My Story of a Koi Pond

Gardens, landscaping and other things related to 'everything outside'.

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My Story of a Koi Pond

Postby MGV12 » Sun Aug 08, 2010 3:31 pm

Coincidence can be a wonderful thing ..... believe it or not [you might as well as it's true] ..... after much barracking by certain members of CTH to commence my [retrospective] fish pond build story .... I am finally able to regale anyone who is still interested:

Why the delay? I always intended to tell the story but my external hard drive threw a wobbly .... and took me with it as it contained hundreds of intrinsically important pictures and equally important music files. I found a self-proclaimed guru who said he could save the data but he had it for many weeks with no success ....this morning he called with a jubilant sound in his voice and said he had rescued some of it ... not much as it turned out but he reckons he has the 'key' and more will follow. No discernible response to why it has taken so long and he is cheap .... so .... I really don't care how long it takes as long as a full recovery results.

The pond:

Over many years I have loved the tranquillity of sitting next to a pond and watching the fish do what fish do ..... like watching snooker or golf I guess in that if it doesn't do it for you it doesn't do it for you. A calm and still pond only does it for me a little bit ... it's the sound of water moving, especially falling water as in a waterfall or fountain, that touches something deep in most of us and 'calms the soul'. I have inherited ponds of various sizes but never had the opportunity to create one from scratch until I came to LOS.

Ponds are very popular here but, due to the abundance of sun, they are so infested with algae that you can only see the fish in them at feeding time. Ponds that 'rich folk' have commissioned are clear but the cost can be prohibitive ... certainly to me. Natural ponds are the easiest to create as you just get a backhoe to dig a big hole and wait for the rainy season ... if you have the right soil that will retain the water ... but, although you will end up with a place where certain fish will thrive, you are unlikely to gain much enjoyment unless you are raising them for the table.

So ... I wanted a low-cost pond which was not exposed to much sunlight, nor was it vulnerable to falling leaves, fruit, bird poo etc etc. Our house design, more on that when the external HDD plays ball, has a covered sala under our bedroom balcony and I decided that this is where the pond should reside .... shade from direct sunlight but plenty of reflected light. To be clear a pond needs a good filter .... to thrive the fish need oxygen .... plants would soften and add to the ambience but many fish just eat the plants so a separate but connected area would be good ..... and so ... if the pond could speak [which hopefully it never will!] it would say like Topsy in Uncle Tom's Cabin "I s'pect I just growed. Don't think nobody never made me." But of course, as with most things in life, they did ....

The size of the basic pond is 7.7 metres by 1.4 metres by 0.9 metres deep .... which equates to 9.7 cubic metres ... which is 9700 litres [isn't the metric system easy?] and full of water weighs 9700Kg. So the construction base has to be strong, I have seen many ponds of this size with cracks, the position in the sala meant that I could integrate with the house [in-ground] ring beam and extend the structure with additional spans which would brace the 20cm thick floor of the pond on all four sides. The upper walls were built using 'Serene' blocks, which are high pressure moulded concrete, we also used these for our foundation wall; the pockets were filled with concrete and steel reinforcement.

As hard drive recovery proceeds so shall this story .... the filter .... the waterfall wall .... the fountain .... the water garden .... the incubation zone .... the leaks :evil: :lol: :evil:

Some initial construction pics:
Attachments
1.jpg
The excavation and rebar grid ... note spacer/lifters
2.jpg
The base pour ... lots of workers ... 20cm of 280 Steng with waterproof additive
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3.jpg
The rebar beam link and shuttering
4.jpg
The pour
5.jpg
The Serene high density block
5.jpg (65.13 KiB) Viewed 3368 times
6.jpg
The finished base
7.jpg
The water garden base extension and walls completed for pond

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Re: The Much-Awaited [?] Fish Pond Story

Postby BKKBILL » Sun Aug 08, 2010 4:21 pm

Excellent start MGV12. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Why do so many people not back up their hard drives. It is when not if a drive fails. :( :(

So in the last picture is the PVC piping in the back ground your house?
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Re: The Much-Awaited [?] Fish Pond Story

Postby MGV12 » Sun Aug 08, 2010 6:06 pm

BKKBILL wrote:Excellent start MGV12. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Why do so many people not back up their hard drives. It is when not if a drive fails. :( :(

So in the last picture is the PVC piping in the back ground your house?


Thanks -- yes the house is behind and above.

Not wishing to side track my own thread .... the pics were on the back up external drive! The on-board HDD got crowded so I deleted the original pics and shortly after the external drive played up! They call it sods law I believe .... no responses on that subject please.

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Re: The Much-Awaited [?] Fish Pond Story

Postby brent roberts » Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:06 am

greetings MGV12 from downunder. The fish pond looks like its off to a good start. Seeing your picture of the block reminded me to thank you for putting me onto Serene blocks last year. Went to see them earlier this year and they had the blocks I had been looking for. So again a big Thank you for that. Keep up the good work. Brent.
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Re: The Much-Awaited [?] Fish Pond Story

Postby MGV12 » Mon Aug 09, 2010 6:11 am

brent roberts wrote:greetings MGV12 from downunder. The fish pond looks like its off to a good start. Seeing your picture of the block reminded me to thank you for putting me onto Serene blocks last year. Went to see them earlier this year and they had the blocks I had been looking for. So again a big Thank you for that. Keep up the good work. Brent.


Glad to have helped Brent .... :D

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Re: The Much-Awaited [?] Fish Pond Story

Postby fredlk » Sat Sep 25, 2010 6:45 am

We are now almost 2 months further since the last post. Any updates or additions?
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Re: The Much-Awaited [?] Fish Pond Story

Postby MGV12 » Sat Sep 25, 2010 12:56 pm

fredlk wrote:We are now almost 2 months further since the last post. Any updates or additions?


Almost 2 months is a slight exaggeration but I take your point Fred

My biggest Koi came out of 'intensive care' yesterday and the rest appear to be doing quite well ....
so now I feel more inclined to continue with the pond story and will over the weekend

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Re: The Much-Awaited [?] Fish Pond Story

Postby fredlk » Sat Sep 25, 2010 12:59 pm

MGV12 wrote:Almost 2 months is a slight exaggeration but I take your point Fred

:oops: Sorry. 7 weeks. To me 1 week is almost.
MGV12 wrote:now I feel more inclined to continue with the pond story and will over the weekend

I look forward to it as do others I am sure, but for me the construction part is what I am keen on and not the fish. I usually have those for lunch. :lol:
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Re: The Much-Awaited [?] Fish Pond Story

Postby MGV12 » Sat Sep 25, 2010 1:42 pm

fredlk wrote:I am keen on and not the fish. I usually have those for lunch. :lol:


Shh ... don't let them hear you!

I am a softie, come semi-vegetarian, come part-time hypocrite .... amongst other things .... semi because I eat fish and prawns ... with all the problems I have had recently keeping the Koi alive I actually feel a tad guilty sitting in the sala, by the pond, eating fish. Easy Roger ... I might just be joking :wink:

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Re: The Much-Awaited [?] Fish Pond Story

Postby MGV12 » Mon Sep 27, 2010 11:20 am

Water is an essential part of all our lives ... indeed we can't live without it. IMO anybody who builds a house here and does not incorporate water in the project, other than essential services of course, is missing out. Whether it be a pool, a pond or a water garden .... water adds something to the ambience of any home ... whether you swim in it or sit by it, you will be a less-stressed person as a consequence.

Unfortunately telling the story of my pond construction has been, and still is, inhibited by a lack of photograph availability ... I took loads of them but the hard-drive won't let me have all of them back. I will continue but it will be the lesser for a lack of photographs to embellish it.

It is, compared to elaborate house builds featured on CTH, a minor construction and as such the foundation has already been laid; literally and figuratively

My type of pond is not the preferred environment for keeping Koi, they prefer a muddy pool, and the bigger the better ...... mine is a sanitized environment and as such is very similar to building a swimming pool ... LESS the chlorine .... it needs to be of an adequate size for the number of fish you wish to keep, to have an adequate filtration system to keep those fish healthy and to be aesthetically pleasing. Koi are VERY highly strung fish, hundreds of years of selective inbreeding have resulted in a compromised immune system and as such they are incredibly sensitive to the water quality in your pond ... these are not goldfish you win at the fair, bring home and stick in a bowl; even though both are descended from the common carp. If you don't want to take the time, trouble and foot the bill keep something like catfish or tilapia.

Careful planning and execution is essential ... I was too occupied elsewhere and made some fundamental mistakes.

:!: Make sure your filter is big enough and has the right filtration media.
:!: Make sure your construction is water-tight as it's almost impossible to seal it after the event.
:!: Make sure you 'cycle' the pond and filter adequately before adding the fish ... Koi are ammonia producing machines and ammonia is VERY toxic to them .... if your filter is not of an adequate size or full of the right micro-organisms you won't be able to convert the abundance of ammonia they produce into nitrite and they will die .... if your filter converts the ammonia into nitrite but cannot convert it into nitrate they will also die ... more slowly but inevitably .... if you don't have a way of consuming the nitrate they will get sick eventually. Plants consume nitrate [plus ammonia but that's another story] but being omnivores Koi love to eat plants so you can't have them directly in the pond.

Sounds like fun huh? Don't be put off ... in the end it is worth it.

Next time some more construction details.

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Re: The Much-Awaited [?] Fish Pond Story

Postby pattayapope » Thu Oct 07, 2010 4:07 pm

About time for an update?
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Re: The Much-Awaited [?] Fish Pond Story

Postby MGV12 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 6:41 pm

pattayapope wrote:About time for an update?


Thanks for your interest.

More on the build later but as this is a retrospective I can jump about in time ... the moving of the fish took a lot of organising ... there were those who would be happy to put them in a plastic bag, add some oxygen and then subject them to a 40Km journey bouncing around in the back of a car or truck. I wanted better and, even though it took a lot of organisation, is the reason why I have more fish now than I would have had. We live close to Maejo university and right next door is a government centre that studies fish ... no idea of the exact title ... they agreed to move the fish in a six-wheel truck with proper tanks and oxygen supplies. The move itself went smoothly and they even stopped on the way to get ice to ensure the tank temperature stayed constant. Upon arrival they were happy with the pond and so in went the fish ... the moving crew were happy ... the fish seemed happy [if fish are capable of that] and all appeared to be well ... until 4am the next morning went they commenced spawning!!! Apparently [I know this now] a change of environment can induce fish that are ready to spawn into actually doing it ... it's quite barbaric as the males charge at the females to get them to discharge their eggs so that the males can then 'fertilise' them ... impossible to know how many eggs were 'discharged' but by the size of the fish it's likely to be over a million. Amazingly then it's caviare time ..!!!.. all the fish, including the mothers, then set about eating as many eggs as they can! So I set about trying to collect as many eggs as possible ... if I hadn't, in such a relatively confined space as a pond, it's likely that few would have survived to hatch. As it is I reckon around 200 did hatch in an isolated area and probably 150 of those have developed into offspring ranging from 2cms up to 5cms in length ... no doubt the size difference is due to survival of those who are best at utilising the food available. Quite a mixture of different colours also ... but the true colour won't be known for some time yet ... maybe a year.

The stress of the move, plus the stress of the spawning, plus a bit of 'New Pond Syndrome' took it's toll ... none were happy for quite a while after that good start ... two of the biggest sadly died and the vet came to call many times to prevent more from following them ..............

All in all quite an experience and a very steep learning curve ... rewarding when you eventually get it right; not that I am completely there yet but we seem to have reached a balanced situation and ... in time ....... :D

And of course the pics:
Attachments
Fish arrival.jpg
The truck arrives and the unloading commences
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Fish arrival 2.jpg
Welcome to your new home
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Fish arrival 3.jpg
The intrepid crew who did a grand job of moving the Koi 40Km's
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Eggs 3.jpg
CTH rules prohibit me from showing the actual spawning but the 'scum' on the water [eggs] is the result.
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Eggs 2.jpg
Apparently there could have been over a million eggs laid ... but the fish then eat most of them. Including the mothers!
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Happy fish.jpg
Happy and contented fish ... for a while
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Jolie.jpg
Unfortunately short-lived ... here is a big one in ICU ... two others died ... keeping large Koi is no walk in the park!
Sleeping partners.jpg
Nothing to do with the pond ... our dog and cat taking a break
Sleeping partners.jpg (40.16 KiB) Viewed 3145 times

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Re: The Much-Awaited [?] Fish Pond Story

Postby robertkc » Fri Oct 08, 2010 4:15 am

Is that a waterwall behind the intrepid crew? Looks good with the black stone... don`t mean to distract from the fish, but more on the wall, please.
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Re: The Much-Awaited [?] Fish Pond Story

Postby Nawty » Fri Oct 08, 2010 4:55 pm

If you were to build a fish pon 1m wide and 2m deep....and say 20m long, but in a square shape if you know what i mean....would you need a 'waterstop' at the base of the vertical walls ??

Does anyone know offhand what the waterstop rubber costs per meter, I have bought it before but cannot remember exactly and cannot find the receipt.
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Re: The Much-Awaited [?] Fish Pond Story

Postby MGV12 » Fri Oct 08, 2010 6:04 pm

robertkc wrote:Is that a waterwall behind the intrepid crew? Looks good with the black stone... don`t mean to distract from the fish, but more on the wall, please.


It sure is a waterfall .....

I have a complex filtration and aeration system and this is part of the reason it has taken so long to 'cycle' ... 'cycle' is to attain balance where the microbes convert and digest all the fish poop and any rotting vegetation. The waterfall is fed by a pump from the combined mechanical and biofilter, and assists in aerating the filtered water ... at the other end of the main pond is a gravity return feed to the filter. Also at the other end of the main pond is another submersible pump which feeds three areas: a large vessel which spills over and is channelled down a small flume to the same filter, a spray bar at the far end of the water garden which ensures good flow past the, mainly floating, plants that absorb both ammonia and nitrate, finally a gravel filter which discharges into a return channel where the anoxic filter will be ... when I can find the correct materials to make the biocenosis baskets.

The waterfall is constructed of slate, a mixture of black and some veined slate with mineral deposits. The supplier requires a wall to be constructed approximately 4 inches back from where you want the average face to be. The wall can be of anything you like but must be waterproof as reverse seepage will occur. Mine was built in a bit of a rush and although it is sealed it's not 100% effective and so, as my wall is double-skinned with a facing brick behind, I have a small return pipe at the bottom to return most of the seepage back to the pond. Better to render the wall with proper waterproof cement and add a surface sealant for good luck. You can lay a butyl liner over it but I would not be 100% sure of the stability of the slate structure without some other form of attachment. The reason for this sealing need is that, even though the installers do lay the slate with a small slope towards to pond/pool/water garden, capillary action takes effect due to the smooth nature of slate where two faces are close together but not touching. We had various quotes for supply and install of the slate ... the most expensive was 1500 Baht per talang metre ... we eventually found a seller who was happy with 750 Baht per using exactly the same quality of slate .. they were very good and cleared up afterwards ... total job was under 5000 Baht.

The mechanical/biofilter is a big hole in the ground, disguised behind our sala seat, with a waterproof base, tied into brick/block walls which are then rendered and sealed ... it consists of four compartments ... first one is the mechanical filter flowing down through a combination of Japanese filter mats and other fibre filter media .... second is up through volcanic/pumice rock, where most of the microbes colonise ... third chamber is down through the same media as two ... fourth chamber is the pump return.

The fountain/flume I did myself as the crew had left by then .... the walls are the large 'lego' blocks that come in straight or curved form ... the platform is cement fibre board as the form-work, with two inches of waterproof cement on top and left over slate laid like crazy paving ... the flume is concrete water pipes sliced lengthwise to form the base and then cement built up to provide the 'log-effect' finish. The flume transits via two mini-vortex settlement pots on it's way to the filter, the pump picks up at the low point in the pond and so there are 'solids' in the water, most of these settle out in the pots and are consumed directly by the plants therein.

The final two filter/water garden areas are a simple construction similar to the filter

Water is heavy .... the complete pond/filter/water garden contains 15,000 litres of water which equates to 15 metric tons. The fish I now have came from a pond constructed to a specification provided by a qualified farang engineer ... it was being removed six years after installation due to settlement cracks. Leaks in cement ponds are commonplace due to underestimation of the weights involved ... they are little different in their construction needs to a small swimming pool but are rarely given the same level of thought in engineering terms. If you are thinking of building one I strongly advise you be sure about the ability of the pond to hold the weight for years to come and the water retention integrity of the construction method ... not just making the surfaces waterproof but also ensuring the rebar network ties the walls and the floor in together to avoid separation cracks forming over time. If you are tiling, as I did, ensure a waterproof adhesive or cement is used and swimming pool grade grout... I also sealed the surface of the grout afterwards.

My crew made a few minor mistakes which I toiled for hours trying to correct afterwards ... but I still have a minor amount of water loss through leaks and evaporation. This is attended to by a simple ballcock controlled top-up system. No big deal as the small water change to the pond on a regular basis is a good thing. In my case the water comes form a deep well ... which creates two problems ... one is that the water PH is way too low for Koi and indeed most fish at 5.5 [Koi prefer it around 7.5] so I have to add a small amount of limestone powder to raise the PH ... the second minor problem is that deep well water contains negligible dissolved oxygen ... but the nature of a ballcock valve and then the waterfall compensate for this.

Any questions feel free to ask.

Pics I have salvaged to date:
Attachments
Pond 022.jpg
The same pre-stressed planks as used for the ground floor of the house ... bargain.
Pond 021.jpg
When I could not be there to check all was level and to spec my trusty sidekick was
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Pond 020.jpg
The foundation of the pond extension
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Pond 019.jpg
Another shot of the basis of the pond extension
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Pond 018.jpg
The pond extension in construction - trusty sidekick on duty again
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Pond 017.jpg
The pond extension after laborious tiling
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Pond 016.jpg
The waterfall wall during construction
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Pond 015.jpg
The finished waterfall wall area
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Pond 014.jpg
Part of the water garden + plus 'storm drain' soakaway
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Pond 013.jpg
The conventional filter getting close
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Pond 012.jpg
The flume getting there ...
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Pond 011.jpg
And there ...
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Pond 010.jpg
The fountain vessel getting there
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Pond 009.jpg
One of the vortex chambers
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Pond 008.jpg
You'll never guess ... the other one!
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Pond 007.jpg
The finished fountain vessel
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Pond 006.jpg
The mechanical/bio filter -- with simple top-up mechanism
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Pond 005.jpg
The fully completed waterfall wall backdrop - planting to come
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Pond 004.jpg
.. working at last
Pond 003.jpg
Taking shape in the water garden
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Pond 002.jpg
Plants need food - fish poop = food
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Pond 001.jpg
Never seen plants grow so quick
Pond 001.jpg (49.85 KiB) Viewed 3106 times

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