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On Goldfish Pond--In Your Apartment!
by Frank M. Greco, Senior Aquarist, Coney Island Aquarium

For many aquarium hobbyists, the addition of a garden or koi pond may seem a natural extension of their hobby. Even those who do not own an aquarium may find themselves drawn to the soothing sound of water as it trickles down a waterfall or the pitter-patter of droplets as they fall from a fountain. With a little imagination and a few well-placed products, even apartment dwellers can enjoy a pond of their own on a hot summer night.

Python Products

There are many ways he apartment dweller can install a pond in their home. There are small, freestanding ponds, such as the two by Python Products (shown in the accompanying photo). These can be placed out on the terrace or even inside, depending on the amount of room you have, that is-but check with your building before installing any water feature! I've even seen some people use whiskey barrels as an indoor pond, and several companies make rubber liners to fit the average sized barrel.

Potted Ponds

fish tank No room in your walk-up for fish in a barrel, so to speak? Even small porcelain or ceramic flowerpots can be used to build an apartment pond all your own. While these containers will not hold fish, they can be planted with an assortment of aquatic plants, including lilies (the Blue Daubin lily is perhaps the best lily for this purpose, as it will grow in moderate light.Other lilies require more light then can usually be provided indoors unless one hangs a metal halide light over the pond).

If you decide to use a fountain in an indoor pond, be aware that there will be splashing, and the surrounding floor and walls will most likely become wet over time. Best to use a fountain that does not shoot water much above the water level.

Once your pond, either indoors or outdoors--is in place, it's time to think about filtration. Here again, your pond professional will be able to help you decide upon the best filtration for your particular pond. Whichever filter you choose, make sure that it is serviced on a regular basis so the water remains clear.

Adding Fish

Finally, we come to the fish. While some pond owners are satisfied with just a planted pond (the author among them), most pond hobbyists add fish. Usually koi (Japanese carp) are the fish of choice. These carp are a far cry from the olive drab ones we see in local lakes and ponds. Rather, these are bred specifically for their colors and patterns. Some folks use plain goldfish (comets), or even fancy goldfish (orandas) as pond inhabitants.

Your pond professional will help you decide which fish is right for you. Generally, koi require larger ponds than do goldfish, so keep that in mind when deciding how big your pond will be. If you decide to keep both fish and plants in the same pond, you will need to protect the vegetation from nibbling goldfish and koi.

Lilies need to be potted, and not left floating. The mesh is placed around the whole pot, and rises to just below the water level. Usually the plastic mesh around the pots is sufficient to keep the fish at bay.

A properly set up pond can provide you with hours of enjoyment and relaxation. The sound of water trickling over rocks, or down a waterfall, the splashing of the fish as they break the surface of the water looking for food, and the general beauty of a well-planted pond allow us to bring a little bit of the natural world into our lives, no matter where we may live.

Lucky enough to have a backyard to build a pond in? Click here for step-by-step instructions.

Frank M. Greco is a senior aquarist at The Coney Island Aquarium, specializing in fish rehabilitation. His personal website is

Hey fishheads! Join Frank on Sunday nights at 9pm EST on "Fish Chat" for all your fish questions! Log on to mic://
Or, write him at and he may answer your question in a future Think Tank column!

Click here for other articles about fish.


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