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Porch container pond journal Charleston, SC


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I'm already having a lot of fun setting up my first container pond!

Inspired by Cory's videos on summer tubbing, Ryo Watanabe's ricefish mini-ponds, all the aquatic plants I've discovered growing in my neighborhood's ditches, and my local nature preserve's containers for exhibiting rice plants, I've had a year long obsession with setting something up on the deck this spring. I thought I'd start a journal on here to track my progress and provide fodder for discussion and learning 🙂


-35 gallon Beckett pond liner

-Aquascape Container Water Garden Filter for Patio Ponds and Small Aquatic Gardens

-0.5 cu. ft. Bagged Pea Gravel Pebbles for pond bottom

-4 square pond planter baskets filled with 4 inch deep safe-t-sorb

-Osmocote plus fertilizer balls for gravel fertilization 

-easy green liquid fertilizer for water column fertilization

-fluval cycle biological starter supplement

I initially set the pond up on march 13th 2021, adding the gravel, filter, dechlorinated tap water and a few buckets of aquarium tank water from the day's water change. 

On March 23, I rinsed a bag of safe-t-sorb and filled up the planting baskets. I soaked these overnight in a tub filled with 3X dechlorinated water and later added about a 10X dose of easy green. I wanted to make sure any absorbed chlorine was fully neutralized and also charge up the substrate with beneficial nutrients. The following day I placed 2 of these pots on the floor of the pond, and 2 on the 'shelves' of the pond. The upper pots get bog/transitional plants, and the submerged pots I am adding stem plants that will hopefully end up growing up out of the pond as emersed plants.

Plants used for upper pots:

-Hyptis lorentziana

-Persicaria glabra

-Brazilian pennywort

Plants used for submerged pots:

-locally foraged Ludwigia palustris

-Ludwigia brevipes

-Ludwigia glandulosa

-Ludwigia ovalis green

-Bacopa carolinia 'colorata'

Plants used for pond floor:

-Vallisneria Tiger (foraged in Florida)

-Vallisneria Red (foraged in Florida)

-Dwarf sagittaria

-Chain sword

-banana plant

And....Floating plants:

-water lettuce

-red root floaters

Day 1


Day 11 post-planting


Day 12 switched upper pot locations


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  • 4 weeks later...

Pond is doing great!

 It's still in the beginning stages of cycling for some reason. I would have thought it would be ready for fish after having been setup for 6 weeks. I've tossed in some ramshorn snails from my aquariums to help with the cycling and to control algae. They took about two weeks to clean up most of the hair algae, which was getting unsightly. Or the explosive growth of the floating plants helped with the algae...

I moved some things around and added a dwarf papyrus and a little venus fly trap plant to the upper pots to see how they do. Some of the stem plants are starting to emerge from the water. Some of those I'll trim and replant and some I'll let convert to emersed growth, hoping they'll cascade over the side of the container over time. The banana plant has put out a lot of new leaves and a few roots which haven't reached the substrate yet.

The medaka I ordered from Aquatic Arts are med trio treated and ready to be moved outside. Will add some fritz turbo tomorrow, hopefully get the pond stocked by the weekend 🙂

Morning picture taken 2 weeks ago:


Morning picture taken today:


Rotala rotundiflora starting to emerge with rounded leaves at the tip:


Ludwigia from my ditch standing tall amongst the floaters:


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Just now, Patrick_G said:

Wow, nice! Are you just adding the rice fish or do you plan on gathering some locals too? 

I have seen fish in ditches but think they're probably just mosquito fish which the local mosquito control department puts out. Lots of brackish water around me, so I think I could collect mollies and some cool catfish if I looked. If I can get the ricefish to breed out there I'll be extremely satisfied. I also hope to throw cherry shrimp produced from my colony out there if it ever gets producing 🙂 Ultimately I want to see how well the setup survives over the winter, which are pretty mild here. Would be great to have a self maintaining pond for a few years. 

If the ricefish produce, I hope to set up a few ceramic bowl mini-ponds to keep on the screened porch, inside, or give to friends as gifts. If they don't, I know someone local who has a breeding colony of Least Kilifish, those might be cool to put in there and will be winter hardy for sure.

I also wanted the pond generally for growing plants, locally collected ones and the ones I've gathered in my aquariums. Tons of aquatic plants in my region to explore. Really cool to see the plants growing more naturally and to their fullest potential with flowers and interesting emersed growth. The fish as well, letting them live a full life is exciting. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Big day over here, I added half of my medaka to the pond from QT. I haven't netted fish in a tank in a long time, like years, plus my quarantine tank is fully planted, so it became a high anxiety situation, but I was able to pull out the largest fish and get them acclimated to their new home.

Aquatic Arts had a shipping snafu that resulted in me getting a second shipment of fish a week after my first batch had arrived. The second batch were significantly younger and smaller, so I'm letting them grow up some before moving them outside. I may also leave them in the quarantine tank until I need to use it for medicating fish next time. I wasn't prepared to have 14 fish in a relatively new, but cycled, 10 gallon aquarium. I also wasn't prepared for the med trio treatment to crash the cycle and it not return a month later. Fortunately, medaka are very hardy and mostly did well. I lost the smallest fish I had, it was very thin and died three weeks after receiving.  Anyways, the pond is still struggling to fully cycle it seems, there is always a small amount of ammonia, which is what my quarentine tank is doing too now, so I figured I might as well try and lighten the bio-load of the tank and see if the fish help get the pond cycling. 


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Also, the pond filter sponge and media gets mucked up pretty quickly. I wrapped a Co-Op coarse sponge pad around the filter intake and secured it with zip ties. Seems to work well so far catching large stuff that ends up collecting around the filter intake. I hope the sponge also provides extra surface area for beneficial bacteria to colonize. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well the medaka sure are prolific! Tons of fry, hoping the parents don't eat them all, but they seem to be able to escape well when an adult goes after them. The floating plants provide a decent refuge for the fry, unfortunately I removed some of the over grown floating plants and the adults become very interested in going after the fry all of a sudden. I'm feeding hikari first bites along with micro pellets twice daily and may add a third feeding of extreme nano pellets for the adults since the females seem to be hungry all the time.



Venus fly trap looks like it's about to flower! IMG_0785.jpg.b6a5c76fb372035758b1cd3c0fa8cc50.jpg

Banana plant lily pad amongst the water lettuce.IMG_0667.jpg.f00098a4ec689d3a06f7b20775e2ec2a.jpg

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6 hours ago, Hobbit said:

Ooo! Tell me more about how you’ve set up your Venus fly trap there. 😍

I actually just set it in the pond in the pot I purchased it in since the instructions said to place it in cup filled with water. Having had them as a kid, I don’t recall ever having one survive long. The depth was a little much so i filled a nursery plant pot with some of my pond substrate and sat it inside on the the planters, keeps about 3/4 of the pot in the water and the plant is never totally submerged. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Babies, shrimps, and Raccoons, Oh My!

I've added a few red cherry shrimp, without expecting to ever see one again, but also hoping to have an unlimited supply of deck shrimps! I actually have seen them feeding around the pond which is super exciting and reassuring that the pond is relatively healthy. Hope to snap some better images in the future.


The medaka fry are really thriving. I was concerned to see the largest adult females going after the fry, but there seems to be a ton of larger fry along with accumulation of tiny ones, so they must be getting fed enough and have hiding spots amongst the plants. I chucked a bunch of limnophila in the rear of the pond near the coconut hut and filter, hoping fish may find some refuge if needed. I keep spotting what appears to be a male who floats at the top of that plant surrounded by fry. Perhaps they have a nanny to keep them safe?


Spotted this fry in a droplet this morning.



Plants are doing well, I'm glad I took some photos of the merged growth peaking out because I had an uninvited guest over the weekend 😞 Hopefully the raccoons don't make a habit of climbing into the pond and yanking up half of the plants.





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6 hours ago, Patrick_G said:

Great pic of the fry in the droplet! Sorry about the Racoon damage. Do you have any ideas on keeping them out. 

Thanks! I wish I had my real camera ready for the picture, felt like I better get it back in the pond sooner than later. 

Yea, that raccoon also got into my screen porch last night and knocked over a jar I had set up for holding fry in, weird. Probably left the door ajar yesterday, but surprised it went inside considering there is a motion activated flood light at the door which certainly was triggered. I don't have any grand plans for raccoon proofing, would rather not put a net over the pond since I'd have to remove the bog plants I assume. I'm not sure if it's able to capture and eat the adult fish I have in there. 

Any tips and tricks are welcome 🙂 

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Third raccoon visit this week 😞 

I had a little garden decoration with LED light eyes on it near the pond which I have discovered has run out of battery. Maybe that was doing an ok job deterring them. Also our motion activated floodlights have been turned off in the backyard for a few weeks. 

I'm thinking the main thing I can do right now, other than fix the night lighting situation, will be to remove my planters so that the pond is deeper and has less shallows for the raccoon to sit in, but this pond liner has built in shelves so no matter what it'll have a place to fish from. If I need to put a net or cage over the pond my marginal plants will have to go. 

Anyone have success with this? 

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