Professional Ultimate Predator Pond

Pond Pioneer

Gambusia
Original poster
MFK Member
Oct 3, 2019
39
16
8
22
Maryland USA
Hello MonsterFishKeepers Community,

I'm becoming a pond builder in Maryland and I want to learn how to build the Ultimate Predator Pond.

I'm familiar with building a dedicated koi ponds but I want to expand into building ponds for the most bad-donkey fish on the planet. I was wondering what other things you have to keep in mind for this type of pond? This is going to be apart from my showcase ponds so I'm willing to do what's necessary.

Stocking
  • What are the primary fish that need to be graduated to larger tanks or ponds? Redtail Catfish, Gar, Arapaima, Tarpon, etc? I want to build these ponds for the fish that need tanks so large that they become unrealistic for most hobbiest's tank setups.
    • Basically I want to build ponds so that these amazing creatures can live their whole lives.
  • What are fish that work well in community tanks while others are problem makers? The fewer problems at the beginning will make this venture a lot easier. I'm still expecting to have an emergency pond on the side just in case. And as a side question what's the best way to remove these beasts? Should I have an isolation tank if any are too aggressive or getting picked on?
Water Management
  • My approach to building this pond would be the approach of building a professional koi pond. Bottom drains, jets, drum filters, moving beds and trickle filters. To get a better understanding. How much protein percentage do you feed these fish? What's the protein percentage of frozen/live food?
  • What is the minimum temperature for most of these fish? I plan to have everything insulated as well as heated during the winter. I just need to know the bare minimum.
  • Any other specific water conditions, other than the difference between fresh/brackish/saltwater?
Construction
  • I'm planning to put a window in, do I have to make it extra thick for any arapaima that would decide to headbutt it?
I would greatly appreciate either answering any single question, all of them or sending me to someone who could.
Thanks!
Miguel Rodriguez
Pond Pioneer
 
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thebiggerthebetter

Gold Tier VIP
MFK Member
Dec 31, 2009
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Welcome to the MFK, Miguel!

I'm becoming a pond builder in Maryland and I want to learn how to build the Ultimate Predator Pond.
TBTB: Ambitious! :) Do you know Michael / Miguel, etc. equivalent in Hebrew translates "Equal to God"?

I'm familiar with building a dedicated koi ponds but I want to expand into building ponds for the most bad-donkey fish on the planet.
TBTB: I am already in love with your self consciousness in choosing words :)

I was wondering what other things you have to keep in mind for this type of pond? This is going to be apart from my showcase ponds so I'm willing to do what's necessary.
TBTB: I don't think there is much difference. A pond's a pond. The only difference is that the target inhabitants determine some construction elements. If they are huge and spiny and toothy, one can't use liner, nor can use thinner windows or lighter structural materials, fasteners, etc., if they are good jumpers, one needs to provide means of confinement against that trait, etc.

Stocking
  • What are the primary fish that need to be graduated to larger tanks or ponds? Redtail Catfish, Gar, Arapaima, Tarpon, etc? I want to build these ponds for the fish that need tanks so large that they become unrealistic for most hobbyist's tank setups.
  • TBTB: Welcome to the Club. Study the last link in my signature, especially the list of the largest f/w fish sorted by size.
    • Basically I want to build ponds so that these amazing creatures can live their whole lives.
    • TBTB: it might be more about your life span, even though you say you are 22. Many of these fish have the potential to outlive you by far and large, living up to a century or two (in the wild though).
  • What are fish that work well in community tanks while others are problem makers?
  • TBTB: I don't know know where to start and where to finish. The list is huge IMHO and this requires a two-hour verbal lecture, not to mention a 5 hour typing exercise. I'd be glad to answer more specific questions but this better comes with a long and painful experience. People tend not to believe to others but do tend to trust their personal experience. Pick the fish from my rating list and we can talk about them first, I'd suggest.

  • The fewer problems at the beginning will make this venture a lot easier. I'm still expecting to have an emergency pond on the side just in case. And as a side question what's the best way to remove these beasts? Should I have an isolation tank if any are too aggressive or getting picked on?
  • TBTB: Until around 3'-4' - a pillowcase or a blanket case in my humble experience, per my YouTube videos. Not after they break 4'-5'. You better have them sorted before that. It's doable after that (especially with sedation, which is nevertheless always dangerous as fish may not come back) but perhaps not by a single person and not without a risk of personal injury of varying severity, can be even life-threatening or death, alluding to Steve Irwin and other freak accidents like fishermen diving in to free a large spiny catfish from their nets under water getting impaled and dying...
Water Management
  • My approach to building this pond would be the approach of building a professional koi pond. Bottom drains, jets, drum filters, moving beds and trickle filters. To get a better understanding. How much protein percentage do you feed these fish? What's the protein percentage of frozen/live food?
  • TBTB: I'd never plan to feed them live feeder fish. Self raised crustaceans, insects, etc. - maybe, but not live fish, even self raised. I think it is sadistic but it is a moral debate in which I'd rather not participate. Large predators more or less consume roughly 1/10th of their body weight a week in frozen (best wholesome, untreated, properly frozen to kill off all parasites) feed, far less so in dry feed as the latter lacks water as the filler.

  • What is the minimum temperature for most of these fish? I plan to have everything insulated as well as heated during the winter. I just need to know the bare minimum.
  • Any other specific water conditions, other than the difference between fresh/brackish/saltwater?
  • TBTB: You will it all and more in my databases.
Construction
  • I'm planning to put a window in, do I have to make it extra thick for any arapaima that would decide to headbutt it?
  • TBTB: The window would have to be acrylic and the thickness depends on its longest length unsupported by vertical posts. You might get away with 1" if your longest span is 4' or 2.5" if your span is 8', etc.
HTH.
 

Pond Pioneer

Gambusia
Original poster
MFK Member
Oct 3, 2019
39
16
8
22
Maryland USA
I did not know that! How would I prevent the fish from jumping out? Steep walls or a cage? And I've been looking at your database and compliments to your commitment to the hobby. Also, what would you say the gentle giants are? I'm building these showcase ponds for the water gardening store that I work for, and I want to create something that's seen nowhere else. I envision people of the public being able to swim with these fish in some of the ponds. What would be the gentle giants in your opinion? I assume Arapima wouldnt be the best due to their powerful skulls being able to knock someone out.
thebiggerthebetter thebiggerthebetter
 

EmileGookE

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
Oct 10, 2019
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Pond fish should stop being fed when the water temperature reaches 50 degrees. Feediing should resume in the spring when water temperature reaches above 50 degrees. Spring and autumn they should be fed a vegetable diet, protein in summer.
 

thebiggerthebetter

Gold Tier VIP
MFK Member
Dec 31, 2009
10,449
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Naples, FL, USA
I did not know that! How would I prevent the fish from jumping out? Steep walls or a cage?
Either... or a netting. A cage would cause them to injure themselves.

And I've been looking at your database and compliments to your commitment to the hobby.
Thank you.

Also, what would you say the gentle giants are?
Many fish are more gentle than not but it doesn't mean swimming with them in tight spaces is safe from freak accidents and flukes. Iridescent shark catfish is very timid but if it freaks out, which it is prone to, it can stab someone with its sharp spines accidentally. The large Doradidae - Oxydoras niger, Megalodoras uranoscopus, and Pterodoras granulosus - and large giraffe catfish of the genus Auchenoglanis are usually thought of as gentle giants, especially the former family. Carp and some other cyprinids are usually gentle.

I'm building these showcase ponds for the water gardening store that I work for, and I want to create something that's seen nowhere else.
My most earnest advice to you, and I think not one person (!) would challenge it on MFK, is that if you haven't kept monster fish yourself for at least a decade, don't do it because it will be nothing but grief. Spend 5 years on MFK and get a collection of monsters at home and learn to keep them alive and well and growing healthy long term, then come back to this grand idea. Dead serious here, brother. I understand you know how to build koi ponds but you, I must assume, don't know the first thing about keeping other large fish and you won't learn it from internet, forums, me, and our peers, etc. You will only learn it doing it, which will take time, patience, perseverance, ability to paddle through huge setbacks and learn every step of the way.

I envision people of the public being able to swim with these fish in some of the ponds.
This is a liability no sane business owner will go for, I think. Even if people sign a waiver, they can still sue you should something go wrong and their own insurance money couldn't cover it or run out. They will go after the business. And they will win. Even if their injury is not caused by a fish directly but they cut or scratch themselves on something, or enter water with an already open or fresh wound, which may get infected, or (almost) drown, esp. kids, etc... In this country there is no personal responsibility and accountability for your actions anymore, no human responsibility activists, it's all about rights. Rights without responsibilities have already produced a few increasingly selfish, ego-centric generations who think they are entitled to more than they have. But I digress.

It's a beautiful dream but some things better remain dreams. I'd like to offer snorkeling to visitors in our 25,000 gal cyprinid exhibit but I don't think I would for the reasons listed.


What would be the gentle giants in your opinion? I assume Arapima wouldnt be the best due to their powerful skulls being able to knock someone out.
Reach out to Ohio Fish Rescue. They have a 58,000 gal natural pond indoors where people (the owners; IDK about anyone else) swim with large monster fish.

Pond fish should stop being fed when the water temperature reaches 50 degrees. Feediing should resume in the spring when water temperature reaches above 50 degrees. Spring and autumn they should be fed a vegetable diet, protein in summer.
Welcome to the MFK! You are speaking fairly of koi, goldfish, perhaps other cyprinids kept in ponds in temperate climates, but it is not the subject of this thread dedicated to the (mostly) tropical predatory and monster fish.
 

Galantspeedz

Redtail Catfish
MFK Member
Feb 28, 2017
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1 question, how do you prevent people from urinating in the pond while swimming and causing a ammonia spike

when i was very young, my friend and i urine in his pond while playing catch the fishes..... next day all died... it was a small pond though
 
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thebiggerthebetter

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Dec 31, 2009
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Naples, FL, USA
It was a legit question... the TS mentioned and i quote

"I envision people of the public being able to swim with these fish in some of the ponds."

Yeah, I know, bro. I lumped you altogether out of convenience. I am sorry. Yours could be thought of as a normal question. It's the two clowns after you that are spoiling my fun.

Who is the TS?

I won't have people swim in my exhibits unless family and close friends and those I will advise against adding to the bioload even though it won't affect the wellbeing of my fish, it's just kinda gross. The human traffic in my ponds, if it ever materializes, will be 1/1,000,000,000th of the swimming pools in averaged man-hours.
 

Pond Pioneer

Gambusia
Original poster
MFK Member
Oct 3, 2019
39
16
8
22
Maryland USA
thebiggerthebetter
Thank you for your honest response. I do really respect it and I plan to make small steps towards owning this dream preditor pond. I should have also mentioned that this ultimate predator pond design helps me understand how to build them in the first place. I'm gathering the knowledge so I can build ponds for those enthusiasts who have kept these fish for the decades that is required. All I want to do is provide an opportunity for those people to do so. And once again, I agree. I must experience myself of what it's like to care for them before committing to such a project.

Good point about liabilities and I appreciate your rant as I agree 100%. The amazing country we live in isn't as perfect as we all like it to be and that is definitely one of them. I'm also envisioning this pond to be at least 50,000 gallons, so there won't exactly be tight spaces.

How tall should the walls be? I see that OFR doesnt have any. And okay i concede to the idea of the public swimming with these predatory fish. It's a step too far for right now.
Also for figuring out filtration. I need to know the protein contents of frozen bait food so I can calculate how much filtration I need. Would you know the protein contents of the common food for them? On your database that lists the temperatures for the fish. When it has the climate but not the water temperature for the fish, so I just go by what water temperatures occur in those climates? If so, what is tropical, subtropical, Temperate water temperatures?
 
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thebiggerthebetter

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Naples, FL, USA
... I'm gathering the knowledge so I can build ponds for those enthusiasts who have kept these fish for the decades that is required. All I want to do is provide an opportunity for those people to do so.
If I get it right, that seems like a cool, novel idea of a service that's not yet provided out there. There may be a niche market for it. Of course, those who have a lot of money can already find that service and e.g., have their monster tank built out of acrylic like on those TV shows. I imagine your edge would be an offer of an economical construction for the those in the middle class - neither millionaires, nor DIY-ers. Of course, a viewing window is a must, a large one, and perhaps multiple ones. I don't think you will find much interest from people for simply ponds.

...How tall should the walls be? I see that OFR doesn't have any.
OFR don't keep fish that can or are known to jump out of the pool pond, I assume. An Arapaima can clear a few feet, so I'd think 5' walls around the enclosure could suffice. This is where a netting would be more economical but maybe less convenient in use.

...Also for figuring out filtration. I need to know the protein contents of frozen bait food so I can calculate how much filtration I need. Would you know the protein contents of the common food for them?
The pellets usually carry 40% protein. The frozen fish can be thought of to consist of 70%-80% water, the rest roughly all protein. Just my thoughts.

On your database that lists the temperatures for the fish. When it has the climate but not the water temperature for the fish, so I just go by what water temperatures occur in those climates? If so, what is tropical, subtropical, Temperate water temperatures?
Very roughly... tropical is steadier, 70-90 F; subtropical can vary wildly, down to 45-50 F during cold spells and up to 85-90 F; temperate usually freeze over in winters, so 36 F for the low, don't exceed 65-75 F in summers. Just my thoughts.
 
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Pond Pioneer

Gambusia
Original poster
MFK Member
Oct 3, 2019
39
16
8
22
Maryland USA
Yes, you're exactly right! I see a huge potential for ponds as they are targeted to middle-age to senior Americans, and they're used for koi which do grow very large but they could be used for so many different varieties of animals, not only fish. Those who want a nice peaceful relaxing pond. But as you see on YouTube, there is a growing interest in predator fish with the younger population. They're much more exciting, they aren't perceived as a fish for the ultra-rich, and there is way more diversity. Koi have a special place in my heart but we need more variety in the pond world. And I want to change that.

I'm also thinking that for these showcase ponds, they should be rescues just like yours and OFR.

I ask about temperature because I need to know how cold I can ethically keep the ponds during winter as we live in Maryland.

I completely agree that a window is a must. Especially since these fish aren't bred to be looked from above.
 
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