Pond Mistake?


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Hello all,

I have, "inherited a pond" in a matter of speaking. I believe it to be 170 gallons, based upon seeing an identical one at Home Depot, by the tag on the display rack (but I don't know in fact if it is). I received a fixed liner pond, which seemed rather large in my opinion, and dug a deep hole, lined it with sand etc, and set the pond up. This pond was given to me by someone who wasnt using it any more. With it I received what I think is a Pondmaster Filter, because it looks just like what I have, and a pump which has a water spigot fountain attachment, and sprays an umbrella like pattern, which I find quite nice.

Here's my problem. I went to look at fish and saw small koi at the local Petsmart. I took the salespersons advise and bought some conditioner for the pond water and brought home 5 small 2-3 inch koi. They seemed to go fine into the pond having conditioned the water.

I have no water plants, no other filtration systems, but I fear Ive made some pretty big errors by getting the koi, after reading about ponds and filters and koi sizes etc.

What do I do now? Have I created a fatal error here? I dont want to kill my fish.

Please help. I also would like to know if one of the first things I should do is get that pond filter and buy pvc pipe and cut it up instead of that filter media that was in it, which I thoroughly washed before putting the filter into play. The koi have been there for 2 days and they mostly stay around the filter edge and underneath. The only other thing I have is a barley pad, with a fake Lillypad floating on top of it for aesthetics.

Advice, feedback would be nice. I confess I an not a DIY but Id do my best if I needed to do something. I looked at the 55 barrel bio filters DIY and aside from understanding what the parts looked like, it went over my head. Would a smaller scale thing be possible with a Paint Bucket? I thank you for your tolerance of a guy who is as wet behind the ears as you can get.
 

koiguy1969

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your right some mistakes were made...but hopefully nothing you cant correct. O.k thats definately too many fish (koi) for that pond. but right now, and maybe the next year you'll be o.k. you gotta know that koi can hit 30" and more. but your ok for now. but you will want to get some filtration going... you could build a biofilter like our 55 gal designs and just drop it down to a 20 gal trash can.. or a rubbermade tote (storage bin) now you cant have too much filtration so build as big of one as you can...pvc.. scrubby pads(no soap) ..soda straws.. basically any thing plastic will work for media.. but you'll need a bigger pond to keep them all..in 2 years or less that pond will be too small for 2 of them
 
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For this filter do I need another pump other than the one I have? And having this pondmaster filter, should I ditch it or should I cut some pvc pipe and fill that as well?

I can take the fact that I'll have to upgrade the size of the pond, but if I have some time to work with, thats fine. Being as I am not a DIY'r, what would you suggest for the biofilter? I can get the tote probably with no problem. Is there a tutorial that a guy like me can follow so I don't mess it up?

Thank you for your response/and advice. My knowledge of building things is pretty limited, but Ill do my best, and I can post pictures of what I have if that helps.
 

koiguy1969

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heres about the simplist basic bio filter design you can find: this will get you by till you can work on a pond.........
[ame]

you can use the blue 'cut to fit' furnace pads for the top pads then fill the rest with whatever you like..the top spray bar is just a pipe with holes drilled in the bottom half so the water sprays out over the media.
its not as good as our designs but it will suffice.
 
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Hi Sean! Welcome to ponding.

The good news is that you can return your koi to petsmart with the receipt within 14 days of purchase. Not sure you bought them in the last two weeks tho.

That pond is way too small for any koi, and it is meant for a few small comet goldfish only. I know the filter you are talking about, it sits on the bottom the pond and is essentially a thin box with a sponge in it and a little fountain on top. I am not going to be the only bearer of bad news, but it is junk. It's a pain to maintain and you have to drag it out of the pond.

Koiguy's suggestion is right on. If you can't hide his filter behind something, for a pond that small, you can also make a filter hidden in a flower pot. You can google "flower pot filter" and see many examples of how to build them. If you are not the DIY type, please do let us know and we'll suggest a store bought filter for you.

We can help you rectify some of your boo boos. Trust me when I say that we've all made 'em!
 
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koikeepr said:
Hi Sean! Welcome to ponding.

The good news is that you can return your koi to petsmart with the receipt within 14 days of purchase. Not sure you bought them in the last two weeks tho.

That pond is way too small for any koi, and it is meant for a few small comet goldfish only. I know the filter you are talking about, it sits on the bottom the pond and is essentially a thin box with a sponge in it and a little fountain on top. I am not going to be the only bearer of bad news, but it is junk. It's a pain to maintain and you have to drag it out of the pond.

Koiguy's suggestion is right on. If you can't hide his filter behind something, for a pond that small, you can also make a filter hidden in a flower pot. You can google "flower pot filter" and see many examples of how to build them. If you are not the DIY type, please do let us know and we'll suggest a store bought filter for you.

We can help you rectify some of your boo boos. Trust me when I say that we've all made 'em!
Thank you koikeeper,

I will google flower pot filter, and see what I can learn. Can you explain to me why the pond filter I have is a bad one? Also do I need to buy another pump for my filter if I build one? I don't mind being a DIY type, I just might need more specific guidance than the average guy, when it comes to questions on how to put it all together.

Ive spent a lot of time on youtube looking at koi ponds and such. Do I have time to work with here with these koi before their environment size is a real detriment? I was told "Koi are hardy fish and they grow to the size of their surroundings" which is why I bought a few koi for this pond. But in finding this place, I see that I was wrong to get the koi.
 
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As I said, that filter is just a pain to maintain. Anything you have to continually have to lug out of the water like that is just not an easy way to maintain a pond. You will find that it will clog easily, etc. It has a very small area for building a good bacteria colony, etc. It is just not ideal.

I can't tell you if your pump is suitable for koiguy's idea or the flower pot filter. If you tell us what pump you have, what the GPH is on it, etc, we'll be able to help you figure that out.

I can assure you that koi will outgrow the pond. Plus, you are talking about a fish that gets to 24+ inches, it's totally not right to stunt the fish. Like I've said before to others, it's like buying a dog crate for a poodle and housing a Great Dane in it.

A koi that is 3 inches this summer, will be 8-9 inches at least the following summer. These critters grow super fast. So, you're probably looking at giving 'em away/rehoming them next summer. Goldfish require lots less water space per fish than a koi. Koi are also monster poopers and will pollute a small pond very quickly and it can end up difficult to stabilize water parameters.

By the way, speaking of that, have you been doing water changes?
 
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koikeepr said:
As I said, that filter is just a pain to maintain. Anything you have to continually have to lug out of the water like that is just not an easy way to maintain a pond. You will find that it will clog easily, etc. It has a very small area for building a good bacteria colony, etc. It is just not ideal.

I can't tell you if your pump is suitable for koiguy's idea or the flower pot filter. If you tell us what pump you have, what the GPH is on it, etc, we'll be able to help you figure that out.

I can assure you that koi will outgrow the pond. Plus, you are talking about a fish that gets to 24+ inches, it's totally not right to stunt the fish. Like I've said before to others, it's like buying a dog crate for a poodle and housing a Great Dane in it.

A koi that is 3 inches this summer, will be 8-9 inches at least the following summer. These critters grow super fast. So, you're probably looking at giving 'em away/rehoming them next summer. Goldfish require lots less water space per fish than a koi. Koi are also monster poopers and will pollute a small pond very quickly and it can end up difficult to stabilize water parameters.

By the way, speaking of that, have you been doing water changes?
Thank you for your answer to the filter question. I've been reading/studying about the need to pre-seed it with helpful bacteria to get the colony and pond functioning. If I can make a flowerpot filter, I will.

In the return to the pond, do I need to build a waterfall, or do I just run the hose to the pond?

As for water changes the pond is 4 days old, and I was under the understanding that you dont change more than 10% of the water at any time. Also that you should treat your pond with conditioner when you add water to it? Well as I speak, it's raining outside, and presumably filling the pond again.

Where can I find info about the pond pump and gph? Is it on the pump itself somewhere?
 

koiguy1969

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dechlorinator (conditioner) is not needed at waterchanges unless you go bigger than 10% the farther the water falls before hitting the ponds water surface the better job of aeration is does.adding beneficial bacteria to your filter to kick start it and regular small doses for maintainence is a great idea, i would reccommend "Microbelfts PL gel filter innoculant" it will build a colony of decent size in days rather than weeks. then you can use any brand for maintainence dosing.. info on the pump should be right on the pump.
 
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koiguy is right about the dechlor, and you should have some on hand just in case you need to do a larger than 10% water change, which is not uncommon.

You don't need a waterfall. You can just have water return with with a pipe, but as koiguy points out, there is benefit to a waterfall in terms of some water movement and air. If you do the flower pot filter, for example, you can have the water spill out of it from a hard pipe which would form a waterfall. Just stacking up a bunch of rocks could hide koiguy's filter and look like a waterfall as water pours out of the pipe from up higher so you get the waterfalls benefit. But, no, technically you don't need a waterfall. You could use a spitter at the edge of the pond. You'll see these little statues that look like a frog, a fish or a turtle where the water sprays out of it's mouth. A bamboo deer scarer can also be purchased cheaply and gives that very japanese feel, too. All these can replace a waterfall without much effort.

Just tell us what your pump brand and model is and we'll help you with the rest.

If you took some good photos of your pond and it's surrounding area, it would be very helpful to us for sure.
 

koiguy1969

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myself, on the basenment pond i do a filter flush and refill every five days so about 150 gals or so every 2 weeks (15 days) this is on a 800 gal pond..the.outside pond is larger and i dont do timed water changes persay but i throw the hose in for 10 minutes every 3 or 4 days and about once a month pump out a couple hundred gallons to change. but the regular top offs do the job after a few minutes of running out the overflow i kill the water. and i rarely ever use any dechlorinator...but back to your filter..if you plan on building a bigger pond build a bigger filter it will keep your water heathier in the little pond and you wont have to build another one when you build he pond. remember theres only filters that are too small not to big.
 
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koiguy1969 said:
dechlorinator (conditioner) is not needed at waterchanges unless you go bigger than 10% the farther the water falls before hitting the ponds water surface the better job of aeration is does.adding beneficial bacteria to your filter to kick start it and regular small doses for maintainence is a great idea, i would reccommend "Microbelfts PL gel filter innoculant" it will build a colony of decent size in days rather than weeks. then you can use any brand for maintainence dosing.. info on the pump should be right on the pump.
From what I can tell its a Pondmaster Model 5 - 500 gph pump and its attached to a filter I believe the Pondmaster PM 1000 Filter.
 
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good news is that pondmaster pumps are good ones. Long lasting, low power consumption and mag driven All good things. So, this pump is more than adequate to turn over your pond, and could certainly drive a bio filter like the one that koiguy pointed out or a flower pot one such as this one, or this one, or this one, to give you a few quick examples.

This video [ame="[MEDIA=youtube]NgZWOXOonZo[/MEDIA]"]here[/ame] is also a good example of how to make a small filter in a bucket.

Of course, the benefit with these filters is that they are OUT of the water, so there's no need to get wet while maintaining them.

I would also build a cage for your pump out of two colanders or two plastic mesh containers strapped together so it doesn't clog in your pond. Lots of examples of that on the web, too.

This will all be straightforward for you with parts from a home improvement store.
 

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you'll need a bigger output than what he used or you'll overflow go 2" and it will be fine and it could use a flush valve on the bottom too! but over all not bad.
OH heres part 2
[ame]
as you can see this is the same filter we all built in a smaller container.
i still would go ahead and build your big filter if your gonna build abigger pond in the near future.
 
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koiguy1969 said:
you'll need a bigger output than what he used or you'll overflow go 2" and it will be fine and it could use a flush valve on the bottom too! but over all not bad.
OH heres part 2
as you can see this is the same filter we all built in a smaller container.
i still would go ahead and build your big filter if your gonna build abigger pond in the near future.
A real mess now. I went outside to check on the fish, and saw a real problem.

The pond was almost empty, the liner had sucked up into itself, and it looked like the all day rain had collapsed the texas clay/mud that Id used, along with the sand, creating a sink hole, which dumped the bell fountain on its side so it emptied the pond.

The koi were on one side of the pond in a small remaining pocket of water, thankfully, but now I'm left with a real mess, a deformed pond and a sinkhole filled with Texas rainwater. Now I wish I had a pond liner....and not a rigid one. I'm in a quandary for sure.
 
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So here is the latest update.

Out of 5 fish, I lost 2 before I could get the problem in hand. As you recall the pond collapsed and caved in on itself due to the texas clay being rained on for a day straight.

In the middle of the night, I dragged the remains of the pre formed pond out of the sink hole, and up to my back porch. Tuned on the hose and filled it half way, and then released the other three fish in it, and babysat them all night through the storm to make sure that nothing fell, and the pump was working and didnt get tipped over.

From then on its been an above ground pond, sitting on my slab. Its not pretty but the fish are alive.

Now, I need to tell you I spent 3-4 days researching every type of homemade filter to build for the pond, and I have to say that well meaning as the videos and claims are, they are all outdated, and they don't address some important issues.

Number one, scrubby pads as filter media - the days of getting packs of 30 are long gone. The best I could do is 5 to a pack for 2.00 at all of the major stores, Dollar General, Dollar Tree and Dollar King. Total cost therefore for the media about 40-50 dollars.

The parts for the pvc that I'd need amounted to another 20 dollars, and that is before the bulkheads and reducers and the grate. It all adds up greatly.

Speaking of bulheads, neither Lowes nor Home Depot know what they were or where to find them. So no, it cannot be built easily with parts from your local hardware supply store.

The cost of the Rubbermaid stock tank, for example also pushed the cost over the 100.00 mark, so now we are approaching the 200.00 range, which also pushed the overall cost for this "cheap" filter. But what they dont warn you about is the chances of overflow, and that if it does overflow after all that work you will not be watersealed, which means you can drain your pond without meaning to. Usually while you are out of town for the weekend, making it too late. Great idea in concept but far too risky in execution. They also don't warn you for the need of a UV light.

My solution for this cheap pond filter was simple - eat the 40.00 and start researching. I found a Pressurized Laguna 700 with UV for just over 100.00 on clearance, presumably because its off season. Fine, I bought it, set in in my 171 gal pond, with a 500 gph pump and a 700 gal filter and my filtrations been fine for 2 weeks. Microbelift was no where to be found at any supply store locally so I bought Little Green Bugs and seeded the pond with that. No doubt it hasnt kicked in and the pond is an eyesore, but for now the three koi are alive and seem to be okay (3 inch fish) and my plans now are to build a pond for housing 10 koi - apx 2500 gallons. Ive been all over the internet and youtube researching, studying and have determined that the best prescription for this is, time and save my money, being patient as I go, giving myself till hopefully April or May to have it done. I know I will need another filter and the possibility of running the one I have now with the soon to be bigger one is a very strong one. I know I will also need a bigger pump, and those items will have to be bought and stored as the pond is built, one piece of the puzzle at a time. My considerations now are the bottom drain for the filter, the aeration and circulation, and the depth and shape. At this point I'm tending towards a half in and half out of the ground rectangle shape with a net formed and attached to a PVC frame, and tall enough to place a bench or two so one can sit and peer over the ledge at the fish. I think 10 would be plenty for me, and Ive been around koi and appreciate them, and how fun they are to feed, but 10 is plenty for me.


Another consideration for me will be pond maintenence - I welcome the beneficial green on the sides of the liner, but I wanna minimize the cleaning, to some backwashing and maybe some leaf skimming, so that will go into the consideration for my design as well.

For anyone new reading this, I encourage you to do your research and homework before trying to do a koi pond, things like waste, biological filtration, ammonia, water care, pH, Nitrites and Nitrates, all are vital to the care of these creatures. The more you can do to inform yourself, the better off you will be. Places like this are invaluable in that search.
 

koiguy1969

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scrubbies are available in 20 packs at Sams Club(twice the size of the dollar store ones).... stocktanks start at $30.00 at TSC (tractor supply company) the 110 gallon is $60.00... the 55 gallon drums can be free at carwashs...instead of bulkheads.. shower drains you can build a 55 gallon drum filter complete for $100.00 and either of these filters will out perform what you bought by a longshot.. and a u.v light is not mandatory. weve even supplied links for the bulkheads here on this site.. but as long as your happy..
i have a 70 gallon stock tank filter and a 55gallon drum filter, and i guarentee your filter will not come close to their performance or ease of flushing.
 
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Oof! Sorry about the mess!

The Laguna pressure filter you bought is actually a very good one. I have the 2100, that I used before I DIY'ed filtration. Now I still use it alongside my upgraded homemade filtration. So, the good news is that you'll be able to keep it as an addition to whatever additional filtration you'll need for a 2,400 gallon pond. I' ve had mine for years and it is very trusty.

What happened to your pump is precisely why I detest underwater pumps and it happened to me once, too. That sorta thing would not happen with an out of water pump. Anyway, if you keep your pump on a brick or small cinder block, it will only pump down as far as where it is sitting, therefore, in case the pump tips over or gets clogged, the water will only get pumped out as far as the height of the pump instead of nearly all the way down the floor. You also have to keep your return pipes/hoses a little higher up than directly on your pond floor for the same reason. The water may still pump put the way it did again, but at least it will leave you with a bunch of inches of height of water so the fish can survive until you spot the problem.

You really can't expect the bacteria to work this time of year. It's too cold. It doesn't really kick in until water temps are at least 65 degrees. Not sure where you are in Texas or what your water temps are. If you do some water changes, the water should clear a bit, but really since you have no solid bacteria colony, your water will likely stay murky til spring.

Building a pond filter really doesn't have to be as expensive as you think. For one, you can go to a car wash and get a barrel for free. They get their soap in them, and are always desperate to get rid of 'em. You are right about the bulkheads, and that they are not sold at HD or Lowes. I don't have a single bulkhead on my barrel, what you do is go to the conduit section of your lowes (it's the grey stuff instead of white PVC), and you buy a female and male connecting piece there. I think they are about $1.50 each. You can't use PVC fittings in place of conduit because it doesn't screw together all the way down due to the larger threading. But conduit goes down tightly. I bought matala mats for the inside of mine. They are expensive in comparison to other filter media ($25 each/free ship on ebay), but they will last a decade or more since they are made out of a soft plastic. So, no pads that ultimately break down. That's just my personal choice, but you can use pretty much anything you want inside a DIY filter you want, including pads.

Don't discount a DIY filter just yet. It really can be inexpensive to produce. You certainly could have made one for the $100 bucks you bought the Laguna for. But, DIY'ing is certainly not for everyone--and it's perfectly a-ok to just buy off the shelf.

Just in case, here's the link to my DIY filter: https://www.gardenpondforum.com/my-fitler-pit-and-55-gal-barrel-photos-t4088.html. Koiguy, the docs and a few others also have their plans for DIY filters here you can search.
 

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scrubby pads are also made from plastic..2 years of non stop use and mine have yet to clog or show the slightest sign of breakdown they are as rigid and sturdy as the day they went in. just wondering where this idea of breaking down came from..whos used them and had them break down? i know of someone whos had them for 7 years no problem.
seriously, if someone whos honestly used scrubby pads and had clogging and break down problems let me know.. how long did they last.?. was your filter actually large enough for its pond and bioload? if you see mine the only clogged ones are the ones that my hiacynths roots grew thru.
 
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I think we might be talking about two different kinds of scrubby pads. What I've seen people use are basically oversized floor scrub sponge pads, and after two years they are one gloppy mess. Plus extremely heavy to pull out of the barrel when filled with water. You might be using something entirely different.

Please show us a photo of your pads, Koiguy. It would be helpful for everyone to be clear on what they look like. Would be helpful to show a particular brand if you have that available and perhaps a general size of each one, etc.
 

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