How to create the perfect fish pond in your back garden

Written by nick redfern Google
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A mini paradise out back

How to create the perfect fish pond in your back garden
Where do you start? (Art Wolfe/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

"Don't tell fish stories where the people know you; but particularly, don't tell them where they know the fish."

— Mark Twain, author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

It's one of those things that seems easy enough to do, but, if you're not careful, it can all end in disaster, chaos and a big old mess. But, if you take it step by step, follow the guidelines, and do a bit of research, all will be well and you'll have something to be proud of. What is it? Creating the perfect fish pond in your back garden!

Planning your pond

How to create the perfect fish pond in your back garden
Avoiding disaster (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Contrary to what many people might think, the task of making the perfect fish pond is not as simple as just digging a big hole in the garden, throwing in a plastic sheet, and then filling it with water. If only it was! To ensure that your pond is everything it can be, and that your fish thrive, it's necessary to take things step by careful step.

The first thing to consider when you decide to build your pond is where, exactly, you're going to situate it. That may not seem a particularly important matter, but it certainly is. More than a few novice pond builders have come a cropper by placing their pond too close to that big old tree at the end of the garden.

Shade can be very good for fish, as never-ending sunlight is a definite no-no. But, having countless leaves constantly falling into the pond is not recommended. And huge tree roots that may, one day, force their way through both the dirt and the lining are definitely not good at all.

You don't want to wake up one morning and find your pond empty of water, your fish dead, and a huge tear in the lining - all courtesy of those pesky roots. Location is paramount, so ensure that you give your pond some room to breathe.

Now that you've picked a spot that is ideal, it's time for the next step. How big do you want your pond to be? How deep should it go? And should you stick with that aforementioned lining or something much sturdier?

From liners to chlorine

How to create the perfect fish pond in your back garden
When water turns deadly (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Some people, quite understandably, have concerns about using a liner to create their pond. After all, the last thing you need is for a gaping hole to appear one day. A fish pond without water is never a positive thing. But, the old days of thin, easily torn, cheaply made liners are long gone. Today's liners are made of strong, resilient rubber or polyethylene, are highly durable, and - those massive tree-roots aside - are puncture resistant, too. Purchase a good one and it should last.

Or, if liners aren't for you, there are always those pre-made, fibreglass creations. In terms of toughness they are ideal. There are a couple of downsides to going fibreglass, however. First, they can be very expensive. Second, they're not always constructed to be of significant depth. Your fish won't like that: on a hot, summer's day they will enjoy retreating to the cooler, lower depths of the pond. So, we say liners.

Now, it's time for the next step. With the pond itself in place it's time to fill it with water. Well, you say: "That's easy enough: get a hose-pipe, turn on the tap, and voila!" Actually, no, it's not that simple.

Tap-water contains chlorine, a chemical element which is not good for fish. It can damage their gills, lead to stress-related conditions, create breathing problems and even cause death. And, of course, when the weather gets hot and evaporation sets in, you're forced to add more water. More water means more chlorine. More chlorine means more damage to the fish. Well, it does unless you take the necessary steps to avoid disaster.

Fortunately, this is an easy issue to remedy. There are numerous, cheaply-priced, liquid detoxifiers available that, just by adding the regular - and surprisingly small - recommended amounts to your pond on a regular basis, will ensure your fish don't fall victim to chlorine overload.

Choosing your fish

How to create the perfect fish pond in your back garden
Size matters (Pinnacle Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Selecting the type of fish you want to fill your pond with is not as straightforward as just going to the local pet-shop and saying: "Give me two dozen of those gold-coloured ones, mate." There are several important factors to keep in mind when it comes to the matter of bringing life to the waters of your back-garden.

First, find a reputable supplier, one who knows what they are talking about and who can offer sound advice when it comes to stocking your pond with fish. Just like people, fish can grow to wildly different sizes. That brightly coloured chappy in the corner of the tank in the high-street pet-shop might look ideal when he's just one-inch long. But when he, and the thirty others of his kind that you have just bought, starts to grow, and grow and...well you get the can be in big trouble. Fish need room. And big fish need lots of it. So, only go with those of a size that will allow them to enjoy fun, cramped-free lives in their new home.

And also just like people, fish don't always get along. Introducing two different kinds together can result in violent squabbles, and even death. In addition, many types of fish are deeply territorial. It's not at all rare to see fish severely injured when a stranger or arch-rival is added to the water and infringes on already-taken areas of the pond.

So, make sure that you stick with one breed. Or, if you are intent on mixing things up, take expert advice and only stock your pond with fish that are unlikely to come to blows with one another.

Tips and warnings

  • 1. Be careful where you build your pond. 2. Make sure you have a strong, durable liner. 3. Keep the water healthy. 4. Don't buy fish that will outgrow the pond. 5. Buy a pump and keep the water oxygenated.

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