Looking to create a garden pond but not sure yet whether we want fish
and wildlife or just ornamental, although that doesn't matter here.
What's the best (or preferred) pump and/or filter to go for power-wise,
mains voltage or 12V?
Much depends on the size and scale of the project. A small ornamental
fountain can run from a submerged 12V pump. A large water clarification
system will probably need a mains powered circulation pump somewhere
outside of the pond along with the filtration / sterilisation.
If you want wildlife, don't have fish! When we first established a
pond, we were fascinated by all the wildlife that just appeared from
nowhere (dragonflies and their nymphs; damsel flies and their nymphs;
water boatmen; water skeeters; toads, toadspawn and toadpoles (only
one year did we have frogspawn); the occasional newt). Spent many
happy hours watching it all. But then a neighbour gave us some
goldfish fry from their pond, and we hardly had any wildlife from that
day on. The goldfish ate all the eggs of whatever wildlife dared lay
them, so nothing to hatch, and the dragonflies just stopped appearing,
as if they could see the fish and went somewhere else.
We've got no fish and no mozzies.
What with the dragonfly larvae, the water boatmen and the newts the
mozzies don't really stand a chance.
The frogs and toads help with the garden too - we have hostas, and
almost no slug damage.
This winter it's getting its first real maintenance in 5 years. They
gradually silt up, and it's nowhere near deep enough.
About 5mx10, across the axes of what is roughly elliptical.
And nowhere more than a metre deep. I'd prefer to be needing drysuit to
clean it out, nor knee length waders. I gather the great crested newts
prefer more depth too.
Remember to leave plenty of shallow margins for water plants. Worth
thinking about what you want to grow in it and researching the water
depths they like to grow in. Some just like boggy soil, others grow in
about 6" of water, others as deep as 3ft.
Remember also that the volume of soil excavated will be paradoxically
roughly twice the volume of the hole you dig, due to it being fairly
compacted where it is now, but loose and voluminous when piled into a
Yes, a local nursery has an impressive, well established, wildlife pond
and his advice is make it much shallower than you think it needs to be.
Me thinking about plants? Ha!
The excavated soil will help towards filling in an area that a previous
owner had dug-out for a workshop he never built, that's why I'm thinking
get the pond roughed-out now, rather than have to dispose of the topsoil
later, actually it's quite gravelly so probably won't be all that compacted.
We took advantage of that by not digging the hole as deep and using the
spoil to raise the level of the ground
around the hole to give the required depth . Conveniently that kept the
digging in the easy to dig soil area about 2 ft deep below which it varies
from chalk and flint and some clay .
The garden is on a slight slope any way as the ground slopes to a chalk
stream about 50m away so some levelling of the ground was going to be
needed around the pond anyway.
Pond which is just for wildlife is about 6mx4m and has shelved side steps
at 6” and 1ft depths for various plants and a deep sump which is about 1m
depth and which it is fairly easy to remove debris from using an extra long
litter picker and a coarse net.
Some people use a pond vac but I find that too brutal and prefer to scoop
it out and go through the muck and return dragon fly larvae,pond snails
etc back . One end is a gentle slope to a beach so things like hedgehogs
can easily drink or get out if they enter the water elsewhere and birds
like to bathe in that area as well.
The pond liner is covered fairly thickly at that end with small stones
which I was glad we did as we have also had heavier animals like deer and
badgers standing there to drink, fortunately the liner was not damaged .
By having the pond raised above the level of the surrounding garden means
an intermediate level about 2mx3m is lined but filled with soil and is a
bog garden fed by overflow from the pond and that in turn overflows on to a
The main pond gets topped up by rainfall piped from the overflows of
various waterbutts from the house roof and other buildings.
A 1000l IBC gets fed from the neighbours garage roof,that is the reserve
top up for the pond if it threatens to get seriously low in prolonged dry
spells when the butts which between them hold about 2000l get too depleted.
Even if emptied a good thunderstorm soon fills them .
Yes indeed, fish are also hard to keep if they are imported ones. No just a
pond with some way to make sure the water flows and oxygenates is good for
wildlife. After all if you make a big pond and put even slightly valuable
fish in it, Mr Heron will soon remove them for you.
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