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Pond Visit - Phil

This is a pond I am particularly fond of, not because it's the biggest, the best, has all the latest gadgets or the most expensive koi, but because it's a pond I've seen grow from the ground up. To me, it represents simplicity and effectiveness - a pond for the 'every-man.' 


The owner Phil, is a dedicated koi hobbyist and with the help of his more-than-capable handyman, Shane, they keep this system running like clockwork. I first met Phil and Shane when they wandered into Imperial Koi, when I managed the shop some years ago. Phil was looking to purchase koi for his newly completed koi pond of around 1000gallons. Shane has a good eye for koi and Phil has always had a way of twisting my arm (sometimes to the point of breaking) - they make a formidable koi buying duo!

I think they purchased five pieces, however, It was only a matter of months before pond number two came into development...


We’ve all been there!


It Begins

We spent a while in talks about what would be the best system for the budget and space allowed. We also discussed the kind of maintenance regime that would best suit and what Phil‘s hopes were.

Shane set about the task and built the pond. He did an absolutely cracking job, the man is a perfectionist and takes his time to get things 'just right.' I remember telling him to go into pond building, now he very rarely swears - but I can’t repeat his response!

Just as an insight into his eye for detail, he was in fact a little concerned about me taking pictures of the pond on this visit because he was just in the process of the yearly facelift, after Covid had settled. He said the pond didn't look as good as it should...


Gallonage: 4800

Bottom drain: one aerated.

Skimmer: one, four inch (Floating)

Mechanical Filter: Ultra Sieve III

Biological Filter: Ultra Bead 60 + Horizontal Matting Chamber.

Uv: 110w TMC

Air pump: EA90

Heating: 4kw Elecro

Koi: 21 pieces from 45-67cm

Food: Fed exclusively on Medikoi Probiotic 


With the lack of a drum filter the pond may be considered ’old-hat’ these days but the system and its construction was designed to be effective, on a budget. The filter bay is located directly next to the pond, the result, a short drain run with only two elbows to reach the sieve and a purging point. The skimmer, again on the same wall as the filter bay has a short run of 4” pipe, directly to the sieve. The bead is located 3ft away in a greenhouse to help heat retention and heat exchange. The proximity of the filters means that flow rates and economy can be utilised. The system works wonderfully because it’s maintained as required. The bead is backwashed twice a week, the sieve is cleaned when needed and the matting chamber requires little to no maintenance.

This is a well built, uncomplicated system that keeps good water and thus happy koi.

We discussed on this visit things that could be changed in order to better the system as the koi continue to grow. Doing away with the use of the aerated bottom drain was first on the list. Firstly it disrupts the flow pattern in the pond and thus the effectiveness of the skimmer and secondly it restricts the view of the koi. So the addition of an air bar in a strategic place was discussed. The only other thought was the addition of a shower filter. These aren’t things that need doing, but it’s always good to reflect on how one can better a system and then decide if it’s something worth investing in.


What I really admire about Phil is that with the help of Shane he has avoided all the usual pitfalls of beginners. They played it by the book and stocked the pond slowly, testing the water regularly. They kept on top of the maintenance, matured the system like pro's and thus experienced no issues throughout the 'new-pond-process.' Hats off to Shane for maintaining the system to such a high standard.


It just goes to prove the point, we truly are water keepers!


I visit this pond each year to catalog the koi so that Phil can record growth rates and any developments, something he particularly enjoys. The three of us also have a good chin wag and a fair few cups of tea! What’s particularly nice for myself, is that Phil purchased every koi in the collection from me when I was a dealer, some of which I selected on my very first trip to Japan. To be able to see them, some five years on, truly thriving and being enjoyed is a real privilege. As someone that has come into contact with a lot of koi, it’s really inspiring to see a collection of treasured ‘pets’ and it allows me to reconnect with an aspect of the hobby that is all too easy for me to forget about sometimes.

Phil takes great pride and care in keeping koi and that’s something we should champion and aspire to, above all else.


- To all those that do the same, I salute you!


The koi

There's a lovely collection of 21 koi in this pond with a real mix of varieties, I thought I’d share just a few that we like talking about.

One of the favourites is a male kohaku from Maruhiro,  Phil got this as a bargain because it jumped in quarantine and took a huge slice of beni from the head. The previous buyer backed out of the sale and Phil jumped in. Within a year the koi had coloured up and now measures 65cm and boasts truly glorious beni.


Another favourite is a showa, again from Maruhiro that Phil also obtained after the original buyer backing out. This has to be my personal favourite in the pond, it’s not text book, but the sumi is like ink, the pattern striking and it brings drama to the visuals of the collection, a real eye catcher. Now 62cm.


This koi I’ve posted before, a Kujaku that Phil picked up for about £50 (we couldn’t quite recall exactly) - it’s very much male and the pattern is not ideal, but the quality is excellent and he just gets better and better! The matsuba scalation is superb and the metallic skin shines like metal. Now 55cm!

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Another koi that oozes quality is a sanke from Konishi, this koi is pushing 8 years old and still looks youthful. Not a big koi and it won’t be to everyone’s taste, but as an old school sanke, there’s lots to enjoy. Now 62cm.


Final Thoughts

I think the pond, the koi and the garden work wonderfully in complementing each other. The koi aren't pushed for growth and neither did they cost silly amounts of money, but with a sensibly designed and budgeted system and diligent keeping skills, they have continued to thrive, grow and develop into a very attractive collection of 'pets.'


- And that is something to be truly proud of.


*With thanks to Phil and his wife Jill for their hospitality and allowing me to feature their pond and koi.

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