Prospective 720 pond advice

DirtyPaws949

Gambusia
Original poster
MFK Member
Jul 12, 2015
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Hey all,
So I got the ‘okay’ to get an above-ground pond for my south/Central American cichlids. I’ve been dreaming of this pond for them for a long time, and really think it would make my fishy friends much happier (as the current tank they’re in is majorly overstocked ).

I LOVE watching them and interacting with them, so my hopes was to build our own pond with a viewing window, however, trying to keep the costs down and use wood only doesn’t sound like it would work.


I was going to settle for a 800gal pond kit ($2,700) from KimsPonds, but called her and she didn’t recommend trying to install our own window, and that she has dabbled with window ideas before, and figured the pressure would be too much. They look amazing, and come with everything (liner, filter, pump), and can be assembled in minutes. However, I found pentair sells fiberglass tanks with windows, the largest available being 720 gal without the fixin’s ($2,400).
I figured I could make a wood facade for it (they’re rather... ugly) and buy the equipment myself (maybe $700 more expensive).

Which would you choose to do?
I can keep both of them forever and both would be easy to take with me when I move. I’m leaning towards the one with the window.

As far as cycling it, would mosquito fish and crawfish be good in the beginning? After putting the water in, I was going to start by adding substrate (not sure what’s best for ponds), plants (submerged and floating- open to suggestions, but I have hyacinth and water lettuce already), and driftwood, which I will probably need to buy more of and let it cure (the big pieces take forever!). Then add mosquito fish, crawfish, snails, and maybe some of my smaller convicts. After everything is in order, I plan on introducing the big guys, starting with my pair of Oscars, since the pond idea was mainly for my large female.

I need to decide who’s going in the pond and who’s staying in the 140gal and 75gal
Please hold off on judgments, as I’m already aware of how cramped my tanks are, and I’m trying to solve the problem. Below are fish currently in my 140gal and 75gal.

Female Tiger Oscar 11”
Tiger Oscar 9”
Male Vieja Syns. (hybrid maybe) 11”
He’s the tank *******
Vieja Syns. (X?) 8”
Royal acara 8”
Blood Parrot 8-9”
Blood parrot 6-7”
Blood parrot 5”
Male JD 7”
Female JD 5-6”
Common Pleco 14”
Common pleco 7”
Leopard pleco 7-8”
Albino H. nemurus 6-7”, I love him
Pictus catfish (x4)
Unknown amount of convict cichlids of various sizes that I’m trying to get rid of.
Crawfish
Snails (bladder/ramshorn/mts/nerite).

Who should I put where?
How do you heat something that size?
Any advice on cycling?
Is the window a big mistake due to algae?
Is it possible to have a sustainable population of mosquito fish as snacks for the big fish within the pond?
What are some good plant ideas?

I’m suuuper excited that it’s finally happening and I can give my buddies more room.
 

tlindsey

Silver Tier VIP
MFK Member
Aug 6, 2011
13,170
10,089
1,345
Ohio
Hey all,
So I got the ‘okay’ to get an above-ground pond for my south/Central American cichlids. I’ve been dreaming of this pond for them for a long time, and really think it would make my fishy friends much happier (as the current tank they’re in is majorly overstocked ).

I LOVE watching them and interacting with them, so my hopes was to build our own pond with a viewing window, however, trying to keep the costs down and use wood only doesn’t sound like it would work.


I was going to settle for a 800gal pond kit ($2,700) from KimsPonds, but called her and she didn’t recommend trying to install our own window, and that she has dabbled with window ideas before, and figured the pressure would be too much. They look amazing, and come with everything (liner, filter, pump), and can be assembled in minutes. However, I found pentair sells fiberglass tanks with windows, the largest available being 720 gal without the fixin’s ($2,400).
I figured I could make a wood facade for it (they’re rather... ugly) and buy the equipment myself (maybe $700 more expensive).

Which would you choose to do?
I can keep both of them forever and both would be easy to take with me when I move. I’m leaning towards the one with the window.

As far as cycling it, would mosquito fish and crawfish be good in the beginning? After putting the water in, I was going to start by adding substrate (not sure what’s best for ponds), plants (submerged and floating- open to suggestions, but I have hyacinth and water lettuce already), and driftwood, which I will probably need to buy more of and let it cure (the big pieces take forever!). Then add mosquito fish, crawfish, snails, and maybe some of my smaller convicts. After everything is in order, I plan on introducing the big guys, starting with my pair of Oscars, since the pond idea was mainly for my large female.

I need to decide who’s going in the pond and who’s staying in the 140gal and 75gal
Please hold off on judgments, as I’m already aware of how cramped my tanks are, and I’m trying to solve the problem. Below are fish currently in my 140gal and 75gal.

Female Tiger Oscar 11”
Tiger Oscar 9”
Male Vieja Syns. (hybrid maybe) 11”
He’s the tank *******
Vieja Syns. (X?) 8”
Royal acara 8”
Blood Parrot 8-9”
Blood parrot 6-7”
Blood parrot 5”
Male JD 7”
Female JD 5-6”
Common Pleco 14”
Common pleco 7”
Leopard pleco 7-8”
Albino H. nemurus 6-7”, I love him
Pictus catfish (x4)
Unknown amount of convict cichlids of various sizes that I’m trying to get rid of.
Crawfish
Snails (bladder/ramshorn/mts/nerite).

Who should I put where?
How do you heat something that size?
Any advice on cycling?
Is the window a big mistake due to algae?
Is it possible to have a sustainable population of mosquito fish as snacks for the big fish within the pond?
What are some good plant ideas?

I’m suuuper excited that it’s finally happening and I can give my buddies more room.

MrsE88 MrsE88
C Coryloach
 

Matteus

Redtail Catfish
MFK Member
Jan 6, 2018
1,925
2,799
154
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Canada eh
Wow this sounds like a great project.

I am personally a huge fan of the window idea. I have fish because I want to watch them. It’s hard to see them from above. IMHO. Algae is always easy to scrub off it if necessary.

I would read a bunch of customer reviews on both products if possible. There will always be nay sayers but you may need to use some good judgment on who is a reputable supplier. I have heard some bad things about pentaire but that may have only been a one off. I like the idea of a 780 gal that 2 people can carry in and out of a house. Just saying... but with that much water you don’t want leaks or anything.

As for stock, I’d say put the big beefy ones in your big tank once cycled and keep the smaller species in the smaller tanks... given the highly predatory nature of oscars, they will have a bunch of fun stalking the mosquito fish until they are all gone. They are insectivorous so anything that moves suddenly triggers a response. Lol. But you already knew that.

As for substrate, that’s a personal preference really. I would say, what is your filtration, that may affect what you want to have as a substrate- if you even choose a substrate. Lots of people go bare bottom with a tank that size.

Cycling is always sped up if you seed it with some used filter media from both of your current tanks. Also if you can find bacteria in a bottle that will also speed it up. Disputed popular belief, oscars are actually quite sensitive to a nitrite cycle, and I wouldn’t suggest them as your first fish if possible. You may get away with it though because of their size.

Good luck and do post pictures once you get going on this please.
 

Galantspeedz

Redtail Catfish
MFK Member
Feb 28, 2017
1,763
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154
i have very little algae on the window.... but the walls of the fgt are all algae.. i like it this way

and my fgt is under direct sunlight too

get a above head sump.... if you want the heater you can put in one of the compartment or last compartment. disclaimer: my location does not require any heater

hope the link below can help in your decision

https://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/forums/threads/pick-up-to-welcome-the-new-year.697477/#post-7860860

this is how the tank looks like now

https://www.monsterfishkeepers.com/forums/threads/new-pick-up-p14-hybrid.698449/page-6
 
Last edited:

tomojsg

Aimara
MFK Member
Apr 21, 2011
2,541
742
135
大韓民國 (서울) Korea
DirtyPaws949 DirtyPaws949

if your handy a wood tank/wood pond with a window build should be the most cost effective method price per gallon for the range
of gallon your going for. not to mention you can also recycle your current tank panels to use in the build for the windows. you can
also DIY most of the filtration keeping costs way down. depending on your location you might not even need a heater besides for
the winter which you can use multiple regular 500w titanium heaters to heat it or look into cheap solar powered methods or maybe
even DIY solar power method. if building your own is out of the question i would opt for the pentair with built-in window and go for a DIY
filtration. as for cycling i like to use feeders/old media that's already seeded with bb and nutrifin cycle.
 
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MrsE88

Bronze Tier VIP
MFK Member
Mar 9, 2017
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Fish I’d leave inside for sure,
Both jacks
And the Pictus cats
Some crawfish and some snails

I don’t have experience with either of those kind of ponds. Keep reading and pick whichever one you feel fits your needs the best.

Filtration is very easy, making it pretty looking is hard. Lol
You can use a plastic tote, garbage can, 55g drum.... almost anything that holds water can be used.

Heating..... I’ve never heated a pond for tropical fish. How cold does it get where you are?
 

DirtyPaws949

Gambusia
Original poster
MFK Member
Jul 12, 2015
25
21
8
28
Thank you all for your responses!

The night I was considering the wood pond (no window) I just sat in front of my 140gal and hung out with my fish for hours, and was determined to get a window one way or the other I have Aspergers, so if I’m not at work/school, mucking around with my aquariums is one of the few things that gets me off my phone. My 75gal and 20gal (fry sanctuary) are both outside and have been for over a year. I’ve been lucky that the raccoons don’t seem interested (and they frequent the side yard).

Making it look pretty is an absolute must, otherwise all hell would break loose.

given the highly predatory nature of oscars, they will have a bunch of fun stalking the mosquito fish until they are all gone. They are insectivorous so anything that moves suddenly triggers a response. Lol. But you already knew that.

As for substrate, that’s a personal preference really. I would say, what is your filtration, that may affect what you want to have as a substrate- if you even choose a substrate. Lots of people go bare bottom with a tank that size.

Cycling is always sped up if you seed it with some used filter media from both of your current tanks. Also if you can find bacteria in a bottle that will also speed it up. Disputed popular belief, oscars are actually quite sensitive to a nitrite cycle, and I wouldn’t suggest them as your first fish if possible. You may get away with it though because of their size.
my Oscar is weird... she only likes to eat fish I buy. School of 20 barbs... gone in a couple days.
Then I put in 15 convict babies to cull (1” or less) and they’re all still there and pushing 3” now. Sometimes they even swim right up to her face.
Then I thought I could get away with adding 2” Buenos Aires tetras, and they were gone the next day.

I think substrate is a must. No-substrate is super easy to keep clean, but I think the fish would prefer it more natural, and it helps boost the beneficial bacteria. And the fools-errand of keeping plants with the cichlids requires substrate.

Are mosquito fish typically healthy to feed?
I haven’t done live food for them out of fear of HITH and other health concerns. But I figured it would be nice for the fish to be able to eat some if they want. I was thinking of stocking 100 or so while it cycles and maybe have enough fry to keep the population going. Plus chasing them would be very enriching, as cruel as that sounds.

Out of all my fish, the Royal acara is the most sensitive, and usually goes dark after water changes. The Oscars get huffy... but they’re Oscars absolutely nothing phases the convicts.

i have very little algae on the window.... but the walls of the fgt are all algae.. i like it this way
What an awesome tank! Algae on the sides is fine by me, but I struggle with algae in my 75gal which is in the sun. The sand gets covered in mats of it, and it chokes out the roots of the hyacinth and lettuce. If I get the window, I don’t want it to be ugly on the inside if someone else looks in.

DirtyPaws949 DirtyPaws949

if your handy a wood tank/wood pond with a window build should be the most cost effective method price per gallon for the range
of gallon your going for. not to mention you can also recycle your current tank panels to use in the build for the windows. you can
also DIY most of the filtration keeping costs way down. depending on your location you might not even need a heater besides for
the winter which you can use multiple regular 500w titanium heaters to heat it or look into cheap solar powered methods or maybe
even DIY solar power method. if building your own is out of the question i would opt for the pentair with built-in window and go for a DIY
filtration.
I live in Southern California, so it doesn’t get very cold here. In the winter, temperatures at night drop to upper 40s at its coldest. I am not very handy with anything, I brought up the DIY just a bit ago and got the response “well they probably have a lot of time to spend on it”, so I think it would be just me building it
Thank you for your advice on heating and filter

Fish I’d leave inside for sure,
Both jacks
And the Pictus cats
Some crawfish and some snails

I don’t have experience with either of those kind of ponds. Keep reading and pick whichever one you feel fits your needs the best.

Filtration is very easy, making it pretty looking is hard.
Heating..... I’ve never heated a pond for tropical fish. How cold does it get where you are?
I might put one of the JD in the pond, they don’t really get along well. I have two males, but when a buddy moved and I took his fish, I moved the smaller one to the 75gal out of fear the newer, larger one would maul it. The female beat the snot out of the smaller one a couple times after they spawned, but they started liking each other again before I moved him out. Now the new one goes after the female. Silly fish and their personalities.
The coldest it gets here ever is upper 40’s in the winter.
_________________________

I might see if KimsPonds will sell a filter separately, as the system is within the tank, and rated for 2000gal.

Oh oh! And I forgot I have a 1.5” peacock bass growing in the 20gal with the convict babies. I’m not sure on the type, but he will have lots of tanks to grow into, before eventually going in the pond.
He’s finally started to accept pellets.

How many large fish can go into 720 gals and be comfortable? About how many gallons per fish should I aim for?
If the large Vieja constantly harasses his smaller sibling, should I keep the smaller one in the 140gal, or do y’all think he will calm down once he’s got more room?

H. nemurus is still small, so I will probably move him to the 140gal once I get the pond until he gets bigger if space allows. Same goes for the leopard pleco.
 
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Matteus

Redtail Catfish
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Canada eh
Oh man. If you have a pbass- grab 4 more. They do best in a group of 5 or more typically, odd numbers. But make sure they are waaaay bigger than the oscars mouth. I lost a grow out to my Oscar when I jumped the gun on putting them together.
 

Galactik

Feeder Fish
MFK Member
May 30, 2019
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Cool project I'd love to see what you do with it.

As far as setup goes. Being above ground is the one thing that will make the temperature swing more than on a regular pond. On a regular pond temperature is regulated by the ground via thermal heating. This is why fish go deeper in the colder months as water will remain much warmer than the top and closer to the surface during the warmer seasons.

But being above the ground will present different set of challenges.

I would fill a big tub outside prior to doing anything and monitor the temperature fluctuations. Obviously the bigger tank will be more stable than the tub but you will get an idea of how hot it's going to get or how cold. Once you have your temperature range, see what type of fish will tolerate it.

I wouldn't really of heaters much to compensate for the heavy fluctuations as this is going to be super costly in the long run, energy wise.


Another thing I've thought about but I'm not sure if it would help, would be to have an underground sump setup for it. Depending on the size, might help offset the temperature swings on the main tank.
 
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