3 April 2012

Koi Keeping - The Sweet & Sour

Don't worry, this is not some demented change of circumstance resulting in my Koi being whipped from the pond and served up in a tangy red sauce served with boiled or fried rice! However keep reading and you'll soon understand the reasoning behind the latest blog title ...

We were lucky enough to be able to visit A19 Koi & Pond Supplies just after Paul had received his latest shipment of hand picked Koi. The quality of the Koi available was fantastic with an amazing array of varieties and sizes available - definitely something for everyone! Needless to say that four or five fish certainly grabbed out attention, two of which standing out from the others ..... a stunning Yamabuki Hariwake and an equally beautiful Budo Goromo. It didn't take us long to convince ourselves that we simply had to have these Koi and therefore asked Paul to put them aside and save them for us whilst undertaking quarantine protocols. Needless to say we've been waiting with baited breath ever since for the telephone call from Paul to say that we can finally collect them. The call finally came and so yesterday saw us speeding over to A19 Koi to pick up our new Koi.

We'd already moved some to the Koi from the QT system to the main pond in readiness of the new arrivals and so as soon as we were home the new Koi were floated for around 30-40 minutes before finally being released. The kettle went on again and we were soon stood, coffee in hand, observing and admiring our new Koi. It's that sweet moment enjoyed by all Koi keepers when they introduce a new Koi to their own ponds.

Unfortunately our indulgence of this sweet moment came crashing to an end when our son fell over, crashing face first into one of the upright wooden support post. Tears and crying ensued, as did the blood, as we comforted him whilst trying to asses the damage.After carefully cleaning some of the blood away we could clearly see that he'd split his upper lip quite deeply which looked like it may need stitches. Apart from this and a few other minor grazes he'd managed to escape unscathed, which is miracle considering the force and how he hit the post! We both switched into super efficient mode in order to get him to hospital as quickly as possible. The dogs were quickly put away, the lid put on the paint (the brush would have to wait), house locked up and doing warp factor 8 to York A&E where he was seen by a wonderful nurse who really looked after him. He was glued back together (less invasive than having to have stitched was the consensus of opinion) and after a brief visit to Grandma's & Grandad's we were on our way back home and to get something to eat.

We arrived back home with pizza in hand (his favourite which seemed the comforting thing to do after his ordeal) but before tucking in thought it best to let the dogs out. A quick look to see how the fish in the QT were ......... 1 MISSING!

Our hearts sank when we quickly realised that our new Yamabuki Hariwake must have jumped out of the QT whilst we'd been getting medical attention. What's more, it seems to be a general rule in our house where the dogs are concerned that anything landing on the floor simply becomes "fair game". And in this instance, it was the new Koi. The only piece of evidence as to the fate of the Koi was a couple of scales left on the floor and two dogs with fishy breath!

Yes you're right ..... you shouldn't laugh !!! Although I am trying my very hardest to inject a little philosophy and humour into this post in an attempt not to be miserable at the least .... or erupt like Mt Etna.

We're finding it very difficult to come to terms with the "it's just one of those things" philosophy and ditch the "what if" thoughts that plague you when hindsight comes in to fruition. We'd already planned to cover the QT over for the first few nights or so whilst the new arrivals settled in, but it simply never crossed our mind earlier when the focus was quite rightly, on our son.

The other new Koi, the Budo Goromo, is a little skittish at present but will no doubt settle down very soon for it's brief holiday in the QT before finally being introduced in to the main pond in around 4-6 weeks time.

As for the progress we're making on the main pond ..... well that's another post - soon!

11 March 2012

And They're Off

No we're not talking about clothes - you lot never change! Nor are we talking about horse racing! We're actually referring to the covers around our pond!

This bout of warm weather we're experiencing has certainly kicked start the "let's get outside" feeling in a big way. Even the little one (who's not so little anymore) has been nagging to be out playing in his garden. So come Saturday morning we were out and about early in the garden and planning, over a cup of coffee of course, this seasons "jobs to do" list. Hey, who said anything about being out in the garden simply relaxing!

The first thing on the agenda is to complete the pond build, or at least finish off the titivating. This includes finishing off the external pond walls and also the pond wall tops, or coping stones. Again we have an idea in mind and so the planning of how best to execute our plans was main consideration .... time for another coffee i think!

That did the trick. Strategy formed and a clear plan of action etched in to our brains - remove the covers so that we can see the wood for the trees, or in our case the blockwork for the future work to be completed.

The fish looked to have survived the cold of the water well. No sooner were the covers removed the fish were up in the corner where they're normally fed, mouths agape. They soon looked content after a little bit of wheatgerm. We soon washed out the header pond and began the process of filling, ready for switching on the skimmer again. We'd been running the skimmer periodically over the winter but sending it straight to waste. We also added some clay as a bit of a conditioner, plus there was signs of a little algae growth and we've found that the clay helps remove this. The UV was also switched on.

It was great to sit back afterwards watching the fish swim past the window again and do circuits around the pond. It was also simply great to be able to sit outside without the need for cold weather gear or waterproofs and begin to enjoy the fresh air and being outside again. To a certain degree, a sense of freedom from one element of our home, the brick walls of the inside, to another aspect which we thoroughly enjoy and spend a lot of time in .... the garden and especially the pond. The dogs also seem to share this philosophy.

Taking the covers off may be a little premature as i'm sure this glorious weather won't be maintained, after all it is the UK. However access to the pond and area is once again unrestricted which will allow us to get on and do what we want, when we want. And we're looking forward to it!

More to come ....

8 January 2012

Batten Down The Hatches

First of all ..... hope you all had a great Christmas and our best wishes for the New Year!

Who knows what new and thrilling times lay ahead as we enter in to 2012. One thing is for sure when it comes to the pond life in 2012 will start off the same as it left 2011 .... with the covers ON!

Behind the scenes (or the covers for that matter) everything's running as should and the Koi in the pond seem to be weathering the winter well. We had a small hiccup during the severe windy conditions just prior to Christmas when one of the polycarb panels on the filter house roof managed to be ripped off. Thankfully it wasn't raining at the same time and we managed to fix the panel back on again the next day, just before a downpour!

The Koi in the QT system are thoroughly enjoying the luxury of a winter spent swimming around at 13C. We're finding it very difficult to not feed them as we did in the warmer temperatures.

After a very busy 2011, in fact quite hectic at times, we're hoping that in 2012 we'll be able to kick back and enjoy the fruits of our labour .... whilst having a beer and a BBQ of course. Before then though we've still a few jobs to attend to which have been left over from the previous year. These include :-
  • Completing the brickwork around the posts and window of the pond.
  • Applying the edging around the pond.
  • Applying the render to the outside walls.
We also need to complete landscaping the area around the pond however this will probably be a project for another time ... or even year.

Happy 2012!

2 October 2011

Did The Earth Move For You?

First of all .... where has the year gone? I can't believe we're in to October already, not that you'd know from the glorious weather we've been experiencing of late. And i know I've said it before but yet again i can't believe it's been two weeks since our last blog update again. It would seem that we're currently living our lives by the fortnight instead of on a week by week basis. I guess that's what comes of being busy.

Very little has happened pond wise over the last couple of weeks really. We've had to make some modifications to the pipework which takes the waste water from the filters as originally this was also connected to the drain in the filter house floor. The problem being when you fully opened up any of the waste valves the water backed up and flooded out of the drain in the floor. We've now separated the waste filter pipework from the drain to alleviate this problem.

The additional brick work etc that's required to "finish off" the pond has been put on hold for the immediate future as Gaz (who completed the block work for us and is scheduled to tackle this job) and his partner are expecting their first child anytime now. So as you can expect, he's been rather busy at home preparing for the new arrival. We wish soon to be Mum & Dad all the very best and look forward to seeing them with baby very soon.

In the meantime we've been diverting our attention and energies back to our original plan at the start of the year ... the revamping of the middle garden. Blog followers may remember that the work planned to revamp this area had to be postponed when we decided to rebuild the pond, especially as we needed somewhere to put the masses of earth which we dug out. Well I'm glad to say that with some hard work and determination, plus the help of some family and friends we've finally managed to get rid of the earth. What's more, we've even managed to rotivate the area in readiness for the official work to commence once again.

We didn't stop there though! We utilised the rotivator whilst we had it to go over the area around the pond in order to help us level off this area again in readiness for finishing off, although this would have to be next year. We'll have to re-rake the area a number of times before it's as level as we want it so in the meantime, and especially as the members of the EYKS are coming to see our progress so far next Sunday, we've laid out the landscape fabric and temporarily held it with bricks until we're ready to permanently fix in place.

15 September 2011

Are We Nearly There Yet?

I wonder how many times we've been asked this and for that matter, how many times we've actually asked it?

If you're anything like us this standard question especially synonymous with children is normally met with "nearly", "just around the corner" or even "just over the next hill". And the same is true in this context as we're "nearly there" with our pond build.

We've just about finished tinkering with the filter house as well as the filter system. Just a couple more minor tweaks and we'll be done although i'm sure in time they'll be plenty of opportunity for further adjustments and enhancements.

As for the pond itself, again we're "almost there". We've a couple of cosmetic lifts to complete before we'll be willing to class this pond build as being finished, thus closing this chapter of our Koi keeping legacy whilst at the same time opening up yet a new one.

In the meantime a couple of our larger Koi appear to have given their "fins up" to their new aquatic home.

27 August 2011

First Fix's First

After the initial fill up and test run of the filter system we identified a number of small drips and a few leaks which would need our attention. Despite our best efforts to create a leak free system by taking care when gluing the pipework etc together, we knew that a few leaks would be inevitable.

The first areas to come under scrutiny were the leaks. These being around both pumps and the bead filter. A change of connector on one of the pumps rectified that leak whilst application of PTFE tape followed by a good tighten up rectified the other pump. The bead filter quickly followed after repositioning a rubber ring on top of the unit that seals the lid, then tightening up the bolts a little more then we'd previously done. We also had to tighten up more the bypass connectors as these were dripping water, which was duly done.

We then set about curing the other drips around the pipework which we completed as and when they were found with some good old "gunk" or tape. We systematically worked our way around the pipework and cured the drips until we couldn't see anymore.

After rectifying the leaks it was time to start the pumps up and get the system running. The switch was flicked and the pump surged into action. For a minute or so everything was working well - water was gushing into the vortex and we had a good flow into the Nexus with levels being maintained in both. However the bead filter seemed to be spluttering a bit. AIR !!! After fixing the rubber seal issue on the bead filter we'd forgotten to purge the air, which was quickly done. Take two!

The pump was switched back on and the levels etc checked in the vortex and Nexus. A quick check of the pond returns outside followed where we noticed that the flow out of the returns seemed to ebb. Back into the filter and we soon identified the issue. The pump was almost sucking the Nexus dry. We valved the flow from the Nexus to the pomp down which made a difference, however it was nearly shut. The pump was obviously too powerful.

On the flip side, we noticed that with the skimmer there didn't seem to be any significant pull whatsoever. The conclusion being that the pump on the skimmer line was too small. We swapped it over and tried our old Aquamax 10,000 and it made a vast improvement straight away.

After a quick phone call, Paul at A19 Koi & Pond Supplies was more than happy to help us out with our little predicament, as he has done throughout our pond build. Armed with two Superfish 12,000 we returned home eager to set the pumps up and get switched on as soon as possible. However first we had to deal with one last leak .......

23 August 2011

Yet another week has passed since the last blog update and we've certainly seen some changes in and around the pond. I don't know if there's something in the air (perhaps it's the glue vapours) but we seem to have shifted up a gear and have made considerable progress in the last week as follows :-

First thing to report is ..... the window's in! Gaz who completed the block work for us came round last Thursday evening to give us a hand putting the window in (no it's not Gaz in the picture).The water used to combat the ballooning bottom was drained during the day so it didn't take us long to fit the window once we'd started.

We also finally fit the aerated bottom drain. At this juncture, and after months of planning and building, we finally turned on the tap to begin filling our pond through a flow meter so we'd have an accurate figure at the end of filling of the overall pond volume.

The first job on Friday was to turn the water back on in order to continue filling the pond. We'd turned it off the night before as we wanted to present just in case something happened. After then purchasing more bits & bobs first thing Friday, the rest of the day was spent finalising and titivating the plumbing for the filter system, whilst all the time the water level in the pond slowly increased. We also switched filling position from the main pond to the header pond which when full, would flow into and fill the main pond anyway. At 11.10 pm we'd reached maximum levels in both the header pond and the main pond!

 Saturday morning and we were eager to get out into the garden and take stock of the situation in day light. We weren't disappointed! In our opinion, all the hard work, ups & downs, time and effort we'd put in to reach this point had finally all been worth it! It was now time to open up all the valves and fill the filter system so that we could then have one final top-up and achieve total pond volume. It wasn't long before this was achieved and ...... 19,640 litres or 4,320 gallons !!!

We also started the pumps up on the filter system but unfortunately had a few leaks and drips which form our list of first fixes.

We've still got a chunk of work to complete to finalise the actual pond building stage such as laying the facing bricks and applying the render where it's required, after which we'll then be able to apply the coping stones to finish off the pond and complete our pond build.