Finding Information about Ponds
Ponding turns out to be a complex subject that intermingles theory from several branches of knowledge with the practical experience of industry and individuals. So, when searching for an answer to any question, you will find violently opposed points of view, and will have to decide what makes sense, and try things out. I've simply included here some pointers to sources of information that I've found helpful; I don't agree with everything that might flow through these pointers.
Beware the phenomenon of local experience, as I like to call it: someone beset with problems who finally discovers what appears to be a solution will champion that solution with religious fervor, unaware that his problems were actually solved because of other factors of which he is unaware, that may not apply to others. If your stubbornly cloudy water suddenly clears up when you change your brand of fish food, what do you conclude? Unless you are constructing a dozen identical ponds, you are not conducting a controlled experiment.
Salt: mostly refers to koi, but should apply, qualitatively, to goldfish as well.
Very good article on water chemistry and fish care, with an unusual discussion of the green water phenonenon and toxic plants, by Norm Meck.
Mike's Pond Page: Extensive collection of links, photographs, and an introduciton to making a pond.
Ornamental Garden Pools: brief but sensible treatment of every topic by Michael Masser, Extension Fisheries Specialist, Associate Professor, Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures, and Elizabeth Anderson, Extension Graduate Assistant, both at Auburn University.
How to Build A Biological Filter By Howard Baugues-96/97, 97/98 President, -Wabash Valley Water Garden Society
Eric Newman's Koi Pond Biofilter Page: fascinating, with great pictures.
The Pond at Chateau Gladstone: A must-visit if you are interested in innovative applications of computers to your pond. Here you will find a pond-cam (I must do this) and graphs of the output of temperature and other sensors. There is even an rss subscription!
Diverse and interesting collection of "Koi & pond links".
The Mid-Atlantic Koi Club: "An active and friendly club for people who are interested in the study and enjoyment of Koi, Goldfish and outdoor ponds."
JJ's Ponds, with interesting filter ideas and information about the Washington State Mid-Columbia Koi and Pond Club.
Garden Endeavors: here are instructions on how to construct a venturi.
I [picture of heart] my pond: under construction, but already good.
Personal Pond Websites
Great album of pond photographs, including a series documenting the contstruction of a "veggie filter"
Also known as the network news. I hope you know what it is. There is an excellent newsgroup, rec.ponds, that I strongly recommend you at least browse occasionally if you take up the hobby. People there regularly post the addresses of their personal websites with pictures of their ponds, and it is frequented by a few alarmingly knowledgeable people who are very generous in sharing their wisdom. I have quoted several of their postings in my pages here, most notably those of Rod Farlee.
Don't overlook the newsgroups rec.aquaria, rec.aquaria.freshwater, etc. Many of the issues are the same, although the hardy pond goldfish seem to be much more forgiving of fluctuations in water quality than tropical fish, which seem to go belly-up if you look at them funny. At least, I'm having a much easier time with my pond than my aquaria!
If you don't have a newsreader or don't know what I'm talking about, point your web browser at Google Groups, where the entire history of usenet is archived. You can search rec.ponds for any keywords that interest you, and although a real newsreader is much better for this, you can even post news.
The pond hobby seems to be growing. The bookstores have a wide selection of books with lovely pictures of ponds, plants, and fish, and instructions on how to build and maintain a pond. The better ones have small pictorial catalogues of fish and plants, listing the characteristics of the different varieties. Most of the books are substantially the same, and I don't have any specific recommendations. I would get a few from the bargain section that have nice pictures; they are good to have around for inspiration. These books are most notable for what's missing from them. For example, one of the most important topics in maintaining water quality, the use of lime or other substances to establish an appropriate KH, I have not seen mentioned in a single mass-audience book. This fits a pattern: the books tend to emphasize things you can spend money on. A lifetime supply of agricultural limestone may cost you $5, but the (possibly dangerous) pH-modifying chemicals recommended by the books cost much more. Also, there is little discussion of cheap ways to make filters, but many pictures of very expensive commercial ones.
But here is a serious book that I found online in the form of a nice pdf: Ponds - Planning, Design, Construction by the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. It is Agriculture Handbook Number 590, and is mostly about large-scale ponds, rather than the backyard variety that I'm talking about here, but has loads of interesting information. local copy