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Adding Turtles to Your Pond

There’s no easier way I can think of to add a sense of tranquility and purpose to life than by building a pond or establishing some other kind of water feature in your home environment. Indoors, ponds are a conversation piece as well as a source of cleansing and environmental control. They add humidity to the air when it’s dry and remove particulates and other airborne pollutants when they’re present, which, in this day and age, is nearly always.

They provide an ideal backdrop for houseplants and even allow you to grow some exotic, moisture-loving varieties, such as orchids, as well as bog plants, including cattails, several varieties of bamboo, rush, and even papyrus. And, of course, ponds offer an opportunity to raise fish, turtles, and other water-loving creatures in a setting far more natural than an aquarium (although we have one of those in our home, too, just for fun).

Indoor ponds, streams, and waterfalls create a micro-climate that’s not only healthy for humans, but also beneficial for all living things. We know a couple who keep exotic birds. Their Macaw gets let out of his cage every day around 7:00 a.m.. After begging a piece of toast from the breakfast table, he waddles across the living room floor to the sprawling foyer, where he grooms himself in the indoor pond there, preening his feathers at the edge of a small waterfall. His owners are enamored and in love: it’s like living in the middle of a tropical rain forest with all the conveniences of home—but without the Giardia.

We created our first indoor pond here in Utah by starting with a commercial injection-molded pre-formed plastic pond, a scant three feet long and eight inches deep. We bought a couple of turtles and enjoyed feeding them, until we discovered both of them missing one day. They turned up a few hours later hiding behind the Schefflera in the corner. Who knew turtles could climb?

Our next pond was larger—some five feet across—and deeper, in part to keep the turtles from escaping, a goal which proved only to be moderately successful. Turtles are nothing if not single-minded in their determination. Thinking they were bored in so large a pond, we introduced several gold fish and a couple of koi, some water plants, and a fountain. The fountain put out a delightfully calming sound; the fish began eating and growing before our very eyes, and the plants made everything look more natural.

It didn’t take long for the turtles to take notice of the fish, along with their newly redecorated digs, and their activity picked up. They spent more time swimming around and less time trying to escape. They spent more time eating, too, much to our chagrin and our steadily dwindling supply of fish. So, we had to make a choice. The turtles or the fish. While the turtles are great fun, the fish are easier to care for; so, off to the local wildlife preserve the turtles went. (They were indigenous to the area and not exotic introductions—something to remember before releasing any animal into the wild.)

Ever since, we have maintained ponds and other water features indoors as well as out. We enjoy the peace and serenity that our water features give us, and we enjoy, too, the fresh watercress we grow and harvest in an artificially created stream. It spreads like crazy! Where else can you get organic produce whenever you want it…guaranteed fresh and free of charge? And the health benefits from the increased humidity the water features bring to our home--not to mention the beneficial negative ions they generate--has helped to keep us healthier and happier.

Need I say more?

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