Medium Sized Pond Improvement Advice

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Hey Garden Pond Community!

I'm looking for some advice on how to lower the overall maintenance of my fish pond -- a picture is attached below.

I inherited this pond when I purchased my house and the previous owner would bring in a pond cleaning company every year to clean the pond, which I don't want to do. So, this pond was never originally designed to be self sustaining and every year there is an algae bloom and the water is murky all the time too. This year I plan to improve the pond's sustainability, water quality, and overall look. The options I am considering are:
- doing a partial remodel of the shelves so more plants can grow, especially as shelves are slanted don't hold plants very well.
- adding pebbles where the existing plants are to increase microbe activity.
- adding more substrate to the mechanical filter
- adding more shelves in the deep area of the pond and placing potted lilies in them (what should I make the shelves out of so I don't damage the liner?)
- maybe add a species of catfish to help eat the algae.

Any additional advice is welcome! :)

Ponds Specs:
- 4ft deep in the centre, 1-2ft deep shelves.
- 1-3ft width of shelves around the circumference of the pond, but they are slanted so materiel will roll of it to the bottom of the pond.
- lilies, iris', and cat tails around the circumference of the pond. All of which have grown on top of the liner.
- full sun year round.
- mechanical filter system that includes lava rocks and some buckwheat substrate.
- about 30 koi
 

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Hey Garden Pond Community!

I'm looking for some advice on how to lower the overall maintenance of my fish pond -- a picture is attached below.

I inherited this pond when I purchased my house and the previous owner would bring in a pond cleaning company every year to clean the pond, which I don't want to do. So, this pond was never originally designed to be self sustaining and every year there is an algae bloom and the water is murky all the time too. This year I plan to improve the pond's sustainability, water quality, and overall look. The options I am considering are:
- doing a partial remodel of the shelves so more plants can grow, especially as shelves are slanted don't hold plants very well.
- adding pebbles where the existing plants are to increase microbe activity.
- adding more substrate to the mechanical filter
- adding more shelves in the deep area of the pond and placing potted lilies in them (what should I make the shelves out of so I don't damage the liner?)
- maybe add a species of catfish to help eat the algae.

Any additional advice is welcome! :)

Ponds Specs:
- 4ft deep in the centre, 1-2ft deep shelves.
- 1-3ft width of shelves around the circumference of the pond, but they are slanted so materiel will roll of it to the bottom of the pond.
- lilies, iris', and cat tails around the circumference of the pond. All of which have grown on top of the liner.
- full sun year round.
- mechanical filter system that includes lava rocks and some buckwheat substrate.
- about 30 koi
Your pond looks large, but how many gallons is it? (or, what are the dimensions?) I'd hold off on 30 koi until you know the whole hobby/plan. Typically, you need 1000 gallons for one koi and 250 for each additional. Why? Because koi can get 30+ inches and are poop machines. You can always add as you see how the idea pans out.

First and foremost, I'd build me a bog (upflow wetland filtration). This will help you keep your eventual 30 koi. Search here for the many threads on 'bogs'; you'll be busy reading. This will eliminate your need for more mech fiter media and you can ignore the buckwheat.

Can your shelves support something like a brick without sliding off? if so, you could lay one at the downward side of each pot you put on your shelves and that should realign the pot. Otherwise, if the shelves are that bad/slanted, I'd lower the water, pull in the liner, and dig the shelves level again. Fix your problem right the first time and don't worry thereafter, that's my motto.

Adding gravel for more bacterial action is good--that's the premise behind my idea for you to get involved with bogs--they're FULL of gravel. And, it'll give you more places for the plants you want.

If you want to build shelves for the pond bottom, use pvc, 1-1/2", and plastic chicken wire ziptied to the pvc frame. Drill some holes in the legs so it'll fill with water and sink for you. (Drill a few as it takes time to both fill and drain when necessary).

You don't need fish per se to eat the algae; what you will have growing on your liner and anything submerged is good for the equilibrium of your pond. That's why we don't recommend cleaning liners as that biofilm is like gold for a pond ecosystem. The free floating pea-soup type algae is probably what you're trying to stop, right? For this, again I reiterate; BOG filtration. Read up here and you'll see how it is an almost maintenance free (just have to thin the plants!) filter that'll keep the pea soup at bay. And, LOTS OF PLANTS! These two ideas will let you actually see your fish.

Now, after you can SEE your fish, don't forget that this means the heron can see them too. You'll need to consider how you're going to protect them once you can see them. A net is the sure way to solve this issue. I'd make something either that you can get in and out of easily, or is removeable when you want to sit and enjoy the fish.

Be VERY careful if you end up going with cattails (or even the iris) as they can get out of control. As a general rule of thumb, I dissuade anyone from even planting cattails; too much experience with trying to eradicate them once they take over (and they will!). If you have to have them, put them in a pot and check EVERY year that they have not jumped out and established themselves in your pond proper. Iris are not so bad but there's horror stories there, too (I'm talking flag iris, not the more oriental types). Even your water lilies; put them in pots so you can control their growth. Water lilies are not as good filter plants but of course, the flowers and shade they provide are worth having them.

Hope this helps!
 

addy1

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Ditto to that well written advice above!

Welcome to our forum.

I'd hold off on 30 koi until you know the whole hobby/plan. Typically, you need 1000 gallons for one koi and 250 for each additional. Why? Because koi can get 30+ inches and are poop machines. You can always add as you see how the idea pans out.

I think he already has 30 koi!

about 30 koi
 

addy1

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This is what a bog does for you. The depth is about 2-3 feet here, the lilies just starting to leaf up. I can count the trap door snails on the bottom.
Screenshot 2021-03-20 145344.jpg
 
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- doing a partial remodel of the shelves so more plants can grow, especially as shelves are slanted don't hold plants very well. Wont help much
- adding pebbles where the existing plants are to increase microbe activity. Wont help much
- adding more substrate to the mechanical filter don't know if it will help as your filter could be good or huge and i have no idea
- adding more shelves in the deep area of the pond and placing potted lilies in them (what should I make the shelves out of so I don't damage the liner?) LILLIES ARE ONE OF THE LEAST HELPFULL BOG PLANTS
- maybe add a species of catfish to help eat the algae. No such animal that i know of but koi graze but they won't help with the pea green water
Don't know if you have the space about 1/3 rd the size of your pond at the end at the bottom of the photo Or and this would be ideal to have that space above the waterfall area. and build your self a bog.
 
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I would echo the suggestion about anchoring plants with a brick or bigger rocks if you can get those to sit on your shelves. Once they get growing, they'll stay in place. You just need something to hold them until they put down roots. Ditch the pots and plant directly on the shelves.

Very pretty pond by the way... but I'd look to re-home some of those koi. You'd need a massive pond to house that many koi. That may be why you're fighting constant algae and murky water. And another vote for add a bog filter - you won't regret it!
 
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I too am an advocate of bogs. My water looked like yours before the bog build. In less than a week with the bog running, the water was crystal clear. I've never had water this clear in over a decade. My bog is now my only filter.

With a bog, there is very little, if any, maintenance. No filter pads to rinse. No filters to maintain. Just sit back and it runs itself. It's so nice.

Plants are grown directly in the bog gravel. No pots. The plants help filter excess nutrients out of the water. Plus, the bog is a beautiful spot full of plants. With all the plants, someone wouldn't even know theres a giant filter under there.

Concerning the shelves being pitched the wrong way...
I have repaired, added and enlarged my shelves with the water still in the pond. I lift the edge of the liner, stick big rocks between the liner and the wall to give me a small area to work in. I've done this many times. If you feel the water pressure is too much, you could always pump out a couple of inches. The point is that you don't need to empty the pond to do this. Save that good pond water if you can so you can put it back.
 
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Here's my bog build...

 
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You have a nice-looking pond but as others have said you have too many fish. Four would be the most I would put in, even if the pond were bigger. The condition and color of your water can be easily cleared up with better filter material. The stuff you listed won't filter out the dirt as well as some sort of filtering pad. Check out Amazon. Be careful and don't buy the coarse stuff because that won't take out the sediment and the fine will clog quickly but will do a better job. If you have a skimmer with a pump in it that would be the easiest place to put the material if not then you may be able to work it in from your existing filter. Another possibility is to put it in a plastic garbage can and use that as an extra filter. The water should clear up in a few days. If your water is green then a UV light will clear that problem up too.
 

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