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Going Native - 800 gal SW Florida Native pond


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#1 Laura Lee

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 09:44 AM

So my latest project is a pond that I've actually been wanting (and had a spot picked out for) since before we built our house 5 years ago! But As of this weekend I finally bit the bullet and bought my first piece of equipment for it - a Laguna waterfall filter I snagged off Ebay for $75 (down from about $125-150). I've been researching design and equipment off and on for the past 2 years, and it looks like the whole project is going to set me back about $1000 once it's all said and done. So I'll be saving up and buying bits and pieces very slowly, and it will be several months (possibly even next spring?) before my shovel ever actually hits the dirt! LOL But I'm documenting/journaling it all anyways, as I love going back and reading how my plans evolve over time...

Here's the spot:
Posted Image

Basic layout:
The pond will be a 7' x 5' oval, lined with a 45mil EPDM liner and an underlayment to protect the liner. The middle will be 3' deep with a built-in plant ledge running all along the edges. I'm planning on building the pond up at least 3-6" over ground level to help keep rain runoff out of the pond.

Filtration:
There's going to be a skimmer/filter tucked into the back left corner up against the porch (I'm looking right now at the Laguna Skimmer Filter http://www.lagunapon...00.php?link=150, though at $350 that's the biggest chunk of my budget by far).
A bottom drain (probably a Koi Toilet II http://www.underwate...t-II-p-433.html) will be plumbed into the skimmer/filter with a ball valve for easy shutoff.
I'm going to put a 2000 gph sumbersible pump in the back of the filter and run that over to this waterfall (which I've already purchased) http://www.lagunapon...il.php?link=158.
The waterfall is going to be built up/surrounded with rockwork and tucked up into the back right corner of the pond, in the niche between the bay window and garage wall. I'm probably going to be using 1.5" flexible PVC tubing for most of the plumbing.

Here's the budget I'm working with right now:

45mil EPDM liner & underlayment - $200
Laguna waterfall - $75 (already purchased off Ebay)
Laguna skimmer/filter combo - $350
Koi toilet II bottom drain - $70
2000 gph submersible pump - $125
20' x 1.5" flex tubing, ball valves, & misc plumbing supplies - $100
Rockwork & pavers for waterfall & pond surround - $100

For livestock and plants I'm strongly considering collecting my own and "going native" with assorted mollies, florida flagfish, killies, gambusia, etc. Plus I'll be pulling plants out of my tanks and doing some "ditch collecting" with a local friend of mine who's also into this sort of thing.

#2 Strick

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 09:51 AM

Oh, man. Judging by your tanks, I just know this is going to be a knockout! Please make this thread into a journal so we can see the whole project as it develops.
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#3 LouisaMaeBrown

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 09:56 AM

Sounds really cool. Please keep us updated. :)

#4 Laura Lee

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 08:56 AM

Thanks guys, and I will!

A little bit more progress plus a design change.

I did some landscaping work around my parents' house last week, and after I was done they surprised me with the $$ to buy my pond filter! :tup: So I just ordered it yesterday. Cheapest I could find it was $330 off of Amazon.

I've also been continuing my research, and have learned that built-in pond shelves generally encourage predators like herons and racoons, so I've decided I'm going to nix the plant shelves and make the sides of the pond steep. Instead I'll use some cheap plastic crates to stand my plants on. Another bonus to this design change is that it almost doubles my pond volume- from 400 to almost 800 gallons!

I've also decided I'm going to go with a Laguna pump, since they have excellent warranties, and I'm hearing that the warranty on a pump is often the same as the life expectancy of the pump. I'm waiting to get my filter so I can measure the pump compartment, and if I have room I'm going to go with the Laguna PowerFlo 2000 since it has a 4-year warranty. It's a really big pump in size, though, so may not fit. If it doesn't fit, I'll go with the much slimmer Laguna PowerFlo 2150, which has a 3 year warranty. I've found both on Ebay for under $150, so that's right in budget.

Delivery on the filter says it should be here by 10/4. I'm excited! It's a pricey piece of equipment and I strongly considered trying to DIY something to save some $$ here, but finally decided that this filter is so well designed and it should make maintenance so much easier that I was going to go ahead and bite the bullet and shell out for it. I'm really looking forward to having it in hand. I should be able to finalize my pond outline (I have a garden hose laid out right now to help me visualize the dimensions) and also figure out exactly what I'll need (bulkheads, etc) to plumb my bottom drain into it.

I think the trickiest bit will be figuring out the exact depth this needs to be buried next to the pond so the skimmer falls precicely where it should go in the pond water line. Plus figuring out how to plumb the bottom drain into it along with a ball shutoff valve...

#5 Laura Lee

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Posted 01 October 2010 - 06:31 PM

Well my filter arrived early- it was on the front porch when I got hometoday, and OMO this thing is a BEAST! Very heavy duty plastic, the filter lid is really heavy duty so I can literally stand on it with no problem at ALL (they weren't kidding that it's rated for 400lbs!), and the entire thing is huge!

I don't think the skimmer door is going to work the way it's advertized (it's supposed to float and adjust itself to the pond water level, but it tends to stick on the faceplate screws) and it doesn't have a weir door, so those are a few drawbacks, but I'll be able to work with that.

I really DO like the interior basket setup. I'm already planning some media upgrades, though. The first basket is the skimmer basket and that's huge. There's room for several coarse mechanical mats in there. The next basket has room for at least one or two more pads so I'm probably going to add some medium and finer grade matala pads in there. The third basket is full of bioballs, and I'm going to remove those and put them in the waterfall and put some more matala in that basket instead to really boost the pre-filter mechanical filtration. I may also sandwich in some disposable bonded pond media in the final basket for some water polishing, since I already have a roll that I cut to size and use for my canister filters. I say matala, but I'm going to price out matala versus the Laguna brand pre-cut pads and get whichever is cheapest, really. I know they make pads for this filter in the different grades.

My basic plan is to maximize the mechanical filtration in the Skimmer Filter(though of course those plastic pads are also excellent biofiltration) and use the FilterFalls mostly for biological filtration.

I won't have room for the Laguna MaxFlow 2000 in the back of the filter, so I'm going to go with the 2150 instead.

The biggest drawback for my own application is that there's no good way for me to plumb my bottom drain into the skimmer basket. The way the baskets are set up, a lot of the water coming in from the bottom drain may actually be able to bypass the media inside all the baskets, so I'm thinking I'll either put the filter pump inside a bag to protect it from debris coming in from the bottom drain, or perhaps sandwich a piece of matala outside of the baskets somewhere to block potential bypass to the back pump area.

#6 Stars

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Posted 01 October 2010 - 08:08 PM

OMG so jealous! =] Please do keep us posted often!




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