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Rain water to fill pond

 
Posts: 137
Location: Ottawa, Canada -- Zone 4b/5a
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Hi,

I am planning to build a medium size pond in my urban backyard in about five years from now (still working on the landscape). I do have some experience with pond as I helped build the pond in my parents backyard 15 years ago but they go about it the traditional way: pump, filters and water treatment chemicals. I do not want to have to deal with all of that and prefer taking the natural approach by letting nature keep the water clean and clear. I am currently leaning towards not having any fish in the pond as they tend to destroy plants and everything else they can get their mouths on.

My question is regarding rain water filling up my pond. My property has a slight slope toward the back corner where I plan on putting the pond. When we get heavy rain the water will flow on top of the grass and along the garden beds toward to future pond location and fill it which I would be great. My father keeps telling me I will have huge algae problems if I do that and should only fill it up with tap water. I don't believe this to be the truth but can someone confirm this?

Thanks,
Kris
 
pollinator
Posts: 1491
Location: northern California
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You stand a good chance of algae no matter what water you use....it just might happen faster with the rainwater (actually surface catchment is what you're using----the problem is the nutrients the water will pick up from the ground and the grass on it's way to your pond. The natural solution is to jumpstart an ecosystem in the pond that will take up those nutrients so they won't feed algae....water plants especially. Frogs, dragonflies, etc. will come of themselves. The main reason to have some fish in a small pond is to prevent mosquitoes from breeding....they don't have to be too big or too many. Mosquitofish are the favorite in much of the world but your winters might be too cold unless you bring them in. Goldfish should survive if the water doesn't freeze solid...
 
master pollinator
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Allowing run-off into the pond will tend to make an algae bloom, stressing any fish in there. If you don't plan to have fish, it shouldn't be a problem, it will just make the plants grow faster. But if you have fish, it might kill them, even tough fish like goldfish. Typically, small ponds are designed not to collect run-off because of this problem. Pumps and filters are not necessary in ponds unless you plan to have lots of fish or fish which demand clean water such as koi.

Putting in a bed of marginal plants between the pond and the lawn will help slow the run off and collect nutrients where the marginal plants can use them. Cattails are one of the best water-cleaning plants and I think they should be in every pond. You can also eat them!

 
Kris Minto
Posts: 137
Location: Ottawa, Canada -- Zone 4b/5a
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How bad will the algae get once the plants in the pond are establish? I was really hopping not to have to use tap water or my two small rain barrel to fill up the pond unless I really need to.

Thanks,
Kris

 
Alder Burns
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In my observation a new pond might oscillate through a few "blooms" of algae until other plants establish, so you might keep the fish out for the first few weeks, but then you'll probably have mosquitoes. I would try to source some free/cheap small minnows or other fish and let them take their chances. In more established ponds there's usually only one "bloom" of algae in the spring before other water plants get going strong. I like the idea of running the stormwater through a wetland first to take some of the nutrient load off....
 
gardener
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Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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I have two small hand dug ponds in my front yard- each holds maybe a few thousand gallons.
These ponds are filled only by rain and run off from my roof. I have a number of types of water plants, frogs, goldfish, various insects,etc. that live in the ponds.
As for algae, I've never had a problem with it. The plants suck off the extra nutrients, and they prevent blooms of algae by blocking too much sunlight.

If anything, you can harvest any algae and use it in compost, or just sling it under the nearest bush- it is an organic material. This is what I did in the past before the flora/fauna in the ponds stabilized. Now that they are stabilized, algae just doesn't grow.

 
Kris Minto
Posts: 137
Location: Ottawa, Canada -- Zone 4b/5a
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Thanks for the feedback Cris. My parents in-law have a medium size preform pond they no longer want so I will be putting it across the yard from where my future large pond will go. I will try see to see if I get the same results you got Cris.

Kris
 
Cris Bessette
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Posts: 859
Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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Kris Minto wrote:Thanks for the feedback Cris. My parents in-law have a medium size preform pond they no longer want so I will be putting it across the yard from where my future large pond will go. I will try see to see if I get the same results you got Cris.

Kris



I love my little ponds, they really "naturalized" my front yard. The frogs appeared out of nowhere. In the summer I have a handy water supply for watering plants, for just daydreaming while watching fishes and bugs.

In the winter the ponds help create microclimates in front of the house. The water absorbs heat from the sun during the day and releases it at night.
Also, the winter sun is at the right angle to bounce off the water and into my front windows, adding more light inside.

If I ever have a house or yard fire, I have a large supply of fire fighting water right at the house.

There are so many benefits to having ponds, I wish you success.


 
Posts: 196
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
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Cris Bessette wrote:I have two small hand dug ponds in my front yard- each holds maybe a few thousand gallons.
These ponds are filled only by rain and run off from my roof. I have a number of types of water plants, frogs, goldfish, various insects,etc. that live in the ponds.
As for algae, I've never had a problem with it. The plants suck off the extra nutrients, and they prevent blooms of algae by blocking too much sunlight.

If anything, you can harvest any algae and use it in compost, or just sling it under the nearest bush- it is an organic material. This is what I did in the past before the flora/fauna in the ponds stabilized. Now that they are stabilized, algae just doesn't grow.



Hello Cris,

I came across this discussion after having posted a few questions regarding pond construction, in another thread.

I'm curious about your ponds. What lining did you use, and how far are they from the house?

Thanks
Levente
 
Cris Bessette
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Location: North Georgia / Appalachian mountains , Zone 7A
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"I came across this discussion after having posted a few questions regarding pond construction, in another thread.

I'm curious about your ponds. What lining did you use, and how far are they from the house?"



Hi, Levente, I used standard pond liner material for both, they are basically rubber sheets, but there is a line pattern on the "up"side that helps
organic materials be able to grab on (moss,etc). Under the liner are scraps of old carpet to keep rocks and roots from poking through.

The ponds are both about 5-6 feet (1.5 - 2 meters) from the house. Basically just enough room for a walking path between the house and ponds.

I dug a third pond hole further out in the middle of the yard.
This is my "experimental pond". Currently this "pond" is only full of water after a day or so of heavy rain. I don't want to use a liner in this one so I am trying to seal it a natural way.

Grass and other plants have taken over the hole, and every time there is heavy rain, some of the plants drown and become organic material for the next layer of plants. My theory is that within time, the hole will start holding water longer as more and more organic material clogs the pores.

If not, then at least I have a boggy place to grow thirsty plants.

 
Levente Andras
Posts: 196
Location: Harghita County, Transylvania, Romania
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Cris Bessette wrote:
"I came across this discussion after having posted a few questions regarding pond construction, in another thread.

I'm curious about your ponds. What lining did you use, and how far are they from the house?"



Hi, Levente, I used standard pond liner material for both, they are basically rubber sheets, but there is a line pattern on the "up"side that helps
organic materials be able to grab on (moss,etc). Under the liner are scraps of old carpet to keep rocks and roots from poking through.

The ponds are both about 5-6 feet (1.5 - 2 meters) from the house. Basically just enough room for a walking path between the house and ponds.

I dug a third pond hole further out in the middle of the yard.
This is my "experimental pond". Currently this "pond" is only full of water after a day or so of heavy rain. I don't want to use a liner in this one so I am trying to seal it a natural way.

Grass and other plants have taken over the hole, and every time there is heavy rain, some of the plants drown and become organic material for the next layer of plants. My theory is that within time, the hole will start holding water longer as more and more organic material clogs the pores.

If not, then at least I have a boggy place to grow thirsty plants.



Thanks for replying to my questions.

I was curious to hear your experience because I'm planning to build a small pond without a synthetic liner, in front of my house (about 8 metres downhill from it). Some people think it may be too close.

I'd like to hear how your "natural" pond is behaving. How far is it from the foundations of the house?

L_
 
Posts: 8
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Cris ,
Thanks for sharing your pond experiences.
I live in Portland. We get a decent amount of rain. I moved into this house and I want to use rain to fill up a pond.
After reading your experiences I feel more confident. Not really sure why I'm hesitant lol. So I imagine the run off from the roof channeled into a pond which can over flow into another
I think I need to read some Sepp Holtzer literature for creative and technical inspiration. But if you have any more advice or insight (liner vs. no liner) I would be very grateful. Thanks!
 
Posts: 743
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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dog homestead
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Here in Australia, most farms have ponds constructed within the soil.
Rarely are they lined and we call them dams.
Algea will only occur if you have nutrients running in and there are simple ways to deal with that. As for mozzies, well they will go anyway and again there are ways of dealing with them.
I love dams.
 
gardener
Posts: 2283
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
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I would encourage anyone with a small pond to add fish. Not "fish", but minnows. Instant mosquito larvae eater. It doesnt take many. Keep quantities small and no aeration or feed is needed. I've been using them for years in water troughs for horse, sheep, and cows.

 
John C Daley
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What are minnows and where would you get them?
 
Cris Bessette
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John C Daley wrote:What are minnows and where would you get them?



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnow

Sorry, don't know where to get minnows myself.

Frogs will tend to appear out of no where if you build a pond, so right there you have something that will take care of mosquito larva.
I got some gold fish years ago and they bred until I have a hundred or more now. Between the two of these common pond dwellers,
I have no problem with mosquitos breeding in my ponds.
 
wayne fajkus
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Sorry, not everyone here is usa.

Minnows, guppies, very small fish rhat stay small.

In usa they are sold as bait for fishing at gas stations. They are also sold in pet stores to feed bigger fish. As a kid we would seine them from creeks.

They stay small and eat the mosquito larvae.

Goldfish can be used also but they can get big.



 
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