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Old 02-22-2018, 09:03 PM   #1
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Unusual Pond Setup

Hello Everyone! I have been dreaming about turning an old canoe into a backyard pond for a couple of years now, and last weekend finally was able to get myself a decent sized canoe (some very rough math tells me it is around 250 gallons when full, at 16" long). It is still about a month away from pond-friendly weather, so I was hoping to get a solid game plan with the help of you guys with experience!

I currently have a 400gph pump, submersible filter, tubing and a fountain. I have 3 large black moor goldfish that are currently in tanks inside that I would like to move into the canoe once set up. I plan on putting sand and a few large stones in the bottom as substrate, as well as a good amount of plants (for all levels). I plan on keeping at least half of the canoe in the shade so the fish have options when it gets hot.

I am looking to ensure that I am not missing anything crucial (as I have never had a pond before, only indoor tanks for 2-3 years). With a shallower pond like this, are there expected problems I should watch out for? In a zone 7a, when could I set this up successfully (without fish, could use a heater if needed) to get it cycled and ready for fish ASAP?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 02-22-2018, 10:30 PM   #2
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In response to depth.... could you dig the hole deeper, cut the bottom of the canoe in half, fold the flaps out to the side and make the majority of the center deeper? Throw some gravel or sand in the bottom of the hole for the substrate? I bring this up because the canoe itself seems really shallow. Because it's shallow it could raise the temp of the water to easily?
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Old 02-22-2018, 10:35 PM   #3
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In response to depth.... could you dig the hole deeper, cut the bottom of the canoe in half, fold the flaps out to the side and make the majority of the center deeper? Throw some gravel or sand in the bottom of the hole for the substrate? I bring this up because the canoe itself seems really shallow. Because it's shallow it could raise the temp of the water to easily?
Thatís something I was worried about as well. Opening up the bottom is a great idea and not something I thought of! I think I could do that and use a thick liner to make it deeper. Thank you for the suggestion!
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Old 02-22-2018, 10:48 PM   #4
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Liner would work too if you wanted to go even deeper. I'd find a way to tack up the liner so water doesn't get behind it but also doesn't cover your canoe. Initially I was thinking you could just use sand or gravel to cover the dirt bottom. It might also be easier to grow plants in as well.

If you go the liner route then you could just cut the entire bottom out of the canoe and make the hole as deep as you want?
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Old 02-23-2018, 05:07 PM   #5
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Ah, now I see what you meant. For some reason I was thinking just a dirt/sand bottom wouldn't hold water, but I guess that's what natural ponds have

I would be worried about digging it too deep and being unable to see the fish since they are so dark, but I would prefer that to cooking my fish accidentally!

Thank you for your suggestion, I'll get to work on opening up the bottom and see what I have to work with!
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Old 02-23-2018, 06:19 PM   #6
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The more I think about it I'm not sure if it would hold water using sand and gravel. Never tried it. If you wanted to experiment I guess you could fill the bottom of the hole with a mixture of sand and gravel, fill it with water and let it sit for a week and see how much is left. I'm thinking it may leach out. You would also have to water proof the sides of the hole still with pond liner and leave the bottom open with the sand and gravel...... seems like alot of work. I'm leaning more towards using pond liner all around in the hole and tacking it up to the canoe. You could always throw some sand, gravel or substrate in the bottom of the pond liner for plants.

For depth I think 5 feet would be good enough to see them and give them cooler water at the bottom in the summer. Plus they should come to the surface when you are around thinking they will be fed.
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Old 02-23-2018, 06:31 PM   #7
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I'm definitely glad I came to this site for suggestions before just setting up the canoe only- I tried splitting the bottom open today and since it's a fiberglass build on the bottom it just wanted to break off (good thing I got this canoe for cheap because it's definitely mangled now).
I used a jigsaw to remove the entire bottom and I think I am going to leave the sides only and go the liner route and dig about 2 1/2 more feet down since the canoe itself is about 2' from bottom to top frame. I played with attaching the liner to the wooden trim at the top of the canoe so I wouldn't have to worry about covering the edges and it seems to hold pretty well at this point! I also found a huge bag of white(ish) sand that I'm hoping will make the fish more visible instead of a dark substrate on the bottom. I think this may work out better than expected!

King Fisher, I can't thank you enough for your advice- I have been dreaming about doing this for a couple years now. I'll try and get some photos up in the next few days if the weather stays nice enough for us to get it done!
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Old 02-24-2018, 04:08 AM   #8
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Awesome. I like this canoe idea a lot.

I forgot to ask you if it was fiberglass, metal or plastic. Lol. With the pool liner you definitely don't need the bottom of the boat so if you got it snugged up good to the frame you should be good to go.

My last suggestion is to leave the pool liner fairly loose in the hole to alleviate stress at the attached points to your canoe frame when you add water. Let the ground at the bottom of the hole support the weight and allow for expansion. There gonna be a lot of weight in that pond liner once you add water and sand. Also, make sure you attach the pond liner at several points to the canoe frame (every 6 inches?) for strength.

Definitely get some pics when you're done. PM me just in case I miss it.
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Old 03-16-2018, 06:36 PM   #9
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A month late, but I'll definitely post an update soon! It's taking much longer than I originally anticipated, We've hit quite a few snags in the process... turns out the ground underneath the pond area is %99 tree roots, chain link, and rocks, as well as irrigation lines that we accidentally broke through... oops!
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Old 04-02-2018, 07:19 PM   #10
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Awesome. I like this canoe idea a lot.

I forgot to ask you if it was fiberglass, metal or plastic. Lol. With the pool liner you definitely don't need the bottom of the boat so if you got it snugged up good to the frame you should be good to go.

My last suggestion is to leave the pool liner fairly loose in the hole to alleviate stress at the attached points to your canoe frame when you add water. Let the ground at the bottom of the hole support the weight and allow for expansion. There gonna be a lot of weight in that pond liner once you add water and sand. Also, make sure you attach the pond liner at several points to the canoe frame (every 6 inches?) for strength.

Definitely get some pics when you're done. PM me just in case I miss it.
Unfortunately almost our whole plan went to bust... too many pipes and cables in the ground that we did not expect (and the Call Before you Dig people did not mark). We bought another used canoe and tried it again, we like the way it looks and are currently letting it cycle and measuring the temperatures every couple of hours to make sure it is staying at adequate temperatures to support goldfish safely and not warming up too quickly! Here's a photo of what we currently have finished, I'll add another once we get the fish, pond plants, and surrounding plants added!
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