How to DIY an adorable bathtub pond

August 15 | Guest post by Tristan Tuttle

2013-06-24 11.58.04I've always wanted a house near some body of water. Since our current home is in a subdivision and our house is situated in what I think is geographically a canyon, my husband Jared and I had to get creative. So we created what we call The Tuttle Aquatic Gardens.

That's just a fancy name for a pond made out of a bathtub that Jared dragged out of the woods behind my uncle's house.

If you'd like to attempt your own bathtub pond, here's how!

1. Find a bathtub.

I have dreams of recreating this pond with an ornate clawfoot tub, but in the meantime, we used a standard metal tub.

If you have trouble finding one, I'd try asking someone in the construction business. Houses are getting remodeled all the time, and those fixtures have to end up somewhere! Or… you could always check behind your uncle's house, because that worked for us.

2. Get a pond pump and filter.

We bought ours at one of the big box construction stores. This is the priciest part of the whole enterprise. We like to be thrifty, so we used coupons and online codes to get the best deal. In hindsight, we also should have looked on Craigslist.

We DIYed our own filter. All you need is a small storage box and some washable air filters. To learn how make your own pond filter click here.

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3. Figure out where to put your pond.

This part was tricky for us. I told y'all that we live in a canyon, and that isn't a lie. We honestly have about 150 square feet of flat space on our property, and all of it is too far from the house to run electricity to the pump. We decided to put our little pond on the back deck, so we can enjoy it. Jared recently rebuilt the deck and made sure to add extra bracing for support.

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4. Fill your tub and add plants.

This is the best part! Again, we bought the majority of our water plants from a big box store, but we should have checked Craigslist. (Note to self: ALWAYS check Craigslist first!)

Our water garden has water hyacinth, a water-lily, some water lettuce, some irises, and some royal blue pickerel rush. Some of these plants multiply really fast, which is great! In fact, we started with one water hyacinth and one water lettuce, and in a month we had seven hyacinths and 13 lettuce! These water plants are also great cover for any fish. 2013-07-12 10.55.00

If you'd like to add fish, make sure that your water is safe for your fish by testing the water's ph levels, and be sure you don't have too many fish in a small space. As I understand, you should have a gallon of water for each inch of fish. I am not an expert on fish, so if you are concerned, please ask a professional. Comets, goldfish, and some small koi are perfect in this kind of pond.

5. Enjoy!

It is so relaxing to go out and sit by the pond and listen to the water. Add some Christmas lights for ambiance and enjoy your hard work!

  1. This is SUCH a good idea, I wish I have even thought of this before having to dig a great big hole. Plus would have stopped the dog from jumping in…possibly!

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    • Thank you! Our pup gets a little too curious at times, but for the most part she stays out of it. She did drag some water hyacinth out the other day to chew up, but thankfully she didn't enjoy the taste of it and hasn't bothered it since.

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  2. Awesome! I wonder if we could get away with putting something like this on the patio of our rental…(Oh, and we do have a covered outlet out there…)

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    • How strict is your landlord? We don't have an HOA in our neighborhood, so no one seems to care. Well, that and the fact that our deck is so high up in the air no one else can see it!

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      • Hmm, I would probably have to check…Our lease is pretty strict on stuff, but every time I've asked my landlady about things, she says basically that it was due to some problem tenants when she first acquired the buildings, and that it's not a problem…

        Having said that, my first goal is to get some potted plants out there. Right now, it's a sad looking slab of concrete because we have had other move-in priorities…

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        • I love plants! once we got married and I moved in, my first priority was to have plants everywhere. I get so excited about plants. Jared thinks I have a real problem! There's just something about them that really add something great to a space.

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  3. If you had little humans around i think it would be an idea to make a frame of some sort of heavy duty mesh to fit over the top so they cant fall in and drown. I have seen ponds done where the mesh is just under the water line so its still aesthetically pleasing. I have two kids who love 'swimming' in our water filled bathtub we have set up for the cow to drink out of. :)

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    • For now, Jared and I don't have kids, but when we do, we'll definitely figure out something like that! It would also be a great idea to use mesh if your pond was under or near leafy trees that way the water wouldn't get gross from the leaves. The mesh would also give the fish some protection from birds as well. The mesh is a great idea!

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  4. THANK YOU for mentioning testing the water prior to putting fish in! It will need to be tested for pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrates. If you are adding fish, start with only one and let the pond cycle, then add more fish slowly, over the course of several weeks.

    Small Koi would not be suitable for this pond, unless you have a friend/relative with a larger pond to accommodate them when they outgrow it. Even goldfish grow very large and live a long time, so take that into consideration before adding fish.

    Lastly, if you live in a location where is gets cold over winter, the pond will likely freeze solid and kill the fish, so take that into consideration and plan accordingly.

    Awesome pond, enjoy!! :)

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    • Big box pet stores will usually test your water for free (pH, nitrates, ammonia, and something else). Just bring them a fresh sample of water in some clean tupperware or a ziplock baggie and they'll dip a few strips of paper for you. The silly kits they sell to test your own water are pricy! Honestly, new fish are cheaper than buying your own test kits if you're OK with living on the edge with your aquatic friends.

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      • I had no idea that big box stores would test the water for you! I'll keep that in mind for next time!

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    • I'm glad you mentioned all of the things to test the water for. We used a test kit, but it wasn't extremely detailed. All of our fish started as tiny goldfish, but we only have four goldfish in the pond. We don't have very hard winters, but we will probably bring them inside just to be on the safe side!

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  5. What's the mosquito abatement plan? Could be the bubbling will keep them away, but without it this seems like a giant mosquito nursery right on the porch. If you're near a natural area, maybe you could collect some dragonfly nymphs, water beetles, or other predators to add?

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    • fish are a good way of keeping mosquitos at bay – they tend to eat the larva so they never turn into mosquitos.

      good friends of mine had a goldfish pond in their backyard all summer, they just brought them into a big aquarium in the winter. fish are actually pretty cool and you can get quite attached to them really. when my last goldfish, Minerva, died (we had her for years), both my husband i are were actually kind of upset. We had a bell beside her big tank and she knew when we rang it it was dinner time. She would get all excited and look at us and wait….
      :)

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      • Goldfish are so much fun to watch! The only time I really turn the pump off is when I feed them, so now they know that when the bubbles stop it's time to eat. They'll rush to the top of the water, and you can hear their little mouths bite at the water!

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    • I would love to add some natural pond creatures someday! Right now, the bubbles and the fish keep the mosquitoes at bay. Before we had fish, I would turn the pump off at night and in the morning, the tub would have little squiggly mosquito larvae wiggling around everywhere, but since we've got fish and I don't turn the pump off at night as much, we haven't noticed any at all.

      I know they sell what one of my friends called a mosquito "donut" that floats in the water and puts out something that kills mosquito larvae, but I don't know that it's safe for fish, so I wouldn't put that in there if there are any fish in the pond.

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  6. The standard one gallon per inch rule really only applies to small tropical fish. It's really based on the bio-load of a fish. And sadly goldfish and Koi are dirty, dirty fish.

    Goldfish are something like 55 gallons per one inch of goldfish for their bio-load. Though I think it's pretty standard for people to do 10 gallons per inch. As a bathtub is around 50-70 gallons your four fish should be fine.

    Koi get a lot larger then goldfish so I wouldn't stick any Koi in a bathtub pond. And I'd stay away from the fancy goldfish as they're a lot more sensitive then
    your standard feeder goldfish.

    If you have mild winters your fish should be find out side, you can also look into getting a heater just to heat it enough to keep from freezing but as long as the pond doesn't freeze solid your fish should winter fine. You may also want to look around I bet there is a pond/koi club somewhere that would be able to let you know what you need to know to keep your fish safe in the winter in your area!

    And lastly, I love the idea of using a bathtub for a pond! It looks awesome!

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    • I'm so glad yall know more about fish than I do and are posting all of this information. I didn't realize goldfish were so dirty!

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  7. Yes, goldfish are actually harder to keep than a tropical community tank in my opinion (source: I'm an aquarist). They produce a lot of waste in proportion to their size. But like any other pet, they deserve proper care an attention. Even if they only do cost a dollar!!

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    • Jared and I were talking about adding more fish, but since y'all told me about this we won't!

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  8. New thing to watch that pond in a bath tub. Good to see and I think like this leaks issue would have less chances otherwise pond leaks become a hectic. Before use of
    Pond Pro 2000I had been in this problem several time

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