My “Final Pond” build thread


TheFishGuy

( Insert something funny )
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
568
Reaction score
291
Location
Colorado
Showcase(s):
1
Hardiness Zone
4b or 5a
Country
United States
Hello all! So I have had a couple of different main ponds in the past, and last year went with a new spot, I have since decided I do very much like the new spot, and because I have 2 koi who do need a much bigger place than what I have right now ( 600 gallons ) and I have been thinking about upgrading the size for a while, the time seems right. ( as long as I can finish before real winter starts! ) I decided since I have gotten tired of ripping out and redoing my pond(s) every year, I will do it right this time. The size is going to be around 1500-2500 gallons, all depend on when I measure the space I have. The edging will be tan flagstone, overhanging the side by a few inches, and mortared together, the sides will be exposed for now, and the bottom will be made up of also mortard tan flagstone. The goal is that is looks very clean and modern, while still being a natural style pond.

a couple of questions to start out with, will the concrete in the pond be toxic to the fish?

And If so what should I seal it with?

thanks! ( digging starts Sunday or Monday!)
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Oct 28, 2013
Messages
9,965
Reaction score
10,444
Location
Northern IL
Showcase(s):
1
Your title made me LOL - at age 12 I doubt this is your "final" anything. And the idea of a 12 year old being "tired" of something is also amusing to this old, sometimes tired lady!

Having said that - a mortared bottom is a pretty high level build feature. Have you ever laid flagstone? Have you ever mortared flagstone? Have you watched any videos of ponds built with flagstone bottoms? Have you priced flagstone?

I'll even ask - have you ever dug a 2500 gallon hole? Are you digging this by hand? Do you have helpers? What do you plan to do with all the dirt you removed from the hole?
 

Mmathis

TurtleMommy
Joined
Apr 28, 2011
Messages
11,055
Reaction score
6,203
Location
NW Louisiana -- zone 8b
Hardiness Zone
8b
Country
United States
@TheFishGuy Just curious, but why aren’t you going with a liner pond — EPDM? How are you planning to make it waterproof?

Not to rain on your parade, but I have to go with @Lisak1 regarding the size of a 2500 gallon hole and the amount of work that goes into stonework. Ours was 3000 gallons, and we never could have done it without the use of a little excavator. Also, you might be underestimating the time it will take to dig this hole and get all of your stonework done — to have it done before winter. Hopefully, you have a large and organized work crew to help you.
 

TheFishGuy

( Insert something funny )
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
568
Reaction score
291
Location
Colorado
Showcase(s):
1
Hardiness Zone
4b or 5a
Country
United States
Your title made me LOL - at age 12 I doubt this is your "final" anything. And the idea of a 12 year old being "tired" of something is also amusing to this old, sometimes tired lady!

Having said that - a mortared bottom is a pretty high level build feature. Have you ever laid flagstone? Have you ever mortared flagstone? Have you watched any videos of ponds built with flagstone bottoms? Have you priced flagstone?

I'll even ask - have you ever dug a 2500 gallon hole? Are you digging this by hand? Do you have helpers? What do you plan to do with all the dirt you removed from the hole?
Let’s see... I personally have never laid flagstone, but I know my parents have laid lots of it, so they will be helpers, most definitely....... I have only ever seen one pond with a flagstone bottom ( where I got the idea from ) but couldn’t find much with a few google machine searches :). And lastly, pricing, parentals agreed that If I dug the hole, and saved up + paid for the liner, they would be happy to fund rock, and concrete, soooo.... I couldn’t really care less about the price of that!

mkay, second question, I have
the current 600 gallon pond by hand, and in a week, with only an hour or so of help, so I think this will be doable in a month or so. I will most definitely be renting a jack hammer with a soil blade attachment for some of it ( instead of a good old pick )

third, since we live on a bit of land, and my parents are total diy people, we have a four wheeler that we bought a trailer for, so I can just dump the dirt in that, and drive it around to the very large dirt pile we have from leveling out the ground to put a little studio thing, or if parents want, I can dump it into the chicken area ( chickens love freshly dug dirt.


Oh, and yes yes, I know this won’t be my final pond, but Mabye final for the next well.... at least couple of year right?.......
 

TheFishGuy

( Insert something funny )
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
568
Reaction score
291
Location
Colorado
Showcase(s):
1
Hardiness Zone
4b or 5a
Country
United States
@TheFishGuy Just curious, but why aren’t you going with a liner pond — EPDM? How are you planning to make it waterproof?

Not to rain on your parade, but I have to go with @Lisak1 regarding the size of a 2500 gallon hole and the amount of work that goes into stonework. Ours was 3000 gallons, and we never could have done it without the use of a little excavator. Also, you might be underestimating the time it will take to dig this hole and get all of your stonework done — to have it done before winter. Hopefully, you have a large and organized work crew to help you.
Most definitely epdm, standard 45mm, patching my 15mm pvc every month has shown me the importance of a good liner.

I am now realizing it might be a little unrealistic, so possibly scaling it back to 1700 gallons or so, I was hoping to have it done in a month or so ( excavation, with the help of a soil bladed jack hammer ) and rockwork, I am very aware that the work to rock it in would be too much for this winter, so because I would like to have the fish in to overwinter, I have though about just shooting to get the edging and a little fish cave at the bottom made this year.

thanks for bringing me at least a little back to reality :) also, what would sort of a minimum good size be for the two koi plus 25 small goldfish or so ( my fish have literally never bred so I honestly doubt breeding will be a problem ) And I dint have the goldfish yet, so also tell me is that is way overkill.
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,508
Reaction score
1,656
Hardiness Zone
7b
@TheFishGuy -- are you really 12? If so, you need to get communicating with Greg Wittstock at Aquascape! He started his love of ponds around your age and is now quite the big deal in the world of ponding. He and his guys travel all around the country (and the world) building ponds and filming and talking with pond people. He would probably be tickled to hear about someone like you! Good luck!
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Apr 2, 2019
Messages
504
Reaction score
724
Location
Purlear, NC
Hardiness Zone
7a
Country
United States
That is certainly an ambitious project! fun & exciting, but... ambitious. :) My thought upon reading this was that (if it were me) I would NOT mortar the flagstone in the bottom of the pond. I'd put down the liner, cover it with an additional layer of underlayment to protect it, lay the flagstone as desired & then fill the areas in between with fine gravel. You'll get the look you're going for, but this way should you ever want or need to pull things up for a redo, or whatever, you can do it without resorting to a jack hammer.

Just my two cents. Good luck with your project!!
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2013
Messages
9,965
Reaction score
10,444
Location
Northern IL
Showcase(s):
1
So you have the space to dump the dirt - that's good. I can tell you when our pond was dug we paid to have three truck loads of dirt hauled away. It's gonna be a lot of dirt. You'd bury your chickens in it, if you were to dump it in their area.

Your parents have flagstone experience - that's great, too. But laying flagstone in a pond lined with EPDM is a different process. When you lay a flagstone path, you use a material (sand or fine gravel generally) as a base so you can easily level the stones. Would you do that in a lined pond bottom? Not sure. I've seen this done on videos for swim ponds and like @BKHpondcritters suggested they use gravel to fill between the flagstone, not mortar. In a swim pond this makes sense to create a smooth surface - not so sure what the purpose would be in a fish pond. I get that you're trying to create a modern look, but would you even see the bottom? Or recognize that it's anything other than just a flat bottom? I don't know - just throwing some ideas out there. This may be a lot of work for no real gain. A layer of gravel would take minutes compared to flagstone which could take hours or even days. Plus gravel is cheap cheap cheap by comparison.

I do love your enthusiasm! But hey - let's not let mom and dad know you don't care about their out of pocket on this one!
 

TheFishGuy

( Insert something funny )
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
568
Reaction score
291
Location
Colorado
Showcase(s):
1
Hardiness Zone
4b or 5a
Country
United States
@TheFishGuy -- are you really 12? If so, you need to get communicating with Greg Wittstock at Aquascape! He started his love of ponds around your age and is now quite the big deal in the world of ponding. He and his guys travel all around the country (and the world) building ponds and filming and talking with pond people. He would probably be tickled to hear about someone like you! Good luck!
yup! I am really twelve. I have watched greg whitstocks show " pond stars, and also keep upw ith his youtube channel, :)

And thanks for the Luck! :)
 

TheFishGuy

( Insert something funny )
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
568
Reaction score
291
Location
Colorado
Showcase(s):
1
Hardiness Zone
4b or 5a
Country
United States
That is certainly an ambitious project! fun & exciting, but... ambitious. :) My thought upon reading this was that (if it were me) I would NOT mortar the flagstone in the bottom of the pond. I'd put down the liner, cover it with an additional layer of underlayment to protect it, lay the flagstone as desired & then fill the areas in between with fine gravel. You'll get the look you're going for, but this way should you ever want or need to pull things up for a redo, or whatever, you can do it without resorting to a jack hammer.

Just my two cents. Good luck with your project!!
I actually think that sounds pretty great, because with mortar there is no getting the stones back up for leaks or such, would waterfall foam inbeetween to help hold the gravel in place help, or just hinder?
 

TheFishGuy

( Insert something funny )
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
568
Reaction score
291
Location
Colorado
Showcase(s):
1
Hardiness Zone
4b or 5a
Country
United States
So you have the space to dump the dirt - that's good. I can tell you when our pond was dug we paid to have three truck loads of dirt hauled away. It's gonna be a lot of dirt. You'd bury your chickens in it, if you were to dump it in their area.

Your parents have flagstone experience - that's great, too. But laying flagstone in a pond lined with EPDM is a different process. When you lay a flagstone path, you use a material (sand or fine gravel generally) as a base so you can easily level the stones. Would you do that in a lined pond bottom? Not sure. I've seen this done on videos for swim ponds and like @BKHpondcritters suggested they use gravel to fill between the flagstone, not mortar. In a swim pond this makes sense to create a smooth surface - not so sure what the purpose would be in a fish pond. I get that you're trying to create a modern look, but would you even see the bottom? Or recognize that it's anything other than just a flat bottom? I don't know - just throwing some ideas out there. This may be a lot of work for no real gain. A layer of gravel would take minutes compared to flagstone which could take hours or even days. Plus gravel is cheap cheap cheap by comparison.

I do love your enthusiasm! But hey - let's not let mom and dad know you don't care about their out of pocket on this one!
I mean...... its not that I dont care but.........

I have thought about doing waterfall foam with gravel on top, just to hold the gravel in place, because it does honestly seem like mortar would be overkill in this situation. Probably not just loose gravel, because I wouldn't want to suck any up when I would vacume the bottom. Exactly the reason I want that bottom is because my goal is to have a bog and such, but for the accuall pond to be completly ( or as close as possible ) to swimming pool clean ( I am fine with the bio film and such, just no dirt or leaves. )

I sorta slacked on my last pond build regarding the bottom, and as soon as I got it really clear, bam amazing water terrible looking pond, so that is my reasoning for this :)
 
Ad

Advertisements

brokensword

Not all those who wander are lost
Joined
Jun 22, 2011
Messages
982
Reaction score
792
Location
Michigan
Hardiness Zone
5b
Country
United States
I thought I might weigh in here with some notes from your conversations above.

1. mortar is NOT waterproof. (cement can be, but not like this where you'll have ground movement re seasonal change, and so is concrete ((there's cement in concrete)) also hydraulic cement)

2. The bottom, for all practical purposes (depending on you digging deep enough; 30+ inches) is going to be covered in no time. I laid a thin layer of pea gravel down upon my own expansion and I can see it but of course, algae is coloring everything now. I mainly did this because I was going from just goldfish to koi, which LIKE to shuffle the bottom stones looking for food.

The look of the bottom is only going to be noticeable, imo, in the first year. Liners are black, the bottom will be of less interest than the fish you have, though I understand wanting to make the 'background' for viewing as aesthetic as possible. I suggest some underwater plants to liven up the scene.

3. My son and I dug out my expansion, which was 8'x11'x5' in about 3 days (mostly clay), using all the dirt as an embankment around the new part. You could/should consider something similar to keep runoff getting into your pond, even if only 12" or so. It makes the removal of the 'digging' a lot easier to deal with.

4. do make plans to incorporate a bog for hassle-free maintenance; you'll thank us later.

5. Anything underwater, esp foam or mortar in your case, is going to decay with time.

6. use the slate/stone fund to beutify the edge and surroundings of your pond, instead of the bottom, imo.

7. IMO, the quickest, surest way to do this is to dig and line the pond with your epdm/hdrpe liner, get the water in, put in some hardy (for your region) plants including underwater types, work some sort of plumbing system out to include your bog filtration, and add your fish. Try and do this before the temps change drastically so as to give the fish time to adjust. Don't worry re algae blooms as when you stop feeding for the season, it'll go away until next spring. When your bog and newly purchased floating plants next spring get established, the algae will dissipate.

It can be done, this bare minimum, but have a master plan you can complete next year when you have more time and funds. If you have friends with strong backs, entice them with a pizza party and the digging portion can be completed much quicker!


Hope this helps.
 
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,508
Reaction score
1,656
Hardiness Zone
7b
Are you going to have a skimmer or intake bay? I think that helps keep the bottom a lot cleaner. There will still be a little debris, but much less of it.
 

TheFishGuy

( Insert something funny )
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
568
Reaction score
291
Location
Colorado
Showcase(s):
1
Hardiness Zone
4b or 5a
Country
United States
I thought I might weigh in here with some notes from your conversations above.

1. mortar is NOT waterproof. (cement can be, but not like this where you'll have ground movement re seasonal change, and so is concrete ((there's cement in concrete)) also hydraulic cement)

2. The bottom, for all practical purposes (depending on you digging deep enough; 30+ inches) is going to be covered in no time. I laid a thin layer of pea gravel down upon my own expansion and I can see it but of course, algae is coloring everything now. I mainly did this because I was going from just goldfish to koi, which LIKE to shuffle the bottom stones looking for food.

The look of the bottom is only going to be noticeable, imo, in the first year. Liners are black, the bottom will be of less interest than the fish you have, though I understand wanting to make the 'background' for viewing as aesthetic as possible. I suggest some underwater plants to liven up the scene.

3. My son and I dug out my expansion, which was 8'x11'x5' in about 3 days (mostly clay), using all the dirt as an embankment around the new part. You could/should consider something similar to keep runoff getting into your pond, even if only 12" or so. It makes the removal of the 'digging' a lot easier to deal with.

4. do make plans to incorporate a bog for hassle-free maintenance; you'll thank us later.

5. Anything underwater, esp foam or mortar in your case, is going to decay with time.

6. use the slate/stone fund to beutify the edge and surroundings of your pond, instead of the bottom, imo.

7. IMO, the quickest, surest way to do this is to dig and line the pond with your epdm/hdrpe liner, get the water in, put in some hardy (for your region) plants including underwater types, work some sort of plumbing system out to include your bog filtration, and add your fish. Try and do this before the temps change drastically so as to give the fish time to adjust. Don't worry re algae blooms as when you stop feeding for the season, it'll go away until next spring. When your bog and newly purchased floating plants next spring get established, the algae will dissipate.

It can be done, this bare minimum, but have a master plan you can complete next year when you have more time and funds. If you have friends with strong backs, entice them with a pizza party and the digging portion can be completed much quicker!


Hope this helps.
thanks for all the info!

I have decided to still do the bottom rocking in, but instead of mortar waterfall foam with a layer of gravel on top of it, this will hopefully reduce the hassle by a lot.

I will definitely do a bog, probably not full sized but enough to help with filtration.

I am also going to use flagstone around the edging, again, secured with waterfall foam and a thing layer of gravel on top.

I honestly cant have any plant survive over the winter, it just get to cold and freezes to far down, I have 2 small koi that will go in before winter, but that will probably be it until spring.

Strong Friends, wellllll not to be insulting to them but............
Strong parents, yup. we will see how much they will help ;)
 

TheFishGuy

( Insert something funny )
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
568
Reaction score
291
Location
Colorado
Showcase(s):
1
Hardiness Zone
4b or 5a
Country
United States
Are you going to have a skimmer or intake bay? I think that helps keep the bottom a lot cleaner. There will still be a little debris, but much less of it.
I have a makeshift skimmer, bassicly a lined hole at the edge of the pond, in which my pump sits, so that same fundamental will be applied here.
 
Joined
Apr 2, 2019
Messages
504
Reaction score
724
Location
Purlear, NC
Hardiness Zone
7a
Country
United States
I actually think that sounds pretty great, because with mortar there is no getting the stones back up for leaks or such, would waterfall foam inbeetween to help hold the gravel in place help, or just hinder?
When I imagine trying to carefully squirt waterfall foam into the spaces between the flagstone & then trying to press gravel into the top the only scenario my brain can come up with is a mess. I'm seeing hands & fingers covered in foamy gravel, or the foam expanding up out of the cracks & getting everywhere but where it's wanted. Maybe I'm just a messy builder, though. :oops:

I wouldn't worry about using a vacuum on the bottom - just a nice net to scoop up leaves & other large debris. The bottom IS going to get covered in a nice thin film & some algae, to a greater or lesser degree off & on during the year (more in late winter/early spring, less as the rest of the pond plants get going in summer) Fish & tadpoles will eat what's growing there too, which helps with the maintenance, but you have to remember it's a POND, not a hot tub. (my mantra when things don't look as nice as I'd like & need to gain some perspective. lol)

One other important thing to consider, though - The flat stones WILL be very slippery to walk on! Almost as bad as bare liner. If you're planning on wading around a lot, I'd skip the flagstone & just do gravel. I walk in my pond a lot & NEVER step on the large flat rock that covers the fish cave - it's too dangerous for an old lady who tends to break rather than bounce. :sneaky:
 
Ad

Advertisements

TheFishGuy

( Insert something funny )
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
568
Reaction score
291
Location
Colorado
Showcase(s):
1
Hardiness Zone
4b or 5a
Country
United States
When I imagine trying to carefully squirt waterfall foam into the spaces between the flagstone & then trying to press gravel into the top the only scenario my brain can come up with is a mess. I'm seeing hands & fingers covered in foamy gravel, or the foam expanding up out of the cracks & getting everywhere but where it's wanted. Maybe I'm just a messy builder, though. :oops:

I wouldn't worry about using a vacuum on the bottom - just a nice net to scoop up leaves & other large debris. The bottom IS going to get covered in a nice thin film & some algae, to a greater or lesser degree off & on during the year (more in late winter/early spring, less as the rest of the pond plants get going in summer) Fish & tadpoles will eat what's growing there too, which helps with the maintenance, but you have to remember it's a POND, not a hot tub. (my mantra when things don't look as nice as I'd like & need to gain some perspective. lol)

One other important thing to consider, though - The flat stones WILL be very slippery to walk on! Almost as bad as bare liner. If you're planning on wading around a lot, I'd skip the flagstone & just do gravel. I walk in my pond a lot & NEVER step on the large flat rock that covers the fish cave - it's too dangerous for an old lady who tends to break rather than bounce. :sneaky:
I will definitely consider not vacuuming, just depends on how dirty it gets :)

I will be honest in saying I have never used waterfall foam, so when I start laying stones I will try it out and if it just goes terribly skip that part.

I dont think I will be wading around a lot, and as a young person who does tend to bounce rather than break ( I fell into the current pond from the waterfall the other day, no problems ) I will just be careful when I do get in there to do maintenance.

and you know, if I really do complete all of this, I would be pretty happy with myself considering all the advice above .........
 

brokensword

Not all those who wander are lost
Joined
Jun 22, 2011
Messages
982
Reaction score
792
Location
Michigan
Hardiness Zone
5b
Country
United States
thanks for all the info!

I have decided to still do the bottom rocking in, but instead of mortar waterfall foam with a layer of gravel on top of it, this will hopefully reduce the hassle by a lot.



I honestly cant have any plant survive over the winter, it just get to cold and freezes to far down, I have 2 small koi that will go in before winter, but that will probably be it until spring.
I'd skip the foam as the gravel will stay between your flagstone, more or less; the foam isn't meant to be submerged nor is it especially waterproof. It's mainly to help direct water (on a water fall) where to go.


Seriously rethink making your pond DEEP ENOUGH so you can have hardy plants as well as a place the fish can survive the winter. As your fish grow, taking them in will be more stressful for the both of you. Think 30" or more and you'll be fine. Koi and goldfish can survive just fine. Find out how deep the ice can get in your area and make it 12" deeper to be sure. The water at the bottom will be warmer than at the top of your pond (not much but enough for survival. You have to go past 5' depth to get any thermal layering.).

I'll say it again; you only want to dig ONCE; dig deep as it's the easiest to do now, before you start, than after the pond is finished. The mantra for a ponder is; I've NEVER met anyone who didn't want a larger pond, so double the size you 'want' and you'll safeproof the whole pond idea for a few years, at least.

I admire your enthusiasm and determination; try to learn from 'our' mistakes and soon you'll be the one giving advice to others.
 

TheFishGuy

( Insert something funny )
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
568
Reaction score
291
Location
Colorado
Showcase(s):
1
Hardiness Zone
4b or 5a
Country
United States
I'd skip the foam as the gravel will stay between your flagstone, more or less; the foam isn't meant to be submerged nor is it especially waterproof. It's mainly to help direct water (on a water fall) where to go.


Seriously rethink making your pond DEEP ENOUGH so you can have hardy plants as well as a place the fish can survive the winter. As your fish grow, taking them in will be more stressful for the both of you. Think 30" or more and you'll be fine. Koi and goldfish can survive just fine. Find out how deep the ice can get in your area and make it 12" deeper to be sure. The water at the bottom will be warmer than at the top of your pond (not much but enough for survival. You have to go past 5' depth to get any thermal layering.).

I'll say it again; you only want to dig ONCE; dig deep as it's the easiest to do now, before you start, than after the pond is finished. The mantra for a ponder is; I've NEVER met anyone who didn't want a larger pond, so double the size you 'want' and you'll safeproof the whole pond idea for a few years, at least.

I admire your enthusiasm and determination; try to learn from 'our' mistakes and soon you'll be the one giving advice to others.
I think after looking more into things, I will just stick with gravel not foam or anything, just a whole lot simpler and easier for me too :)

I wouldn't agree with you on the depth, but apparently my mom does, not only 30 inches but 36, so my pond will officially be 3 feet deep, no going back, why, cause that is the only way I am allowed to build it......
 
Ad

Advertisements

TheFishGuy

( Insert something funny )
Joined
Jul 9, 2020
Messages
568
Reaction score
291
Location
Colorado
Showcase(s):
1
Hardiness Zone
4b or 5a
Country
United States
Update; construction has begun, I did not get as far as I would have liked to, but considering I started at 3:30 pm, and was only able to go till 5:00 I think it isnt bad:
IMG_0977.jpg
 

Top