The photo above is that of a Koi (Japanese carp). This one is a Goromo - one of the many different varieties of Koi . One of my first and certainly not my last.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Koi Pond Design Checklist

The following provides a quick summary or overview of the considerations when you are planning or designing your first or subsequent Koi pond. Each point will be further elaborated in future posts if not already shared or discussed in previous posts on this blog.

* Location of your pond

This is the first and most important consideration since it will drive the design of the rest of the pond. Typically, this will be considered together with the size, shape and style of the pond. There may be constraints such as existing layout of your house, environment and other factors.  Your personal reasons for having a Koi pond will be key considerations. These could include:

  • A feature or place in the house for relaxation. In this case, locate the pond close to your house where you can view your Koi easily.
  • To keep Koi as a hobby  
  • To fit or complement the overall building or house design and to add to its aesthetics.
  • Geomancy or Feng Shui, i.e. to bring good luck to you and your family. Consult a Feng Shui Master or geomancer if this is a key reason.
  • To also keep aquatic plants or water gardening. For these, the pond must be located where it will receive at least 4 hours of direct sunlight per day. More if you want your water lilies to flower regularly. 
  • As a garden feature.

Check out my previous posts describing the layout and location for my first, second and third ponds.

* Style or shape of your pond

A formal pond is one with standard geometric shape (rectangle, square, circle or ellipse).  A formal pond will look best in a formal setting such as against a tiled up patio, against a house wall or at the centre of a large open lawn. An informal pond is one with a shape that appears to naturally form. Common shape would be kidney shape or any irregular shape that can fit into a garden setting. Formal or informal is a matter of personal preferences. My first and second ponds are informal ponds, while my third pond is a formal pond.

* Size and depth, volume

You will have to consider the Koi environment needs when deciding the size, depth and volume of the pond.

* Pond Construction Material

There are typically 3 options - concrete pond or using a pond liner or use a pre-formed bowl. For large ponds in South-East Asia, most Koi ponds are built using reinforced concrete. Smaller ponds will use a pre-formed fibreglass or plastic bowl or shell.

For concrete ponds, it would be essential to coat the surface with special epoxy sealant paint.

* Filter design or filtration system

The filtration system is the most important element of a Koi pond. Key considerations would be

  • Build (custom designed in-ground filter) or Buy (commercially designed external filtration systems)
  • Size of the filter, number of compartments, media type
  • Location of your filter
  • Bottom drains

The water quality would depend heavily on the design of filtration system and it will determine the health of your Koi, and overall beauty of the Koi pond and its surroundings. A good filter system will also make filter maintenance and pond maintenance easy.

* Pumps

This is often planned and selected together with the filtration system. If the filter is the “kidney” of the pond, the pumps are its heart. Selection of the right pumps to use is just as important as the filter design as it will affect the water flow rate, effectiveness of the filter system and workings of water features, especially waterfall or fountain.

* Aeration and water features

Koi needs oxygen and so does the bacteria in the biological filter. Besides the natural absorption that occurs at the pond water surface, any ways to agitate the water artificially will increase the oxygen absorption by the pond water. Consider having a waterfall for aesthetic reason, as well as for pond aeration.  Waterfalls are ideal for informal ponds. Plants and rocks formation can create a beautiful natural setting. For formal ponds, consider having a fountain. Such water features also create the soothing sounds of gurgling water in my home.

In any case, do consider using venturi pipes.

* Overflow pipe

Don’t forget this small but essential feature. It allows excess water, e.g. during heavy rain, to overflow into a drain.

* Surface skimmer

Every pond ought to have a way to remove floating debris from the water surface. Dust, oil, protein scum, and small floating debris (insects, dead leaves) can be removed with a surface skimmer device.

* Bottom drains

This is important feature for your pond and in-ground filter system for easy maintenance.

* Water plants

Whether to include water plants in your Koi pond or not would depends on the style and shape of your pond. The overall design and layout of your pond will need to be planned carefully, together with the types and species of water plants that are suitable for Koi pond. Check out the various posts I have on this topic.

* Edging

The edging of your pond could serve a few purposes:

  • Prevent surface water runoff during rain from entering your pond.
  • aesthetics
  • safety barrier
  • platform for feeding and netting or capturing your Koi

If your pond is an informal garden pond, the edging is important as you would want it to blend with the rest of the garden or setting.

* Platform or place for Koi feeding and capturing or netting of your Koi

It is good to consider where you would stand to view and/or feed or catch your Koi safely. Avoid protrusions (e.g. venturi pipe, overflow pipe or skimmer) or even water plants near the place where you intend to feed your Koi as they may feed in frenzy and knock themselves against such protrusions.

* Lightings

One of the considerations when designing your pond is Pond Lighting. Should you include underwater lights, type of lights to use, locations of light points, is it good for the Koi? What about safety, since electricity and water should not mix? Check out what I did for my 3 ponds here.

* UV Light filter

UV light filter may be useful to as a means to control bacteria or parasites, kill germs and sterilise the pond water.

* Water supply

Easy source of water supply must be provided near your pond for water changes and replacement of water lost through evaporation. Have a tap or faucet located next to the pond. Better still; build a water inlet pipe directly into the pond.

* Power source for pumps (and separate one for lightings)

Best is to have multiple power sources, with individual circuit breakers and isolators for each pump that you have. That way, a single pump failure would not knock out all the pumps and stop water circulation and aeration.

* Choosing your Contractor or Build your own

In South East Asia, most Koi ponds are concrete ponds. For a concrete pond, it is best to engage a professional or experienced Koi pond builder.

Pond building is an art and it is good to engage a Koi pond specialist rather than rely on building contractors who may be experienced with building water features or swimming pools but not a Koi pond. A Koi pond has special requirements on depth, filter design and size, pumps to use, locations of venturi pipes and bottom drains, aeration, shape, even special sealant paint for the sides of the pond (not tiles) ....just to name a few. It is best is to design and build it right the first time.

Hope you find this list useful and a good starting point for you to design your pond or discuss your needs or specifications with a professional pond builder.

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