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Author Topic: Just starting out  (Read 1141 times)
onenothing
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Just starting out
« on: October 27, 2008, 10:38:55 AM »

Hi all! Our family is just starting our journey into this great hobby. We've done some research but have a few questions and we thought we'd go to the best place for answers, other pond builders/keepers.  With this being out first pond we are looking at a 10X12 ft pond with about 2000-3000 gallons in it.  Our list of questions are as follows:

1. How can we tell a good "pond kit"?  Some are only a few hundred dollars while others are several thousand.  What should we look for?

2. Some sites say to use "jets" to improve circulation, is this necessary?

3. Do we need a bottom drain?
 
4. Some web sites advise against building "shelves" in a pond due to several reasons, predators, not easy to clean, etc.  Should we use shelves or just build a slope down to our maximum depth?

5. Can we keep plants in a koi pond?  Many sources say koi eat the plants and thus it's difficult to keep them together.  If so, how do we provide shade for the koi?

6. What is the difference between keeping koi and goldfish?  Also, what is the difference between a $1000 koi and the $5.99 koi at PetSmart or Petco?

7. Should we use rocks on the bottom of the pond to cover the liner?  Also, where do we look to buy rocks and what should we look for, especially for the waterfall?

8. Lastly, is it really difficult to build a pond (plumbing, electrical, etc) or can we do it ourselves?  We are fairly handy and, as I said before, would like this to be not only a project but a new hobby.  We have several aquariums in our house and would like to beautify our yard with a pond.

Any advice, or ideas would be most appreciated.  Thank you.
~Erick 
 
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bunnymp
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Re: Just starting out
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2008, 12:51:49 PM »

Great questions. I’ll try to answer what I can, which is questions 3-8.

3. You do not need a bottom drain.

4. When it comes to predators, shelves can be a problem. If you want one, make sure you have a steep drop off for fish protection. The drop off will keep the predators from getting any further into the pond. As long as the fish have a safe place to be during threats, they should be OK. I have a shelf, but I have a deep bottom in the middle plus a cave so they can hide.

5. You can keep plants, but some Koi like to feast on them. Mine do not. If you find that they are making meals out of them you can put netting over the pots and/or put large gravel in the pots to keep them out of the roots. Make sure the gravel is too large for them to eat. You can use the net idea for floating plants too.

6. No difference to either question. Slim bodied goldfish require the same things the Koi do and are just as social. I can’t see a difference with $$$ Koi and cheap Koi. I think my cheap Koi are gorgeous. I think the difference is with the owner. No need to spend a fortune if you have no plans to show them.

7. Lots of good arguments with the topic. Some people argue that gravel invites bad bacteria and it should not be used. A lot of these folks are the same people who also say a Koi Pond should not have plants (I call these Koi tubs).  They are right that bad bacteria will harvest under the gravel. My answer to that is maintenance. If you are looking for a maintenance free hobby – do not have a pond. If you are looking for a maintenance light hobby – do not use gravel. Except, now you lose the natural beauty. If you chose to use gravel make sure it is smooth (like river rock) so the fish do not get injured. Make sure you only out one layer down to keep the bottom from turning into a cesspool.

8. You can build it if you have the time and energy. It will certainly be more economic. Just do a lot of research first. Looks like you are off to a great start there.

Just curious, where do you live? Most people are closing their ponds this time of year.
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The Skipper
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Re: Just starting out
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2008, 04:07:51 AM »

1.  A good pond kit is one that professional installers will use. In the past 10 years there has been a really large increase in the installation of koi ponds for homeowners. I think this is mostly due to the increase in the home improvement shows on cable TV and all of the great backyards they show. Since the hobby has increased so fast you need to be careful as there are a lot of cheap knock off products out there that are made out of cheap crap. Take for instance skimmers and waterfall boxes. 90% of them are made out of cheap plastic and the sides can bend and bow without hardly any pressure. Some of them are so cheaply made that the tops won't even fit well when they are brand new. Plus the pumps and the PVC plumbing in a lot of the kits are crap. Pond liners are either rubber or plastic. With a rubber liner you can't go wrong, but with a plastic one you need to be careful or you can wind up with a good one or a terrible one. So, unless you know the difference stay with an EPDM rubber one.

2. Jets if properly installed will increase the aeration like a whirlpool bath. The only problem is that you need to punch a hole in the liner to install them. This is just asking for trouble down the road should one leak from expansion and contraction in summer/winter. A good aerator will accomplish the same thing and every pond should have one.

3. Do we need a bottom drain? No you do not "need" one. Again, punching a hole in a perfectly good liner is just asking for trouble. If you are really experienced at working with liners and bottom drains then that is another story. But as a first time ponder stay away from bottom drains.
 
4. Some web sites advise against building "shelves" in a pond due to several reasons, predators, not easy to clean, etc.  Should we use shelves or just build a slope down to our maximum depth? If you are going to have plants you need planting shelves. Plants are part of the backbone of a good ecosystem to remove waste from your water.

5. Can we keep plants in a koi pond?  Many sources say koi eat the plants and thus it's difficult to keep them together.  If so, how do we provide shade for the koi? Plants, plants and more plants. Yes they will nibble on plants they like such as water hyacinth. But you can always keep replacement plants growing in the top of your waterfall box or penned off in areas the koi can't get to.

6. What is the difference between keeping koi and goldfish?  Also, what is the difference between a $1000 koi and the $5.99 koi at PetSmart or Petco? There is no biological difference given that both koi are healthy. However the "mutts" of the koi world are a dime a dozen and the ones with really good markings are rare. See this section on koi markings and judging: http://www.pondkoi.com/koi_markings.htm  http://www.pondkoi.com/judging.htm

At some point you will not look at them and see just pretty fish. You will see Kohaku, Showa and Sanke. Once you learn to appreciate the different markings then you will magically develop a need to start keeping specific types. Some people are perfectly happy with "mutts" and never get hooked on the more refined koi. Some people really get into the hobby and would never think of having a koi that didn't have any good markings.


7. Should we use rocks on the bottom of the pond to cover the liner?  Also, where do we look to buy rocks and what should we look for, especially for the waterfall? Waterfalls should have stacks of rocks with pieces of flat slate or something else flat to provide staged drops. The longer the stream the better. You should use a mixture of medium sized gravel on the bottom to hold the plant roots and to protect the liner. You can get rocks, sand and gravel delivered to your driveway from any aggregates supplier in the yellow pages. It would be a good idea to visit them and hand pick rocks if they let you. Also that is the time to pick out your pieces of slate instead of having it randomly delivered.



8. Lastly, is it really difficult to build a pond (plumbing, electrical, etc) or can we do it ourselves?  We are fairly handy and, as I said before, would like this to be not only a project but a new hobby.  We have several aquariums in our house and would like to beautify our yard with a pond. The hardest part is the digging and hauling large rocks around. The rest of the work is easy. The plumbing of a system is very simple. Just put the pump in the bottom of the skimmer and use high grade flexible PVC and route the line to the waterfall. Very easy.

All forum members can buy the kits we offer at the same price that we sell them to pond builders for. But you have to promise to take pictures and update your build on this forum as it gets done. http://www.pondkoi.com/pond_products_pond_kits.htm I can guarantee you that these kits are the best you can buy and there is nothing in them that is cheaply made.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2008, 04:33:52 AM by The Skipper » Logged

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Re: Just starting out
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2008, 08:32:33 AM »

Nice write up... I agree with everything but would add that you must make sure your waterfall box, skimmer, and pump are sized properly for the size of your pond.. so if your pond is 1000 gallons, then your pump should handle 1500 GPH. There for your waterfall box and skimmer box must be able to handle 1500 GPH... When doing the plumbing NEVER undersize your line going from the skimmer box to the waterfall box, (if your are using a skimmer box with the pump in it)....At least one either the waterfall box or the skimmer box should be a Bio system for filtration.. I have both my waterfall box and skimmer box as this.... And most of all DO NOT SKIMP ON ANYTHING!!! If you do you will regret it within a year or so.... 90% of all people that build a pond wish they would of built it bigger than they did with in a year... So Built it big and don't skimp but be smart and save money where you can... A few weeks of research can save you tons of money at the end...
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