This really goes out to youngsters starting out on the hobby, hobbyists with little disposable income or just someone with not a lot of room for a pond. I want to share with you my success of the half barrel pond.
This is quite simply an old whisky/wine barrel cut in half, and used as a miniature above ground pond. Im first going to go over the process of making one, and I’ll chit-chat during that:
Firstly hunt around for an old whisky/wine barrel cut in half, can normally be found at antique markets or car boot sales if you’re lucky. But ensure you examine the barrel before buying it. Make sure all the slats are intact, the metal frames are present, and there is no obvious damage to anything. Then find an ideal place to put your new pond, a well shaded area should be considered, preferable away from trees though that drop leaves in fall. You do not have to use a barrel, anything that is big enough and water tight will do, I have a friend that uses a bath tub for this setup.
Next on the shopping list a pond liner, the thicker the better as per usual, and ensure you purchase enough to fill all the inside walls of the barrel. The next obvious stage is to place the liner inside the barrel, do not worry about creases or trapped air between the barrel and the liner. Just place the liner in, getting someone to hold it in place as you carefully trim and excess liner at the top of (a tip is to trim half an inch below the top of the barrel).
Now here is the fun bit, even though you obviously will not be able to see much on the décor like you would in an aquarium, a fish still appreciates a dynamic environment. By adding a substrate/gravel you give a large surface area for good bacteria to grow, while it makes it more pleasing the eye when looking down into the pond. But make sure the gravel is rounded with no sharp edges (small rounded aquarium pebbles are best), and ensure your substrate is no deeper than ½ inch so to avoid dirt/waste building up.
I have found that adding a terracotta pot broken in half serves as a fantastic cave. Or alternatively a large piece of bogwood/driftwood can be bought, but tends to be rather expensive. Also please I can not stress enough, whether your ornaments are new or from the garden, wash them thoroughly in warm water, but do not use any soap!
But now for the plants, the critical element of a pond without filtration; as they oxygenate the water, give cover to your fish, and help remove some toxins.
I recommend a type of floater plant (anything from Duckweed to a Water Lilly), but ensure the floater does not become invasive of the water surface. Secondly I recommend an oxygenator plant; they are entirely submerged and usually have its roots embedded into the substrate. Again, as long as the plant’s mature size is not too big for the barrel, anything is fine.
So now it is just a matter of adding water, straight from the hose. But do not fill it all the way up to the top! My barrel is 18 inches tall, but I only fill it up to 15 inches high, this ensures there is no danger from heavy rains etc. Most people treat their water with de-chlorinator, however if I am honest, I never have. I have let the water sit for a week, that’s all. And I know I am going to get such a bollocking from you lot for that, but I just have not seen any consequences in the fish’s lifestyle by not doing so. Anyway, whether you chose to de-chlorinate the water or let it sit, once you have done so, you are all set to go.
My barrel measures 20 inches across by 20 inches deep roughly, which works out to be roughly 25 gallons, but seeing I do not fill the barrel right up to the top, I am estimating there is 23 gallons of water in the barrel.
As for fish inhabitants, I keep one common comet goldfish in there, and a few pond snails. Before my notorious comet was added, there were many sticklebacks in the pond, but ‘notorious’ as he has came to be named, attacked and exhausted them all to death. And he seems to be more than happy on his own. I feed him a variety of fish flake, fish pellets, and occasionally washed earth worms. He also has a liking for those flying and queen ants you get in the summer lol!
Anyway I think I have included every detail. Oh yeah, how could I forget, I do a 20% water change and siphon the gravel every week! Feel free to message me with any questions!