Garden Pond Designs
Planning For Pond Fish
Planning for pond fish should be an important part of your garden pond designs. Fish have special needs that should be taken into consideration in the construction of your water garden.
Fill 'er Up!
Your pond should not overheat or dry out in summer months, nor freeze solid in colder months. Building your pond to a sufficient volume should prevent this from being a problem, but pond heaters and automatic water level controllers can be installed as a preventative measure.
Fish Need Clean Water
Fish will need relatively clean water, so you may need to consider filtering the pond with a pond pump and biological filter. Hardier fish, such as goldfish can handle a more strenuous environment than others, like koi or fancy goldfish.
Greater quantities of fish or larger fish will have a bigger impact on your water quality, so extra filtration and/or a larger pond may be necessary if this is a concern for you.
Let Them Breathe
Fish require oxygen to breathe just like we do. If you keep small quantities of common goldfish with plenty of space, you shouldn't have a problem. In a densely stocked pond, however, it would be best to provide aeration by using a fountain or waterfall and pond pump.
If you plan to keep koi, it is pretty much a given that you should have proper filtration and aeration. Koi grow so large and produce so much waste that a good pump and filter really are a necessity.
Make it Deep Enough
The absolute minimum depth you can reasonably get away with and still have healthy fish would be about 16 inches. This would be for hardier fish such as common goldfish and only in very temperate climates.
A typical depth to aim for in a goldfish pond would be 24 inches, deeper if you live in areas with extreme temperatures. Deeper ponds have more stable water temperatures and result in less stress on pond fish during season changes.
If your pond is very large, or you plan to have koi (which get quite large) you should include an area in the center of the pond that is 36-48 inches deep. This is especially important if your water garden will be situated in a large open area that is subject to winds.
Shallows Are Important, Too
Some shallow areas are also necessary so that your fish will have basking areas where the water is warmer in spring and summer. Planting shelves may serve this purpose. Make them large enough for the size your fish plan to have.
Fish will tend to spend time in the areas of the pond that are at the temperatures that are most comfortable to them at the time. Creating a variety of depths, at say 10, 18, 24, 36 and even 48 inches, will provide them with the best possible environment.
Good garden pond designs should always have some amount of shade during the hottest parts of the day. The entire pond doesn't need to be shaded, but fish need some area to be able to find shade.
Relying exclusively on water garden plants to do this is probably not a good idea, as pond fish, particularly koi, can upset the plants in your water garden and lose their shade. A small structure like an arbor may serve this purpose, or even a small Japanese maple place near your pond may do the trick.
Plan for the Future
Happy, healthy fish have babies. Try to keep this in mind when coming up with your garden pond designs. It's a good idea to under stock your pond because eventually you will have more than you started with. Of course, that's part of the fun of having a water garden.
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For information on pond size go to Garden Pond Designs - Finding the right Proportion for You Water Garden
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