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Summer Tubbing & Outdoor Ponds - Species to Consider?


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Hi everyone! Wanted to start off saying Thank You to this Forum and everyone who contributes - I have learned SO MUCH in the last few months from all the wonderful humans who share their knowledge about the aquarium hobby!

Currently, I have an large army of very happy Red Wag Platys (Platies?), 12 Neon Tetras, 6 adorable Melanistius Corydoras (SO CUTE), a baby Bristlenose Pleco and 3 Golden White Cloud Mountain Minnows who are still in quarantine (they looked so lonely by themselves at the pet store, I couldn't leave them there!).

ANYWAY - This is my first summer having an outdoor pond, and I am VERY excited! 😍 My fiancé and I bought our new house last year, and over this past winter I casually mentioned that I wanted to try summer tubs this summer...well, now I have a 200 gallon semi-inground pond that will have a small waterfall and a pump/filter. 😮 (images attached of the pond the day he dug it into the ground, and a picture from this past Sunday with the beginnings of the surrounding rocks). 

See what happens when you leave (some) men unsupervised?! So, cue excitement - and mild concern for the sheer size of this thing!😳

We live on Long Island, NY (Zone 7a for plants), so any fish will be coming indoors for the winter. 

Originally, I was just going to put a handful of my existing Red Wags and a bunch of plants in my intended smaller outdoor tub, but seeing as though I now have 200 gallons at my disposal and as a beginner with outdoor tubs/ponds, what other fish can I put in there? Looking for species I can put in the pond WITH the Red Wags, as I already have those and ideally would like some color variety other than the red/black of the Platys.

THANK YOU!😄🐟

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On 3/29/2022 at 5:26 PM, modified lung said:

I've had white clouds, ricefish, CPDs outside to temps in the low 50s°F.

Thanks @modified lung! CPDs (Celestial Pearl Danios, right?) are LOVELY, and I have been eyeing them up for a 29 gallon tank that I've got cycled and ready for new tenants. I was not aware they can tolerate such low temps, good to know!

Two weeks ago I purchased 4 Golden WCMM from a LFS (they only had 4), but one passed away while in quarantine, so now I am down to three and the LFS is not sure they will be getting more in near future.

Any preference re: the Golden WCMM vs the "standard" WCMM variety?

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've only kept the brown/standard white clouds, but I can confirm they've done fine down to 50°F in my tank the last two winters. I started with six and have four of the original adults, and eight fry from last summer. I'm hoping to try them in a tub this summer.

I've also heard of others keeping rosy red minnows in ponds. In my experience it's hard to get healthy ones (since they're usually sold as feeder fish or bait) so quarantine the heck out of them! I'd really like to try them again because they're pretty and their cave-breeding behavior sounds very interesting, but my previous attempts did not end well.

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On 4/22/2022 at 11:53 PM, drewzero1 said:

I've only kept the brown/standard white clouds, but I can confirm they've done fine down to 50°F in my tank the last two winters. I started with six and have four of the original adults, and eight fry from last summer. I'm hoping to try them in a tub this summer.

I've also heard of others keeping rosy red minnows in ponds. In my experience it's hard to get healthy ones (since they're usually sold as feeder fish or bait) so quarantine the heck out of them! I'd really like to try them again because they're pretty and their cave-breeding behavior sounds very interesting, but my previous attempts did not end well.

Hi @drewzero1, Thanks for the reply. That's consistent to what I've read about WCMM about them being cold-hardy. 

Unfortunately, of the 4 Golden WCMM I purchased back in March, I am down to 1 little guy. 😞 The first one that passed away about 3 days after purchase actually "looked" ill before it died, but these last 2 just...died. Fine that evening, dead the next morning. They were alone in the QT tank with just a Mystery Snail. So now that I am down to just 1 WCMM, I might be changing gears a bit to just waiting for the water to warm up a bit, and putting out some of my Red Wag Platys - I have SO MANY that perhaps a few would like a Summer Vacation 😉 .

I will certainly look into the Rosy Red Minnows, now that you mention them! They are very pretty. 

Thanks!

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+1 for the white cloud minnows. Nothing looks better than when the sun hits them and their bodies turn that lovely peach color. For winter they may be fine in your bigger pond. Mine survived about three ice-overs and were still active in the 40s until February hit and my 30 gallon Ohio pond went completely solid (oops). On the same note, they also did fine at 92degree water temps for a couple weeks (I have plans for that this year). They will try to breed, but fry population won't be huge with platies munching on them

My paradise gouramis did fine outside too (different pond). They slowed down at 50-ish degrees, went into a hibernation-like state at 40ish degrees, thrived in the 60's-90's

Mosquito fish: Did way better than guppies. Were active down to 40's but did not survive the 30's; did fine in the 90's. I will add they were complete butts though and abused anything that was with them (may have been a size issue), so they got their own 30 gallon pond.

I tried guppies outside but (again it was a 30 gallon pond) the Ohio temp swings were too much. It may have been fine in the summer, but in Spring we will go from 60 degrees to snowing the next day and my guppies couldn't handle it. (Wild types did slightly better but realistically no difference).

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On 4/25/2022 at 10:44 AM, keddre said:

+1 for the white cloud minnows. Nothing looks better than when the sun hits them and their bodies turn that lovely peach color. For winter they may be fine in your bigger pond. Mine survived about three ice-overs and were still active in the 40s until February hit and my 30 gallon Ohio pond went completely solid (oops). On the same note, they also did fine at 92degree water temps for a couple weeks (I have plans for that this year). They will try to breed, but fry population won't be huge with platies munching on them

My paradise gouramis did fine outside too (different pond). They slowed down at 50-ish degrees, went into a hibernation-like state at 40ish degrees, thrived in the 60's-90's

Mosquito fish: Did way better than guppies. Were active down to 40's but did not survive the 30's; did fine in the 90's. I will add they were complete butts though and abused anything that was with them (may have been a size issue), so they got their own 30 gallon pond.

I tried guppies outside but (again it was a 30 gallon pond) the Ohio temp swings were too much. It may have been fine in the summer, but in Spring we will go from 60 degrees to snowing the next day and my guppies couldn't handle it. (Wild types did slightly better but realistically no difference).

Thanks @keddre.  I am still considering the WCMM, I am hoping that my LFS will get more in soon. Will be checking there this week - if I go there too frequently, it gets expensive LOL 😬

Definitely putting Platys in there, because I have so many and I would love to see just how orange they can get in the natural sunlight. I do have some Full 24k Gold Guppies on order, they should be arriving this week and I might consider putting them in the pond, but definitely not until the water and the weather warms up significantly. 

As I think I said in my original post, I had planned on doing tubs this summer, like 30-40 gallons, but with the new house and my fiancé's "go big or go home" mentality, we now have this beautiful HUGE pond! I intend to put the Platys and possibly the WCMM (if I can get more) into the main pond, but I might still do a little 20-30 gallon tub for a smaller project like the Gold Guppies.

I will post updated photos of the pond's landscaping later/tomorrow, as the plantings are starting to take off and it looks really great. So happy with it! 😍

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On 4/25/2022 at 11:03 AM, Nicohorse318 said:

I might still do a little 20-30 gallon tub for a smaller project like the Gold Guppies.

If you do, just a word of advice, put them in the shade if you make them. I don't get a choice since I'm a top-floor apartment dweller, but these smaller ponds get HAWT when the sun hits them.

 

On 4/25/2022 at 11:03 AM, Nicohorse318 said:

the plantings are starting to take off and it looks really great. So happy with it! 

nice

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@keddre thank you for the recommendation! Yes, I thought about that too, and will definitely need to carefully consider where the smaller tubs might go - one for temperature control, and also for dog access...thankfully they cannot get to the big pond for a quick drink, but I think a tub at mouth level might be a bit tempting for a Lab or Standard Poodle! 🐕

Might consider putting one on my front porch... I think I am discovering that summer tubbing is like seasonal MTS - "where can I fit another tub/tank?!"

LOL 🐟🐟🐟

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You could consider trying over-wintering. In Colorado springs this winter I had a 75 gal tote  buried in the ground with an improvised green house cover using shower curtains and PVC (I need to make a post...). It has common goldfish in it, It didn't freeze over until late January or Feb and even then I put a "small" pond deicer in it and that ended up keeping the whole pond thawed.

Golden White clouds look good from above, I just moved some the other day and had to stop and appreciate them. Looking at the picture I wonder if you could separate them (put 'em in the top portion?) and let them breed to increase your population. I started with 10 from a big box store and now have 6x that number or more, mostly from one tub.

Check this post out

 

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On 4/25/2022 at 5:45 PM, Dancing Matt said:

You could consider trying over-wintering. In Colorado springs this winter I had a 75 gal tote  buried in the ground with an improvised green house cover using shower curtains and PVC (I need to make a post...). It has common goldfish in it, It didn't freeze over until late January or Feb and even then I put a "small" pond deicer in it and that ended up keeping the whole pond thawed.

Golden White clouds look good from above, I just moved some the other day and had to stop and appreciate them. Looking at the picture I wonder if you could separate them (put 'em in the top portion?) and let them breed to increase your population. I started with 10 from a big box store and now have 6x that number or more, mostly from one tub.

Check this post out

 

Hey, it's me again! (I'm all over this place.) I kind of forgot about longfins over the winter. Thanks for the reminder to order some!

And yes, you do need to make a post on that greenhouse! It probably wouldn't do a whole lot for me when it's -30F, but it could help extend the season a little. Mostly I just love seeing what clever projects people are working on.

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I had whiteclouds last year and I can confirm that they stay active in cold water. One word of advice is, if its a big pond/tub you are going to want a LOT of them. Mine was 400liters/105gallons and I only had like 15 or 20 of them and never saw them, took me like 5 minutes just to find them.

P.S.  A question to you who take part in summer tubbing, what do you do filtration/water movement wise?

Edited by Kristinn
P.S.
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On 4/25/2022 at 5:32 PM, Streetwise said:

One fun surprise with keeping white clouds outside until late fall, was that they almost instantly spawned when moved to an indoor tank with room temperature water. I wasn’t prepared to deal with it, so I didn’t get to enjoy fry.

As others have mentioned, neocaridina are also temperature-hardy.

@StreetwiseWow, what a cool experience with the White Clouds! Too bad they surprised you with fry drop like that, but at least they prepared you for next time.

I would definitely consider Neocaridina outdoors, I have fallen in love with those tiny shrimp! Perhaps in my possible "porch ponds", as I had originally planned to do actual tubs vs my large pond this summer. However, there is always room for experiments!

Thanks for the input! I appreciate it.

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On 4/25/2022 at 6:45 PM, Dancing Matt said:

You could consider trying over-wintering. In Colorado springs this winter I had a 75 gal tote  buried in the ground with an improvised green house cover using shower curtains and PVC (I need to make a post...). It has common goldfish in it, It didn't freeze over until late January or Feb and even then I put a "small" pond deicer in it and that ended up keeping the whole pond thawed.

Golden White clouds look good from above, I just moved some the other day and had to stop and appreciate them. Looking at the picture I wonder if you could separate them (put 'em in the top portion?) and let them breed to increase your population. I started with 10 from a big box store and now have 6x that number or more, mostly from one tub.

Check this post out

 

@Dancing Matt thank you for sharing that post about the White Clouds - those long fins do look really cool from the top-view.  I have one lonely regular fin Golden White Cloud, and he sure is pretty. I love the little golden/yellow tips on his fins.😍

The upper portion of the pond is definitely a consideration for fish, however it does have a waterfall into the lower main section and pretty strong flow. I am thinking of heavily planting that upper section and having everyone live in the lower section - the upper section is about 30 gallons, the lower is 100 gallons.

The big pond is only partially buried - perhaps 6 inches - into the ground.  It needed to be higher than ground level because we wanted to build a rock wall up and around it to keep our dogs out of it. We already have an inground pool that our two dogs think is their personal oasis, so we didn't want the pond to become their hot tub!! 😬🐕 So if I do choose to overwinter anything in the pond it will need a de-icer and a bubbler - I'm in NY, zone 7a about 5 minutes from the coastline and even the local bay partially freezes in the winter.❄️

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On 4/25/2022 at 9:51 PM, Kristinn said:

I had whiteclouds last year and I can confirm that they stay active in cold water. One word of advice is, if its a big pond/tub you are going to want a LOT of them. Mine was 400liters/105gallons and I only had like 15 or 20 of them and never saw them, took me like 5 minutes just to find them.

P.S.  A question to you who take part in summer tubbing, what do you do filtration/water movement wise?

@Kristinn Good point, completely understood about the fish population #s. The upper portion of the pond is about 30 gallons (which will probably be mostly plants, because it's harder to see/further away + plants add more good filtration!), but the lower portion is about 120 gallons. That's why I am thinking of putting a portion of my Red Wag Platy colony in there - they are brightly colored, and free because I already have them LOL. I would really like to do two different species that will not interbreed and will bring different colors. Hence the White Clouds possibility! 😉

Re: your question about filtration. This is my first season doing ANY kind of outdoor tub/pond, and this pond was a surprise installation, so I don't have any real experience in this yet. Since it is so large, we opted for a pond pump in the lower pond with an external canister-style filter that has sponge/bioballs that can handle the water volume, and create the flow my fiancé wanted for the waterfall. The water movement/circulation is excellent, if anything I think this filter/pump combo is probably a bit overpowered but it works great. 

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Pond Update!

Here are pictures I took of the pond yesterday evening - the upper garden area is planted now, and has drip line sprinklers for the plants. I've got a mix of things - hostas that are starting to come up in the middle, Columbine, Scabiosa, Thrift, Dianthus, Wooly Thyme and a bunch of bulb plants that are also starting to poke their little heads up. As it continues to warm up, I will add some seeds for Sunflowers and Zinnias, etc. We like color in our gardens! 🙂🌻

The pump for the filter/waterfall is located in the lower pond - it's encased in this "pump sponge filter" bag that prevents it from sucking up leaves and fish, etc. The intake hose runs from the pump behind the rocks, over the edge of the pond and gets buried into the ground through the garden bed, where it connects to the filter. The outflow hose runs from the filter (you can see it in the left corner of both pictures) behind the rocks of the upper pond and into the water.

 210130655_springpond.JPG.b8183cec54bdd9ea58341e1a9ce1ef30.JPG1462448145_springpond2.JPG.0aaedccc4a0f6aaca8f42664114c163f.JPG

*peep our floating thermometer from Home Depot - it's a rubber ducky wearing sunglasses!* 🦆

I intend to cover much of the rest of the pond edge with rocks, to make it look more uniform and to hide the cement blocks we used as part of the skeleton structure of the rocks/garden bed. I also still need to pressure wash the rocks - they are covered in dirt from the masonry yard. I will certainly be doing a water change afterwards.

There is nothing living in the pond just yet as the water is still quite chilly - according to our Duck Thermometer! The highest I have seen it get so far is about 55*-60* in the middle of a sunny and warm day last week. Yesterday the water was 40*.

I am loving the progress, and getting excited as the days get warmer🌞. Any suggestions for seeding this new filter with BB? 

I would also appreciate suggestions for plants! 🌿🌿🌿

Thanks!

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On 4/25/2022 at 11:07 PM, PineSong said:

Another option for such a large pond might be mollies. I'd go for orange mollies or yellow sailfin mollies because I love the warm colors, but I could see white ones also showing up well. 

This sounds awesome! I would have loved to do that with my first round of mollies. At feeding time I'd open up the top and give them some food on my fingers, and they'd swim right into my hand. They would've loved a pond if I could keep it warm enough.

I've got a few black mollies now but they're fairly new to me and not very friendly (yet). They wouldn't show up very well in a pond, lighter ones are definitely the way to go.

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On 4/26/2022 at 9:59 AM, Nicohorse318 said:

Pond Update!

Here are pictures I took of the pond yesterday evening - the upper garden area is planted now, and has drip line sprinklers for the plants. I've got a mix of things - hostas that are starting to come up in the middle, Columbine, Scabiosa, Thrift, Dianthus, Wooly Thyme and a bunch of bulb plants that are also starting to poke their little heads up. As it continues to warm up, I will add some seeds for Sunflowers and Zinnias, etc. We like color in our gardens! 🙂🌻

The pump for the filter/waterfall is located in the lower pond - it's encased in this "pump sponge filter" bag that prevents it from sucking up leaves and fish, etc. The intake hose runs from the pump behind the rocks, over the edge of the pond and gets buried into the ground through the garden bed, where it connects to the filter. The outflow hose runs from the filter (you can see it in the left corner of both pictures) behind the rocks of the upper pond and into the water.

 210130655_springpond.JPG.b8183cec54bdd9ea58341e1a9ce1ef30.JPG1462448145_springpond2.JPG.0aaedccc4a0f6aaca8f42664114c163f.JPG

 

I am loving the progress, and getting excited as the days get warmer🌞. Any suggestions for seeding this new filter with BB? 

I would also appreciate suggestions for plants! 🌿🌿🌿

Thanks!

I gravel vac'd my other tanks and put the mulmy water in my pond to get it started. I'm about three weeks from adding fish and I plan to feed the pond a few times a week to keep it going.

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On 4/26/2022 at 3:05 PM, PineSong said:

I gravel vac'd my other tanks and put the mulmy water in my pond to get it started. I'm about three weeks from adding fish and I plan to feed the pond a few times a week to keep it going.

@PineSongOh good idea! I literally just gravel vac'd my tanks this past week, so I will have to wait a bit before using this idea. Thank you!

I am definitely a few weeks out from adding fish too - shooting for end of May at this point. Would adding bottled BB be beneficial, and when would you suggest I add it? The water temp lows are still in the 40*s.

Still need to sort out which members of my Red Wag Platy breeding colony is going "on vacation" outside this year, and make a decision about whether I am adding WCMM or someone else.

RE: plants - thinking of taking a mass of some of my existing Water Sprite as a starter and tossing it in there, but any favorites of yours that you recommend?

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On 4/26/2022 at 3:34 PM, Nicohorse318 said:

@PineSongOh good idea! I literally just gravel vac'd my tanks this past week, so I will have to wait a bit before using this idea. Thank you!

I am definitely a few weeks out from adding fish too - shooting for end of May at this point. Would adding bottled BB be beneficial, and when would you suggest I add it? The water temp lows are still in the 40*s.

RE: plants - thinking of taking a mass of some of my existing Water Sprite as a starter and tossing it in there, but any favorites of yours that you recommend?

Well, this is my first year with a summer tub pond so I'm no expert, but I do have Ted Coletti's book, The Tub Pond Handbook, and he recommends water from your own healthy aquarium, squeezing your filter sponges or media into the new pond, and yes, bottled BB. He specifically mentions two brands, Stability by Seachem and Microbe Lift by Ecological Labs, as having worked for him (p. 43).

I have "a few" tanks with a lot of mulm (see shamefully dirty water, below) so I am just going with mulmy tank water, a branch of driftwood from my 20g and an old matten filter from when I took apart my fry tank. It's been dry for a couple of months but I'm guessing the BB will resurrect somewhat, not sure if this is science or wishful thinking!

For plants, I ordered a floater sampler (salvinia, water lettuce, frogbit, red root floaters) from Etsy and started them in my tanks a few weeks ago, so I will add most of those. Other than that, I'm going to use my extra guppy grass and plant a couple of pond baskets with plants I already have: corkscrew val because I've got it coming out my ears, and a giant sword that has outgrown my 20g long. 

My pond is 110 gallons and due to poor planning I hardly have any fish to put in it, so I think the number of plants I have will probably do the trick. 

IMG_8010.jpg.2b9ba22484146a639e3039b322edb333.jpg

Edited by PineSong
added shameful photo
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On 4/25/2022 at 11:03 AM, Nicohorse318 said:

Thanks @keddre.  I am still considering the WCMM, I am hoping that my LFS will get more in soon. Will be checking there this week - if I go there too frequently, it gets expensive LOL 😬

Definitely putting Platys in there, because I have so many and I would love to see just how orange they can get in the natural sunlight. I do have some Full 24k Gold Guppies on order, they should be arriving this week and I might consider putting them in the pond, but definitely not until the water and the weather warms up significantly. 

As I think I said in my original post, I had planned on doing tubs this summer, like 30-40 gallons, but with the new house and my fiancé's "go big or go home" mentality, we now have this beautiful HUGE pond! I intend to put the Platys and possibly the WCMM (if I can get more) into the main pond, but I might still do a little 20-30 gallon tub for a smaller project like the Gold Guppies.

I will post updated photos of the pond's landscaping later/tomorrow, as the plantings are starting to take off and it looks really great. So happy with it! 😍

I have 24kt gold guppies in my mini patio pond and I can tell you they look INCREDIBLE in the sunlight. I'm in Florida so I don't have the temperature problems to worry about. I wonder if a couple of 100w heaters in your pond might help mitigate temperature swings? They certainly wouldn't maintain 78 degrees all year, but they might help avoid big temp swings in the spring and fall.

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On 4/25/2022 at 9:07 PM, PineSong said:

Another option for such a large pond might be mollies. I'd go for orange mollies or yellow sailfin mollies because I love the warm colors, but I could see white ones also showing up well. 

I’m thinking something along the same lines. Something big and bright. I’m a swordtail fan so I might go with those, but orange or yellow mollies would be beautiful too. 
 

My absolute first choice would be to get some goldfish. Sarasa Comets, Shubunkins and commons would be able to live year round and it’ll be like having a mini koi pond. 

4CB7D3C3-A138-4807-976F-C4BA1B5E87FC.jpeg

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