It’s been very hot here this summer, with very little rain, and we’ve had to take steps to shelter animals and any plants and trees that we value. With temperatures rising to around 105 degrees nearly every day for the last month, and less that one inch of rain in the same time period (on top of about a 30-inch deficit over the last 24 months), we could easily have a large die-off. The original pond is a good example of the potential danger. With it in direct sunlight all day, it seemed like overly heated water might endanger the fish. After all, about 2 inches of water was being lost to evaporation (and probably wildlife water needs) every day.
Quite a different problem emerged however. With all that heat and sun, and an adequate supply of water (one of the few examples of that at the ranch), the pond instead became hyper-productive. Various water plants, and the ever-present pond weed were choking the pond, with open water for the fish to move around always shrinking. I began to think that that was the greater danger.
I’ve always wanted to have a second pond to develop a “back stock” of fish and plants. Several years earlier, my neighbors had donated an old stock tank that seemed perfect for the project. With the visit of my nephew (extra labor and interest in ponds), the time seemed right to create a shaded pond, move the fish, divide the exuberant plant life and expand my landscaping.
As you can see, PT worked hard with us, and about a day’s effort resulted in the pond you see in these pictures. It’s near an area I’m developing for an oriental meditation garden (which needs a pond and fish anyway) and is shaded most of the day. A couple of improvements on this version: an easily serviced bio-filter and an automatic fill valve. The bio-filter is a commercial model, is mounted so the cover is at about waist level (no more stooping!), and is serviced by simply lifting trays out and rinsing them off. The automatic fill valve was constructed using parts stolen from an automatic dog watering bowl and is intended to keep the pond at a constant level. There are five fish at present (two from the old pond and three new additions). One measure of the old pond’s productivity: after splitting and re-potting several of the plants, and removing a contractor’s wheelbarrow of extra plant material, there were still enough plants to make both ponds look full. Amazing!