Every fish keeper has a dream of having a large pond of water garden in their backyard. Koi ponds are probably the best and most beautiful version of all ponds. Young Koi usually spend their first days in aquariums and later when they are big enough you can relocate them to your garden pond. In this article, we will give you some ideas on how to design and build your own Koi pond.
What are Koi ponds?
The first-known variety of Koi was in the early 1800 and they were mostly bred by farmers. 200 hundred years later they were several species of Koi. They became extremely popular in Europe and America where people keep them in specially designed ponds. The best description for Koi ponds probably are big fish tanks. You won't find gravel or rocks inside these tanks or anything else that could harm fish. Also, Koi ponds are made with flat down sides in order to inhibit predators form walking inside the pond and attack our fish. The minimum depth is around 4' and the average is 5' or 6' but it can be even deeper. Koi ponds can have waterfalls but it's not that often because waterfalls are not a segment of the filtration system. Also, we can't define Koi ponds like some kind of landscape, their main role is to keep Koi safe. Aeration system provides oxygen for fish and the water is pumped with an exterior pump. There are no high voltage electrical appliances in the water. Koi ponds can be built like any other ponds underground, partially underground or above it. Most ponds are made of concrete blocks to keep the earth outside and also with gum liner to keep water inside.
What about maintenance?
When it comes to maintenance, it's pretty simple and it will take you a couple of minutes every week. The bottom drain will remove all the waste from the pond so there is no need for any other kind of drainage. All you need is to backwash HydroBead Vortex™ filter once a month and HydroClean™ filter once a week.
Build a Koi pond - step by step
The first step is, of course, to put your ideas on paper. You need to calculate the right amount of materials you will need and define the dimensions of your Koi pond. After you have the main idea, you must outline the area of your pond. Also, outline the space for special elements like the filtration system and skimmer. After that, it's time to start excavating. It's recommended to add some tiers because you will have many different plants in your pond and not all of them prefer the same depth. Next thing is to dig a trench from the pond to the exterior filter. If you use a skimmer, you should dig a trench to the exterior pump and from that pump to the exterior pond filter. After trenches, the next step is bottom drainage. Drainage is an important item for the tidiness of the pond. You will save yourself a lot of time with this one. Also, drainage must be placed in the middle of the deepest area of the pond and that area must be rounded in order to move the waste away.
Fit underlay to the pond is the next thing you must do. Cut the underlay to the right sizes and place it on the bottom of your future pond. Don't forget to cut a specific 'X' in the place where bottom drainage will be. When the underlay is set, you can line the pond. Slowly unfold the liner and cover all the pond. Also, make sure to cut 'X' in the place of bottom drainage. Drainage and the liner must be dry before you put them together. When it comes to the skimmer, you should follow the manual instructions and make sure that piping is in the right position. The last thing in forming your pond before adding fish and plants is to choose the material. Rocks will add a natural look to your pond, while bricks will add a modern one.
The final job will be to add water and plants to your pond. Fill the pond to appropriate being and don't forget to add water conditioner. Also, buy starter bacteria and add it to water and filters as well. Heater is mandatory equipment, the temperature should be between 59-77°F. You can add all plants you wish but arrange them on steps you made in order to ensure enough light for each of them. Leave your pond with bacteria and plants alone before adding fish. Get yourself a test kit so you can check the water from time to time. When ammonia and nitrite levels impale before going to zero, you know you can add some fish. You must acclimate fish before adding it to the pond. For that, you can use floating bags and adding pond water in it for about 30 minutes with one cup every five minutes. After this introduction, fish is ready for the pond.
Choose the right plant
Another important thing is to choose the right plants for your pond and generally, the best ones for this kind of environment are those who grow faster than others. Water lettuce is a great example. This plant lays on the surface so it's perfect to provide shade and protect Koi from the sun. Water Lilly is another plant that you can put inside your pond. This plant must be planted at the bottom of the pond and then eventually their leaves will reach the surface and remain there. Just like water lettuce can provide great protection for Koi. American waterweed is the next interesting plant that likes sunny areas of the pond. It's a submersed plant and a great spot for Koi egg-laying. Fanwort is a plant very similar to American waterweed and grows very fast. Also, a great place for Koi egg-laying.
Koi pond accessories
Filters are very important and needed to eliminate dirt and waste from the water. But, their primary role is to secure an area for advantageous bacteria to grow. water that goes through the filters feeds these bacteria. Some of them play a major role in turning ammonia to nitrites and later nitrites are soaked up by plants to complete the nitrogen cycle. Today, there are three types of filters for ponds, pressurized, gravity feed, and gravity return filters.
When it comes to pumps, today are the most used air pumps and water pumps. The air pump has tubes and air stone that must be placed in water. This pump allows ventilation of the whole pond and increases the level of dissolved oxygen, vital for fish and plants. Water pumps, on the other hand, lead water from one end of the pond to another giving that natural look.
Pond heater is another important item. We already mentioned that the temperature should be between 55-77°F. Heater is vital because fish are ectotherms and that means they can't control their body temperature. Gas-fired boilers and electric water heaters are among the most used pon heaters. Of course, you choose yours by your budget and Koi pond size.
Things to consider if you want your own Koi pond
Costs: Koi can be very expensive, smaller fish can be found for $15 but some species can go over thousands of dollars. Some rare species will cost more, of course. They can live up to 30 years with good care. Also, fish will grow all the time and also demand a large space to live in and that will cost you as well. Stick to your plan and put everything you need on paper first.
Size: As we already mentioned, Koi will need a huge amount of space. But it's hard to say how much exactly. Just to get an insight into the situation, if you want to have around 15 Koi fishes, you will need at least 3,200 gallons of water.
Climate: Another important item is the climate. Koi can survive up to 6 inches of surface ice, but contact between air and water is necessary. The waterfall can be a good idea if the climate is cooler.
Predators: Keep in mind that Koi fish will be very appealing to predators and think of some defense strategy as well. Electric fencing or some kind of netting will be just fine.