Showing posts with label koi ponds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label koi ponds. Show all posts

Saturday, November 08, 2008

How to Build a Koi Pond

Koi and goldfish? There's a difference?

Koi? What are koi and why must I build a koi pond differently than any other pond? Can't I just put koi in my pond? One would think so, but one would be wrong.

First of all, a koi is a carp, just like a goldfish, but it is from a different family. Goldfish are descendants of crucian carp and koi are from common carp. Koi usually have two whiskers like a catfish and goldfish don't, so they are easy to spot if someone wants to give you one.

And there are other differences as well. Goldfish dart around more in the water and will eat your submerged vegetation as they fertilize it. Your pond will be a relatively maintenance free ecosystem with plants and goldfish. Koi, on the other hand, swim lazily around eating everything they can get their mouths around. They love your most expensive water lilies and will dispatch with them first. They work their way through every piece of vegetation you have in your pond and look for more before you even realize you must feed them.

So a koi pond is a special outdoor aquarium made just for koi. Koi will pull plants down from outside the pond just for sport. They also have a awful habit of jumping out of the pond where you find them stiff and dry when you come home from work. The jumping out is often a sign of foul water. A goldfish pond is a water garden with goldfish swimming around behaving themselves.

Before you even think of building any pond, think long and hard: Do you want a koi pond or do you want a water feature with plants and goldfish? For goldfish pond building see How to Build a Pond

You have decided you want a koi pond because you want koi as pets.
A koi pond must be deeper than a goldfish pond. Koi need more room to move around. They like to swim up and down as well as back and forth. They also grow and grow fast, so make your pond at least 3' deep, deeper if you can and as big as you can afford. Try to get your koi pond dug below the frost line or you will be trying to figure out how to over winter them in the house when it freezes outside.

A koi pond should be built up above the ground. I like to do this with goldfish ponds as well to keep run off out and therefore avoid chemicals that may run into your pond. If you can get your koi pond edges up at least 6", you will be safer and possible keep your koi in the water instead of lying on the ground. I have known professional koi keepers who build their ponds at least 18" above ground, usually using concrete for the entire pond rather than a butyl rubber or EPDM liner.

Koi ponds must have filtration. As much filtration as you can afford. Do you get the idea that koi keeping can be expensive? In the past koi keepers used swimming pool filters. Now bead filters are popular. If the bead filters are just too expensive, a quality biofilter will do. It should be big enough for your pond. Most biofilter manufacturers will help you pick out the one that will work best for your pond size.

Using a UV light sterilizer, usually called a water clarifier is necessary for your koi pond. It will kill algae microorganisms and keep the water clear so you can see your fish.

Koi are hungry fishies. You must feed them. You will find scores of koi foods available. I make no recommendations about which one to buy. I suggest finding a koi club in your area and see which ones their fish like and following their examples and suggestions. One thing I know koi love to do is play with a half of a red cabbage. Don't shred it. Let them play with it like a basketball.

The water chemistry must be perfect. Any radical changes in pH, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia must be corrected immediately or your fish will get sick.
The biggest difference

Don't forget one basic difference. When you build a koi pond, you are building a special house for your pets. When you build a goldfish pond, you are putting a water garden in your landscape.

And you will name those koi, I know that. Because you named your children and your other pets. Koi can get sick and die of the strangest diseases before you are even aware they are sick. I suggest not naming them.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A New Pond

I am a new pond owner and it has been established for about a month, I have added a few fish. At first they were very active now I feel they are lying on the bottom more and not swimming around as much. My pond has a little green on the bottom and sides but is basically clear. Am I jumping the gun or do you think I may have a problem with the fish? They are eating but not as much. I have several plants in the pond and seem to be doing o.k. my water lily has finally formed a pad but it is small, how often should I fertilize it? I also have a pond smell it that normal?

Pondlady sez;:
You are feeding your fish. Unless they are koi, do not feed them. Make sure you have 1/2 of the surface of the water covered with floating plants and have plenty of places for the fish to hide.

Put at least one bunch of submerged vegetation in your pond for every square foot of pond surface. Feed the water lily at least once monthly, but they would prefer to be fed twice or even every 10 days in the growing season. Use Pondtabbs or other aquatic fertilizer. If you can't find it, use Job's Tree Spikes cut up in 4 pieces or Job's Tomato Spikes. And as a last resort, just dig a hole in the soil of the water lily, put a powdered fertilizer in there and cover it back up. 
You probably have too many fish as well. Here's the rule: 1 linear foot of fish per 25 square feet of water surface.

Spring is coming fast. Check your filters. If they have been out of the pond all winter, put them back in the water and use some Microbe Lift Gel to give the pond biosystem a jump start for spring.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Letters, we get letters

Question about koi pond construction:

I have had several propositions so far this year for a pond. I know where I want it, just not entirely sure how to build it. I want it 5' below ground and 2' above ground, with a viewing window facing the house. I want it right behind my swimming pool so I can almost literally swim with my fishes.

The offers were from two builders in particular, one wants to do gunnite and the other will use EPDM, both will do it over reinforced concrete block. One wants to build a filter shed in the corner of the yard, and the other wants to put a filter "room" below ground next to the house. It is for koi so it will have to have a bottom drain, or two, and the biggest filtration I can afford. I also will, being in Florida which is aka predator heaven, screen it in with my lanai and use the same patio paver blocks around the pond area to match the rest of the
deck area. What do you think? Have I lost my marbles?

Pondlady sez:

I think your plans are over the top!
Oh, one thing. Often swimming pool builders have pond
We both know all the problems with concrete, especially in FL
where you are pretty close to sea level. Might want to find out your elevation before doing gunnite.
The filter room below ground can make it difficult to access
when things need servicing.

Answer to pondlady's question:

One gave me a wonderful price for Diamond Brite. What do you know about using this in a pond? I have the same thing in my pool, which is just a finish as far as I know, over concrete construction.
I am above sea level here and the ground is graded so that my property is about 4-5' above the roads and fields around the area. They have to do that because of the septic leachfields I think. Anyway, I am building it 2' above ground to be on the safe side. I have also spoken to the other guy, a pond builder who is expert with koi ponds, to do the installation of the filtration equipment. So these two guys will work together on it to assure me of the best my money can buy.

Pondlady sez:

I don't know Diamond Brite, but think it is just a brand name for a finish, just as you mentioned.
Your pond sounds as if it will be divine. Please send pictures during and after construction.