We decided to add some plants first so we purchased several cannas from Lowe's to try out and a large, hardy water lily from Creative Water Gardens in Garland, near our home. We also purchased 10 mosquito fish there to help keep the mosquitoes in check. I really wanted to buy more because our "pond" is huge, but they convinced me not to waste my money. Apparently mosquito fish are the bunny rabbits of the fishie kingdom.
They were right, by the way! We've had tiny fry every single day since we brought the first 10 home! Not long after that we purchased 50 feeder Comet Goldfish from Petsmart at $.22 cents each. 2 didn't survive the trip home and over the next several days we lost about a dozen - some from the bottom drain suction, which we fixed by adding large rocks over top to keep them away, and some for no reason we could discover. After 3 weeks of no more deaths, we decided to add 40 more. We have had NO fishie funerals since!
Also, every bit of the interior of our pool is sloped, making it difficult for our make-shift pedestals to be sturdy. Remember, we wanted a SWIMMING pond and it's not a good idea to let people swim around rickety structures! So we chose to use sandbags to build our shelf. The idea was that they could be stacked and molded to fit the slope of our pool.