QUESTION: Robyn, my husband and I recently had a water fountain installed and also had a small stone circular "pond" built
surrounding the water fountain. The "pond" is approximately 6' in diameter and 11" deep. I estimate it at approximately 200 gallons. The water fountain holds approximately 79 gallons and overflows into the pond. We have added a pondmaster 190 bio-filter which filtrates 190 gallons per hour. We live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area of Texas. The "pond" was added as my young grandson wanted to have his own goldfish to care and feed and we thought it would be a fun and interesting aspect to the water fountain and now we have many questions, some of which are:
1. Is this of sufficient size for goldfish?
2. How many goldfish would you recommend for this pond?
3. Can the goldfish remain in the pond in the winter?
4. Is this pond likely to freeze completely?
5. If so, what should we do to winterize the pond and
insure the goldfish survive?
6. Is it safe to add the goldfish at this time of year
should we wait until Spring?
7. How do we prepare the pond for the introduction of the
Any advice and information you can provide is greatly appreciated.
ANSWER: A perfectly round pond 6' in diameter and 11" deep is 194 gallons. The pond is pretty shallow. This raises two concerns. First, when the pond freezes, it leaves less room for water that's not frozen. How cold does it get there and for how long? If it rarely freezes, that should be fine. The other concern is that predators will more easily get fish from a pond that shallow.
It's better to have a pump and filter rated for larger ponds. For example, I run a 700 gph pump on my 153 gallon pond. It would not be unreasonable for you to run a 400 gph or larger pump on your pond. Does your Pondmaster 190 gph pump feed into the fountain or is that separate?
1. The pond is large enough as far as gallonage to contain perhaps a dozen mid-aged goldfish. It's a bit shallow as mentioned before but, if you put in a lot of cover for the fish to hide, and the winter's aren't too bad, it may suffice.
2. I would start with no more than a dozen small goldfish. Keep in mind, within a year, they will start spawning. Goldfish can reproduce quickly if there is enough room for fry to hide (the parents love to eat eggs and fry which helps keep their numbers down).
3. I'm not familiar enough with your climate to say for sure. If the pond doesn't freeze more than a few inches in the winter, it should be ok. See http://www.fishpondinfo.com/winter.htm
4. I'm not sure for your climate. If you put in a de-icer, that will probably keep the pond toasty enough to not produce much ice.
5. Again, refer to http://www.fishpondinfo.com/winter.htm
6. Wait until spring at this point. For your climate, you don't want to add new fish after about early October.
7. That's not a quick question to answer. If you've had the pond running with all the equipment for a while, that's the main thing. I suggest adding dechlorinator with any new water to deactivate chlorine and heavy metals. Adding pond salt at 0.05% can help with a lot of problems (prevent them as well). Aeration is important (from the fountain).
Check out my web site and forum. There are lots of people on my forum now who like to answer pond questions.
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Thank you for your timely response. I will upgrade the pond filter and follow your recommendations.
After reading your response, I find that I have a few additional questions:
1. Do I keep the water fountain running during the winter or will this introduce cold water into the shallow pond?
2. Should I run just the pond filer along with the de-deicer?
3. Is the pond too shallow to use a pond heater in lieu of the de-deicer.
4. If it is acceptable to use a pond heater, will this make the fish more active requiring a different feeding schedule?
Thanks, Robyn, I appreciate your help on this.
1. I wouldn't run the fountain. You can run the pump with the outlet just broiling the water. Or, you can add an air stone or de-icer.
2. Once the pond water is below 50 degrees F, you should turn off your fountain and instead just let the pump move the surface water, add an aerator, and/or de-icer. I would run a de-icer regardless of the other method if your pond water will often go below freezing in the winter.
3. For our purposes, a pond heater is a de-icer. They don't make small heaters for ponds just de-icers. The only real difference is that a heater runs all the time or until it reaches a set temperature. A de-icer only runs when it registers a temperature below 34 degrees F normally. Once it warms up to that temperature, it turns off. A heater can warm to a higher temperature. I've never seen pond heaters except for huge ponds with hot water running in piping under the pond run by propane heaters inside the house (in magazines).
4. You don't want to heat the fish. You just want to keep them above freezing. If they are warmed up to say 60 degrees F but the air temperature is 20 degrees F, imagine if they came to the surface for air. That would be mightly chilly! Aside from that, it would be very expensive to heat a pond much above freezing. That's the main reason we don't heat our ponds up warmer.