Setting up above-ground pool in the basement for goldfish

JimSinclair

Active Member
Hello, this is my first post here. I am seeking advice for creating an indoor goldfish pond in my basement, using an Intex above-ground pool which was recommended to me by a professional fish breeder.

My fish are currently in a 75 gallon aquarium in my living room. Don't flame me--I KNOW that is too small for 11 common and comet goldfish! I'll explain the history at the bottom of this post, for anyone who wants to know how the situation got to where it is now. But the reason for this post is to seek guidance for making it better.

Upon realizing that, first, I cannot afford an aquarium the size these fish really need; and second, even if I could afford it, it would be too heavy for the floor and really difficult to get down into the basement; and third, living in an urban area that has harsh winters and where very few homes have ponds, good rehoming options for oversized goldfish are few and far between--after all that, I finally connected last week with the person who recommended setting up an above-ground pool in the basement as an indoor pond.

This is something I can actually afford. (Well, not really, but after I transfer the fish into the pool I can then sell the vacated aquarium and recoup the cost.) And the empty disassembled pool is something I can carry and set up myself without having to recruit a crew of big strong people to wrestle (and potentially drop) a huge heavy aquarium down the stairs.

So I have ordered the pool, which arrived last week, and a pond pump and filter which is supposed to arrive tomorrow. The pool is an Intex 86" x 59" x 23" Rectangular Frame Above Ground Baby Splash Pool. It appears I can put 400 gallons of water into it. The filter is a 4000 gallon pond filter with 13W UV sterilizer "Koi Easy Backwash" (I don't know what that means?) and 1375 GPH water pump.

My questions about setting all this up:

1. Will I still need additional filters for a 400 gallon goldfish pond? What is the significance of "4000 gallon pond filter" vs. "1375 GPH water pump"? The rule I learned for goldfish is that filtration rate should be ten times the tank volume, so 4000 GPH would be right for a 400 gallon pool, while 1375 GPH would only be adequate for 137.5 gallons of water. I am confused about which number, 4000 or 1375, is the relevant number with this pump-and-filter combination.

2. My basement floor is uneven and crumbly. What is the best (effective + inexpensive) way to create a level surface for the pool? I have access to discarded wood pallets which are reportedly (I haven't seen them yet) in good condition, not damaged or rotted; and/or to rough-cut wooden planks from a sawmill. My first idea was to lay out a frame with the planks, then position the support legs of the pool frame on the planks, and use wood shims to level the planks. The planks would only be under the pool frame's legs. I have a 6 x 8' sheet of vinyl flooring I can lay out under the whole pool, to protect it from the rough crumbly concrete basement floor.

Another option would be to position several of the pallets together to make a platform under the entire pool, again using shims to level it, and again laying the vinyl flooring over the whole thing so the pool bottom is resting on a smooth surface.

Which of these options would be best, or is there a better one I haven't thought of?

3. Does there need to be a pool liner inside the pool, or are Intex pools safe for fish? If there does need to be a pool liner, is there a way to do that and still have the pool drain accessible for water changes?

4. Can I use a permanent laundry marking pen to mark the full and partial water change levels directly on the pool material? Are those markers, once dry, safe and non-toxic for fish?

5. What is a good (again, effective + inexpensive) leak warning system? I have seen cheap water leak detectors that make loud beeps when they sense water where it shouldn't be (fine if I'm home, but what if I'm not?) and expensive ones that will send a warning to a smartphone in addition to beeping (great if I can find one I can afford). Does anyone have recommendations for or against particular leak detectors?

6. When the filter arrives and I set all this up, do I need to wait a month or more going through the nitrogen cycle from the beginning before I can move my fish into the new pool? Or can I do what I have done before with aquarium upgrades: transfer the established filters along with the fish into the new tank right away, on the theory that the established filters are adequate for the bioload of the fish at their current size, and the additional new filter will be seeded from the old ones?

6a. I hope when the new filter arrives, I will be able to find a place in it to stick my established filter media, as my current filters are HOB ones. Anyone have tips about that?

Those are the getting-started questions. I am sure I will have many more questions as I proceed with this project. Any helpful advice would be much appreciated!

Now, as for how I came to have this many goldfish in a too-small tank:

I never planned to have fish at all. I am an experienced dog and cat rescuer. I had very minimal fish experience prior to Labor Day 2013.

Three years plus a couple of weeks ago, my then-housemate, who worked at the State Fairgrounds, found leftover prize fish discarded in the trash after the end of the State Fair. He brought home the ones that were still alive.

I was not expecting fish and not prepared for fish. But I'm a rescuer--I do the best I can when rescue is needed. I rushed out to the nearest pet supply store and bought water conditioner and a bubbler. The fish spent their first night here in a plastic bucket with the bubbler.

The next day a fellow animal rescuer (both of us much more experienced with dog and cat rescue) drove 70 miles to pick up some of the fish that she had room for, and left me a donated 20 gallon aquarium for the rest of the fish that stayed here.

I had to do crash-course learning about nitrogen cycle, filtration rates, and treatment for the ich and ammonia burns that the fish arrived with after being bred and kept in horrific conditions as "feeder" then "prize" fish, and then left to suffocate in those little plastic bags in the garbage. Several of the fish that arrived here alive did not survive the next few weeks.

A few months later another kind person donated a 30 gallon tank to upgrade the survivors to. The next two upgrades, first to 50 and then to the current 75 gallons, came from Craigslist as I was able to afford them. (Note that I am a disabled person living on an income of $820/month.) My plan was to sell each outgrown tank to go toward the cost of the next one, gradually getting larger tanks as the fish continue to grow.

Then I hit a snag in the plan because, after I purchased a 150 gallon aquarium from Craigslist last year, I became aware of the weight issue with tanks of that size. The floor of my house could not safely support a filled 150 gallon tank unless properly reinforced from the basement. And, again, I am working with severely limited funds.

So now it's a year later, the 150 gallon tank is still not set up, and already my fish are too big for it. (I plan to sell it and use the money on stuff for the new pond.)

And that is why I reached out for help and eventually got the recommendation for a basement pond made from a pool, and that is why I am here asking questions.

JI'm Sinclair
 

Big Red

Well Known
1. I help the best I can. When buying filters you want to focus on gph. The "rated" gallons is always lacking imo. For goldfish I would definitely go for 8 to 10 times water volume 3200 to 4000 gph.

2. As for the basement floor issues. Cheapest way to solve uneven surface would be to build a frame slightly larger than base foot print. So just a rectangle. And poor sand in and level it the sand will cover imperfections and the frame will helphide the sand. Not ideal but it is cheap. Soome 1 inch insulation board would. Absorb imperfections as well.

3. Shouldnt need a liner. I don't see why it wouldnt be safe.

4.I wouldnt mark where water can reach. why do you need a water level line? Arnt you going fill it up?

5.couldnt tell ya on that one.

6. And a. Just use current filter media, It will instant cycle. Make sure you treat the water before adding fish and media. If it doesn't fit in filter just put them in the tank. Tie them near filter if you want.
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
Thanks Big Red! The "sandbox" idea sounds ingenious!

I want to mark water levels so I can be sure I add the correct amount of dechlorinator to replace the amount I drain out for water changes. If I have a mark to show where the water level is once X gallons of water have been drained, then I'll know how much dechlorinator I need to add when I add back in X gallons of fresh water. On my current glass aquarium I have a piece of tape stuck on the outside of the tank for that purpose.

Do people actually fill these things all the way up to the top? Don't you leave the water level a few inches below the top, to make it less likely for water and fish to splash out?
 

bermese2002

Well Known
I may be wrong but I don't think j you need to worry too much about the amount of dechlorinator. It doesn't need to be exact. As long as you have an idea of how much water and you're taking out and putting back in then I would just add dechlorinator for that.

Also, if you are refilling using a python or a hose from a tap you should be dosing prime for the entire tank/pond anyway.

I hope that helps
 

jessakitten

Well Known
Something I didnt see, but might be a concern- lighting? and will you be putting plants in?

I personally would not use the pallets as they have gaps between the slats and nails etc that can puncture and rip the liner. I work around pallets all day, every day and I wouldnt trust them under a pool/pond lol
 

Lucy

Offical Spam Kicker
HI welcme to FishLore!
Dadio might be able to help with your questions.
Good luck!
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
Also, if you are refilling using a python or a hose from a tap you should be dosing prime for the entire tank/pond anyway.

For real? If I'm changing 10% of the water I need to be using enough Prime for 100% of the pond? If that's true, then I will definitely continue to do water changes the way I've been doing with the aquarium, measuring and dechlorinating the clean water in a separate container before adding it to the tank! I'll have to buy a very much larger container to hold that much water for dechlorinating, but compared to the cost of using ten times as much Prime as I need for the amount of water being added, I think it will be a lot less costly in the long run.

Going out now with a friend to pick up some planks to make the frame Big Red suggested. Afterward will go sand shopping. I have just discovered, via Google, that in addition to the play sand and pool filter sand I already knew about, there exists something called "leveling sand." Is that the kind I need?

The filter and pump arrived this morning. I haven't opened the package yet. One thing at a time....
 

jessakitten

Well Known
you don't need any specific type of sand. I have used playground sand, pool sand, play sand (for sandboxes). they all work the same as far as leveling goes
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
Thanks jessakitten, then I'll just get whatever is cheapest locally.
 

Dadio

Well Known
I think a lot of your questions have been answered so far.
So here's my input.

1) As mentioned, look for gph and not just pond gallon rate. The unit you bought will give a turnover of a little over 3 times. That's minimum for the amount of stock you'll be adding. Adding plants will be helpful. The backwash feature of the unit means it can flip to an outflow position reversing the flow to clean out the canister. Seeing as this is 1300 gph you will need to back-flush it on average once a week, then top off with treated water. Use Prime for water treatments. Sometimes the more the turn-over does not mean less the maintenance, with a backwash feature, this makes it easier. Some canisters like this show an indicator when getting plugged up, but rather than wait, simply do this once a week and your stock should be fine.

2) The sandbox idea sounds like a good option. Avoid anything that has nails, could splinter or rot.

3) Smart enabled water detectors are the latest innovations and would be best in my opinion. Don't settle for cheap when it comes to security, especially with a 400 gallon water-pond in a pool. D-link has a good one https://ca.dlink.com/en/consumer/sensors

4) Good lighting would be also something to look at.

Questions, just ask..
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
I haven't figured out lighting yet. That's near the top of the list of things to work on after the fish are safely moved.

I have tried putting plants in the aquarium, but goldfish are kind of hard on plants, so only one plant is still alive. Maybe once the fish are in the pond, I can set up a separate smaller tank with my existing light and grow a supply of snack plants like anacharis or duckweed. I've been told those are plants that grow fast enough to outpace the rate at which the fish eat them, but that has not been my experience!

Related to plants, though, what are the substrate considerations with a pool like this? I have pool filter sand as aquarium substrate, and the fish enjoy sifting and grazing through it, which is part of a goldfish's natural behavior. It's also my understanding that the substrate contains a lot of the important nitrifying bacteria. But I am concerned that an abrasive sand substrate being pressed down on by some twenty inches of water might damage the pool liner material.

My tentative plan right now is to transfer the sand from the aquarium into a Sterilite tote and put that inside the pool. That way the fish will have their own "sandbox" to root in, but the sand will be contained within the tote and not sitting directly on the pool material.
 

jessakitten

Well Known
maybe use floating plants- anacharis, duckweed, etc. but I think pool liner is really thick and hardy, we had one of these pools in the desert where there was rocks under it here and there and never punctured the liner. you can always use the floating plant containers to do cana lilies, you can look into water lilies. there are a TON of options for bog and water plants

as far as the goldfish are concerned- this is a much larger area and the plants should do better with ample room for the wastes from the fish to disperse honestly.

lighting- you can buy the cheaper aquarium lights that come in little round or square "pods" and hang them over the pool?
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
I am on hold with Intex customer service trying to find out the exterior dimensions or footprint of the pool. The person doesn't seem to know. Meanwhile I can't even find this model of pool on their web site.
 

Big Red

Well Known
As for lighting id use led flood lights. Cheap bright and you could wire it to an existing light in ceiling. id go bare bottom. Your talking about a lot of sand that will need rinsed. Your sand box is a good idea inside.

Why not set up pool and mark on the floor whereitll be?
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
Why not set up pool and mark on the floor whereitll be?

Because then I would have to either move the set-up pool twice--once out of the way to set up the frame and add the sand and level everything, then back again once the place is ready--or else set it up twice and take it apart once.

This morning the Intex customer service person finally told me the exterior dimensions are 71" x 98". I got two six-foot planks and two ten-foot ones. I'm not entirely sure I trust the customer service person's answer, because there was an obvious language comprehension difficulty when I was trying to explain what I was asking. So I did not get the ten-foot planks cut down to 98" in the store.

Estimating a volume of 60 square feet x 3 inches (equals 0.25 foot) deep for 15 cubic feet, I would need 30 of the 0.5 cubic foot, 50-pound bags of sand that cost almost $4 each at Home Depot. 1500 pounds of sand, and $120! I bought the planks and the corner brackets and wood screws to make the frame, but I did not buy 3/4 ton of sand for almost $120. Instead I came home and looked online and found a local quarry where I can buy a full ton of sand for $15. Next question is how to get a ton of sand into my basement.

jessakitten, can you show me links to the kind of floating plant containers and lights in "pods" that you're talking about?
 

jessakitten

Well Known
something like this as far as lights are concerned



Similar to this one- there are cheaper options, I just grabbed the first one I came across. though, you might get away with a shop light with a plant bulb from the pet store





and here is the floating baskets. might be able to make them out of pool noodles and net material for cheaper?
 

Big Red

Well Known
I was thinking about your build earlier and thought that it maybe smart 5o add one or two cross braces on the bottom of your box your building to help prevent it from bowing out. Just a thought.
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
Big Red can you show me a diagram or something? I am not exactly sure where or how you're suggesting to put cross braces.

Also, how much sand do you think I really need to level an uneven floor? Depth, I mean. I can then estimate amount of sand once I have the frame built and can measure the length and width, but how much depth should I aI'm for?
 

TexasDomer

Fishlore Legend
For lighting, I would definitely go with shop lights from a hardware store. I think that'll be your cheapest option. 5000 - 10000 K will grow plants, with 6500 K being ideal.

Anacharis and the like will probably be eaten by your goldfish, but Anubias and Java fern should be okay. Look into some floating plants too!
 

Big Red

Well Known
Big ised can you show me a diagram or something? I am not exactly sure where or how you're suggesting to put cross braces.

Also, how much sand do you think I really need to level an uneven floor? Depth, I mean. I can then estimate amount of sand once I have the frame built and can measure the length and width, but how much depth should I aI'm for?

I'm awful with tech stuff but Imagine a bed frame outside board s upright and then cross braces flat to floor.

Depending on how off your floor Is I can't imagine more than two inches maybe three but I'm leaning more towards 1.5 to 2 inches deep. Can you post a picture of the floor?
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
Okay, now that the pond is finally set up and the fish are moved in (YAY!!!) I am able to think about aesthetics.I already had a fluorescent light fixture hanging in the basement, with burned out tubes. I got replacement tubes for it, T12 (because that's what would fit in the existing fixture), 6500K so nice and bright.Now need to improve on the filter hose placement. Then will be able to think about plants.
something like this as far as lights are concernedSimilar to this one- there are cheaper options, I just grabbed the first one I came across. though, you might get away with a shop light with a plant bulb from the pet storeand here is the floating baskets. might be able to make them out of pool noodles and net material for cheaper?
Here it is!
IMG_20161011_104627.jpg
 

LJC6780

Well Known
For real? If I'm changing 10% of the water I need to be using enough Prime for 100% of the pond? If that's true, then I will definitely continue to do water changes the way I've been doing with the aquarium, measuring and dechlorinating the clean water in a separate container before adding it to the tank! I'll have to buy a very much larger container to hold that much water for dechlorinating, but compared to the cost of using ten times as much Prime as I need for the amount of water being added, I think it will be a lot less costly in the long run.

Going out now with a friend to pick up some planks to make the frame Big Red suggested. Afterward will go sand shopping. I have just discovered, via Google, that in addition to the play sand and pool filter sand I already knew about, there exists something called "leveling sand." Is that the kind I need?

The filter and pump arrived this morning. I haven't opened the package yet. One thing at a time....

Buy Pond Prime. It's more concentrated and cheaper! And you should probably be doing 50% water changes for those waste producers! 10% really doesn't do much.
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
Well, as I just posted in another thread, we had an unplanned 10% water change last night due to a slipped hose pouring about 10% of the water out onto the floor before I discovered it. For planned water changes, I was thinking like 25% weekly.

I still think I should follow the procedure I used with the aquarium, of measuring and treating the clean water in a separate container (for the pond that will be a 110 gallon stock tank) immediately after doing a water change, so by the time I'm going to do the next change, the clean water has been sitting right near the pond for however long it's been, and is therefore the same temperature as the water in the pond. It also means I have a ready supply of temperature-equalized treated water sitting right there in case of an emergency pond leak.
 

LJC6780

Well Known
Because then I would have to either move the set-up pool twice--once out of the way to set up the frame and add the sand and level everything, then back again once the place is ready--or else set it up twice and take it apart once.

This morning the Intex customer service person finally told me the exterior dimensions are 71" x 98". I got two six-foot planks and two ten-foot ones. I'm not entirely sure I trust the customer service person's answer, because there was an obvious language comprehension difficulty when I was trying to explain what I was asking. So I did not get the ten-foot planks cut down to 98" in the store.

Estimating a volume of 60 square feet x 3 inches (equals 0.25 foot) deep for 15 cubic feet, I would need 30 of the 0.5 cubic foot, 50-pound bags of sand that cost almost $4 each at Home Depot. 1500 pounds of sand, and $120! I bought the planks and the corner brackets and wood screws to make the frame, but I did not buy 3/4 ton of sand for almost $120. Instead I came home and looked online and found a local quarry where I can buy a full ton of sand for $15. Next question is how to get a ton of sand into my basement.

Load up your truck or have them dump it near the basement door and take t down in 5 gallon buckets?
 

Big Red

Well Known
You could also build a slide. Pour sand down it to basement!
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
This particular problem was solved by having a friend carry it down in buckets.

Now there's a couple hundred pounds of the rock dust left downstairs that wasn't needed for leveling the floor. I'm thinking maybe I can carry it back upstairs (in smaller bucketloads than my nondisabled friend was able to carry!) and use it to fill in holes my dogs have been trying to dig under the fence.
 

Shea Loner

Active Member
If you are interested I may have some water hyacinth still growing in my goldfish pond I could send you. It won't survive the winters here but it should grow fine in your set up indoors.
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
That sounds good. Where in upstate New York are you? I'm in Syracuse.
 

Shea Loner

Active Member
Herkimer. ��

I'm kind of wishing I had room to put a pool like that in My basement. Its looking like my goldies will spend the winter in a 55 gal tote.
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
How many do you have? How big are they? I wish I had known from the start how much easier and cheaper and just all around better a pool is than aquariums! But you do need a basement to support this much weight of water.

I would have liked to get a bigger pool, and the round ones that are over 1000 gallons really didn't cost much more than the 400 gallon one I got. But I measured the distance between support beams in my basement and got the biggest one that would fit. Still plenty big for now. Huge improvement over a 75 gallon aquarium!
 

Shea Loner

Active Member
I have maybe a dozen? Biggest is probably 8in or so and then varius sizes down to a few babies from last year. Their regular home is a converted jacuzzI I buried in the backyard. Been trying to fix a leak all year.
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
Can you put in a pond heater to keep it from freezing solid?

Anyway, I would like the plants if you can spare them.
 

Shea Loner

Active Member
Nope. They have spent the summer in a plastic kiddie pool, and that definitely won't survive the winter. But when the jacuzzI is Not leaking out the bottom they can and have over wintered out there.
 

Shea Loner

Active Member
There are a half dozen plants still green. Would you like me to send them your way?
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
Sure, is there a PM option here for exchanging postal addresses?
 

Rich72

Well Known
Yep, click their name and hit the "thought bubble" with the three dots in it Idk if it's the same for desktop
 

Shea Loner

Active Member
You need 50 posts before you can use the PM system. So just answer back 4 times and the option will pop up when you click on a name.
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
You need 50 posts before you can use the PM system. So just answer back 4 times and the option will pop up when you click on a name.

Ah, that explains why I got told I "don't have permission" to send a message. Shea Loner, I did try to add you to my contacts, in case that would help.

Anyway, what I would have sent you in PM but don't mind posting publicly because it isn't my home address: My friend (who initially found the fish in the trash and who has helped with carrying heavy things like buckets of rock dust to built the pond) is planning to go visit his son in Utica tomorrow. That is just one exit from Herkimer off I-81. So if it's convenient for you to go meet him in a safe public place near the Interstate exit, he would be able to pick up the plants and bring them here.

Are you able to PM me? If so, you can let me know if that would work for you, and we can determine exact time and place privately.

Now I will go look for three more things to reply to so I can access PM myself.
 

Shea Loner

Active Member
You need access to the PM system before I can message you or I would have done so earlier.

And I've no problem meeting up with your friend.
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
okay, so this is what, post #48?


Hello! I think I can access PM now.
 

Tris

Active Member
Updates on the pool pond?
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
The pond is working out swimmingly.

Just one problem: scum buildup on the bare bottom and sides of the pool material. I used to have a squeegie thing that I would try cleaning it with, but that did not keep up well enough with the buildup. Then the squeegie handle broke last week, so now I need to find something new. What is a good thing to use for scrubbing vinyl pond surfaces? A sponge mop? Are there brands one can buy and be certain there is no detergent pre-applied to the mop sponge?


IMG_20170323_191452206.jpg
 

Tris

Active Member
For my fish tanks I use this sponge, it's kind of like a magic sponge, cleans the glass really well and I've never had any problems with it. It might work for the scum on the bottom, only downside is that these sponges wear out super easily, but they are super cheap so I just buy a whole bunch

Look what I found on AliExpress
10PCS Melamine Sponge Magic Sponge Eraser Melamine Cleaner Eco Friendly White Kitchen Magic Eraser 10*6*2cm-in Sponges & Scouring Pads from Home & Garden on

By the way how do you think a pleco would do in that same pool? Would the liner be strong enough or would he most likely puncture a hole through it? I have a pleco in a 65gallon, but I want to give him more swim space& of course I'll add some more fish with him
 

KimberlyG

Fishlore VIP
Walmart has their pool stuff out. I would go there and pick up one the brushes we use to scrub the sides and bottom of our pool.
 

toustous

New Member
If I were you I'd consider placing some large power heads very low in all 4 corners, blowing directly across the bottom.

This would keep the debris in the water column letting your filters get it out. I doubt the goldfish would notice or care.
 
OP
JimSinclair

JimSinclair

Active Member
If I were you I'd consider placing some large power heads very low in all 4 corners, blowing directly across the bottom.

This would keep the debris in the water column letting your filters get it out. I doubt the goldfish would notice or care.

Wow, I wonder why I did not receive email notifying me of new posts? Thank you for this idea! I will look into it.
 

Similar Aquarium Threads

  • Locked
  • Wobbegong
  • Ponds
Replies
11
Views
788
Smalltownfishfriend
  • Locked
  • TeaandTomatoes602
  • Ponds
Replies
10
Views
994
saltwater60
  • Locked
Replies
34
Views
7K
Momgoose56
  • Locked
  • zaidie
  • Ponds
Replies
9
Views
2K
Ed204
  • Question
  • RedLoredAmazon
  • Ponds
Replies
7
Views
326
jtjgg

Did You Know...

You can make your own homemade fish food? See this thread for recipes:
Homemade Fish Food Recipes

Aquarium Calculator

Desktop
Top Bottom