Home' The Backwoodsman Magazine : july-august 2017 Contents 78
You’ll need to weigh them down with rocks to keep them
from floating away until their roots get established.
Water lilies are especially good; they shade the water,
which keeps down algae and probably keeps the water
cooler in summer. Tadpoles eat algae, so they will help
keep the population under control, but you may find you
need to remove excess algae every so often, as routine
maintenance. Recently, I added some cattails, dug up by
the highway—be aware that their rhizomes go down to
China—but I don’t seem to have dug up enough rhizome
for the plant to survive. I’ll try again. I’ve been warned
that cattails can be invasive but confined to a pot they
shouldn’t take over. A friend has promised me some
papyrus, but it probably won’t be hardy in my location.
What about fish? So-called “feeder” goldfish are small
and cheap, and if they survive they mature to become Koi.
I have yet to try adding fish to my pond. They have to
be fed and I want to keep my expenses down and also
make sure I have my environment stabilized. Of course,
if you are into fish, you can buy ones that will eat algae
or mosquito larvae which plain old goldfish will not do.
The article that inspired me had one gaping omission:
mosquitoes! How do you keep your pond from becoming
a haven for zika-carrying bloodsuckers? There are two
ways you can banish mosquitoes. Add a mosquito dunk
every month or so. These rings contain a toxin from
Bacillus thuringiensis, which is specific for mosquito
larvae. It will not harm any other animal, vertebrate
or invertebrate. The other is to circulate the water,
mosquitoes like their water to be still. I had to spring
for a pump, but it was not expensive. Harbor Freight
was having a sale and a friend’s husband gets a discount
there, so I got my pump for less than $8. What you want
is a fountain pump and to choose one, decide how much
water you want to move and how high you want to move
it. Look for gallons per hour (GPH) and maximum head
lift to help you decide. My pump is 158 GPH and 3.6
feet max head lift.
I wanted to do more than just move water, I wanted
it to do something interesting. To that end, I cut 24” of
31⁄2” plastic pipe left over from building our house. I
drilled a hole near one end, drove a gutter spike through,
stood it in my slip form configured to an 18” square, and
poured concrete (one 60-lb. bag) around the base (the
gutter spike anchors the pipe in the concrete). After the
concrete had set, I put the block in my pond (with help
from my husband) with the pipe sticking up out of the
water and set on it a glass basin I found in a dumpster. I
blocked the basin’s drain pipe with a rubber stopper.
Then, I rigged up my pump with some plastic tubing and
salvaged plumbing, so the water runs from a faucet into
the basin and overflows. I had to invest in a 20-foot out-
door extension cord. Follow directions for setting up the
pump or you may create a fire or electrocution hazard!
The pump will have little suction-cup feet that need to
be stuck to something. I stuck mine to the underside
of a china plate from the thrift shop so I could elevate
it above the bottom on some bricks and avoid sucking
too much sediment/debris in and clogging the filter.
The filter will need to be cleaned periodically.
My pond is still a work in progress. I’m building a
rock wall around it and backfilling with soil for insula-
tion and to hide the bright blue color. Once that is com-
plete, I’ll put low-growing plants like creeping phlox
around the edges.
Be aware that any pond is a drowning hazard for: 1)
small animals. Make sure you put in rocks or other
things they can use to climb out. 2) Small children and
very drunk people. Try to keep a close eye on vulnerable
individuals or (better still) fence them out.
So, besides the stock tank itself, my expenses were:
pump, stopper, concrete, tubing, and extension cord, for
a total of about $30. Everything else was free/salvaged,
or was already lying around. Maintenance should be
minimal: every so often, fish out the excess algae, top up
water as needed, clean pump filter and/or add a mosquito
dunk. Then, sit down and enjoy!
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