Fix My Pond, Cheap and DIY. Also, the 5 Gallon Bucket Filter

Hello everyone! I need help with my pond. As you can see it’s quite large and it’s deepest area is roughly 6 ft. It came with the house and I’ve kept it for 8 years but have recently considered filling because I just don’t know what to do! I have about 200 goldfish and need a good filtration system. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I love my fish and really don’t want to fill the pond 😀

Erik Johnson

MY recommendations are FIVE simple things without a “Re-Do” of the whole shenanigan:
  1. Cover liner with sod, rock, driftwood = swale
  2. Filtration: 5 gallon bucket filter
  3. Water Quality Item One: AERATION and “then some” (This is important)
  4. Water Quality Item Two: Sustain pH and add calcium

Exposed liner

My cheap way to manage that is to cut sod from other places in my yard and lay these pieces on the edge of the pond, “just kissing” the waterline. I have also used regular Home Depot “sod” for this and it works great, too. I’ve mixed grass-sod AND native sod for an even more natural look.
Here’s what happens: The sod dies off where you’ve laid it over a big flat rock. So ultimately it “conforms” to the rock where it can still get nutrients. The sod ALSO grows to the water’s edge so the pond looks like the ‘forest floor’ goes right to the water and the liner tends to disappear. You may have to put some clean black dirt in the folds you’re covering. Water it. Lay sod on it. Some runoff will get into the pond but the sod will hold *most* of the soil. BY some magic, I’ve found the sod can survive pretty well sucking pond water across it’s width to ‘feed’ itself. The end result is a carpet of natural and cultivated grass right up to the water’s edge. You have a knack (instincts) with plants so this will be easy for you. You can put driftwood and even some boulders or rocks around the pond on the liner in order to “guide” the sod and native sod” into an attractive “swale” around the pond.

Green Water

Without spending a bundle, you can expect to wait til your Hyacinths proliferate across the surface to really “fix” that shenanigan.

Water Clarity and Health:

Dropping a big air stone in the middle of the deepest part will do the MOST for your water quality. I suggest spending almost $200 on that shenanigan. I’d be getting an Aquascape Pro Air 20 (Their smaller regenerative blower) because it has amazing product support and mine have run for almost a DECADE pushing an entire fish room. Yes. Since about 2016-17 You will have “air to spare” with that and it won’t ‘go down’.


will contribute alkalinity and calcium to the water. COUPLE WITH AERATION – – Calcium can clarify water, and you can get tons of calcium from crushed oyster shell, buffers commercially, crushed coral, and egg shell in a Nutribullet smoothie maker. (It will eventually kill the Nutribullet but maybe its worth it hahahaha)


For ponds without heavy loading, at or under a thousand gallons and when working “on the cheap” and just looking for clarity and a little polish I like the 5 gallon bucket filter. The page linked will shortly have a better schematic and a video with a thorough voiceover.


All those fish, and that filter won’t be “quite enough” but you can take the whole shenanigan to the hoop with “constant water replacement” using a cheap TRICKLE SYSTEM. The whole parts list and technique is at the link below: Costs fifty bucks or less to fix up. If your pond can discharge rain-excesses, it’s ready for a trickle system. Simply put: A trickle system replaces 10-20% of your water every week depending on your wants and expectations, EFFORTLESSLY and maintains pristine water quality all the time. SO easy.

Author: Dr. Erik Johnson
Dr. Erik Johnson is the author of several texts on companion animal and fish health. Johnson Veterinary Services has been operating in Marietta, GA since 1996. Dr Johnson graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1991. Dr Johnson has lived in Marietta Georgia since 1976.