Building your own Koi pond can be a very rewarding experience! Besides feeling the initial sense of accomplishment, you also know you’re creating something of beauty that will provide years of enjoyment. Let’s assume that you’ve decided to have a pond, probably in the back yard, with some kind of fish in it. If you plan to carry out most or all of the work, this article is for you.
The first step is to do some planning. Where will you locate the pond? You will need electricity available to run the pump equipment, and water within reach to occasionally top off the pond. Avoid a location with tree limbs and branches overhead. You don’t want leaves and twigs falling into the pond. A nearby tree or two would be fine, because they could provide some partial shade, without dropping many leaves into your pond.
After some thought about location, it is very helpful to lay out a rope on the ground to outline where the pond might be placed. You can view it from all angles and decide on an appropriate size. If you plan to have Goldfish, Comets, and Shubunkins, a depth of 2-3 feet is adequate. Koi will require a depth of about 3 feet, and 4-5 feet is even better. Think about how long and wide you would like, and what shape the pond will be. Realize that you will be lining the entire pond with a rubber material after it is dug.
Digging the pond is the first challenge. Depending on the pond size, it will probably require heavy equipment. Don’t be intimidated! You may wish to contract this work out, or it may be possible to rent a small backhoe for a half-day and have a friend (or yourself) operate it to dig the pond. Check with the power company first to avoid any problems while digging.
After the pond is dug, you will need to line it with fish-safe material. Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) synthetic liner is the best choice. It is available at pond supply places and also at companies that sell roofing materials. They have it in widths of 25 or even 50 feet! I would rather not have any seams in my pond liner, so plan your width and length wisely, and allow for the pond depth and all pond walls when calculating the liner size, and allow some extra, too.
You will need a water pump to circulate the water from the pond to a filter and perhaps over a waterfall, and back into the pond. A biological filter is a necessity for keeping fish in your pond. An ultra-violet (UV) light is a very good investment for algae control. You will also need some tubing for circulating the water through your closed loop system.
Before buying your circulation equipment, it is wise to consult with a pond expert to determine which diameter tubing, pump, and filter size would properly handle your pond’s requirements. At a minimum, half the pond’s water volume should flow through the system each hour; it’s even better to filter the entire pond each hour!
Building a small waterfall for the return into the pond is a wonderful idea. The sound of it will relax and hypnotize you, and the fish love it! Arrange a piece of the liner under it before you build up the rocks. You want all the water to return to the pond and none leaking out.
We decorated the perimeter of our pond with large rocks, the same as those in our rustic stone walls around our property. You may want a more refined look. Whatever you choose, this is a finishing touch, and it can be done even after the fish are in your pond! A park bench is a nice addition, too. You may want a net over the pond to discourage herons from stealing your fish.
So, now you just need some fish, some food, and a skimming net to remove debris from the surface. You are ready to enjoy your new fish pond and get to know your wonderful fish pets!
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