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Re: Pond life vs. aquarium life

Sam is formulating plans for a big pond and wondering about suitable plants.

Gosh, how I envy you - living in an apartment has its drawbacks. I haven't
had a backyard pond (or a backyard) since I was a teenager.

A 6 acre pond sounds like quite the undertaking. I wouldn't suggest that you
use ANY non-native species of plants in it. There are probably more than
enough aquatics native to your area which would fit perfectly into you pond
and not pose any threat to existing wetlands. There ought to be nurseries in
your area which specialize in native plants (possibly even in native
aquatics) - the trick is tracking them down. Here in Toronto, there are
several initiatives to restore local wetlands to their natural state -
removing non-natives and planting things which would have grown here
hundreds of years ago. I have a great view of one of them from my balcony. I
can tell you that being able to go sit next to a totally "native" pond
(complete with cat-tails, water lilies, muskrats and ducks) in the middle of
a big city is a really nice way to spend a summer afternoon. The native
plants which were used for this recovered wetland came mainly from
specialist nurseries. Nothing is "lost" by excluding exotics and/or
non-native plants.

To get a better idea of the species which might be suitable for your
project, get hold of some field guides which cover your local area. You
might also wish to contact your local conservation authorities - they might
have some idea of where you could get plants to stock your pond (and could
probably advise you on the species which would be appropriate). Most good
field guides distinguish exotics from natives and give some indication of
how invasive a plant can become.

Planting exotics or non-natives in a pond that big would be a dicey
proposition. If they are able to over winter they could easily be
transported to other bodies of water by birds - its just not worth the risk.
As well, correcting "mistakes" in something that big would be a daunting

I'd also advise against putting any non-native fish in the pond - forget the
goldfish or koi - in a 6 acre pond you won't see them anyway. If you
eventually want to stock it with fish, your local fish and game association
might be able to hook you up to hatcheries in your area where you could
obtain native fish species. Again, when you're dealing with something that
big, mistakes in species selection can be hard to correct later.

Good luck,

James Purchase