Aquascape style pond

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Hi
First time poster. I had a pond built last fall. I'm in NY so it got cold quickly when it was completed. It had 12 Koi in it. Had a very cold and snow filled winter. Still not warmed up here yet. I'm getting pretty nervous about my pond. Problem is everyone I talk to or read about has a different view on the set up I have. Some hate the aquascape system and say it will fail and become a nightmare where others say I have a large bog and should have no problem. I have a large 6000 GPH pump at one end of the pond inside a large vault covered in a ton of gravel. It pumps up to the bio fall at the other end. There is some filter media and lava rock in bio fall. Not sure how much of either since I have not taken it apart yet. There is no mechanical filter. Of course I was assured this was all I need in this pond since everything would work out biologically. Some have said this is going to be a big problem others say it will work fine. Anyone have a system like this? I cant find any actual reviews about this set up.
Thanks
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Welcome to our friendly forum :) No matter what type of pond you keep, every pond keeper should learn about the nitrogen cycle and how to test their pond water.

How did your koi fare over your first winter?
 
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Welcome!
I think that's an attractive addition to your backyard.
It's certainly workable, I have a few questions:
What are the dimensions, width, length, depth.
Are you performing water tests?
How deep is the gravel in the pond?
I don't see a "bog", where are the plants?
Are there any areas where the fish can go for safety?
Are there any other components to the filtration system, other than what you mentioned?
 
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Hi
First Tula. Fish seemed to do really well over the winter. I ran my waterfall all winter. Pond and waterfall completely froze over for a time. Different opinions on leaving it running or not also. Mitch, Its roughly 25ft long,12ft wide and 3 to 4 ft deep. Yes checking water all the time. PH is always been on the high end about 8. KH is between 120-180. No ammonia No nitrates. Gravel on bottom is thin. Bog, or what builder called a bog is the close end in picture. There is a vault buried there with the pump. There are a few caves that fish go in almost all day when cold. Today a lot are out. They came out all winter when lights came on at night, which I thought was strange. No other filtration. I'm nervous now because fish are showing signs of problems. Flashing, laying on bottom clamped fins, Jumping. Not all. Only one has sat at bottom here and there but I have seen a couple flash and just saw one jump out of water 4 times in a minute. I have heard could be flukes, bacterial, water quality. Everyone tells me something different. I have some knowledge how things work in terms of immune systems and bacteria. One expert said because of the extended winter and the fish having no food for months their immune systems are weak and now with the water temps here being about 42 to 52 degrees for weeks the bad bugs are out in force and the fish are not very strong to fight them off. I been told the water is to cold to medicate so raising the salinity was my best and only solution. I have salt in the water. It was 3% yesterday before I was told to do a water change of 20% which I did. I added a little salt after the change and prime for the chlorine. I ordered a salinity meter and it should arrive by Saturday. I'm waiting before I add more salt. I'm more concerned about the system I'm running. The guy who built it swears that if I do what he recommends, Spring cleaning,add certain bacteria,algecide and other things weekly, 10% water changes everything will be fine. He showed me pictures of his pond in his yard and says his has been there for years. Another Koi seller came over and said it was a disaster waiting to happen. He suggested removing the "bog" area putting in a bottom drain"not cutting a hole in liner but piping up and out to a filter" or a skimmer to a filter and a UV light. I'm hoping that It will work out the way it is and I'm willing to give it a shot but I think in the end I will have to add another filtration system I was hoping to here from some people who have a similar set up.
 
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You need to decide what kind of pond you want, you're getting advice from both camps, dedicated koi pond types and natural plant filtration types.
If you want a dedicated koi pond, a bottom drain/no gravel/strong mechanical filtration setup is best.
If you want a natural type pond setup, you cannot use salt. Salt will kill plants.
Do not add bacteria in either setup, there is plenty available naturally.
Once you decide on which way to go, we can get things back on track.
 
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I'm not looking to have plants in any big way. There are 4 plants in there now that builder put in. I know the salt is not good for the plants but I'm more concerned about the Koi. Obviously I cant remove all the rock. I'm thinking of removing the gravel on the bottom and the bog area and replacing the vault with some kind of retrofit bottom intake to a mechanical filter. Thanks for the advice.
 
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If you are interested in plants, it looks like the area with gravel , behind the boulders, could be made into a bog......which uses plants to filter the water.

Koi grow larger then gold fish and create a lot of waste, which is why you'll probably need more filtration then your current set up. Is the gravel area behind the boulders part of the pond, with some water flowing through it or is it outside of the pond and dry? I ask, as if it's part of the pond, it could be the gravel is acting as filtration.....which is another debated topic - ha ha!

If these were my koi, I'd keep a close eye on them and monitor water parameters carefully......clean water itself will often heal small ulcers. If they have a parasite, they'll need treatment, but it's best to find out what's wrong first so you can effectively treat. Do you have anyone who can help you scrape and scope the fish, to see if there are parasites?
 
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Tula
I have two different guys giving me advice. The one who is connected to the builder says this pond the way it is is fantastic. The other guy is a Koi dealer and builder who says its a disaster. I just got off the phone with him. He believes as I do their is a parasite problem. He also says the Aquascape system and gravel bottom is a problem. I haven't even had a season and I'm frustrated and confused. I tend to believe the Koi guy. But of course going with his recommendations is going to cost me a lot of money to upgrade the filter system. Basically adding another filter. Removing all the gravel on the bottom at least, and to top it off I have sick fish already.
 
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Welcome to the GPF - I'm sorry your first post is about some troubles you are having. You have a lovely pond!

I tend to believe the Koi guy

It's so easy to get confused by the "experts" when both sides will give you opposite opinions. I'm going to repeat what @MitchM said - decide if you want a garden/ecopond or a dedicate koi pond. An eco pond - which is what your pond builder built - relies heavily on plants to aid in filtering your water. Your gravel bog area would be the perfect spot to start adding some plants like reeds, rushes, irises, etc to help aid in keeping your water healthy.

Or you can decide you want to have a dedicated koi pond - which should have been discussed with your pond builder ahead of time - and put a lot of work and money into rebuilding it.

But if I could add one thing - your koi guy is wrong. There is nothing about your pond that is a "disaster" nor is it causing your fish problems. If it were, I'd be in big trouble. I have an Aquascape style pond that has been home to 9 big, beautiful koi (and countless goldfish and a few shubunkins) for 6 years. And I have visited countless Aquascape ponds in my area (zone 5B Chicago) that are home to even bigger and more beautiful koi. Your fish may be having issues, but your pond isn't the cause.

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j.w

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@SEKCOBRA You have a very nice looking pond and sure hope you can fix the problem w/the koi not doing too well. If you want to try it like it is I suggest you get all the info you can from @Lisak1 on how she maintains hers as hers is doing just fine. She has tons of plants that eat up the excess nitrogen that the fish put out.
 

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Like Lisa, I have an eco pond, with koi, orfes, channel catfish, goldfish, turtles for about 9 years now. Had a similar setup at my previous house for 15 years, with large koi( 24-30”), I have never had any issues, but you need to let plants do the work of maintaining your water quality. Ones that spread quickly will tie up the ponds nutrients in its biomass as it grows.
 
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Ok Thanks everyone. Lisa can you give me a little insight on how you maintain your pond? If its not to much trouble would I be able to call you to pick your brain a bit. If I can leave this pond alone I would prefer to keep it as is. I'm being told it will not work as is. I went this way because I was told this would be the least amount of maintenance. The fella my builder hooked me up with says I have to add a couple of different additives every week with weekly 10% water changes to keep it working properly. I'm fine with this if it works. Your pond looks awesome. If I can get mine to look like that without spending every day maintaining it I'll be very happy. Name is Steve. I'm really curious what kind of filtration you have. I'm not planning on a lot of fish. I have 15 in it now and that's fine with me.
 
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Very nice pond @SEKCOBRA , I wish you the best of luck with working out your filtration and it seems like the cheapest option for you would be to take @Lisak1 's advice (and others) and get some plants for your bog area. I'm assuming the "bog" area is the shallow area to the left of the log/branch that is stretching across the pond? You could also add some plants to the waterfall area that would help suck up excess nutrients that is produced by your fish's waste.
 

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