Most people will upgrade their first pond several times after learning valuable lessons from both experience and further study. We are here to help/advise you with your first pond, or upgrade your existing pond, - and make it as successful a project as possible. We welcome your questions 360 588-0140
A few points to help guide you:
The build tips below are just some of the topics that we feel will benifit others interested in learning more about ponds. It comes from designing, building, owning and being around ponds for over 50 years. We have helped hundreds upon hundreds of architects, contractors and home owners build ponds with great success. This success comes from our past experiance as a General building contractor, having attended multiple Koi Wet Lab classes, owning Koi ponds, constant research into pond and product design with the desire to share with all of our customers what ever help they may need to make it as easy as possible to "get it right" the first time.
Larger ponds are easier to maintain: (smaller ponds are actually the hardest to manage and maintain) With a larger pond comes a larger volume of water, and this aids in water chemistry stability. Maintaining alkalinity to stabilize pH is easier in a larger pond. This is incredibly important as pH and temperature swings that occur in smaller ponds are more stressful to Koi. Backwashing a filter on a large pond drains off only about 5% of the total volume of water. This represents a reasonable water change that benefits the nutrient content of the pond. Backwashing a filter on a small pond may nearly drain it.
Steep sides and why: The number one predator of Koi is the Blue Heron. With steep sides, it is near impossible for them to wade in to get your fish. They will stand on shallow Lillie pots or rocks and eat Koi. They will stab the extra-large Koi with their beaks and toss them to the outer side of the pond, to get them out of the way so that they can get to the medium to small ones that they can eat.
Depth of pond: The long term standard has been three feet as the minimum. When going less than that water temperature swings will fluctuate more rapidly and this can cause stress to the Koi. It also will make it easier for predators to find places to stand and capture the fish. Too shallow, the fish are in danger of rubbing their bellies on the bottom when startled, which can cause injury, and this will leave the fish open to infection. Four to six feet is preferred and many will go to even eight feet or more when they are serious about raising "champion" Koi. Koi develop strength and girth by swimming up and down, not just swimming horozontally.
Water Volume reduces fish stress: With volume comes more places for the fish to wander and find comfort away from predators, or activities like the kids soccer ball bouncing into the pond. Depth enables them to stay away from the Blue Heron that kills so many Koi. Raccoons are not likely to get into the pond, yet will attempt to hang over and swipe at any fish close to the side.
Rubber liner, concrete or other:
Permit, or not: All cities have different viewpoints and building code regulations. Be sure to call them and ask questions. Some cities do not require permits for a pond, yet may want one for any electrical work. They may ask about any type of auto fill, and require a simple anti- siphon valve preventing any possible pond water from flowing back into the city water system.
Piping: PVC and ABS are widely used. PVC is also available in flex. Most pond water plumbing is done with 2 inch piping. If your pipe runs are going to be 30 feet or longer use 3 inch piping for as much of the run as possible. When gluing PVC to ABS use a combination glue. Pond pumps typically only pump 5 – 7 psi of pressure which is considered very low and safe.
Copper anything: Simply put, NO! Copper, if used for any part of the plumbing, or water feature, can permit leaching of the copper into the water and cause copper toxicity to the Koi. Beware of brass as well because brass contains copper. Typically occurs at low levels of alkalinity in the water.
Underwater lights: After seeing what stray voltage can do to fish, it would be better to install lighting that shines down into the pond. Underwater lights, whether they are low voltage, or not, can begin to experience weakened seals that are designed to make the lighting unit watertight... to keep water out! They may continue to operate just fine, while zapping your fish every time they are turned on. A fish found dead that has an arched back is dead from electrical shock.
To test for stray voltage, drain the pond enough so that it allows you to be able to place the light in a bucket of water. Turn on the light. Test the water in the bucket with one probe of an electrical volt test meter and then touch the other electrical tester probe to a ground. It should read zero volts. (Do not stand in or touch water during any part of this testing!)
I hope this helps. Give us a call if we can help more: 360 588-0140
Quality equipment saves you, not only money in the long run, it saves time and frustration. A simple example would be purchasing an external pump, designed for ponds, that is energy efficient. It will pay for itself in the first year alone, just in electrical savings, when compared to a submersible pump that costs less than a couple hundred dollars up front. Submersible pumps have a life expectancy of 3 years or less, and draw 3 times more in electrical usage, resulting in higher electricity bills. A good external pump may last from 5 years to as much as 11 years before needing to be replaced.
What to look for:
We suggest the following steps for best maintenance of your pond:
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Food manufacturers typically suggest using water temperatures as the determination to start, or to stop feeding your Koi. Most brands suggest a feeding regimen of starting out lightly, which allows for the digestive tract to develop the ability to digest. And, to stop feeding, when the water temperatures drops below 55 *F. This type of feed schedule is because of the reduced digestibility of the food being used.
One brand, (Kenzen), has engineered a food developed from research studies of the Koi natural diet. It is noted for its very high levels of digestibility. The Kenzen diet, with its balance of energy to fuel metabolism and protein to optimize body growth, is formulated to help Koi reach their maximum potential. The Kenzen diet does not limit you to, or make you dependent on, water temperatures. And this is due to the extraordinary quality of its ingredients. Using the Kenzen diet, you are feeding your fish a food that has absolutely no fillers, making it easy to digest. Nutritionally, your Koi will be able to utilize and assimilate most of the food value, while producing over 80% less waste when compared to other well known brands.
Kenzen Koi food top 5 ingredients are: Herring meal, Potato starch, Squid meal, Dried whole egg, and Garlic. By not having any corn, or grain products, it permits the whites and colors to be there brightest. Read More ->
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Even with a well-designed Koi pond, you may still encounter health issues with Koi. The following are some ideas to consider when attempting to determine the source, or cause, for a fish showing signs worth treating.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Why is an external pump better? An external pump is a smart decision. The external pump costs more to purchase, but draws over 70% less amps resulting in 70% less electricity used. The external pump typically has a Baldor or an A.O. Smith motor that has been known to keep running 24/7 for up to 11 years. Most submersible pumps fail between 1.5 to 3.5 years. It is also much easier to access an external pump when maintenance is needed. Most are self priming with a built in leaf trap that also benifits traping crud prior to the pumps intake and filtration system.
How many bottom drains? Most ponds under 5000 gallons will do fine with just one bottom drain provided the bottom surface slopes towards it. Larger ponds will have larger bottom surface areas, and adding additional bottom drains allows for the removal of the debris from around the pond. This will prevent any excess buildup. Consider installing an aerated bottom drain. This feature would vastly improve the cleaning efficiency of the drain providing for cleaner ponds.
Do I need jets? Jets, close to the surface, are needed based on a particular ponds' design for moving water from corners, or surface debris, to the skimmer. Jets installed mid level in the pond wall can benefit by moving debris towards the bottom drain. Installing at least one below surface return, controlled by a 3-way valve to the waterfall, benefits a pond design by allowing the ability to divert any amount of the waterfall flow directly back to the pond. Perhaps your waterfall is splashing too much and your pond is losing water... divert the flow so that the return of the water is below the surface thereby reducing the amount of splashing.
Why is a shelf a problem in a pond? It may permit a safe way for someone to get out, yet makes it inviting for dogs to get in. Blue herons prefer to wade in and are known to eat several Koi in one visit. I suggest making the shelf, if needed, at least 2 feet or more from the surface. Also be aware that fish waste may accumulate on the shelf and cause water quality and health issues if it remains in the pond.
Why should I spend so much for a good filter? The purpose of the pond is to enjoy your environment and not be a slave to the maintenance. Good filters typically can be cleaned in 5 minutes, and you never have to replace the filter media. And finally, an external filter is extremely reliable, lasting a very long time.
How long will the beneficial Bacteria live in my filter when the power goes out? One biologist mentioned that, at around 8 hours, in an enclosed filter, the oxygen levels are reduced to the point where the die-off will be significant. Should your filter media be exposed to oxygen, during a power outtage, your bacteria will likely survive for a longer period of time. Some people even resort to a battery operated air pump to supply additional air to the media. Other sources agree with the above, but mentioned that not all of the beneficial bacteria die off in a 24 hour period, and once the system is back up and running again, the remaining live bio begin to propagate and thrive.
Would you like to learn more? We have many web sites to help.
KoiPondUV.com / KoiPondFood.com / We are here to help. Give us a call: 360 588-0140
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