[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

No Subject

                     The Backyard Oasis
                         Robert Rice
                    2213 Prytania Circle
                      Navarre Fl 32566
                     robertrice at juno_com
As  many a Southerner has discovered  a Backyard Pond  is  a
wonderful way to add a new dimension to your gardening.  The
sound  of  trickling  water and the  splash  of  color  make
excellent  compliments  to  Gazebos,  Pergolas,   or    deep
perennial beds. Relaxation is now defined as sitting outside
enjoying  a tall cold glass of iced tea and soaking  up  the
sights and sounds of  my Garden Pond.

One of the most pleasant surprises  I have had is the amount
of  wildlife that visit my pond. It is a literal oasis in my
neighborhood.  Birds of countless types visit  for  a  drink
and  an  occasional  meal, leopard frogs ,  bullfrogs,  tree
frogs and toads have taken up permanent residence there  and
are  raising  broods of wiggly tadpoles. Dragon  and  Damsel
flies  cruise  through my yard like stained glass  airplanes
eating insects and delighting the children . Aquatic insects
like  water striders dance across the ponds surface.  I  can
honestly  say I will never garden without a pond  again.  It
has  become both a classroom and a entertainment  to  myself
and my family.

Setting  up  my  first pond proved to be a  snap  I  used  a
preformed 180 gallon variety from a local hardware store dug
a  suitable  sized hole and  in no time I was  in  business.
Also  available are pond liners which allow you to customize
your  pond  to  any  unique shape you  can  imagine.  I  had
previously decided to follow a Naturalistic approach and use
Native  Plants  as much as possible. I found getting  Native
Plants  no  real Problem. Fourtunatly Barry from  the  local
fleamarket  and Elizabeth from my local Garden Gate  nursery
carried  a  nice  collection of locally grown  native  plant
stock  .  That allowed me to put together a colorful variety
of  southern  native plants that mixed in well with  my  new
pond.  Now  back to pond basics The main criteria  that  you
must  follow  is the pond must be at least 18  inches  deep.
However I'd recommend going 3 feet deep if you can. I  would
also strongly recommend you add a deep and shallow end .  By
making  it slanted and a bit deeper you allow your  fish  to
move to the area that they are most comfortable with. In the
spring  the fish will congregate in the shallows warming  in
the  afternoon sun. In the summer they will disappear to the
deeper cooler parts of the pond. This staggering will  allow
you keep fish outside year round.

I  decided  against exotic species , like Koi ,  a  Domestic
Asiatic Carp . I would use species specifically designed  to
thrive in my local southern conditions. Species designed for
the unique water and seasonal conditions of my pond. I would
use  local species , which I catch with a simple dipnet (you
can  also  use  dry  flies to catch  small  Bream)  and  the
assistance of my children . With Natives durability my ponds
needed  no  filters . The fish  loved the heat , feasted  on
mosquito larvae thus I had much less buggy summers and  most
pleasant  of all I had self sustaining populations of  fish.
So  every  spring  each of my ponds would refill  themselves
with  killies, shiners and small species of Bream. Observing
their  fascinating courtship and life behaviors  has  become
the  subject  of many a lazy afternoon discussions  with  my
oldest  daughter  Erin.  The pond  is  somewhere  between  a
classroom and movie theater in my child's eyes.

Killies , Shiners , Bream what are you talking about ?  Just
like when you started using Native plants in your Garden you
gotta learn some new terms. First the shiners. Usually  what
folks  call minnows. These small, long , thin colorful  fish
inhabit  ponds , lakes and small creeks. They make excellent
pond  fish. They need just a slight current to be happy  and
are  great  at munching mosquito larvae the curse  of  every
pond  owner.  Second  are  the  Killies.  The  Killies   are
typically  larger  and  wider  than  shiners  but  similarly
shaped. They inhabit the top inch or so of a pond. They  are
sometimes  called  topminnows killies  are  about  the  most
durable fish you will ever find. They have a great array  of
colors  and thrive in ponds as small as 30 gallons.  Finally
the  Sunfish  or  Bream  as they are  locally  known.  These
fella's are cousins to the ones you catch on the hook.  Just
accept the fact that the little guys are the ones that  work
best  in  a  garden pond and you will be fine. I collect  my
pond fish with a dipnet or a fly rod and occasionally with a
fishtrap. To begin with learn just a few species of Shiners,
Killies and Sunfish .  In no time at all you will be  adding
a  new kind of color to your garden. The kind that swims  in
your Garden Pond.

Putting  in  a Garden Pond stocked with local species  is  a
great way to help your garden look better , your local  wild
things be happier and give yourself and your family a  small
lesson  in natural history. I recommend it highly. Doing  it
may very well forever change the way you garden and they way
you look at water gardening.

For  additional information I recommend you  check  out  the
following  resources  Peterson's Field Guide  to  Freshwater
Fishes  by  Brooks M. Burr and Larry Page a great  book  for
identifying  your catch and the Native Fish  Conservancy   a
national  pond  gardener  friendly non  profit  organization
dedicated  to preservation of our greatly underloved  native
fish  membership is but 10$ and includes their  publications
and  many  merchandise discounts. They support  conservation
projects  all  across the country. From  Land  Purchases  to
children's programs.

Native Fish Conservancy
1663 Iowa Ave E
St. Paul Minnesota

email                NFC at actwin_com                  WEBSITE

Side Bar:
Here  is  a  good  but incomplete starter list  of  Southern
Fishes  For your Pond. You will find many other local  types
that  work  great in your pond. Just do a little  collecting
and you will surely find a fish for your pond.

Ponds 20-60 gallons

Heterandria Formosa- A tiny colorful livebearer  similar  to
the Guppy a great fish for the kids and the pond.

Fundulus  Chrysotus-  The  Golden Topminnow  is  a  colorful
durable  Killie excellent for the Garden Pond and common  to
most parts of the South

Ponds  60-200 gallons all the above plus

Dollar  Sunfish- A small Sunfish with intense colors  and  a
exciting personality and Temper.

Bluespotted  Sunfish-  A intensely  colorful  fish  that  is
rather  shy  and does great in well planted tannic  ponds  a
must see.

Flagfin Shiner- A stunningly beautiful shiner with a  pallet
of  Yellow and Orange in its fins. They will however need  a
deeper pond to get out of the heat. So keep that in mind

Southern  Redbelly Dace- A large Minnow with a  golden  body
who's  belly  that  turns blood red in a matter  of  moments
depending on their mood then just as quickly turns back.

Orange  Spot Sunfish- If you live in the upper   South  This
Lil  fire ball may have come across your path. You will  not
soon  forget the brilliant blues , reds and orange all mixed
together on this underwater rose.

Ponds 200 gallons and above- all the above species plus

Longear  Sunfish- This Mid Sized Sunfish absolutely  thrives
in  larger ponds. As you can see by his photos he is one  of
the Most Beautiful fish in the world. His small makes him  a
great  addition to a pond as he feeds mostly on insects  and
not his pondmates.

All  of  my  ponds get fed 2X a month and that's it.  Mother
Nature supplies the rest of their diet and I never put  more
than  2  inches  of fish for each 10 gallons of  water  this
allows the pond to maintain a nice balance of fish, bugs and
other things. So give the Native Fish pond a try  you , your
garden  and the wild things around you will appreciate  your

Robert Rice
Help Preserve our Aquatic Heritage join the NFC
Check out our Exotic Removal Program and Breeders Program at our website
website  http://nativefish.interspeed.net/