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Barrel pond with a twist.

  • 31-07-2015 6:44pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    I'm toying with the idea of setting up a barrel pond outside. It'd be pretty straightforward, I'd probably get 2 resin/plastic barrels (maybe wooden ones with a liner) and have one raised up and feeding the lower one. Get a small low voltage pump to circulate etc. Throw in a lily or two, maybe one or tow other plants.

    Anyway, none of that is all that unusual.

    What I am thinking of doing is stocking it with tropical freshwater fish....

    Nothing big, I was thinking of something like tiger barbs/danios/white clouds. (or any other suggestions)

    All of the above fish I've kept without issues in unheated tanks back in Ireland. They're 'cold' tolerant to a certain extent and all pretty hardy.

    Winter temperatures during the day where I am don't get below about 18 C. While night time temperatures can go down to about 10 C. I don't think the water temperature would go as low at 10 C (I suspect it'd stay at around 14/15) but I'd have to test it to be sure.

    It's an idea I've been kicking around in my head for a few year and I'm interested to see what peoples thoughts are.

    I'm open to any ideas / suggestions / potential pitfalls that anyone might see.


Comments

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 16,693 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Silverfish


    Winter temperatures during the day where I am don't get below about 18 C.

    Bit jealous of that bit tbh.

    Only pitfall i can think of would be potential overheating in summer maybe.

    Guppies are very colourful and fairly hardy with temperature ranges - they can take a gradual drop to 10 C and for breeding prefer it around 26C so I'd say they'd be suitable for any fluctuations in temperatures.

    You'd need to keep a close eye on water quality levels too, maybe weekly / fortnightly 10% water changes.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    Yeah it might overheat but I'm putting it in a shaded area so it won't be in direct sunlight, hopefully that will curtail too much overheating. It doesn't get overly hot here in the summer, high 20's but that's about it.

    I probably won't bother with livebearers tbh. I'll be inundated with piles of fish after a few months. Unless I get swamped with mosquito's and whatever I put in won't eat the larvae, I'll stay away.

    As for water quality, I'll plant it up reasonably well which should hopefully do a lot of natural filtration for me. I'll under stock it and I'll probably hook it into the drip system for my plants so it will get topped up that way. Now that I think of it, I could potentially put an exit drip hose (small hose, no fishies get sucked in) on it and have that feed the plants (ammonia rich water feeding tomato plants).

    Water changes will have to be at a minimum (with the drought here and all). I think I'll have 2 barrels at approximately 60L capacity each (will depend on what barrel I go for). I'm looking at probably about 120L volume all in. If I get the planting right and keep the fish volume low (say about 10 barbs & 10 danios to begin with) I think I'll be ok as regards water changes.

    The ultimate goal would be to have the whole setup self sustaining I don't know if I'll get enough insect life there to warrant that though.

    I'll have to do some digging on the local wildlife too, there's a possum who eats my tomatoes, I don't know if they have a taste for fish too.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    So, I started this yesterday.

    I picked up a half whiskey in Home Depot yesterday. I only got one because they were almost $60 a pop!

    Brought it home, popped it up on 2 cavity blocks and proceeded to fill it.

    It leaked something terrible from one side yesterday but I stuck a bucket under it and kept refilling it. This morning it looks to have settled down, the leaks have stopped and the wood looks to have swollen up enough to seal the gaps.

    I stuck in a small pump with a fountain on it (nothing special) just to keep the water moving.

    It's there less than 24 hours but the number of insects coming into that part of the yard has skyrocketed. A lot of bees coming in to drink, which I guess can only be good for my citrus plants.

    The barrel still smells like whiskey (tastes faintly of it too!) so my next step will be to add some water hyacinth to soak up whatever crap is in the water. Ideally I'd toss the water after a few days but that's not really PC here because of the drought.

    If I can get the water hyacinth in this week that'll probably be all I do for the next month or two I want to see how much is being lost to evaporation, etc. I have stuck in a feed from my irrigation drip system so that'll help keep it topped up daily.

    Because I'm down to the one barrel, the plan has changed slightly, I reckon I have roughly about 80L of water in there. I may implement a small under-gravel filter system using the fountain and some plastic mesh, like I said earlier water changes aren't an option (at least in the short term). If I can combine some sort of filter in combination with the water hyacinth and maybe some sort of reed/rush that would do some filtration too.

    My stocking levels will go down accordingly, right now I'm thinking maybe 6 mosquito fish and maybe 6 tiger barbs. I'll need to have something in there eventually to keep the nasty bugs out.

    Has any one any filtration suggestions?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    Nothing much to update. It's up and running for about a week now.

    Leakage has stopped as I presume the barrel staves have swelled up enough.

    I went to the local pet shop and got a few plants, a Lily some Java Moss and some other big leaved plant (can't recall the name).

    I didn't want to go nuts just yet as I still feel there's stuff seeping out of the wood and there might be some toxicity in the water, I don't want to spend a fortune on plants to have them die a week later. Right now they plants look ok, not great, just ok.

    The water is gone a little cloudy, to be expected I suppose.

    I'll try and take a picture this evening.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,684 ✭✭✭✭ Sleepy


    Very interested to see a pic!


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    Not the bestest image in the world.

    Worryingly, I seem to be losing about 4 liters a day when I fill the barrel, the fountain head was covered by the water last night.

    I don't believe it's a leak (I'd see the water) and I can't see that much water evaporating overnight. Possible animal visits? Even then 4L would be a lot and the yard is fairly enclosed.

    I know there's possums around (I found one eating my tomatoes). I'm told there's raccoons (haven't seen or heard one), skunks (smelled one recently) and possibly other stuff.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    I may have underestimated the evaporation.

    The last few days have seen me losing about 10+ liters a day.

    I filled it up last night and when I checked this morning it was more or less at the same level.

    Will be interesting to see how much is gone by this evening.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    First disaster today.

    Popped in some pond weed last night, water levels looked good, plants doing ok, happy days.

    Went out this morning to check water levels, all good. Leaks / evaporation seem to have been sorted.

    Spotted movement in the water, life perhaps, a bug maybe? Nope, mosquito larvae, hundreds of them! I foolishly assumed if it's clean enough for the larvae then it's clean enough for fish. So off to the LFS I went. (forgetting that mosquito larvae are tolerant of pretty nasty water conditions). Picked up 6 danios, floated the bag, let them out, they went straight to the bottom. All good as expected, everything seems great.

    A few mins later the danios are all at the surface gasping. It's an oxygen issue I thought, I'll get the water moving and maybe add an airstone and they'll be grand. As i got that done the danios started to look more and more stressed. Better safe than sorry, I grabbed a garden planter and filled it with fresh water and proceeded to try and catch them. It was too easy, caught all 6, popped them in the fresh water tub, 3 survived. Time from entry to exit, less than an hour. Not a happy camper.

    Anyway, I drained the barrel, reusing as much of the water as I could on the plants (it is a drought here after all). Gave it a quick rinse and refilled it.

    At this point in time I have my whiskey barrel filled again, it's clean. But, I've got a large watertight plastic planter floating in it. In the planter are the 3 surviving danios and all the plants. I've stuck in a thermometer to keep an eye on the temp and popped in a tiny pump to recirculate the water and keep it moving.

    On the plus side, some larvae made it on on the plants and the fish are powering through them.

    Apart from the clearly toxic water, I'm not sure what I could've done. Any water tests would only be good for nitrates/nitrites/ammonia etc, I don't know that they'd have caught whatever toxin is in there. Will leave the situation as is for a week or so and monitor the fish in their temporary home and see how they do. Tempted to try and track down some water hyacinth as it's supposed to e a great cleaner.

    Any ideas?


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,684 ✭✭✭✭ Sleepy


    10 litres a day? That could get interesting when you've a hose ban in place!


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 16,693 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Silverfish


    When there's a certain amount of toxins in the water, when the water evaporates, the same amount of toxins will be in the water, just more concentrated. So when you top up, you're not actually depleting the toxin level. I learned this with my open top tank, that evaporated a lot!
    So really, regular water changes need to be done before / while adding fish.

    It might also be useful to test for nitrates / nitrates / ammonia, as larvae will produce waste and get those levels up, no bad thing but not really safe to introduce fish so best to test first.

    The 3rd thing would be the LFS water would probably be very different to the water in the barrel, so might be worth doing a full drip method introduction - takes a long time but acclimatises the fish much better.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    Sleepy wrote: »
    10 litres a day? That could get interesting when you've a hose ban in place!

    No official ban in place, yet.

    But it seems to have leveled off, it's not that bad anymore, it was a leak, which I've since plugged.

    On a hot day 30℃ish, I'll lose about 3 to 4 litres. Everything I've read says that that figure will come down with more leaf cover on the water.

    Temps are falling back to the low to mid 20's now which is more normal.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    Silverfish wrote: »
    When there's a certain amount of toxins in the water, when the water evaporates, the same amount of toxins will be in the water, just more concentrated. So when you top up, you're not actually depleting the toxin level. I learned this with my open top tank, that evaporated a lot!
    So really, regular water changes need to be done before / while adding fish.

    It might also be useful to test for nitrates / nitrates / ammonia, as larvae will produce waste and get those levels up, no bad thing but not really safe to introduce fish so best to test first.

    The 3rd thing would be the LFS water would probably be very different to the water in the barrel, so might be worth doing a full drip method introduction - takes a long time but acclimatises the fish much better.

    You're right, I really should have been letting it over flow, or possibly water the plants from it then top it up.

    The ammonia levels are moot now as I've emptied and refilled it. Essentially I've to cycle it again. If the 3 fish survive the week in the pot (they should, it's well planted) I'll try them on Saturday next in the barrel for a few hours and monitor them.

    Drip would've been better but time was against me, they were in direct sun at the time and I could only cover the bag so well. Poor planning on my part.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    Cleaned up and looking better...


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    All seems ok after the first night in there.

    Went for dinner and came home and did a check most fish were fine. 1 decided to jump and became ant food. Not a lot I can do about that.

    I've decided to try and do daily water changes for the next week or so. Nothing major, essentially I'll be taking out 1 watering can full of water from the pond (& water the plants with it) and then top up with a can full of fresh water. I'll do it for a week and see how it goes.

    It was cool enough here last night but when I checked the water temperature this morning (before sunrise) it was sitting at a shade over 20C which isn't bad. I guess the wood in the barrel has better insulating properties than I thought.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    So, I added more plants at the weekend, some water hyacinth, some bamboo and a few other bits I don't remember the names of.

    It's looking a bit better, the lilys have taken off and seem to be doing well and the other plants seem to be doing much better since I potted them up. The java moss has exploded too.

    Right now the inhabitants are 5 Zebra Danios and 6 Tiger barbs.

    My only real concern is that the water temperature. We've had a blast of unseasonably hot weather (low to mid 30's over the weekend) and the water temp has moved towards that region. I checked it this morning before sunrise and we were in the mid 20's already.

    The only real option I can think of is to maybe shuffle around some plant pots and see of I can have them provide some more shade. But, I'd prefer to avoid that if possible as when "winter" kicks off here temps will drop to the mid to high teens (dropping to single digits at night). I'll want it to get full sun at that stage to keep the temperature up.

    I'm open to putting another half dozen small fish in there but that'll most likely be the limit. I found a place that sells gold white clouds and they might be worth a punt, unless anyone has other suggestions?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    So, I added more plants at the weekend, some water hyacinth, some bamboo and a few other bits I don't remember the names of.

    It's looking a bit better, the lilys have taken off and seem to be doing well and the other plants seem to be doing much better since I potted them up. The java moss has exploded too.

    Right now the inhabitants are 5 Zebra Danios and 6 Tiger barbs.

    My only real concern is that the water temperature. We've had a blast of unseasonably hot weather (low to mid 30's over the weekend) and the water temp has moved towards that region. I checked it this morning before sunrise and we were in the mid 20's already.

    The only real option I can think of is to maybe shuffle around some plant pots and see of I can have them provide some more shade. But, I'd prefer to avoid that if possible as when "winter" kicks off here temps will drop to the mid to high teens (dropping to single digits at night). I'll want it to get full sun at that stage to keep the temperature up.

    I'm open to putting another half dozen small fish in there but that'll most likely be the limit. I found a place that sells gold white clouds and they might be worth a punt, unless anyone has other suggestions?


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 16,693 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Silverfish


    Pseudomugil Tenellus are good for high temps, they don't look like much initially but they colour up beautifully, and their eyes are electric blue and absolutely stunning.
    Gara rufa are also a high temp fish, a lot higher than most tropicals.

    When the colder (ha!) weather comes in, if its gradual, they should be able to adjust, but you may have some deaths but no more than normal in any outdoor pond really I'd say.

    The trouble with high temperatures is really the oxygenation of the water, so you'd want a lot of surface movement in high temperatures.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    Silverfish wrote: »
    Pseudomugil Tenellus are good for high temps, they don't look like much initially but they colour up beautifully, and their eyes are electric blue and absolutely stunning.
    Gara rufa are also a high temp fish, a lot higher than most tropicals.

    When the colder (ha!) weather comes in, if its gradual, they should be able to adjust, but you may have some deaths but no more than normal in any outdoor pond really I'd say.

    The trouble with high temperatures is really the oxygenation of the water, so you'd want a lot of surface movement in high temperatures.

    I'll take a look at those, thanks for the suggestion. What size do Pseudomugil Tenellus max out at?

    The high temps are an anomaly right now, we should be in the low 20's. I currently have an ordinary pond fountain doing most of the movement right now. I popped in an extra micro powerhead that I had in a drawer just to add to it.

    In the long run I'm hoping that once the plants get established they'll do most of the filtration but for now I'm unsure what to do.

    I was considering getting an external canister filter and using that for everything but it's more money than I want to spend right now.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    Things have pretty much settled down over the last week or so.

    I did a big water change on Monday night, roughly 25 liters.
    Plants have settled in and have started to come into their own.
    Evaporation has been negligible all week which is great as the temperatures are in the low 30's.
    I've moved a basil plant beside the pond as it gives a bit of shade and this seems to have done the trick.
    Water temps are staying in the mid 20's day and night which is pretty consistent.

    Nothing else to report really, fish are doing well. I feed them once or twice a week plus they eat whatever ants fall into the water.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    Things have pretty much settled down over the last week or so.

    I did a big water change on Monday night, roughly 25 liters.
    Plants have settled in and have started to come into their own.
    Evaporation has been negligible all week which is great as the temperatures are in the low 30's.
    I've moved a basil plant beside the pond as it gives a bit of shade and this seems to have done the trick.
    Water temps are staying in the mid 20's day and night which is pretty consistent.

    Nothing else to report really, fish are doing well. I feed them once or twice a week plus they eat whatever ants fall into the water. They tend to devour any bug that hits the water.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    Just decided to update this.

    Water temps are dropping to around 10C at night time and staying in the mid teens during the day. Air temp at night can hit 1 or 2C.

    I've a mix of Danios and White Clouds (gold variety) in there still. I had a brief look in there yesterday and it looks like I've got a few fat females in there so all appears to be going well. I think the Tiger Barbs have all bit the dust as I haven't seen them in a while.

    I've really neglected it since December to be honest. I feed a little once a week but they seem to be thriving despite this. There's a lot of insect life around there so I suspect that's keeping them ticking over.

    A few of the plants have died back which I assume is temperature related but the rest are doing fine.

    I'm moving house this weekend so the plan is to drain out as much water as possible and leave a few inches in the bottom for the fish and refill on the other side.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    *Double post*


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    Time for an update:

    I moved house a few weeks ago so the pond had to move with me. I drained it so there was only a few inches left in the bottom. I took out the plants and boxed them up but left the fish in there and moved the whole thing with them onboard. *note* moving a half whiskey barrel is difficult on your own!

    Got everything set up in the new place, plants are all good, temperature is steady and we're all good. Or so I thought.....

    Raccoons. Filthy [email protected] raccoons.

    They discovered the pond last Thursday night. They went to town on it, pulled up all the plants and had a munch on the roots. Ate my thermometer (!) but I don't think they ate any fish, the fish are probably too small to bother with anyway.

    For now I've taken to covering the pond at night with heavy plastic shelves I had lying around and weighing them down with a propane cylinder. Crude but effective. The raccoons still try their luck (I see the footprints in the morning) but thus far have been unsuccessful.

    I'm now at a bit of an impasse. I can't really continue to cover the pond every night as that's a pain in the hole. I might cover the whole thing in chicken wire and raise the wire about a foot above the water but that's going to look awful.
    The other option I'm considering is to run a wire around the rim and hook it into a car battery (or some sort of electrical system). I'm told that this will work, it's the least ugly option but I also have 2 small kids (hopefully they're quick learners).

    All ideas and suggestions welcome!


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,684 ✭✭✭✭ Sleepy


    How about some sort of ultrasonic repeller?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    Sleepy wrote: »
    How about some sort of ultrasonic repeller?

    I doubt it would work to be honest. They'd be likely to start dancing to it.

    Interestingly, I spoke to a few people in work about this. Obviously me being Irish, I have no experience of raccoons. Anyway, the consensus was to find where they're getting into the yard (ditch hole in the fence etc) and take a leak all over the entrance. Continue for a few days and they'll get spooked and leave. Bigger predator etc etc.

    Not sure how the wife or the neighbors will respond to me pissing all over the garden though.


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,684 ✭✭✭✭ Sleepy


    Might be an idea to do the peeing in the bathroom and bring it out in a bottle I reckon!


  • Registered Users Posts: 29 Eric Marley


    I'm toying with the idea of setting up a barrel pond outside. It'd be pretty straightforward, I'd probably get 2 resin/plastic barrels (maybe wooden ones with a liner) and have one raised up and feeding the lower one. Get a small low voltage pump to circulate etc. Throw in a lily or two, maybe one or tow other plants.

    Anyway, none of that is all that unusual.

    What I am thinking of doing is stocking it with tropical freshwater fish....

    Nothing big, I was thinking of something like tiger barbs/danios/white clouds. (or any other suggestions)

    All of the above fish I've kept without issues in unheated tanks back in Ireland. They're 'cold' tolerant to a certain extent and all pretty hardy.

    Winter temperatures during the day where I am don't get below about 18 C. While night time temperatures can go down to about 10 C. I don't think the water temperature would go as low at 10 C (I suspect it'd stay at around 14/15) but I'd have to test it to be sure.

    It's an idea I've been kicking around in my head for a few year and I'm interested to see what peoples thoughts are.

    I'm open to any ideas / suggestions / potential pitfalls that anyone might see.

    I think the idea is absolutely perfect. I actually borrowed the plan.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    I think the idea is absolutely perfect. I actually borrowed the plan.

    Any details or pics?


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    Might be time for an update.

    We're in the middle of a cold and wet California winter. We've had a few nights get down to freezing which was never an issue last year.

    Barrel pond has had little to no input from me since around October. I took a look in it the other day. Occupants seem to be a few Zebra Danios, lots of snails (must've been hitchhikers) and that's about it. Surprising, as I thought that the albino White Clouds would be hardier when the temperatures dropped.

    Anyway, I'm looking at planting it up again, right now the java moss has taken over so not a lot else is growing except for a small lily.

    Once things warm up again I'll look at adding fish for the summer. If i get the balance right I might end up putting in a small heater for next winter.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,258 ✭✭✭ él statutorio


    So, my 5 year old decided we needed more life in the pond. 2 weeks ago I added about 10 freshwater shrimp in there, they're still in there doing their thing. She also picked the new fish for in there which means we got 60 white clouds for $10 (they were on sale as feeder fish and she felt sorry for them once she learned what feeders were.) I also added 2 bushynose plecos, more as an experiment than anything as I wasn't sure how temperature tolerant they were. One pleco died pretty much straight away but the other (smaller one) is still in there.


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