TheFishGuys Goldfish Pond Build.

TheFishGuy

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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!)
 
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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?
 

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@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

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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

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@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.
 
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@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!
 
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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!!
 
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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

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@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

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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

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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 :)
 
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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.
 
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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

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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

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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.
 

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