For those who enjoy aquariums, here is an idea for a pond environment you can maintain and enjoy in your home. Setting up a pond aquarium provides a great opportunity to learn and teach about creatures and plants that live in your local waters.
Choose the right tank
A five to ten gallon standard aquarium tank is best. Prepare it by getting a piece of glass raised with cork, or some screening to use as a cover. This cover allows for air circulation. Make sure the tank is in a fairly steady temperature and not in sunlight. A temperature of up to 70 degrees is ideal. Now your aquarium will need sand. You can purchase sand at a pet store or specialized aquarium shop. The sand must be rinsed in case of dust. Spread about two inches of sand in the bottom of the tank.
You can fill your aquarium with actual water from a local pond, but tap water is easier. You should let it sit a few days before placing anything in it to clear the chlorine.
Equipment for collecting plants and creatures
You will need to take along some useful items to gather insects, plants and small animals. Jars with holes punched in the lid are a time-honored tradition; also, a kitchen sieve, mesh-cloth net, and a device made up of two sticks with a piece of screen attached are useful. A white enamel pan with tweezers or forceps and a small magnifying lens are great if you want to examine what you’ve caught.
What to gather
Fall is a great time to catch tiny fish from the pond. Be prepared for the fact many fish feed on each other. In general, you can find more other types of life in spring or summer. Don’t try to catch fish or other animals from a running water environment such as a stream and place them in a pond. They will not survive in such circumstances.
Remember that oxygen is crucial to keep your pond creatures alive. This means that you will need plenty of plant life, and you want to put the plants in the aquarium first. If you can’t retrieve plants from your local pond, you can get them from any store that sells aquarium supplies. Some good plants for a pond tank are wild celery, water milfoil, duckweed and water weed. Make sure there are not too many plants floating on the surface of the aquarium, though. The other plants need the light to reach them in order to thrive.
The animal life you find in your local pond such as the water strider, cyclops, hydra, water flea, water boatmen, snails, shrimp, leeches, various water beetles and tadpoles are fine for your aquarium. Just remember when the tadpoles are young, they feed on the plants but when they become frogs, they eat the other animals. So when they change into frogs, remove them from the tank.
It’s handy to have a nature book on pond life in order to identify the fascinating creatures you’ve retrieved. There are also some informative websites, some links provided with this article. Many of these creatures are tiny and can go unnoticed until you can closely observe them in an aquarium.
Pond aquarium maintenance
When you add water to your aquarium, pour the water very slowly so the plants don’t break away.
Remember that debris and waste will sink down into sand, mostly down into the lowest point. Use a dip tube to remove it.
A pond aquarium is an intriguing way to learn about the environment in your area. They are also much easier to maintain than the showier ocean aquarium. Why not think about setting up a pond aquarium soon?
Joy of Nature, p. Reader’s Digest 1977