Turramurra couple, Carol and Ian, put in a pool 26 years ago when their children were young. As the children grew up and left home, the pool turned into a ‘money pit’. In 2010 with support from Ku-ring-gai Council, the couple converted their pool into a natural pond which has saved them money and is now home to an amazing variety of plants and animals.
Tell us about your pool/pond
Carol: We’ve had it for seven years now and it is full of plants and fish. The first year was almost black with tadpoles and that means we’ve created a really great environment and it’s a wonderful thing to have.
We’ve got native silver perch in there and we see lots of beautiful damsel flies, dragon flies and a variety of frogs. Native ducks visit and our resident water dragons, Montgomery and Cedric, love living beside it.
What made you decide to turn your pool into a pond?
Ian: We got the pool 26 years ago when our kids were little. When they grew up we found we weren’t really using it – it was just something that was a lot of work and money to maintain. It’s saved us a fortune on chlorine and electricity and it’s great that I don’t have to have to clean the pool on a daily basis.
Carol: We were away travelling when our son called to say the filter pump had gone – again. Our neighbours have big deciduous trees and the pool filter always struggled to cope. We weren’t due back for several weeks so we decided to let it go green till we got back. I’d heard about Council’s Pool to Pond program and I was keen, but Ian wasn’t. So we went to a workshop together to find out more.
It didn’t cost much to convert it. Council donated some aquatic plants and native fish. We found a few cheap aquatic nurseries and bought more plants. It’s saved us a lot more than it has cost.
Is it hard to look after?
Ian: We still have to comply with swimming pool regulations – which means I cut back plants - you can’t have trees too close to the fence that children could climb up.
Carol: It’s been a learning curve. We’ve tried glass shrimp and billabong mussels in there – various things have worked but not all. Fish we’d put in would disappear and then reappear and we’d have to solve those mysteries. Kookaburras sometimes take the fish and sometimes they hide for ages. We had algae at one point and got water fleas but then we got more fish to eat them up. I’ve got plastic shoes and I go in to move the plants and pick things up if they’ve fallen over. The water is very clean, it’s just that there is plant matter on the bottom so it doesn’t look clear.
Any surprises along the way?
Ian: The animal life is wonderful. Along with the fish, we get all these different coloured dragonflies that lay their larvae in the pond – there are blues and greens and they are beautiful. The frog calls are great too. We’ve had the Peron’s tree frog, which makes an incredible noise, and the brown-striped marsh frog. Now we’ve also got green tree frogs. We’ve had hundreds of frogs and I can recognise all their calls. The neighbours have actually love the sound of all the frogs. It’s like living in the country – peaceful and calm.
Carol: I’m probably in the pool more now that it’s a pond! We’ve convinced some of our friends to do the same with their pools.