Must downsize & simplify (phase 1)--really need advice

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Hi all,

some of you may be in a similar situation. 64 yrs old. 2 back surgeries, one recent. new right hip, recent. high blood pressure under control with meds & exercise. still working FT under very stressful conditions. wife not working, finishing her doctorate--done w/coursework, dissertation time. about a year out. looking for part-time work, but not much out there for over $10/hr. so money's tight, stress is high, and time's not abundant.

own about 50% of a home---payments are lowish thankfully. high maintenance though. lots of plants, trees and a very large vegetable garden. wife does most of that, but it's still too much. gets to looking a little ratty by the time we can get to things. only 1450 sq. ft. and inside maintenance is minimal.

so our focus is to start systematically reducing maintenance items and since our 4500 gallon pond is a major source, we're starting there. We are also hiring a weekly yard maintenance service. local guy, $100/mo for the basics. it's a small thing but it'll help.

pond stats: 4500 gallon. two pumps: 4500 gph submersible easy pro (470 watts/hr), 4700 gph sequence external (250 watts). 1st runs the easy pro large waterfall filter, 2nd pulls from a skimmer with an attached surface mounted bottom drain. Water goes through an aqua UV 4000 gallon Ultima 2 bead filter, then through an aqua UV 57 watt UV light with return to the pond directed to produce circular flow. HASE 450 aerator (25 watts) in the deep end to oxygenate and create a column of air for vertical water circulation.
Plumbed with 3 way valves to allow single external pump operation, but on testing the 4700 sequence in inadequate for necessary water flow through the primary waterfall filter. could buy a 6100 qph sequence ($539) that is same physical size and the current leaf basket would fit, but not sure even that flow would be enough. Current fish load: six 20-24 in koi. four 10 in koi, three 10 in goldfish, 2 eight shebunkins and finally 15-20 babies i haven't been able to catch. did remove about 20 others and am giving them away.

So, we are seriously close to deciding the fish have to go. Are we right in thinking converting to a water-garden with nice plants would dramatically reduce maintenance and cost?
  • eliminate the UV filter (thus removing head to allow for better single pump waterfall flow)
  • eliminate the bead filter (thus removing head to allow for better single pump waterfall flow)
  • eliminate the aerator
  • eliminate the easy pro waterfall submersible pump
  • eliminate feeding
  • eliminate most if not all water testing.
  • reduce back flushes & water changes
  • eliminate the cross hatched heron net strung at 12 feet high across the whole yard
  • eliminate worry and stress about fish health and water conditions
  1. keep the waterfall
  2. keep the pond
  3. increase plants and attendant beauty
If this thinking is accurate, then how do we sell the fish? Once before we thought about it and put them on Craigslist and the responses were from some pretty weird sounding folks. Might try that again, but need to have some kind of "filter" that culls out the weirdos. We were asking $300 apiece for the large koi but still got some shaky sounding responses.

This phase one of simplification and maintenance reduction. Ideas thoughts criticisms are needed.
 
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I understand your situation and applaud you for wanting to be responsible with your fish. Last year, I was able to re home 50+ fish with a young man who runs a fish sanctuary. He does some pond work and places fish in new ponds, but also maintains a large converted swimming pool for the rest of the fish. When he arrived, he pumped pond water into live stock tanks....once the pond water was lowered he carefully netted out those I was rehoming.

I found him throughout local fish hatchery....maybe you have something like that near you. BTW, he did not pay me for the fish, but I trusted him.
 
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"I trusted him". that's huge isn't it. ultimately it would be VERY nice to sell these fish, but if an opportunity to re-home them to a responsible, knowledgeable party came along, I'd take it. part of the stress for me is the stewardship. i feel, and am, responsible for their well being.
 
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To answer your question yes getting rid of that large fish load would dramatically decrease your work load. You could even keep a couple of your favorite fish. The plants will appreciate the "fertilizer" the fish produce but with only a couple of your favorite fish, you would not have to test the water often and you could dramatically reduce filtration. Your waterfall with a filter before it would probably be plenty.
 

Troutredds

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You show very sound reasoning in your plan, D&RW. It sounds like you know what needs to be done but are struggling with the idea of your prized pond residents receiving poor care from someone else... You could do as dieselplower suggests and keep a few of your favorite fish. Or, as I would do in your position, seek out a koi breeder, dealer or club in your area in Oregon. With their guidance, suggestions or help you could rehome your fish to other responsible fish keepers. You may want to sell some but donation is another option. It's up to you, but you already have enough stress it sounds like. The craigslist route would stress me out even more! If you can donate the lot to a good home AND decrease your ponding maintenance and costs at the same time, I think it's a no brainer. You'd help yourself AND those that receive your generous donation.
 
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Actually, if you just rehome the koi and keep the goldfish you can still get rid of most of those expenses. Goldfish in an established water garden need neither food nor filtration, but even without fish, some mechanical filtration makes a huge difference in the appearance of the water. Goldfish or minnows in the water garden will avoid a mosquito problem.
 
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I'll be interested to follow along and see what you decide to do.
 
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thanks for the answers and support. i like the idea of keeping a couple fish. we belong to a Portland Koi club. I thought they might not be interested in taking any of the fish because, even though we think they're pretty, these are low value fish. I read an thread/article on the KoiPhen website that enlightened me on that. But if I pose the question as a donation to rehome the fish, someone may be willing. I will definitely ask to put a spot in the next newsletter.

today's actions so far: disconnected the UV light & the bead filter and unplugged the Easy Pro 4500. (527 watts) plumbed the sequence 1000 4500 gph directly in the line to the waterfall. re-set the three way valves so it's powering the waterfall. flow is decreased, but without the head of the bead filter and uv light i believe it'll be adequate to keep the water quality up. (the waterfall is a large EasyPro filter falls unit). I'll be checking the water daily for awhile and reducing feeding to once a day until i'm sure it's adequate. easy pro submersible is still in place, but unplugged. it's ready to reuse this way in case the sequence craps out. just a turn of that 3 way valve and it's back online. .

i did lose the circulation produced by the return from the original sequence plumbing. resulting water had little or no movement in some areas. i happened to have a little giant 1000 laying around (110 watts) so i put it in the pond on a shelf, put a 90 degree elbow on the 1 in. outflow fitting and directed the flow along the side. did the trick. nowhere near as much circulation, but again, it's adequate.

calculated monthly pond electrical cost savings = from $72.91 to $35.19. i'm going to miss that bead filter, but if necessary i can use quilt batting in the easy pro filter to catch some of the fines. and as for green water, we're going to increase the floating plants for shade coverage. and put some anascharis and hortwort in if i can find some.

now to reduce the fish load. next step.
 
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Update: reconnected the UV because water got green. worked fine. now water w/UV clear of algae, but cloudy w/fines. probably going to get cloudier--we have lots of trees that the wind blows debris in. so i miss the bead filter. it did a good job. during backflushes water came out opaque brown. meanwhile added a LOT of Hortwort in a screened container on the bottom .

Current Idea: i found a submersible pump that only purports to use 170 watts to produce 4280 gph, Laguna Max Flo 4280. And I found it pretty for $200. I've tried looking for reviews and found a member here named Sissy had problems with these pumps, but otherwise most people have found them to be ok. So, I buy one of these, hook it up to the waterfall system, re-hook up the bead filter-uv light-return flow to pond for current and disconnect the 110 watt little giant pump. net gain in watts 60. Without actually rehoming all the fish this seems like the best way to reduce cost and keep a pretty clear pond for viewing them. Savings over original configuration = $27/month out of $72.91 = 37%. Time to recoup new pump cost = 8 months. I could try mattress batting for the fines, but previously I didn't find it to be very effective. My wife has problems with buying another pump since the whole goal is to simplify and reduce cost. Just seems like going backwards doesn't it.

I did write our Koi club about taking some fish. I haven't heard back. And we cannot come up with an alternative method yet. Like I wrote i may go with Craigslist, but my wife and i have reservations. I may put them in at maybe $150 apiece and see what happens.

As always, opinions and thoughts are most welcome. this whole issue/problem is occupying a lot of mental time and i'm looking forward to putting it to bed for awhile.

I
 
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sissy

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If you want to use your uv you could always get another pump just for that and use it only when needed .
 
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