Our nature-mad 10-year-old son has made himself a wildlife pond out of a large patio pot. He’s put pebbles in the bottom, added oxygenating weeds and a couple of water-margin plants bought with his pocket money from our local jardinerie. The ‘pond’ already contains at least two varieties of algae-eating water snails and it’s regularly visited by dragonflies. He now wants to add a couple of fish but his father and I don’t think the pond is big enough – it’s roughly 56cm (22in) wide by 46cm (18in) deep. Kit Burrows
Far be it from me to dampen any child’s enthusiasm for nature but I think on this occasion, I have to side with you and your husband.
Despite there already being oxygenating plants included in your son’s pond – and these, plus the snails, will keep the water as clear as it is now – the inclusion of even a couple of cold-water fish will alter the dynamics. Fish are surprisingly copious with their excrement and in a very small area of water that has no flow or movement, its residue will cause the water to become at best cloudy and at worst green.
You could perhaps, add a small pump and water-circulating system but then you might possibly be seen as ‘interfering’ by your son… and he’s done extremely well by his own efforts up to now. You might, though, suggest that he adds a rock or length of driftwood (weighted at one end) that will act as a ‘ladder’ out of the pond and then, in the spring, take him on a frog-spawn hunting expedition. Only bring home a minimal amount. His pond will act as a ‘nursery’ for the resultant tadpoles which, as they mature, will then be able to climb out and begin a new life in the wild. We have a rescue dog and all summer long we had bother with her chewing wood out in the garden. That wouldn’t be so bad if
Too small for fish but good for wildife