An experimental salt gradient solar pond having a surface area of 3.5 x 3.5 m(2) and depth of 2 m has been built. Two covers, which are collapsible, have been used for reducing the thermal energy loses from the surface of the solar pond during the night and increasing the thermal efficiency of the pond solar energy harvesting during daytime. These covers having reflective properties can be rotated between 0 degrees and 180 degrees by an electric motor and they can be fixed at any angle automatically. A mathematical formulation which calculates the amount of the solar energy harvested by the covers has been developed and it is adapted into a mathematical model capable of giving the temporal temperature variation at any point inside or outside the pond at any time. From these calculations, hourly air and daily soil temperature values calculated from analytical functions are used. These analytic functions are derived by using the average hourly and daily temperature values for air and soil data obtained from the local meteorological station in Isparta region. The computational modeling has been carried out for the determination of the performance of insulated and uninsulated solar ponds having different sizes with or without covers and reflectors. Reflectors increase the performance of the solar ponds by about 25%. Finally, this model has been employed for the prediction of temperature variations of an experimental salt gradient solar pond. Numerical results are in good agreement with the experiments. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.