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20 Gallon Indoor Basement Tub Pond

Last Updated: 5/5/20

The basement pond on 10/19/07.

Winter 1999/2000
Winter 2000/2001
Winter 2001/2002
Winter 2002/2003
Winter 2003/2004
Winter 2004/2005
Winter 2005/2006
Winter 2006/2007
Winter 2007/2008
Winter 2008/2009
Winter 2013/2014
Winter 2015/2016
Winter 2016/2017
Winter 2019/2020

I set up the 20 gallon black Lerio tub pond many winters to over winter my tropical pond plants. There are photos throughout the diary below that detail what plants and animals were in the pond for various winters.

For more on indoor ponds, see my indoor pond page.

Photo links are placed throughout the text.

See my Pond Showcase page on this pond.

Winter 1999/2000

In an attempt to keep some of my tropical plants alive over winter, I set up a 20 gallon tub in the basement. [It was made by Lerio but they stopped making larger tub ponds (plant pots) a few years later.] Two four-foot plant growth fluorescent bulbs were hung over the pond at about 6 feet high and run 12 hours a day. A Penguin Mini filters the water to keep it from stagnating. White cloud mountain minnow fry of the year from the outdoor 20 gallon lily tub pond were brought in for the winter in 1999/2000. Nine big fry and two small fry were added in the Fall of 1999. One decided to jump ship on 10/18/99, and two more jumped out around 11/13/99 so there were then 8 white clouds in the tub. I put some hardware cloth over part of the tub where three jumped out so that no more did that. Plants brought in included the tropical water hibiscus, water hyacinth, water lettuce, salvinia, azolla (may overwinter in the pond), frogbit, and water poppy. I changed about 4 gallons of this pond every week. On 10/23/99, a bunch of hornwort, 2 Italian valisneria, 2 trapdoor snails, and a trumpet snail (from plants) were added. There were also pond snails and a tadpole that snuck in with the plants. I also rescued a newly-adult damselfly hanging out near the tub pond that must have been added as a larvae. It was a warm day so it went outside and flew away. On 4/29/00, the surviving fish, 7 adults and 7 of their babies, were put out into the 50 gallon lotus tub pond for the summer. Also, the java moss and assorted clinging snails, tadpole, and one surviving trapdoor snail were also put into the 50 gallon lotus tub pond. [Note added by Robyn on 10/24/07: I know that the floating plants all died within a few weeks or months of setting up the pond. I have never been able to overwinter water lettuce or water hyacinth.]

Winter 2001/2002

By 10/22/00, 9 baby and 8 adult white cloud mountain minnows, a half dozen young (will not change/morph this year) green frog tadpoles, the tropical water hibiscus, water hyacinth, and water lettuce were added to the pond. Water poppy was in a separate 2 gallon, water logged pot under the light where it was fully dead by March of 2001 due mostly to aphids in the basement. The water hyacinth and water lettuce in the 20 gallon tub pond died in under a month. Most of the animals were added on 10/1/00 from the 50 gallon lotus tub pond. A few pieces of anacharis and hornwort were added from the 50 gallon lotus tub pond as well. On 3/16/01, new bought pieces of anacharis and hornwort were added to the 20 gallon indoor pond. The aphids also ravaged the tropical water hibiscus and most of it died. By the time I put it outside, it did not look well. Because my goldfish died (in the 50 gallon tank), I moved these fish to their 50 gallon tank at that time. Four male and 11 female white clouds were found in the basement pond and moved to the tank on 5/17/01.

Winter 2001/2002

As of 10/2/01, I had brought in the tropical water hibiscus, water poppy, and salvinia. It must be cooler this year then last as I see above that I did not bring plants in until 10/22 last year. The water hibiscus had grown into a monster, and it had flower buds for the first time. See my October 2001 pond newsletter for the story of trying to haul this thing inside. It was sitting bare root in the pond. In the same pot, was a one gallon pot of another piece of it that is potted along with water poppy. There will be no fish in this pond this year but I probably will bring in some tadpoles and snails to keep it clean. My Penguin Mini filter was circulating and filtering the water which had a lot of dirt from the bare hibiscus roots. On 10/7/01, I brought in the water canna and dwarf papyrus and potted them into one gallon pots and set them next to the hibiscus. They were pretty big. The green taro was too big to go into the 20 gallon tub pond so it was set in a two gallon pot by itself. I also put in a few water hyacinth and water lettuce which I knew would die. As I wrote this three days later, they were already yellowing and turning to mush. I got the tropicals in just in time as we had a killing frost on 10/9/01 that made all the lotus leaves shrink, brown, and crumble. The tropicals would have been killed off. This was an unusually early frost. So, I was trying to overwinter a total of eight tropicals this year, at least two of which I know would not survive.
Update 2/8/02: The water hibiscus iwas still alive and hanging on. The water canna was barely alive. The dwarf papyrus, water poppy, water hyacinth, and water lettuce were all 100% dead. A few pieces of salvinia struggled to remain alive. The taro had no good leaves but the roots seemed to still be alive but dormant. I hoped to revive it in the spring. So, not much luck!

On 4/14/02, I put the nearly dead taro into the 20 gallon tropical tub pond. On 5/12/02, I moved the bareroot tropical water hibiscus into a 7 gallon pot and put it into the 1800 gallon pond. On 5/18/02, the few pieces of surviving salvinia would be put into that pond as well. Then, the basement tub pond would be torn down for the summer. The beautiful canna that never flowered and the dwarf papyrus were long dead.

Photos of basement pond from 10/14/01:
Tropical hibiscus flower
Basement pond - tub pond with hibiscus, canna, dwarf papyrus and more surrounded by other tropical plants including taro in a 2 gallon pot on the left.

Winter 2002/2003

On 10/5/02, I put the tropical yellow canna into a two gallon pot and into the 20 gallon basement pond for the winter. I rigged up the Penguin Mini for filtration. On 10/13/02, I added a two gallon pot of tropical green taro from my 20 gallon tropical tub pond and a two gallon pot of tropical water hibiscus from the main pond where it had been in a seven gallon pot. I put in 13 green frog tadpoles born around 7/02 that should not change into adults over winter. There were also two ramshorn snails in there. Later, I planned to add some fish this winter to liven up the basement pond over winter. The fish would go into my aquarium or pond next spring depending on which species I got. I was still undecided but was leaning towards a few small shubunkins. By 11/7/02, the canna had died (why!). I love canna! In early November 2002, I added about 15 guppies to this pond (I wanted a nice shubunkin to put outside in spring but the store's goldfish were deformed and sick) to liven it up! There was a metal window screen over the tub to keep fish from jumping. A few months later, in January 2003, I put in about 15 rosy red minnows. Some went outside in the spring, and the rest went outside 5/17/03 when I tore down the basement pond for the summer. The taro was put in to the 20 gallon tropical tub pond. The canna was long gone. The hibiscus appeared dead but has some sprouts so I put it in the shallows of the 1800 gallon pond. The five remaining rosy red minnows all went in to the 153 gallon pond. I found 3 female and 1 male guppies left (Note added 10/24/07: From the originally 15, what happened?). I put them into the 20 gallon tropical tub pond but then the temperature outside crashed, and the poor guppies all died. I will not put guppies outside again. On 5/17/03, the basement pond was put up for the summer.

Winter 2003/2004

(Note: I just copied most of this from my newsletter to save myself time!)
On 10/11/03, I set up my basement pond for the winter. I happened to see Schultz Aquatic Plant Soil at Home Depot and got a bag for over $6. I did not need it but, then when I thought about it, there was a reason I impulse bought it! Last year, the basement pond's pots keep letting out dirt from under the pea gravel and clogging the Penguin Mini filter I use. This expensive bought soil is arcillite or Fuller's earth. It will not cloud the water. So, I potted up my black magic taro that had been growing in the ground (where water spills from one of my 20 gallon tub pond) into a 2 gallon pot with damp Schultz soil and then pea gravel. The taro had one juvenile and two baby taros growing next to it that I stuck in there too. In a 1 gallon pot, I put in some dwarf papyrus that was hanging on. For both, I tied them to a bamboo pole stuck into the pot as the Schultz soil is unstable so the plants just flop over without support. I used almost the entire bag on those two pots. All my other tropical marginals died (two hibiscus, one canna, and another I think I forgot) except the canna in my 2 gallon pot pond which I intended to try to overwinter soon in sphagnum moss as, two years in a row, keeping one potted in the basement pond led to its quick demise. The two pots were set on bricks in the 20 gallon tub pond. I bailed in a total of about 16 gallons of water with some Stress-Zyme and Stress-Coat and hooked up the Penguin Mini to get the pond started. I wanted to collect the goldfish fry from the back 18 gallon lined pond which was basically a deer drinking hole with some torn up water hyacinth (from whence the eggs came). Because leaves were due to fall so soon and cleaning would be a waste, I decided to just net the water to collect the fry. It was so disgusting in there. The black sludge was thick and clogged the net. By hand sifting the gunk, I hand picked out a total of 3 big (almost an inch) and 14 small (a quarter to half inch) black/natural goldfish fry. I think they were happy when I popped them into the basement pond or, at least, in shock because they could see! They also would be fed for the first time. They must have been living on microbes and all the daphnia in the back pond as, otherwise, it was empty of life. I am sure they also ate smaller siblings. Ok, I know 17 goldfish in 16 gallons is a no-no but they were very tiny and would still be pretty small when I put them into the pond with their parents next spring. I thought the one new tropical water hibiscus might be alive as it looked like it was sprouting so I jammed it in the pot with the dwarf papyrus but a month later and no change so it was gone. On 11/15/03, I broke off a runner of regular green taro that had grown into a planted pot years ago. I set it on top of the papyrus pot as well. On 5/5/04, I removed the barely alive two taro plants and put them in to my outdoor ponds. I counted and removed 17 young goldfish on 5/15/04 out to my 1800 gallon pond. That means not a single one died! Here is a photo of the tub pond on 5/5/04 with the goldfish (blurry, sorry).

Winter 2004/2005

On 10/10/04, I brought in four tropical plants for the indoor tub pond which I had set up. There was a two gallon pot of Aztec arrowhead, a two gallon pot of regular papyrus, a one gallon pot of bluebells, and a one gallon pot of regular taro. The first three came as is from my 1800 gallon pond. The taro I pulled out of my 20 gallon tropical tub pond where it was almost dead but had a tiny bit of life left. There were no animals in the indoor tub pond this year as of yet. On 10/18/04, I pulled some water poppy out of my 50 gallon lotus tub pond and stuck it into the pot of the papyrus to see if it might survive. I tried overwintering water poppy once before with no luck. On 11/5/04, I added four small fantail goldfish to this tub. One got sucked up into the intake and killed but the others did well. See my December 2004 newsletter for more details. Here are two photos of the group and one close-up of one taken in a glass bowl before I put them in the tub pond on 11/5/04: fantails and fantail. On 11/10/04, I put some azolla from the 20 gallon lotus tub pond in the indoor tub pond. The regular papyrus as of late November seemed to have died. The Aztec arrowhead was not doing to well. The bluebells were doing well. The small taro was still barely alive but the black taro was doing well. The three wee goldfish were doing very well. They were SO cute!! Update 3/26/05: Only the bluebells and goldfish were alive and doing well. As of 6/2/05, the pond just has the goldfish and three dead plant pots left. I planned to leave the pond there until my last zebra danio in my 40 gallon tank died, and I could put the goldfish in there.

Winter 2005/2006

On 10/9/05, I repotted and brought in four of my tropical pond plants. In two gallon pots, I put the huge bluebells and a small tropical waterlily. In one gallon pots, I put a barely-alive tropical waterlily and a dwarf papyrus. The three fantails were still in there. I did not put this pond up over the summer as I normally do. I was waiting for aquarium space to open up for the fantail goldfish to go into my 40 gallon tank. They seemed to like the new plants. I removed the three dead pots that were in there from last winter. I had never removed them. When I would add water, they would release clouds of dirt. These newly-added plants were potted in pond "soil" which is like reddish cat litter and topped with pea gravel so there was not dirt to cloud the water this time.

Here is a photo of the basement pond on 10/23/05. You can just see two of the fantails.

On 1/22/06, I moved the three fantails to my 40 gallon tank. See that page for more details. [Update 10/24/07: They moved to a 65 gallon tank on 3/31/07.] See my goldfish page for some photos of them!

On 2/4/06, I put a newborn fry into the pond. I thought it was a paradise fish fry. It was only 67 degrees F in there, and the filter could suck him in but I thought this was the best shot for the baby since I did not want to set up another system just for him/her.

On 5/10/06, I dismantled the basement pond until the fall. There were no animals in it (so the baby paradise fish did not make it). I moved the two tropical water lilies outside. They were barely alive. The papyrus was long dead. The bluebells were alive but covered in aphids. Hopefully, the aphids would be eaten up outside.

Winter 2006/2007

On 10/8/06, I brought in the black taro, bluebells, and dwarf papyrus and set up the basement pond. I repotted each plant with planting media topped with rose gravel. The taro and bluebells were put into 2 gallon pots and the papyrus into a 1 gallon pot. All three were doing very well when I put them in there. Immediately, the taro leaves started to yellow. It should recover. This year, the taro was in the pond instead of by itself since there was enough room. On 11/5/06, I added a small Nora tropical waterlily to the bluebell pot for the winter. It was alive but had no winterizing tubers like my other tropical lily so I decided to try to keep the root base alive in the basement pond.

On 1/13/07, I put a 50 W heater into the basement pond because I thought I might add some fish but did not. The heater brought the temperature up to about 70 degrees F from 65 or so. The taro really liked that and put on more growth. The bluebells were fine. Amazingly, the papyrus was still alive although not thriving. The Nora waterlily showed no sign of being alive.

On 5/8/07, I took the indoor tub pond apart for the summer. I put the taro into the 2 gallon pot pond. I put the bluebells into the 1800 gallon pond. The waterlily and papyrus were long gone.

Winter 2007/2008

On 10/7/07, on a nearly 90 degree F day, I brought in the black magic taro, bluebells, and new variegated taro and set them up in the 20 gallon indoor tub pond. The Penguin Mini filters the water, and a Visitherm 50 W heater keeps it around 72 degrees F. I feel like I should add some fish this year.

On 10/19/07, I bought a betta and put him into the tub pond. His name was Homer. You can see more photos of him on my betta page. The pond was actually at 78 degrees F according to the thermometer so that was good for him. I added a little aquarium salt, Stress Coat, Stress Zyme, MelaFix, and Aquarisol (for ick prevention) to the tub pond. Here are some photos of the pond:
The basement pond with Homer in it
A complete view of the basement pond - there is foam because I added a dose of MelaFix

On 11/11/07, I put three tropical water lily growing tips in the pots in the pond (removed from the main pond). I have never gotten similar ones to survive before but have to try. The taros were doing really well.

Homer was making a lot of bubble nests so I decided to get him a girlfriend. I did not want babies so I would not try to save them but if some survived, I would take care of them. I added Marge on 11/16/07. I will let you know if Bart and Lisa show up.

20 gallon basement pond on 1/13/08.

Update 1/20/08: They have had a few batches of eggs but all have been eaten (probably by Marge and the pond snails in there). For more on the bettas, see my betta page. The bluebells died and were removed. I will miss them. The variegated taro was doing okay but the black magic taro was barely alive.

On 1/24/08, I replaced the 50 W Visitherm heater in the basement pond with a 100 W Stealth heater because there was something strange growing on the smaller heater. After it cooled, it scraped it off; I think it was a mineral deposit. I was afraid the heater was cracked but it seemed okay.

I noticed in early March that I had not seen Marge in a while. I realized the morning of 3/11/08 that something was stuck to the filter intake. I feared it was her. I confirmed that when I got home from work and took it off. I do not know if Homer contributed to her demise but it was certainly possible. I did not plan to get another betta so do not worry. Only the variegated taro was still alive; the others were long gone. I ordered a tropical canna, tropical bluebells, and tropical water hibiscus this year as those were all tropicals I have loved and lost. I hoped I can keep them alive for a year or more.

On 3/14/08, I bought seven rosy red minnows for my turtle, Tator, to eat. I did not want to buy "feeder fish" for him ever (I like the fish too much and did not want to introduce disease and parasites) but Tator was not eating, and the store guy said they would work for sure. Tator bit in to two fish but never ate any. By 3/18/08, it was evident that Tator would never eat the remaining five rosy red minnows. So, I moved my betta Homer to my 20 gallon tank and moved the minnows to the basement pond where I began their intensive rehabilitation - aquarium salt, MelaFix, Maracyn I, Maracyn II, and AquariSol. In May when I would be done with the basement pond, they would join the other rosy red minnows in the 153 gallon pond. I was afraid to harm them with anything these guys might bring over but these guys deserve a chance and would infuse some new genes into the old pond. So, my fingers were crossed that they would not be contagious.

The rosy reds did great! I tore down this pond on 5/7/08. The five rosy reds went in to the 153 gallon pond as did a one gallon pot of dwarf papyrus someone gave me. In to the 1800 gallon pond went a one gallon pot of dwarf umbrella palm the same person gave me as well as what remained of the plants I overwintered (one variegated taro with three puny leaves in one gallon and one "is that really alive" minute tropical water lily with literally one half inch leaf left on it in a two gallon pot).

Winter 2008/2009

On 9/5/08, I bought a 50 gallon Rubbermaid stock tank to use as an indoor pond this year instead of the 20 gallon tub pond. That way, I could bring in more tropical marginal plants as well as possibly quarantine two new koi. See my new page on the 50 gallon indoor pond.

Winter 2013/2014

On 11/9/13, I set up the 20 gallon basement pond once again as the 50 gallon is just too much to manage and not needed this year. I put some tropical running plant in there. I do not know the name of it because it came free with my plant order. I had intended to pot up my tropical waterlily in there as well but, when I took it out of the main pond, it had nice tubers which I stored in damp sand instead of keeping it alive all winter. The only animals are hitchhikers like pond snails.

I removed the Neptune's Crown (I think that is what it is) to the 1800 gallon pond on 4/24/14. I bailed out the 20 gallon basement pond that day.

Winter 2015/2016

In the fall of 2015, there was not enough space to set up the larger 50 gallon indoor Rubbermaid tub pond. This was because I had a mega-cage set up for my dying cat, GK, and two cages set up with geriatric rabbits, Mr. Tiny and Harry. I only had three plants to save anyway - black taro, bluebells (bought new earlier in 2015 as the old ones did not survive), and one tropical waterlily. I had planned to take off 10/19/15 and haul in the 40 some tropical house plants and set up the basement pond but then the first frost was set to hit a few nights before (and it did). So, after work on 10/16/15, I hauled in the black magic taro in its two gallon pot and plopped it in the 20 gallon tub pond. I filled it up most of the way the next morning and brought in the bluebells which were bareroot. The tropical waterlily can stay in the pond longer (not affected by quick freezes since the roots are under the water).

On 11/8/15, I put five growing tips from my tropical waterlily in the basement pond. I did not have time to actually pot them up yet. On 11/14/15, I could only find three growing tips in there which I potted in to a one gallon pot. I used Aquatic Planting Soil instead of dirt and topped with pea gravel. On 11/15/15, while in the pond, I found another growing tip just floating around which I added to the pot in the basement pond.

On 3/2/16, I moved two large wood frog egg masses from the outdoor 50 gallon tub pond to this indoor 20 gallon tub pond in the basement. The wood frog eggs in the 20 gallon basement pond died a few weeks later. They turned white and rotted. In the past, I had brought in some eggs but I guess those went in the 50 gallon tub pond which had aeration. The 20 gallon tub pond is stagnant. Despite being inside, the embryos died from low oxygen, high bacterial load, and/or high fungal load. I hate when animals die. Luckily, there are many more eggs outside.

I tore down the basement pond on 4/27/16. The bluebells were barely alive and potted in to a one gallon pot and put in the big pond. The taro was repotted in a two gallon and put on the pool deck.

Winter 2016/2017

On 10/17/16, I set up the 20 gallon basement pond. I put the two gallon pot of black taro in there.

On 11/29/16, I put in two one gallon pots containing two tropical waterlily growing tips.

In February 2017, I put a few wood frog egg masses in the 20 gallon basement pond.

On 4/23/17, I emptied out the 20 gallon tub pond in the basement and put the remaining wood frog tadpoles in the 153 gallon pond. The tropical waterliles showed no sign of life. The taro I planned to pot up the next day.

Winter 2019/2020

I set up the 20 gallon basement tub pond on 10/20/19. I put in two two gallon pots, one with a healthy bluebell plant and one with standard papyrus. When I pulled it from the pond, all the stalks bent so I cut them all down (they would rot anyway). I will see it it regrows. I bought both of these tropicals in 2019 and had no other tropical marginals left.

Well, the papyrus died in short order. I pulled out the bluebells on 5/4/20, potted them in a 5 gallon pot, and put them back in the 1800 gallon pond. I bailed out the 20 gallon pond and put it up for the summer.

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