Building a pond for wildlife observation - Tips and ideas?

Hello everyone! Recently I came up with the idea to build a pond in the yard of my countryhouse (it sounds fancy but it isn’t lol, it’s just a medium sized patch of land with a pool and a small log house with basic facilities, but if im honest idk what the proper term for it would be in english) so the local wildlife can get a drink and so it facilitates their observation.
The thing is, as I researched into pond building most if not all pages recommended using some sort of lining for the bottom of the pond, but I didn’t want to since im hoping it will host several different plants and aquatic wildlife (and also cause I want it to be as natural as possible and I was lowkey worried about microplastics?). So I got digging and made a hole (3m long and 1,5m width i think) and made sure to have different dephts and such. In the middle of it I left a circle of soil so it acts as an “island” in which to plant a tree.
So once the hole was done I added water and hoped for the best. I only go there once a week so I was unsure if by the time I came back there would be any water left, but upon checking it again it was filled to the brim! I procedeed to add a few water plants, and today I added more as well as a few water snails and two tadpoles (all was gathered from nearby areas, didn’t add too many tadpoles cause I was worried they would starve since the pond is new). I also set up some half hollowed logs so water critters can use it as cover/housing. Lastly I planted some rosemary and lavander, cause they supposedly help drive away mosquitoes and we have dengue in the area, so that was a major concern.

So does anyone have any advice or ideas to improve upon? So far all has gone well, but I worry that when summer comes the pond will dry up super fast. I built some “channels” on the bottom that connect the shallow part to the deeper part, so it can be used as a corridor if water levels get too low, but im not sure that would be enough. I also plan to add some local fish (Austrolebias bellottii) once there’s enough plants around, as well as plant a laurel tree in the “island”. This is my first time ever building something like this, so I wanna make sure I get it right. Here are some pictures I took of the pond in its current state:

And a list of some of the animals that live in this area:
-Pampean cavy (Cavia aperea)
-European hare (Lepus europaeus)
-Black and white tegu (Salvator merianae)
-Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis)
-Chalk-browed mockingbird (Mimus saturninus)
-Rufous hornero (Furnarius rufus)
-Great kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)
-Frogs (I think they might be Argenteohyla siemersi but im not sure)

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Woah, that is cool! I hope it works out well! I like the idea of the island for the tree!

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You didn’t mention creating a bog garden. Does that mean the area at the bottom of the third photo is naturally waterlogged? If that’s the case then you may not have to be too worried about it drying up in the summer unless the water table drops a lot. I applaud your avoidance of a man made liner (I’m afraid I used one for my pond). I would say at this stage you should just wait and see what happens to the water level.

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Zero pond-building expertise here, but should you consider a way to replenish the oxygen in the water, ie. have a pump system going?

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You may also want to plant small plants and shrubs around the pond to ensure the bank remains stable and so it doesn’t erode at a fast pace, it would also create a mini habitat for the animals (namely the frogs & toads).

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I think the only way to get it to have a continual supply of oxygen naturally is to connect it to a water-course eg. river, stream ect. I think, but I may very well be wrong. So, having fish in there would probably not be ideal, unless you put a pumping system or something like that which has already been mentioned.

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Will there be water restrictions that would prevent you from “topping it off” when it gets low?

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Thank you very much! The soil in the back of the yard (where I set up the pond) is naturally pretty low and it tends to get pretty full of water when it rains (the natural landscape here is reffered to as “wet plains” so lack of moisture is never a problem), which is why I made the pond there. The dirt also seems to be pretty full of clay, which I think helps keep the water in the surface.
In regards to a bog garden (I admit, I had to look up what it was) from what I’ve read there are 3 different types of water plants: the kind that make roots in the soil and grow near the water, the kind that grow on water but have roots attached to the ground, and the kind that floats around. I’ve tried to add all three types to the pond, and will keep adding more as time goes by, so hopefully that is like a bog garden?
Also, I’d love to see pictures of your pond, liner or not!

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Thank you! :))

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I doubt I could install something like that since I don’t live there and couldn’t check that it works properly most of the time. I think even if it was doable I’d prefer to keep the pond as natural as possible. I was hoping that by adding different types of aquatic plants they would oxigenate the water? I’ve added a few so far, im waiting to see if they grow or not and will keep adding more as time goes by. I saw some cattail nearby, do you think that could help?

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Thats a great idea!! I will look around for some nice looking bushes next time I go! I also thought of adding some sticks and maybe a few rocks to make the ground more solid (it gives in a bit when I walk along the edges of the pond). Do you think that could help?

Also, the fish I plan to add I have found inside ditches alongside the roads here (https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/55278104). Those ditches don’t have any sort of pumping system, which is why I think they could adapt well to the pond. Still, I want to wait until there’s a good amount of plants around. I read that it’s never good to add too many animals at once and my goal with this pond is to aid wildlife, so I wanna take it slow (which is not easy since im pretty impatient lol)

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Nope, no water restrictions. But since I don’t live there If it dries out during the week I won’t be around to check on it, and if any animals live inside the pond they could die. That’s why I wanna minimize the chances of it drying up.

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Reeds and rushes will help give shelter to pond life, floating plants also.
I’m in Australia so conditions are very different here, but I would think that the floating plants will decrease algae problems, evaporation and also give shade and shelter.

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My uncle has three ponds on his ranch, and none of them have a pump, the fish seem to be doing fine. Maybe for different kinds of fish it might be necessary.

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It looks good so far. The oxygenation isn’t really a problem because you don’t have any big fish in there, enough oxygen diffuses into the water naturally. It might dry up this year but over time it will get stronger as the clay particles fill in the gaps. You should plant a lot of grass around the edges to hold the edges and also so bugs come which will attract frogs and so on

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Running water (especially if you make a waterfall with steps) will really help wildlife find it too, in addition to the oxygen thing people mentioned.
I have a big waterfall and koi pond in my yard and the songbirds and hummingbirds love to come there to drink and bathe when it gets hot

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that seems really small to plant a tree in the middle; and likely not to survive very well, i’d focus on reinforcing the bank
How did you fill it? Most municipal water supplies have chlorine. Depending on how it is added (often chloramine now) it can take a while. Ex about 10 gallons of water it takes about 200 hours to clear out if just sitting (not agitated, boiling, etc). So also keep that in mind for ‘refilling’ - no idea how sensitive various wildlife is to the treatments used in water supplies but I know you can’t just use it in fishtanks without killing fish soooo…

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I’ve had a small pond for decades with fish in it to keep mosquitos under control. Never had any problem with fish health. I used a liner sold for irrigation ditches, guaranteed toxin free. http://johnsankey.ca/pond.html

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What makes for a good back yard pond will likely depend on where you live, and I gather you live in subtropical South America from the species you list. From that I assume freezing isn’t an issue. Others have already provided most of the ideas I would suggest but I’m not sure what works here in southern Canada (Ontario) would work where you are.

That said and from my own experience and that of friends with back yard ponds, these are a few ideas. Running water seems to be very attractive to birds and odonates (dragonflies and damselflies). My pond has no such feature but friends with pumped circulated water have been able to attract breeding odonates even in the city. A combination of submergent and emergent vegetation will provide habitat for invertebrates and shelter for any fish you might add to control mosquito larva. In my own pond, which a larger dug pond, having small fish has eliminated the mosquito larva without eliminating the odonate larva. Having a few shrubs or other plants along the edge could provide shade, moderate the temperature and provide shelter for your visitors. I think the idea of wetland or “bog” plants could be interesting and added to the variety of things you might attract. One of the simplest thing to do might be to explore any water body in your area and look for ideas from what’s naturally there.

Good luck and enjoy!

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Thanks for the advice! I think then I will add a shrub or something like that in the middle instead, since other commenters said it would be good to keep the ground stable.
Thankfully since the property isn’t near a city we don’t use municipal water, but rather have a pump that brings fresh water directly from the ground (there is a term for it but I don’t know what to call it in english) so the water we have isn’t treated with anything. Aside from that a small portion of the water in the pond came from the rain (which I hope stays as the main source of water in the future).

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