This section is from the book "The Goldfish And Its Systematic Culture With A View To Profit", by Hugo Mulertt. Also available from Amazon: The goldfish and its systematic culture.
The fish-culturist recognizes three kinds of ponds, which are designated by the source from which they receive their supply.
First, the creek and river ponds; these are fed from the source that gives them their names, and which may be, in fact, usually is, in the immediate neighborhood. The water may be conveyed to the ponds either by the action of a pump or by means of a drain, the latter undoubtedly being the least expensive, and the most reliable, besides requiring no further attention than to turn on or off when so desired.
Second, spring-ponds, those fed by a spring, and it may be said in favor of such ponds that the supply of water is steady and of uniform quality and temperature, besides being free from mud.
Third sky-ponds, those that receive their supply from the rain that falls, and which is drained off or runs from the surface of adjoining fields.
The value of a pond is based upon the reliability of its water supply, the quality of the same, as also that of the soil that forms the floor of the pond. Last but not least, is the location of the pond. The locality ought to be such that without any special expenditure of time, the pond can always be under supervision, thus guarding against pilfering upon the part of mischievous boys, the depredations of muskrats, herons, cranes, etc. The water that supplies the ponds would better come from a spring or be gathered in the manner described for the sky-pond, as by this way one will avoid the annoyance and destruction caused by snakes, muskrats, frogs, etc., that are always found in small rivers and creeks, and which are sure to find their way to the pond, causing much trouble, to say nothing of the money value of that which they destroy. Besides this, the ponds should have some natural protection against the high winds of spring time. This is very well afforded by a clump of trees close by, but much better if the pond is situated in a hollow between two or three small hills. These not only shelter the ponds, but tend to keep them warm by retaining the warmth of the sun in the spring, just at a time when it is most needed. In a warm and protected location of this kind, the fish will spawn several weeks before the ordinary beginning of the season, the young, of course, being ready for sale that much sooner, and the ponds are vacated for a second crop, thus bringing a quicker and more liberal return on the investment.
Lastly, it is of but little use to locate ponds in a neighborhood that does not afford a market for the product, unless, indeed, the amateur should be in correspondence with such parties as would be likely to find it to their interest to handle his stock.
The foregoing remarks on ponds and those which follow are made with an especial view to the culture of goldfish, so that the novice as well as the amateur may get a distinct idea of the proper method of locating and constructing them, for upon this depends the success of the enterprise, and more so when it is engaged in for the purpose of yielding an income.
We come now to a consideration of the immediate and practical points concerning the subject upon which we are engaged and which we wish to see in running order. After having determined to devote his spare time to the cultivation of goldfish, the amateur will hardly know where to commence or what to do first, neither will he know how to do it. That want the author thoroughly appreciates, and it is his aim to supply it in these pages, at the same time bearing in mind that the great majority will probably have but a small capital with which to commence business, and must necessarily confine themselves to such things as are most needed when making a start. After a beginning has been successfully accomplished, other and useful accessories may be added from time to time that will undoubt-edly greatly reduce labor and enhance the enjoyment of the pursuit, for if one does not take any interest in what he is engaged he can not hope to derive from it either pleasure or profit.
The first thing then is to determine on a favorable site for the location of the ponds. This, as previously stated, should be one protected from cold winds and fully exposed to the sun, not forgetting that the soil to form the floor of the ponds should be as rich as possible. It must also be borne in mind for it is a very essential requisite, that every pond must be drawn off at times, and independently of all others. When this can not be accomplished by turning to account the natural declivity or resources of the site, the series must be so arranged that this may be accomplished in sections, or, in other words, the ponds so situated that two or three or more, as the case may be, can be emptied at will.
The manner in which ponds are to be constructed in any given case is, as a matter of necessity, to be governed by the circumstances as they exist, anything favorable for them to be taken advantage of and turned to good account. A natural valley or hollow may be dammed up at the lower end, thus enabling the culturist to place his ponds on top of the ground, so to speak, or they may be made by digging out the soil to the required size and depth to receive the frames hereafter to be described.
As before stated, there are many enemies which prey upon the goldfish, and all of which are to be guarded against in the construction of the ponds in which they are expected to live and increase. If left alone and without the protection of man, the circumstances must be exceptionally favorable under which they can thrive and multiply- For the systematic raising of goldfish, therefore, a series of ponds is indispensable, each of which is constructed and arranged to meet the requirements of the specific purpose for which it is intended. All of them, however, are based upon the same fundamental principle and must have adjustable inlets and outlets, otherwise they can not be under complete control, the reason for which a little experience will soon explain. The number of ponds needed for the culture of goldfish does not exceed four, and in their order are the spawning-pond, rearing-pond, storage-pond, and winter-pond. The spawning-ponds or "beds" are those ponds in which the parent fish are placed when the breeding time arrives, and are to be kept there throughout the duration of that season, and solely for the purpose of depositing the eggs. The rearing-ponds are those in which the young fry is placed or "planted" and to keep them until they are of a marketable size. The storage-ponds are for the purpose of keeping saleable stock until wanted, and in a situation readily accessible at a moment's notice. The last in order is the winter-pond, in which the parent fish, and those of the younger that are intended for the same purpose, are carried through the inclemencies of the winter.
The greatest depth of all the ponds, the winter-pond excepted, should not be made to exceed twenty-four (24) inches, and this to be at that end where the outlet is placed. From twenty-four inches at one end the depth should gradually decrease until the water depth at the head is not greater than six (6) inches. (See illustration.)
The upper edges of the dams of the ponds should not be less than six inches above the highest water capacity, thus avoiding overflow during heavy rain-storms; neither should they be less than eighteen (18) in width. It is also necessary that the dams be made very carefully, so that when soaked with water they will not sink or cave in with their own weight. A most excellent material of which to build them consists simply of sod cut into suitable pieces and laid one upon another, just as a stone-mason lays one stone upon the other, the whole when thus laid becomes very solid and compact, and capable of resisting considerable pressure, and will withstand the wear and tear of the weather and the weight of the body when walking over them. Where there is danger prevailing from a sudden freshet in an adjoining creek, it is a wise precaution to build, in addition, a strong dam on the outside and in the direction from which the danger is expected. For greater safety this dam may be in its turn protected with boards, so as to prevent gradual washing away. Each inlet, i. e., the point at which the water supply makes its way into the pond, is to be guarded with galvanized iron netting of a tolerably coarse mesh, about eight to the inch, as a small mesh clogs very readily, and only adds the additional care of keeping it clean. The outlet is formed of two gutters of which one fits in an upright position tightly on the end of the other, which leads through the bottom of the dam, forming a right angle. (See illustration.) The one leading through the dam is closed tightly on all four sides, but on the upright one the side facing the pond is closed with adjustable sections cut from flooring boards. By means of these movable parts the level of the water in the pond can be regulated as occasion may require. The overflow, that is, where the water is running out, is guarded by a wire screen of the same sized mesh as before mentioned, and adjustable in the same manner as the other boards protecting the opening. When it is desirable to drain the pond, one section or board is removed at a time, always taking care to place the wire screen upon the top by letting it slide down into the grooves. (See illustration.)
Longitudinal Section of Goldfish Pond.
A most important point, and one to be insisted upon in the construction of ponds, is to so arrange the water supply that it will at all times be under complete control. Each pond is to receive its supply independently of all the rest, and the water must also, when need be, be cut off from the pond without interfering with the supply of others. The supply channel must likewise have an independent "run," so that the water it contains when not wanted for use in the ponds, may find its way out of the establishment. This point is one of great importance, especially during heavy rain-storms, as the large increase in the volume of water would cause the ponds to overflow and probably do great damage.
Outlet for Pond.