Yet another newb pond construction thread


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I'm new here and thought I'd share my build and hopefully get a little feedback.

I've kept aquariums my entire life, I've raised discus, bred freshwater stingrays, did high tech planted aquariums, and had a serious reef tank addiction for over 15 years.

That said I'm well versed in water chemistry and the nitrification cycle.

One thing I've always wanted to have is a koi pond. My wife and I recently bought a home with a large enough back yard to do a pond so, why not?

I decided to DIY most of it but being I'm purchasing all the equipment from my local pond supply shop the owner has offered to advise me along the way. I'm also going to pay him to do a couple crucial jobs like bottom drain installation and some other work that is vital to get right the first time.

This is my second pond build but is much larger and far more advanced than my first. I dug a small pond for my mom over 20 years ago and it's still running today.


Anyway, this pond is roughly 19x22x3.5ish. It will be using a Helix skimmer, Helix moving bed WF, Aqua Evolution media filter, bottom drain, Aqua Evolution UF. Sequence 6800 pump.

The pond is pretty much dug out but there is still plenty of cleanup and maybe a little more shaping of terraces to do.

I just started shaping the berm yesterday and am now wishing I would have put the dirt pile in the right place the first time. When I initially dug the pond I didnt have that great of an idea how the waterfall would look. That said, dirt just got put in a pile near the edge. Now that I have a more clear idea of how the waterfall will look i realized i have a good amount of dirt to move.

One thing that is concerning is though is the structural integrity of the berm. The ground is very dry and somewhat sandy. I now realize I probably should have been tamping the berm as the pile grew and now I'm not exactly sure what to do about it.

I was hoping to get this project nearly complete before winter so I can start it up right away in the spring but now I'm wondering if I'm better off letting things settle over winter so the berm doesn't shift after the waterfall is installed.

Any advice on that?
 

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Welcome to the GPF! You've come to the right place - lots of helpful friendly folks here!

Yes, tamping AND wetting as you go is really the best route, so it would make sense to me to let things sit. Not much will happen with the pond between now and spring if you complete it anyway.

Here's two things that caught my eye - your pond is about 7500 gallons if your measurements are accurate. Is that pump a 6800 GPH? If so, it's too small. You should look to turn over your complete volume 1.5 to 2X per hour.

Second thought - a bottom drain is not a must. It adds to the cost and complication of your build, so I just thought I would mention it. AND if you wait to finish this in the spring, we can talk you into a bog filter!
 
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Welcome to the GPF! You've come to the right place - lots of helpful friendly folks here!

Yes, tamping AND wetting as you go is really the best route, so it would make sense to me to let things sit. Not much will happen with the pond between now and spring if you complete it anyway.

Here's two things that caught my eye - your pond is about 7500 gallons if your measurements are accurate. Is that pump a 6800 GPH? If so, it's too small. You should look to turn over your complete volume 1.5 to 2X per hour.

Second thought - a bottom drain is not a must. It adds to the cost and complication of your build, so I just thought I would mention it. AND if you wait to finish this in the spring, we can talk you into a bog filter!
Thanks for the welcome and reply!

The pond is actually 22x19 and around 3 feet deep in the middle but has "bog" areas built into the design.

As you can tell by the picture the top terrace on each side of where the WF will be there is a very wide shelf that will be a somewhat low flow area that will offer lots of space for planting "bog" plants. These areas greatly affect water volume calculations. The rough calculations that I have done come out to around 3000-3500 gallons which means the pump is sized fairly accurately.

I also totally understand about the bottom drain. I've thought about not using it but the added cost wasn't really that much more and I feel like the amount of debris it will get to the filter without me having to vacuum the bottom makes the additional expense and effort worth it....provided it works correctly. Lol

The berm issue I will need to think about. You are definitely right that there isn't a major rush to get it running before winter but it would make startup a lot less laborious next spring if everything was ready.

I was hoping to get all the equipment plumbed and figured I would rock in until the snow is too deep or the ground is frozen. But maybe it is best to just let things settle until spring.


I definitely appreciate the warm welcome and feedback. This forum is great.
 
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Your project looks great so far.
You'll need to get the liner in before you get a heavy downpour.

While we're on the subject of liners, make sure you use either 45 mil. EPDM or HDRPE. Stay far away from any PVC liners.

I second the suggestion of filtering exclusively with a bog filter.
My pond is about 1800 gallons.
I struggled for clear water for over a decade. I tried homemade filters, store bought pressure filters and UV lights and none of them could keep up with my growing fish population. I had pea soup green water all of last year (2019) even with two pressure filters and a UV light running. The only time I could sort of see my fish is when they came up to eat.
I added a bog filter this Spring (2020) and my water cleared up in less than a week. It has stayed crystal clear ever since. It's absolutely amazing. It's almost like magic.

So, seriously think about filtering with a bog. You won't be wasting money on inadequate filters and you won't be constantly cleaning filter pads. A bog has pretty much no maintenance.

I suggest you look through this forum so you can benefit from the experience of the many members.
 

TheFishGuy

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You sure know what you are doing!

much different than the average garden pond, but there are many people who have experience with this type of stuff.

welcome!
 
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Thanks for the welcome and reply!

The pond is actually 22x19 and around 3 feet deep in the middle but has "bog" areas built into the design.

As you can tell by the picture the top terrace on each side of where the WF will be there is a very wide shelf that will be a somewhat low flow area that will offer lots of space for planting "bog" plants. These areas greatly affect water volume calculations.
Our bogs are slightly more complicated than what you describe. I use no other filters, only the gravel bog.

Pond water is pumped through a manifold, a series of PVC pipes that have a whole lot of slits cut in them. The PVC is covered with 12 inches of pea gravel. Plants are grown directly in the gravel, no pots. The water rises up through the gravel, the plant roots absorb any excess nutrients and clear water downflows back to the pond.

The bog surface area is 30% of the pond surface area.
 
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Addy's extensive bog building showcase...

 
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Your project looks great so far.
You'll need to get the liner in before you get a heavy downpour.

While we're on the subject of liners, make sure you use either 45 mil. EPDM or HDRPE. Stay far away from any PVC liners.

I second the suggestion of filtering exclusively with a bog filter.
My pond is about 1800 gallons.
I struggled for clear water for over a decade. I tried homemade filters, store bought pressure filters and UV lights and none of them could keep up with my growing fish population. I had pea soup green water all of last year (2019) even with two pressure filters and a UV light running. The only time I could sort of see my fish is when they came up to eat.
I added a bog filter this Spring (2020) and my water cleared up in less than a week. It has stayed crystal clear ever since. It's absolutely amazing. It's almost like magic.

So, seriously think about filtering with a bog. You won't be wasting money on inadequate filters and you won't be constantly cleaning filter pads. A bog has pretty much no maintenance.

I suggest you look through this forum so you can benefit from the experience of the many members.
I know from keeping freshwater planted aquariums nutrient uptake by plants is key to algae control.

"Bog filters" seem to be very popular here. I'm definitely not apposed to the idea of adding an external "bog" to the outside of the pond at some point but for now I think sticking to the plan is probably best.

While I may not have what most here consider a "bog" I do have 2 very wide, low flow, shallow shelves that will be heavily planted. These are considered "bog" areas. They were suggested by my local pond supply store who designed the pond and calculated filter and pump size. I have already purchased the equipment so if I were to remove the "internal bog" areas it adds more volume to the pond and my equipment is longer adequate.

Bog, wetland filter, whatever you want to call it is just an area of low flow for high demand nutrient loving plants to grow. The area I have for that just happens to be in the pond.

As a plant lover it's totally possible I add an external bog area down the road. Right now I feel like I already have more work to do than I bargained for.

I do however appreciate the feedback and ideas. Besides if I add an external now what will I work on next year? Just like my aquarium projects I'm sure this build will always be evolving. If I do everything right now and don't have anything to work on or tinker with I'll get bored which right now sounds amazing.
 
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Addy's extensive bog building showcase...


I just started reading it. Well done on the write up!
 

TheFishGuy

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I know from keeping freshwater planted aquariums nutrient uptake by plants is key to algae control.

"Bog filters" seem to be very popular here. I'm definitely not apposed to the idea of adding an external "bog" to the outside of the pond at some point but for now I think sticking to the plan is probably best.

While I may not have what most here consider a "bog" I do have 2 very wide, low flow, shallow shelves that will be heavily planted. These are considered "bog" areas. They were suggested by my local pond supply store who designed the pond and calculated filter and pump size. I have already purchased the equipment so if I were to remove the "internal bog" areas it adds more volume to the pond and my equipment is longer adequate.

Bog, wetland filter, whatever you want to call it is just an area of low flow for high demand nutrient loving plants to grow. The area I have for that just happens to be in the pond.

As a plant lover it's totally possible I add an external bog area down the road. Right now I feel like I already have more work to do than I bargained for.

I do however appreciate the feedback and ideas. Besides if I add an external now what will I work on next year? Just like my aquarium projects I'm sure this build will always be evolving. If I do everything right now and don't have anything to work on or tinker with I'll get bored which right now sounds amazing.
I think the most important idea is lots of plants, and you seem to have that that down, so for now I think your internal plantings will do you well.

and then of course later down the road you will choose ( peer pressure ) to add a external bog. :)
 
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You sure know what you are doing!

much different than the average garden pond, but there are many people who have experience with this type of stuff.

welcome!
I have lots of experience with aquariums, ponds are definitely a different animal but the science is the same just on a larger scale.

Pond construction however...the amount of forethought and planning is a struggle.
 
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I think the most important idea is lots of plants, and you seem to have that that down, so for now I think your internal plantings will do you well.

and then of course later down the road you will choose ( peer pressure ) to add a external bog. :)
I already have a place in mind. Baby steps...
 
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I'm new here and thought I'd share my build and hopefully get a little feedback.

I've kept aquariums my entire life, I've raised discus, bred freshwater stingrays, did high tech planted aquariums, and had a serious reef tank addiction for over 15 years.

That said I'm well versed in water chemistry and the nitrification cycle.

One thing I've always wanted to have is a koi pond. My wife and I recently bought a home with a large enough back yard to do a pond so, why not?

I decided to DIY most of it but being I'm purchasing all the equipment from my local pond supply shop the owner has offered to advise me along the way. I'm also going to pay him to do a couple crucial jobs like bottom drain installation and some other work that is vital to get right the first time.

This is my second pond build but is much larger and far more advanced than my first. I dug a small pond for my mom over 20 years ago and it's still running today.


Anyway, this pond is roughly 19x22x3.5ish. It will be using a Helix skimmer, Helix moving bed WF, Aqua Evolution media filter, bottom drain, Aqua Evolution UF. Sequence 6800 pump.

The pond is pretty much dug out but there is still plenty of cleanup and maybe a little more shaping of terraces to do.

I just started shaping the berm yesterday and am now wishing I would have put the dirt pile in the right place the first time. When I initially dug the pond I didnt have that great of an idea how the waterfall would look. That said, dirt just got put in a pile near the edge. Now that I have a more clear idea of how the waterfall will look i realized i have a good amount of dirt to move.

One thing that is concerning is though is the structural integrity of the berm. The ground is very dry and somewhat sandy. I now realize I probably should have been tamping the berm as the pile grew and now I'm not exactly sure what to do about it.

I was hoping to get this project nearly complete before winter so I can start it up right away in the spring but now I'm wondering if I'm better off letting things settle over winter so the berm doesn't shift after the waterfall is installed.

Any advice on that?
mwave.gif
Welcome to the Forum!
Everything looks great!... being the fish lover that you seem to be, give it some serious thought on what size pond you want (consider that adding stones will shrink the pond tremendously), before is too late.

I'm saying that cause I wish someone would've told me. Just like you I was used to indoor tanks (Cichlids) and a 2000 gl pond seemed huge. I ended up redoing it 3 times, first off it did not turn out to be 2000 after adding all the stones it was about 1,700 , we redid it a few years later to add about a 1,000gls and then again to bring it to 3,800 and we still had to build a second pond in the back to accommodate my growing fish...so I'm just saying, go as large as you can afford to go
Good luck!
 

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Hello and welcome @Jeremydmeyer76!

Just one question: there are basically 2 different kind of koi ponds — one is not better than the other — they are just different. When selecting equipment, and asking for advice, one should decide which type of pond you want.

One is the DKP or dedicated koi pond. These ponds have a lot of filtering going on (sieves, collection chambers, moving beds, bottom drains...). Most people with a DKP don’t have plants in their ponds. They keep their water pristine and, OMG, if you mention algae, it’s time to get out the chemicals. Yes, they keep their ponds balanced with chemicals (well, maybe not all of them, but you get the idea — that does sound harsh, but it’s just a different philosophy).

Then there is the garden pond, like most of us have. Most have a bog-type filter, or at least have plants in the pond. The philosophy with this group is to maintain a healthy pond through adequate filtration, minimizing fish load, sparse (if any) feeding, and letting Mother Nature keep the pond balanced — by using plants. For the most part, the only chemicals we recommend is a dechlorinator when adding water. For example, we “control” algae by recognizing that it is a symptom of a problem, and it is not the problem itself, so we take a more common sense approach.

Just my 2 cents.
 
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Hello and welcome @Jeremydmeyer76!

Just one question: there are basically 2 different kind of koi ponds — one is not better than the other — they are just different. When selecting equipment, and asking for advice, one should decide which type of pond you want.

One is the DKP or dedicated koi pond. These ponds have a lot of filtering going on (sieves, collection chambers, moving beds, bottom drains...). Most people with a DKP don’t have plants in their ponds. They keep their water pristine and, OMG, if you mention algae, it’s time to get out the chemicals. Yes, they keep their ponds balanced with chemicals (well, maybe not all of them, but you get the idea — that does sound harsh, but it’s just a different philosophy).

Then there is the garden pond, like most of us have. Most have a bog-type filter, or at least have plants in the pond. The philosophy with this group is to maintain a healthy pond through adequate filtration, minimizing fish load, sparse (if any) feeding, and letting Mother Nature keep the pond balanced — by using plants. For the most part, the only chemicals we recommend is a dechlorinator when adding water. For example, we “control” algae by recognizing that it is a symptom of a problem, and it is not the problem itself, so we take a more common sense approach.

Just my 2 cents.
...and then there's me, who couldn't get either one right so both my ponds ended up being Hybrids ( somewhat in between a DKP and a GP)
smlaughing4.gif
 
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Hello and welcome @Jeremydmeyer76!

Just one question: there are basically 2 different kind of koi ponds — one is not better than the other — they are just different. When selecting equipment, and asking for advice, one should decide which type of pond you want.

One is the DKP or dedicated koi pond. These ponds have a lot of filtering going on (sieves, collection chambers, moving beds, bottom drains...). Most people with a DKP don’t have plants in their ponds. They keep their water pristine and, OMG, if you mention algae, it’s time to get out the chemicals. Yes, they keep their ponds balanced with chemicals (well, maybe not all of them, but you get the idea — that does sound harsh, but it’s just a different philosophy).

Then there is the garden pond, like most of us have. Most have a bog-type filter, or at least have plants in the pond. The philosophy with this group is to maintain a healthy pond through adequate filtration, minimizing fish load, sparse (if any) feeding, and letting Mother Nature keep the pond balanced — by using plants. For the most part, the only chemicals we recommend is a dechlorinator when adding water. For example, we “control” algae by recognizing that it is a symptom of a problem, and it is not the problem itself, so we take a more common sense approach.

Just my 2 cents.
Ahhhhhh, that makes sense. I should have read more posts before posting LOL!

This is similar to the saltwater aquarium hobby where you have people who have just fish and rock vs. those who do full blown reef aquariums.

What I've found from that hobby is that there is a way to have it both ways you just have to be selective on equipment and livestock choices.

I am building a koi pond using filtration equipment built for koi ponds. I also very much appreciate the beauty of an all natural ecosystem. My end goal is to have that beautiful natural feels but to also be able to keep healthy livestock and pristine water without the use of chemicals besides the aforementioned "dechlor".

Before starting this project I watched several hundred YouTube videos from guys like Greg Whitstock, Jaak at Atlantis, Professor Ed, The Pond Digger and the other "pros".

I even called my local Aquascape dealer but had sticker shock when I mentioned what I wanted and how much it would cost. I believe for everything I wanted was right around $40k but that included professional installation. I knew that going that route was going to yield an amazing looking water feature there was just no way I could justify spending that much. Besides, I like playing in the dirt, doing plumbing, and electrical. That's when I decided I could build a pond myself.

I then found an independent pond store owner that is close by that offered to do a consultation. He did ask me right what kind of pond I wanted. I wanted a natural eco system but being I have never kept koi, I knew it would be just a matter of time before I would be adding koi to my system.

He designed the pond and system for me and in return I purchased the equipment for it to run from him and am doing all the labor myself.

Anyway, thanks for the clarification!
 
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Some good points brought up here.
I'm also an advocate of letting my pond continue in a complete natural form.
I never add any chemicals or additives. No store bought beneficial bacteria is necessary in my opinion. It will occur naturally, no need to waste money on that.
After adding the bog, there isn't really much I do to maintain my pond.
I'm able to enjoy it much more since I don't have to clean filter pads or backwash filters.
 
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This is the direction I'm heading as well. Where theres a will, theres a way.
I'm glad you understood it wasn't by mistake that I ended up with hybrids.
I built the ponds separating the plants from the fish, to avoid having to go through catching and rehoming fry
 

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