Why a Garden Pond?
“Give me books, fruit, French wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors, played by someone I do not know. I admire lolling on a lawn by a water-lilied pond to eat white currants and see goldfish.” - John Keats.
A garden pond in the backyard not only enhances the beauty of your green patch but offers a great way to relax and rejuvenate at home. You spend some splendid ‘me’ moments in the garden, listening to the tranquil sound of water, watching fishes and tadpoles, and other creatures in you bucket-size garden pond. The weeds that grow around the pond invite colorful butterflies and birds. The pond brings in a plethora of fauna ranging from insects, spiders, crustaceans, amphibians, fishes, birds, and mammals. In a way you play your part in fostering the local wildlife. A water garden is a not new idea. The history of water gardens can be traced back to the ancient civilizations. Egyptian documents as early as 2800 BC talk of their existence. Decorative ponds and fountains were a major feature in gardens of ancient Greece and Rome as well as Middle Eastern civilizations of Mesopotamia. In some cases the idea of water garden was stimulated by the need for irrigation canal.
What is a Koi Pond?
There are many options when it comes to choosing a type of pond for a garden. A koi pond is one of them. These are fish ponds that house colorful carps. It owes its existence to Japan and China of yesteryear. The term ‘koi’ comes from Japanese phrase “nishikigoi”, meaning a brocaded carp fish. The origin of these fishes is not known very well. According to popular beliefs they may have originated in Western Asia and found their way to China and Japan through trade or waterway. The carps are rich in protein as a result they soon became a part of the local diet. They started being harvested. It was in the 18th century, that mutation was observed among these carps. They started displaying red and white blotches on the scales instead of being plain grayish black. These colored breeds were separated and started being bred. This was the first instance of koi breeding. Ojiya, a small town in the north-eastern coat of Honshu Island was famous for it. However, the outside word did not know about these “living jewels”. It was in 1914, that koi breeders exhibited their prized possessions in an annual exposition in Tokyo. And it was since then that koi ponds started being popular around the world.
The carps exhibit some special characteristics which make them ideal for garden ponds. They are hardy fishes that can survive in a wide variety of climates. A bunch of carps in bright and variegated colors swimming in ever-changing patterns looks fabulous. According to Chinese belief, koi fishes bring ‘ong’ or good luck. So they are often found in Chinese gardens as a part of Fengshui. Kois are very active and playful. They are sociable in nature. They like being fed by hands. Some koi varieties can have a life span as long as humans.
Why a Koi Pond?
Boosts real estate value
A koi pond in a lush-green garden certainly adds to its value. Plants and trees will grow along the edges of the pond and invite more creatures. The garden becomes livelier, yet natural and peaceful at the same time. Arrange for house parties in the garden, whereby your visitors will certainly enjoy their time beside the pond. The pond will boost the real–estate value of your property. And if the buyer of your property is a pet lover, it will fetch you a better deal than you expected.
Great pets for pet lovers
Kois are unique as family pets. Children will adore them. These are social by nature. They do very well with each other in the pond. There are precedents of these fishes showing concern for other pond mates. There’s a story about how a Koi steered a sick fish to the edge of the pool. Although they belong to temperate regions, they can survive in all types of conditions. They can live in cold zones where the surface of the pond freezes in winter. They can hibernate under the icy surface.
Modern lifestyle brings various kinds of stress on your mental and physical heath. Stress has a deteriorating effect on the immune system and you become susceptible to various diseases. Many homeowners with koi pond in their backyard have acknowledged that enjoying the sight of a koi pond on a Sunday afternoon is a great stress buster. The sound of water eases the mind, body and soul. Victims of cardiac arrest with koi ponds at home have been known to have recovered sooner than usual.
Koi fishes are in demand among niche buyers. You can make a good profit by selling your fish stock to interested buyers. Participate in fish shows to find prospective buyers. A single koi of a good size with desirable colors and patterns will fetch a few hundred dollars.
What are the Things to Consider before Building a Koi Pond?
Location of the koi pond
The koi pond is usually built in the backyard. However the pond should be placed so that you are able to see it from the various quarters of the house that overlook it. Make an outline of the pond on the ground where you want it to be and view it from various angles. You may need to demolish or remodel a part of the backyard to make place for the pond. Sometimes windows with larger expanse of glass are incorporated to enable a better view. Keeping the pond close to the property allows easier drainage. Avoid areas with over-hanging trees as the pond gets strewn with dead leaves. Ponds in shady areas have cool water all-round and stay free from blanket weeds and green water problem.
Size of the pond
On an average koi ponds have a length between 23 and 25 inches. The depth of the pond will depend on the size of the fishes you want to keep. Jumbo koi are best reared in ponds about 6 to 8 feet deep. Otherwise a depth of 3 to 4 feet will suffice. Remember your fishes should get plenty of room to exercise and, should not look overstocked and crowded.
Filtration system for the pond
A koi pond would turn into a sewer without a filtration system. This is because of the water that turns dirty with dry leaves, branches, pollen, fish poop, dead insects, and other substances that would find their way into the pond. Most of these settle in the bottom and produce a rotten egg-like smell unless purged. This creates an anaerobic environment and poses a threat to the health and well-being of your fishes. Most ponds are equipped with a bottom drain and skimmer to remove water from the pond for filtration
The bottom drain is present at the deepest point of the pond. The water in the pond flows through the bottom drain into a settlement tank. From there the water is sent through a filter layer to the pump. This filter removes the impurities in the water which is then pumped back into the pond.
The skimmer on other hand works at the top of the pond. It sucks in water full of debris, thereby filtering the water back to the pump. It can also remove dissolved organic compounds. A pond without skimmer will have oily film floating at the top.
To filter the water in the pond there are two types of filtration system-mechanical filtration and biological filtration. The multistage mechanical filter has different layers each with different pore-size. The layers are arranged from biggest pores to the smallest ones to progress from coarse filtration to finer filtration.
The wastes from the fishes make the pond infested with ammonia. Ammonia in the water makes it toxic which then threatens the lives of the fishes. In biological filters you use useful bacteria that change ammonia into nitrites and also break down the nitrites into nitrates. Nitrates in lower levels are harmless to fishes. Bio filters comes in the shape of black or green boxes. These create surfaces on which specific bacteria can live in order to convert the waste products naturally and continuously produced in the pond to less polluting materials. A mechanical filter and biological filter work together to keep the pond water healthy. You can also buy UV filters or Ion filters. Also plant aquatic plants in you pond which will work as effective filters. Some top choices are water purslane, fanwort, American waterweed, iris, lotus, and lilies. They will add both aesthetic and functional value. They will provide a shed for your koi and a substrate for female koi to lay eggs.
An efficient pond pump
Buying a good pond pump for filtering and re-circulating water is a key for the up- keep of the pond. Buy a pump with a capacity to filter and re-circulate the entire pond water in an hour. The pump should run 24 hours every day to oxygenate the water. It will become a congenial environment for useful bacteria in biological filters as well the fishes to live in. It will stay free of any negative aromas of toxic gases such as methane, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide.
How to build a koi pond?
- Start digging after you have decided the location and perimeter of the pond. Use an excavating machine as the pond will be big and in certain places deep. Hand-digging may not be feasible.
- Remove any rocks or sharp objects that might damage your pond liner.
- Install piping, drains or filters that are required at the bottom of your pond. The ground should narrow down at a point so that the water gets drained through the fitting that is installed there.
- Smooth out an old rag or carpet on the base to provide the required protection, strength, and security to your pond liner. It will also help to avoid leaks.
- Spread the liner out over the carpet. Leave a generous amount of liner cloth at the border. This is because water will push the liner in the gaps which may have been left when spreading it in the hole. In that case the margin of the liner will shrink. Also remember not to trim the liner unless you have the filled your pond with water.
- Once the liner has been set well in the pond, cut out holes for the filters, drains, and skimmers in the base of the pond. Apply seals at the holes to ensure they are watertight.
- Now it is time to fill the pond with water. Keep a meter source ready to know the exact volume of water that your pond holds. As the water fills the tank, smooth out the creases that form on the liner.
- Complete the installation of your pump, aeration, filters, and piping. Check if they are all working.
- Closely monitor for leaks, soft spots, and other problems in the pond’s liner. You should keep the pond watered and all the equipment running for a few days to ensure that all things are functioning as they should.
- Add a water treatment agent to your pond. Wait for a couple of weeks before adding fishes.
How to maintain a koi pond?
The koi pond should be cleaned and maintained from time to time. The water should be changed each month. Check if all the systems of the pond in working as they should. Scrub the rocks, the tiles, the sides of the pond and other items you have within it with hot water and an algae scrub to prevent algae blooms. If you live in a colder region where the pond surface freezes in winter, you can use a floating de-icer to maintain a hole in the ice for proper gas exchange.
Do not over-feed the kois. Backyard pond fishes do not have much room to exercise. As a result overfeeding will cause them to develop ponderous belies. This will impact their liver and other internal organs. Fishes should not be fed more than three times a day. Five minutes of feeding each time is sufficient. Overfed fishes will leave lots of waste which will increase the levels of ammonia and nitrites in the water. This can translate into rotten fins, parasites, and other diseases. Closely check you fishes for diseases and injuries when feeding them.
I got a koi pond constructed in my backyard almost 5 years back. It is a small bucket-size pond. I have a great time feeding and tending my kois. I clean the pond twice each month and check the filters for proper working. Watching the colorful kois in small hole surrounded by lush-green vegetation is way of busting stress that works for me perfectly!.