I did a previous Instructable about a patio pond using a planter pot but I upgraded with a bigger 27 gallon container. The previous one was about 10-15 gallons. Having more water means more room for the fish to grow and swim. More importantly, more water to help dilute the ammonia and nitrates that come from the fish's waste. It's much easier to maintain the temperature and conditions with a bigger body of water.
Step 1: Stuff Needed
HDX 27 Gal. Storage Tote in Black
Alternate Pond container 30 gallons
Large filter sponge for matten filter
Bamboo pump http://amzn.to/2iaramY
Air pump http://amzn.to/2iakJQZ
API Master test kit http://amzn.to/2hgR9cU
API Ammonia Test strips http://amzn.to/2zVEhjX
Seachem Prime Water conditioner http://amzn.to/2iG1D9h
Seachem Stability beneficial bacteria http://amzn.to/2gJpkZN
Step 2: Container
Planter pots make great containers but they do cost a bit more. In my quest for a bigger container I stumbled upon a storage bin from Home Depot that was on sale. It was 27 gallons (102L) and was pretty big. I won't be filling to the brim with water but it definitely a step up from my previous planter pot.
Rubbermaid storage containers make great ponds. They come in a variety of sizes but make sure it's ideally more than 10 gallons.
I doubled up on the container since it was bulging at the sides. I also put some firm foam between the 2 containers to support the base of the top one .
Step 3: Gravel and Rocks
My previous pond had gravel. But this time around I wanted to have a bare bottom so it would be easier to clean. When waste or food goes to the bottom it wont get trapped in the gravel and can be easily sucked up during a water change. I'll put some bigger rocks for a hardscape that fish that can hide in. I usually have some sort of clay pot or mug to use as a cave for the fish.
Step 4: Fish
If you're keeping the pond outside, your climate will dictate what kind of fish you can have. In colder climates that are is freezing, you're limited to maybe some hardier gold fish like common goldfish aka Comets or Minnows. My Minnows have survived at -10 celsius (14F). I'm sure they'd prefer a warmer pond. Most tropical fish will probably not make it if it got colder than 10C.
This winter I plan to put in a heater to help it stay it stay at 10C at least. 10C is still cold but it's better than -10C!
If you live in a warm climate that doesn't get too cold or stays warm, you pretty much can keep any fish and lucky you!
Having too much fish in a small container is also a problem, more fish, more waste and dirtier water. It's tempting to want lots of fish. Take into account that they will grow. In a 10 gallon pond, maybe 6 or so small fish will be fine.
Step 5: Plants
Plants are a must for any pond. Fake plants are not an option but maybe for some minor decorations around the pond. Real plants not only look good but they are nature's filters, they can help take in some of the nitrates and keep the water cleaner. With the right plants, maintenance is minimal. I usually try to keep plants that you'd normally find in a real pond in the wild. When rowing my boat, I find water lilies and hornwort.
Anacharis (pond weed)
Step 6: Filter
A filter is very important since the water is stagnant. A filter helps keep the water circulating. Just like we humans who breath air, it's nice to have it circulate. A filter also houses beneficial bacteria that breaks down the waste and turns ammonia into less toxic nitrates which can then be removed with water changes.
I'm a fan of the hangon back filters. But not all containers will fit this type of filter. You may have to look at internal filters/sponge filters. Get a filter that is rated for the gallons your container holds.
Step 7: Heater
Depending on your location, you may or may not need a heater.
Step 8: Accessories
You can add a fountain to give the sound of water. You can add lots of other accessories to decorate the pond. A bamboo fountain is a favorite of mine. Lights are also great for night time.
I will also put in a clay plate for feeding them.
Step 9: Water Changes
Unlike a real pond where new water is constantly provided from lakes or rain. A container pond will need regular water changes in order for the fish to be healthy. Clean water is vital for your fish's comfort. If you're too lazy to change water, a pond might not be a good idea. Generally, I change my water once a week. But it ultimately depends on how many fish you have. More fish, more waste, more water changes. Fish eat, sleep, and go to the bathroom in the same water. So it's important to keep it clean for them to be happy.
I test the water regularly for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates to make sure their water is clean.
Step 10: Feeding
It's tempting to feed your fish more than they need. Overfeeding is actually much worst than underfeeding. Too much food will cause ammonia spikes and dirty the water. Feed enough for each fish, maybe a pellet or 2 every other day. Suck up any uneaten food.
Step 11: Finish
Setting up a pond on your balcony or pond will you give you a peace of nature.