12 December 2010

The Pond Design Wheel of Confusion

Building a pond in the first place is difficult enough, but building a second pond can be just as trying if not more difficult. I'm not talking here about the physical side of the pond build - the actual part where you put the required materials and substrates together to "build" the pond. I'm actually talking about planning your new pond and deciding what to include, and more often than not what to actually exclude!

There's so many decisions to be made - it's actually difficult knowing what to do for the best! With so many different systems and configurations to choose from and "essential" pieces of kit it's any wonder that anyone ever makes it to the building stage at all. And this doesn't include the differences of opinion of those that are actually building the pond or the ones that hopefully will be sitting back and enjoying it when it's finally completed. So where on earth does it all start? Decisions, decisions ........

First of all, are there any parameters that we need to work with (or within) when designing/building our new pond? The answer to this question without a doubt is "yes". The problem is, once you start thinking of the different parameters you can soon go off on a tangent again and get bogged down in the decision making process again - the Pond Design Wheel of Confusion. Knowing what's best to do for what and you just end up going around and around and, yes you've guessed it ..... around. So time to pull those creative (or destructive) thoughts back in again and concentrate on the first stages or parameters that we'll need to contend with. These we'll call the Primary Parameters, all of which have a direct affect on one another.

In no particular order ....... (sound like an X Factor judge now):-
  • Finances/Cost
  • Position
  • Dimensions
  • Wish List
Let's now look at the individual Primary Parameters listed above :-


Depending on your disposable income, this could either be as costly as a Sunday afternoon visit to the garden centre or a major, major financial undertaking only shadowed by your mortgage or possibly car (although many will admit their pond cost more than their car ... but only in secret). Careful planning can obviously help you form an accurate estimate of the costs involved, but as always there's things that crop up so even the best laid plans can be put to the test. Help and advice from pond building professionals can never be ignored, and if affordable their knowledge and services could be employed to carry out the work for you.


Yet another minefield which you can easily get bogged down in. There's many an article or chapter written on the subject all offering very sound advice which again should be taken on board. However it's not always practical to position your pond in the ideal spot according to literature, especially when other elements of your garden are in residence. At the end of the day though it may be a simple case that you want your pond to be in a specific area. Provided there are no physical elements or any dangers in siting your pond there, take stock of any lesser issues such as leaves from trees etc and provided you plan for these eventualities you should be fine.


We're talking here about size, shape and depth. Again there's such a diversity of information and recommendations which offer you practical advice and "industry standards" regarding the issue of shape, size and depth that you could spend hours, days, weeks or even months trying to establish the exact recommendation. What it boils down to is the size of the area available for the pond, any sub surface issues which may be present and therefore prevent sufficient depth being reached and the finances available - both in terms of affordability for excavation/building materials, labour etc and also the purchase of sufficient filtering equipment.

Wish List

Then there's your "Wish List" - all the features, pieces of equipment etc that you'd like to incorporate into your project. These are often items viewed in books & magazines or on DVD's and more often than not when visiting Koi dealers. Of course the other major source of wish list items and essentials is from visiting other Koi keepers on club visits etc and viewing their set-ups and finding out which configurations work for them. This is where much of the wish list inspiration comes from for the second time pond builder - all the elements which they've identified after saying "I wish i'd done this on my pond" or "I wish i'd had one of them on my set-up". Yet once again, the incorporation of these wish list items and features has a direct affect on the position & dimensions of the planned pond and of course, the cost!

So how do these Primary Parameters fit in with our current plans I here you ask. Well ......

With regards to finances - we simply don't have any saved at this moment in time and we certainly don't plan on borrowing! However the plan is to first establish a pond plan. The site of the new pond has already been determined in that it's going to replace the existing pond. With regards to dimensions, pretty much the same shape as before however we'd like to increase the length a little and certainly the depth to a minimum of 4' if possible. Digging down further would be our preference to increase the depth however if something prevents us from achieving this, then there's always the possibility of building higher - if we can afford to do so.

As we already own many pond filter components we're trying to increase the overall volume of the pond whilst staying within the parameters of the equipments capabilities in order to keep costs down. Simply adding to the system where possible rather than replacing for the sake of it.

Now we've got our Primary Parameters sorted out it's time for the next stage.

16 November 2010

Crazy World of Koi

Crazy World of Koi - Then and Now 


Keeping Koi certainly is a crazy world to be in with so many ups and downs, trials and tribulations that it's any wonder we even bother to try. There's so many parameters that need to be met or exceeded not to mention the multitude of set-ups and pieces of equipment etc that are essential for us to achieve these goals. Then there's all the new products coming on to the market that are designed to aid us in our Koi keeping endeavours which are designed to make achieving the perfect habitat for our Koi that little bit easier for all hobbyists/professionals/nutters. That's right, i'm beginning to think that "crazy" actually refers to us, the ones that attempt this Koi keeping alchemy. Which is the main reason for starting this online diary or blog!

After keeping tropical fish for many years like so many of us do, things progressed to keeping a few goldfish in a half barrel. Following the purchase of our current house however, the decision was made to create a raised garden pond (to keep the dogs out ... right!) and to create as close to a natural habitat as possible for a variety of freshwater fish. Things went well for us and we were soon sitting back and enjoying the fruits of our labour. Additional fish were purchased and introduced to the pond over a period of time including some ghost carp, and of course Koi! This brought a whole new fish, now Koi keeping challenge for us. We were now in the realm of nitrite, nitrate & ammonia parameters as well as water hardness and pH and were definitely in need of some assistance. The saviour of the day was the East Yorkshire Koi Society (EYKS) as well as an adequate and balanced filtration system. Needless to say we recognised straight away the benefits of being in such a club or society and joined straight away.
Dazzle's Pond - May 2010

Since our initial problems and baptism of fire into the Koi keeping world we've enjoyed around 5 years of trouble free Koi keeping (excluding the run of the mill niggles that we all have to contend with from time to time). Until that is the start of this year 2010. Since the back end of April we've experienced nothing but problems .... and serious ones at that! The stress on the fish has been relentless (not to mention on us as well) having to contend with wave upon wave of parasite in one form or another. So much so that in a very short space of time, about a week, our collection of Koi diminished from 19 fish down to 12. To add insult to injury it was the better quality Koi we lost first! The problems continued over the next few weeks with more fish being lost until we were left with 7 fish - all of which were very weakened and suffering from various ailments, scars and soars etc. Obviously throughout the duration we tried everything possible to cure the primary symptoms first and then on to the secondary etc, but the onslaught really was relentless with one parasite or condition after another that in the end we were certain that if the problems didn't kill the fish, the medication etc would. We were therefore confronted with a decision that no Koi keeper wants to face ..... carry on subjecting the fish to their problems or call it a day. For the benefit of us as well as our fish, we made the decision to call it a day and on Saturday 13th November we switched off all the filtration and pumps, removed the remaining fish and put them to sleep, then drained the pond. A very, very sad day for us.


Unfortunately (some might say) we don't give in that easy and although we've experienced one of the worst scenarios that any Koi keeper can face, we remain positive and try to analyse everything that's happened in order to learn from any mistakes we made (none of us are perfect). We quickly came to realise that despite everything that nature's thrown at us this body of water was never just a pond, but an integral part of our garden. And because we spend so much time in our garden, the pond and fish were an integral part of our home and social life. It therefore transpires (and with a considerable amount of positive thinking) that there was some good that could come out of the position we find ourselves in???

With the pond now drained and no fish to maintain, we could now dismantle our first pond to make way for pond number 2! A pond that we've wanted to develop for some time which would incorporate all the features etc that we came to realise were missing from the first build, but have never been in a position to take any further due to the costs & logistics involved in building the new pond on the site of the old, whilst doing so as quickly as possible. The situation we now find ourselves in allows us the luxury of time to dismantle the old pond and build the new one, whilst not having to contend with the issues and problems etc of our fish being in temporary accommodation.

And then it suddenly occured to us .... why not take you along with us on this journey of discovery and sharing our new trials and tribulations along the way. So the "Crazy World of Koi" blog was formed.

We hope you enjoy sharing the ups and downs as we begin this new chapter in our Koi keeping (as i'm sure there's going to be plenty). Perhaps it will bring back memories of your own highs and lows from your own pond builds? Whatever the reason, we hope you enjoy and .......... wish us luck!