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Whiskey Barrel Wildlife Pond

Hello

After watching GW and seeing it in a couple of gardening magazines, I decided to purchase a half whisky barrell to turn into a wildlife pond. I don't have electricity outside so wanted something that doesn't require a pump. 

It looked fab, popped my rocks in and sloped the sides, placed my plants etc but now a few months on it stinks to high heaven and all of the plants are dying/turning black. 

I wondered if it might be oxygen so I bought a little solar powered Air stone which works well, but hasn't made any difference to the way quality. Obviously being an ex whiskey barrel I expected a bit of a pong to begin with, but I have changed the water and scrubbed the sides 4 times now and each time it just comes back! I'm worried this will never attract any wildlife because it smells so much. 

If needs be, I will remove everything and pop in a liner, but on all the videos and instructions I looked at, it says you don't need one? 

Any advice? Anyone had one and it smelled bad but was OK in the end?
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  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,838
    Were any of your plants oxygenators? What is the pong like?
  • xamyvaloxxamyvalox Posts: 31
    Yeah, I had a couple of oxygenators. 

    Its hard to describe. It's got to be to do with the whiskey, but its like rancid! 
  • steephillsteephill Posts: 2,838
    As you will have seen the charred inside of the barrel is effectively charcoal which can be used as a filter to remove nasty odours so really shouldn't be a source of bad smells. It is unlikely to be anything to do with the original contents as that was mainly extracting flavours from the barrel, not putting odd ones in.  It might just be that you really don't like the smell of whisky and are very sensitive to it. I am a fan of good single malts but a bad experience decades ago involving too much Bells blended whisky means that the smell of that specific brand even now makes me queasy.

  • xamyvaloxxamyvalox Posts: 31
    I did think this, but then it doesn't explain my plants all going black?

    Before switching to a whiskey barrell I had a simple large ceramic pot with 3 plants. They grew amazingly well and the water was crystal clear, just unfortunately not really deep or large enough for much wildlife. Where as this water is always murky and the plants (even creeping Jenny which normally grows like mad) is turning black and smelling really bad. 
  • bullfinchbullfinch Posts: 690
    I had a similar problem when I made one. In the end I emptied it and lined it with pond liner. I refilled it and since then it's been fine. We even have frogs in it now 🙂
  • debs64debs64 Posts: 5,140
    I have one with a large black plastic pot inside the barrel,lots of plants and a little solar fountain it looks great except for a bit of blanket weed. 
  • Dod you manage to fix this? I’m having the same problem  :/
  • xamyvaloxxamyvalox Posts: 31
    Dod you manage to fix this? I’m having the same problem  :/
    Yeah, kind of. I've basically just done lots of weekly or half weekly water changes and introduced some more mature plants. With the water changes I took out about 70% of the water with a syphon and then topping up really gradually with the hose on low so as not to disrupt all the sediment. I haven't had to do this now for about 2 weeks and the smell has almost gone and my plants are much better! 
  • jackiereid.reidjackiereid.reid Posts: 1
    edited June 2021
    Have the plants continued to recover? I started a pond from scratch about 5 weeks ago. No prior experience. Got it home sluiced it out put in rocks and plants and everything went slimy. Water putrid smelled of suphur. Read that this was due to rotten matter. Dredged it tried partially changing water a few times with no improvement. 

    Today I removed everything drained it, scrubbed it out and refilled it. Water very clear. Worried about the plants as they all look a bit grey and dismal. I’ve removed them and placed them in a clean basin meantime. 

    Returned the oxygenators this afternoon but the look silvery and are a bit slimy to touch. Any advice?
  • xamyvaloxxamyvalox Posts: 31
    Have the plants continued to recover? I started a pond from scratch about 5 weeks ago. No prior experience. Got it home sluiced it out put in rocks and plants and everything went slimy. Water putrid smelled of suphur. Read that this was due to rotten matter. Dredged it tried partially changing water a few times with no improvement. 

    Today I removed everything drained it, scrubbed it out and refilled it. Water very clear. Worried about the plants as they all look a bit grey and dismal. I’ve removed them and placed them in a clean basin meantime. 

    Returned the oxygenators this afternoon but the look silvery and are a bit slimy to touch. Any advice?
    I would continue with the water changes, but not doing a complete change. I was doing 70% roughly and that seemed to do the trick as you want some of thr beneficial bacteria to stay in there. 

    I haven't touched mine for about 3 weeks now and it has gone very cloudy. Not smelly, but I imagine it's due to the weather so I am going to do another water change. 

    Plants have been great though.
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