This is the tale of two ponds.
I bought the second stock tank, the larger one, in January after we had moved to this rental. It holds 160 gallons. The smaller (below) holds 100 gallons.
I keep a variety of small fish in these to eat the inevitable mosquito larvae. In the winter, the northern native rosie minnow does just fine. In the summer, and in the south, the mosquito fish become gambusias. If I'm clever, I will get an indoor tank and twice a year swap out the fish as the climate demands. So far, I've been not so clever. I'd argue that it's difficult to juggle such fish maintenance and move at the same time - I did have a few of the rosies and one tough little gambusia in a temporary holding tank... ok, a three gallon plastic container that formerly held pretzels... and they almost lasted until the early spring warm up, but not quite.
I really hate inadvertently killing things.
The ponds, while they hold fish, are not primarily fish ponds. They are intended to be oases in a dry landscape, harboring occasional flowers against their lush greenery. They are home to my water lilies, one plant that I brought to Phoenix with me, and others that were gifted me in those first summer months I was here. They capture the peaceful moments of water and offer them up in the desert.
A good garden pond, once set up, requires very little maintenance. The lilies require the fading leaves and spent flowers to be pinched and composted, the fish are happy to get a little additional food to supplement nature's offerings, the filters need to be lifted and washed every month or so. The key to achieving this leisurely schedule is to be sure to balance the pond early in the season.
A balanced pond is one that has more plants than fish. A LOT more plants than fish. I did not get this going when I set these up back in January. I was slack enough in getting the replacement fish before the mosquito spawn started 'riggling. I did have plenty of plants, the problem was they were all emergent types. The only partially submerged plant was the parrot feather, and since it does most of its photosynthesis above the water line, I'm not sure it was particularly helpful.
So the ponds got a bit.. green... in some of the wrong ways. I had green water. I had algae blooms all over the place, string algae, microscopic algae, algae, algae, algae... a little algae is a good thing, it gives the fish some salad to graze, it helps even out the waste load. Algae is not inherently evil.
But boy, can it be ugly.
So by the time I got my act together - in JUNE - and purchased bunches and bunches of hornwort to drop into each tank, the algae had a damn good foothold.
Here you can get a good look at what grew over the submerged parts of the parrot feather. This stuff is sort of olive toned and kind of looks and feels like wet felt. Blech. Not pretty at all.
This algae fascinates me. It's just standard string algae, but it's only growing here where the bubble gives the water extra oxygen, and it stands in the moving current like a sort of green wave. I've fought with string algae before - it was my main foe in the Michigan patio pots - but here it's behaving in a way I like.
I'm not fighting with any of this right now, mind you. Because in spite of all that muck and slime, these are happy ponds. Healthy ponds. The influx of hornwort cleared up the green water, and in the space of days I was beginning to see little fish fry all over the place. Right now I must have hundreds of babies in the two tanks. I like to feed them crushed goldfish flakes and watch the really little ones swim onto the partially submerged lily leaves to grab food. SO cute!
And the plants are going gangbusters. The lily I brought down has been flowering almost weekly - as one bloom fades and drops, the next is poking its way above the water. The gift lilies have started blooming.
They are white and fresh and lovely.
This little filler plant, identity unknown, is sporting teeny little blooms - this flower is about as wide as a pencil eraser.
A happy and healthy pond, all around.
And one gardener resolved to get the balance right - next year.