Water Gardening Made Simple

A Pond in a Pot.

Who said lakes and ponds could only be built by the rich? By those who can afford to buy enough land to create these beautiful, stunning sights. By those who have enough land space to create a large enough water body to house millions and millions of fish, plants and beautiful flowers. Well today I am here to fish that idea out of your head. 

A beautiful pond that most can only dream of having in their backyard... until now.

Today, we are here to learn about what is a pond in a pot? And how do I go about creating one?

This concept of creating a pond in a pot dates back to the ancient Chinese and Japanese tradition for keeping auspicious plants – the lotus lily and the enchanting water lily, as a symbol of peace and prosperity. As the few species of half-submerged plants, these plant types prefer still and stagnant water to do well in. And that means… You guessed it. Mosquitoes. Those pesky little good-for-nothing stingers that do nothing but harm. In a bid to prevent these pests from breeding and inflicting tremendous harm on us, these men have gotten accustomed to incorporating fishes into the pots to feast on the living flesh of our greatest enemies.

Genius? I think so too.

As a result, we get what we know today as a “Pond in a Pot”. Basically a few water plants and lilies living together harmoniously in a pot of choice (typically one of those terracotta pots/ porcelain pots) with a few live fishes and other inhabitants.

Purple Water Lily
My First Ever Water Lily Pond in a Pot setup

What goes in a Pond in a Pot - Water Garden Setup

Today I will be showing you guys my example of a Pond in a Pot, as well as some of my favorite aquarium plants to be used in conjunction with the water lilies. Furthermore, I am excited to share with you guys about the types of fish which are best suited for life in a pot.

The most important thing to remember for a Pond in a Pot setup is that unless you are using a water pump/ filter, the waters will be stagnant. This could lead to a variety of problems IF you choose the wrong type of plants or fishes. Our main goal of establishing a Pond in a Pot setup as opposed to the traditional aquarium setup is mainly due to it being less high-maintenance. Once the ecosystem in a Pond in a Pot setup has been established, water changes or any pruning/ cutting of plants and general maintenance works will only have to be done perhaps once or twice a week. Personally, I leave my setup lying around bathing in natural rain and sunlight until I get the spare time to actually take care and tidy up the environment.

How to Create Your Pond in a Pot - Water Garden in 3 steps.

1. Selecting the Pot

The first step – choosing the right container, pot or bowl. Ceramic and plastic containers of 15 to 25 gallons are best to use. Have spare garden pots lain around waiting to be thrown away? Why not utilize them once again! Choose a container with a dark interior, this way the pond will look more spacious and deep. Or you could opt for a more traditional ancient oriental look with this enchanting fish bowl from Amazon, just like the ones during the dynasties of ancient China. If possible get a container that has a wider top surface of about 15 inches and runs about 10 inches deep.

Pond In a Pot
A Terracotta Pot
2. Choosing the plants and fishes

Secondly, incorporating the plants. It would be best to have a specific plant for each level of the water. What do I mean? Basically, think of the pond in a pot set up to have three levels. The base. The middle portion. And the very top surface.

Plants that can fulfil this role at the base will include most aquarium plants such as the Amazon Sword and Java Fern. They provide much needed shelter and hiding places for the little creatures that live within the Pond in a Pot.

Some of the Aquarium Plants I recently bought. From left to right - Hornwort, Amazon Sword, Malayan Aquafern.

In the middle portion would typically be plants that are half submerged. In this case what I call the “Main Attraction” – Lotuses and Lilies will fit this category very well since they have roots that extend well below the water surface, penetrating deep into the soil to absorb any excess nitrates and waste generated by the fish. At the same time, the leaves and flowers will rise well above the water surface creating a beautiful scene.

Last but not least, some floaters at the very top surface could be added in as well. Plants such as water lettuce and duckweed go a long way in keeping the waters healthy and purified for the fishes living in it.

Although I have covered a large range of plants that are available to be utilized in the Pond in a Pot. Not all of them are necessary, you may pick and choose as you wish. Freedom of choice is important my friends.

A livebearer - The white molly, a voracious algae eater.

Now, on to the fishes. What I typically recommend for these setups would be livebearers. Fish that can live well without an aeration pump and feed mainly on algae and mosquito larvae. My favorite of which will be the Red Platies and Mosquitofish. Red Platies look amazing against the naturally green backdrop of the pond in a pot. As an added bonus, they’re voracious algae eaters and are relentless in eating and clearing up the excess algae lying around in your pot. As for mosquitofish, the name says it all. They will guarantee your pot is 99.99% free of those pesky little bloodsuckers, who wouldn’t love them.

3. Enjoy and let nature take its course

Leave the setup as it is, and let everything settle down into its own natural spot in the ecosystem, within no time, flowers will bloom, leaves will grow and fishes will go bloop bloop bloop.

The information found here will be addressed and elaborated further in a later video tutorial where I will show you how I personally set up everything from SCRATCH. 

Stay happy, First Floor Family.

Pond In a Pot
My Personal Pond in A Pot setup in a -40cm x 40cm dragon pot