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I have had a similar sized and positioned above ground pond for 10 years. I find that a 30W pond pump that circulates the water and the sponge filters it is necessary to keep the water clear. I rarely change water, only if I get an algal bloom or if its conductivity goes over 1000uS/cm, and that's pretty high. It gets there afer a number of toppings up.

The substrate is plain soil. Any gravel would be soiled anyway. Most plants are planted in this soil, but here winter temperatures only drop to 12C minimum. A good idea if you are going to move your plants in during winter is to plant them in small pots. I do this sometimes, using  square black plastic pots (black does'nt show up from above). In the bottom of the pots I put some heavy pebbles or gravel. If you use just this method you won't need soil/gravel in the pond.

The plants to use need to be visible from above. Light coloured green plants are best. Red coloured are wasted in ponds. Wide leaves are better from above. Fine leaved plants easily get dirty so I don't use these. Small plants (eg E, tenellus) are not visible at much depth. Also cold tolerance is important. I have found these to be good :

Echinodorus cordifolius ovalis -stays low , cold tolerant, 
E. macrophyllus, E. grandiflorus - large and will grow out of the pond
E.bleheri (not at all cold tolerant)
Hydrocotyle lecocephala
Hygrophyla polysperma, cordifolius
Bacopa monieri
Samolus valerandi-planted close to each other will make a nice carpet

Similar plants will be good. Otherwise you can try out native species in your area, which is probably even better. 

The fish you mentioned are good. Make sure that they have visible colours. I have used Bright red sword tails and Albino corydoras. White mollies will look nice. The best fish I find in ponds is the rosy barb. It is more cold tolerant than the previous species, eats thread algae and is very active (the females are a bit drab and can't be seen, but I still put in a couple for my male (like to keep him happy :)). I leave these out during winter. The other species would die so I catch them with either of two methods: 1 a net made out of a nylon mesh (an old curtain) or 2 a trap: plastic bottle with its top cut of , inverted into the open end and food inside. 

I don't like goldfish, they like grubbing in the mud and easily dirty the leaves of plants.

I keep up to 10 fish.



From: "JIM GOLASZESKI" <jersyjim47 at hotmail_com> 

    Hello all, 
    This is the first time that I have asked for help from the group, 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. 
  Thank you for any input, it will be of great help     


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