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Okay, I've looked all over, but can't figure this out. I like the idea of making a corner pond for drainage and aesthetic, but I do not understand how to go about constructing one. I've seen "slope the false bottom" but that's it. What do you do with your substrate, or substrate barrier? is there something to keep the water in the pond away from the substrate? should it be lined with anything? help, I am thoroughly confused! If anyone has photos of theirs, I would love to see. Thanks!
 

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Great question. I don’t want a “water feature,” but I like the idea of a corner pond as well and was planning this for my next viv. I know the main problem can be the water wicking up into the substrate and saturating the soil. Some examples and pics would be greatly appreciated.
 

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I have never managed to solve this problem, so I just don't do corner ponds in my tanks anymore. The few that I have tried always end up being a mess because I couldn't stabilize the substrate at the edge of the pond. Especially when the frogs start hopping in and out of the pond, the substrate just gums up the pond and I end up with a brown mess. I have seen people slope the false bottom, silicone the edge, use a glass partition, etc. but I have never seen a solution that a) looked to be long-term stable and b) didn't look completely artificial. I am sure there is a way to do it. I just haven't seen it yet :)

Mark
 

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In my most recent build I made the front portion of my tank a shallow 'pond' what I did was I created my false bottom but subtracted the pond area from the footprint.
I then used epiweb covered in hygrolon to create my slope which can stand being wet. This will turn into a great area for moss growth. Lastly I attached the epiweb to the edge of the false bottom using silicone and covered the seam with some aquatic substrate so water doesn't wick up into the ABG mix.

 

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I'm putting a pond in mine. I have a cork tube that I planned on cutting a quarter out of, so it's 3/4 round lengthwise, and will fix that to the edge.

Granted, mine will be mostly filled with some gravel and there won't be pond per se, but will be a place to grow my anubias partially submerged.
 

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Hi Natalie,

I've screwed this up every way since Tuesday, and totally understand why "water feature" is a pretty much a cuss word in this community. But I now have a method I like, and which I am still using - just keep the pond water totally separated from the false bottom water.

First, I drill the tank for a drain. Make sure it's low enough that the water level is an inch or so lower than the top of the planned pond margin's lowest elevation. But deep enough for whatever you need your pond to do for you. Having the pond abut a side, rather than being out in the middle (an O shape) is nicer IMO because you won't need an ugly stand-pipe in your pond. Also you use less foam, epoxy, paint, and time.

I build a pond margin - shaped like an L or a C; or a U; or an O, depending on if the pond is going in the corner; going in the center of the back or front wall; or not going to be attached to a wall, respectively.

The "pond margin" is carved from pink or blue foam board. That makes it super simple to have a flat bottom, and flat edges where it'll abut the tank walls, if relevant. This pond margin is taller than you might think, because it goes from the glass floor all the way up to a half-inch or so above the leaf-litter layer. So it might be 4-5" tall. The shape of the inner slope of the pond is under your complete control here. Slopey? Cliffy? Beachy? Whatever you like. The outside of the margin, I usually make pretty vertical. I put some rocky texture on the top rim.

I coat the foam in epoxy on all sides except those I will be coating in silicone, and adhering to glass. This is critical. Epoxy and silicone do not stick to each other. Having a little bit of overlap by the epoxy, lapping over the side/bottom margin onto a thin strip of bottom, is fine.

Then I paint the epoxy - just the epoxy, not the unepoxied foam - with acrylic craft paint. Again, a tiny bit of slop-over, from the epoxy onto the foam margin, is fine. It's good, even. Apply several coats of paint. It's best to get the first coat on, between maybe 2 and 6 hours of applying the last epoxy layer - at partial cure of the epoxy, when it's a bit tacky, but not uber-sticky. You can get artistic here, after the first layer. After the paint has cured a week or so, I like to soak the piece in a bucket or tub. The water is a little bubbly for a bit - do several water changes. It's not toxic, but it's also not very appetizing.

Now - after drying the piece - you can silicone the epoxied, painted "foam pond margin" to your glass. I like to rough up the raw foam a little, to give the silicone a little more "grab". I apply the silicone to the foam, not the glass. Lay down a thick bead and use a putty knife or old credit card to get an even coat over the entire bottom - the raw, roughed-up foam, and that little bit of painted-epoxy slopover. Finally, I like to run a thinner bead atop the spread-out silicone, along the entire margin (draw a full circle with that bead), maybe a quarter inch in from the edge. Then moosh that sucker in place, and run a gloved finger along every edge where the silicone is squishing out, to ensure a good seal and to remove some excess material. You'll have some ugly silicone atop your lovely paint job, but that's OK, this will be covered up by your drainage layer / false bottom, or by pond substrate, or by your background. Just depends where the pond is going - corner, front/back, or +/- centered.

Note - silicone skins up pretty quick. Don't mess around with the putty knife and bead, do your business within 5 minutes or so. Once the silicone starts to skin, it's WAY less adherent. Not cool. This little foam jobbie wants to float! If you don't stick it real good, it'll pop off and float. Remember, it's gonna be sitting in water on all sides, most likely.

Finally, clear the room to avoid the fumes. (Actually, do this silicone step in the garage or some other non-freezing, out-of-the-rain, not-in-the-house place.)

Outside the pond area, just do your normal false bottom or drainage layer. If your water movement is non-violent you can run substrate and leaf litter right up to the painted foam. If you have a little splashing, you can edge the foam with a lens of Turface or gravel. A little cork helps keep that in place, and away from the more absorbent organic substrate you're probably using.

Hope this helps. I take very few pictures, and when I do I sure as hell don't put them on the internet! Ha ha. I'm weird like that - private, with such data. But I'm happy to narratively share what I know. And I swear to you, this method works well and it looks smashing. You could skip all this crap and just silicone in a piece of glass to separate the water and the dirt, but...I find that aesthetically dismal. Hey, to each their own though, to each their own.

I guess I could point out, I have also done this once "in the negative" - I made a peninsula of land of land using a C-shaped "pond margin" - I just put the dirt inside the C, and the water outside. Water flows in on the left, and drains on the right, with a stream along the front of the glass. Works great, I love me a little stream, same as a pond. Maybe more actually.

Good luck!
 

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I slope my drainage layer down. Then cover it with screen. I build up the pond area with busted up sand stone or river rock. I basically make a retaining wall then I run spaghnum around the outside of that which holds my substrate

Not a corner but you should be able to see what I mean
 

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Forget trying to seal off the pond area from the rest of the bottom, I only forsee issues trying to attempt it this way.
Raised false bottom with egg crate the entire bottom is covered with water.
Has worked for me, never had an issue and frogs love depositing tads there as well


 

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This was my build that worked out very well. There is constant moving water so that there is never stagnant water. The roots clean the water through their uptake. I haven’t worried about dirt getting into the water because the dirt will only supply nutrients. The soil is also very wet most of the time, but I haven’t seen this as a problem yet. The plants took a while to adjust but then exploded and grew all over the tank. My next setup I make, I want to play with a decomposition sight/section which will give the water even more nutrients, which will make the plants grow even more.
Soil Aquarium Freshwater aquarium Amphibian Aquarium decor



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Two words make it easy: Matala Filter

If your false bottom is Matala filter, simply cut out a corner, cut a slope, then put rocks and java moss on that slope. As long as you've cut your drainage at the appropriate height, you're golden.

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Forget trying to seal off the pond area from the rest of the bottom, I only forsee issues trying to attempt it this way.
Raised false bottom with egg crate the entire bottom is covered with water.
Has worked for me, never had an issue and frogs love depositing tads there as well


that's a really great view! what's the nice growing plant growing through the moss on the border to the leaf litter? Btw. is the moss directly growing on the wood or on hygrolon/epiweb?
 

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I believe them to be Pilea Glauca Red Stem Tears.
This picture was taken last year when I was struggling with getting my moss to green up. Has since been dialed in.
I do have strips of spyra layed down on the driftwood but the moss creeps up all along it even where there isn't any.
 

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This was my build that worked out very well. There is constant moving water so that there is never stagnant water. The roots clean the water through their uptake. I haven’t worried about dirt getting into the water because the dirt will only supply nutrients. The soil is also very wet most of the time, but I haven’t seen this as a problem yet. The plants took a while to adjust but then exploded and grew all over the tank. My next setup I make, I want to play with a decomposition sight/section which will give the water even more nutrients, which will make the plants grow even more.
View attachment 277550


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Wow that worked out very well. It's really natural. Mind posting a full tank shot?

I really think that the pond areas in vivs should blend in with the rest and shouldn't be cut out with glass or cornered with odd looking rocks.

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I've been interested in doing something similar in a corner of the vivarium I'm building.
Is it necessary to have an electric filter if you're doing a pond that incorporates water all the way under the false bottom, or is stagnant water fine with occasional water changes? I want to try to keep things as simple as I can.
 

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I have never managed to solve this problem, so I just don't do corner ponds in my tanks anymore. The few that I have tried always end up being a mess because I couldn't stabilize the substrate at the edge of the pond. Especially when the frogs start hopping in and out of the pond, the substrate just gums up the pond and I end up with a brown mess. I have seen people slope the false bottom, silicone the edge, use a glass partition, etc. but I have never seen a solution that a) looked to be long-term stable and b) didn't look completely artificial. I am sure there is a way to do it. I just haven't seen it yet :)

Mark
Maybe not the answer you're looking for, but I totally agree
 

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I've created corner ponds before successfully. I'm building another one now. Hopefully this image helps. Rocks will be piled against the edge with a little silicone to hold them in place. There is a thread on this forum calling those of us who use rocks as edges for ponds "newbs" but so far it's the best way I've found to prevent pond water wicking into the substrate while also giving it a somewhat natural look and allowing the flexibility to easily rearrange the area that the water drains if need be.

A few notes...
The biggest issue I've had with this design is the screened area does slowly clog and the water level will gradually raise over time causing your substrate to become saturated if you aren't careful. This however is generally very gradual and is easy to fix by scrapping clean the screen or worst case stabbing a few small holes into it to open up drainage again.

Be sure there are areas for the inhabitants to climb out or at least perch and rest at all edges. Frogs have been known to drown if they get to a corner glass area as they get confused.

The waterfall/stream itself is actually off most of the time. Inevitably the water will escape from the stream and make the ground very wet. There needs to be time for it to dry out.


The red text says "Exposed screen for water to overflow under false bottom".
 

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Looking at mine again, i realized that I put a “false bottom” under the gravel to allow for better flow just in case the gravel decided to clog. I figure I have a few years before I start having some real issues. I also don’t use a filter because I figured the gravel and screen would take care of anything too large to clog the water pump.

As for standing water, i think its okay if done right. I believe that it is possible to a clean water through the plants and other microorganisms. I read a really cool post on here about someone who made a decomposition side of his tank that fed his frogs and provided nutrients to his plants through the water that was at the bottom. He said his water was clean enough for his frogs.

Also, just tested my water the other day because my fish died because of lack of feeding, and I have perfectly clean water. A little high on the ph scale but the plants and snails seem to be doing their job quite nicely. I haven’t done a water change in over a year.


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