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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm planning to convert my koi pond to a pond devoted to plants with only minnows and whichever wild critters decide to live there as fauna (otters ate all the koi). Following El Natural principles.

It is a liner pond and contains a skimmer, bottom drain and 4 external barrel filters. The sides are sloped and the bottom is bowl shaped. 17' x 16' oval and 4.5' deep in the middle.

It is in full sun, and I am in zone 8 with mild summers.

I want to cover the bottom drain (or put a standpipe in it) and put a dirt floor in - this will give me a flat surface on the bottom and also less depth (more to the liking of pond plants). Many of the plants I will still put in pots for ease of dividing and so they don't take over (lotus and waterlilies) but I would like to find something to root into the dirt bottom that is non-emergent, and perrenial.

My questions (and I would be grateful for your input, Diana) are:

How much dirt (topsoil)?
I'm hoping 1.5 ft at the deepest point would be ok, leaving me 3' of water - but 2 ft of substrate would be even better - then I could easily wade in the pond to do plant maintenance. I know in a tank that only 1" or so is recommended, so how would this translate to a larger body of water?

How much water movement (if any) and should I continue to use some or all of the filters?
I have three pumps available - a 4200gph, a 2900gph, and a 600gph. I'm guessing the bigger ones are too big (especially for lilies) and the 600 too small... and filters? I'm hoping you'll say just skip 'em.
Most water garden sites all focus on including filtration on their ponds because they all have fish to deal with (goldies or koi). But if the focus is on the plants, with only prolific and hardy minnows for fish, do I need any filtration at all?

I'll leave off for now. Thanks for any advice on this project. Here's an ariel pic of the pond.
Cheers,
Ci
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for your reply, Diana.

I am still keen on adding some kind of 'floor'. If it were planted over completely with something like sagittaria Natans (which I believe is hardy to zone 5)or elodia canadensis, that would be beautiful and provide a great environment for native aquatic critters to live in.

So you think a 1.5 - 2' base substrate of sand would not go anaerobic?

I already have various floating islands and planters in there, which were great when I had koi - really protected the plants. I would keep them, for sure. But there is alot of space in the pond, and without having to consider the needs of fish (I will only have golden minnows) I really want to take full advantage of the space for plants.

I was reading in your book (pg 130) about the idea of submerging soil for 6 weeks before planting to give it time to stabilize. Would you recommend that in my case? I can't plant till spring anyway, but I can add the substrate any time.

And one more question for now - what size pump would you put in there for water movement? (4600g pond)

Thanks again for helping me with this project.

Cheers,
Ci
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
yeah, you don't want to wade in to soil substrate.. it'll create a mess.
Go for pot and tub containers as suggested.
I'm hoping every inch will eventually be covered by rooted plants!

And the beauty of a (virtually) fishless pond is - if it gets murky from me or those d**nd otters or whatever - so what? It'll all settle out again and the plants won't care . . . I would have to go in to do maintenance on tubbed plants anyway - If I added pot stands they would have to go in the middle because the sides are too sloped.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
if the soil is disturbed, a lot of nutrients will be in the water column and trigger the dreaded algae.
By wading you mean walking in the pond right?
With containers, you can walk around the container and not walk on the soil.
Ah, yes, point taken. I'll have to use long handled pruners or a rubber floating ring :)

Still, I don't see why a large pond can't be set up like a giant outdoor NPT, and I'm game to give it a try. I like the sand -on-the -bottom idea with a cap of topsoil. The soil I have in my yard is a sandy loam and has worked very well for my indoor tanks - so if I just do a few inches of that I wouldn't have to buy any - I have enough to spare.

Thanks for you kind words and enthusiasm, kenny!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for all the replies, so far!

I believe that an an aggressive plant will thoroughly root the bottom if I go with a 12" to 18" layer of soil, and this will keep the soil aerobic. It would be very much like a root bound plant in a large pot. Just alot of them. In a really wide pot :)

On a ponding forum, I got a recommendation to plant spiral valisnaria on the bottom - it seems to be quite hardy, the person has it in a mud bottom pond in zone 6b.

Like I said before - I would keep my lotus and lilies in pots for dividing purposes, and marginals in my floating planters (there are no shelves in the pond) - but I think i will try for the "lawn" on a dirt bottom idea. I'll keep you posted about how it's working out.

I also got an idea from someone to fish out a bucket or two of water and mud from a local natural pond to "seed" the pond with native critters. They said you would be surprised and amazed at what will start appearing in the water if you do this! Can't wait till Spring . . .

Cheers,
Cindy
 
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