South Texas, 50 gal pond!

suezeeq(tx 9)June 29, 2008

I just got a pre-formed 50 gal pond insert from Lowes. It is above ground, not dug in. It's about as big as I can handle in my extremely limited space. In it is a tropical water lily and a couple of very immature plants, an iris and a Lizard's Tail. I would love to add some fish to take care of the mosquitos that I know are right around the corner. 50 gal...pretty small for goldfish, yes? What other kinds would you recommend? Oh, no filter, no pump...just water sitting there getting warm from sun. Advise?

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catherinet(5 IN)

Hi suezeeq,
I live in zone 5 and really know nothing about Texas heat, but I'm thinking if you're going to keep it above ground, it will be way too hot for fish. Plus, fish in that small a container without a pump and filter is probably going to cause alot of toxins to build up.
I suggest for now you forget the fish (or maybe check into mosquito fish and see if they can take the heat), and just focus on plants. Plants go a long way to balancing the water. Do you not have electricity to it? They do make some solar pumps. Another option is to sink your preform into the ground, even halfway, which would cool things off alot.
Use mosquito dunks to take care of the mosquitoes if you don't get fish. They work quite well.
Have fun with your new pond.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 11:45AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

P.S. Putting up a big umbrella beside your little pond will help with the heat too.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 11:46AM
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Hi suezeeq,

This is just my 2 cents, but not necessarily right for you. I had a round 35 gal on my deck previously before my in ground pond. I bought a small pump with filter and a spitter, and it worked great. Kept my small pond clean and help deter the mosquitoes. I was able to keep a couple of small goldfish, but had to bring them in for the winter. I would definitely get some type of small pump to filtrate the water. Mosquitoes will breed in stagnant water. I am sure you will get great ideas from others. Have a great day.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 11:59AM
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I have a container water garden out front & I have some rosy red minnows in it. There's no pump, no filter just some plants & the minnows & I've seen some snails. They're doing fine.
You could try some minnows. The rosy reds are a nice color.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 12:59PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Everyone, just keep in mind the zone that suezeeq is in.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 1:17PM
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PKponder TX(7b)

Gambusia (wild guppies) would work for your zone. You can always use mosquito dunks if you decide to forego fish.


    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 1:33PM
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I would recommend adding a couple more water lilies. The leaves floating on your pond will help keep the water cooler. Mosquito fish will do well and can handle warm water. If you do not mind losing fish during winter you may want to throw in Swordtails or Platies but if you do I would recommend that you add some submerged plants.
These can be planted in pots and lowered into the pond.
Depending on your water quality there are several plants that could handle the heat. Check out plants at a fish store for aquarium plants. Keep in mind that like the fish that several of these may not fare so well during your winter lows. Also if you love container gardening you can always get some large potted shrubs or small trees and place on the south and west side of your pool But I would recommend that you give the pool at least 4 hours of direct sun during the day-midday is probably normal for the most light so work around with more shading in morning or afternoon. If your winters are mild then the use of other tropical fish and plants is even more varied. Check out the local pet shop.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 1:47PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Hi terrestrial man! I haven't seen you in awhile!
Her pond is only 50 gallon. Don't you think 1 lily should be enough?
Adding more containers is a good idea. I actually have extended my little ponds by using varoius smaller containers (tubs/25-40 gallon containers) for even more water marginals.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 2:29PM
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I would not add any wildlife as that water volume is too small and South Texas heat, too hot, even with shade and a pump/filter added. Adding a spitter or bubbler would make nice sound and moving water would take care of mosquitos.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 5:02PM
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I have a small tub with a lotus in the back flower bed that is only about a foot deep and it has mosquitoe fish in it with nothing else. I have a baby frog in there as well. I don't have electricity back there yet but am going to have to get it for my larger preformed ponds when I get them in. If you have electicity available you can just put a little pump with an airstone to move the water or just use mosquito dunks. I have a 45 gallon pond in front with a pump and filter and foundtain and by they time that was put in there was only room left for one water lilly and really not big enough for that one. My other plants are on the ledges and I took the other big plant out and put in in a pot with no holes and added water to hold it til the other pond is ready. It was way too crowded in there. A miniature one would be a better choice now that I know better. I am going to move it to the big pond and put a smaller one in there.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2008 at 5:57PM
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suezeeq(tx 9)

Thanks all for the advise. I am going to visit a local pet shop to see what kind of fish are offered and I'll pick up some more underwater plants. Adding fish will be an experiment. If they 'cook', well, I'll just have to go with a mosquito dunk. Fingers crossed.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 9:21AM
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ccoombs1(7B SC)

I would forget about underwater plants. they will only add to the water getting more stagnant. Underwater plants do put off oxygen during the day, but they use oxygen at night so they really accomplish nothing, especially in a very small pond. Stick with one dwarf water lily and some taller plants (potted). Or you could do one lotus and let it take over the whole thing, which would be really beautiful! Use mosquito dunks for the larva and don't bother with fish.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 9:25AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Mosquito Dunks work very well. They are relatively cheap and readily available.

Fish are likely to die in your heat and such a small pond.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 12:23PM
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suezeeq(tx 9)

I've reread everyones far we have...yes to submerged plants, don't add submerged plants...add shade from plants or umbrellas, make sure there is at least 4 hours sun...yes mosquito dunk, yes minnows, yes goldfish, forget the fish...add a pump, don't need a pump...add more water lilies, try one minature water lily, add lotus...I guess this will truly be an experiment! I'll let you know what works and what doesn't.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 4:56PM
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It is hard to generalize unless you are really in the same area as suezeeq.
Here is some current info on the weather in San Antonio
Weather in San Antonio Texas

One fish I forgot to mention were Bettas!
As for the plants it really depends on what kind of display you are looking for. Three water lilies would be crowded but perhaps thinking about floating leaves is only one perspective of how to grow these plants. I presume the insert is black. Sitting in the sun the sides would absorb heat; with enough surface shaded the surface layers of the pool would be cooler than the sides. As cold water sinks this would be pushing the warmer water along the sides upward to be cooled as well as to evaporate which also helps cool. Heat tolerant submerged plants would do great. I think that suezeeq has the best idea on EXPERIMENTING! to find what will work. I have no doubt that success will be evident. The only major burden would be to maintain water level due to evaporation and this addition of cooler water would also be of benefit. And all without aeration or filtration.
I hope to see images of the pool!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Tropical fish habitat

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 6:08PM
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I just giggled at your last post. Yes, it will be an experiment. Get a couple of small fish and see if it works. I read a great idea on this board a couple of years back. Gallon sized milk jugs, add water and freeze. If the temp gets hot in the pond, put in the frozen milk jug to cool off. I used this idea in my little 35 gal pond years back, and it worked. If you add fish, I would keep a few of these on hand. A cheap and easy way to cool off the pond. Lots of surface cover will help. Good luck, and let us know how it goes.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 6:26PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Hi again Suezeeq,
I know how overwhelming it can seem at first. That's how we all started out! You just have to make your best guess and go from there. Its a learning process for all of us. Just read alot and go slow. And have fun.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 6:52PM
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I'm in Texas and it's been 100 degrees here way too much this summer! I have a 30 gal. large plastic flowerpot water garden that is eight years old and had been in the same location for the last six. I have one hardy water lily and some elodea and parrot feather in there also. I have had mosquito fish in it year round for the entire time and I have never seen a floater. It is on the east side of the house but that is the only protection and there is no pump or filter only nicely balanced water. This was my first water garden.
Now I have a 550 gal. galv. stock tank pond and several other above ground water gardens on the west side. They all
have lots of lily pads or plants to provide shade but all of the fish seem happy. I only have goldfish in the stock tank and mosquito fish in all of the others. I also have a ever changing array of frogs which I find amazing.
Be careful ponds are very addicting especially when you find out you don't have to dig a hole!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 8:15PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

LOL chargreen......."Ponds are very addicting especially when you find out you don't have to dig a hole!" How true!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2008 at 8:49PM
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suezeeq(tx 9)

Thanks so much everyone. At least with all the different ideas I can be on the lookout for potential problems.

I had a much bigger pond when we lived near New Orleans, with bridge, waterfall, filters, pumps, etc. Lots of fish to feed the visiting Herons, turtles that somehow climbed UP into the pool, and swimming labs that visited from next door. Those dogs would launch themselves into the air with a kids idea of a belly would go flying!

Now, in South Texas, near the Mexican border, no swimming dogs (I hope) but plenty of 100 degree days and no rain, but on the plus side, I get to grow tropicals.

Thanks again for your comments. I'll post pictures soon.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 10:51AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Most tropical waterlilies have a pretty big spread, they can exceed six feet across. Do you know which one you have? Dauben and Colorata are smaller. You can plant in smaller pots and keep pads picked off to somewhat dwarf them but if your pond isn't very big you won't be able to grow more than one tropical waterlily.

There are hardies that are a lot smaller from Helvola that spreads less than two feet on up.

A lotus can take up an entire whiskey barrel by itself. Many use them as planters so if your pond is that size or smaller you won't be able to grow lotus and a tropical waterlily.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 12:20PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Go to the 2nd or 3rd page of the Gallery section and look at the post "Lotus Barrel Pix for Rodney" by Joyce. You'll see what you could possibly do with a small tub and a lotus. I tried to post the link here, but it took too long to load, since I have dial-up. (Just in case you're interested in lotus).

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 12:54PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Mosquito fish are pretty tough. I read that they can handle water from 33 to 100 degrees. I've had some in a galvanized metal tank in full sun. The water was very warm to the touch and they did fine.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2008 at 11:06PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Where do you get mosquito some place like Petsmart?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 8:13AM
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Catherine, I received mine free from my county's mosquito and vector control district. I got a bucket full about 6 years ago, and I still have plenty of fish in there. We had to cull some about 3 years ago, I think.


    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 10:31AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thanks Brenda.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 12:31PM
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I have the best answer for this.
I have a what I call: My 50 gal."Outdoor Aquarium "
I got a half whisky barrel,purchased a molded plastic insert $25.00
Placed a small water pump/filter to recycle the water.
Than I took rocks and build from the middle of the insert in a diagonal like a tilted wall making sure that the fish will have room to swim between the rocks and be able to hide if it got to hot or to cold.
I have no vegetation in my "outdoor aquarium"and by the way it takes 50 gallons of water and it is 16"deep.I t needs to be that deep in order for the fish to survive the frost.My aquarium was frozen salad and my 7 gold fish medium size survived it and came to life swimming and having a great time looking for food.I feed them once a day not to much.I do use a small umbrella to shade on real hot days but I do not think it is necessary. The water does not get very hot actually the water is cool because of the whiskey barrel.
Any way this is my story I hope I helped .

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 9:19PM
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I am in the Texas panhandle zone 6. Outside temp this afternoon was about 108*

I only have feeder quality goldies from WalMart. The oldest are 6 yrs old.

I have above ground stock tanks...the smallest one is black and 90 gallons. No filter/pump. This summer I have 3 tropical lilies in it. They have been blooming for several weeks now. The water is nearly 100% covered with pads. I also have goldie fry/babies and tadpoles/baby frogs in there. The temp this morning was 84 after a small water change. I did this for the fish. The water warmed back up to the mid 90's this afternoon. I've never tested it when it was over 95 or so.

I also keep a few feeder goldies in 20 gal tubs above ground no pumps. They are in afternoon evening shade. I test the water on 100* days and do small water changes if it is too warm. The small fish seem to do fine. I've never lost any in the tubs.

I have also used misquito dunks in my lotus pots.

If everything that everyone has ever posted would happen to my fish...I'd have lost them all years ago and quit watergardening. Experiment with some cheap fish and see what works for you.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 9:54PM
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suezeeq how close do you leave to the border and what town?
because my lillies do fine in a small container and it was like 30 gal container but of course i just had a small lilly in it, and talking about fish i put some platties in it i thought i was going to lose them last winter but no all of them made it and as spring came i had more because they breed, so i think it would be fine you said your in the 100's we are in the 120's so yeah water might get green but with the lilly pads that cover the surface it will be fine

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 9:59PM
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suezeeq(tx 9)

I added three goldfish from the local PetSmart, and they seem to be doing just fine. Also added a small filter and pump. It's been hot and sunny except for that pesky Hurricane Dolly that roared thru here a couple of weeks ago.I am in Edinburg, Tx...about 30 miles north of the Mexico border.
The tropical waterlily has been blooming it's head off. It's putting out lots of leaves and I hope will cover the pond surface to shade it a bit.
Thanks for the info and encouragement.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 11:24PM
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