water, harvest then put them back.

 

The pond baskets I used came from Lowes.

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For Substrate I used Pea Gravel in the baskets from HD.

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After rinsing the pebble for what felt like an eternity. It finally rinsed clear. I put a layer of the gravel in the bottom of the basket then added some Aq Co-Op Root Tabs.

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Next was another layer of Pea Pebble. And then the plants were added.

This was a crypt basket with a Dwarf Lilly in the center

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This was Some Swords with a Alterna Reineke added.

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Some pics of the other baskets. There were 5 in all. 

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 I placed one empty basket upside down on the bottom of the pond to use as a fry cage. Fry can swim in but the bigger fish cannot.  Just some added protection for them.  I put another planter on top of it to hold it down.

 

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One by one the planters make their way into the pond.   It looks great.  I added in some floating plants. I huge amount of guppy grass and few bunches of Hornwort.

 

 

WHO IS READY FOR THE REVEAL?!?

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On 9/14/2021 at 1:30 PM, ARMYVET said:

 I placed one empty basket upside down on the bottom of the pond to use as a fry cage. Fry can swim in but the bigger fish cannot. 

I've been wanting to do this! Can you give me any detail about how the basket is made, or where you found it?

(I want it for a tank, but your experience might point me in the right direction.) 

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The Reveal:

 

And here it is. All finished up and running!

 

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I will be letting this run for about a couple of weeks while I source my starter fish. I am looking at some guppies, Platys and Cherry Shrimp.

If you have stuck with me here till the end, I wanted to say thank you. I know this was a long read but hopefully if some of you decide to build a pond no matter the size this will help you avoid some of the pitfalls I did.

 

 

The most important lesson I learned was.........

 

GET UPPER MANAGEMENTS APPROVAL BEFORE YOU START!

 

Thru this adventure, there was some time to learn, some time to reflect and a lot of self-doubt that went into this. I learned a ton along the way about things I never thought I would need to know. There were a couple of times I almost gave up.  This project had me putting the 4 concepts to their maximum usage and in a few moments, I even threw them out the window and lost it. But in the end with the help of my wonderful wife, without whom nothing I do would be joyful, we have something that we will be enjoying for a long time to come.

 

Thank you for taking this journey with me.  May you find success and joy in all your endeavors. God Bless you all!

 

ARMYVET

P.S.

I did promise all of you who stuck with me to the end I would share an amazing Gumbo Recipe. Give me your thoughts on this Article and I shall send it to you.

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I’ve spent a good hour reading this and your betta thread today, and I thoroughly enjoyed them both. Your tangents were either wonderfully helpful or comedic, and occasionally both, and I was smiling through the whole thing. I’m very happy for you that you managed to connect with your wife through your passion in fishkeeping, and I know from experience how rewarding it can be to share this amazing hobby with loved ones. I’m eagerly awaiting the guppies coming to your pond, and I can’t wait to see how incredible it’ll look by then, once the plants have all grown in! 

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