Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How we made our stock tank

OK, here we go, folks. We've started putting our new pond together, and, as we go along, I'll take photos and post them here. We're using Austin garden blogger Pam Penick's tutorial and also some "Water Gardening" advice posted online by staff at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. This will definitely be a process that unfolds over the course of several days. Watch and see!

DAY ONE May 15, 2012

Our new galvanized metal tank arrived at the farm supply company in town. It measures 3 feet wide by 2 feet deep. (The tank cost around $100, which was covered by wedding anniversary gifts given to us by my mother, Marcelle, and dear friend, Rev. Hiller, who married us in 2006 ). After supper, James got to work clearing off a level area where it will sit in our back yard. The location gets mostly sun and isn't directly beneath the branches of any live oaks.

James moves the tank.
The tank is not THAT heavy, trust me.
James spent maybe half an hour or so digging out an area in our new bed.

 DAY TWO May 16, 2012

James set the tank on the sandy foundation that he'd made the day before....

He kept an eye on the tank's levelness as he worked.
Even as he was filling up the 95-gallon tank, he monitored the levelness, too. Before we can add plants, the water must sit for several days so chemicals can evaporate away. Pam recommends at least three or four days. The earliest we can get away and buy plants is Sunday anyway so that's fine.
In the meantime, James added two cinder blocks ($1.40 each) and rocks to recreate a place where birds, toads and other wildlife can get in and out. NO HERONS ALLOWED!

DAY THREE May 20, 2012

Our pond is nearly done! On our way home from visiting son Patrick and his wife Danielle in Waco, we stopped at the Hill Country Water Gardens and Nursery in Austin. I don't mean to turn this post into an advertisement for their business, but I thought it'd be helpful to other readers who are interested in making a tank stock pond, too....
Diane, who assisted us in our purchases, was very knowledgeable, but we didn't buy everything she suggested. We went with the product that removes chlorine and heavy metals ($8.55) and water lily food tablets (12-count, $4.99). A fish net was already on our list ($6.99).
 We bought three plants and some grass: horsetail rush ($19.99), Indiana water lily (dwarf, $36.99), lemon bacopa ($13.99) and hornwort watergrass ($2.99 bunch).

Next, I added the heavy-metal remover to the water.

James set in the cinder blocks.

Then we started added our plants...first, the lily.

Then the horsetails and barcopa...

Then I dropped in the bunches of watergrass. We decided not to plant it in a pot and see what happens.

Looks nice, right?

Ta da!

I set in our bag of little gambusia fish (50 cents each) so the temps between the bag and pond water can acclimate to the same degree. Later today, we'll slowly start introducing pond water into the bag until we can set them free in the pond.

There they go! You can barely see two fish in the bag and one in the water....

Later, we fished out wigglers (mosquito larvae) from a rain barrel and fed them to the gambusia. They LOVED them! (We had fun, too.)

 There's a gambusia! Gambusia affinis are native to Texas and are commonly called minnows. Go to any Texas river, and they'll nibble on your toes. You can download some info about the species here.

Now we'll see how our pond fares and whether we get a good ecosystem established.


Rock rose said...

Excited to watch the evolution of your water garden.

Steph@RamblingWren said...

Great project. Can't wait to see the finished product.

Unknown said...

WOW-Fantastic and your comments are very helpful to others giving thought to having a Pond like this!

Can't wait to see it!

Martha & Matt

Kay Zagst said...

This is way cool, Sheryl. What a neat progression. You and James are having fun and it shows!!

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Thanks, y'all! And YES, we are having fun fun FUN! I go outside several times a day to peer into the water, feed wigglers to the minnow kids and count heads (there's eight to 10 of them). They're way fast so I never find everyone when I call roll. :-)

Anonymous said...

Okay I love the way this looks...and pardon me for being stupid...but how exactly can a turtle get into the tank when it is so far off the ground? I thought maybe you were going to sink it into the ground and make it nearly level with the ground...but no. Is there any kind of spigot on the side to let the water level down when it rains or does the tank just over flow? If it over flows, don't the fish go over the edge too? Help me...I've never done anything like this but I sure would want to.

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Alas, no turtles in this above-ground pond. Yes, there is a spigot of sorts on the bottom of the tank. When we cleaned out the tank two years ago, I scooped out water (so I could water plants), and then we turned it on its side to finish emptying. The water overflows when it rains heavily, and the fish are just fine. I do lose some gambusia (minnows) during the winter but usually have some survivors come spring. Hope this helps!

Unknown said...

wow Perfect look like awesome. thank you for sharing your water garden.

Nathan Reed said...

I notice that you don’t have any pond pump set up. Have you noticed that to be an issue? Can you speak about mosquitos? Since you have fish do you see an improvement in the mosquito population vs before no tank? I really like this and i have a perfect spot in my back yard.

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Hi, Nathan: No, we don’t use a pond pump. The pond seems to function fine without one. As for mosquitos, the gambusia (fish) eat mosquito larvae so the tank doesn’t create mosquitos in our yard. However, we have MANY birdbaths that we try to clean our every few days. But still, we get mosquitos every summer. Part of Texas life, I guess. I’ve enjoyed our pond very much. I’d highly recommend one. Let me know if you make one! P.S. We’ve gotten a leopard frog that last couple of years in our pond. I’ve posted about her on this blog. :-)

Unknown said...

Hi Sheryl: Thanks for sharing this. We are planning to build a very similar container water garden in our backyard in California. And your article is very helpful to us! Can you upload some recent pictures of your beautiful pond?
Thanks! Judy

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

Hi, Judy! I’d be glad to! Just gotta remember to do it.... :-)

TexasMomWifeLife said...

Sheryl, did you have any problems at all with our extended crazy heat this summer, since you don't have it shaded? My pond is 80 gallons and I lost all my minnows one day when the heat got up over 105. The water was hot when I put my hand in it.

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

No, we’ve never had that issue. Maybe because ours is 100 gallons and 2’ deep? Yours must be not as high?

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