If you love fish and pond plants, you can create a small container pond on your balcony for just a small amount of money. Before considering a container pond, first decide whether or not you are going to keep fish.
If you live in a very hot or very cool climate, you will need to bring fish indoors during extreme weather. You will also have to take water quality much more seriously, never adding insecticides to deter mosquitoes and never adding algaecides to get rid of algae. Before purchasing fish for your container pond, make sure to research the fish species you’d like to keep (koi and goldfish are never appropriate for small container ponds that are light enough for balcony gardens). Research the fish’s needs and be prepared to care for them. Fish will eat insects that land on the pond’s water surface, and they will add extra interest to your container plant garden.
Also think about electrical power. It’s easiest to keep a successful pond if you have an electrical outlet outside. If no outlet is available, make sure to purchase a solar-powered or battery-powered air pump, without an air pump in your garden, the standing water will become dangerous for any fish in the pond, and the standing water will attract mosquitoes, which can carry diseases.
Once you’ve made decisions about fish and electricity, it’s time to start shopping.
Container Pond Shopping List
- 30- to 65-gallon container
- Flexible pond liner
- Submersible air pump
- Pond plants
- Fish food
- Small pond filter
- Water conditioner
- Fish net
- Aquarium setup for indoor fish care (if needed)
Pond setup. Set up the pond in a shady spot (never in a very sunny spot) by attaching the pond liner to the inside of the container that you’ve chosen. Pour fish-safe gravel in the bottom of the container (1.5 inches deep) and fill the pond with water. Treat the water with water conditioner and cycle the water (research the nitrogen cycle in aquariums) before adding fish. Add the air pump and pond plants. Not just any pond plant will survive in such a confined space. For good pond plant choices, read “The Best Plants for Container Ponds.”
Ongoing maintenance. Every day you should feed the fish, skim debris, such as leaves and bugs, out of the pond and top off the water if needed. Every week perform a water change and remove algae if necessary. Clean the pond filter each month. And each year bring the fish indoors and keep them in a cycled aquarium during extreme heat or cold.
You may also want to read about hydroponic growing aquariums.