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    Thread: What to ask contractors for mid-size pond project?

    1. #41
      Jerome is offline Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by stevek View Post
      I'm thinking about drainage for rain water outside the pond. You're going to have a lot of drainage water coming from the bank between the road and the pond, since the pond is much lower than the road bank. After the pond is in, that water has to be planned for. It's hard to tell where it's going now with your lawn, but once you have the pond in, you'll have less ground to soak the water up. In the winter, ground will be frozen, and rain water will follow the contours of the land.
      Planning drainage starts with determining the high point of the land and working downhill from there. If the high point of the finish grade is at the top of the pond, then you can grade everything down from there, and have all drainage go to the side of the house where the natural downslope is. If the highpoint is in the middle of the pond, then you have to plan drainage in 2 directions, since the built up waterfall will stop any surface water from getting past it. You can't go towards the house for obvious reasons, you can't go uphill towards the road, so the only other option is going towards the driveway . I can't tell if this is possible or not.
      I'm assuming you want the typical raised waterfall built up with rocks and soil, which has to extend from pond edge away from the pond, perhaps even out to the road bank. There are other types of waterfalls, however. You can have a more contemporary look by just having the waterfall come out of the pond wall. This would eliminate all the fill reguired to build up a natural type fall, and not impact the drainage grading issue.
      Oh, I get it now. Actually, rain drainage is the reason for which I didn't position the waterfall in the bottom corner in my little montage (as there are water drainage marks on the lawn in this corner), but I didn't think about more water drainage being stopped by the waterfall stones. Hence your point to locate it on the other side, I get it now. Hm. It would seem tricky to try to redirect drainage water to the driveway, the terrain actually goes up gradually towards the driveway (can't take a pic now, there is snow on the ground, this wouldn't show much). Given the shape of the street (going down towards the bottom part of my satellite pic above), the presence of storm drains and the fact that excess water does seem concentrated in the bottom corner, I don't know if the issue would be that significant though. Maybe simply locating the waterfall at the top as you suggested (and the skimmer at the other end, near the seating area) would be good enough? Let me add this topic to the list "to discuss with contractor" though. Thanks again for the great inputs, appreciated.

      Quote Originally Posted by Paul Sabucchi View Post
      If the waterfall would cut off some drainage could Jerome have the raised waterfall laid over some sort of culvert to allow the water to run down unobstructed?
      This was my first thought after reading Steve's post, but I had no idea if this would be realistic! Sounds that it might be?

    2. #42
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      Yes- that would work as well. The highway dept uses culverts all the time on back country roads, so if a car can run over a soil covered pipe without collapsing it , then it would be no problem for a static mound of dirt and rocks. I'm sure there are smaller versions of culvert pipe available. Good idea !

    3. #43
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      Quote Originally Posted by Jerome View Post
      Speaking of external filtration system, I can envision two locations, what do you guys think?

      a) on the side of the house (fairly protected area, but outdoors, plus I fear that corresponding noise would bother us at night -bedroom upstairs is right there; we're very light sleepers).
      b) in the basement, right under the bow window room (large unfinished space in there, without much of a purpose), hence close to the pond

      I did an approximate drawing (satellite view of the house; road on the left side) to explain:
      - blue = informal pond
      - green = waterfall
      - pink = seating/viewing area
      - arrows = possible location for filtering equipment
      I use a part of our basement as a filter room. I have a couple of pressure filters in there. It's very convenient to flush the filters into the floor drain especially during the winter. I think you will learn that it is very convenient to have a pond close to the house to easily supply it's life source to the pond such as drain, electricity, water, wifi, heat, aeration etc.
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    4. #44
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      If Sid has done it then it must be doable!
      46000 liters with only wetland filtration

    5. #45
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      I finally located a somewhat local contractor with extensive experience with bottom-drain + external bead filters kind of design. Still didn't get him to visit yet, but he seemed to be hitting the right points on the phone.

      Earlier today, I was invited by two amazing folks in my neighborhood who have a very large (30k gallons!) koi pond in a green house of sorts. What they did is stunning, I was so mesmerized. Quite the miracle to have located those folks (they stay very low key about their private koi space because they got in troubles with other neighbors for all the construction work, which they had to redo multiple times before they hit the right design some 8 years ago).

      This made me realize that we could actually consider a similar design (well, smaller!) at the back of our house. We'd give up on seeing the pond from our library/office, but we have a finished room in the basement which could provide direct access to such construct, as well as stairs from our back deck for the summer. And then no wildlife issue, no debris falling from trees, no overflowing water from the street, no pond closure during the winter, no fencing the yard, etc.

      As a side note, their first [outdoors] pond was made with a liner and she warned me that "our liner floated up when water table rose from snowmelt". I am keenly aware of the power of rising water tables (got plenty of issues with our previous house) and this made me flinch... We're in the northeast, several feet of accumulated snow is NOT unusual over the winter.

      Room for thought...

    6. #46
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      Maybe im just paranoid but I dont trust a lot of people with my pets. Id be worried with it so close and visible to the road. Someone walking by or driving by could easily toss something in the pond that could poison them, especially teens. They do things on a whim and dont really consider the consequences. Just something else to consider.. again tho, when it comes to my pets, i dont trust many people lol

      Ps your back yard you said there might be tree roots/boulders. The right contractor would have the equipment to easily handle that kind of landscape. And remember no matter where you put it, Call DIG SAFE! my father hit a fiber optic cable wire (we pave driveways) and the cable company tried slapping him with a 10k fine. He fought it because he called dig safe and it was their mess up, not his.
      Last edited by GSD; 01-22-2022 at 07:32 PM.

    7. #47
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      Quote Originally Posted by Jerome View Post
      ... no wildlife issue, no debris falling from trees, no overflowing water from the street, no pond closure during the winter, no fencing the yard, etc.
      ...
      Glad you're steering away from building your pond at the front yard. You've struck on some key aspects here in building a successful pond. A few more pond visits should do it, watching established ponds on youtube (many will go through their successes and mistakes); and in this day of technology, I see can't why you can't do virtual pond visits. No more guessing/excuses, no more having to join koi clubs etc., you should be able to build a pond the right way, the very first time.
      Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. ---- Marthe Troly-Curtin

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    8. #48
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      Glad you are getting closer to the start line.
      This is a recent build in the UK that sounds quite similar to what you are planning, no stream or waterfall though
      https://youtu.be/Ganiu9ptjmg
      46000 liters with only wetland filtration

    9. #49
      Jerome is offline Member
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      Quote Originally Posted by Paul Sabucchi View Post
      Glad you are getting closer to the start line.
      This is a recent build in the UK that sounds quite similar to what you are planning, no stream or waterfall though
      https://youtu.be/Ganiu9ptjmg
      Oh, this is very cool indeed. My wife would love that. Might be the right compromise, notably if we can open the sides in the summer, feel the breeze and easily get out/get in. I am not particularly attached to the waterfall, now that I think twice about it. I LOVE the side window on the water. My focus is really on the fish. Been fascinated with carp since I was a teenager.

      The whole sheltered construct could have a back door connecting to a wooden path to go down to our small woods area, with a seated area (pergola?) down there. Which is where I envisioned the pond to begin with, before realizing that tree roots and rocks and access would be too much of a pain. Circling back in a different manner!

      Well, that is the third fairly radical change of direction in our thinking. Shows that we really should not rush the issue and let it simmer for a few more months...
      Last edited by Jerome; 01-23-2022 at 12:43 PM.

    10. #50
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      The issue of windows in koi ponds seems to be like Marmite...quite divisive. Traditionalist say that koi were developed to be viewed from above, not the side and going too elevated means you can only look down most of the pond in a very oblique way and then reflections on the water spoil the viewing even further. Others find that the third dimension adds to the enjoyment. Maybe there is some sort of compromise to be struck, go up in moderation and have some form of platform level with the edge on one side - like some decking above the filtration: 2 birds with one stone - hide the filter and be able to look at the fish from above.
      46000 liters with only wetland filtration

    11. #51
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      Been thinking about this and actively discussing with my wife over the past few days. We REALLY like the idea of a 4-season sunroom/greenhouse structure connected to the house (we have a finished room in the basement with a sliding windows going to the backyard where a 24ft x 20ft sunroom could be located (e.g. fitting a 16x10x5 rectangular pond inside), plus some extra space under the deck (e.g. 12x10) which could be closed and used as "machinery" room on the side of the koi pond space. It all fits pretty well measurement-wise and we started to dream...

      BUT:
      1. This is NOT going to be cheap, between the pond itself, the filtration system, the sunroom. Plus the various contractors involved in making this happen. We have the budget to do it once, but not twice. No room for major error.
      2. THEN we realized that the (F-censored) property taxes would probably increase according to the sunroom's surface. And if there is something we have in the middle of our throat with the new house we moved in a few months ago, it is the absolute insanity of local taxes (in the wonderful state of NY)...
      3. I am quite overwhelmed with everything there is to learn and to ponder. This forum is an amazing resource, I don't mind studying and learning, but lots of diverse possibilities and options in whatever direction I start to look at, making me anxious (hm, a koi pond is for serenity, isn't it? ).

      The neighbors who have this incredible giant greenhouse/pond structure which impressed me so much made an interesting comment. They asked about locating a small above-ground pond in our basement, to get started. We have a fairly large unfinished room which could be a good fit. Initially, I discarded the idea right away, I enjoy water & fish in an outdoors environment and the sunroom was already a big compromise for me.

      And then last night, I started to think that this is all too much and it would be much wiser to go one step at a time, allowing room for a proper learning process through trial and error, start small and contained, before jumping to the big thing (which might very well change shape several times before we truly settle on a final plan). No need for contractors, we could buy a 10ft circular hard-sided pool-like container, plus a full pond filter kit (e.g. pump, bead filter, connectivity) and do it ourselves (hence learn!). We could buy a dozen small kois and let them grow, they won't be 20 pounders for a few years anyway, and we'll undoubtedly lose some through our errors. And we give ourselves until next year to start the big project with much more peace of mind WHILE soon enjoying our first koi pond and start dabbling with it.

      Something like that (koi "storage system" from SacramentoKoi; filter kit from KoiAcres) should get us started with a few thousand dollars:

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      Here are a couple of pictures of the basement room (under the library with the bow window, hence the semi-circular shape). Water and electricity come right there. The old desk/bookcase would move elsewhere.

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      A few considerations:
      - The floor is solid, flat and clean concrete, no concern about weight
      - There is a drain and an underground sump pump in a corridor of sorts nearby, which should take care of leaky scenarios... And since the furnace isn't far, this would make us sleep better!
      - There is very little natural light (one tiny window) - we probably need a timer of sorts to switch lights on during the day? A special kind of light, maybe?
      - This part of the basement isn't heated, but it stays above 55F (and the past few weeks have been COLD, e.g. single-digit nights). Note that the finished room elsewhere in the basement is heated and adjacent.
      - There is a dehumidifier hanging in there (not active right now), but I guess we'd have to get somebody to close the ceiling (and some inside walls) to isolate the insulation material from humidity. Don't want mold...
      - Very few debris should go in such indoors space, so I guess a bead filter + pump is good enough, no need to add a mechanical pre-filter of sorts? Also a UV filter may not be required?

      Then there are multiple future paths:
      - This might be temporary (say 18 months) and have components reused for the final project. Or it might become something more permanent (e.g. forget the sunroom, go back to an outdoors pond concept AND have a few adult kois from said outdoors pond spend the winter indoors, so that we can enjoy them; or keep the sunroom idea, but have a separate space to raise babies; or allow temporary koi storage while fixing whatever on the main pond; etc).
      - I am thinking to oversize the filter system (e.g. 4000 gallons) to envision a transition to the final project (sunroom or outdoors) with two such filter systems in parallel... And/or leave room for yet another future with a fancier/bigger indoors pond staying in the basement and becoming the final thing... Or keep it as is and it doesn't hurt to be oversized... Who knows where our minds will be a year from now.

      Thoughts? Feedback?
      Last edited by Jerome; 01-27-2022 at 11:47 AM.

    12. #52
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      It will be interesting to see what feedback you will get from those who do bring the fish indoors for winter and how best to go about around moving time (also with regards to the filters). As you say the put up pool would be a way to get to know these fish, I don't see it as something that would cope well once the fish start increasing in numbers and size or could be used for a more permanent pond but it may well come handy over the years while you build your permanent ponds or as a quarentine pond to keep further purchases before introducing them to your existing stock. As for the ambient temperature 55f is said to be "no man's land" where the koi's immune system is shut off (and also there very reduced activity from the beneficial bacteria in the filter) while bacteria and parasites can already be active. This does not mean that all fish overwintered at these intermediate temperatures will fall ill, it is just a possibility to be aware of. Ideally the water temperature would be kept at 65f (but it may cause more condensation).
      I am also toying with the idea of an outdoor-indoor pond, but as something that may happen only a fair few years down the road if we ever move back to England - but there the indoor pond would go in a sunroom (or a conservatory as they are called in Blighty), no concerns for property tax as they are not considered in that respect. I was actually thinking of having a permanent connection between the two, in winter get the fish through to the indoor pond and close off the connection. Initially planning in having independent filtration on the two but as it is the same bioload maybe just have one filtration system that can have the inputs and outputs to the outdoor pond shut off as required... For now just a flight of fantasy...
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    13. #53
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      Your ideas have certainly evolved over the last few weeks. At least you didn't jump in and start constructing before the ultimate plan is firmed up.

      One consideration you may want to check into as regards a sunroom idea. In most towns, there is a big difference in tax considerations between a full blown glass windowed 4 season sunroom, and a covered 3 season screened porch . I believe the former gets counted as taxable finished living space, while the latter does not. The cost of construction is also consididerably less for the 3 season room. My buddy ran into this when he wanted to add a sunroom to his house. He saved a fortune by building to the standards of a 3 season porch. After completion, he then had some removable clear ( plexi ? ) panels made up to cover the screen openings to take the chill off in the winter. He also retrofitted a propane " woodstove " which allows for sitting comfortably on all but the coldest winter days.
      Using the space under the deck for your filter/pump area is a great idea. This is what I have done for my ponds, and it has worked perfectly. The deck protects the equipment from snow/ice, wind, rain, etc, and also blocks the equipment from view from the house.

    14. #54
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      Quote Originally Posted by Paul Sabucchi View Post
      It will be interesting to see what feedback you will get from those who do bring the fish indoors for winter and how best to go about around moving time (also with regards to the filters). As you say the put up pool would be a way to get to know these fish, I don't see it as something that would cope well once the fish start increasing in numbers and size or could be used for a more permanent pond but it may well come handy over the years while you build your permanent ponds or as a quarentine pond to keep further purchases before introducing them to your existing stock. As for the ambient temperature 55f is said to be "no man's land" where the koi's immune system is shut off (and also there very reduced activity from the beneficial bacteria in the filter) while bacteria and parasites can already be active. This does not mean that all fish overwintered at these intermediate temperatures will fall ill, it is just a possibility to be aware of. Ideally the water temperature would be kept at 65f (but it may cause more condensation).
      I need to go buy a thermometer... The unfinished basement might very well be around 60F right now, I don't know. Thanks for the 55F warning. This puzzles me a bit as wild carp in regular waters (lakes or rivers) tend to be very active at such temperature, getting ready for the winter (I've been fishing for carp for decades - catch and release), but here the context is a bit different and you're clearly speaking from experience. Let me firm up my facts first. (I also wonder if closing the ceiling / insulated walls would change the temperature pattern?)

      The indoors/outdoors scenario is just one possibility in the future among others. For sure, only a few adult fish would fit in the indoors structure, but if this can make me happy caring for them over the winter (while the others stay under the ice!), this seems like a nice scenario. And... interesting point about the quarantine pond scenario. The more I think about it, the more I suspect the indoors pond would stay in one shape or another.

      Quote Originally Posted by stevek View Post
      Your ideas have certainly evolved over the last few weeks. At least you didn't jump in and start constructing before the ultimate plan is firmed up.

      One consideration you may want to check into as regards a sunroom idea. In most towns, there is a big difference in tax considerations between a full blown glass windowed 4 season sunroom, and a covered 3 season screened porch . I believe the former gets counted as taxable finished living space, while the latter does not. The cost of construction is also considerably less for the 3 season room. My buddy ran into this when he wanted to add a sunroom to his house. He saved a fortune by building to the standards of a 3 season porch. After completion, he then had some removable clear ( plexi ? ) panels made up to cover the screen openings to take the chill off in the winter. He also retrofitted a propane " woodstove " which allows for sitting comfortably on all but the coldest winter days.
      Using the space under the deck for your filter/pump area is a great idea. This is what I have done for my ponds, and it has worked perfectly. The deck protects the equipment from snow/ice, wind, rain, etc, and also blocks the equipment from view from the house.
      Yes, I know I am going all over the place, but I think (hope?) it is actually a sound process in order to converge to something stable on the long-term. Once I settle a bit, I'll open a separate thread to discuss the next level of details, to minimize confusion!

      Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I read the same thing about the 3-season sunroom vs. taxes, although I would have to go speak with the town about it... For sure, this is yet another credible scenario, where the transition indoors/outdoors could have a role too. I did a mock-up drawing of sunroom + space-under-the-deck, this makes a lot of sense to me (and my wife likes it too), but I am just not ready for it. I feel MUCH more comfortable toying with this indoors "dabble and learn" transition scenario for now.
      Last edited by Jerome; 01-27-2022 at 01:50 PM.

    15. #55
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      Let's proceed one question at a time, exploring this scenario of a fairly small indoors koi "pool" (e.g 10ft wide, ~3 feet high) in the basement.

      As you can see on the pictures above, there is fiberglass insulation on the ceiling. There is more on various inner walls of the basement (e.g. separating the unfinished parts of the basement from the finished parts). Do I need to close them somehow, to prevent humidity to get to those fiberglass batts. Or maybe replace them by rigid foam or something like that. But heck, I don't know much about insulation. And this would be quite some work/cost, the basement is pretty large. But I really don't want mold in there...

      Any advice? (besides the obvious first step of putting the dehumidifier to work and monitoring the humidity level with an hygrometer)

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      I rarely post here, but something struck me about this pond design. Do I understand correctly that the pond wall will be 3 feet above ground level? And a seating area will be beside the pond?

      Unless the seating area is also raised, I wouldn't be able to see over the wall to see the water when sitting. Just a thought and probably obvious to everyone here.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Overwhelmed View Post
      I rarely post here, but something struck me about this pond design. Do I understand correctly that the pond wall will be 3 feet above ground level? And a seating area will be beside the pond?

      Unless the seating area is also raised, I wouldn't be able to see over the wall to see the water when sitting. Just a thought and probably obvious to everyone here.
      I think you're referring to the first design I had in mind, with the pond in the front yard. Yes, good point. I didn't think about this very much, but the rough idea was to elevate the seating area by a foot or so with a wooden structure.

      Our thinking has been shifting though and we're now pondering (in the LONG TERM) to do something in the backyard, either a sunroom design or an outdoors design (with view from the deck). I actually just got a sunroom quote (3 seasons) and shesh, this is steeper than I expected (~$80k for a 20x16 area). Supply chain issues not helping. The guy confirmed that this would side-step property taxes, although the walls and windows would have quite nice insulation properties. But I'm afraid this is getting out of our budget range (when combined with the rest of the expenses), so we might come back to an outdoors design (with view from the deck)... Trouble is this area is close to a bunch of trees... Urg.

      Anyhoo. Let's stay focused in the interim/learning indoors design for now, as described in this post.

    18. #58
      One Poet's Garden's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Jerome View Post
      Any advice? (besides the obvious first step of putting the dehumidifier to work and monitoring the humidity level with an hygrometer)
      Yes. Please don't underestimate the difficulties of having a few thousand gallons of open water in an enclosed space. I have a 1000 gallon pond in my greenhouse, and the humidity is so high I can't grow orchids!

      You would need to seal up that ceiling with drywall. In fact, I'd be tempted to do the whole ceiling with greenboard, as if I were drywalling a bathroom. Then I'd paint it with glossy exterior latex. I believe they make products one mixes in with paint before application, to discourage mold and mildew, but others may know more about that.

      Enthusiastic aquarium hobbyists build giant tanks in their basements all the time, so it can be done. But it's worth doing some youtube research on how they do it.

      Best,

      Bill

    19. #59
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      Quote Originally Posted by One Poet's Garden View Post
      Yes. Please don't underestimate the difficulties of having a few thousand gallons of open water in an enclosed space. I have a 1000 gallon pond in my greenhouse, and the humidity is so high I can't grow orchids!

      You would need to seal up that ceiling with drywall. In fact, I'd be tempted to do the whole ceiling with greenboard, as if I were drywalling a bathroom. Then I'd paint it with glossy exterior latex. I believe they make products one mixes in with paint before application, to discourage mold and mildew, but others may know more about that.
      Thanks for the feedback, Bill. I hear you. The "pool-like" pond I am looking at is 1100 gallons. Is your own pond heated in the greenhouse?

      I just checked the dehumidifier (new house, I'm learning!) and the good news is that a) it's working b) it looks fairly new c) it automatically pumps water outside d) it is ideally located (see pic above). Specs: ~50 pints/day, currently set at a 40% humidity threshold. I realize more would have to be done, but that's a good start!
      Last edited by Jerome; 01-28-2022 at 02:53 PM.

    20. #60
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      Quote Originally Posted by Jerome View Post
      Thanks for the feedback, Bill. I hear you. The "pool-like" pond I am looking at is 1100 gallons. Is your own pond heated in the greenhouse?
      Please don't laugh when I tell you this, but the pond *is* the heater.

      I built my 24 foot greenhouse on a shoestring. And I run it on a shoestring as well, meaning: no heater. Folks here helped me design the pond - and gently told me I was foolish for even trying to build it. But when they saw I was determined, they gave lots of good advice.

      Its actual role in life is as a heat sink. 1000 gallons of water holds a lot of heat. There's a pump to recirculate the water through the filter and then back into the pond, but its real role is to do heat exchange. The greenhouse air heats up during the day, the pond takes all that heat in, and releases it at night. Works like a dream. It was 11 degrees outside the other night, but it was 45 degrees inside. Those are unheard of numbers for an unheated greenhouse.

      But there's a price to pay. Because I've got young koi and aquatic plants in the pond, the surface has to be open and exposed to the air and light. And I made a poor man's venturi for the water return from the filter. All that air going into the pond is great for sequestering the heat in the day, and releasing it at night. But when it comes out of the pond, it's incredibly humid. Most days the greenhouse humidity is between 97 and 99 percent. On a dry day, it might go down to 95%.

      The result: it literally rains inside the greenhouse. Water condenses on the 'ceiling,' and drips down onto the plants. This leads to various fungal problems, especially botrytis. Some things, like brugmansia, thrive in such conditions. Others, like orchids, just melt away.

      In a basement, things wouldn't be nearly as extreme. Water condenses on the greenhouse 'ceiling' because the ceiling is necessarily colder than the humid air touching it. Things would be different in a basement. But you'd still be talking about a non-trivial amount of humidity from an open pond.

      There are several folks on here who have built successful ponds in their living spaces, and I hope they'll chime in, as they'll know way more about this than I do. In the meantime, there's a wealth of information on youtube. Folks are always happy to show off their projects!

      Good luck!

      Best,

      Bill

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