What to ask when buying a house with a koi pond?

Discussion in 'Newbies to Garden Ponds' started by Whee, Jun 3, 2017.

  1. Whee

    Whee

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    Hi,

    I searched the forums to see if this question had been asked before, but I don't see it, so here goes.

    I'm considering buying a house with a koi pond. I'm starting from scratch with my knowledge. House is in Colorado at about 6000 ft, so extreme temperature swings.

    What questions should I be asking about the pond?
    I assume I want to ask the owners for any design specs of the pond? What else?


    I've attached a picture of the pond. It goes under and beyond the porch as well. Looks to be about 3 foot deep. Maybe 7 koi we could see and a lot of goldfish. A running waterfall.
    Pond.jpg

    Should I get it inspected as part of the house inspection?

    Thanks in advance!
     
    Whee, Jun 3, 2017
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  2. Whee

    Tula

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    Wow, looks beautiful !

    First off, do you want a pond? They are wonderful, but require maintenance.

    I'd begin by asking:
    *How old is the pond
    *Who built it.
    * How many gallons
    * All mechanics of the pond, pumps, filters, aeration, bottom drain, UV lights and anything else you can think of.
    * Where is the electric and is it GFI.
    * All plumping questions and how deep are the lines buried.
    * What is their winterization process.
    * If you don't want the koi / goldfish, are they willing to assume responsibility for finding them good homes.

    I'm sure others will be along with some good advice :) Again, it's a beautiful home and pond!
     
    Tula, Jun 3, 2017
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  3. Whee

    Mr.Wizard

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    You could ask for the name of the contractor who built the pond and see if he will do the inspection. He would know the details of the equipment and what trouble spots to look for... Just a thought.
     
    Mr.Wizard, Jun 3, 2017
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  4. Whee

    Whee

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    Thanks for the very helpful information. To answer the question as to whether we want a pond or not - still trying to make that decision! It's so built into the design of the house that filling it in is not really an option, so if we get the house - yes we want a pond :) It is certainly beautiful - and sitting out on the front porch looking at the fish is wonderful.

    I'm reading information to try and figure out the cost/time associated with the maintenance.
     
    Whee, Jun 3, 2017
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  5. Whee

    Terra Zen

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    OMGosh that is one gorgeous home!

    I have no helpful information for you, but WOW that's a dream home!
     
    Terra Zen, Jun 3, 2017
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  6. Whee

    addy1 water gardener / gold fish and shubunkins Moderator

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    Maintenance depends on how it is built, what kind of filters, how many trees around, how many fish etc.

    Mine is pretty maintenance free, I filter it only with a huge plant bog. No cleaning of filters, I do need to yank excess pond plants now and then. I have no koi, shubunkins / gf only.

    That is a beautiful set up! There is a lot of funds put into that set up.
     
    addy1, Jun 4, 2017
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  7. Whee

    AlyssaFish

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    Personally, I'd want to know any information they could possibly provide on the fish themselves. Age, sex, known health issues, estimated value. I'd want to know the number of the fish, if any have names (especially if any have names they respond to). I'd want to know the species of plants living in the pond as well.

    Certain plants require special care at different times of the year, so being able to research them is important.

    Then, of course the basics about the infrastructure and all that already mentioned above.

    You could also ask questions about known predators in the area, if there are any quality fish or pond stores nearby, and about fish vets. And about what kind of maintenance is normally performed and expected in the pond--will you need to muck out leaves, algae, or filter out a lot of dirt? Is it easy to get clay soil in the area? How is the average PH and is it stable?

    Taking on a pond is a huge investment of time and attention! These are mostly things you could learn on your own over time with research, but it's important to consider how much work you really want to do for your new house, and these questions give some insight into that!
     
    AlyssaFish, Jun 4, 2017
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  8. Whee

    CometKeith

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    Hi Whee. Welcome! Ponds require maintenance. I don't know if this is going to be your primary home or a vacation home but if you decide to buy the house you will be basically inheriting a ready made hobby. Try to get an accurate maintenance schedule from the owners and maybe get it verified so you know what you are getting into. Ponds can be wonderful but they are not for everyone. I sold my house last year with a pond included. The buyer's son loved the fish and pond and I think it "helped" make the sale. 4 months later they called me to see if I wanted the rocks and some of the fish I left behind from the pond because they were removing it to make the garage larger and the addition was the area of the pond. I think the maintenance was more than they wanted and they had no idea what they were doing and didn't have the time or inclination to learn. Ponds can be great but it will take some commitment on your part to take care of it or your willingness to hire someone to do the work.
     
    CometKeith, Jun 4, 2017
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  9. Whee

    Mmathis TurtleMommy

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    Hello and welcome! Great advice, so far! Get as much info about the pump & filtration system in use.
     
    Mmathis, Jun 4, 2017
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  10. Whee

    EricV

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    I think the first question is do they intend to leave everything. We seem to get a lot of people who come to this forum because they just bought a house and the previous owners have removed pumps and the various things necessary to actually run the pond.
     
    EricV, Jun 5, 2017
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  11. Whee

    Whee

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    Well, it was a long negotiation process but we have now moved in. Thank you for the advice all - we wrote into the contract that all pond materials to be left behind.
    Now we need to learn about how to run the pond. We had a local pond guy come out and look at it; he said all looks good although will need a drain and clean in the spring, but somewhat disturbingly he looked at the filter system and said he didn't understand it.

    Fish are active when it gets warm - look healthy enough. Pond water smells really bad. Hard to tell what color it is since it has this blue dye in it. No feeding until spring from the reading I have done.
    I suspect the filter (which is an Ultima II - uncertain what size) hasn't been backwashed for at least 3 months, so going to do that today, and do beneficial bacteria weekly. I suspect it's around an 8000 gallon pond.
    Original pond contractor is out of business - so can't ask them any questions on the design.

    Lots to learn here...
     
    Whee, Nov 20, 2017
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  12. Whee

    Whee

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    Here's a couple more photos of the pond in case it is helpful. 20171006_202250409_iOS.jpg 20171006_202334575_iOS.jpg 20171006_202344816_iOS.jpg
     
    Whee, Nov 20, 2017
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  13. Whee

    Tula

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    Whee, Congratulations on your new home and being a pond owner :)

    A healthy pond, should not smell. If you can post some pictures of the filter, pipes / hoses and skimmer, we might be able to help you.
     
    Tula, Nov 20, 2017
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  14. Whee

    sissy sissy

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    now next is to prepare for cold weather and safety of your fish .You will need a pond heater or something .Congrats on your new pond and home purchase and may it be an easy transition .You can use a pump with a crate filled with quilt batting .Zeolite will help cut ammonia and activated charcoal may cut the smell .But a regular cheap pump with a hose leading to a crate some where in the pond where it is above the water level but so water can run back into the pond will help .Get a swimming pool net and see if anything is on the bottom of the pond
     
    sissy, Nov 20, 2017
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  15. Whee

    Whee

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    Here are some pictures per the request.
    It is a buried Ultima II 6000 filter (just confirmed with manufacturer via the serial #), so that implies a 6,000 gallon pond.
    I assume the other filter is just there to stop large debris from getting into the filter? The float is there for a sprinkler refill in summer.
    No UV light I can see.
    Previous owner told me he doesn't heat pond in winter (did leave me a spot heater in case it gets really cold) and leaves pump/waterfall running. thumbnail_Image.jpg thumbnail_Image-2.jpg thumbnail_Image-4.jpg thumbnail_Image-5.jpg thumbnail_Image-6.jpg thumbnail_Image-7.jpg

    Ran 8 backwash/rinse cycles to take out maybe 10% of the water and the backwash was still running dirty. Will do more tomorrow. On well water, so no significant cost to swapping water out.

    The above waterfall area was filled with gunk - about a week ago I took out 3 wheel barrow loads of it.
     
    Whee, Nov 20, 2017
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  16. Whee

    sissy sissy

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    Zone 4 b if it freezes solid there will be gases that build up under the ice and kill fish .The filter should be protected from freezing and cracking .I am really surprised it is still intact .So the pump is only in the skimmer .That is what the thing in the box with the automatic refill is .He never told you he took the pump out of the skimmer to protect it .By the way water does not look that bad .The waterfall and the skimmer may freeze and if left on drain the water under the ice out of the pond
     
    sissy, Nov 20, 2017
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  17. Whee

    Whee

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    It's Zone 5b. We usually get 1-2 weeks of really cold weather, and not so bad apart from that. Previous owner says it has kept running all winter long w/o issues over last 10 years w/o action.

    How should the filter be protected?
    Thanks for all the info!
     
    Whee, Nov 20, 2017
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  18. Whee

    sissy sissy

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    Not sure how because I can not leave mine running and I am in VA near the NC border .My wnter starts in Jan. and Feb. and maybe a little in march in between snow lasts a day or 2 and then we get back u into the 50's and 60's 100_9765.JPG 100_6146.JPG
     
    sissy, Nov 20, 2017
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  19. Whee

    Lisak1

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    The size of the filter doesn't reflect the size of the pond - it reflects how much water the pump moves per hour. A pond should recirculate 1.5 to 2 times per hour, so if your pump is properly sized your pond is more likely 3000 gallons.

    It's unfortunate that the previous owner used pond dye - it's not necessary and I don't think adds to the beauty of a pond. While I would hesitate to follow the advice of your pond professional to break down and clean the pond every spring, in this case I might do it just to get the pond dye eliminated. A well functioning pond does NOT need to be completely cleaned, but it is the bread and butter of the pond contractors, so they are quick to recommend it. Now if your pond has a build up of gunk in the bottom (organic material that has built up over the years) it may benefit from a cleaning.

    When people say "pond heater" they usually mean a de-icer, which is just used to keep a small hole open in the ice. Truly heating a pond would be both expensive and unnecessary. Koi and goldfish are cold water fish - they don't mind the cold!

    A skimmer is what keeps the large debris from entering the pump - I'm not sure if you describes having a skimmer or not. I'm not really familiar with filters as my pond doesn't use a mechanical filter, so I'll leave those questions for others to answer!

    Congratulations on your new home and beautiful pond! And welcome to the GPF!
     
    Lisak1, Nov 20, 2017
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  20. Whee

    addy1 water gardener / gold fish and shubunkins Moderator

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    addy1, Nov 20, 2017
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