Trouble in the Greenhouse

in #greenhouse2 months ago

Hello, hivers! Welcome to my page!

My winter pond fish tank in the greenhouse has had a slow leak all winter. I noticed it about a week after I set the tank up last fall, but it was such a slow leak that I wasn't worried about it. I'm pretty sure that it leaks around the drain plug because that's where the wet spot on the pavers on the greenhouse floor first showed up.

I've been checking the water level in the tank periodically all winter to keep track of the water level as it slowly went down. It got down to about halfway empty a week or so ago. We were in the middle of our really cold spell at that time, so I decided to wait until it got back up into the 20s F before doing anything about the leak. Yesterday it got up to the mid 20s, so I decided to deal with the low water situation in the tank.

There's really not a good way to fix the leak while the tank is being used, so I decided to just put more water in the tank to make sure the fish have enough water to make it through the winter. The challenge with that plan is that we have chlorinated city water, so I can't just fill the tank with the hose from the basement faucet. I have to let the water sit in an open container to let the chlorine evaporate from the water, and put aquarium water conditioner in the water before I can put it into the tank. Just dumping chlorinated water into the tank could kill the fish.

This is the pond fish tank in the greenhouse. You can see how I have it insulated, and the lamp keeps the water from freezing with the heat given off by a 100 watt incandescent bulb. I'm hoping that the pond plant survives the winter...
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Here's a look inside the tank before I started refilling it. You can see the ice that formed around the base of the plant pot.
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You can see how low the water is in these pictures.
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I pulled the insulation foam board away from the side of the tank so that I could get to the drain plug. You can see the ice buildup from the leak. Apparently, once the water froze on the bottom, the insulation board made a good dam to hold the leaking water in. This freezes from the ground up because of the frost in the ground.
I tightened up the smaller plug a little bit, but it may be leaking around the larger plug, and I didn't want to mess with that one.
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I decided that the best way to deal with the water problem was to bring my gravity watering barrel back into the greenhouse, put it back on the stand, and then fill it with the hose.
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Once the barrel was full, I let it sit overnight to evaporate as much of the chlorine as it would. I went back out there later in the day and put the aquarium water conditioner in the water.

I went out to the greenhouse this afternoon to finish up the job. I expected to see ice on the surface of the water in the barrel because it got down close to zero F last night. I was pleasantly surprised to find just a bit of floating ice on the surface, it wasn't even iced over solid. Apparently, that much water held onto just enough heat to keep from freezing solid on the top overnight.

I hooked up my short hose to the faucet on the barrel and put the other end into the tank, then opened the valve. The water started running right away, which means that the faucet didn't freeze overnight.
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I only needed about two thirds of the barrel to fill the tank back up as far as I wanted it to be, a couple inches from the top of the rim of the tank.

I used the flash on this picture to get a better view of the inside of the tank. You can see the ice around the plant is now submerged in the water. This should also help the plant by slowly thawing out the roots as the ice melts in the slightly warmer water. You can also see the outlet end of my water circulation pump that's been in the tank all winter.
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I'm pretty sure that the tank will continue to slowly leak, but with warmer late winter weather coming, it will be easier to maintain the water level now, using the barrel and the hose if necessary.

I don't think I'll be able to get the fish back into the pond until the end of April, so I'll have to continue to watch the water level in the winter tank until then.

That's all I have for this post. Thanks for stopping by my page to check it out!

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Hope all goes well until April....