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Jim Golaszeski wrote:
> <snip>, I couldn't find anything in the
> archives and I know someone out there can help. HERE
>  GOES. I'm thinking about setting up an above ground
> 85 gal. pond,where I'm thinking about putting it, it
> will get about 4 hours of direct sun , what plants
> would,  or could  I use and would I need gravel.  I
> was thinking about swordtails, some corydoras
> catfish and a few molly's in the way of fish, no
> filter or air pump. After I get it set up would I
> need to do water changes?, If so, how often and how
> much. Also how many fish do you think I should have
> in the pond?? Are there better fish than the above
> that you would have?
>    I live in New Jersey so I'll be taking the fish
> in or selling them off in mid October just before it
> gets cold.

Hi, Jim--

I've been planning something similar for a while.
Here's what I've found from reading, from others'
examples, and from some personal experimentation:

For an outdoor pond of your size (85g), IMHO the
biggest issue you're going to have is controlling
the temperature variations throughout the day and
night.  You know how temperature has a *BIG* impact on
dissolved O2 and CO2 in the water, and those changes
are hard on both plants and fish.  While 90F water 
will turn any plants into soup, it's my experience
that dramatic temperature fluctuations will do the
same thing.  Because of this, I've tended to increase
the size of the tank/pond outdoors because that gives
you a bigger buffer.  Or, you might think about 
some good thermal insulation around the tank (foam
padding, soil, even potted plants, etc.)

The next issue will be the sun... direct sunlight
can be really nice for the plants, but the temperature
swings might kill you.  You might think about putting
that 'green' plastic netting over the top of the tank
(like they sell at plant stores), as that lets plenty
of light through for photosynthesis, but should cut
down on a lot of the light and general heat transfer
to the water.

I'd stay away from any sensitive plants like crypts,
and even stay away from any slow-growing plants like
anubias.  If you find that your tank is quite stable,
then you might give them a try, but if we want to set
you up for success, we might try something simpler.
It seems like in the outdoors, things can change
pretty fast, so a fast-growing hardy plant may be a
good thing like the anacharis, hornwort, etc.

Also, what may help (a lot) is floating pond plants.
Not the little Limnobium sp. or Salvinia sp. or 
Lemna sp., but the big stuff for a better temperature
insulator:  Pistia stratioes, Hyacinth, etc.  I'd do
a combo of some big ones and little ones to get good
overall coverage, and these tend to oxygenate the
water so don't worry about covering the surface.  Of
course, most all the floating plants tend to grow fast
so you'll have to keep up with them.

Also, if you go with the floating plants (or even
potted plants with flowers on the surface), you won't
need gravel or any substrate.  Your fish will be fine,
and they'll have plenty of space in the roots to swim
around and play their little fish games.

As far as water changes, etc., it's going to be pretty
much the same as a tank in the house.  The density
of your fish will dictate the level of attention you
must give.  That's because your tank is only 85g...
if you increased the size to 200g or 2000g, then you
are getting closer to a pond that can be its own
buffer, and you won't have to water change so much.

So, my thoughts are 'watch the temperature swings',
for melted plants and algae quickly follow.

Good luck, and let us know how it went.

charleyb123 at yahoo_com

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