Adding a fish pond to your property has many benefits. Before you do so though, there are a lot of decisions that must be made. How big of a pond do you want on your property? Where is the best location for such a water feature? What do you want to put in your pond? Are you able to establish and maintain a functioning biosystem if you do want fish?
These and other questions need to be considered before you start digging a hole on your property. Once you decide on the following factors, then you can order the most appropriate custom fabricated pond liner for your new fish pond and fire up the backhoe.
How large of a pond do you want? Would a rigid liner or a flexible liner be better for the pond area? Some gardens can easily integrate smaller preformed ponds but if you want a large fish pond, decide on a size before anything else. Size also determines how many fish, aquatic plants, and other elements you need to have in place to make it a sustainable fish pond (rule of thumb for large fish ponds is a surface area of 1 acre with 10-12 feet of water in 25% of the pond basin). If you are looking for a very large pond, then make sure that your pond liner is stitched or welded together properly. Large pond liners allow for less possibility of leakage by limiting field seams or eliminating them all together. If you are considering a very, very large fish pond such as a stock tank, then professional installation and quality materials are a must.
In addition to overall size, you also need to determine the depth of the pond; this is extremely important if you want plants or animals to flourish. The more tiers and depths you provide for the plants and fish, the more natural an environment you will provide. One general guideline is to make sure the shallow end is between 4 and 12 inches deep so that fish can feed on insects and you can plant some shallow water plants at this depth. The deepest end should be between 24 and 48 inches deep (at least 4 feet for koi ponds though) to let the fish hibernate during the wintertime or provide a safe hiding place if needed.
You also need to decide what kind of aquatic elements you want to add to your fish pond. Do you want koi fish or goldfish? A stock pond for fishing? A waterfall or fountain that runs continuously? Do you just want water elements and no aquatic life? These decisions also have to be made before you can plan out your pond. If you are planning to incorporate an aquatic ecosystem, then you will also need to plan on a functioning biosystem for your fish, frogs, tadpoles, snails, and other common pond residents.
If you are wanting a dock to fish from, then it’s vital to plan ahead – you will need to incorporate legs or boots for the dock, which will permeate your pond liner. Companies such as Western Liner can provide a custom fish pond liner made in one single piece or if extremely large, panels can be seamed together and installed in the field. Large pond liners that are in one single piece allow for less possibility of leakage by limiting field seams or eliminating them altogether. Western Liner owner Shane Carter said that if the dock’s columns will penetrate your liner, this could create another point where leaks can happen. “In this case,” Carter said, “you need to go with a custom liner with specially-made column books for the dock.”
You will also need to make a commitment to maintaining your fish pond regardless of the size, although a smaller pond can be more challenging to take care of than a larger one (the more water, the more nature will take over to help regulate the environment). Remember that fish will need to be fed daily and any pump filters will need to be maintained as well. Do your research on what type of fish you are placing in your pond as well – what kind of care do they need? What kind of feed is best? These and other questions must be addressed upfront for the best possible fish pond.
If you are dedicated to a sustainable, ecofriendly fish pond, then consider the materials you are using. They must be NONTOXIC to support the ecosystem you place in the pond. What is your water source for the pond? Will the pond liner be buried or exposed to sunlight? Make sure your pond liner can withstand extreme UV exposures and other extreme and adverse weather conditions. Most pond liners are made from reinforced polypropylene (RPP), which is considered one of the longest lasting geomembrane liners available on the market. RPPs’ excellent coating allows for unprecedented UV and weathering resistance so it’s the best choice for your pond liner regardless of how small or large your pond is.
You may also consider adding additional elements such as a waterfall or fountain to your fish pond. These features can circulate the water and keep it oxygenated – very important when caring for fish (if the water isn’t oxygenated, the fish will not survive). As the water circulates, it also keeps algae at bay and prevents mosquitoes from laying their eggs.
Make sure you select a location where there is plenty of sunlight. Sun exposure is necessary for the fish, although it also means the pond liner is more exposed to the sunlight. Western Liner has created a reinforced polyethylene liner specifically for ponds and other water features called the Aqua Series, which includes an industry-leading 20-year warranty that often lasts even longer. These custom liners are made from materials that are not only nontoxic, but also extremely durable whether they are in sunlight or not. The pond liners in the Aqua Series can often last well over the 20 years if buried (reinforced polyethylene can last a long time exposed to the sun, but they cannot be guaranteed to last more than 10 years exposed).
Another consideration when determining the right location is rainfall and watershed. When planning a large pond, you must plan for the watershed to determine the best location. Watershed is a dividing ridge between two drainage areas – you have to plan for where the overrun will go when it rains. Be sure to account for this before placing your pond too close to your house or any other buildings.
Overall, detailed planning is the best way to create a beautiful, ecofriendly fish pond on your property. Plan ahead and be prepared.