Fishponds: A Place of Calm
Almost every landscaping show I’ve ever watched uses water features as noise maskers (for street and aircraft noise). While all fishponds are water features, not all water features are fishponds. The simple noise of running water has been shown to mask high frequency noise and may even help those who suffer from ringing of the ears (Tinnitus).
That said, placing a fishpond where noise is a problem is not a bad idea.
Are you a nature lover? Many yard owners will put up a bird feeder to attract local varieties of our feathered friends. But those friends need a place to drink as well. Making sure that there are places in the fishpond that birds can perch and drink will help ensure that the yard will have the sound of bird song as well as running water.
There is something soothing about the sound of running water. It draws one from the city to the quiet countryside; the great outdoors. Ever notice where most campgrounds are? They are next to a stream or pond, or at least within viewing distance of such. And what about the old frog pond that many of the old timers used to frequent as kids? What was it that drew them there?
While I was growing up, the house I lived in got its water from a flowing well, and in the front yard was a large fishpond, with my mother's rock garden behind it. Dad had made a water wheel in the pond that ran year round (with water from the well of course), and in the pond we had water lilies and goldfish. We missed the fishpond greatly when we moved away, and it has only been recently that there has been a fishpond at my parent's home.
Eventually I decided that it was time to make my own fishpond to put on our deck and almost everyone who has visited my home has commented on the pond. Many have said that they would like to have it in their yard.
While there are kits for sale that have everything someone would need to build a fishpond, and companies that will come and build one for you (all for a price, of course), for the person that loves doing things themselves (or is on a tight budget), it is not nearly as hard as some would believe. I fall into that category, and after a bit of trial and error I found a combination of objects and tricks for keeping a small deck sized fishpond.
There are only a few basic necessities for a fishpond of any size: a container that holds water (in my case half of an old whisky barrel), a pump and filter, and fish. Plants are optional (but a good idea if you have room). The rules to keeping a pond for more than a couple weeks are equally simple. Keep the water moving, replace at least twenty percent of the water at least once a week, make sure the fish have enough food, and don't put anything into the pond that might have chemicals that will harm the environment of the pond.
Here are a few other tips that might help the beginner. First, in the spring the algae will grow rapidly and may seem to be taking over the pond, especially if the pond is not well shaded. It should go away after a couple weeks. It helps keep the fish fed, so don't be too anxious to clean it all out. If it does over run the pond, trying shading more of the pond. Algae thrives on light.
Most tap water can be used in the pond if let set for 24 hours (this gives the chlorine time to evaporate). If not there are drops that can be added to tap water to make it safe for the fishpond. (Your local pet store should be able to help.) Pumps will need to be maintained (cleaned and lubricated per manufacturer's instructions) periodically and excess debris removed from the pond. Most filters consist of a bowl or container filled with gravel, or some other course medium that the water flows through. They should rarely need cleaning unless there is excessive sediment. The algae and bacteria that grow in the filter that help keep the water clean. As long as the water can flow through, leave it alone.
Once a happy medium between too much playing in and not enough attention to the pond is reached, the pond will thrive and be a joy to everyone who enters the yard. The pond will become the center of attention, drawing the family away from the TV and to the yard where its calming influence can help build bonds of friendship. (At the very least it will be a nice addition to the yard.) The old traditional fishpond is alive and well in the 21rst century.
Instructions for a simple fishpond
A simple inexpensive pond can be made from the following:
A whiskey barrel
A bird bath
A pile of rocks from around the area
A couple of feeder gold fish
A clump of cattails from the side of the road somewhere
These items are readily available, and usually not very expensive. The whiskey barrel, bird bath, and pump can be obtained from the local hardware store, and probably for less than $100. If you are one of the few people who hasn't had to remove rocks from your yard, check with the neighbors; they'll be glad to get rid of them. Feeder goldfish will start out small, but given time will grow to fit the size of the pond, and they will probably cost less than a dollar. Cattails can be found along many ditch-banks where there is water in the ditch, and they make a nice addition to a pond.
To put the pond together, first put water into the barrel. It will need to have water in it for a couple of days to let the wood swell and seal itself. Then put the bird bath into the barrel, put the pump in the bottom with the tube going up to the top of the bird bath. Put rocks in the bird bath (this will be the filter, as well as a nice waterfall), and then turn on the pump. Put the pot with the cattails in the water so the water covers half of the pot, and then after the water has been in the pond for at least 24 hours, put in the fish.
Add five gallons of water (that has been treated or left to sit for 24 hours) twice a week, to keep the water fresh, and the pond should take care of itself from there.