Atrium Pond

Built from winter 1999 to summer 2000.

  1. Go on pond tour by local koi club, talk to people, read books.
  2. Measure atrium and decide on type of pond --> hard shell.
  3. Contact pond builder to discuss filtration and details of design.
  4. Pay landscapers that are doing my husband's lawn a nice tip to break out the concrete slab in the atrium.
  5. Purchase pond shell. This was not trivial. I eventually special-ordered it from my local aquarium store (1/2 mile away) and bribed one of their suppliers into trucking it to my place.
  6. Check shell for cracks, fill with water and make sure it's structurally sound.
  7. Dig, dig, dig. Measure. Dig more. Measure. Try to fit shell. Grumble. Dig more, fit, grumble, dig...until it fits.
  8. Order sand from large landscaping supply company.
  9. Cover bottom of hole with sand and make sure its level.
  10. Fit in shell. Shell needs to stick 2-4 inches above ground level.
  11. Make sure everything is level.
  12. Call pond builder to install filter. (Guenter Helmholz)
  13. Fill sides with sand while filling pond until level with ground.
  14. Start filter.
  15. Throw in some plants, build island, add branch, add goldfish and Reeves turtle.

Whole pond in March, 2000. Functional, but that'as about it. Houses 1 female Reeves turtle, 1 juvenile koi, and a handfull of goldfish. Plants are water hyacynths. Pond is a 8 x 4 plastic shell; bottom and sides of hole are filled with sand. Location is inside atrium of an Eichler house. In winter, atrium is covered.

  1. Address some medical issues, while pond and turtle hibernate.
  2. Get wire and Plastic cement.
  3. Lay out two rings of wire around rim of pond. This turned out to be easier than I thought. I used 12 Ga. Steel wire, which worked well. Alternatively, you can use rebars (I am not strong enough to bend them by hand.), or some kind of wire mesh.
  4. Mix first batch of cement, manually, in cement tub. Basic muscle work and good exercise. Plastic cement takes longer to mix than regular cement. Cement a test patch. Let try. Decided that this isn't doing as much good as the amount of work I would have to put in to finish and decided to do without the cement and just landfill with sand/dirt mixture. (My pond has a strong rim, the shell is fiberglass. For a plastic shell, or a liner, do NOT skip the cementing!)
  5. DROPPING CEMENT IN POND: If your cement contains limestone, you have a problem. Remove all animals from pond. Completely drain. Get rid of all cement. Let pond dry out, if possible.
  6. The plastic cement I used doesn't have limestone, and it is harmless to fish and turtles, I was told. Well, I did a good water change and I didn't lose any animals.
  7. DROPPING GASOLINE IN POND (not me, a colleague): The way to clean it is Paper towels. LOT AND LOTS OF THEM. Buy a case. Gently place a paper towel on the surface of the water and lift straight up. The oil will stick to the towel. Keep repeating it. Another option is cotton balls, again lots and lots of them - - the oil sticks to the fibers.
  8. Add barrier.
  9. Did basic landscaping: smoothing out, refilling with mixture of dirt and sand.
  10. Decided to use Coldwater Canyon rock. Selected and chose a truckload, about 1200 pounds and spent an afternoon arranging them artistically.
  11. Planted some strawberry plants and a few greens.
  12. Added wood.
  13. Added heated turtle house/cover.
  14. Rescued a large slider.
  15. THE POND IS DONE! (Ok, I'll still do some landscaping and puttering...)

Part of filtration system. Biological filtration with gravel only. One leaf guard over intake pipe (also keeps fish and small critters from being sucked in), one leaf guard before pump.

Outlet detail and turtle ladder.

First version of island basking spot.