new house with rundown pond

  • #1
Hello all,

I have just bought a house, empty for 18 months, with a rundown fishpond, its murky and at least a foot below the top level. My plan was to rip it out, fill it in and add it to the lawn. That is until I detected a golden shape moving around in it along with some smaller darker shapes.

I now feel that I must bring it back to life as it has residents but have no idea about keeping fish, so 3 initial questions for someone who can help, if I may.

I can add fresh water from the 4 water butts which I had assumed were for the veg plots, as a first step. Would that be OK?

There is a small bucket shaped thing win the garage with a couple of pipes which seem to go into the pond, and has an electricity connection. I assume that this is a pump of some kind. I plugged it in but it doesn't make any noise so I guess it may be broken - or maybe it needs cleaning out, can anyone advise?

Should I feed the fish?

I am in Poole, England.

thanks, phil
  • #2
Good morning and Welcome to Fish Lore!

I think the best place for you to start is to learn about the Aquarium Nitrogen Cycle which is crucial to fish keeping. Click where underlined in blue above.

Too, having a test kit to test for everything mentioned in the nitrogen cycle link above is also crucial and I recommend the kit below:

Maybe you can find one at your local fish store.

Any idea what type of fish are in the pond?

When adding new water, the new water should be close to the same temperature as the water in the pond within 1 or 2 degrees. This will help to prevent stress to the fish and help prevent disease such as ICH. Add the new water slowly.

I would test the pond to see where the levels are for Ammonia, Nitrite, Nitrate and pH. (all included in the test kit) Once we know these readings it will be easier to give you the next steps.

How large is the pond?

One thing I would avoid is draining the pond and filling it with all fresh water. If the fish have been in the pond, in horrible looking water, they have acclimated to these horrible conditions. Adding all new fresh water could cause shock and you may lose the fish. The fish should be acclimated to new fresh water slowly.

It's a bit difficult to guide you at this point. Give us all of the information on the pond that you possibly can.

If you have some fish food you can go ahead and feed the fish once a day. Feed sparingly. As long as everyone in the pond gets a bite or two is all that is needed. Check for an expiration date on the fish food if fish food was left behind by the previous owners.

Being that you are in England, I'm not sure what season you are in. If it's winter for you the fish may be in hibernation state and feeding may not be necessary.

Hold on for more responses. We have quiet a few pond keepers so I'm sure you will receive more helpful information soon.

Best of luck with your fish and pond. Please keep us posted. If you can share photos/videos of the fish and pond, that would be a great help too I'm sure.

  • #3
Oh my God... The fish have been there for 18 MONTHS?! Wow! Poor them! And they must be very hardy. What type of fish is it? Is it a goodfish?
I'm sorry but I can't help you about the pump-thing equipment, but maybe more experienced people who own ponds will chime in.
First of all, yes, I would do a water change. A 50% water change today, another 50% next week. But when changing the water, you should really really acclimate the fish slowly, they've adapted to the pond's terrible conditions. Here's a link on acclimation, check all the methods, Ive had success with the gloating bag one, but the drip method is said to be much more secure for fish.
When pouring in the new water, be sure it has the same temp. of the pond, or a really close if not possible.
Then, keep up with weekly 15-20% water changes. I really hope someone with a pond chimes in...
When changin the water, be sure Not to clean up the ornaments/ rocks etc entirely, they hold the beneficial bacteria needed to process your fish poop to non toxic matter. It's called the nitrogen cycle and it's a must in fish keeping. Click the underlined words to read about that.
About feeding, it's winter now and I believe the fish must be in hibernation, but if not you could try giving them some food, and if they eat it then feed them once a day.
Hope someone with a pond will chime in!
Best og luck with your pond!
  • #4
Oh, looks like Ken got you covered before me lol
  • Thread Starter
  • #5
thanks for the responses,

I have topped up the water from a couple of the rain butts as a starter. Whatever the fish that are in there were today lying low under the 'whatever growth' is in there.

  • #6
Sounds like they are most likely goldfish (or another type of carp). If there is a lot of moss/weeds in the pond, they have most likely been feeding on those and you feeding them is not really necessary at this point. The important thing is to get the pump/filter up and running and clean out any muck that is in the bottom of the pond and change out the water (slowly). Keeping the water topped up is good, but some of the old water needs to come out also. It will be great for watering your garden areas - all that good fish poop fertilizer and such... That way, too, you are not dumping so much water down a drain somewhere.

Cleaning out muck - This needs to be done carefully. Especially if there has been no water circulation in the pond. The decaying matter in the bottom of the pond could have created gas buildup areas. When disturbed, these gas pockets could release harmful gases into the water. It is almost best to get a large tub (a child's swimming pool works great for this) and fill it with water from the pond. Then move all the fish in to this "holding tank". You can then use a rake to rake out as much of the debris in the bottom of the pond as you can. This will also let you see what type of pond you are dealing with. Is it a "natural" pond with a dirt/rock bottom and sides? Is it a preformed pond with a hard plastic liner? Or does it have a flexible plastic liner? Or is it a cement pond? Depending on the type of pond it is, will affect how you keep it clean and maintained in the future.

Circulation - the pond should have a pump and a filter set up. Is there a waterfall anywhere? Can you post a pic of the equipment that was left? And any of the hoses/connections that you find? There are a lot of different types of filters available. A waterfall type will help the water circulation and aeration in the pond. The bucket shaped thing in the garage may be a filter with a uv bulb. I have a pressure filter that plugs in to provide power for the uv bulb (great for preventing the green pea soup algae bloom). It make absolutely no noise since it is not a pump, basically just the uv light bulb and a container to hold the filter media. It requires a separate pump to pump the water into the filter. Your box may just be the filter with no pump. If you could post a picture of it, that would help us identify it. There may be a pump around somewhere too.

'whatever growth' - is most likely moss, algae, and possibly pond weeds. You do want some plants growing in the pond as that provides shelter for the fish from the sun (to prevent sunburn) and from predators. Submerged plants, moss, and algae can also provide food for the fish. Plants also help to keep the water cleaner by using up some of the fish poop fertilizer and such.
  • Thread Starter
  • #7
I have attached some photos:

The pond itself, looks like it a lined type

There are two tubes and a power cable running into the pond, the tubes are from the UV thing so I assume the power lead is to a submerged pump which feeds pond water into it.

The UV thing itself - is there any kind of maintenance to be performed on this?

The UV thing label

I sprinkled some feed onto the top yesterday afternoon but couldn't see any of it today. Anyway today the top is frozen over, I've read that the ice should not be broken so I left it.

I will check that the pump is working, I guess if I pull off the tube which feeds pond water into the UV thing I should see some kind of water flow - am I correct?


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  • #8
Yes, that big green thing is the pressure filter. Here is a link with a bit of info on it. It says that this particular filter is discontinued. That does happen. It also shows a cutaway view so you can see what it should look like inside. The UV Bulb runs up and down right in the middle. There is a link on that page for you to print the instruction manual for the filter. That will tell you what maintenance it would need.

I agree that the pond appears to be made with a flexible liner. As long as it doesn't spring a leak anywhere, it should be just fine. You will need to be careful about what rocks and such you put in - you don't want to poke any holes in the liner. You will need to vacuum or scoop the muck and debris from the bottom of the pond. It's hard to tell from the picture if there are rock in the bottom of the pond or not. Either way, you will want to clean the debris out so it doesn't add to the bioload.

The two tubes, I'm sure, run to and from the pressure filter. The cord probably does go to a pump. The pump will send the water to the filter, then it comes back through the other tube. If you can follow the cord down into the water, it should lead you to the pump. You can see if there is a pre-filter on the pump and what kind of pump it is. Then, you can figure out which tube comes from the pump and which one is the return line. Once you figure out which one is the outgoing water line, you can figure out how the water is returned to the pond - is there a fountain? a waterfall? etc.

Once you figure out if the pump is working, and the filter is working (even if the uv bulb is burned out, the filter part should still be fine), you should be good to plug it all in and start it up. After you clean the debris and muck out of the bottom of the pond. I'd let the filter run for a week or so, then clean it out. It may have a back flush valve (mine does) to help get all the muck out of the filter. You may have to clean out the filter every couple of weeks for a while.

As for the ice on the pond - there needs to be at least one area that stays ice-free so the fish don't suffocate. There needs to be somewhere for the gas exchange to take place. You don't want to pound on the ice to break it though - that can cause a percussion effect down into the water and injure or kill the fish. If you can get your fingers or something under one edge of the ice and lift it out to break it, that would be good. If you float a partially inflated beach ball in the pond, it will help to keep a hole in the ice.
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
Thanks for that, I'll open up the filter check it out now that I know what I'm looking at. If there's no water getting through to the filter I'll also take out the pump and give that a clean up too or replace it.

I have seen more of the fish moving about in a group. There is one golden coloured and about five various sized black.

  • #10
If you can get pictures of the fish, I'm sure someone on here could help you id them for sure. They are most likely goldfish - even the black ones. Black is the "normal" color for goldfish (carp) in the wild.
  • #11
Wow, this sounds like so much fun, hope the fish are doing well, be lovely if you could post some pics of it all when you are fully finished. I'm not a pond fishkeeper, but seems like you will be by the time you're done, best of luck, hope the remaining fish have a good life with you
  • Thread Starter
  • #12

I had a heron settled by the pond about a week ago and haven't seen any fish since, so I suspected the worst. However I looked today as it is nice and sunny and saw a lot more fish than I have seen before coming up for the food. I have now put a net over the pond.

On the pond itself, I pulled out the pump and gave it a good clean. I then opened up the filter and likewise gave that a good clean. I next found that the fuse in the pump circuit was blown so I changed that. I now have a working filter system with circulating water. As the water is so mucky I'll clean it all again in a weeks time as it will probably be choked up again.

I have looked over the neighbours fence and have seen that she has a pond also, so I guess I'll have to go and say hello and chat about keeping fish in this area.

Thanks for all your assistance. phil
  • #13
I'm glad the filter and pump are working - that's great! I've heard that a heron will not go to a pond if there is another heron already there. Supposedly, that is why people put a statue of a heron by their ponds. I've not had to worry about herons, so I'm not sure if that would work or not. I know it doesn't work for cats!

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