The picture above shows the
first day of operation of completed
half-barrels in their temporary location.
More plants and fish came later.
After looking at other filterless container ponds, I decided that for
a little effort, an under-gravel filter could be added to eliminate the scum
and support a higher fish load with clearer water. The contents of this page are
unique in that I describe in detail how I made a couple of half-barrel ponds with
This is a brand new page and there's other excellent half-barrel pond pages on the Web. If you want to create a small container pond, check out the links at the bottom of this page.
|Here is a cut-away sketch of the under-gravel filter. The water and gravel are not shown for clarity.|
|I glued the sprinkler pipe to the 4-inch caps with Christy's PVC glue, allowing the notched end to protrude about 1/2 inch. The aquarium hose was fed through the two holes to a small air stone inside the pipe.|
To hold down the liner, I cut some 1/8" thick by 1.25" wide redwood 6.5 feet long and screwed it to the
very top inside lip of the barrel (well above water level) using stainless steel screws. The liner was held
captive between the barrel and the redwood. I hope that you have better
luck with the wood strips. Even though I soaked them in water and pre-bent them, they cracked during installation.
Oh well, just adds character. A utility
was used to trim off the excess liner to the top of the redwood.
I bought some water hyacinth and water lettuce which you can find at most pond shops to float around in the barrel, as well as a few taller accent water plants in plastic pots I made a couple plant shelves with the scrap eggcrate diffuser panels that were being thrown out at a rattan garden furniture store. I cut crescent shaped sections from the panels about 5" wide to serve as a shelf and then cut out the grid as done previously to create a ~1" square for each leg. Later we bought a water lilly.
|I was amazed to find that Christy's PVC glue was able to bond PVC pipe to the lighting panel material. I measured the required height of the stand (from the top of the gravel to the bottom of the pots when their top edge was 1/8" under water). I then cut three legs from 3/4" PVC sprinkler pipe to this length. If you don't file the "nubs" of the 1" square cutouts, the outside diameter of the 3/4" pipe fits snugly and can be glued in place.|
|In the picture to the left, Shooter's crooked head is hiding the center leg of the plant shelf. I purchased the shelf material from a garden furniture store and placed it on the gravel against the back of the barrel. I placed the potted plants on top which have so far stayed in place but they'll probably fall over in heavy winds -- Maybe I'll make little plant seat belts...|
|After a couple days of operation, I blew $4 on some bacteria/ enzyme junk to assist in establishing the gravel biofilter. I'm not convinced that bacteria-in-a-bottle does much. I initially added just two Mosquito fish and two Goldfish to each barrel. I was really itchin' to add at least one Koi to one of the barrels but Jeffrey Cook's page warns against it cuz they devour the plants. My local Koi dealer (Andrew's Koi International) agreed so they lost a sale. I figured each barrel holds about 20 gallons water so maybe the filter and plants will easily support 6 to 10 fish. Every week or two, I'd added a couple goldfish until I had six 3 - 4 inch fish in each barrel. After a month, I realized that the plants were growing too fast and I pulled some out, broke down and bought a two-inch Koi. He's now four-inch and the plants didn't seem to be doing bad, so I bought two more 4 - 6 inch Koi. The plants are doing fine, and the Koi tend to be the party of the barrels.|
Jeff's Half-Barrel Pond Page
Murphy's Fish in a Barrel
Doc Johnson's Koi Care
Anjon Pond Liners