Picture of Constructing A Small Fish Pond In The Garden

Our home garden hosts a lot of honey bees, birds and other exotic creatures drinking water from a small bowl kept near the water tank, which need to be filled up daily. So, I have decided to build a small pond which will provide drinking water to the fauna in the garden as well to be a place to sit around. The pond will also host some fish which will eat away the mosquito larvae from the pond water.

This step-by-step instructable is about how we built our small garden pond.
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Step 1: Selection of Site

Picture of Selection of Site

Select a site which gets full sunlight for about three to four hours a day. The site should be away from trees which shed leaves.

Here I have selected a site which gets sunlight for about four hours and nearer to an young coconut palm, which does not shed leaves. The excess water with fish waste will be used to irrigate the coconut palm.

Step 2: Tools and Equipment Required

Picture of Tools and Equipment Required

Tools and equipment required:

  • A measuring scale to measure and mark the area.
  • A small crowbar to dig.
  • A spade small or big to work with excavated earth.
  • A pan to mix mud mortar for mud plaster.
  • A mason trawl for mud plaster.
  • A plastic container to carry water.
  • A spirit Level to level the pond top.
  • An old measuring tape or string to measure circumference.
  • About two feet of 20 mm dia PVC pipe to be used for drainage of excess water from the pond.

Step 3: Pond Liner

Picture of Pond Liner

You can use concrete or a water-proof material as pond liner. If you go for concreting the entire pond, allow curing period and change the water before adding any plant or fish.

I have purchased a water-proof tarpaulin of 6 ft x 9 ft size. it costed about three dollars (185 Indian Rupees).
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JeDi RuLeS1 year ago

Nice One......Love the simplicity of it.....

antoniraj (author)  JeDi RuLeS1 year ago

thank you...

ymimura1 year ago

Awesome! I don't have much space and this instructable is just what I need.

Thank You!

antoniraj (author)  ymimura1 year ago
thank you...

excellent description....

antoniraj (author)  praveenazad1 year ago
thank you
CapnChkn1 year ago
I second the "don't use a polythene tarp" to line the pond with. They are really bad. I don't even use them as tarps. To line a pond, you can try EPDM (, which is used in construction to line roofs. There are several grades.

I don't know how it might be used in India, but you might be able to find discards at a roofing company.

The vertical sides are very good for keeping small animals from wading into the pond, they also keep predators, toads and lizards, for pests like your termites from bathing and getting a drink. You might want to add a shallow "bog" area for swamp plants. Trickling water through bog areas is part of the process of cleansing water in natural systems.
Why are polythene tarps "really bad" CapnChkn? I used it successfully for several years:
Because they degrade and fall apart. Unless you have a completely different kind of tarp from the rest of us, I have never seen one that will last more than a season, and less when exposed to the UV radiation from the sun.
Ah: I think the issue is not the "polythene" part, so much, as the "tarp" part. There are six or seven different types of polythene (polyethylene)* all with different properties.

Any of my tarps that degraded in sunlight were always lightweight woven non-UV-protected types, whereas my heavy duty silver tarp and the non-woven film I used in my tyre pond have shown absolutely no sign of breaking down even after well over a year or two as a ute and woodpile cover, respectively.

In a pond, I'd expect even the lightweight non-UV-protected tarps to last indefinitely as they are not exposed to raw sunlight. Much like antoniraj's. We'll see in a couple of years when he updates this i'ble... If you have any specific examples of the lightweight tarps breaking down when used as a pond liner, rather than just in sunlight, that would certainly help resolve the Question.

I'm not sure who "the rest of us" are that you refer to, but I would doubt that great industrial countries, like the US of A, would only have the non-UV-protected tarpaulins while little New Zealand has a full range. Hmmm, I see a national trade opportunity...

"When treated against ultraviolet light, these tarpaulins can last for years exposed to the elements, but non-UV treated material will quickly become brittle and lose strength and water resistance if exposed to sunlight."
antoniraj (author)  finton1 year ago

I have posted an update to this Instructable exactly after five months... my water plants have flowered. thanks for your support

Your plants look great antoniraj! They obviously like their environment. That flower is a very nice yellow.

Support: she's right mate. You had a great pond idea, a well executed Instructable, and CapnChkn clearly hadn't thought through all aspects of his argument. As a fellow pond builder I just had to jump in (to the discussion, not the pond... :] )!

antoniraj (author)  finton1 year ago
thank you...
antoniraj (author)  CapnChkn1 year ago
Please see my garden pond update added to the instructable above.
diy_bloke1 year ago
I love the color contrast between the red earth and the blue liner. well done.
With regard to chlorinated water, where i live the water is not chlorinated but I understood that ant chlorination will soon disappear from the water if left in th eopen air.
As far as a 'nitrogen cycle' goes. I have a 1x1x0.5 meter pond (with real liner) and it contains plants and fish and I have no filtration system and the fish and plants thrive
antoniraj (author)  diy_bloke1 year ago
thank you.. you are right about the chlorinated water. If left open to the air, the chlorine will disappear soon. My pond also thriving with fish and plant
ski2moro1 year ago
I do not recommend that anyone follow these instructions for a fish pond. There are major problems here. If you want to build a water feature in your yard, this may be passible, but this is not sufficient for a fish pond.

You have not considered the nitrogen cycle in the preparation of your fish pond. There is not place here for a discussion of water for healthy fish, but before anyone tries to construct a fish pond, this must be researched.

At minimum, you need to add Filtration and Aeration.

You must also consider that the chlorine in most tap water will kill your fish.

Don’t use a tarp for a fish pond liner. It WILL degrade and leak. If you are serious about your fish, get a real pond liner. Put padding under the liner to prevent sharp rocks and roots from breaking through.

I suggest that the author remove all the fish from this pond before they die.

Wow! You must have really strongly chlorinated water, ski2moro, or very delicate fish. Like antoniraj, I used the pond water for irrigating my garden and simply topped up the pond with town-supply chlorinated water. I did have goldfish which may be tougher (winters are too cold in Auckland, NZ for mollys and platys - what we call tropical fish do best at 70-80 F, 21-26 C).

Aeration in a pond is only necessary of there is insufficient oxygen diffusion at the surface: wider and shallower is better than narrow and deep in this regard - but one does have to consider heat build up and the like. antoniraj has dealt with some of that with shade from a tree, edging plants and water plants.

The nitrogen cycle is also not a problem if, like antoniraj, one is frequently cycling new water through the pond. The other thing to consider is the water volume per fish: a lot of fish in a pond means the water must be replaced (or filtered) more often. you'll notice that antoniraj doesn't have many fish in his pond. Aquaponics is another way around the nitrogen problem, although I haven't tried this myself yet.

I used a thick grade polythene for my pond which never leaked. It is now covering my wood pile and still looks sound. See:

Based on my experience, antoniraj did a good job with his pond, seems to have thought of all the issues you've raised, and has posted a good Instructable. Your last sentence comes across as a little snide. Would you post an 'ible showing how you built your pond and the filtration/aeration/liner systems you used, please?
It is very simple and beautiful
ski2moro1 year ago
Whenever an Instructable is published, the author must take into account all of the people who might want to try it. Maybe in India, you have good tarps and sweet water, but please consider those who live in other climates and conditions.

I can tell you that fish in a pond like yours in a northern climate will not survive very long. The water may get too hot for some fish in sunny, hot areas in the south. Adding chlorinated water that has not been treated can kill all the fish in your pond. Checking the pH of your pond is also important, but beyond the scope of this Instructable for building a pond.

Just as a kiddie pool will become green and slimy with algae after a day or two, so will a fish pond like this. This can be dangerous to the fish and frustrating to the owner.

Water gardens and fishkeeping is a wonderful hobby for everyone. The gentle movements of the fish and the soothing sound of the waterfall is so relaxing. If you start the pond right, you can have years of enjoyment. Starting a pond like this Instructable, with no aeration and no filtration, will only give you more frustration.

For anyone who wishes to build a healthy pond, I wish to refer everyone to a website, I have no affiliation with this company, but I have learned so much from him for pond basics, his simple explanations of the nitrogen cycle, and the importance of aeration.

If you are considering building a outdoor fish pond, please take the time to educate yourself about the Nitrogen Cycle before adding any fish to your pond.

As my father always said, "Why is there always time to do it over, but never time to do it right the first time?"
girlshawn1 year ago
I really like this - living in the country we are thinking about a duck pond. This is a great foundation for when we start!!
antoniraj (author)  girlshawn1 year ago
that is a good idea to have duck pond
OtterTraxx1 year ago
Really nice. Living in Northern Minnesota, I'd like to do this, but it'd have to be really deep, or heated.
As far as the chlorine in your water, that'll evaporate out within 24 hours, and if you use a sand/charcoal filter (like you'd use for a LARGE aquarium), it'll go even quicker.
Very cool instructable, though, and I hope to try it out soon.
I live in northern Indiana, and have had a fish pond in the past (previous home). You can check out your local farm supply store for a floating tank heater. It will keep a small area of the surface thawed during the winter (though it does need electricity). We did this and kept a thriving community of goldfish in a small outdoor pond through several years. I'm planning to put in a pond at my current home, but it's down on my list after the kitchen and bathroom re-dos!
Most water treatment is with chloramine, which doesn't gas out like chlorine. To remove it, use either a charcoal filter or water treatment.

As for depth, I'd say at least 36 inches - 60 is better.
antoniraj (author)  OtterTraxx1 year ago
thank you.. we are using bore well water, which does not have any chlorine so no problem in that...
Not to contradict your pet store owner, but it looks like you have guppies, mollies and, African Cichlids, the last of which can be very aggressive toward other fish. I could be wrong, but that's what they look like to me.
antoniraj (author)  UC FATHER TIME1 year ago
thank you.. I have removed them from the pond and kept separately in a small tank
sitearm1 year ago
@Antoniraj; Hi! Nice! I've tweeted this. Cheers : ) Site
antoniraj (author)  sitearm1 year ago
thank you very much.. can you please give me the link...?
antoniraj (author)  sitearm1 year ago
thank you
antoniraj (author) 1 year ago
Dear ski2moro and CapnChkn,

Thank you for your suggestions and advice.

Firstly, I try to experiment with easily available material, so I used high quality HDPE Tarpaulin as liner for the pond of this small size. EPDM is mostly used as pond liner here in India also.

Secondly, we do not use chlorinated water. The water we use is sweet water from the bore well at our garden. For cooking and drinking also we use the same water after treating through three stage RO filter.

Thirdly, I add about 10 liters of fresh water every day to the pond. The excess water along with fish waste and floating material is drained out through the pvc pipe and used for irrigating the coconut palm nearby. Please suggest are there any need to have a filtering unit and a an aerator with this set up, which needs electricity to operate.

Fourthly, I also have a 4000 liter capacity concrete water tank in the garden with medium sized ornamental fishes for more than a year. The water from the tank is used for garden irrigation and does not have a filter unit or an aerator.

Lastly, I am a retired person doing this kind of things for fun, which keep me occupied. Instructables gives me an opportunity to try out my ideas and publish them here. I highly appreciate any suggestions and improvements with regards to my projects published and try to improve if found necessary.

Have a good day...
Environmental friendly!
MNSnowbird1 year ago
Nice little pond. I would suggest that you take some balled up fiberglass screening and shove into your drainage tube. If the water gets up high enough to drain out your little fish will be able to swim out.
antoniraj (author)  MNSnowbird1 year ago
thanks for the suggestion... I will provide some sort of screening to prevent fish from swim out through the drainage pipe
LadyRoz1 year ago
Thank you for a great pond build. In the Northern USA, it's recommended that the pond depth be at least 30 inches because of winter freezing.
antoniraj (author)  LadyRoz1 year ago
Thank you... we do not have severe winter here. Our normal winter-summer temperature is between 15 to 39 degrees centigrade, the water never freezes
gn0stik1 year ago
If you are going to go through all the trouble of mixing up all that mud, for plaster etc.. Why not just line it with concrete, and be done with it? No termite worries, no liner, Much more natural looking.. You're pretty much doing that anyway.
antoniraj (author)  gn0stik1 year ago
yes, you are right. it can be done in concrete also. But you have to wait for the concrete to cure before adding fish and also need to change the water few times to remove the smell and chemicals of concrete. Anti-termite treatment is a must in red soil either you do it in concrete or with pond liner, which I can not avoid
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