Mini container pond turned bad

hello everyone, 

just joined up because I am looking for advice on my container pond which I created in April as suggested here:

https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/nature-on-your-doorstep/garden-activities/createaminipond/

There is an oxygenating plant in there and a small bog grass as well as two plants with just their toes in.

Recently I noticed that there are lots and lots of dead millipedes floating in there and also some dead slugs which makes me sad as this is obviously supposed to be encouraging wildlife not killing it. Also, when I fish the millipedes out it really makes a stink (although the water is fairly clear). It just smells bad. I am wondering if anyone has any experience with this and whether I should cut my losses, empty it out and start again. The location is not particularly sunny and it has been rather overgrown the last month or so. Maybe it needs more light? 

Thanks, Sarah

  • I would start again. The page isn't one I would have recommended. The pictures show it, but wording possibly doesn't. If you are using something steep sided like a bowl or sink, it needs to be elevated so worms, slugs etc don't end up drowning in it. Dead things speed up the stagnation. Also, never use garden soil. I don't know if you did.
  • Hi Sarah, and welcome to the forum.

    I'm no expert, however, with our pond it did take a good while before it established and stable enough for wildlife.

    I can't offer any explanation why slugs and millipedes are getting into the pond other than the following. The slugs could already be on the oxygenating plant you've introduced to the pond, and the millipedes apparently according to a few web searches, like moisture!

    If the pond has an almost rotten egg smell to it, that suggest a bacterial build up, which will occur for a number of reasons, the most likely is due to the fact it the water is still, not flowing, where flowing water helps to improve aeration. Any oxygenating plant helps to improve the oxygen levels. More importantly, a new pond without flowing water will harbour wildlife, the smell should settle down as the pond establishes itself, and the microbes do their bit of cleaning and sorting out the water and any vegetation in it.

    I'd stick with it, see what happens over the coming months, enjoy what you see, I think you could find it very interesting seeing what happens, how things change, and next year, you should see more new life enter the pond and species look for somewhere the breed.

    You may see some damselflies (or even dragonflies using the word as a general description), which like water, come to lay their eggs (they like hot summer days for mating and egg laying), and the larvae will stay in the water for around three years before emerging as damselflies to mate and repeat the process again.

    I hope that has given you some hope that all has not been in vane, but for somethings, it may take a few months or longer, before you see the full outcome.

    Mike

    Flickr Peak Rambler

  • I don't often disagree wuth Mike, but certainly do this time. Several reasons, but the most obvious are:-
    1) animals will continue to drown.
    2) any oxygenating plant will rot in conditions you have described, adding to stagnation.
    It needs emptying, relocating with the lip of the container/sink off the ground, fresh water added with no garden soil and replanted just with oxygenating plants. Add other plants once oxygenating plants are established, and use 'pond soil'.
  • In reply to Robbo:

    Robbo said:
    I would start again. The page isn't one I would have recommended. The pictures show it, but wording possibly doesn't. If you are using something steep sided like a bowl or sink, it needs to be elevated so worms, slugs etc don't end up drowning in it. Dead things speed up the stagnation. Also, never use garden soil. I don't know if you did.

    I more than agree with both Robbo's replies, the first of which wasn't online when I completed mine, even though the timing was considerably earlier.

    I was trying to stick the original recommendation, which I have to say, seemed rather dubious, opting to naively trust the RSPB link. My experience is only with moving water and nicely oxygenated ponds, which we have a successful one in our garden.

    Mike

    Flickr Peak Rambler

  • I purchased a relatively inexpensive solar powered air stone to oxygenate my small 50 litre tadpole pond, see they are on ebay for around £18.00 ... also plant in pure gravel & weight aquatic pots down with larger stones (wash gravel & stones to remove any contaminants)

     

     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • Dear all, thanks for the many responses! I have been using a light-blue TORKIS washing basket from Ikea, 35 L - so it's pretty deep with vertical sides.
    Yesterday I bit the bullet and cleaned it all out. It stank to high heaven and the smell lingered on hands and arms even after repeated washing. But now it is done. I am considering starting again and buying a small pump as suggested but am worried about it being low-quality and contributing to more electro-rubbish. On cleaning out I also noticed about a million mosquito larvae in there, which probably wouldn't happen with moving water either.
    All the best,
    Sarah
  • How about this type of pond liner
    www.ukwaterfeatures.com/.../pre-formed-fish-wildlife-starter-garden-pond-uk-manufactured.html
    Larger surface area, differing depths!

    I think there will always be mosquito larvae wherever there is water ... quite an interesting article here

    nurturing-nature.co.uk/.../

     

     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • In reply to Lorbeer:

    Lorbeer said:
    Dear all, thanks for the many responses! I have been using a light-blue TORKIS washing basket from Ikea, 35 L - so it's pretty deep with vertical sides.
    Yesterday I bit the bullet and cleaned it all out. It stank to high heaven and the smell lingered on hands and arms even after repeated washing. But now it is done. I am considering starting again and buying a small pump as suggested but am worried about it being low-quality and contributing to more electro-rubbish. On cleaning out I also noticed about a million mosquito larvae in there, which probably wouldn't happen with moving water either.
    All the best,
    Sarah

    The important thing is, you had a go, you have learned and not given up, and the last two is the important ones, learning and having another go.

    If you go to a reputable aquatic shop, they should be able to advise you around your budget and pond size, removing the fear of a cheap and nasty pond pump. I'm on my second pump, but the first one met an early demise, after cleaning out the filter and about to place it back in the pond I fell on it!

    Otherwise, it most likely will still be operational today.

    I only fell because sometimes after major lower leg reconstruction a few years back, I have balance issues, which 99% of the time I manage well, just occasionally it gets the better of me.

    The moulded pond liner is a good idea, it can be hard work digging the hole in the ground, but it will be worth it. We have a 292ltr pond liner, which has been in place for 19 years, and nicely established, as you will see from the photo.

    Also, when connecting the pump to the electrics, however you connect, make sure you use a residual circuit current breaker (RCCB), they operate faster than a fuse, and advised for any outdoor and water borne applications. They can be either as part of the electrical system, or a plug in type utilising the standard 13Amp set up.

    Good luck and let us know how you get on, I think you'll enjoy it.

    Mike

    Flickr Peak Rambler