If you’ve got a garden pond at home and want to explore what’s inside you’ll be wanting to get some pond dipping nets or even possibly a pond dipping kit for your kids to find out what’s lurking. Check out my post here if you want to know how to pond dip.
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Updated in 2022!
What you need for pond dipping
As well as access to a pond you need a few different pieces of pond dipping equipment to get started. A pond dipping kit might be worth checking out but to be honest, right now in 2022, there’s not too many options around that are good quality.
Pond dipping kit
As mentioned, you *can* buy ready made kits but they generally aren’t the best quality really especially if they are like toys. I like to build my own and then can reuse the items if need be and really get some better quality items.
However if you do want to buy a ready made pond dipping kit, perhaps as a gift or because time is tight, then this one is quite good. It’s on eBay and has all you need to get started. It’s only a cheap kit so would be nice for a starter set to see if your children are interested in pond dipping first.
The problem with these kits are that they sometimes have very small nets which might not suit your pond set up. But, a cheaper kit gets you started easily and sometimes that’s all you need!
This set, as I mentioned, is a basic set and includes a small pond dipping net, a small bug viewer and stickers. For the price it’s not bad to start with. It also has an identification chart which is great.
If you can, and especially if you have very keen kids, definitely think about creating your own kit – I’ve linked to what you’ll need below:
Build your own pond dipping kit!
My preference is to purchase items separately and build your own kit, which has the added advantage of being perfect for the ponds you’ll likely be using.
Pond dipping nets
At the very least you’ll want a small pond dipping net. One like this is perfect. It’s got a small enough mesh that it will catch even the tiniest of water bugs and is not heavy at all. It’s perfect for little hands and arms to swish around the water. This is one we’ve personally owned and found to be good quality and should last a while!
To find out more click here or click the image.
Larger pond dipping nets are also useful. What I sometimes like to use is a large net to get a nice big sweep of the pond and then use the smaller net to help catch something closer to the surface or to catch and transfer something from a tray into a smaller container to look at it more carefully.
These extendable handle pond nets will be good for trying to get pond life that is a bit deeper. They’re not too expensive and can also be used for fishing!
Although the mesh isn’t as fine as on the other nets they’d still be helpful get some pond life out.
Click here to find out more about these nets.
You need something to put some pond water in ready to collect your pond life and so that you can investigate at a safer distance from the pond. You can use a washing up bowl or you can get a pond tray like this one. This is a catering tray but you can get one designed for the purpose too – basically a long narrow tray is what you want and a light colour is preferable so that you can see easily what you’ve caught.
This white rectangular tray is perfect for pond dipping or for catching mini beasts of any description and would be long lasting for if you’re planning to use them lots. Click here for more information about this pond tray.
Alternatively a clear bucket could work well like this one. It’s clear and easy enough to handle even for little ones.
A small bug viewer is also a good idea so that you can transfer anything you want to look at more closely to it. This is a basic viewer but all you need really and can be used for any kind of mini beast hunting as well!
Just fill it with some of your pond water and transfer what you’ve found to it. This viewer has a magnifying glass at the top to really be able to see the details of the bugs if you should want to do that!
Pond dipping identification sheet
Finally you’ll want some way of to help with your pond life identification. For younger children a book like the RSPB’s First book of Pond Life is a great start. It has lovely illustrations in and isn’t too overwhelming for beginners or smaller children.
To find out more about this book click here.
A handy chart to have alongside your pond dipping station is this one from the Field Studies council – they do a number of nice charts like this that we like. This one is for freshwater life and as it’s laminated it’s excellent to have outside with you and won’t get ruined by wet hands! This one is more for older kids or adults, but a great resource to show how a key works. It asks questions about what you’ve caught so you can then identify it.
To find out more about this item click here.
Pond dipping is a huge amount of fun – always remember to wash your hands afterwards. An important addition to any pond dip kit is also hand sanitiser!!
If you are still interested, I wrote more about learning about pond life for kids here.