Many hobbyists first get the idea to build a Koi pond of their own after seeing their first pond in person. The idea of coming home after a long hard day to hear the sounds of a beautiful flowing waterfall and the beauty of colorful Koi fish swimming in crystal clear water sounds almost too good to be true. What could be better than coming home to paradise, your own private oasis in the privacy of your own backyard? This is the very thought process many new pond owners go through when they first catch the “pond bug” and decide to begin digging a lagoon in their yard.
Any pond owner will tell you that owning a pond can be an incredibly rewarding experience. The countless hours spent relaxing in your favorite lounge chair on your back porch, doing absolutely nothing but enjoying the tranquil environment you have created can be a definite stress reliever. Purchasing some small inexpensive Koi fish at your local pet store and watching them grow over the years, perhaps teaching them to eat from the palm of your hand. These moments are the fruits of your labor, the joy that can come from building the outdoor water feature you’ve always dreamt of.
Unfortunately, building a pond or water garden is simple as it may appear. There is definitely more to it than simply digging a hole and filling it with water. Every pond, every water garden exists as its own ecosystem. This ecosystem must provide a healthy living environment for Koi fish, goldfish, and other pond inhabitants. The water in your pond must be constantly filtered, and care must be taken to avoid green water — the dreaded “pea soup” syndrome common to newer ponds. The purpose of this article is to help new pond owners avoid some of the costly mistakes when constructing their own pond.
The biggest regret many pond owners have after building their first pond is they wish they had made it bigger. Koi keeping can be an addicting hobby, and it is not uncommon for many pond owners to add dozens, if not hundreds of Koi fish to their ponds. Unlike common goldfish, Koi fish are available in several different varieties and an easily exceed two feet in length within a few years if given proper care. Many koi collectors become Koi Kichi, which means “crazy for Koi.” Not unlike someone who collects postage stamps or baseball cards, many Koi keepers collect Koi.
The term “Koi” is actually short for Nishikigoi, which are ornamental carp often kept as pets in outdoor ponds. Koi are incredibly hardy species and survive through a wide range of temperatures. Many new pond owners take this hardiness for granted; however, and are not exactly diligent when it comes to pond filtration and other required steps to help ensure clean, healthy pond water. This lack of effort often results in consistent parasite infestations resulting from poor water quality. Left unchecked, this commonly leads to Koi illnesses and ultimate fish death.
There are basically two different types on water features commonly found in backyards. These water features include water gardens, which are commonly filled with a variety of aquatic plants, and proper Koi ponds, which are specifically designed to provide suitable home for Japanese Koi fish. The differences between these water features are significant. Water gardens are primarily designed for plants and often feature a lot of rocks in the water to help create a more natural appearance. While many water gardens are very beautiful to look at, they are not suitable for Koi keeping.
A proper Koi pond should include several important features which require you to choose the best pond supplies possible. First and foremost, a proper Koi pond must ensure healthy clean water. Outstanding water quality can be accomplished by any number of commercially available pond filter systems on the market. It is important to understand the goal of pond filtration is to provide healthy water and this does not necessarily equate to clear water as well. Healthy water can still be green, which is a major issue for many pond owners wishing to actually view the beautiful fish swimming in their ponds.
The addition of an ultraviolet sterilizer can help achieve clear water in even the murkiest of Koi ponds. Also known as UV clarifiers, these units effectively kill green free floating algae commonly found in pond water, causing it to sink to your pond floor where it is removed by your filter. Most commercially available UV sterilizers are designed to clear your pond water within three days, and require minimal maintenance. For best results, it is recommended to replace the UV lamp in your ultraviolet clarifier once every two years.
The heart of any backyard water feature is a reliable circulation pump. Because a Koi pond is a living ecosystem unto itself, it is recommended to leave all equipment running on a continuous basis. This means the pond pump you choose must offer energy efficiency, reliability, and be properly sized for your specific needs. There are two basic categories when it comes to selecting a water circulation pump. Depending on your pond design, a pond owner can choose between a submersible pump and an external pump. Which pond pump type is best varies based on your specific needs.
External pond pumps are designed for out of pond installations. In general, external pumps are available in larger sizes than submersibles and offer superior energy savings. It is also far easier to repair most external pumps, as replacement components are readily available. External pumps are ideal for use in Koi ponds and water gardens of all sizes. If using a pressurized bead filter or if you have a waterfall more than four feet tall, an external pump is also highly recommended as these units perform far better under these conditions than to most submersible pumps.
Submersible pond pumps are also available in a variety of sizes. Since a submersible pump is designed to run while under water, it is generally easier to install a submersible pump on most water features. Many popular submersible pumps for Koi ponds feature an oil-free design, which is important because this eliminates the danger of oil leaking into your pond water, creating potentially unsafe conditions for pond life. In general, submersible pumps are ideal for most water gardens and small ponds which do not have bead filters installed.
The phrase “garbage in garbage out” definitely applies when it comes to selecting the right pond equipment for your outdoor water feature. Quality definitely counts. Quality products may cost a bit more, but usually pay for themselves over time by providing lower maintenance workload and a longer useful life. The questions addressed in this article are only a small fraction of those required to build a proper Koi pond or beautiful water garden that your entire family will enjoy for years to come.