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Disaster.


Reds12

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I've been hit super hard this last month with sick fish and I'm starting to get really frustrated.

At the beginning of August my orandas in my indoor aquarium got significantly sick and almost died. After a few weeks of meds they made a recovery, but are still coming up to 100%.

Yesterday I bought two little pond goldfish to add to my outside pond. I prepared their QT tank and got them settled in. Within 30min they were both laying on their sides gasping. I literally tried everything. I tested the water multiple times, changed some out etc etc, I finally said *F* it and stole some from my indoor aquarium. We still lost one overnight but the other looks fine this morning.

So I go outside to say goodmorning to my pond fish as I do every morning (its an above ground with a window) I don't see any of them waiting for me at the window. Two of them I've had for YEARS and are ALWAYS there. So I poke around in the water and what do I find? A dead fish.

The only thing these tanks have in common is 1. the tap water and 2. the bottle of prime. Nothing else.

I've tested the water over and over and our tap water isn't great but it gets within optimal limits with water treatment.

I'm now concerned that either A) the bottle of prime is bad, or B) there is something in the water the API masterkit doesnt test for.

I should add I did test GH and KH and both were normal. And both the new fish and the pond fish got new water and prime from a brand new bottle.

I'm at a loss here, and wondering what I can do to figure out what the issue is. I've already lost one of my long term goldies, and haven't seen two others yet. Two of them are alive, but I want to get them out of there until I can fix the issue, so I need to know what to do with the water to put them in.

AH! Any help is appreciated.

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Sorry,

ph 7.5

ammon <0.25

nitrite 0

nitrate 5.0

The water that came out of the tap had high nitrates...prob 60-80 which is unusual, but I treated and retested before adding the fish.

It also has 1.0 ammonia out of the tap. Ph still 7.5 Ammon and nitrites both 0.

GH & KH were both about 120.

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Just making sure you don't live on the eastern shore in Maryland... We have another case of water woes in D & D

I do not, I live in San Diego, but we are going through a stage 2 drought so tap water is mostly run off water atm. Gross.

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Please fill out this form, since there are multiple problems to address.

  • Test Results for the Following:
    • * Ammonia Level(Tank)
    • * Nitrite Level(Tank)
    • * Nitrate level(Tank)
    • * Ammonia Level(Tap)
    • * Nitrite Level(Tap)
    • * Nitrate level(Tap)
    • * Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines)
    • * Ph Level, Tap (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines)
  • Other Required Info:
    • * Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops?
    • * Water temperature?
    • * Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running?
    • * What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)?
    • * How often do you change the water and how much?
    • * How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change?
    • * How many fish in the tank and their size?
    • * What kind of water additives or conditioners?
    • * What do you feed your fish and how often?
    • * Any new fish added to the tank?
    • * Any medications added to the tank?
    • * List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank. Please include salt, Prazi, PP, etc and the approximate time and duration of treatment.
    • * Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus?
    • * Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.?

The only thing I can think of that would have your new fish one their sides so quickly is if you forgot to add Prime. I have done this.

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Please fill out this form, since there are multiple problems to address.

  • Test Results for the Following:
    • * Ammonia Level(Tank) 0.25
    • * Nitrite Level(Tank) 0
    • * Nitrate level(Tank) 5
    • * Ammonia Level(Tap) 1.0
    • * Nitrite Level(Tap) 0
    • * Nitrate level(Tap) 0
    • * Ph Level, Tank (If possible, KH, GH and chloramines) pH=7.6, GH=120, KH=120, cloramines - not sure value but definitely there as per city water survey
  • Other Required Info:
    • * Brand of test-kit used and whether strips or drops? API master test kit drops - test strips for KH & GH
    • * Water temperature? unknown. No heater or chiller, I'm going to estimate about 72 degrees
    • * Tank size (how many gals.) and how long has it been running? approx 300 gallons - running for several months
    • * What is the name and "size of the filter"(s)? two filters - pond box with filter pads and bioballs running with a total pond 500 GPH pump, and a homemade bog filter running with a total pond 140 GPH pump
    • * How often do you change the water and how much? about 1/3 every couple of weeks. I add fresh water a couple of times a week due to evap, and the filter pads get cleaned once a week between new ones.
    • * How many days ago was the last water change and how much did you change? yesterday, about 40%
    • * How many fish in the tank and their size? 5 fish about 6" nose to tip of tail.
    • * What kind of water additives or conditioners? prime and algeafix
    • * What do you feed your fish and how often? sinking pellets, daily
    • * Any new fish added to the tank? no
    • * Any medications added to the tank? not until afterwards. Since I took them out and put them into fresh water I decided it was a good time to give them a dewormer.
    • * List entire medication/treatment history for fish and tank. Please include salt, Prazi, PP, etc and the approximate time and duration of treatment. Salt, but nothing else
    • * Any unusual findings on the fish such as "grains of salt," bloody streaks, frayed fins or fungus? One of them has a little cloudy eye and missing scales. I know he isn't picked on because he is the biggest and the dominant fish. It also looks like MAYBE they are shedding a touch of slime coat.
    • * Any unusual behavior like staying at the bottom, not eating, etc.? Hiding. They always greet me at the window every morning and play in the bubbles.

The only thing I can think of that would have your new fish one their sides so quickly is if you forgot to add Prime. I have done this. I this may be the problem with the new guys. I put them into the water before adding prime since there was a hole in their bag. I definitely added prime outside immediately though.

I'll add a couple of pics in a minute

I'm going to add, though it may not be relevant, that I noticed myself over yesterday and the night before that the water has significantly dried out my skin. I feel like I can't get enough lotion. I'm not sure what would cause this but if it bothers me, could bother them possibly?

Edited by Reds12
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I'm a little confused since you referred to an indoor tank, and a pond. I assume what you described on the form is your pond.

I see some things I would like more information about. I want to know more about your filters. In part, this is because I am a bit of a filter junkie. When you talk about a filter box, do you mean something like this? If not, can you describe it a bit more? Also tell me about your bog filter. How big is it (dimensions are fine), how is it plumbed -- that is how does the water flow through, and how much do you have planted in it?

What did you use as a dewormer?

Are you regularly using algaefix? I know the manufacturer claims that it is harmless to fish, but a lot of fishkeepers have found otherwise. What kind of algae problem do you have?

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Sorry, yes I mentioned the indoor QT tank earlier because I thought the deaths might be related to either the water or the prime, but thinking back I think I didn't get the prime into the water of the QT tank fast enough for a fish who was already stressed out from the transfer from store to home.

The values in the form are from the pond.

The filter box is exactly the type in your link. The bog filter is plumbed like sort of like this: http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y69/sharpchick/Aquaria/Bog%20filter%20build/1rackforfiltermaterial.jpg

and is layered 4 inch pea gravel on the bottom, then 6 inch sand, then a layer of river stones at the top. There is an "overflow" drain that is level with the river rocks so once the water flows up through each layer it drains back down into the pond. The box is about 36in x 20in x 12inch. It isn't heavily planted. I have a couple of impatiens and a fuschia.

For a dewormer I used API General Cure. As for algaefix, I typically dont use it more than once a month, but I've used it twice this week(10 days) since we had an algae bloom with our patio cover being off.

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That's a nice filter build. What is the container? It's a nice one. You should do a thread on the build in the pond section. You have the pictures. (I had to check them all out.) :)

My only concern there is the sand. In time it will sink through the gravel into the matala and eventually to the bottom of the container. It also packs and can interfere with aeration, which plants need to grow when their roots are under water. I have now switched to hydroponics growing media in place of gravel -- clay pebbles or the recycled glass aggregates. It's not cheap, but it's very light, and the plants grow much, much better than in gravel. I've had plants that died when planted in gravel in a filter that are growing like weeds in the hydroponics medium.

The little box is a great prefilter. I have one that I have used for 13 years. However, unless you are pumping the water through the box into a filter (like your bog filter), it doesn't do much filtration. Are you using it with a fountain? Why aren't you using your larger pump with the bog filter?

The other reason I asked about your filters is that you got an ammonia reading. That is pretty rare in an established pond. It's also very rare to have an algae bloom in a pond with a bog filter.

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Those aren't my pictures, but are pretty much exactly the same. I built my box and lined it with pond liner, however I have seen a virtually identical box in home depot building supplies section for $13. Its a pvc cement mixing tub and according to manufacturer is fish safe.

The sand is definitely intended to be a temp substrate. I find it actually starts pushing up through the river rocks and into the drain, so there is a little bit of sand sitting in the pond underneath the bog filter drain. I was looking at other options for materials, so I'm glad you mentioned those ones :)

I didn't make it really clear. The filter box has the larger pump in it, which outputs into the bog filter, the smaller pump is in some larger gravel substrate in a planting basket with my lilies and also flows into the bog filter. The planting basket doesn't do much for filtering so I only really consider it a container to keep that pump in place. I had planned on adding a second filter box for that pump just for ease of cleaning.

The ammonia reading unfortunately is from our tap water. San Diego uses chloramine to treat its water instead of just chlorine. I think its time to put a container in the garage to filter water prior to adding it to the pond so I don't really have to worry about it anymore. Its just such a pain to have values constantly changing depending on the rain situation.

I am very curious now about something...after reading your comment on algae blooms being rare in an established pond, I went to read a few things since I thought it would be pretty normal in a pond with ammonia when suddenly exposed to increased amount of sunlight. So, I came across this article that discusses algae blooms and how during the day the algae will release oxygen during photosynthesis, but at night it reverses the process and will consume oxygen and let off CO2, so that just overnight a pond with a significant amount of algae can actually deplete enough oxygen and increase enough CO2 to leave the water potentially fatal to fish. I'm now wondering if this may have had something to do with it...

An algae bloom, plus a high dose of prime (due to the water change and my terrible tap water), both with the potential to deplete oxygen in a pond, may have been just too much for a fish that wasn't at 100%. The water does get aeration from the bog filter drain (the water drops about 8-10 inches into the pond) but towards the bottom of the pond I doubt it has any effect.

Am I totally overthinking this?

Edited by Reds12
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Those aren't my pictures, but are pretty much exactly the same. I built my box and lined it with pond liner, however I have seen a virtually identical box in home depot building supplies section for $13. Its a pvc cement mixing tub and according to manufacturer is fish safe.

I have the mortar tub, but it doesn't have square corners like the one in the pictures.

I didn't make it really clear. The filter box has the larger pump in it, which outputs into the bog filter, the smaller pump is in some larger gravel substrate in a planting basket with my lilies and also flows into the bog filter. The planting basket doesn't do much for filtering so I only really consider it a container to keep that pump in place. I had planned on adding a second filter box for that pump just for ease of cleaning.

That makes sense now.

The ammonia reading unfortunately is from our tap water. San Diego uses chloramine to treat its water instead of just chlorine. I think its time to put a container in the garage to filter water prior to adding it to the pond so I don't really have to worry about it anymore. Its just such a pain to have values constantly changing depending on the rain situation.

This I still don't get. Unless you just completed a huge water change, there should be no ammonia in the pond water if your filter is doing its job. The ammonia released from the chloramine should be eaten as quickly as that produced by the fish. The main limiting factors for nitrifying microbes are ammonia, oxygen, and surface area. If the filtration system is working right, ammonia will be zero, indicating that ammonia supply is the limiting factor in nitrification. If it is not zero, something else is limiting. In this case I think it is oxygen. The only way to keep sand oxygenated in a filter is to have a fluidized sand filter, where the sand particles are dancing around in the water (which doesn't allow for plant growth). A sand layer provides wonderful mechanical filtration, but it packs too densely to provide nitrifiers with a good continuous supply of oxygen. I'm guessing that the prefilter, the gravel layer and the bottom inch of sand are all the areas of nitrification in your filter system. After that the oxygen is used up.

I use continuous water change in all my ponds. I drip or trickle water into the pond and have an overflow tube to remove the excess. There are many advantages with this system, but it is simply THE solution to tap water problems. When you supply a continuous small supply of new water to the pond, it will go to a steady state concentration of everything dissolved in the water.

Even though you get a reading of ammonia in your pond, that amount is bound by Prime, so it isn't damaging your fish. It's just a symptom.

I am very curious now about something...after reading your comment on algae blooms being rare in an established pond, I went to read a few things since I thought it would be pretty normal in a pond with ammonia when suddenly exposed to increased amount of sunlight.

First, I said algae blooms were rare in a pond with a bog filter. If you have a bog filter with a healthy growth of plants, and a good coating of algae on the walls of the pond, they will use up enough nutrients to keep the population of green water algae under control. In all probability, the algae that grow on the surfaces in the pond actually produce substances that inhibit the growth of the green water algae. If your filter is doing its job, even if you do a large water change, you will only read ammonia for a few hours.

Green water is the result of an ecosystem that has green-water algae as its dominant user of ammonia. Usually green water occurs in a new pond and goes away once the filter nitrifiers have grown to the point that they are using up the ammonia. For the same reason, people who turn off their filters in the winter get a few weeks of green water in the spring that goes away in a few weeks. However sometimes the green water algae stay in control. The people who have persistent green water have usually used every chemical and device that claims to destroy green water without success.

So, I came across this article that discusses algae blooms and how during the day the algae will release oxygen during photosynthesis, but at night it reverses the process and will consume oxygen and let off CO2, so that just overnight a pond with a significant amount of algae can actually deplete enough oxygen and increase enough CO2 to leave the water potentially fatal to fish.

This can be a problem in a deep, very green pond, in very hot weather, if you have koi. Since most pond info comes from koi keepers (or from goldfish keepers who are repeating what they read), those who have goldfish often worry too much. Koi are often kept in deep ponds that don't have a great surface area-to-volume ratio. They have a smaller temperature range than goldfish and need a lot more oxygen. Even so, aerating the pond can eliminate the damage to fish.

An algae bloom, plus a high dose of prime (due to the water change and my terrible tap water), both with the potential to deplete oxygen in a pond, may have been just too much for a fish that wasn't at 100%. The water does get aeration from the bog filter drain (the water drops about 8-10 inches into the pond) but towards the bottom of the pond I doubt it has any effect.

I don't think this is your problem. Unless you are greatly overdosing, Prime does not deplete oxygen. What are the dimensions of your pond? The aeration I am concerned about is in your filter.

Am I totally overthinking this?

You are doing some good thinking.

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You're very helpful in clarifying things. Thank you!

I did do a large water change but it had been about 24 hours prior to the reading I provided so I guess it wouldn't be from the tap water considering my water circulates 100% in about 6 hours.

I've been looking into products and such today and think I'm going to "rebuild" the bog filter media, ditch the gravel and sand, and check out the recycled glass aggregates you mentioned. I actually spent the day cleaning the pond and moving it to be closer to the faucet so I can do more regular water changes, so setting it up with a continuous flow would work excellently where its at. I've also been thinking today about buying one of the 20g tubs as a step between the bog and the pond so I can add a bubbler I already have and will house young plants and fish until they're ready to go into the pond.

The pond dimensions are 60"long x 36"wide x 34"tall with about an 18"x20" window.

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If you could, put a venturi in the pipe going to the filter. These will draw air into the filter without the need for an air pump. I'm using them routinely in filters. They can make the filter just boil with air bubbles.

Where do you live? It makes a difference when you have a pond, since a Wisconsin pond has very different requirements than one in FL.

Can you post a picture of your pond and filter?

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I absolutely could put in a venturi, the pricepoint is definitely a bonus! I live in San Diego. I think I might put a bit of money aside for the next couple of paydays and add a UV clarifier to the line. My father in law has a massive koi pond and he says that they are a no brainer. Not 100% necessary, but if you can afford one, then buy one.

I'll post a picture up later today. I'm finishing up with some maintenance this after noon and will take a pic when its done :)

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A UV is certainly better than algaecide, but it's far from necessary for clear water in a goldfish pond with plants in the system. The best way to use it is to turn on the UV until the water clears, then turn it off until/unless the water starts getting green again. That way you can "train" your pond ecosystem into a stable, natural clear water system.

On the local pond tour, I looked at lots of koi ponds with UV filters and green water. When I asked about them I was assured that it was impossible to have clear water in the summer in FL (this was April). There actually were two ponds that weren't green. One was a state of the art 18 k gallon pond for 8 show koi. The pond was boring, looking like a swimming pool with fish in it, but the filtration system was mind-boggling. The filtration equipment alone had to cost into 6 figures. Add in the pond and the aeration system that allowed him to make the pond boil with air at the flip of a switch, and the cost of getting it all built, you are approaching, if not into, 7 figures. The house was very nice, but I suspect the pond system cost more.

The other was in a little "rural island " in a suburb, in one of the houses that were there before the subdivision was built, where people could keep their wells and livestock. She had a large water garden pond, with marginals and water lilies that her koi didn't know they were supposed to destroy. A family of ducks swam in the pond. She had a DIY filter in a large stock tank, a bog filter, and a commercial bead filter that she wasn't pleased with. The water was perfectly clear. When I admired her water, she said the reason for the clarity was that she had a well and let a continuous trickle of water flow into the pond.

I'm looking forward to those pictures.

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I decided to do a bit of work on the exterior of the pond last night since I don't like the black screws so visible. The idea in my head was a lot nicer, but I think I need wider lumber for it, so I took off the top rails and am putting wider on to cover the screws. It's a work in progress :)

The filter I totally dismantled. After discussing media with you and your suggestion of materials to use instead of gravel/sand, I did some reading into products. Which led me to reading other products, and so on. I ordered a list of things, so once its here I'll be able to build one that hopefully works beautifully for this pond.

So here it is...once its 100% done I'm going to stain it with a very, very lightly tinted stain. I want it to look basically like oil rubbed natural wood.

IMAG0791_zps23a04576.jpg

And a list of things I have decided on for an upgrade... crushed glass and growstones, venturi injector, overflow drain - like in a swimming pool deck. I'm going to push out the top of the wall at the back and create a "step" this can sit in for the overflow. I really thought about the constant trickle, but whenever there is water flow the tap leaks, so until we fix that its a no go, BUT I did find this DIY automatic water filler we're going to give a shot. I'll have to do some mods to it since this one is a huge eyesore, but with the super fast evaporation here with the heat and dry air, it will be a huge help in at least keeping the right amount water in the pond.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Automatic-Pool-Water-Filler/

Any thoughts??

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That's a great-looking pond. Where does the bog filter fit in? All of my continuous trickles come from containers of water, dechlorinated in the container, typically holding about 10% of the pond volume. Trickling from the tap is strictly for koi ponds holding kilo gallons of water.

Or are you concerned about going through the liner of the pond? A bulkhead fitting will make a water-tight passage through the liner.

It took me a while to figure out your overflow idea. Basically, you are creating a skimmer, which cleans the top of the water. This is a good thing to do unless you have floating plants, which will all go out the drain if they are small and stick on the top if they are large. My water change system draws water from the bottom of the pond -- the dirtiest part -- to create an actual water change. If you add water to the top and remove water from the top, you get very little water changed.

If this were my pond, I would put in a DIY retrofit bottom drain, (there are simpler versions, this is the most sophisticated) going to a DIY radial flow settling tank, and pump the clear water from the top of the settling tank to the bog filter. That would give you a super clean pond. It is more than is necessary at this point, but worth thinking about.

Looking at the shape of your pond, I see even more reason to add pond aeration. You don't have a lot of surface area for the volume. It's not that your fish need more oxygen, but rather that aerating the pond makes it less hospitable to green water algae.

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That's a great-looking pond. Where does the bog filter fit in? All of my continuous trickles come from containers of water, dechlorinated in the container, typically holding about 10% of the pond volume. Trickling from the tap is strictly for koi ponds holding kilo gallons of water.

Or are you concerned about going through the liner of the pond? A bulkhead fitting will make a water-tight passage through the liner.

It took me a while to figure out your overflow idea. Basically, you are creating a skimmer, which cleans the top of the water. This is a good thing to do unless you have floating plants, which will all go out the drain if they are small and stick on the top if they are large. My water change system draws water from the bottom of the pond -- the dirtiest part -- to create an actual water change. If you add water to the top and remove water from the top, you get very little water changed.

If this were my pond, I would put in a DIY retrofit bottom drain, (there are simpler versions, this is the most sophisticated) going to a DIY radial flow settling tank, and pump the clear water from the top of the settling tank to the bog filter. That would give you a super clean pond. It is more than is necessary at this point, but worth thinking about.

Looking at the shape of your pond, I see even more reason to add pond aeration. You don't have a lot of surface area for the volume. It's not that your fish need more oxygen, but rather that aerating the pond makes it less hospitable to green water algae.

I thought about the container for trickling water it but I wasn't sure about how to move the water...are there pumps with settings low enough to move smaller amounts of water like that? What do you use? I do want to put in a bottom drain, but was procrastinating doing it since I'd have to completely empty everything out. I probably should have done it when I cleaned out the pond this time but didn't have the parts. I'll check out whats around me though and see what is available locally. I have a pretty empty weekend (which is unusual for us) so it'd be a good time to do it if I can get my hands on all the pieces today.

The Bog filter I just broke down sat ontop of the pond across the back...kind of like a 2nd tier. Somewhat like the pond in this picture:

http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/originals/fe/73/dd/fe73dd665075bf25c35851ad094f5cc8.jpg

With the span from side to side though I felt it was too heavy and worried about sagging etc. I guess with the lighter weight substrate it wouldn't be an issue, but I've already moved passed that. I'm thinking of doing it across one of the back corners...enclose the container in a triangular wooden box for visual appeal. I had used used a bulkhead fitting on the old bog filter and it worked just fine. Sealed with a little extra touch of aquarium silicone for my own mental paranoia ;)

I think if I can sort out a container of dechlor water to trickle in, I might build a matching box to the pond right next to it to house the container of water inside (along with supplies etc) and sit the bog filter ontop.

I know the dimensions of the box are a little unusual. Its pretty tall compared to what most people do, but with a 20 month old child who climbs everything, and a jack russell who loves playing with the fish and any body of water he can find, we needed it taller. I've pulled the dog out of the last two ponds we've had and the last thing I'd want is for him to be unable to get out. So I've raised the height and cut divets into the underside of the rail to fit some steel bars across the top so neither of them can fall in. The only way to get the bars off is to remove the front rail, which is easy enough for me when needing to clean etc, but impossible for my son.

I should probably be a better planner than I am. I typically want to do things right when I decide to do them...which is fun, but also makes a little back-pedaling a part of most projects.

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Once you get it all finished, you will just have to build a bigger pond. I can't imagine what those people who have someone come in and build a pond system do once it is built. How much time can you spend looking at the finished product before you get bored? :D

The drip containers feed the pond by gravity. That means the container has to be elevated to the water level. I stack concrete blocks as a support for the container. Since the container will be completely visible, you should look for a nice large flowerpot that holds 15-20 gallons of water to use for a fresh water reservoir. Once you have this set up, water changes consist of putting some Prime into the reservoir and filling it with water from the hose.

I'm planning to build an aquaponics system as soon as the weather cools down so I can comfortably do the heavy work. My fish pond is this one (only mine is blue). My grow bed will be 4x2, and I will build a table for it to sit on that will cover the back half of the pond. If you built a table for the bog filter at one end the the pond, You could enclose it and make a storage cabinet for all the stuff you use for your pond.

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