Habitat - Outdoor :: Our Pond

Ponds and other outdoor enclosures.

Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 9:15 pm   Our Pond

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Last year we acquired a pair of RES that had been abandoned at my father's business in the Spring. When we went to visit over Christmas, we took them home. They were already too big for the aquarium we had them in, but we weren't about to get a new tank knowing they'd be in a pond oustide once the temperatures warmed up.

We are now on our 3rd version of the pond (with main minor upgrades in between) :). I built the pond with little thought to keeping the turtles in, why would they want to leave right? Something else I hadn't given much thought to was overflow control. So after some experimenting and some extra building we have an escape proof (at least for Martha, our 2 year old Yellow Bellied Slider) with working overflow control.

The original pond was 4 feet by 5 feet with a depth of 2 feet. On the 5 foot sides there was a ledge that was 1 foot wide and 1 foot tall. The ledge was mainly for plants that needed shallower water, like mini cattails. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the mini cattails to grow. I also added in a water lily bulb and they grew very well.

You can read all about the original setup on our turtle blog. You can also review the last couple weeks worth of posts to see how I got to the current setup.

The current setup is 5 feet by 5 feet with a depth of 2 feet and 1 ledge that is 1 foot tall by 1 foot wide (yeah, I'm going to try the mini cattails again). It holds approximately 337.5 gallons of water. In the first picture, you can see the ledge on the right. You can see sand then a small black strip and then sand again. The sand on the right is the ledge.

Supplies used:
10' x 10' EPDM Pond Liner
TotalPond 300 GPH Submersible Pump with filter housing (filter uses Coarse and Fine pads and bio media)
DIY secondary filter with debris pads, phosphate removal pads, activated charcoal and some more bio media
9W inline Beckett UV Sterilizer
~20 12" x 12" red paver stones
~100 4" x 8" red bricks
50 lbs Pool filer sand
~3 cubic feet of river rocks/egg rocks
Wire Mesh

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The hardest area of the pond to secure is the area behind the basking log, which also acts as the overflow trench. The overflow trench is basically a 1 foot wide by 2 feet long trench that is 2 feet deep and full of stones. The stones allow any overflowing water to drain away quickly. The reason this area is hard to secure is because turtles love to climb and yes they can climb straight up and over the brick wall. Last year I just plopped paver stones on top, but the trench wasn't as wide as it was last year. Now that it is wider the 12"x12" paver stones wouldn't fit. Plus, I wanted light to get in there so if the turtles went back there, they'd get light.

I settled on the wire mesh because it is flexible, so I could make a dome to give it more strength. We have squirrels, cats, raccoons, possum and ducks that all like to visit the pond. The squirrels have run across the mesh and I imagine some of the other critters may have too. Having the mesh domed make's it much stronger and it has not collapsed yet.

Since setting up the pond, I have determined that the secondary filter I made is virtually useless. It doesn't seem to have helped control algae like I hoped it would (by removing phospates from the water). I added an inline UV Sterilizer that has removed the algae and keeps the water crystal clear. I will be turning the secondary filter into a waterfall of some sort.

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In this picture, you can see the filter pretty much in the center of the pond. The pump is in the filter, surrounded by bio-balls and covered with the coarse and fine pads. I place the filter on top of two bricks to create a hiding spot for the turtles as well as a much larger hiding spot just in front of the filter to the right. The rocks to the left of the larger hiding spot covers the power cord. I used about 45 pounds of the sand just to lightly cover the bottom. I didn't want to cover it too thick and take away from the depth of the pond. In the bottom right of the pond is the lily bulb that as of today has starting to send lily pads to the surface. It looks like about 5 pads are on their way up. It generally takes a few days for the to get to the surface.

In the upper right hand corner is a head of green leaf lettuce. This photo was taken right after the turtles where in the pond and both of them are hiding under the large hiding spot. I give the turtles 1 head of green leaf lettuce a week and by the end of the week it is completely gone. After this first head of lettuce, I began using a weight to sink the lettuce to the bottom to look more nature and to give the turtles a more natural eating experience. Last year Martha did not really eat the lily pads. Every so often there'd be a triangle shaped chunk about the size of her mouth taken out of a pad, but she usually didn't take more than one bite.

As you can see in the first picture, I have placed amaryllis plants in the corners not used by the secondary filter (which is the white bucket with pink lid). Along the left and right side I have planted some flowering ground cover (can't for the life of me remember what it is called). On the top left corner, I have planted sweet peas. The plants have started growing nicely and should start flowering in about a month.
Sweeney & Pascal - RES Hatchlings & Martha - 2 yo YBS
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Post Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:24 pm   Re: Our Pond

Not bad. I seen that filter at home depot. It work good?
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Post Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 7:29 am   Re: Our Pond

It worked well with just one turtle and a dozen large goldfish. We got rid of the goldfish and added a second turtle. I'm not sure how well it will handle the additional load with the second turtle in the large pond, but time will tell. In the smaller indoor pond, it worked great with the two turtles.

-Michael
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Post Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:06 am   Re: Our Pond

Love the second pic!
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Post Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:15 pm   Re: Our Pond

Looks very good. Can't wait to setup the stock tank for the summer :)
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Post Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 2:31 pm   Re: Our Pond

Thanks! It's summer here. It was 90 degrees yesterday and will be in the mid 80s all week.

-Michael
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Post Posted: Tue May 01, 2012 4:58 pm   Re: Our Pond

I was looking at ratings on that filter and people were complaining that it needs to be cleaned out on a weekly bases or else the filter gets filled to max and the lid somehow gets suctioned onto the body of the filter and to get it off you basicly have to break off the locking sides and then you have to figure out what to hold the lid on with. The guy at home depot tryed to sell me one of those for a 500 gal pond and i was like "Are you crazy..." lol
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Post Posted: Tue May 01, 2012 7:14 pm   Re: Our Pond

I didn't see any of those reviews. I don't think Home Depot sells the setup I have as a kit like I bought from Amazon, but the filter box on Home Depot gets 5 out of 5 stars from both reviewers.

I've had mine for a little over a year. I've cleaned it twice; once when I brought it in for the winter pond and then again after I put the turtles in the summer pond last month. It does say to clean the pads a little more often and to do a thorough cleaning once a year. For 1 turtle last year the one cleaning every six months worked fine. Now that we have 2 turtles, I will probably clean the pads once every 8 weeks or so or as needed.

I haven't had any issues taking the thing apart. It snaps on each side with clips which have not given me any trouble. The pump does have suction cups on the bottom to stick to the bottom of the filter box so it doesn't move around. The only thing I don't like about it is that the filter box isn't heavy at all. It moves in the pond easily. The fix for that would be to put some weights in it which isn't a problem, but then it takes away from the amount of bio balls I can put into it.

-Michael
Sweeney & Pascal - RES Hatchlings & Martha - 2 yo YBS
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Post Posted: Tue May 01, 2012 7:24 pm   Re: Our Pond

michaelg wrote:The only thing I don't like about it is that the filter box isn't heavy at all. It moves in the pond easily. The fix for that would be to put some weights in it which isn't a problem, but then it takes away from the amount of bio balls I can put into it.


What if you swapped the bio balls with some lava rock or bio rings? Either would possibly add a little weight to your box but still provide surface area for your natural bio filter.
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Post Posted: Tue May 01, 2012 8:38 pm   Re: Our Pond

Yeah, I am considering the bio rings. I've been meaning to test the water, but I was waiting for the UV sterilizer to remove the algae. Then I got distracted by opening the pool. Tomorrow I'm going to test the water and see how things are after 4 and a half weeks. Last year the water stayed clean, but I only had one turtle. This year with two and a pond that is almost 100 gallons larger, it may be a different story. If the bio balls can't keep up, I'll be replacing them with the rings.

I never really thought of lava rocks. Do they work just as well as bio balls or bio rings?

-Michael
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Post Posted: Tue May 01, 2012 8:42 pm   Re: Our Pond

If I sort them as good, better best in that order I would put bio balls as good, lava rock as better, and bio rings as best. It's all about surface area per unit of space.
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Post Posted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:32 am   Re: Our Pond

the water is very clear
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Post Posted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:56 pm   Re: Our Pond

Very nice, looks like a summer heaven!
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Post Posted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 2:57 pm   Re: Our Pond

Thanks guys!

What was once a summer heaven has turned into a breeding ground for Rosy Red Minnows. I had about 10 in the indoor pond and hadn't planned on moving them to the outdoor pond. I was just going to release them into the creek in the woods behind our house. My son begged me to keep them, so I did. Two of them died while I decided what to do with them.

Last year the goldfish bred like crazy, but they ate their young when they got about 1/2 inch long. The rosy reds don't seem to be cannibalistic like the goldfish were. I'm hoping Martha will get to some. I'll probably sell the rest when they get bigger. Maybe get enough for a couple heads of Red Leaf lettuce :)

In another thread I mentioned I bought a dozen bull frog tadpoles in hopes they'd eat any algae that grows on the liner. Unfortunately the turtles ate most of them. The other day, after Tropical Storm Beryl blew threw, I caught a glimpse of one of the tad poles that survived:

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-Michael
Sweeney & Pascal - RES Hatchlings & Martha - 2 yo YBS
Find out more about us at our - Turtle Blog & TurtleCam
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Post Posted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 3:24 pm   Re: Our Pond

Sweet!
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