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  1. #1
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    Default Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    I am seriously toying with the idea of converting my pool into a natural pond with all the aquatic plants, invertebrates and minnows etc.

    Would like to hear from others who may have done the same.

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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    A mate of mine has done this. He has put a small fishpond pump in and some tilapia and sword fish and some plants.

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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    Difficult to control algae.

    You need a massive biofilter system to control the algae and ammonia forming. I have tried this in our large pool (120kL) and did not succeed.

    The biofilter works wonders in our fish pond though. First summer that we have clean water throughout.
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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    Johan the ammonia is a by product of the fish, of which there will be very little.

    The alga would worry me. How would the algae growth be vs. a natural pond in the wild. I am not looking for a crustal clear pond but rather a very natural looking pond.

    Thanks for the input so far.

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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    Kom kuier vlg Donderdag met die gtg dan kan jy kyk en gesels.
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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    There's a YouTube channel about a guy who teaches you how to control algae. If i recall he introduced 2 different shrimp species that eats the algae and fish that eats the shrimp, that way the shrimp so they don't eat all the plants also.

    But it does require you to control plant growth and colony sizes. He doesn't use filters at all. Just a pump for circulation.

    Will see if i can find that channel
    He also users specific plants. Some absorb byproducts, others causes it. He basically creates an equilibrium, but it will take weeks to set it up. It's a slow process
    Last edited by CArch; 2020/02/28 at 07:22 AM.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Leigh View Post
    I am seriously toying with the idea of converting my pool into a natural pond with all the aquatic plants, invertebrates and minnows etc.

    Would like to hear from others who may have done the same.
    Too deep to be practical and manageable as a fish pond?
    Last edited by hatjohan; 2020/02/28 at 07:44 AM.



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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    We have friends who did just this. Smallish pool, but deep. The converted it into a koi pond, and it worked quite well. Had to run a huge pump to keep the water clean, and it sometimes sucked in the baby fish, so they have to split the intake and install special filters and stuff to keep the fish from being sucked into the pump.

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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    We had it done professionally.
    Cost less than 50k - which was not much more than going for new marbalite, new pump and filter - which the pool seriously needed.
    You can look at all sorts of propriety system to filter both in and outside the pool that are much more expensive.
    We have a system with a large gravel/sand bed filter built in the deep end, with many different plants growing on the bed. There is a small circulating pump that runs 24 hour and we put a little fountain to fill bird baths on top of the filter bed. The remainder of the pool has soil substrate with water lilies planted. We kept a small area in the shallow end completely clear so you can have a dip!
    I put in a few banded tilapia, which are serious algae eaters - and so far, as much as they lay eggs, they have been unable to breed. They are growing very nicely. The water is absolutely gin clear and seriously nice to drink with no chlorine or RWB funnies in it. We top up from a borehole.
    It depends on your environmental stance, but I loathed dumping kilos of chemicals into the pool and back-washing these into the waste water system to clean the filter.
    Did the conversion about 12 months ago.
    Some big financial advantages - the utility bill seems to have dropped R400 to R500 pm not running a big pool pump motor, and no chemical purchases.
    The visual aspect is so much nicer and natural, birds come to bathe and drink, and the fish are now like pets!
    Serious good move for us.

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  11. #10
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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey Nomad View Post
    We had it done professionally.
    Cost less than 50k - which was not much more than going for new marbalite, new pump and filter - which the pool seriously needed.
    You can look at all sorts of propriety system to filter both in and outside the pool that are much more expensive.
    We have a system with a large gravel/sand bed filter built in the deep end, with many different plants growing on the bed. There is a small circulating pump that runs 24 hour and we put a little fountain to fill bird baths on top of the filter bed. The remainder of the pool has soil substrate with water lilies planted. We kept a small area in the shallow end completely clear so you can have a dip!
    I put in a few banded tilapia, which are serious algae eaters - and so far, as much as they lay eggs, they have been unable to breed. They are growing very nicely. The water is absolutely gin clear and seriously nice to drink with no chlorine or RWB funnies in it. We top up from a borehole.
    It depends on your environmental stance, but I loathed dumping kilos of chemicals into the pool and back-washing these into the waste water system to clean the filter.
    Did the conversion about 12 months ago.
    Some big financial advantages - the utility bill seems to have dropped R400 to R500 pm not running a big pool pump motor, and no chemical purchases.
    The visual aspect is so much nicer and natural, birds come to bathe and drink, and the fish are now like pets!
    Serious good move for us.
    Photo perhaps?
    Neil

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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    Grey

    This is exactly what a biofilter does. You did it the correct way and I would also like to see a few pics.

    Will do this to our pool too. Have not swam in it for two years and it is costing plenty to keep up.

    Our 15kL pool pond is serviced by our aquaponics biofilter but the system is too intricate for a large pool.
    Last edited by JohanMaree; 2020/02/28 at 09:43 AM.
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  13. #12
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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    I did it. it did it with no help. Over 60 000Lts.

    algae is easy to control using uv lights, and a proper set up.


    • use uv lights
    • it must have a 110mm bottom drain - not a 50 or 80mm pipes are a waste and does not work. for a decent sized pond.
    • and a top skimmer.
    • do not pump dirty water (it blends waste and algae into tiny particles and makes it very, very difficult to filter).
    • pump only clean water
    • water goes under through drain into first chamber - then over into 2nd chamber - then under into bio filter and clean water is then pumped through uv filter to garden pond section - over flows into main pond.
    • the first filter settlement camber MUST have a 110mm dump drain system. first settlement camber must turn slowly and most solids settle, then you open a 110mm dump valve - 80% of the waste is collected here and dumped. sludge dumped weekly. (20 second job).
    • second chamber shade cloth and bidden filter. shade cloth remover and cleaned every 18 months, (30 minute job), biddem cleaned/changed weekly. 15 minute job.
    • 3rd chamber is you bio filter. cleaned every 2 years. (30 minute job)
    • build a shallow garden pond, it helps with the water clarity.
    • must have a bio fitter, the bigger the better. one that stuff can be added to handle more and bigger fish.
    • don't use expensive bio media. box strapping (the rough one) stuffed into orange bags is best. and 80% shade cloth
    • Biddem is the best, easiest and cheapest filter medium.
    • they say you need to dump 10% water weekly. I don't the pond is big enough. But you need to dump some, so a bottom drain is critical.
    • a koi pond goes through water so jojo tanks catching water off the roof is a must. Watch acid water it will need bi-carb.
    • pond wall and floor must be black.
    • a small air compressor helps clarity. I have not had one for 3 years, but it does make a difference.
    • water falls etc. help with oxygenating the water.
    • mosquitos do not breed in a good pond.


    do this right and you have a hassle free crystal clear pond with a beautiful green carpet of algae like a lawn

    I have a write up I will find.

    Keep it simple.
    Last edited by K-9; 2020/02/28 at 10:02 AM.
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  14. #13
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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

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    Current off-road vehicles: *** Great family accommodation. See Facebook, Google maps and airbnb. Mkulu Kei at Wild Wind Ranch
    * 1975/8 SHREK LAND-CRUISER FJ40 DIESEL P/U, BFG 31x10.5 muds. 1.6 ton tirfor winchs
    * 1994 LAND-CRUISER J70 DIESEL P/U, my truck recovery vehicle. 15000 warn winch. And 3.5ton tirfor winch. Back full of appropriate sized recovery gear. BFG31x10.5 muds
    * 2014 LAND-CRUISER LX V8 76 DIESEL STATION WAGON, BFG's 285 all terrain.

    * 2011 HILUX 4X4 P/U, BFG 31x10.5 all terrain
    * 1999 PAJERO 3.5 V6 Mitsubishi (sorry not a Toyota), BFG 31x10.5 all terrain
    * 2006 FORD ranger 2.5 diesel. 4x4, (what was I thinking, also not a Toyota!) I have a spare 5000 warn winch I might fit.
    * 2011 ISUZU bakkie 4x4
    * MERCEDES UNIMOG U416.
    * FIONA - Rhino Yamaha 660 4x4. Warn winch. Mud tyres
    * 4x4 trailer, 1987, BFG all terrain
    * GSA 1200 BMW ADVENTURE LC 2018, the closest motorbike to a land cruiser. And a Honda 200
    * A Massey Fergusson 375 tractor. And a John Deere E140 2020 tractor




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  16. #14
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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

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    We did it a year ago - smallish swimming pool, about 30,000l. I made floating rafts out of bamboo (Brightfields, most big nurseries stock the thick uprights, and the thinner pieces for cross-lattices). Lay the whole thing flat on a big sheet of dense weave hessian (which eventually rots away), cable tie six or eight 1litre empty cool drink bottles (I used tonic etc bottles) to the outside pieces for flotation), line the base with coir, and a small amount of compost, then wrap the hessian over the top and secure with cable ties.
    Cut holes in the hessian, strip the plants of most, but not all of their soil, push through the holes, secure them with cable ties, and launch the rafts, anchoring them to the edge with fishing line and tent pegs.
    Run the pump for just two or three hours a day - essential to stick a length of hose pipe into the outlet so that it shoots water into the air for aeration.
    Pool initially goes horribly green, then stabilises. After a month or two, I treated the water with Tetra Algo-Rem (get it from any good aquatic shop, Stodels etc also stock it), which kills and flocculates out the algae (doesn't harm fish), and later with Tetra water clarifier. The Tetra products are expensive, but you only need to treat it once a year at most.
    We only have goldfish (about 30) in our pond, but they are thriving, as are the frogs, dragon flies, etc. I have linked the downpipe from one of my gutters into the pool, and that pretty much looks after the topping up. Essential to net the pool bottom often, especially after Tetra treatments.
    It is an absolute pleasure to swim in, and looks so much better than a chemical pool. Water varies from crystal clear to a bit murky (murky now because of incredibly hot weather) but never foul.
    There are six rafts in our pool.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Tony Weaver; 2020/02/28 at 04:12 PM.
    Tony Weaver
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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    Just to add, the full conversion probably cost me about R3,000, including plants. After a year, the plant roots have matted together, the hessian has mostly rotted away or been incorporated into the root material, and the rafts just need a small amount of maintenance occasionally to push the bottles back into place if they slip out. Arum lilies, various reed species, irises, wachendorfia, and any aquatic plants all do well. Just be careful not to buy any plants from a place that has duck weed in their ponds - it spreads terribly and clogs the filter.
    Tony Weaver
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  18. #16
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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    So I thought I would come home and take some professional shots to upload - but a Highveld thunderstorm put paid to that!
    Just from my background, I was not ever going to put goldfish or Koi - only indigenous fish; and there has been no need to add any algae chemicals or UV type filters. Totally natural. I have heard if you stock Koi or goldfish algae becomes more of an issue.
    I have attached a general shot of the pool, the filter area and the plunge area. If the sun is out tomorrow I can maybe take some more!
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  20. #17
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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey Nomad View Post
    I was not ever going to put goldfish or Koi - only indigenous fish; and there has been no need to add any algae chemicals or UV type filters. Totally natural. I have heard if you stock Koi or goldfish algae becomes more of an issue.
    I have attached a general shot of the pool, the filter area and the plunge area. If the sun is out tomorrow I can maybe take some more!
    Very nice. It's not possible to stock indigenous fish in the Western Cape unless you skelm them, as CapeNature are incredibly strict on permits - any tilapia or upcountry, non-endemic fish are strictly verboten in case they get into our river systems, some of which already have major problems with carp, bass, bluegill and of course trout (although some of us not-so-purists reckon trout are pretty much indigenous now and they do far less damage to indigenous fish than carp - which destroy riverine systems - and bass, which are horribly invasive).
    Tony Weaver
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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    This is all sounding very encouraging.

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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Weaver View Post
    Just to add, the full conversion probably cost me about R3,000, including plants. After a year, the plant roots have matted together, the hessian has mostly rotted away or been incorporated into the root material, and the rafts just need a small amount of maintenance occasionally to push the bottles back into place if they slip out. Arum lilies, various reed species, irises, wachendorfia, and any aquatic plants all do well. Just be careful not to buy any plants from a place that has duck weed in their ponds - it spreads terribly and clogs the filter.
    Hi Tony
    So impressed with how simply and cheaply you converted - and still use the existing pump and filter?
    And, K-9 has done a magnificent job!
    We were told the function of these systems is to get the plants to remove as much nutrient as possible from the water so as to starve the algae.
    Our guy is not in favour of fish for this reason - and if you feed them, like koi, this adds to the nutrient load.
    Folk should let the bio-system settle for a couple of months before adding fish. Although in our case, when the banded tilapia went in they scavenged the algae from the walls and side of the filter and they remain absolutely clear of algae.

  23. #20
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    Default Re: Swimming Pool conversion into Natural Pond

    Quote Originally Posted by Grey Nomad View Post
    Hi Tony
    So impressed with how simply and cheaply you converted - and still use the existing pump and filter?
    And, K-9 has done a magnificent job!
    We were told the function of these systems is to get the plants to remove as much nutrient as possible from the water so as to starve the algae.
    Our guy is not in favour of fish for this reason - and if you feed them, like koi, this adds to the nutrient load.
    Folk should let the bio-system settle for a couple of months before adding fish. Although in our case, when the banded tilapia went in they scavenged the algae from the walls and side of the filter and they remain absolutely clear of algae.
    Yes, we still use the existing pump and filter, and I net the bottom of the pool regularly (it has a lot of overhanging trees and creepers). We don't feed our fish at all - they live off whatever is in the pond, and we don't have any noticeable increase in mosquitoes. The plant growth has been phenomenal - the pics below show the rafts when I launched them 11 months ago, in March last year. Compare that to the pictures I posted above! (all cellphone pics, so not great quality).
    The plants on the right in the second pic are on the step, and were fairly mature when I placed them. The rest are on rafts.


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    Last edited by Tony Weaver; 2020/02/29 at 06:57 PM.
    Tony Weaver
    2010 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport 3.2l diesel
    Previously
    1991 Land Rover 110 Hi-Line 3.5l V8; 1968 2.25l Land Rover SII; 1969 2.6l SIIA; 1973 2.25l SIII
    1983 Toyota HiLux 2l 4x4

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